Recorded/Live

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Houston venue Aurora Picture Show's annual multimedia festival Media Archaeology kicks off tonight and will run through the weekend. Dubbed "Live and Televised," the diverse group of artists selected for this year's festival integrate pre-recorded audio or visual media into their live performances. For the opening event, legendary culture jammers Negativland will broadcast a religiously-themed radio show to a blindfolded audience. For a preview, click play below and close your eyes:



Animator Brent Green will also incorporate sound into his act, by accompanying his stop animations with his own live narration as well as an improvised score by a three-piece band. Shana Moulton will take the stage with an intricate and vibrant performance by her character Cynthia as she seeks out spiritual enlightenment and self-improvement. Finally, Tara Mateik will compete in a strenuous match against himself in his reenactment of the 1973 defeat of tennis player Bobby Riggs by Billie Jean King in the humorously titled "Putting The Balls Away." - Ceci Moss

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the floating island (2008) by Jeff Baij

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the floating island (2008) by Jeff Baij

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Paul Chan "The 7 <strike>Lights</strike>" Website

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The New Museum produced a special website, which went live today, in conjunction with Paul Chan's new exhibition "The 7 Lights." The site presents elaborate documentation of the exhibition, in the form of video, text, audio, and drawings. In the spirit of Creative Commons, the source files for Chan's animations are also available for download and modification. This underlying feature inserts a unique interactive component to the website and, further, to the exhibition itself. - Ceci Moss

Image Credit: Paul Chan, 5th Light, 2007 (Photo by Jean Vong)

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No Holds Barred

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After a standout contribution to Postmasters' summer 2007 group show - which caused even tough cookie critic Roberta Smith to advise New York Times readers to "take notice" - Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung returns to the gallery this month with an accomplished solo turn, "Residential Erection," running through May 10th. Spanning the space's two rooms are the artist's recent video contributions to his brand of twenty-first century baroque, Residential Erection (2008) and Gas Zappers (2007), as well as digital prints and monumental pop-up displays, all deriving imagery from Residential Erection. While the pop-ups offer interesting translations of Hung's collage-heavy video practice into the sculptural realm, they ultimately feel secondary to the videos themselves, which interpolate political hubris and prop-like flatness with a greater level of sophistication, evoking theater sets, commercial advertisements, image search refuse and one-on-one combat video games. All of these references (and countless others) make a turn on Hung's digital stage, collectively giving a performance as critical of contemporary American politics as it is symptomatic of the artist as capitalist-schizophrenic par excellence. In one of the choicer scenes from Residential Erection, for example, an infantile Barack Obama suckles from the teat of mega-advocate Oprah Winfrey (in Virgin Mary attire), only to transform into a variation on Ali G's Borat, emblazoned with the logos of Verizon, UBS and a handful of his other corporate campaign sponsors. At another moment, a cadre of conservatives roll out the "Straight Talk Express," led by Republican cheerleader John McCain - replete with tutu - and proceed to erect a chain-link fence, hoard burritos and manufacture "Minutemen Salsa." Hung's garishly Pop take is thus no disguise for our nation's unsavory realities, but rather uses the aesthetics of mass-culture to dispel the sleek, rhetorical surface of American politics and tease out its dirty ...

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Interview with Eddo Stern

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Image: Still from "Amongst Fables and Men"


Tonight artist Eddo Stern will host "QQ More", a screening he curated of offbeat fan-made machinima dealing with real-life issues such as drugs, pornography, and death at Brooklyn's Light Industry. The show begins at 8pm and will be followed by a discussion between Stern and Alexander Galloway. I conducted an email interview with Stern about his interest in the phenomenon and its relevance to his own art practice. - Ceci Moss

In gaming parlance, what does "QQ More" mean? How does this relate to the concept behind your program "QQ More"?

QQ is an emoticon that means crying or sobbing - think two big round eyes with lil' tears. The program contains a few real tearjerkers hence the title "QQ More."

When and how did you start working on "QQ More"?

I've spent quite a few too many hours watching fan made machinima from MMOs on fan sites, most of which I would call "vanity videos" -- short films of players' tributes to � themselves, set to emotionally charged music. Then one day I stumbled on a video called Rest in Peace Ignoramus -- a Norwegian World of Warcraft video made by a few guild members to commemorate a fellow guildmate's death -- the video's intended audience appears to be Ignoramus's family and his online friends. The video is uncomfortably intimate, and the production is very amateurish - it runs way too long, has terrible camera control, sappy music and no editing whatsoever but it still will bring you to tears. (Oh pathos, I cannot resist thee!)

After unearthing Rest in Peace Ignoramus and watching the infamous video by Serenity Now about the memorial massacre, I started a more systematic search through fan-made WoW videos and found a few other oddballs -- the selection for QQ ...

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Disruptive Media

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Wisconsin-based media artist Sabine Gruffat is kicking up quite a storm at Deadtech with her current installation, 24 Hour Riot, running through Tuesday, April 15th - an impressive fact, given the Chicago gallery's reputation for boundary-pushing fare. Gruffat has outfitted the space with a responsive array of electronic noise machines and televised riot scenes, such that a viewer's movement randomly triggers disturbances in the video and soundtrack. The effect is one of total dislocation, as our arbitrary influence on these broadcasts generates a palpable awareness of the existing gaps between politics, mass-media, and spectatorship. On this level, 24 Hour Riot continues Gruffat's extensive look at the various, mobile units of the culture industry and provisionally asks the question of how the reality of our contemporary, mediatized lifestyle may actually provide a groundwork for new modes of political engagement. As with Head Lines: Hybrid Film Trilogy (2007), in which the artist ran New York Times articles through semi-automated, recombinatory processes to produce skittery, 16mm animations, 24 Hour Riot suggests that any program of change must first arise from a greater understanding of the normativized codes of information dispersal, and of the means by which said codes may be subverted, erased, or reassembled. - Tyler Coburn

Sabine Gruffat, 24 Hour Riot, 2008

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Process Makes Perfect

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The process behind generative art often holds as much fascination as the final product, as software artist C.E.B. Reas seems well aware, judging from his latest exhibition at Manhattan gallery Bitforms. Aptly titled "process / form," the show offers an unusually multifaceted glimpse into the methodology of the artist, who is well-known for co-creating the programming language Processing and for using code to mimic natural forms and behaviors in his own works. On display are software installations, prints, and relief sculptures created using Process 14 and Process 18, two new systems in Reas' "Process" series, first begun in 2005. At Bitforms, the software installations feature a clever set-up: side-by-side screens let viewers see two interpretations of each process unfurl. The right hand screen of Process 18 (2008) offers up a minimalist-inspired display, where simple white lines rapidly dart and cluster across a black background. In contrast, the neighboring screen offers a more lush, painterly vision: The same motion plays out there, but the lines' movements leave soft strokes of white, gray, and black, creating forms reminiscent of feathers or splinters. Similarly for Process 14 (2008) --- based on the form of a circle -- the right-hand screen shows stark round forms drifting and repelling one another like solitary amoebas, while on the display to the left, the circles leave gentle swirls like a field of blossoms. While such works defy materiality, Reas created the show's prints and relief sculptures to bring Process 14 and Process 18 into tactile form, he said in an interview at last night's exhibition opening. Especially intriguing are the two fiber-composite sculptures of Process 18-generated images, created using a milling machine. Matter-of-factly titled P18 (Object 1) (2008) and P18 (Object 2) (2008), the sculptures translate grayscale values into three dimensions, forming rocky-looking ridges suggesting a ...

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Where From Here?

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Clever internet sourcing may be a common practice for a younger generation of artists, but rarely is it deployed with as much sinister aplomb as in the work of Cliff Evans. In Evans' skilled hands, a veritable parade of pixilated characters - from trade show women to stormtroopers, politicians to smiling couples - are reconstituted as the spokes, gears and pistons of ubiquitous, twenty-first century war machines: at once eerily futuristic and all too reminiscent of recent neoconservative empire-building initiatives. The resulting look of these photomontage animations is "excessive, flat, quasi-random, and circuitous," Evans describes: "all qualities inherent within the environment of the web." In Road to Mount Weather (2006), a three-channel installation spanning a 32-foot wide screen, fragmentary image groupings produce an unexpected narrative, increasingly assembling into secret military sites, underground testing facilities and others domains of the political id. Complicating what could otherwise be the somewhat conventional propagation of conspiratorial lore is Evans' self-conscious conception of his own authorial role. The artist alternately labels himself "a co-conspirator with the powers presented" and "a paranoid heretic attempting to subvert the powers of control," a bifurcated position he believes to be inevitable to a creative process reliant upon the appropriation of countless photographs - and, implicitly, lives - from the internet's vast reserves. In a way, Evans-as-author performs an overly dramatic version of our own complicity, as virtual navigators and political subjects, with the powers that be; but in lieu of fatalism, he offers animations too epic and interpretatively open to not suggest that there are more than a few routes into the future. - Tyler Coburn

Image: Cliff Evans, Road to Mount Weather (Image Stills), 2006

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Blinking Lights

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"There is a certain beauty in trying to fulfill the potential of the obsolete. As we have become a culture that is defined by the latest and greatest, and at the same time built in obsoleteness. Why are we in such a hurry to progress when we haven't realized the potential of what we have, where is this thing called progress taking us?"

This anxious quandary, posed by artist Mike Beradino, elucidates the concept behind his use of outmoded technologies. The New York-based artist has created several works that reflect upon the rapid consumption of technology, where a piece of software or hardware is embraced one moment and tossed out the very next. His lo-fi, 8X18 LED grid pieces, Liquid Pixels (2007) and blinken (2007), for example, employ the spirit of DIY, tinkering and the open source movement as a foil to an increasingly dense technological mediation within and throughout daily life. Liquid Pixels uses the LED display to create morphing patterns of ferrofluid, while blinken narrates a perverse, LED animation of a character free falling from a roof as clocks spin out of control. Beradino was inspired to create these LED pieces by the techno-primitive genre of "flashing/sparkling/blinking" art known as "Blinken" which, in 2001, emerged out of the German hacker community, Chaos Computer Club, who continue to remain active today via the BlinkenArea portal. The BlinkenArea hackers have developed a Blinken-centric operating system (BlinkOS), their own programming language (ARCADEmini Assembler), software for Blinken programs and animations, and a far-reaching manifesto for its role in "world domination," which includes an entertaining set of bullet points for achieving said domination. This auto-obsolescence as practiced by Beradino and the Blinken hackers may employ tongue-in-cheek rhetoric, but it could also be seen as an increasingly viable strategy of dissidence ...

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Tom Moody's OptiDisc at Art Fag City

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Tom Moody, OptiDisc, animated GIF.

Art blog Art Fag City have a fantastic new masthead designed by artist and blogger Tom Moody, pictured above. See below for a description of the work from Art Fag City:

"The piece is meant to be big, dumb, and iconic, a moving, pulsing symbol of both the promise and failure of technology," said Tom Moody of Optidisc during Geeks in the Gallery, a detail of which now resides in my masthead. Aesthetically the gif looks just as Moody describes it, the rings klutzy yet mildly hypnotic; though past this, its life as a meme underscores the artist's excitement and reservations about the web as a medium. Referencing artists such as Kenneth Noland and Jasper Johns, without reiterating color field painting or Minimalism, Optidisc speaks as clearly to a tradition of Fine Art painting, as it does regular surfers looking for something "different" for their myspace page.

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