Fantastic Voyage

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Since its earliest days, cinema has drawn comparison to the domain of magic and fantasies. Many of the form's early scholars agreed less on what film was (theatre? a new kind of pencil?) and more on its ability to psychologically transport viewers. A two-part show opening February 14 at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, in Washington, D.C., explores the ongoing development of this scenario, especially as it relates to the move toward the realm of video and digital media. The first component of The Cinema Effect: Illusion, Reality and the Moving Image is thus entitled "Dreams," and it explores "film's ability to transport viewers out of their everyday lives into states that lie between wakefulness and sleep, sending them on journeys into the darker recesses of the imagination." Artists in the first half of this pioneering exhibition include Darren Almond, Michael Bell-Smith, Bruce Conner, Tacita Dean, Stan Douglas, Harun Farocki, Douglas Gordon, Rodney Graham, Gary Hill, Steve McQueen, Tony Oursler, Wolfgang Staehle, Siebren Versteeg, Andy Warhol, and others. Common among their works is a tracing of the moving image's collapse into pop culture--and vice-versa-- which is to be expected as this form of expression becomes the dominant context for communicative exchange. "Dreams" will be followed-up by a second component, "Realisms," which plumbs a fascinating irony--that "in an age when documenting 'real life' in moving image formats becomes ever easier," because of the increased availability of DIY media, "the line between fact and fiction is increasingly complicated." Both halves work together to present a fantastical and high-fidelity vision of the cinematic. - Marisa Olson



Image credit: Still from Kelly Richardson's "Exiles of the Shattered Star," 2006, from the Hirshhorn's collection. Image courtesy the artist.

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Symphonie Diagonale

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Video by Brock Monroe

The Icelandic new music ensemble Hestbak formed in 2003 as a brass-heavy improvisation collective. Under the influence of Aki Asgeirsson, who joined a year later, the band began experimenting with interactive technologies and the potential of animated scores to "conduct" performances of their compositions. A group recital last weekend, hosted by experimental folk singer Kria Brekkan at Brooklyn gallery Secret Project Robot saw the execution of several different pieces in which musical instructions, rendered as simple kinetic forms, emanated in real time from a video projector for viewing by both ensemble and audience. Each piece treated the passing of time as a stroll horizontally or vertically across the score, usually with a fixed point designated as the cue for performers to make sound.

Gudmundur Steinn's "Volma" referenced the graphical interface of studio recording software, while Asgeirsson's "Talfall" featured multiple strings of descending numerical values cascading along parabolic pathways. As each number disappeared off the bottom of the screen, a Hestbak member plunked its corresponding note on a piano, enabling a variety of casual rhythms and harmonies.

Performance of "Talfall" (Photo by Lisa Corson)

Perhaps "Hvitasuo" by Pall Ivan Pallson demonstrated the direct potential of video scoring most effectively to the uninitiated. Before the piece, Pallson distributed plastic party cups and instructed the audience members on how to position them in accordance to the length of slowly scrolling points in a projected diagram. Then came the sound: a relentless swath of pure white noise, which morphed differently for each individual in relation to the distance of the cups to his/her ears.

Audience during "Hvitasuo" (Photo by Lisa Corson)

While projected scores are nothing new to the experimental music community, graphic dataflow software like Max/MSP (and its free counterpart used by Hestbak members, Pd ...

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Continuing Education for Dead Adults

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The next program in Rhizome's New Silent Series at the New Museum, Continuing Education for Dead Adults presents three multi-media performances that riff off youth pop culture and its long-term consequences. East Coast collective Paper Rad premieres new videos, including Problem Solvers (20 min, 2008) and a short entitled crank dat spongebob batman dropdead robocop (3 min, 2008) which, in the group's words, is a "3-minute terror-ride through the online world of youtube show-offs." New York artist Ben Coonley presents a new performance entitled Kindred Spirits is the Working Title, (15 min, 2008) and Providence-based experimental band Wizardzz (featuring members of Lightning Bolt) will perform in front of a mesmeric animated tapestry. Tickets available here.

Friday, Jan. 11, 7:00 PM
the New Museum, New York, NY
$8 general public, $6 Members (Rhizome and New Museum)

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