Interview with Nicoline van Harskamp


Nicoline van Harskamp, Any Other Business (Stage) (Photograph by Willem Sluyterman van Loo)

On June 18th at 7pm, artist Nicoline van Harskamp will present for the first time in the U.S. her performance work Expressive Power Series Part 1: Max Bonner on the Phenomenology of Speech at the New Museum, an event part of Rhizome’s New Silent Series. Her practice investigates the political implications of language and speech, and her pieces often take the form of performance. Van Harskamp took some time to answer a few questions regarding her upcoming Expressive Power Series Part 1: Max Bonner on the Phenomenology of Speech.

What of your other projects and/or research may have laid the groundwork for Expressive Power Series Part 1?

The performance takes as its basis the script for Any Other Business, a 6-hour performance that I made last year, set in a conference center in Amsterdam. I wanted to bring out the central thesis of that work, to summarize it down to an hour in a way. So, for Expressive Power Series Part 1, I took four of its most contradictory and most outspoken characters and planted them in a seminar room of an art center. During the 6-hour Any Other Business piece, the characters never get to speak to each other, but are merely juxtaposed. In the new piece, I wanted them to confront each other directly. And when writing their new lines, they started to say things they didn’t say before.

Things that I learned or heard since last year; things that I am working on for new pieces; things that I was thinking about a long time ago and that suddenly seemed relevant again. They ended up summarizing my own thinking at the moment, in a way representing the voices in my ...


Two New Turbulence Commissions


Networked art non profit Turbulence announced two new (sound-related) commissions yesterday - WWW-Enabled Noise Toy by Loud Objects and Moments of Inertia by R. Luke DuBois, with Todd Reynolds. Be sure to check them out - you can read a bit about the works below.


WWW-Enabled Noise Toy by Loud Objects (with funds from the Jerome Foundation)

Loud Objects (Kunal Gupta, Tristan Perich and Katie Shima), NYC-based circuit sorcerers, present a wacky way to learn hardware audio programming. The WWW-Enabled Noise Toy invites anyone with a web browser to write their own audio code, program it remotely onto a Noise Toy, and play it live via webcam. In the spirit of “try it yourself” software demos, the website provides a simple environment for experimenting with low-level microchip-generated audio. Load code from the Loud Objects’ own library of performance algorithms, hone your own noise techniques, and add your work to the online archive to share it with other microchip coders and create an open source noise community.


Moments of Inertia by R. Luke DuBois, with Todd Reynolds

Moments of Inertia is an evening-length performance based on a teleological study of gesture in musical performance and how it relates to gesture in intimate social interaction. The work is written for solo violin with real-time computer accompaniment and video. Moments consists of twelve violin études written for Todd Reynolds - ranging from 1-10 minutes in length - each of which uses a different violin performance gesture as a control input for manipulating a short piece of high-speed film (300 frames-per-second) - of objects and people in motion. Taking its cue from principles in physics that determine an object’s resistance to change, the violinist’s gestures time-remap and scrub the video clip to explore the intricacies of the performed action.


Images in the Sky (2005) - Marc Kremers and Damien Poulain





200 images from the Internet were released into the sky via red, green and blue helium filled balloons on the 2nd of October 2005 in Victoria Park, London. For all we know they could all just fall into the Channel. But we hope that if someone finds an image they will get back to us and let us know where they are, and participate by sending us an image or message of their own.



Samson Young's Hong Kong iPhone Orchestra / Performance at ART HK 10 (from VernissageTV)


As part of the supporting program of ART HK, Hong Kong International Art Fair, I/O (Input/Out) and I/O Off-Site presented a performance by Hong Kong artist Samson Young. VernissageTV was on site to document Samson Young leading the iphone musicians through a music score of matrix notations on the opening day of the art fair. Everyone owning an iPhone and battery powered computer speakers could apply to participate in the performance after an hour of rehearsal. The participants were given instructions and the necessary free iPhone software.



Untitled (2010) - Brody Condon





In coordination with Saks Fifth Avenue and the PS1 Greater New York Exhibition, Brody Condon was invited to contribute a project to be displayed in the Saks window on 50th St. Brody’s proposal was to film a performance inside Saks itself. To his surprise Saks was familiar with his work and agreed.

The piece, a modification of the Trisha Brown work Accumulation (1971), is a floor-based dance performance based on various seizure-like movements choreographed by Stephen Lichty, who is himself familiar with movement disorders.



Field to Desktop



Field Broadcast, which kicks off tomorrow and runs through May 17th, will present unedited, live streams of a series of artworks from thirty-three artists captured in fields (yes, the green, earthy kind) to your desktop. When I first read about the show on Networked Music Review, it reminded me a bit of David Claerbout's Present, a work he created for Dia's Artist Web Projects in 2000. Present is an application that allows the user to watch the full lifespan of a flower on their desktop. Like the Field Broadcast exhibition, it inserts a semblance of the natural or the organic into the virtual environment. With so many artists involved in Field Broadcast, it will be interesting to see how they interact with their surroundings -- if the fields will factor in as a component or simply become a backdrop.


Performing Participation


MTAA, Automatic for the People ( ) Voting Kiosk, 2008 (Photo: M.River)

In the fall of 2008, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art invited several artists to create a new work for the exhibition "Art of Participation: 1950 to Now." One such invitation was extended to MTAA, a Brooklyn-based duo comprised of Mike Sarff and Tim Whidden, alternately known as M.River & T.Whid Art Associates. In response, MTAA constructed a poll-based project entitled Automatic for the People ( ), which asked the audience to vote upon the parameters for a theatrical performance executed at the conclusion of the exhibition (the title’s empty parentheses refer to an undetermined subtitle). Technically, the voting consisted of ten different electronic ballots addressing such creative and procedural elements as duration, space, and props, with each being accessible for one week at a museum kiosk and remotely online. All ten ballots contained ten options, and the most popular selections were incorporated into the live finale. During the summer of 2009, I enlisted MTAA in an email-based interview regarding the practical consequences and conceptual implications associated with producing their participatory poll and performance for SFMOMA.

Automatic for the People ( ) Performance
(Photo: Aimee Friberg; Courtesy of SFMOMA. )

DAVID DUNCAN: Let’s begin with the project’s finale. Can you give an overview of the performance— the staging, players and performers, costumes, and actions?

MIKE SARFF and TIM WHIDDEN: We began with the idea that the live work should come together as a unified whole; we felt that a series of unconnected actions would feel untrue to the vote process. We also wanted the audience to participate in the performance. To achieve this, we established three boundaries— installation, duration and action. For the installation we had a location outside the museum’s freight elevator that was selected by vote. The performance’s duration (the same length as the REM album Automatic for the People) was also selected by vote. The action involved two teams competing to create the best robot costume—again, an element determined by vote. Lastly, we included interruptions to the robot costume building competition. These we called interludes and digressions—they were essentially acts between acts that helped to pace the performance. The goal was to make it all seem solid even if an audience member did not know anything about the whole of the AFTP: ( ) voting process.

DAVID DUNCAN: Beyond the audience’s participation, did MTAA conceive AFTP: ( ) in cooperation with the SFMOMA staff?

MIKE SARFF: Yes, it was conceived for this space and institution. It would be good to note here that although the vote kiosk installation and ...


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





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 ...


Deep Space


Avatar 4D video by Chris Coy

In 1966, Allan Kaprow made the following statement in the Manifestos pamphlet:

Contemporary art, which tends to “think” in multi-media, intermedia, overlays, fusions and hybridizations, is a closer parallel to modern mental life than we have realized. Its judgments, therefore, may be acute. “Art” may soon become a meaningless word. In its place,“communications programming” would be a more imaginative label, attesting to our new jargon, our technological and managerial fantasies, and to our pervasive electronic contact with one another.

Fast-forward to 2010, and one wonders what Kaprow would make of "Avatar 4D," an evening of performances -- or, more precisely, a happening -- by seventeen internet-based artists "set up as chaotically choreographed circumstances that exist in a reality of virtual proportions." Taking its cue from the dually alienating and revelatory push-and-pull of our hyper-connected lives, and the existence of "pervasive electronic contact" taken to the nth degree, artists will webcam, stream, project, and otherwise stage work in both San Francisco's NOMA Gallery and Richmond's Reference Gallery this Saturday, April 17th. The event is curated by the collaborative curatorial team JstChillin (Caitlin Denny and Parker Ito), who are also behind the original and often humorous online exhibit series Serial Chillers in Paradise. The press release describes the artists in "Avatar 4D" as "reality hackers" -- citing Petra Cortright’s webcam videos and Ben Vickers' disclosure of his personal usernames and passwords as examples -- who experiment with "the theoretical apparatus of struggle" in the context of "the ever changing modes of the net" and its impact on the self. It seems the artists behind "Avatar 4D" are attempting to insert "art" into a reality lived in anticipation of its constant representation and performance online, perhaps becoming a form of "communications programming" within a self-programmed reality. Whatever ...


Interview with Isla Leaver-Yap


Meredith Monk, 16mm Earrings, 1966, performance. (Courtesy The House Foundation)

THE VOICE IS A LANGUAGE, a film and performance program revolving around the work of Meredith Monk, kicks off this week at Tramway as part of Glasgow International. The event series will begin with a live performance of a newly commissioned work by artist Cara Tolmie on April 15th. This will be followed by daily screenings, through April 25th, of work by Sophie Macpherson, James Richards, Cara Tolmie and Sue Tompkins, as well as rare films by Monk. I had a chance to speak with the curator behind THE VOICE IS A LANGUAGE, Isla Leaver-Yap, about Monk’s career, the correspondence between her practice and those of the artists involved in the series, as well as the informative online reader organized especially for the project.

How did you first become interested in Meredith Monk's work?

Last year I was involved in a project at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, called Talkshow, which was a season of performances and events that looked at speech in relation to contemporary art. We were working with a lot of music/art crossover figures like Robert Ashley, Simone Forti, and Joan La Barbara. By way of Talkshow research, I came to see Peter Greenaway’s fantastic Four Composers television series, which was originally broadcast in the UK in 1983, and which included an episode portrait of Meredith Monk. Perhaps I wasn’t looking at it so closely at the time because Meredith Monk was less invested in the speech act and more in the possibilities within the human voice. When I moved to New York in October of last year, I watched the Greenaway film again out of a kind of local interest - a lot of the performances Monk was talking about in ...