Dual Context: Vidéoclubparis

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A new gallery for video art, Vidéoclubparis offers a single, hybrid space with two parallel modes of screening. The first is a monthly, online exhibition of a dozen young artists, centered around a variety of themes (from ‘soundtrack’ to ‘bathing suit’, among many others); presented with basic information about the pieces and their creators. The second part is a live screening-event organized for each opening, in unlikely, semi-private places ranging from a sauna to a Bollywood video store. By seeking out unique locations for screenings, the event challenges the idea of the formal white cube - an aspect that is emphasized by the parallel screenings on the web. “The aim is to create bipolar screenings, we’re trying to do the high jump between watching videos online and taking people to a place completely unexpected,” said Stéphanie Cottin, co-founder of the organization, “the two work well together, because the extravagance of the events balances out the conventionalism of the online curation.”

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Ghost Throne (2007) - AIDS-3D

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IX (2008) - H3X3N

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H3X3N is a group of Computer Witches who have built an enchanted cube that casts magical spells on computers. This cube, called IX, is a New Media Artwork that will be shown at DEADTECH, an art and technology center and gallery in Chicago, this Saturday May 10. The IX cube casts spells on Windows, Macintosh and Linux computers, hacking and hexing these operating systems. IX combines traditional stage magic tricks and irony as elements of Hacker culture to create an Interactive Installation and Software Art project. IX has been exhibited previously at the Interactivos? exhibition at the Media Lab Madrid in Madrid, Spain.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE H3X3N BLOG

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In Search of Reality at the Berlin Biennial

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This disjunct between reality and its illusory other, the world of privileged consumerism, was at the heart of the 6th Berlin Biennial. In the exhibition catalog, curator Kathrin Rhomberg wrote that there is a growing "gap between the world we talk about and the world as it really is." In an effort to close this gap, the Biennial wrestled with contemporary issues and realities far beyond the gallery walls - an all-too-rare impulse in the hermetic field of visual art.

Unfortunately, this Biennial may well have convinced many of its visitors that artists should stick to the studio; too many of the works lacked any nuance in their portrayal of external realities. There was a highly unpleasant video of a horse being knocked off its feet, subtly titled Problems with Relationship. There was Bernard Bazile's inept installation of shouty protest videos from Paris. There was Sebastian Stumpf running into private garages just as the doors closed behind him, Indiana Jones-style.

Yet there were also moments of brilliance along the way. At its best, the Biennial yielded keen insights into the conditions of contemporary capitalism and the relationship between the personal and the political. Without further ado, here are some of the highlights.

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New Media, New Modes: On "Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media"

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Humorous and surprising, smart and provocative, Rethinking Curating: Art after New Media (MIT Press, 2010) jumps from opposing viewpoints to opposing personalities, from one arts trajectory to another. The entire book is a dialectic exercise: none of its problems or theories are solved or concluded, but are rather complicated through revelations around their origins, arguments and appropriations. Overall, the book adopts the collaborative style and hyperlinked approach of the media and practice it purports to rethink. In other words, it is not just the content of the book that asks us to rethink curating, but the reading itself; by the end, we are forced to digest and internalize the consistently problematized behaviors of the “media formerly known as new.”

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1 Question Interview with Billy Rennekamp

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Billy Rennekamp, Big Head Mode, 2010

This weekend, DIY storefront art space Cleopatra's in Brooklyn will be hosting an exhibition for Billy Rennekamp's WIN WIN. The event kicks off tonight with a talk on video games and cheats hosted by designers/writers Charles Pratt and Simon Ferrari. This exhibit is an extension of Rennekamp's BA thesis project at Bard, titled Big Head Mode. Focused on the idea of cheats in video games, and especially the agency yielded by the use and development of cheats in game play, the works in this installation comprise a 3D video game made by the artist, a prepared version of a Pokemon ROM, and a mix of hand sewn and store-bought sports balls littered throughout the space. In anticipation of the show, I conducted a one question interview with Rennekamp, à la Rafael Rozendaal's One Question Interview blog.

(Full disclosure - Billy is a former Rhizome intern extraordinaire and a member of badass internet surf club Loshadka.)



What makes cheats so satisfying?

We spend our life building up this little rule book that describes how everything works. So when we see something that defies these fundamental rules, we freak out. The unusual and unexplained are always fascinating.

Things are supposed to work a certain way. They've worked that way forever. But then they stop and the rules might bend or even break. When that happens a special energy is produced. Every time something rare occurs--something outside the ordinary--people make wishes and try to harness that power. Needless to say the power is felt. When I was three I got bitten by a Brown Recluse. My arm was swollen with pustules for weeks and the necrosis on my hand left a permanent scar. There's nothing beneficial about a scar, but I ...

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Capacitive Body (2008) - Martin Hesselmeier and Andreas Muxel

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The installation "capacitive body" is a modular light system that reacts to the sound of its environment. Each custom built module consists of an electroluminescent light wire linked to a piezoelectric sensor and a microcontroller. Through its modular setup it can easily be adapted to various urban spaces.

-- DESCRIPTION FROM THE "CAPACITIVE BODY" SITE

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Screening Screens

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Kate Mondloch’s first book, Screens: Viewing Media Installation Art (University of Minnesota Press), is a welcome study of the cathode ray tubes, liquid crystal and plasma displays, and film, video and data projections that “pervade contemporary life” (xi). The author reminds us that screens are not just “illusionist windows” into other spaces or worlds, but also “physical, material entities [that] beckon, provoke, separate, and seduce” (xii). Most importantly, however, Mondloch’s approach is that of an art historian. She does not merely use art as a case study for media theory, but rather makes the contributions of artists her central focus in this, the first in-depth study of the space between bodies and screens in contemporary art.

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A Conversation with Graham Harwood and Jean Demars on Coal Fired Computers at SPACE, June 1st

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YoHa, After Coal Face, 2009

On June 1st media theorist Matthew Fuller will interview Graham Harwood and Jean Demars at SPACE in London for the Coal Fired Computers project by Harwood and Yokokoji (YoHa) that recently premiered at the AV Festival in New Castle, UK. For Harwood, every media used has a series of power relations that comprise its media ecology. The thread that seems to bind his oeuvre is exposing these power structures. (For more, read an interview with Harwood by Michael Connor, published last year to Rhizome.) Continuing with his examinations into the conditions of the marginalized and working class, Coal Fired Computers speculates about the "global fuel reliance, the price of a computer measured against the lives of 318,000 miners with choked up lungs." The work consists of a bank of computers powered by a coal-fired boiler.

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Graham Harwood and Yokokoji (YoHa), Coal Fired Computers, 2010
[Installation at the AV Festival, Source: Jon & Alison]

By placing the boiler and computer side-by-side, Coal Fired Computers brings to the fore the “invisible” work force needed to supply the fuel and raw materials necessary for this technology to function, as well as the environmental impact of these energy sources. Laborers from countries like China, Vietnam and India toil in coal mining fields to enable the production of energy to run technology - outsourcing the health and environmental risks of this method to elsewhere.

See below for a video of Graham Harwood discussing Coal Fired Computers:

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Hello Process! (2008) - Marloes de Valk and Aymeric Mansoux

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hello process! shows a machine doing what it does best, deleting, copying and moving blocks of data. The installation consists solely of a computer and a printer. The computer functions as it usually does, as a black box theatre of processes. The only output comes through the printer, giving us clues about the activity inside, while in the background, the raw noise of the machine creates a sound scape, a sonification of this theatre of naive computation.

A file of 128 blocks is created. In this file, each block can be occupied by a small piece of code. Every piece of code has its own strategy. Some try to conquer as many blocks as possible, others simply target one specific piece of code or an unsuspecting neighbour. When the process is set in motion, all blocks are executed one after the other. This results in a battle between the file’s inhabitants. After forty iterations, a fresh file is created with a new combination of code.

Each piece of code has a special ID. This ID is sent to the printer every time the block is loaded in which the code is residing. Each printed line represents the result of one battle cycle. 128 small graphical representations of code are printed. This process repeats 40 times, creating a map of abstract patterns depicting the changes that took place. There is some duality in this theatre of naive and nonproductive computation. We like to think of processes as actors in a machine theatre, playing with anthropomorphism and metaphors to trigger the imagination. Each piece of code has a descriptive name such as copycat, eraserhead, destroyer, or swapmaster, and displays behaviour to match. But at the same time these programs are just mechanical low level operations, totally inhuman. In the end the ...

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