Posts for 2012

Diegetic Cinematography

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Dane DeHaan, playing Andrew, the film Chronicle's diegetic cinematographer; the sort of boom arm invisible to film characters.

Diegetic sound is the part of a film's score that the characters can hear. We understand scary music that accompanies a blond babysitter as she checks on a clamour in the basement is something we the audience can hear, but that she cannot. That sort of mood music is non-diegetic sound. If we see her dancing to a song on the radio on the other hand, we understand that the music is embedded within the fictional narrative. The film Chronicle is the latest Hollywood film to explore "diegetic cinematography."

In most films we the audience understand that everything we are seeing is non-diegetic vision. That the perspective we are shown is from an invisible point within the fictional universe we are watching....

 

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"Excerpt from my Novel Screenburn" by Lance Wakeling

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I start by looking for images of parking lots. I’m thinking about finding the perfect image, or making one. I have to see an image of a parking lot with over-layed text that reads “Social Network.”

Then I move on to looking at images under the term crash. There are cartoon characters, crash dummies, airplanes in pieces, bodies, stills from the movie, cymbals, explosions. I open a new tab: Wikipedia – Crash. I’m redirected to collision.

A collision is an isolated event in which two or more moving bodies exert relatively strong forces on each other for a relatively short time. ¶ Collisions can be elastic, meaning they conserve energy and momentum, inelastic, meaning they conserve momentum but not energy, or totally inelastic (or plastic), meaning they conserve momentum and the two objects stick together.

It’s this last type of collision that interests me most, the totally inelastic one—when the two colliding objects merge into one and conserve momentum.

While cruising through the images I’m collecting, I think of Jean Baudrillard and then J.G. Ballard, retracing steps that I took three years ago, all in perfect recall. I make a new folder called parking-lots and drop in images with filenames like 5781586-aerial-view-of-an-empty-parking-lot, grantham-parking-lot-0951, Lot, Tel_Aviv_parking_lot, and zoo_lot2-750149.

It’s getting dark outside and my terminal is bathing this corner of the room and the front side of my knuckles in bluish light. My fingernails dimly reflect the screen. All the tiny parallel ridges reflect light in opposing directions, causing the reflection to appear matte.

I get up from my desk, look out the window, decide not to close the drapes, turn around and glance at the cat, then sit back down. My fingernails are long and hit the keys before the pads of my fingers. I ...

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Artist Profile: Tommy Hartung

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Tommy Hartung, Anna, 2011

Your work calls to mind surrealist cinema, and seems nostalgic in a way, for the earliest motion pictures.  What, if anything, are you drawing from the past?  Do you feel you are reinterpreting the past by using modern technological tools to create the work? 

I don’t think of my work as surrealist. Surrealism presupposes an ordered, sensible world where something foreign or fantastic has intruded. The reality created in my video is so far removed from the reliability of a real world concept like gravity or time that it is hard for me to think about it relating to surrealism. There is definitely a relationship between early cinema and my current work, but I would not characterize it as nostalgic exactly. I am interested in the methods, pace, and intensity of early cinema. I’m not trying to use these archaeologically. Films like Dreyer’s Passion of Joan of Arc, or Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible have a pulverizing intensity. Nikolay Cherkasov in Ivan, and Maria Falconetti in Joan of Arc are almost in trance states as the film unfolds around them. There is a tension in early cinema that I find hard to match, and try to build in my work.  

Much of your work includes a still, lone figure amidst a changing environment.  When there are multiple figures, like the busts in Anna, there's a sinister or disharmonious feeling.  Is there something to this in how your characters operate or relate?  Do you think of cinematic roles with these figures?  How do you incorporate your references (to literature, documentary, and more)?   

The interaction of characters can sometimes be sinister, cold, or terse. The characters I develop tend to be workman-like in their tasks or roles. I also think there is a very ...

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Speaking in Blobjects: A Conversation with Katherine Isbister and Rainey Straus

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In 2006, Katherine Isbister and Kia Höök developed the Sensual Evaluation Instrument (SEI), a tool that evaluates affect and aids in nonverbal communication.  Created with artist Rainey Straus while the professors of human-machine interaction were working on a European Union project on emotion and technology, the ‘blobjects’ were tested with a goal of enabling conversations with designers and computer scientists about emotion.  

The instruments provoked an unexpected outcome of universality during testing: subjects kindredly selected the same objects to express similar emotions (e.g., a spiky object to express anger or fear). We spoke with Katherine and Rainey over Skype about how these objects came into being, their emotional resonance, and how they’ve developed a life of their own over the years.  

Katherine Isbister: What happened for us was Kia and I, we got interested in doing this nonverbal reporting of emotion; like empowering people to convey how they felt without having to use words.  This is when I was working with her at her lab in Sweden; we first did some primitive experiments with things like color.  So anyway, it didn’t work at all because people had really culturally specific associations with color and a lot of times  they would come up with narratives about things that were more real object based—there’s a lot of sort of socio-cultural overlay people do onto objects all the time. That was slightly discouraging. But at the time, I knew Rainey had done her MFA project on these incredible I don’t know what to call them, Rainey, nubbins?

Rainey Straus: Blobjects.  And actually there was a whole show [on them] down in San Jose. I think the show was called Blobjects which happened. A lot of it focused on product design but it’s definitely a kind of aesthetic that’s in the visual vocabulary currently.

 

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Recommended Reading: Interventions, Issue 2—Framing the Internet

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Ernst Fischer, Collateral Resignation Agreement, 2011. (Print, Interventions's issue 2 unlimited edition).


On its "about" page, Interventions, the online journal of the Modern and Contemporary Art: Critical and Curatorial Studies MA program at Columbia University, is presented as an online curatorial platform featuring essays, web-based art projects, and experimental investigations into the space between these practices. The editors' letter for issue 2 reads,

In the first section of "Framing the Internet," we have gathered reflections on how the Internet and digital technologies have been mobilized as productive tools for curatorial, artistic and pedagogical inquiry, from round tables and critical texts to exhibition reviews and artist projects.

Which is exactly what this publication offers. It includes texts on subjects as varied as the Internet as a free tool for  communication, production, and dissemination of artistic production in a way somewhat independent of capital (Anton Vidokle); RMB City, the Second Life city—or rather, community—planned and developed by Beijing-based artist Cao Fei (Ceren Erdem); and Indexhibit a tool for artists to build websites and online portfolios (Cat Kron, in a short survey whose subject seems fascinating but that could have been handled in a more complex way). These are accompanied by artist projects—mainly by Columbia MFA students, a fantastic way of tying this publication, whose ambitions seem more global than to solely appeal to the Columbia community, with its natural collaborators within that community—and includes the brilliant idea of the unlimited edition: each issue includes a one-page PDF available for download as a large-edition art project. 

One of the highlights of the issue is the inclusion of a roundtable discussion that took place at Columbia on October 4, 2011. Titled "Framing the Internet," it invited artist Anton Vidokle, media theorist Alexander Galloway, and Bettina Funke, head of publications ...

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Artist Profile: Liz Magic Laser

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I Feel Your Pain, Liz Magic Laser, 2011. A Performa Commission. Featuring Annie Fox and Rafael Jordan. Photo: Yola Monakhov.

One of the greatest parts about Chase is the difficulty in determining who the actor is speaking to a great deal of the time - to the other actors through editing, to the camera and the viewer, to the occasional spectators and even apparently to the ATM machines themselves. Was this complication between the project and the viewer, film and theater a goal of the artwork?

For Chase I worked with each actor to make the “Man Equals Man” script resonate in a two-fold manner, both in the context of the original play’s dialogue and in the immediate scenario of the bank vestibule. We were constantly juggling these two registers of meaning: the illusory space of the play and the actual space of the bank. At the beginning I told the actors they could direct their lines to bank clients, my camera, the ATM machines or other inanimate objects in the bank. I outlined these parameters and we played with each line until it struck a cord on both fictional and immediate registers. It was a challenge I put to each performer to imagine that their scene partner could be a passerby or a bank advertisement. The two-tiered approach is then repeated because we are addressing two audiences, the audience we encountered in the bank and the audience who would be watching the montaged video. One audience is exchanged for another, a passerby is incorporated as a player or a machine is treated as if it were a person. The exchangeability of all people and things loomed large throughout the project as both theme and method.

In addition to dealing with the way ATM's transform us into automatons there ...

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Tomorrow: Jodi premiere Untitled (mobile.app) + (one more thing..)

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At this event, renowned Dutch collective JODI will premiere a new mobile application, outfitted for iPhone and Android, that is invested in “Motion/ Figure/ Posture Actions.” The application records users’ quotidian movements and turns them into choreography—one that captures our awkward, mundane, frustrated, addicted interactions with our ubiquitous devices. This focus on dynamics of control, as well as the psychology and behavior produced by technology, is at the core of JODI’s work. For this presentation, the collective will present and discuss the work, and hired performers will enact its choreography.

JODI are looking for performers to participate in Untitled (mobile app) + (one more thing). Participants must have the iPhone4 and must be ready and willing to download JODI's app and demonstrate it during the performance. If interested, please email events@rhizome.org.

Tomorrow: Friday, February 10th, 2012 7 p.m at the New Museum

$6 Members, $8 General Public (tickets

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The Moon Goose Analogue: Lunar Migration Bird Facility

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The projects of German artist, Agnes Meyer-Brandis, flirt with the construction of scientific knowledge, grasping and slipping between the object and subject. Drawing from a background in visual and new media art practice, Meyer-Brandis creates installations, performances, and film that drift from scientific theory into fiction and wonder. Her work draws parallels with fictional and quasi-fiction worlds, those of space cadets and armchair rocket launchers.

Exploring recurring subjects such as gravity, weightlessness and space travel, her work has led to collaborations with scientists and researchers providing access to operations and activities usually restricted to scientific experimentation only. In 2007, while working on a project called Cloud-Core-Scanner she travelled on a zero gravity flight in collaboration with the DLR (German Aerospace Centre) to examine the formation of clouds in a weightless environment. As well as a rigorous scientific approach, her work is often tinged with a playful humour, such as her series of public meteor watching events, where participants are instructed to bring a safety helmet.

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Mediated Location: Kessler, QR codes, and the new AR

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Jon Kessler, The Blue Period at Salon 94, 2012

Where are you?  Jon Kessler's The Blue Period involves surveillance cameras, cardboard figures, collaged portraits, and video monitors to answer that establishing question in different ways.  In his exhibit, viewers are located via camera capture, then turn to find themselves on video screens.  They become spectators and a part of the spectacle (Kessler has an acknowledged affinity for Debord), pinpointing their actual and metaphorical whereabouts by viewing themselves in a loop of mediated images.  

Jon Kessler, The Blue Period at Salon 94, 2012

If one of the cameras in Kessler's piece had localization functionality, it could infer position based on a current view of the scene like a QR code can.  In scanning a QR code for embedded information, an individual effectively informs on himself, firing a flare in space.  A sort of inverse to The Blue Period's accumulation of intermediary images with unlocatable sources, QR codes create an augmented reality where a mediated physical environment gains content through revealing position.

Eric Mika, überbeamer mapping, 2011

The überbeamer, a hand-held, spatially-aware projection system reminiscent of Ghostbuster weaponry by artist Eric Mika, expands on augmented reality by using a projector to draw content directly onto surfaces.  The device knows where you are relative to where you've been, storing a three-dimensional model of its environment.  Comprehending the geometry of a scene, and your location in it, the überbeamer has the same functionality as a QR code to overlay digital information and track location.  And it does so without covering the world with robot barf.

 

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The Whitney Artport

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Ursula Endlicher, Light and Dark Networks, 2011.

The Whitney’s Sunrise/Sunset project consists of a series of commissioned internet based works that exist within the axis constraints of Earth’s orbit: New York City’s sunrise and sunset.  Besides the entire website’s background transitioning from white to black each day representing this shift in time (white for day, black for night), each project is designated a net presence between ten to thirty seconds—that is, within this brief timeframe, each work gets to take over the entire Whitney site once only at sunrise and once at sunset; the exact times for each determined day to day by the weather among other environmental fluctuations.

Sunrise/Sunset is part of Whitney’s Artport—an online gallery space demonstrating the institution’s own internet awareness.  First launched in 2002, Artport attempts to engage and archive internet and new media based practices through the commissioning of works specific to whitney.org as well as documenting all Whitney based net/new media exhibitions.  Currently, Artport is featuring commissions from Ursula Endlicher and Scott Snibe.

Light and Dark Networks is a ten second piece from Endlicher that continues the artist’s interest in ‘data performances’.  The morning encounter involves a spider web that is blown into multiple directions of the website based on current New York weather and CO2 levels.  At sunset, an image of the mycelium of a mushroom grows or shrinks based on the temperature of the city while also responding to humidity levels which generates videos of the artist, costumed and reenacting the mushroom’s physical reactive changes.  Endlicher draws attention to the way information and data inform and affect the physical, as well as how the physical can inform quantification itself. 

Snibe’s, Tripolar was originally commissioned in 2002 by the Whitney but now has made its renewed debut as an iPhone and iPad application.  The app involves the path of forms made from a user’s point of touch, reacting to the effect a pendulum makes while swinging over three magnets, resulting in a scribbled line drawing.  Through the app a user can also add, remove and place magnets as to customize and experiment with formal variations of line.  The work, first exhibited in online exhibition CODeDOC, demonstrates the way the input [code]—through random or subtle manipulation—drastically changes its visual output, creating chaotic and unpredictable outcomes.

 

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