Posts for March 2009

Means of Production: Fabbing and Digital Art


Several years ago, while making the lecture circuit rounds, American architect William Massie described a key goal within his practice as moving towards a more direct translation between bits and atoms. Architecture has always thrived on the tension between representation and material assemblages and what he was addressing with this comment was the dawning of an era characterized by a new proximity between digital models and physical output. In selected contexts, artists, architects, and designers have been exploring these accelerated development cycles for a decade but the involved technologies are descending in price so quickly that, for example, 3D printers are now cheaper than laser printers were in 1985. A key question: how does the looming ubiquity of these tools and workflows apply to the production and display of new media art? This article will explore digital fabrication (aka fabbing) at a variety of scales which include the curatorial questions raised by these new hybrid industrial design/sculpture objects as well as the implications on the practice of individual artists. Before delving into either of these milieus it would be useful to acknowledge some common language and terminology associated with fabrication and recognize some important precedents.


Card Catalog (2008) - Tim Schwartz



A card catalog designed to hold all of the songs on my iPod, 7,390 songs. Each song is cataloged on a single card. The cards are organized in reverse chronological order, that is the songs I listened to most recently are in the front of the catalog, and the songs I haven’t listened to in two years exist at the back. The piece is seven feet long when closed and just under fourteen feet when opened.


(Via TAGallery)


Cursor (2008) - Ilia Ovechkin



It's Getting Hot in Here


Image: Claudia X. Valdes, Revelation 2213, (2009) interactive networked video installation

Claudia Valdes refers to her work as "a rehearsal for the end of the world." The New Mexico-based artist employs photography, performance, video, interactive installations, and painting to address the subject of nuclear weapons. In her first solo exhibition, up now at Seattle's Lawrimore Project, she dials-in on the specific period of our nuclear history that followed 2001 (i.e. 9/11 and the ongoing war in Iraq), to trace the evolution of the bomb in the popular imagination and the rhetoric of holocaust and apocalypse in the present. Entitled "Ten Million Degrees," the exhibition includes many formal variations in different media, all of which initiate a tension between documentary, archive, and performance. By recreating nuclear test blasts in Turner-like watercolors and processing snapshots and video clips to channel radiation and frenzied vibrations, the artist stands between past and present in gauging the temperature of viewers' historical understanding. In fact, in her video installation, Revelation 2213 (2009), Valdes inserts viewers into public domain footage of nuclear tests through real-time chroma keying of gallery-goers' images. The artist performs her own escape fantasy in Minutes to Midnight, a ten-minute video that distends Super 8 footage of her public performances at New Mexico's Trinity Test Site. In the spirit of the science fiction genre her work recalls, Valdes traces the fears and dreams associated with technological evolution in the performance, which was repeated over a two-year period, thus sliding between historical event and historiography. These and other works are on view through March 14. Readers with a special interest in nuclear themes might also visit Joy Garnett's Bomb Project, which includes digitized historical records, images, and documentation of other artists' projects, including Michael Light's re-photographing project, 100 Suns ...


Transhuman Dance Recital # 1 (2007) - Jeremy Bailey



GZZGLZ (2009) - ZEVS




Required Reading



"But Dullaart's Readymades are more than a formalist exploration of the Internet at its most banal. They are also a study in the relationship of the index to its referent, an issue that Rosalind Krauss connected to the readymade in her 1976 essay "Notes on the Index, Part 1." Krauss defines indices as "the traces of a particular cause, and that cause is the thing to which they refer, the object they signify." She offers footprints and shadows as examples; the domain name would be an analogy to such indices in the internet, since it marks the online location of the site that appears in the browser window below. In Readymades, Dullaart has selected sites where the URL's content occupies the position of the referent, rather than serving as a place marker. They are domains that someone has staked out as an empty lot, or that generate a metonymic web of sponsored links. His Readymades are sites where footprints come before the feet."


Software Teach-in



Although most of us use software on a daily basis, its operation still remains obscured to a large majority. In Golan Levin's introduction to the 3-day conference Art and Code hosted this weekend at Carnegie Mellon University, he describes distressingly low levels of software literacy, and the need to further educate the public about these tools. This impulse underpins the many "How-To" workshops, panels, and discussions scheduled over the next few days, which will devote specific attention to tools useful for artistic production, such as Max/MSP, Processing, openFrameworks and VVVV. While heavy on the tutorials, Art and Code will round out the calendar with an exhibition of generative artwork by Casey Reas and Marius Watz as well as nightly screenings of visual music pioneer Oskar Fischinger's films.


Get Real



Beginning this weekend, a world wide web of art bloggers, internet artists, online curators and critics will descend upon Capricious Space in Williamsburg for "In Real Life," an exhibition which will showcase some of artwebland's leading lights through revolving 4-hour residencies at the gallery. Laurel Ptak of iheartphotograph curated the show, which she hopes will "explore how the distribution, production, analysis, and consumption of culture are rapidly evolving in an online context. In particular the exhibition aims to render the labor of these online practices transparent, providing 'real life' access to these cultural producers, and overall inspiring public dialogue around their practices." Rhizome will be there "in real life" as well, and we will cover the diverse, funny, and odd performances/hang out sessions/tours proposed by the likes of Art Fag City, ASDF, Club Internet, Ffffound, The Highlights, Humble Arts Foundation, I Heart Photograph, Loshadka, Netmares/Netdreams, Platform For Pedagogy, Private Circulation, UbuWeb, VVORK, and Why + Wherefore in a post later this month. Next week, we will also publish a discussion between Rhizome's Curatorial Fellow Brian Droitcour and Netmares/Netdreams' Kari Altmann, in which she touches on their project for the show. Stay tuned.


Breaking things to make things



Image: Mika Tajima/New Humans, "Dead by Third Act" Performance
November 7, 2008 at Artissima Volume @ Lingotto Fiere, Turin

With the economy undergoing a dramatic shift, and predictions for the art world ranging from bad to catastrophic, questions abound regarding the future of contemporary art production and exhibition. Over the next year, a new non-profit arts organization, X, intends to take stock of this extraordinary moment through a series of exhibitions and programming. X will open the first of four phases tomorrow in the Dia Art Foundation's building on West 22nd street, an enormous space which has remained empty for years. Mika Tajima's multimedia installation The Extras will take over the ground floor of the building, while an expansive survey of Derek Jarman's films will be on view on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors, and, on the roof, Christian Holstad will show Light Chamber (Part Two).

I've been a big fan of Mika Tajima's work, as well as her noise band New Humans, for years, and this week I had the opportunity to speak with her about The Extras as well as some of her other pieces. A visual artist and musician, her practice often navigates between installation, video, sculpture, performance, and sound. Her work attempts to illuminate the repressive echoes of modernism within the present through destruction and disassembly. In this sense, Tajima's work puts forth an interesting counterpoint to the financial crisis, by illuminating the increasingly rapid, and unsustainable, cycles of production and consumption. This interview is one of a number of upcoming interviews and articles dealing with the current economic situation. - Ceci Moss


Images: Mika Tajima, The Extras, 2009 (X Initiative, New York, NY, Installation view).
Courtesy the artist, Elizabeth Dee, New York, and X Initiative

Explain the project at ...