Posts for May 2015

'Bodies are packages made to be opened': Shu Lea Cheang's 'I.K.U.' (2000)

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The following is an excerpt from The I.K.U. Experience, The Shu-Lea Cheang Phenomenon, an essay in New Queer Cinema: The Director’s Cut (2013) by B. Ruby Rich.

Just step right up, ladies and gentlemen, the carnival is about to begin. Come inside, surf the net, play the video game, dive into the screen, cruise the future, come get fucked, just come, come, come. Bodies are packages made to be opened, minds are penetrable, sensations communicable, orgasms collectable.

I.K.U. invents a future cybersexual universe, where trained replicants roam the empty spaces of unseen metropolises, hunting willing prey for orgasmic sexual marathons conducted in the service of science. The irresistible replicants are equipped with unicorn-like arms which – presto -- turn into dildo machines specifically calibrated to collect and transmit the specifications of orgasms into the centralized corporatized databases of the future. Meanwhile, the species of the future are wildly indeterminate, gender-blurred or homo-sex, oversexed or just, well, willing. Shorn of emotion, sex isn't just work. Data has its pleasures, too.

And the audience? Like it or not, you're implicated in it all, swept up by the throbbing techno soundtrack, plunged directly into the action by the animation tunnels that materialize at the onset of arousal.

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Artist Profile: Mark Dorf

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The latest in a series of interviews with artists who have developed a significant body of work engaged (in its process, or in the issues it raises) with technology. See the full list of Artist Profiles here.

Mark Dorf, Untitled (Sketch) (2014)
 
Kerry Doran: Your work, though seemingly based on nature and natural formations, is very much about human-made, technological constructs, using a visual vocabulary we are familiar with to show us unfamiliar and often invisible forces like networked activity and virtual spaces.   More broadly, it probes at the notion of “the scientific,” or what we consider to be objective truth. As religion and its iconography once were, science is now our foremost means of making sense of our landscape; a way to understand the world through categories, systems, principles, equations, and technologies, which are all human-made and therefore arbitrary or fallible. How do you use landscape as a catalyst, and even a sort of iconography, to deal with the construction of objectivity or lack thereof?

Mark Dorf: Landscape itself is the set of symbols that human beings have been looking at the longest— perhaps only second to the body. It's where we originate from, so it follows suit that our symbols originate from here, too. With such a deeply rooted biological and elemental connection to the land, we find its aesthetics intensely fascinating. For instance, you would be hard-pressed to find a single person on this planet that would not consider a photograph of the Grand Canyon, even of the most amateur of quality, a quintessentially idyllic scene. We are drawn to these images, and upon seeing these kinds of symbolic references, there is an immediate sense of connection despite a void of human presence.

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Stay With Me: AIRBNB Pavilion at IDEAS CITY

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Saturday, May 30, 12-6pm EST 
Live-stream at rhizome.org 
Live-stream viewing session at Houston Street Center, 273 Bowery (Information and reservations: info@rhizome.org)

As part of the 2015 IDEAS CITY Festival, Rhizome and the New Museum invited AIRBNB Pavilion to organize a day-long salon addressing Airbnb and contemporary domesticity in New York. 

For his 1971 tape Chinatown Voyeur, the artist Gordon Matta-Clark recorded images of domestic spaces from the street, using the nascent medium of video. The spaces were partly hidden, shadowy and grainy, and lived in. Today, Airbnb has given the domestic sphere a new, public role in the city's economic and political life, making it newly visible: immaculate, unpopulated, and overlit. With this new visibility, the practice of interior decoration takes on a new urgency. As arguments rage about Airbnb's impact on city life, we invited the AIRBNB Pavilion to consider the questions: How might interior decoration intervene productively Airbnb's ongoing transformation of this city? And, to what end?

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