A system of sculptures that is constantly on the brink of collapse. My intention was to capture and sustain the exact moment of impending catastrophe and endlessly repeat it.
Internationally renowned OFFF festival convenes in Paris, France, from today until the 26th at La Grande Halle De La Villette. Born from art collective/art agency Inofffensive, the festival stakes its claim as being the “vanguard of the avant-garde” for digital culture, with a simple mission - to earn “some money by doing commercial works and then spending it on crazy, commercially suicidal art projects.” In keeping this ethos, speakers/performers range: from French artist Patrick Jean, to street art bloggers Wooster Collective to former New York Times art director Steven Heller.
Befittingly, in its tenth year of inception, OFFF looks to reflect on the zeitgeist of nostalgia. Titling this year’s show “Nostalgia for a Past Future”, the festival hits upon a key problem for any designer that John Berger lays out in Ways of Seeing: the promise of the future sold by capitalizing on the longing for the past. Yet, heightened by the speed with which trend cycles move (and even more so with the speed of digital culture), for OFFF this issue is circumvented when we forgo trying to recreate narratives of the past and approach nostalgia as a tool for communication.
So, what can we expect?
In the Processing Pixels workshop, Daniel Shiffman looks to transform the treatment of pixels by reconfiguring the relationship between the coded information and its pixelated representation.
Patrick Jean will give a talk about his work in the Openroom. Inspired by the aesthetic of late 80s/early 90s video games, Jean has made a name for himself across the Internet with the video “PIXELS”.
Bleep Labs have come to the fore with its Thingamaboop instrument. Playful from inception, Thingmaboop, embedded with Arduino programming capabilities, is modulated by movement, light sensing LEDs, and is amenable to most synthesizers. In addition to a demonstration ...
In his current exhibition Jonathan Monk is showing fourteen different electronic devices from the area of home entertainment. Powered speakers, a flat-screen monitor, an iPod, a radio alarm clock or an interactive video game console - the new and functional brand name devices selected by Monk form a cross-section of the range of products to be found in an electronics retail store. However, the artist undermines their usability by presenting the individual devices in custom-fitted plexiglass showcases, therefore conserving them as objects.
Laptopograms are images made by pressing photosensitive paper onto a laptop screen and flashing an image in a manner not unlike contact printing or photograms.
‘Laptopogram’ is a misnomer - I reckon they can be made with pretty much any monitor. Perhaps ‘Luminous Screen Emulsion Transfers’ is a better.
Here, however, the negative is a digital image - and is flashed for a little time onto the paper before developing the image in a darkroom.
These prints were made with an IBM R51 Thinkpad running Lucid Lynx with a resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels.
All prints were developed on Ilford Ilfospeeed RC Deluxe 5 Glossy paper using Tetenal Neofin Blau with water as a stop bath and a fixer of unknown provenance.
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.
[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:
The prologue from the documentary film, Painters Painting, The New York Art Scene 1940-1970, directed by Emile de Antonio 1972, combined with Wolfson's own footage, that begins with a shot of the sky that pans down through the trees landing directly onto the screen of a Macintosh Classic Computer. As the camera slowly zooms out it is revealed that the computer is sitting on the edge of a busy highway.
Technology is expensive so we try and take care of it; but sometimes things break. Most technology is no longer made to be repaired, as it is cheaper to replace it entirely. This is particularly true of display technology, as once a screen is cracked or broken there is little one can do to fix the damage. Many users desperately seek help online, making videos of their broken television sets or computer monitors in the hopes of a solution. Others give in to the inevitable and take the opportunity to unleash their anger on the broken technology.
The normative logic of digital technologies and consumer electronics is that they "just work." The fields of human computer interaction and usability studies are intended to make technology functional for even the most lay of users. This can be seen clearly in the way in which new technologies are advertised and in the shift away from machines intended to be "tinkered" with toward black box technologies that maximize interface. The most recent campaign for Apple's new iPad states that "it's magical," and that "you already know how to use it," and Microsoft goes so far as to imply that Windows 7 was designed by everyday users to be "easier." Nonetheless, for most users dysfunction and breakdown are a large part of their everyday experience of technology.
In Broken Sets (eBay), Penelope Umbrico has collected a virtual archive of technological failure in images of broken LCD TV sets being sold on eBay for spare parts. Each image bears a unique pattern formed by cracks and other anomalies that fracture the images they display into a pixelization that resembles landscapes or test patterns. Many of the pieces, displayed as photo prints, vaguely resemble "digital interference" works by Sean Dack or Borna Sammak's HD video collage, but taken as a whole they suggest a larger aesthetics of breakdown that is as much a critique of our idealized vision of these technologies as functionally useful objects as it is beautiful.
I visited ITP’s Spring Show on Monday, the open house for NYU’s graduate interactive technology program. Like years past, the kiosk-like presentation of projects makes the event seem a bit like a science fair, with artists and inventors on hand to answer questions. ITP’s student body is quite diverse - ranging from web entrepreneurs to roboticists to performance artists and more - and this aspect usually guarantees that you’ll come across something interesting. See below for some quick notes from this year’s show.
The object that we call “monitor” is at once ubiquitous, obsolete, and in the end, perhaps a non-object because we gaze into its pixilated illusion, never directly at its shape and mass. Today the beige boxes adorn sidewalk trash piles because their cathode ray tubes have recently given way to the solid-state flatscreen. In a backwards alchemical shift, they have morphed from object of desire into “e-waste.” In this sense, they now monitor the speed of consumption.