Four Thousand and Seven Horizons (2007) by Lizzie Hughes

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Four Thousand and Seven Horizons (2007) by Lizzie Hughes

From the artist's statement: 4,007 photographic images (one for each ten Kilometers of the earth's circumference) were sourced from photo sharing websites. The images, largely holiday snaps, were cropped to exclude any geographical, architectural or other reference points and the resulting images re-scaled (so that the horizon ran directly through the center of the frame) before being ordered on a time-line according to color. With the images being sourced from unknown locations across the globe, the work aims to document an imaginary line, which ultimately describes the curvature of the earth.

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Pixel Pop

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Weaving Shades of Binary Grey

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A number of artists have started using textiles and needlework to explore the relationship between computer culture and craft. Here on Rhizome, we've recently covered Ben Fino-Radin, Sabrina Gschwandtner, Cat Mazza, and Cody Trepte, among others employing "traditional media" in the service of a technological critique. Not to be left out of this group is Christy Matson, a Chicago-based artist who takes this investigation to even more self-reflexive heights. Matson's work may not look high tech, but it responds directly to media culture and is often made using a Jacquard Loom, a mechanical device that is important in the proto-history of computing. Many of the artist's projects involve building feedback loops between the sonic experiences of making and viewing her work. Recordings of the weaving process are algorithmically translated into binary yes/no, on/off, or true/false patterns and translated into images in the form of thread color choice, needle behavior, and other factors. The artist includes copper wires in these weavings to act as amplifiers or antennae for further sonic transmissions. See, for example, Movements, in which the viewer's hand is meant to rove as a sort of playhead on what is posited as a 4-channel audio installation. The same questions are raised in her work, Digital Synesthesia, which looks at similarities in the abilities (one might even say tendencies) of both the human brain and the computer to conflate sound and image. To her credit as a dedicated artist, these are issues Matson works to flesh out again and again, even exploiting the repetition of the line-by-line weaving process as an ironic take on the re-spinning of these narratives. When she explored synaesthesia in Soundw(e)ave (a piece whose title conveys her obvious love of word play), she wrote that "This transmutability ...

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Putting the I in Imaginary

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Reading Hayley Silverman's statements about her own work, it's evident that she recently attended a smartypants art school. Of her Free TV (2008) installation, in which a small mirror is angled into position on the floor and spray-painted with the eponymous phrase, she says "The mirror exemplifies the fallibility of showing the fixed image as a means of conveying self, and questions the immediate material construction of objects that frame what we perceive." Such Lacanian readings, and a consistent concern with critiquing the tropes of modernism, are peppered throughout the young artist's work which offers physical stand-ins for theories about the Symbolic and the Real. Seemingly left out of the infamous Lacanian triad, she invokes the concept of the Imaginary, but perhaps this is a triangulating force bequeathed by Silverman to her viewers. Her sculpture, The Everything is a Stonehenge-like assemblage using traditional stage prop materials (foam, wood frames, faux finishes) to offer a sort of pile-up of tombstones engraved with the names of digital file formats, operating systems, and programming languages. Theatrical appearances aside, Silverman says she intended to create something devoid of performativity, but rather--like its ancient representational forebears-- a structure that generates a monumentality seemingly predetermined by the eventual extinction of the systems it celebrates and the people who celebrate them. There is, in fact, a kind of sharply ironic morbidity in her work, which gives it a sort of human charm. In 11:11 (2008), Silverman (also a member of the net art group, Loshadka) seems to admit something that many contemporary internet artists working with readymade materials cannot. Pulling a found image (in this case, a tree whose trunk bears a knot resembling a human eye) from a phenomenologist's archive of found images, she says that the image "either amounts to ...

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01SJ Diary: Day 1

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Editor's Note: Over the next few days, curator Michael Connor will report from the 01SJ Festival taking place this week in San Jose, CA.


When I arrived in San Jose yesterday for the opening of 01SJ, I couldn't help but feel that this would be a defining year for the biennial festival of "Art on the Edge." The festival was launched in 2006 alongside the itinerant ISEA conference, and I was eager to see how 01SJ would take shape without its more established partner. For 01SJ, based in the heart of Silicon Valley, building local audiences depends on presenting programs that resonate with the tech-savvy, while cultivating their interest in contemporary art.


Last night was the official opening of the Superlight exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art, a central component of the 01SJ program. In his opening remarks at the exhibition, Artistic Director Steve Dietz addressed this challenge explicitly, reinforcing the point that the festival is bringing together the "so-called contemporary art world" with the "so-called new media art world." This relationship was played out in various ways through recent artworks that offer political and personal responses to a world riven by seemingly intractable problems.



Genevieve Grieves, Picturing the Old People, 2008

Talented newcomer Genevieve Grieves addresses the history of Indigenous representation in Australia in her piece Picturing the Old People. For this body of work, Grieves researched 19th-century photographs held in the collection of the State Library of Victoria. She identified particular motifs that ran through many of these photographs, such as romanticized images of the "noble savage" to the allure of the "exotic woman." She created five video portraits modeled after these archetypal motifs, in which the subjects occasionally come to life to enact their suppressed desires. In the video entitled Warrior, a man ...

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The Tomorrow People

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In his 1971 essay on post-Holocaust culture "In Bluebeard's Castle," George Steiner notes that in nineteenth-century Europe "an odd school of painting develops: pictures of London, Paris, or Berlin seen as colossal ruins, famous landmarks burnt, eviscerated, or located in weird emptiness among charred stumps and dead water." Comparing these visions to 20th century photographs of war-ravaged Warsaw and Dresden, he wonders "how strong a part of wish-fulfillment there was in these nineteenth-century intimations." Or self-criticism: Gustav Doré and Blanchard Jerrold's 1872 book London: A Pilgrimage depicts a dark metropolis teeming with the bodies of the poor, then ends with an eerily serene image of a future London, crumbling and overgrown like the remains of ancient Rome-- a urban memento mori. One recalls these European precedents while viewing the exhibit "AMERIKA: Back to the Future" at Postmasters Gallery in New York; the key to this tightly composed set of works lies in Jennifer and Kevin McCoy's Big Box (biosphere), a set of two miniature suburban landscapes. Each one depicts a typical American shopping mall, comprised of the facades of familiar chain stores and restaurants-- Chili's, Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, The Sports Authority and so on-- reconfigured into a circular structure that slowly rotates on a mechanical table (the exact order of the businesses taken directly from a specific mall in Nyack, New York). Tiny cameras feed live images to screens above, enlarging the scale models to strangely lifelike dimensions. In one part of the installation, the mall includes a mesh-wire dome at its center, overgrown with green moss and trees, with small plots of vegetables and flowers planted outside. In the other, the same structure, now hollow at its center, is burned and crumbling, surrounded by bloodstained human figures; letters have been torn off of logos ...

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ANIMALMIXUP! (2008) by Jeff Baij

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ANIMALMIXUP! (2008) by Jeff Baij

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Round and Round

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Starting this Friday night and running through April 28th, Mudam Luxemboug will host a series of events organized by Candice Breitz involving artists who "explore the logic of call-and-response" in their practices. Many of these artists, including Cory Arcangel, Matthieu Laurette, and Pierre Bismuth, have been previously categorized by the use of appropriation or recycling in their works, a characterization Breitz believes to feed into a false dichotomy, in the discourse surrounding contemporary art, between "original" creative production and critical responses to culture's reserves. For Breitz, "all creative acts are responses to other creative acts," and her curated program aspires to locate the practices of the participating artists in the history of call-and-response, which many musicologists trace back to oral cultures on the African continent. Call-and-response is a mode of creative expression that necessarily emerges "between people," in that it entails the participation of multiple speakers and listeners, thereby departing from "the traditional western separation of speaker/performer and listener/audience." Over a series of daylong sessions, Breitz will engage artists on a series of topics: "Art Goes to the Movies" will focus on the cannibalization of mainstream cinema in the work of Paul Pfeiffer, Bismuth, Martin Arnold and Breitz; "After Images" explores Surasi Kusolwong, Jonathan Monk, and Kaz Oshiro's use of other artists' works of art in their practices; and "Mondo Youtube" will find Arcangel, Laurette, and Bjørn Melhus discussing "the participatory potential of mainstream media such as advertising, the Internet, reality television, video games, Myspace and YouTube." As these types of mainstream media double as sites for corporate marketing and trend-appropriation - a topic Breitz has frequently addressed in her career - the question of the possibility for innovative, critical gestures becomes of paramount importance. Thankfully, one would be hard-pressed to find a better panel of practitioners ...

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Electric Heat

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Who's ready for summer? Starting Wednesday, the monitors and projector's inside London's Seventeen gallery will be burning-up with the work of four North American video artists. Yet, while their show, "We Like What You Eat," is a "micro survey" of outstanding work, it's not a question of who's "hot or not." In fact, what's more interesting about the show is that its venue all but proclaims itself "not hot" in saying, "In terms of exposure, the art gallery has been matched and perhaps even surpassed in importance by the website itself as an artistic platform for the included artists." It's true, the work of Paul B. Davis, collaborators John Michael Boling and Javier Morales, and Eric Fensler has simultaneously borrowed from the visual lexicon of the internet and blossomed there, finding scores of fans among the ranks of computer geeks and musicians as well as fellow artists and savvy curators. It's this crossover--or, rather, this practice of reciprocity--that binds the artists together in the show, with pop cultural phenomena flowing into the work as inspiration or source material, only to find it flowing back out as the art work itself becomes a part of pop culture. Call it the pop art visualization of the adage, "you are what you eat." The gallery declares this an all-out international movement that "nonetheless maintains its spiritual center in the United States of America." Fortunately, you can surf the artists' work from anywhere, but prepare your eyes for the optical poptitude proffered by these guys. In the words of ironically now-forgotten 80s pop musicians, Timbuk 3, their future's so bright, they "gotta wear shades." - Marisa Olson

Image credit: John Michael Boling and Javier Morales, "Body Magic," 2006 (video still)

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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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