For "The Young and Evil," the latest in tank.tv's ambitious program of guest-curated exhibitions, Stuart Comer considers the "historical contours and shifting relationships of sex and community in the digital age." Comer contends that the Internet has increasingly eclipsed the cinema as the preeminent cultural screen, and consequently divides his exhibition between the venues. Invited guests, including Andrea Geyer, Carlos Motta and Daria Martin, have each selected one contemporary work, for exhibition on tank.tv, and one historical film to be screened in Tate Modern's cinema on September 20th, 2008. But if the separation of venues emphasizes the historical division between works, the exhibition's focus on social deviance and erotics provides a compelling, unifying thread. The most notable of the works currently up on tank.tv play into what Comer describes as the Internet's state of being an "uncanny hybrid of personal longing and collective interaction." Mansfield 1962 (2006), for example, appropriates a Highway Safety Foundation video William E. Jones found on the Internet, which uses 1962 police footage of gay sex in a public restroom to instruct officers about covert recording techniques. Jones has edited the footage to concentrate on discreet moments of sexual pleasure and, at the video's end, the mug shots of participants, who all went on to serve time on charges of sodomy. For The Shape of a Right Statement I (2008), Wu Ingrid Tsang performs one section of autism rights activist Amanda Baggs' forceful address, In My Language, which she published on YouTube in 2007. Tsang's strong, androgynous features and affected computerspeak (true to In My Language) complicate the original work's register of alterity. "The thinking of people like me is only taken seriously if we learn your language," he recites, at one moment, an assertion that ...
British artist Larisa Blazic has a background in architecture and an official graduate degree in hypermedia. For the last decade, she's been pursuing mergers of the two, using site-specific, interactive installations as a means of exploring space as a carrier of meaning. Her projects often employ audio and explore creative surveillance technologies to think-through and beyond the traditional ways in which so-called public art interventions communicate to the general public. In conjunction with the 2008 London Festival of Architecture (from July 14-20), she'll create an installation at the Novas Contemporary Urban Centre called In This Place of Safety. Blazic's argument is that we no longer rely solely on the basic needs of food, shelter, and emotional validation to feel safe, but that there is now a new environment for safety which can be observed in the structure of our surroundings. The project "uses a building as a projection screen to explore intersections between temporary video interventions, architecture, and art." In this case, the video will screen images of deserted public playgrounds overlaid with audio recordings of children discussing and defining personal safety. By activating the hot button issue of safety within this particular public format, Blazic hopes to initiate a correspondence between the content of the video and the context of the large, staid Southwark building facade onto which the images are cast. - Marisa Olson
Image: Larisa Blazic, In This Place of Safety (Video Still), 2008
In Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer's practice, technologies all but synonymous with top-down monitoring and control (surveillance cameras, tracking systems, pattern-recognition software) transform into the base-units of interactive installations. "RECORDERS," the artist's current solo exhibition at The Edith Russ Site for Media Art, in Germany, emphasizes the individual and collective aspects of spectatorship, building an art-going public, in part, through archives of the visual and physical traces of past viewers. Close-up, for example, comprises a monitor divided into 800 small videos, which together respond to the physical presence of a spectator by mimicking the form of his or her shadow. These small videos are but fragments of a constantly updating reserve of 10,000 recordings, all of spectators who have previously viewed the work. For Pulse Room, Lozano-Hemmer has wired an array of 100 suspended lightbulbs to a metal handle. When a visitor grasps the handle, his or her pulse causes the first bulb in the array to flicker in unison; the introduction of another visitor's pulse causes the first flicker to move to the next bulb, and so on. Eventually, all of the lightbulbs hold a record of a given visitor - a fact all the more poetic considering that Lozano-Hemmer's inspiration came from listening to the heartbeats of his twins during his wife's pregnancy. Pulse Room is but one of many variations of this project: Pulse Front graced Toronto's Harbourfront last June, and Madison Square Park, in New York City, will host Pulse Park this coming fall. As with the best of Lozano-Hemmer's work, this evocative and technologically sophisticated installation finds its unique footing at the intersection of art, location and community. - Tyler Coburn
Image: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Close-up, 2006
Architectural design is currently enjoying a watershed moment of increased media attention, but among all the discussion of new museums, opera houses, and theatres, there is little attention paid to one of the world's oldest and most significant cultural institutions: the prison. According to a recent Washington Post article, more than 1 in 100 American adults were incarcerated at the start of 2008, making jails among the most popularly-visited sites in the nation. Historically, these buildings have been important tools in the disciplining of societies (including those who lived and worked in them, or those seeking to avoid them), and they've often provided major critical metaphors for the transmission of ideology and power structures-- most famously in the case of Foucault's interest in Bentham's panopticon. But for all the discussion generated about the design of this structure, it was ultimately dismissed as a bad idea, and few new ideas have been proposed. An exhibition at Turin's Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Foundation, entitled "YOUprison: Some thoughts on the limitation of space and freedom," invites 11 international architectural studios to suggest prison designs that not only consider the practical challenges of such spaces (small matching units, confinement, surveillance sight lines, lockdown procedures), but also the contemporary implications of imprisonment. Curated by Francesco Bonami, the show includes a true who's-who of architects, including Alexander Brodsky, Diller+Scofidio, INABA, Eyal+Ines Weizman, and others. Translating these designs and their site-specific psychological effects into the context of a museum space present a unique challenge for all involved, but the results will offer proof of the jail cell's status as unspoken spectacle and insight into the architect's ethical and personal relationship to the places they create. Many have even chosen to use the cells as platforms for the dissemination ...
As a compact but cogent set of explorations on governmental secrecy, censorship and other forms of knowledge control, the exhibit "For Reasons of State" consequently doubles as a menagerie of information technologies: projects on display feature microfiche, voice mail, tape recording, 16mm educational film, printed books, photography, surveillance video, card catalogs, typewritten documents, and good old pencil and paper-- though, perhaps significantly, there's not a computer monitor in sight. Ben Rubin's Dark Source (2005) comes closest via perverse analogy: a bank of microfiche readers displaying copies of documents that appear to be nothing but hand-scrawled bars. During a 2002 security snafu, Rubin was able to acquire the software code for Diebold's controversial voting machines, but then blacked out each line--in accordance with corporate trade secret laws-- before exhibiting it. Rubin's self-imposed censorship mirrors Jenny Holzer's Redaction Paintings (2006) mounted nearby, comprised of enlargements of classified US government documents released via the Freedom of Information Act, still containing large swathes of darkness. Other pieces deal less with active suppression of facts than their effective loss through lack of proper indexing: Lin + Lam's Unidentified Vietnam (2003-Present) series recreates a sloppy card catalog from the Library of Congress's collection of hundreds of propaganda films produced with the help of the American government for use in South Vietnam, while Mark Lombardi's Neil Bush, Silverado, MDC, Walters and Good c. 1979-90 (2nd Version) (1996) serves as an example of the late artist's obsessive sketches of conspiracy-style flow charts linking together powerful individuals, government bodies and corporations in tightly-bounded nests of sometimes inscrutable interconnections. The more exhibited and obvious choices for the show's theme (Trevor Paglen's photos of "black sites," Julia Meltzer and David Thorne's oft-programmed video essay "It's not my memory of ...
Why not fill it with 1 or more of 3 Rhizome-related activities?
1) Attend Blank Spots on a Map: State Secrecy and the Limits of the Visible, Trevor Paglen's talk at the New Museum tonight at 7:30pm
2) Buy tickets for the Rhizome Benefit.
3) For our members all over the world: view and vote on Rhizome Commissions. Every year, our community selects two of our seven commissions. Cast your votes today!
The New Normal, an exhibition currently on display at Artists Space, assembles works from thirteen practitioners, all of which were made after 2001 and are somehow representative of the emergent conditions of public and private life in America and beyond. Curator Michael Connor borrows his exhibition title from Dick Cheney's notorious post-9/11 speech, in which the vice president characterized the forthcoming encroachments on citizens' private lives as "the new normalcy." What makes Connor's exhibition truly revelatory, however, is the way it proposes this "rise of state and corporate surveillance" to be as definitive, in the shaping of the private sphere, as the willingness of millions of members of the populous to voluntarily make their private lives public, by means of online venues for personal blogging, image and video diaries, and social networks. This trend, if anything, indicates that for the twenty-first century public, "private information is not always something to fear." To the contrary, Connor argues that the power entailed in this type of public disclosure can be harnessed in the service of new forms of cultural production and new "tactics for political critique."
Support for this point can be found throughout the exhibition. Bangladesh-born, U.S.-based artist Hasan Elahi's 2002 airport interrogation by FBI agents, for example, prompted his developing Tracking Transience, a personal website monitoring his spending, calls and location, with photo documentation for support. Elahi's project serves a pragmatic end - as virtual alibi - but does so in a conceptually telling fashion: requiring the artist to internalize state power and subject his life to the degree of scrutiny the government reserves for suspected terrorists. In a similar vein, Palestinian artist Sharif Waked's single-channel video Chic Point (2003) shows a parade of men ...
For the next New Silent Series program at the New Museum, Blank Spots on a Map: State Secrecy and the Limits of the Visible, geographer and artist Trevor Paglen will explore the network of hidden budgets, state secrets, covert military bases, and disappeared people that military and intelligence insiders call the "black world." Over the course of his talk, Paglen will lead the discussion from "non-existent" Air Force and CIA installations in the Nevada desert to secret prisons in Afghanistan and to a collection of even more obscure "black sites" startlingly close to home. Using hundreds of images he has produced and collected over the course of his work, Paglen shows how the black world's internal contradictions give rise to a peculiar visual, aesthetic, and epistemological grammar with which to think about the contemporary moment.
Friday May 9th, 7:30 PM
the New Museum, New York, NY
$8 general public, $6 Members (Rhizome and New Museum)
Media artist Marie Sester's work Exposure (2001), on view at U.C. San Diego's gallery@calit2 until June 6th, encourages a closer examination of pre-9/11 surveillance technology. The multi-channel video installation gathers and superimposes x-rayed images of vehicles and, in one sequence, a house. Exposure came out of the artist's interest in the aesthetics of x-ray and laser technology, and it was initially exhibited at the San Jose Museum of Art in the Fall 2001 as part of the "Blind Vision: Video and Limits of Perception." The show at gallery@calit2 is accompanied by a lengthy interview with Sester by Eduardo Navas, in which she discusses her thoughts on the emergence of the concept of surveillance as a tool specific to the "war against terror" and the weight of this shift given the continued extension of surveillance since the early 2000s. Those unable to visit San Diego for the exhibition may view the three channel installation via the gallery's webcam. - Ceci Moss
Marie Sester, Exposure, 2001
For Internal Message Search: A Performative Installation, opening Friday, April 18th, pioneering video and internet artist Nina Sobell will install her Location One artist residency studio in the not-for-profit art center's project space, where she will carry on her practice for the duration of the show. Visitors will be able to see Sobell's recent wax sculptures and drawings, interact freely with the artist, and even accompany her for impromptu musical sessions (Sobell is a skilled improvisational guitarist and keyboardist). In keeping with Sobell's interest in extra-institutional viewing communities, the entire exhibition will also be webcast at all hours of the day, allowing online users access to the conventionally closed-off realm of the artist studio, in a fashion that constructively challenges existing divisions of public and private space, while also placing her web audience in the ambivalent role of surveillants. Sobell and multimedia artist Emily Hartzell realized a similar project in 1994, also using real-time webcasting to transform their studio at NYU Center for Advanced Technology into one of the internet's first time-based installations. Reflecting on the experience, they described moments when "our actions were heightened by our awareness of unseen Web visitors," and others when "we felt ourselves dissolved in...ubiquitous surveillance." Given her open invitation for musical collaboration for the duration of her forthcoming exhibition, it seems Sobell is presently aiming to produce an installation that both foregrounds the "artist-in-studio as spectacle" and facilitates a new type of community-centric performance space, accessible to viewers near and far. - Tyler Coburn