Transparency Theory

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Video: Schmelzolan on Overhead by Christian Faubel

What do elementary school audiovisual departments have in their arsenals these days? Are fifth-grade teachers teaching with PowerPoint? That seems hard to believe, since mine barely mastered the overhead projector. She could never put the transparency right-side up and left-side left on the first try. The overhead projector’s flipping technique required the user’s brain to undo what the eyes do for it, in order to make one sheet of paper’s worth of information available to collective vision.

The tricky optics alone should be enough to interest artists in the overhead projector, but an exhibition dedicated to the device in Malmo, Sweden, focuses on the precious, nostalgic appeal of this quaint technology. Opening Friday and running through May 30, “The Art of the Overhead” will feature an archive of projectable documents and a spate of live programs: a projection-based performance by Katrin Bethge, an analogue computer game by magic-lantern artists Milk Milk Lemonade, and an interactive planetarium from Sue Corke and Hagen Betzwieser. Since Sunday these artists and others have been taking part in an OHPen Surface Workshop, sharing the projects they’ve prepared for the overhead projector and discussing how they’ve adapted the technologies they use in their usual practices, which range from sound art to minimal robotics. The full program is available at www.overheads.org, a site that makes nice use of another obsolete technology, the marquee.

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Mix It Up

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Video: Matthew Ostrowski, Atopia, 2004

Mixology, the annual festival curated by the new music and new media organization Roulette, got off to a strong start last week with opening night performances by Pamela Z and Elliott Sharp, presented in collaboration with Harvestworks. Pamela Z demonstrated her use of gesture to control sound, which she produces with her own operatic voice as well as electronically. Elliott Sharp was a one-man noise band, playing both an amplified saxophone and a keyboard-based instrument while manipulating both on his laptop. The night ended with an improvised duet, in which Pamela Z played her iPhone like an ocarina.

Performances continued through the weekend and will resume tonight. Tomorrow’s program features Matthew Ostrowski, who will pick up themes of gesture and sampling with a new work titled “Patterns of Changing Light.” Mixology runs through May 30, concluding with a performance by downtown stalwart David Rosenbloom, whose piece Sound and Light I continues his thirty-year-long exploration of dense sonic textures with a more recent integration of video as the basis for an evolving score. The full program for the rest of Mixology can be found on Roulette’s calendar.

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Spamtrap (2007) - Bill Shackelford

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"Spamtrap" is an interactive installation piece that prints, shreds and blacklists spam email. It interacts with spammers by monitoring several email addresses I created specifically to lure in spam and an old unused personal email address I use to lure in spam. I do not use these email addresses for any other communication. I post these individual email addresses on websites and online bulletin boards that cause them to be harvested by spambots and then to start receiving spam.

Because I know that all email sent to these email addresses are spam, I have set the installation to print and then shred each email as it arrives. Simultaneously the installation is feeding spam blacklists on the web with information gathered from all the received spam (a newly added feature). This in turn helps to feed spam filtering systems across the web that are working to reduce the amount of spam we all receive. Click here for more information about Spamtraps.

The installation uses a Pentium II computer connected to a wireless network, personal printer, personal shredder, aluminum rails, Spamtrap email addresses, automatic printing software, email client software, antivirus software, and a SpamCop user account. The paper is recycled after the spam email has been shredded.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Positive Vibes

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Video: Lucky Dragons at Pehr Space, August 2008

Any set has begin and end, but the Lucky Dragons played that down in a New York appearance last Saturday; they switched on some recorded sounds as the audience was taking seats, and demonstrated their equipment and chatted after the music’s long, slow fadeout. The structure suits the group’s hippie philosophy that doesn’t assign prominence to any musical moments, but treats all sounds (and people) equally. They also tried to erase borders between performer and audience by encouraging listeners to be mobile, approach the instruments, and improvise, although the narrow length of The Stone, crammed with folding chairs, made it tough for anyone past the two front rows to join in. Lucky Dragons stalwarts Luke Fishbeck and Sarah Andersen were joined by drummer Ches Smith and guitarist Grey Gersten, the curator of The Stone’s program this month.

Once everyone was settled in place, Smith and Gersten entered lightly, playing inside the framework of the electronic pulse already hovering in the venue. Gersten struck and dampened his instrument’s strings percussively, rather than playing melodies. Over time the drums and guitar settled into a hazy backdrop for electronic, pentatonic glissandos emanating from Fishbeck and Andersen’s hacked instruments. Later on they handed audience members a short-circuited wire—wrapped in a colorful knit cozy for safety—that played triadic chords when touched, varying volume according to intensity of squeezes and the amount of grounding (Fader recorded a demonstration of it). The accidental harmonies of that cord, like most of the sonorities in the Lucky Dragons’ music, seems to skip across the overtone series, as if the electronic tool is just picking up the natural vibrations hanging in the air. It could be the signature instrument in their wired drum circle ...

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Kool-Aid Man in Second Life (2009) - Jon Rafman

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To schedule a free guided tour of Second Life contact: koolaidmaninsecondlife [at] gmail [dot] com


(Via i heart photograph)

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Export to World (2007) - Linda Kostowski and Sascha Pohflepp

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Export to World seeks to comment ironically on the design and production of merchandise in virtual worlds. At Ars Electronica in Linz, retail space on Marienstrasse was temporarily converted into a shop like those found in Second Life. Large scale display ads showed what's for sale: custom-made or purchased virtual objects that shoppers could buy at a price determined daily by the current Linden dollar/euro exchange rate. Instead of the acquired object suddenly appearing in the purchaser's inventory, though, the proud owner received a a two-dimensional paper representation of it which he/she could manually fit together into a three-dimensional object on site. The final results are paper representations of digital representations of real objects, including all the flaws that copying entails.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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The Interview (AKA Proust Questionnaire) (2007) - MTAA

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New Performance Residency at the New Museum Kicks Off Tonight

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Our sister institution, the New Museum, will jump start a new residency for performance, RE:NEW RE:PLAY, tonight. The month long residencies allow invited artists to workshop works-in-progress at the New Museum's theater every Thursday at 7pm. Singer and composer Nick Hallett is the program's inaugural resident, and over the course of the next four weeks he will stage performances that connect the human voice to multimedia ritual in a series entitled "VOICE + LIGHT SYSTEMS". In collaboration with Brock Monroe, each performance will be set in an environment illuminated using interdisciplinary techniques taken from psychedelic lightshows and structuralist film. This evening Hallett will sing selections from Meredith Monk’s "Our Lady of Late", a cycle for solo voice and wineglass, written in 1972 and rendered as a concert piece by the composer a year later. (See the above video for a preview.) Hallett will be joined by Peter Sciscioli and Emily Eagen of The M6, who will sing duets from Monk's "Facing North Suite", as well as Miguel Frasconi, who will play glass percussion solos. Upcoming scheduled performances in Hallett's residency include Karlheinz Stockhausen’s Stimmung (May 14), a premiere of a new work from an opera-in-progress Whispering Exercises (May 21), and an "audiovisual travelogue, a tribute band" Auroville (May 28). Not to be missed!

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Click Through This

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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.

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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 ...

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Dirty Mousepads (2009) - JK Keller

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By switching a typical mousepad with a sheet of paper, I am able to collect an echo of my computer use over the course of a few months. The resulting drawing embodies both a warm earthy tone while also being indicative of the filth one accumulates through prolonged use of technology.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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