TV Guide

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Image: Antoine Catala, TV Blobs, 2009

In 1996, when my family got a modem and signed up for AOL, my hours of nightly screen time shifted from television to the computer. After leaving for college, I never had a television set in my home—at least not one that’s good for anything more than playing DVDs—and for me television has become a prop associated with certain locations: the ambient CNN in airports, or the numbing luxury at my parents’ house that allows me to surf an easily navigable set of discrete elements, rather than choosing what to view by picking keywords and clicking metonyms.

Antoine Catala feels roughly the same way about television, as I learned on a visit to his studio this summer, and “TV Show” his upcoming solo exhibition at 179 Canal, a new artist-run space in downtown New York, is about television’s slow demise—a phenomenon felt acutely this year as broadcast signals were converted to digital, befuddling one of television’s biggest audiences, the elderly. Catala’s comic-strip paintings of screen stills, which he dashed off quickly with glances at the television, underscore television’s identity as an industrial product, far slicker than anything one person can make alone and produced using templates. His translucent paintings on working television sets also highlight the conventions for arranging shots, as faces and settings of the broadcast form repetitious patterns around his overlaid additions. TV Blobs manipulate live feeds to make distorted, fluid three-dimensional graphics. Catala treats both the television set’s physical mass and the broadcast stream as readymade sculptural material, positioning both form and content as artifacts of the industrial age in a world that’s moving on to something else. “TV Show” opens tonight at 7:00pm.

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The Internet Mapping Project (2009) - Kevin Kelley

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The internet is vast. Bigger than a city, bigger than a country, maybe as big as the universe. It's expanding by the second. No one has seen its borders.

And the internet is intangible, like spirits and angels. The web is an immense ghost land of disembodied places. Who knows if you are even there, there.

Yet everyday we navigate through this ethereal realm for hours on end and return alive. We must have some map in our head.

I've become very curious about the maps people have in their minds when they enter the internet. So I've been asking people to draw me a map of the internet as they see it. That's all. More than 50 people of all ages and levels of expertise have mapped their geography of online.

-- STATEMENT FROM THE PROJECT SITE

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Interview with Grace Kook Anderson

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Image: Eddo Stern, MELF, 2009

Through October 4, the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach is presenting “WoW: Emergent Media Phenomenon”, an exhibition that considers the fantasy environment of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft and its broader cultural impact. It includes works by gaming-conscious artists like Tale of Tales and Radical Software Group as well as pieces produced by staff at the company that develops WoW, Blizzard Entertainment. Curator Grace Kook Anderson answered a few questions about the show.

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Image: Sam “Samwise” Didier, Footman, 1994

What aspects of World of Warcraft as an emergent media phenomenon do you find most interesting as a curator?

WoW has been a rich subject. What I find compelling in this game is that the narrative lineage passing through J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons sets the framework of the game, but the players add that extra narrative layer. Another aspect that is remarkable is the democratic nature of cultural production that a game like WoW stimulates, such as the enormous volume of fan art and machinima to artists working in different media. And as an MMORPG, WoW is also a network and a community for so many people. It is amazing how game culture and reality interact.

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Image: Adam Bartholl, photograph of a performance in Laguna Beach

Could you discuss a few of the artworks you selected and how they expand on these aspects of gaming in general and massively multiplayer gaming in particular?

In the case of quite a few of the artists, WoW imagery or content is used to point to greater issues, such as questioning the idea of networking and community or looking at the implications of globalization and the threat of terrorism. Aram Bartholl led a workshop and performance takes an aspect from the ...

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Eleven Evocations (For Paper Rad)

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The following essay was first published in the catalog for the exhibition curated by Raphael Gygax "Deterioration, They Said" which is on view at the migros museum für gegenwartskunst in Zurich, Switzerland until November 8, 2009.

1. The popular dissemination of magical worlds has ultimately shifted from folk tales to children’s television. Paper Rad takes back this process from commercial channels, creating their own ever-shifting cosmos populated by robots, spaceships, monsters, talking animals, giants and wizards.

Like H. P. Lovecraft or J.R.R. Tolkein, Paper Rad created their own mythos, a set of characters that jointly share a fantasy world. Like Warner Brothers or Disney, Paper Rad circulate their creations across media—websites, comics, animated videos, sculptures, screen prints—thereby establishing themselves as the creators of both an imaginary alternative universe and an audio-visual brand.

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Asteroids (black version) (2009) - E*Rock

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E*Rock "Asteroids (black version) from Audio Dregs Recordings on Vimeo.

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Basic Structures

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Image: Michael Joaquin Grey, Perpetual ZOOZ (Madonna and Child), 2005-2009 (Stills)

In the twenty years that Michael Joaquin Grey has been exhibiting, critics have often employed phrases like “back to basics” and “building blocks” to describe his interest in the conventions dictating the representation of concepts that form the foundation of human knowledge. An exhibition of Grey’s new and old work currently on view at P.S.1 includes a drawing that distills his approach: an outline of an infant playing with two red blocks is the image of a nascent mind grappling with the concept of one plus one. A larger drawing on an adjacent wall reuses the red squares to demonstrate the meaning of prepositions—above, under, behind, etc.—like a diagram in a grammar textbook. Object as preposition (1988-2007), also uses orange circles, a colored form that appears several times in the gallery. The fruit suggested by an orange round is a favorite symbol for Grey (his web site is www.citroid.com). Perhaps it’s because the tautology of the object’s name and the color that describes it produces a conundrum: a schematic picture of an orange is both an abstraction and a concrete representation. The repetition of the orange (or just orange, with no definite article) forces viewers to struggle with the same problem that Grey does: even at the most fundamental level, our descriptions of the world are frustratingly paradoxical and slippery.

Lean, instructional-pamphlet drawings dominate the first of the show’s two galleries; Perpetual ZOOZ (Madonna and Child) (2005-2009), a video projected in the second, darkened room, looks Baroque by comparison. In Grey’s “computational cinema,” The Wizard of Oz plays on both sides of a square that spins against a yellow field. The characters and scenery of the family classic ...

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Art In Your Pocket

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As the niche genre of software art expands beyond the web and into mobile devices, media artists are finding ways to integrate their work into a new form of business model. Instead of giving away your work for free on the web, Apple's iPhone and iTouch devices provide an ample platform for distribution (through the Apple App Store) and hardware support for novel ways to experience screen-based work.

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PSI_NET (2007-Ongoing) - Suzanne Treister

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Image: Original Healey Hall, Northumberland, UK, for Jamie

The PSI_NET project reclaims a psychic drawing method researched, developed and utilised by the US military since 1972 and further developed in the private sphere by an ex-US Army remote viewer since 1989.

Clients/participants are requested to provide details of a remote site, person, object or event which they do not have access to, but about which they would like to gain information.

This 'target' can be located in the past, present or future, can be lost, forgotten, government or otherwise protected, and will be beyond the scope of the internet.

For each request two or more remote viewing drawings will be made at a single sitting. Images of these will be sent electronically to the client.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Play Pause and Rewind: Sadie Benning Returns to the Whitney

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Image: Sadie Benning, drawing for Play Pause, 2001-06

Born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1973, video artist and musician Sadie Benning came of age in the art world in the 1990s with well-known journalesque-video tapes, experimental exposés made on the Fisher Price Pixelvision camera that her father, experimental filmmaker James Benning, had given her. Also a former member of the band Le Tigre, Benning is known for her bold and brazen style. Her works have previously shown in the Whitney Biennial in 1993 and in 2000. Her current installation Play Pause (2006), is also now on display at the Whitney.

Play Pause is a two channel video installation that projects images of thousands of hand drawn, gouache on paper, illustrations that Benning made between 2001-2006. Most of them are drawn in black and white with a light gray wash underneath, but a few of the images are also treated with a monochrome tint of red, blue, or green. The piece runs for 29 minutes on a loop. The illustrations were all scanned and arranged in this sequence for the piece. Coupled with surround sound, they tell a story of a “day in the life,” of an anonymous protagonist. Each image appears for only a few seconds, and then another similar image appears: from the first steps on the street, the stores, advertisements, shop fronts, anonymous people, night life, dance clubs, after hours sex, television, and scenes of departure from the train station and airport.

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Image: Sadie Benning, drawing for Play Pause, 2001-06

The title Play Pause alludes to the installation’s strange sense of detachment coupled with vulnerability. This tension arises in several ways: the rhythm and pace of the installation, the space itself, and the particular images displayed. The first juxtaposition occurs between the surround sound pulsing around slow ...

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Ancient Computing (2001) - Paper Rad

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