Dead pixel in Google Earth (2008) - Helmut Smits

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In the Future-Past Tense

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The fantasy of the future and the utopian promises of new technologies have always gone hand-in-hand. If the history of technology's evolution tells the story of our culture, we can also trace our present-day novelties back to the root of our anxieties about the future and the problems these devices hoped to solve. With this correlation in mind, the interactive DVD novel The Imaginary 20th Century (2007) by Norman Klein, Margo Bistis, and Andreas Kratky, jumps back to the fin de siècle era between the 19th and 20th centuries. It was a time of wonder when new technologies and their representation were wedded in documents like panoramic films of public light shows and short actualities about newfangled transportation devices called roller skates. The novel tells the story of "the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, and the story of a woman (Carrie), who in 1901, selects four men to seduce her, each with his own version of the new century" in a recombinatory visual narrative that overlaps 2,200 images culled from primary documents, architectural plans, photos, and other ephemera with an original score. The project speaks to the multiplicity of visions circulating about what the new century would hold, and it's an even more past-tense follow-up to Norman Klein's interactive novel, Bleeding Through: Layers of Los Angeles, 1920-1986 (2003). Klein's work has clearly resonated with at least eleven people, because closing this week at Otis College of Art and Design's Ben Maltz Gallery is "The Future Imaginary," an exhibition that responds to The Imaginary 20th Century with the work of artists Deborah Aschheim, Jeff Cain, Tom Jennings, Jon Kessler, Ed Osborn, Lea Rekow, Douglas Repetto, Phil Ross, Kari Rae Seekins and Aaron Drake, and Susan Simpson. Each contribution embodies the special genre of ...

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A Studio Visit with Gareth Long

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Last week, I met with artist Gareth Long at his Brooklyn apartment for a studio visit. I first became aware of his work through another artist Tyler Coburn, who wrote about him for Rhizome. After training in video for many years, Long turned to sculpture as a means to push video's formal qualities, illuminating the porousness of the category in relation to other mediums. His renderings of video into alternate forms, such as lenticular prints or digitally fabricated sculptures, often succumb to the faulty interpretations and limitations found in the slippage between languages. His book-based works pick up on this topic, functioning as artifacts of mistranslation.

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HEXA_FLEXAGON_F_EVER (2008) - Anna Lundh

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Image: HEXA_FLEXAGON_F_EVER Myspace page (Screengrab)

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Image: Installation with information station, 3 computers,
display of hexaflexagons, Anthology/Manual, reading area

The hexaflexagon is a strip of paper, that has been folded into a hexagon. This two dimensional shape can then be turned inside out, flexed, so that a number of faces that were previously hidden will appear. In theory, it can have an infinite number of faces, although in reality, the thickness of the paper sets the limit. It was discovered 1939 by a British fellowship student at Princeton, who started to fold the strips he had just trimmed off his American "letter-size" sheets to fit his A4 binder. It had a revival in the late 50s, when it first became popular among magic buffs in New York, and after an article in Scientific American, it became something of a craze.

To investigate which connections that can be made between the ideas and the people associated with the hexaflexagon, I use the digital network Myspace as my tool. A some-what old fashioned and analog phenomenon is applied to something very contemporary and digital. Right now, HEXA_FLEXAGON_F_EVER is trying to become friends with Alan Turing, Lewis Carroll and Katherine Hayles. It’s an exponentially growing mapping, where more dimensions will uncover, for an unforeseeable future.

-- EXCERPT FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Like Digital Clockwork

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Image: John Gerrard, Sentry (Kit Carson, Colorado), 2008 (Realtime 3-D on plasma screen, Sculptural display: 78 x 87 x 31 1/2 inches overall with table, Edition 6) Courtesy Knoedler Project Space and the artist.

John Gerrard creates eerie landscape works in realtime 3D (a type of graphics usually used in gaming), seen recently at the Knoedler Project Space and Simon Preston Gallery. Eerie because their encircling viewpoints, afforded by slow moving, 360-degree camera pans, not only posit them between the cracks of photography, sculpture, cinema, and painting but also carry a whiff of surveillance. They operate in real time, showing their subjects both in daylight and moonlight, amid enormous, man-made constructions in remote country settings, thus imbuing 20th century industrial inventions with the ancient mystery of the pyramids or Stonehenge.

In 2008's Sentry (Kit Carson, Colorado) at Knoedler, Gerrard presents a red oil derrick continuously pumping oil. There are no people in sight, only telephone wires and a few silos barely visible in the background. It's a reflexive work, a virtual mechanism designed to run on its own in real time without human supervision (as is the derrick). The up and down movement of the pump provides a counterpoint to the lateral movement of the camera, while the camera's perpetual motion mirrors the derrick’s constant activity.

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Image: John Gerrard, Sentry (Kit Carson, Colorado), 2008 (Still)

Sentry, which is silent, brings to mind Rashawn Griffin's installation of a real time transmission of sounds from a quiet country road in Kansas to a room in last year's Whitney Biennial, for its stark midwest milieu, and as an exercise in synchronicity. The piece is meant to be activated by the viewer by turning the monitor's frame, which will set the camera in either clockwise or ...

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The Nostradamus of New Media?

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Videos: John F. Simon, Jr., Two works from the series "Winds Across the Inner Sea," 2007

Artists often loathe living in the shadow of their older, more famous works. But it is difficult to begin an article about John F. Simon, Jr. without paying homage to his 1997 project, Every Icon. The brilliant algorithmic piece exists on a 32x32 pixel grid, in which any element of the grid can be colored black or white. As it crunches through the billions of possible illuminative patterns, it will--at least theoretically--eventually display "every icon" possible. The work, itself, has become iconic. It's often the first work of art shown in lectures about internet art, and while the code behind the work speaks volumes about the speed of behind-the-scenes technological development, the resultant display is a testament to the poetic beauty and creative potential of a few simple lines and squares. This marriage of sublime potentiality and mathematical complexity has continued to be the cornerstone of Simon's work over the last ten years--as we might expect from an artist who managed to snag the URL numeral.com! Simon is now enjoying his first Italian solo exhibition, in the form of a ten-year retrospective at Collezione Maramotti (Reggio Emilia, IT), entitled "Outside In: Ten Years of Software Art." The exhibit presents work from 1999 to the present and the title might refer both to the show's ability to "zoom-in" on an artist's oeuvre or the way in which Simon's relationship to code and form has changed over the years. After making a professional leap from science to art, Simon's early works treated code like a specimen. Akin to a microscope whose focus is pulled back to reveal the larger sample, his work has progressed in a way that now ...

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Permanent Junk For a Changing World

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Image: Shih Chieh Huang, Twilight Zone, 2008
(Installation shot from Zero1 Biennial, San Jose Museum of Art, 2008) Courtesy of the artist

Let's face it: A lot of new media art is mystifying. Shih Chieh Huang's work is mesmerizing. Of course, his installations have much in common with other media art. They light-up and like to be exhibited in dark rooms, they often employ electronic circuitry and robotics, and they are dynamic rather than static--his works move, blink, and make noise. But it somehow seems just as appropriate to connect Huang to the vocabulary of kinetic art (where there have indeed been many media innovators) than to link him exclusively to interactive art. Typically, his work is only interactive insofar as it stimulates deep visceral and emotional responses, but then by that barometer we might as well acknowledge that all art is potentially interactive... In Huang's work, the subject of high technology is perhaps even more important than using high tech media. The artist is a big fan of dollar stores and recycle bins. He collects cheap toys, plastic water bottles, and small, often overlooked colorful trinkets to assemble into what often feel like synthetic life-forms. A series of neon zip ties become a prickly spine for a shrimp-like character, while glowing wire tendrils embody other sea creatures' tentacles. Throwing in a little colored water, some LEDs, and plastic bags that appear to breath (earth, wind, and fire, anyone?), Huang gives us a candy-coated reflection of the media ecology many of us fail to see. In his current solo exhibition, entitled, "Connected: Eject before disconnecting," at the RISD Museum of Art through June 21st, the artist invokes the kind of right-under-our-noses, generally unspoken yet totally commonplace messages associated with personal computing. By doing so, he connects the ...

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Breaking things to make things

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Image: Mika Tajima/New Humans, "Dead by Third Act" Performance
November 7, 2008 at Artissima Volume @ Lingotto Fiere, Turin

With the economy undergoing a dramatic shift, and predictions for the art world ranging from bad to catastrophic, questions abound regarding the future of contemporary art production and exhibition. Over the next year, a new non-profit arts organization, X, intends to take stock of this extraordinary moment through a series of exhibitions and programming. X will open the first of four phases tomorrow in the Dia Art Foundation's building on West 22nd street, an enormous space which has remained empty for years. Mika Tajima's multimedia installation The Extras will take over the ground floor of the building, while an expansive survey of Derek Jarman's films will be on view on the 2nd, 3rd and 4th floors, and, on the roof, Christian Holstad will show Light Chamber (Part Two).

I've been a big fan of Mika Tajima's work, as well as her noise band New Humans, for years, and this week I had the opportunity to speak with her about The Extras as well as some of her other pieces. A visual artist and musician, her practice often navigates between installation, video, sculpture, performance, and sound. Her work attempts to illuminate the repressive echoes of modernism within the present through destruction and disassembly. In this sense, Tajima's work puts forth an interesting counterpoint to the financial crisis, by illuminating the increasingly rapid, and unsustainable, cycles of production and consumption. This interview is one of a number of upcoming interviews and articles dealing with the current economic situation. - Ceci Moss

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Images: Mika Tajima, The Extras, 2009 (X Initiative, New York, NY, Installation view).
Courtesy the artist, Elizabeth Dee, New York, and X Initiative

Explain the project at ...

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Card Catalog (2008) - Tim Schwartz

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A card catalog designed to hold all of the songs on my iPod, 7,390 songs. Each song is cataloged on a single card. The cards are organized in reverse chronological order, that is the songs I listened to most recently are in the front of the catalog, and the songs I haven’t listened to in two years exist at the back. The piece is seven feet long when closed and just under fourteen feet when opened.

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S WEBSITE

(Via TAGallery)

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Means of Production: Fabbing and Digital Art

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Several years ago, while making the lecture circuit rounds, American architect William Massie described a key goal within his practice as moving towards a more direct translation between bits and atoms. Architecture has always thrived on the tension between representation and material assemblages and what he was addressing with this comment was the dawning of an era characterized by a new proximity between digital models and physical output. In selected contexts, artists, architects, and designers have been exploring these accelerated development cycles for a decade but the involved technologies are descending in price so quickly that, for example, 3D printers are now cheaper than laser printers were in 1985. A key question: how does the looming ubiquity of these tools and workflows apply to the production and display of new media art? This article will explore digital fabrication (aka fabbing) at a variety of scales which include the curatorial questions raised by these new hybrid industrial design/sculpture objects as well as the implications on the practice of individual artists. Before delving into either of these milieus it would be useful to acknowledge some common language and terminology associated with fabrication and recognize some important precedents.

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