I thought we were getting somewhere (2009) - The Highlights

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From The Highlights segment on Why+Wherefore's online exhibition series 7x7

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Downtown Dorks

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Video: Jeremy Bailey, SOS - Preview, 2008

In the New York art world, there's a funny distinction between "uptown" and "downtown." If "uptown" is Broadway, "downtown" is Off-Off-Broadway. The 92nd Street Y has famously presented an uptown lecture series for years, bringing in artists, musicians, authors, and others worth taking note of. But their downtown Tribeca branch is the place to go see cool bands or comedians rapidly sprouting up from the underground. It's within this context that the fine geeks at Dorkbot have curated an evening next Wednesday entitled "You're Doing it Wrong: Creative Misuse of Technology." Following from the group's mission to present "people doing strange things with electricity," the night will begin with live performances by The Draftmasters + Daniel Iglesia, who will invite you to don 3D glasses in viewing and listening to their pen plotter-generated sound and video projection, and Jeremy Bailey, who will run a deadpan demo of SOS, "his latest ill-conceived homebrew productivity software." These live activities will be followed by five short screenings, including Tom Sachs's Space Program, billed as "an incredibly detailed mis-re-imagining of a NASA space mission;" Paul Slocum's You're Not My Father, a compilation of internet users' reenactment of a clip from the 80s sitcom Full House; and Daniel Greenfeld's Mini-disasters, small-scale reenactments of famous transportation-related disasters. The lineup offers something for geeks of every stripe and a collective glimpse at the aesthetics of failure. - Marisa Olson

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In the Round

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Image: Lucky Dragons, Showing, 2009

The question of the relationship between performance and its documentation is an interesting, if longstanding one. These relations have continued to shift with the emergence of newer and newer media, so that the telephonic or radio broadcast, camera, and internet transmission become implicated in the content they capture and deliver, often begging a chicken vs. egg-style question of whether the performance or the recording is paramount. The "Stage II" exhibition at New York's The Project gallery returns attention to the site of performance, even as it displays the residual ephemera of artists' actions. The work of artist Dave Allen stimulates a visceral connection with audiences in tapping into sound art's classic obsession with silence to deliver Silence Recordings, Hansa Studios, Berlin (2001), which fills the gallery space with the seemingly-silent recordings of vacant artist studios and empty concert halls. Lucky Dragons is a band and art collective whose work encompasses music, drawing, public collaboration, and more. For "Stage II," they present Showing (2009), a sculptural installation that proves the artists need not be physically present to make noise. An arrangement of their homebrew instruments featuring rocks, wood, and analog electronics sits in waiting for viewers to move them, generating a shift in their electrical field and a resultant shift in the shape of the sounds they are set to make. While these two projects provide perfect bookends for the exhibition, the show also includes work by Larry Krone, Rashaad Newsome, and Superamas, each of whom is engaged in the practice of splicing together object relationships, filmic clips, or cultural reenactments to establish a new interdependence between artist, viewer, stage, and document. - Marisa Olson

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Influential Activism

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Survival Research Laboratories, Amsterdam, 2008 (Photo by Boris VanHoytema)

The word "influencer" is most often used by marketing strategists to refer to cool people to whom other consumers turn to for fashion and food advice. But the organizers of The Influencers, an annual "culture jamming and guerrilla communication fest" brandish this word like a weapon in the fight against the corporatization of culture. On February 5-7, the artist groups d-i-n-a and Eva and Franco Mattes (a.k.a. 0100101110101101.ORG) will present their fifth festival "dedicated to exploring unconventional weapons of mass communication." Their approach grows out of a classical perspective on détournement but is updated by an understanding of networked infrastructures and new forms of mobility and social organizing that effect protest strategies in digital culture. In addition to talks, workshops, and impromptu interventions, the festival's events will revolve around eight commissioned works by Survival Research Laboratories, Ztohoven, BLU, Improv Everywhere, Julius von Bismarck, Wu Ming, Swoon, and Wolfgang Staehle. This is an eclectic group, to say the least, whose work ranges from graffiti to pyrotechnics to comedic group performances to poetic video installations. The group's diversity serves to illustrate the wide reach of commercialism's impact and the wide range of people interested in fighting back in support of the liberties that become threatened by corporate encroachment onto public space and public speech. One goal of the festival will be to map out how these alternative voices can infiltrate the hardlined frontier between public and private, so these artists were thus selected for "their taste for risk, the impulse that moves the authors of these projects to build dangerous machines, act politically incorrectly, use anachronous technology, or simply to defy common sense." It sounds both fun and challenging, but if you can't make it ...

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Removal Studies (2008) - Michael Kontopolos

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From the artist's statement:

"Removal Studies" are a series of videos made using time-lapse photography. These videos are sleep studies that observe the reaction of the unconscious body to the negative stimulus of removing the covers. The covers are removed by a machine that attaches to the bed and tugs a slight amount off in increments throughout the night. By studying the sleeping body, my aim was to capture something very honest and very animal about human beings. I was interested in this gesture of removal -- and subsequently, exposure -- and how it could function as a larger metaphor.



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Out of Context: Artists and Web Inventories

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On any given day, the average web user may log into as many as a dozen different social web services. Interaction with these sites could involve any number of activities including browsing photography, commenting on blog posts, planning trip itineraries, looking for a lover or updating a resume. While the sequential (or parallel) manner in which we navigate these databases and the generic aesthetic of the web 2.0 interface might suggest these sites form a unified network, that is simply not the case. In engaging the social web we voluntarily fragment our interests, social ties and demographic information in order to make them "machine readable" and allow us to participate in these communities. With these rules of engagement in mind, several recent projects speak to these conditions and explore the notion of web inventories in relation to identity, aggregation and as binding legal agreements.

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Starbucks Center of Gravity (2005) - Cory Arcangel

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"Spurred on by a discussion on Kottke.org, I decided it would be interesting to find out what the Starbucks Center of Gravity in Manhattan is."


Well, it means the exact place you can stand in Manhattan and be closest to ALL Starbucks. As if every single Starbucks was pulling you equally in its direction, this is the place where u could stand to feel the most Starbucks power...and not just within a few blocks radius, but for the whole Island! Think of it like being at the North Pole for overpriced coffee...The power center / death star if you will allow me to go that far....

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Favorite Things (2008) - Jordan Wolfson

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24-Hour Smarty People

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As promised, I attended last week's "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time" at the Guggenheim and wrote the following report, which attempts to convey both the variety of approaches participants took to the symposium's broad topic as well as the experience of being present and alert for the full duration, with just a break for breakfast and a few power naps.

The HUO-year is a unit of time invented by art critic Jennifer Allen to measure how far in the future a name will be remembered. You get one year for each project, two for an exhibition, seven for an interview, etc. HUO expands to Hans Ulrich Obrist, the curator whose intellectual hyperactivity inspired Allen to write a wry essay predicting that Obrist's omnipresence in the present will guarantee him more future name-recognition than John Cage, even as a performance of the latter's ORGAN2/ASLSP (As Slow As Possible) continues to hum through the year 2639. Obrist racked up a few dozen more HUO-years at the "24-Hour Program on the Concept of Time," as did the event's organizer, Guggenheim chief curator Nancy Spector. With an eye to the future, the entire Program was recorded, and at this moment the Guggenheim's curatorial staff is surely working to label, transcribe, and catalogue those videos for posterity. In the meantime, here's an elliptical and incomplete summary.

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Image: Excerpt from a visual representation of Ronald Mallett's Time Travel Theory

The symposium began with a talk by philosopher Ted Sider, who gave a lucid description of the theory of static time, which proposes that entities are permanently present at points in space but are only visible to us at certain points in time. Next was Joshua Viertel, president of Slow Foods USA, an earnest nonprofit administrator ...

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Request (2004) - zefrank

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