Performance Anxiety


Ryan Trecartin and Lizzie Fitch, The Abboutthing (in the air), 2009 (Image Courtesy of Elizabeth Dee)

Few things are farther from the cool white walls of Chelsea than the anxieties and values of teenage suburbia, which is probably why Ryan Trecartin’s videos about them, untranslated into the art world’s dominant dialect of aloof criticality, looked so exotic and aroused so much excitement when he made his gallery debut here a year and a half ago. Trecartin’s work grows out of YouTube rants, Myspace intros, and other random homemade shorts , and while grotesque histrionics set his videos apart from the average upload, he keeps them close to their sources of inspiration by addressing issues of popularity, independence, and social approval, and shooting them in spacious beige interiors that approximate the bedroom of the regular webcam-wielding kid. Lizzie Fitch, who has collaborated with Trecartin on his videos as an actress and set designer, makes installations based on the same bland domestic environment, using furniture and appliances from big-box stores. Trecartin and Fitch’s current video-free exhibition at Elizabeth Dee, the first time they’ve had a double billing at the New York gallery, lies closer to Fitch’s territory than Trecartin’s, and the calculated result doesn’t indicate a promising direction for either artist to take.

Trecartin and Fitch use the gallery’s two rooms to simulate the interior and exterior of a suburban home, but they’ve switched the order of the front and back so that the viewer becomes an intruder, passing through the backyard before entering the living room. The first installation, The Aboutthing (in the air), suggests a good time that ended in disaster. Rubbermaid boxes bobbing in an above-ground pool-- a lowbrow luxury, not as fancy as an inground pool -- contain the residue ...


12_Series (2009) - Telcosystems


12_series - work in progress pt. 2 from Telcosystems on Vimeo.

12_Series is a new generative multichannel computer installation by Telcosystems. The installation is an audiovisual horizon comprised of twelve identical image and sound generating machines. Built around the notion of decentralized autonomous decision making and evolution, 12_Series implements forms of audiovisual imitation, mutation and recombination, aiming for the emergence of captivating complexity from a vocabulary of rudimentary shapes, sounds and logic.

The system is built around the notion of decentralized autonomous decision making, with each machine displaying its own generative behavior, while reacting to behavior of neighboring machines and adapting to centrally organized environmental variables. The installation focuses on the tension between the individual and the group, between the machine-specific development and the group dynamics that determine the ever-evolving horizon.


(Currently on view at Wood Street Galleries in Pittsburgh, PA, originally via mediateletipos.)


Click Through This


Image: Becket Bowes, Alan Turing, 2009

Hypertext fiction was proclaimed at its inception as the literary genre of the future, but now it already feels like a relic of the past. Ironically, nineteen years after a software company published the first hypertext story, Michael Joyce’s Afternoon, fast internet connections and popular reference sites have made habits of fragmentary, non-linear reading common enough to prepare a wide audience for tackling hypertext fiction (who clicked on the link above before finishing this sentence?), but hardly any artists and writers are making serious attempts at it. Becket Bowes is one exception. His project [sic]ipedia, conceived for and developed during SculptureCenter’s "In Practice” program, takes the form of an evocative description of an arcane curio cabinet, with backstories of the items it contains.

Image: Becket Bowes, Social Isolate Club, 2009 (Installation View at SculptureCenter)

Bowes’ installation in the back of SculptureCenter’s basement was composed of those items—two Ships of Theseus, a Comfortable Chair, a simulation of Alan Turing’s death mask and a model of his bust spinning on a computer monitor, to name a few. [sic]ipedia began as a simple site, with a gray sphere and blank prompt in a stripped-down variation on Wikipedia’s home page. But over the course of the “In Practice” exhibition’s run at SculptureCenter, Bowes gathered his friends—members of the Social Isolate Club, or SIC—inside his installation, to talk out the histories and significance of the objects there. At each meeting, Bowes would take notes in composition books, and then convert the notes into pages on [sic]ipedia. Taken together, [sic]ipedia (the web site) and Social Isolate Club (the installation) suggested parallels between reading hypertext and viewing an installation: both give the viewer a degree of autonomy in ...


Lyrics (2005) - Saadane Afif



Afif has chosen the Palais de Tokyo as the last stage of a project that he has been working on for months. "Lyrics," his "sung retrospective" at the Palais de Tokyo, is an extension of the shows "Melancholic Beat", presented at the Folkwang Museum in Essen, "Down at the Rock and Roll Club" for the Moscow Biennial, and his exhibition at Albi's Centre d'Art Cimaises et Portiques of Albi. It is certainly a far cry from a classic retrospective. For each of these shows, the artist has invited a composer to "translate" into music his earlier installations, pushing to the extreme the potential of translation and re-creation of his work "in song."

Afif produces these songs as works of art by integrating them visually into the exhibition space. The lyrics cover the walls and visitors can listen to the songs on headphones. An installation made up of various materials scavenged by the artist from the holdings of the Palais de Tokyo will also serve as a stage for a concert scheduled to be performed the evening of the show's opening. Having drawn up a list of precise instructions, Afif commissioned various authors to write texts, then got the word out to musicians. Afif interpreting, interpreted, and reinterpreting his own work, which gives rise to a constant back-and-forth that certainly shakes up our perception of art.



On Air: "Broadcast" at Pratt Manhattan Gallery


The date is February 9, 1972, and Chris Burden arrives at Channel 3 Cablevision’s studio in Irvine, California, for an interview with Phyllis Lutjeans. The TV station had approached Burden in January and asked him to do a piece for the channel, yet they censored several of his proposals, so he eventually agreed to an interview during which they would discuss the reasons for the station’s refusal of his ideas. Burden brings his own video crew so that he can have a copy of the interview. He requests that the interview be broadcast live, and during the course of the interview Lutjeans asks Burden to discuss a few pieces that he has thought of doing. The artist responds by demonstrating a TV hijack: he takes Lutjeans hostage, holding a knife to her throat and threatening her life if the station stops transmission, while verbally abusing her with threats. At the end of the recording, Burden destroys the station’s tape of the show by dousing it with acetone. He then offers an “irate” station manager his taped version of the show, which includes footage of the show and the destruction of the station’s tape, but the manager refuses. Burden explains in an interview, “T.V. Hijack was ultimately about who is in control over what's presented through the media.” This aggressive act against the restrictive and one-to-many structure of television is what curator Irene Hofmann cites as her original inspiration for the exhibition "Broadcast," now on view at Pratt Manhattan Gallery. The show presents a selection of works, dating from the 1960s to the present, that interrupt broadcasting systems in order to examine or challenge the structure, influence, and power of mainstream television and radio.


Call for Applications: free103point9's 2009/2010 AIRtime Fellowships


Apply for an AIRtime fellowship from free103point9! Fellows receive funding, resources and equipment to produce transmission-based artworks. Deadline is July 1, 2009. Read more below:

The AIRtime program provides artists (individuals and/or collectives) with valuable assistance with which to concentrate on new transmission works and conduct research about the genre using free103point9's resource library and equipment holdings. AIRtime Fellowships are awarded to approximately three artists each year. Fellows present their work in conjunction with WGXC, in Greene and Columbia Counties, and our city-based programs at the Ontological Theater at St. Mark's Church in Manhattan. Fellows receive an honorarium, and technical and administrative support from free103point9 staff. Participating artists are encouraged to archive recordings and other digital media with the free103point9 Transmission Art Archive project.

free103point9 defines “Transmission Arts” as a conceptual umbrella that unites a community of artists and audiences interested in transmission ideas and tools. This genre encompasses a diversity of practices and media working with the idea of transmission or the physical properties of the electromagnetic spectrum. Transmission art is generally a participatory live-art or time-based art, and often manifests as radio art, video art, light sculpture, installation, and performance.


The Wreck of the Dumaru (2004) - Jennifer Steinkamp


Image: Installation of "The Wreck of the Dumaru" at greengrassi, London, 2004

Image: "The Wreck of the Dumaru, A" (Single channel video version)

Jennifer Steinkamp's great uncle Ernest Hedinger was a seaman on the Dumaru during WWI, 1918. The ship carrying weapons and fuel was struck by lightning scarcely a couple hours outside of Guam. Powerful currents carried the helpless lifeboats out to sea. There were not enough provisions in the over crowded boat. Only 19 years old, Uncle Ernest died after 13 days. Out of desperation he had been drinking seawater, which caused him to imagine a nail stuck in his head. Soon after his death, two of the shipmates were cannibalized. The crew was trapped out at sea for 24 days total.

The installation consisted of 4 projections in sync to create a giant animated seascape panorama across 2 walls of the gallery. The imagery consisted of two ocean animations combined, one looking from a view high above the ocean, and the other from down in the water.



ZEE (2008) - Kurt Hentschlaeger


ZEE: Kurt Hentschlaeger [STRP 2009, Eindhoven] from mediateletipos on Vimeo.

Documentation of the installation ZEE by Kurt Hentschlaeger from this past weekend's STRP Festival. Footage by/from mediateletipos.

ZEE is a "mind-scape" in which artificial fog and stroboscopic light fully obscure the physical installation space, resulting in an almost complete disconnect from the without and offering an entry towards a surprise within.

Stroboscopic- and pulse light filtering through the thick fog augment an impression of a luminescent kinetic sphere wherein the environment acts as the seeding stimulant and you synthesize the impression.

Based on the research and findings with FEED, the performance, ZEE is expanding on composing with multiple interfering strobe lights amidst fog and the effects those have on a human perception and decoding apparatus: the brain.

A surround sound-scape synchronizes to interference phenomena - of what could be described as a psychedelic architecture of pure light.



Getting the Big Picture


Jon Kessler and Thomas Hirschhorn are both known for large-scale installations that convert gallery spaces into environments laden with political commentary and consumerist critique as well as high tech/low-tech dichotomies. Their recent exhibitions are typically overloaded spectacles that nevertheless serve as indictments of the proverbial society of the spectacle. Kessler’s Circus could be seen as an Iraq-era Disasters of War achieved via Calder’s Circus. An army tent is pitched in the center of Deitch’s Grand St. space, book-ended by metal shelving that holds army beds and a series of TV monitors. The action takes place on the floor under the tent, as a cluster of mechanized contraptions put a variety of GI Joe and Ken dolls in constant jeopardy. One doll is dragged bottomless in a circle on the floor; another rocks back and forth slowly, his hands bound in front of him, against a backdrop of the sky pasted on a revolving drum; a green-faced soldier is bent over backwards and slathered with an oil-like liquid; a headless figure in fatigues and an “army” t-shirt has blood on his hands; four soldiers are placed upside down, guns at the ready. As in many of Kessler’s other recent works, each scenario is outfitted (embedded, if you will) with a mini-cam, making each setup a live-action loop that is broadcast on its own monitor. There’s also a hole in the tent for a large white balloon floating near the ceiling in the center, whose camera provides a bird’s eye view of the entire scene.


"In Real Life" at Capricious Space


Every weekend in the month of March, "In Real Life" took over Capricious Space in Brooklyn, NY with four-hour residencies by various art-related web sites. We felt the project stirred up some compelling ideas surrounding the presentation of online artistic activities within a gallery setting, and we attended as many residencies as we could. Finding a format to review everything that went on last month wasn’t easy. We eventually decided to crib the form of curator Laurel Ptak's statement, a conversation between herself and art historian Leigh Claire LaBerge over Skype, and exchanged our impressions of "IRL" over email.

Ceci: The first "IRL" residency I attended was the performance for Club Internet. Some have grumbled that this "performance" was boring -- just a bunch of people around laptops. But I stayed at the gallery for almost two hours, talking to Laurel about the use of (and resistance to) digital manipulation in commercial photography during the 1980s, the subject of her academic research that preceded her blog iheartphotogaph. I also had an interesting talk with Club Internet founder Harm van den Dorpel. I don't know if we really needed the gallery setting or even the production of Club Internet in the background to have that kind of dialogue.