Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's "Levels of Nothingness" at the Guggenheim

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Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Levels of Nothingness (Mock-up), 2009

When artist and curator Hilla Rebay hung Vasily Kandinsky’s paintings at the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which she convinced her lover Solomon R. Guggenheim to open in the late 1920s, she created a sensual environment for them with colored walls, faint music, and perfumed air. It was an approximate construction of an inner, spiritual harmony unencumbered by reminders of nature, in keeping with the ideas of Kandinsky’s influential tract “Concerning the Spiritual in Art.” While multimedia updates of art from an older period risk becoming mere bells and whistles on a body of work that stands on its own merits, Kandinsky’s intense interest in synaesthesia—and his exhibition history with Guggenheim’s collection—make it seem like he might be sympathetic to opportunities for multiple sensory stimulation afforded by today’s data processing technologies. Perhaps that’s why Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum commissioned an immersive light-and-sound piece from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer to mark the opening of the museum’s major Kandinsky retrospective, the first for the artist in more than twenty years. Levels of Nothingness, which Lozano-Hemmer developed in collaboration with philosopher Brian Massumi, takes its inspiration from Kandinsky’s 1912 essay “Yellow Sound.” The installation generates visuals from phonetic data produced by reading philosophical texts by Kandinsky and others. (At the performance, Isabella Rosselini will kick off the readings, and audience members will be encouraged to continue). Rather than translating one kind of information into another to spell out a neatly servable metaphor—as Lozano-Hemmer did, for example, with Pulse Park, which presented Madison Square Park as a living organism by animating it with lights activated by the heart rates of passers-by—Levels of Nothingness promises to be more meditative and fuzzy, suggesting the connection between thought and ...

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scrollbar (2002) - Jan Robert Leegte

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Interview with Grace Kook Anderson

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Image: Eddo Stern, MELF, 2009

Through October 4, the Laguna Art Museum in Laguna Beach is presenting “WoW: Emergent Media Phenomenon”, an exhibition that considers the fantasy environment of the massively multiplayer online role-playing game World of Warcraft and its broader cultural impact. It includes works by gaming-conscious artists like Tale of Tales and Radical Software Group as well as pieces produced by staff at the company that develops WoW, Blizzard Entertainment. Curator Grace Kook Anderson answered a few questions about the show.

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Image: Sam “Samwise” Didier, Footman, 1994

What aspects of World of Warcraft as an emergent media phenomenon do you find most interesting as a curator?

WoW has been a rich subject. What I find compelling in this game is that the narrative lineage passing through J.R.R. Tolkien and Dungeons and Dragons sets the framework of the game, but the players add that extra narrative layer. Another aspect that is remarkable is the democratic nature of cultural production that a game like WoW stimulates, such as the enormous volume of fan art and machinima to artists working in different media. And as an MMORPG, WoW is also a network and a community for so many people. It is amazing how game culture and reality interact.

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Image: Adam Bartholl, photograph of a performance in Laguna Beach

Could you discuss a few of the artworks you selected and how they expand on these aspects of gaming in general and massively multiplayer gaming in particular?

In the case of quite a few of the artists, WoW imagery or content is used to point to greater issues, such as questioning the idea of networking and community or looking at the implications of globalization and the threat of terrorism. Aram Bartholl led a workshop and performance takes an aspect from the ...

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Please God Make Tomorrow Better (2008) - Claire Fontaine

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Indizes (2008) - Andreas Nicolas Fischer

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Indizes is a data sculpture visualizing the stock market indices S & P 500, Dow Jones Industrial and NASDAQ in the year 2008 from january to november. The values are shown on the three peaks of the five rows of polygons. The data was provided by Google Finance.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Night of the 24th - the crisis (2009) - Gabriel Lester

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101 Cassette Labels

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A listing of 101 contemporary cassette labels, with images and links.

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Covert Channels

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A small but international group show organized by Mireille Bourgeois and Anais Lellouche, "They Told You So" takes its inspiration from the Situationists’ concept of détournement, reusing existing media to convey an opposing or alternate viewpoint. Here sound installation and video are the primary forms utilized. Purporting to address and ensnare the viewer, and using deliberate miscommunication to examine rhetoric and technologies that are oriented towards control, the works achieve varying degrees of success.

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A Trip to Governors Island

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Mark Wallinger, Ferry, 2009 (Photo by Andrew Russeth from 16 Miles of String)

To get to “PLOT 09: This World & Nearer Ones,” situated within the architecture and verdant landscape of Governors Island, you make your way to the southern tip of Manhattan, board a ferry decorated with signs that read “SHEEP” and “GOATS” (Mark Wallinger's cheeky contribution to the exhibition), and cross the mere half-mile stretch of water known as Buttermilk Channel. The journey is long and elaborate enough to make you feel like you have embarked on an exciting, uncertain adventure. The island is decorated with a pastiche of architectural styles that indicate its rich history; Victorian houses mingle amongst an abandoned movie theater, an 18th-century fortress, an Episcopalian Chapel, a castle, and stern, seemingly haunted brick abandoned military and coast guard housing. PLOT09 is Creative Time's new public art quadrennial, and for its inaugural exhibition curator Mark Beasley invited nineteen international artists to respond to their surroundings. In an environment decidedly marked by its 400-year history, several of the strongest works in the show used this history as a point of departure.

Adam Chodzko's video installation Echo tells an imagined story about the children of the military personnel who once occupied Governors Island. According to the film, the children often gathered in the basement of the Officer's Club, directly below the ballroom in which the film is screened, to play an invented game where participants attempted to shed their material possessions through trade. In opposition to a capitalist logic, objects of high value were swapped for ephemera. The fictional trades made in the film recall the seeming improbability of unequal transactions made in history, like the initial trade of Governors Island by Native Americans to Dutch settler Wouter van Twiller for two axe heads ...

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Endnode (2002) - MTAA

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Endnode is a networked sculpture in the form of a large tree. Printers nested within the sculpture's plywood branches produce hardcopy of email communication that fall to the ground like leaves or apples; the branching of the Internet is literally and figuratively brought into physical space. As the leaves/apples/email fall to the ground, they become end nodes in the worldwide information flow.

-- FROM THE PROJECT'S SITE

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