Robert Rauschenberg 1925-2008

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Artist Robert Rauschenberg passed away on Monday. He was 82. Easily one of the most significant artists to come out of the twentieth century, Rauschenberg began painting in the 1940's, and eventually integrated collage, sculpture, performance, choreography, set design, and printmaking into his trailblazing practice. Throughout his career, he was continually dedicated to the concept that the artist must take on an active, participatory role in relation to the culture at large. This perspective was perhaps encouraged and strengthened while studying in the 1950's at the experimental and visionary Black Mountain College. During this period, he met John Cage and Merce Cunningham, and in 1952, the three participated in Theater Piece #1, cited by some as the first "happening" which involved the simultaneous performance of music, dance, and visual art. In 1967, he co-founded the groundbreaking organization Experiments in Art and Technology, whose mission to foster collaborations between artists and engineers served to bolster the creative application of new technologies in ways unimaginable before. To this day, the formation of Experiments in Art and Technology, along with the series of performances in 1966 from which it emerged, 9 Evenings: Theatre and Engineering, mark a major milestone in the history of art and technology. Rauschenberg's openness to experimentation- both formally and conceptually- remain one of his principal contributions to American art. - Ceci Moss


Image Credit: Robert Rauschenberg, Open Score, 1966

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Let It Spin

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Imagine an art collective whose practice--on the surface--revolves largely around inside jokes, self-congratulation, and the unabashed display of consumption. Throw in a fine balance between fearless experimentation with form and a general disregard for traditional aesthetics. Sounds like international biennale material, right? In fact, it's "Double Happiness," the net art collective who today celebrate their first anniversary of online rabble-rousing under the moniker of this popular Chinese calligraph. When the group was invited, via email, to ruminate on this auspicious occasion, "Dub Hap" co-founder Borna Sammak replied, "I've noticed that those outside the art community seem much quicker to 'get it' than art people." Then again, he also boasted, "I pride myself in having the worst website on the internet." Indeed, the group's site--also managed by artists Eric Laska, Evan Roth, Jeff Sisson, and Bennett Williamson--is chock-a-block with the fruits of inordinately long websurfing sessions: frayed gif mashups, hilarious if sometimes unnerving audio loops, shameless resizes calling for inconsistent page widths, ekphrastic word/image paradoxes, and very often beautiful collages of similar images (graffiti tags, gummi bears, umbrella hats... Google Image Searches are their friend) that not only signify through combination and quantity but overwhelm the viewer with a sheer cascade of visual awesomeness. In many ways, the blog recalls the motto of OG net artists Jimpunk and Abe Linkoln's classic site, Screenfull.net, "We crash your browser with content." Double Happiness has the fresh spirit of a sketchbook alit--a sort of exquisite corpse in which no age or end is predeterminate of today's chaotic link-dump. Ultimately, if Double Happiness revolves around an inside joke, then the joke is shared by all of us. As Williamson reasons, "I enjoy using the internet as a medium for dubhap because online we already view so many disparate ...

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THEEND/THEBEGINNING (2008) by Chris Coy

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Ignivomous posted a new guest artist project to their site for Spring 2008. "THEEND/THEBEGINNING" by Chris Coy is a credit roll, complete with an elevator music-style soundtrack, comprised of image captures of actor Kevin Bacon's credit line from every film in which he appeared. Bacon famously claimed that he has worked with everybody in Hollywood or someone related to them, and this assertion became the grounds for a trivia game entitled "the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon," in which participants attempt to connect any actor to appear on screen in history to Kevin Bacon with as few links as possible. The game popularized the myth that Kevin Bacon is a nexus for all Hollywood. By assembling Bacon's credit lines into one place, Coy's piece can be interpreted as a credit roll for all films ever made, giving the title "THEEND/THEBEGINNING" greater significance.

For those of you considering bookmarking the project, Coy provided a list of tags in lieu of an artist's statement. See below:

nastynets, endcredits, socialnetworking, screencaps, archive, collecting, collage, kevinbacon, 6degrees, surfing, myspace, cinema_on_the_web, scrollbarFormalism, deathofnetart?, birthofnetart, vuk_y2k_cosic, IamSo_xcited4spirit_surfers:), theColorGreyAsAnIdea, transitionaryPeriods, LoVid, hyperlinkz, starring, ignivomous, seecoy, c.coy, THEEND, THEBEGINNING, loop=true

- Ceci Moss

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Women in Uniform

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Deborah Oropallo is among a generation of artists trained in painting and printmaking who are now migrating their practice to digital media. The San Francisco-based artist does, however, continue to draw on the aesthetics and visual language of painting and the tactile metaphor of layering in her work, which often involves the use of found digital material. Of this process, she has said, "I use the computer as the tool, but painting is the language of deliberation that is running through my head..." In her newest series, Guise, the artist plucked images from websites featuring photos of women in fetish clothing. Honing-in on period costumes, Oropallo noticed that the photos tended to follow the conventions of traditional portraiture, while putting the female subjects in the stance of powerful men. Guise features over thirty prints in which these images are overlapped--a unique rhetorical maneuver. On the one hand, the layering underscores the overwhelming similarity among poses, while on the other hand it emphasizes difference. By accumulating these images, Oropallo actually deconstructs the variables of each guise. The cacophony of overlapping elements suddenly makes each image out of place, enabling the artist to contribute to the longstanding tradition of photographic portraits establishing a relationship between costume and identity, while bringing desire and power to the discussion. The series is on view at San Francisco's Gallery 16 through February 15. - Marisa Olson



Image: Deborah Oropallo, George, 2007

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