See below for installation footage of Tony Oursler's new show "Cell Phones Diagrams Cigarettes Searches and Scratch Cards" at Metro Pictures from VernissageTV, which opened last week. The show examines themes of addiction and consumerism in an increasingly interconnected culture.
In people, memory is the capacity to retain an impression of past experiences. In technology, memory refers to the parts of a digital computer that retain data for some interval of time. Computers now have the ability to save a lifetime of photographs, videos, audio and communications, changing the way that we reference personal memory. With this change, computers can archive and index memories in a way that we have never been able to do before. Computers have become machines for remembering. Using the most primitive form of digital storage, I have recorded all of the emails stored on my computer into thousands of punched cards. Each card contains fragments of communication layered one on top of another to form an analog representation of my collected digital communications. In the same way that information is stored on the computer, I have created indexes to reference the information. Each index is created by manually sifting through the information, word by word, creating unique directories of my personal communications.
The central work of Hans van Koolwijk, the Bambuso Sonoro, originates from the idea of a single performer operating a number of flutes simultaneously. The Bambuso is an unpolished sound sculpture that is used as a musical instrument, whereby the visual is closely related to the aural. Sounds can be seen, as it were. One wants to be physically present, preferably between the flutes, to see the performer sweat, to experience the effort needed to produce the sounds.
Texas group ArcAttack make music by manipulating electrical arcs generated by Tesla coils. In these two videos, they perform "Creepy Circus Song." The first video is live from a show at the Maker Fair last year.
Scene designer and robot artist Roland Olbeter developed and crafted the unique ensemble "The Sound Machines," an automated, electrical string quartet with a drum. The four string instruments sound and function like electric guitars, the difference being that each sound machine only has one string.
21 micro-cylinders from Festo are used in each sound machine. The micro-cylinders imitate the mechanical movements of a musician's left hand on the string instruments, determining the pitch of the tone by changing the length of the strings. Various drumsticks and a jazz brush are moved on the drum by micro-cylinders.
"Fast Blue Air," the music composed especially for the Hanover Fair by Australian composer Elena Kats-Chernin, explores the range of sounds generated by the sound machines including the noises produced by the pneumatics.
In an essay hoisted upon every media studies student ever, Walter Benjamin argues that the mechanical reproduction of art works separates the viewer from the original object and therefore diminishes that object's "ritual value." Strangely enough, Stephanie Syjuco's work takes a different approach. She gives us all reproductions, all the time. From paper TV's to faux designer furniture, these readily-reproduced images and things comment on the importance of the originals in our daily lives and the cultural value we've built-up around the notion of originality. Her current solo exhibition at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, entitled "Stephanie Syjuco: Total Fabrications," is full of fake design objects pulled from circulation within the mainstream -- or culturally specific niches therein -- and recreated in a way that references their genesis as well as the contextual implications (or even clichés) of reproduction. In fact, Syjuco's work further delves into the processes of production itself, and it's ritualization. Her reconstructions comment on the origin of materials, their high and low statuses within culture, the technologies through which they operate, and their impacts on systems ranging from the environment to the visual vocabulary of the zeitgeist. This is highly manifest in her ongoing project, The Berlin Wall, in which she pulls what she calls "proxy chunks" of the famous wall out of spaces around the world. These are not souvenirs from the wall, but rather a different kind of facsimile, which Syjuco feels approximates the political and architectural situation of the wall and the promises offered in its deconstruction. The proxy chunks have embarked on their own roadshow, exhibiting in new cities under plaque-capped vitrines, so as to however-falsely invoke the aura of the wall and the hope its demolishedness represents. Her Towards a New Theory of Color Reading takes ...
Now that progress is as predictable as an automatic software update or higher resolution in a camera phone, the idea that technological advancement holds the key to a better future -- and the fear that it could be abused as a tool of world domination -- seem like quaint relics of the 1950s and '60s. Lisi Raskin's exaggeratedly ragged, hand-crafted reconstructions of military command centers evoke the thrall such spaces held over the public imagination during the Cold War even as they reinforce the contemporary viewer's distance from that feeling of awe. Over the past year, Raskin's installations on this topic have surfaced in several locations as stages of an ongoing project titled Mobile Observation. This year's incarnations began with Command and Control, an installation at the Park Avenue Armory in February, and continued with Mobile Observation (Transmitting and Receiving) Station at Bard College's Hessel Museum of Art, for which she embarked on a road trip to military sites across the United States and sent back materials to be exhibited. Mobile Observation will peak on Friday with Tipping Point, a performance at the opening of "Soft Manipulation" at Casino Luxembourg, where the resulting carnage will remain on view through the exhibition's run. Here Raskin, who works at studios in Brooklyn and Oakland, California, discusses her newest work and how it represents a change in her perception of Cold War mythology.
With the economy undergoing a severe downturn, and retailers reporting an especially slow sales season during what is typically the busiest time of the year, the organizers behind Everything Must Go could not have asked for more fitting circumstances for their upcoming exhibition, which will take place in a partially abandoned mall in Birmingham, Alabama. Curator Rachel Higgins rented one retail shop out of the over 60 vacant stores in the Century Plaza Shopping Mall, and from December 20 through January 3rd, twenty artists, including Sascha Braunig, Walton Creel, Matthew Farrell, Rachael Gorchov, Jess Perlitz, and others, will approach the space as a stage, rotating works on a daily basis in order to spotlight a specific group or artist. The project's title Everything Must Go touches on the fast pace of consumerism, which steers the rate at which malls are built and discarded, but it also carries with it a darker cadence, one that suggests that our current models for economic growth, which favor rapidity and waste, cannot persist.
Image: Century Plaza Shopping Mall (Photos by Kate Merritt Davis)
Interface aesthetics seem to push further into public consciousness with each passing month. Consumers are manic about multitouch and contemporary prototypes exploring gesture and performance have hinted at how we will be interacting with technology in the not-so-distant future. This considered, conversations about the desktop metaphor underlying personal computing or Aqua-style might seem archaic, irrelevant in light of emerging tangible media. This is, of course, not the case, and when excavating the idea of interface, one can dig back much further than screen-based interaction and find an extensive lineage of control panels and analog interfaces that prefigure the graphical user interface (GUI). An artist clearly invested in questioning the nature of interface and display is Kevin Hamilton, a researcher and educator based in Urbana, Illinois. Over the last several years Hamilton has been exploring the narrative potential of bare-bones interface and informational systems, quite notably through his ongoing Rhythmanalysis project.
Just in time for the holiday season comes an exhibition inspired by the heartwarming Brian Aldiss short story "Super-Toys Last All Summer Long" in which a robotic boy is deceived into believing he's human and loving his fake mom. It's a tale for the ages. And now Bristol's Arnolfini gallery has mounted "Supertoys," a chance for a group of artists to flesh-out the fakery behind humans' relations to their playthings. In fairness, part of the show's agenda is an effort to look at how human/ object relationships can become more reciprocal as robots become increasingly intelligent and the possibility for not only learning but also emotion creeps into the picture. Codemanipulator reflect directly on the eponymous "Supertoys" story and present us with a binary toybox full of zero's and one's, with which viewers can play like building blocks. Natalie Jeremijenko's Robotic Geese and Ducks (2008) and Feral Robotic Dogs (2005) prompt us to remember puppy love and other animal affections while considering the important social roles played by these creatures. Her dogs sniff out pollution, while the fowl illustrate the life of the decoy. Despite most of the American nuclear tests being given macho code names like "Romeo," Dunne & Raby's Huggable Atomic Mushroom (2007) brings out the softer side of these curvy explosions by making cuddly, squishy, femininely-gendered toys. This play of difference highlights the role of machine culture in cultivating or quelling paranoia and false rationality. These and other works by Chris Cunningham, Kahve Society, Alex McLean, Philippe Parreno, Unmask Group, and guest robots Swarm Systems and Heart Robot use the approachability of cute objects to address often untouchable topics, in this exhibition. - Marisa Olson
Image: Natalie Jeremijenko, Feral Robotic Dogs, 2005