Reading Hayley Silverman's statements about her own work, it's evident that she recently attended a smartypants art school. Of her Free TV (2008) installation, in which a small mirror is angled into position on the floor and spray-painted with the eponymous phrase, she says "The mirror exemplifies the fallibility of showing the fixed image as a means of conveying self, and questions the immediate material construction of objects that frame what we perceive." Such Lacanian readings, and a consistent concern with critiquing the tropes of modernism, are peppered throughout the young artist's work which offers physical stand-ins for theories about the Symbolic and the Real. Seemingly left out of the infamous Lacanian triad, she invokes the concept of the Imaginary, but perhaps this is a triangulating force bequeathed by Silverman to her viewers. Her sculpture, The Everything is a Stonehenge-like assemblage using traditional stage prop materials (foam, wood frames, faux finishes) to offer a sort of pile-up of tombstones engraved with the names of digital file formats, operating systems, and programming languages. Theatrical appearances aside, Silverman says she intended to create something devoid of performativity, but rather--like its ancient representational forebears-- a structure that generates a monumentality seemingly predetermined by the eventual extinction of the systems it celebrates and the people who celebrate them. There is, in fact, a kind of sharply ironic morbidity in her work, which gives it a sort of human charm. In 11:11 (2008), Silverman (also a member of the net art group, Loshadka) seems to admit something that many contemporary internet artists working with readymade materials cannot. Pulling a found image (in this case, a tree whose trunk bears a knot resembling a human eye) from a phenomenologist's archive of found images, she says that the image "either amounts to ...
This week the Museum of the Moving Image launched Moving Image Source, a new online journal and hub for moving image criticism, discussion, and research. Check the website for articles by leading critics in the field (including Rhizome's own Ed Halter), a calendar of international events, as well as a valuable research guide containing a diverse range of links, such as the Machinima Archive, the British Artists' Moving Image Database, and the Prelinger Library, to name only a few.
Artworlders turned out in droves at the Guggenheim this past Wednesday for Mark Leckey's performance-cum-lecture, "Cinema in the Round," the penultimate event in Creative Time's Hey Hey Glossolalia series. Pairing a handsome suit with his blonde, surfer shag, Leckey looked every bit the irreverent orator as he assumed the lectern in the museum auditorium and delivered a refreshingly unorthodox reading of art and cinema history. Of particular importance was the question of how something cinematic may move from a state of "pure horizontality" to that of "pure verticality," which, for Leckey, was analogous to asking how a cinematic image may become an object, sculpture, monument or "beast." James Cameron's Titanic was one of many exemplars of this process, described by Leckey as a "time-travel film" that compressed "the bookends of the 20th century" (the materiality of early industrial manufacturing, the immateriality of late software production and 3D design) and torqued this resulting hybrid around one deceptively small iceberg. At other moments, Leckey's interest in exploring the sculptural and material language of cinema led to his relating Philip Guston's "ham-fisted, meat-and-potatoes" paintings and Georg Baselitz's still-lives of severed feet to skitterish, early Felix the Cat animations and the mass-agglutination aesthetics of music video production company Encylopedia Pictura. Such eclectic sampling would seem haphazard in other hands, but Leckey's familiarity with his source material bolstered its expressive content, and the narrational pliancy he brought to the lecture's structure proved thoughtful and engaging. - Tyler Coburn
For an invention meant to help us express ourselves, language sure comes with a lot of rules. To some, this is an exciting artistic challenge, while to others this is a barrier to the full expression of an identity that may no more adhere to a culture's norms than it does to the grammar of the mother tongue that culture gave her. This quandary has led many media studies scholars to take an interest in the relationship between natural languages and computer languages, between social codes and computer codes. A new online exhibition, entitled "You Own Me Now Until You Forget About Me," traces these issues and adds to the grist questions about the ownership of language (from authorship to identification with a lexicon to branded alignment with various software platforms, etc) and the looming potential of languages to die. Enveloped within these issues is an aspiration to study and encourage human interaction, and to preserve the traces of these conversations. The show includes work by Karl Heinz Jeron & Valie Djordjevic; Martin Wattenberg & Marek Walczak; Codemanipulator; J�rg Piringer; carlos katastrofsky; Mary-Anne Breeze (a.k.a. mez); and Christina Goestl. Some of these contributions are classic net art pieces already experiencing the interestingly adverse effects of time on web-based media, but all of them are important contributions to this discussion of communication. Surf them for yourself and then add to the show, if you'd like. That's right! Curators CONT3XT.NET have adopted an open curatorial model that allows visitors to chime in and widen the vocabulary used "in the exploration of our language with its arbitrary systems and rules, its corresponding functions within society, as well as with its absurdities and restrictions for the individual." The show will also be installed at the Museum of Modern Art ...
This week, I Heart Photograph published an interview with artist Harm van den Dorpel which, however brief, offers insight into his process. In response to the first (of two) questions, van den Dorpel describes the series from which his image above is excerpted: "this work is part of my project 'semantics'. it is a series of manipulated found images. after applying one action or manipulation i put them back online. in computer programming 'semantics' is opposed to 'syntax'. when i look at media i am always struck by the (stupidity of) visual conventions and expectations; these are these syntactic rules. purposely i generate a syntax error in the visual language of the photos. after the images are processed on a lower layer, they become mine, and carry completely other meaning or emotions. " Also check out this interview from NY Arts Magazine with van den Dorpel and Damon Zucconi, a dynamic artist who shares some of van den Dorpel's concerns. Zucconi's varied and fast-growing body of work includes browser-based projects such as Sometimes Red, Sometimes Blue, video such as Untitled (SONY) as well as inter-disciplinary installations and expanded performances, all of which interrupt the marketing campaigns of everything from ideas to TV shows and, in so doing, interrogate the production and circulation of visual information. The format of their conversation: a straight transcription from gchat allows them to vacillate between casual conversation and more thoughtful reflections on their work -- all interesting and valuable to read. -- Lauren Cornell
Online quarterly art journal Vague Terrain announced the release of its latest issue titled "Rise of the VJ" this week. Vague Terrain pairs academically-minded criticism and interviews with artist's projects and/or documentation. In the past, the non-profit publication has featured important and timely topics such as Minimalism, Generative Art, Locative Media, and Sample Culture. Their new issue takes stock of the contemporary field of VJing by showcasing a variety of artist's videos from the likes of Leeanee Berger, vjzoo, defasten, Kero and Neubau, among others, as long as well as substantial interviews with VJs Solu and Jaygo Bloom. Critics Ryan Stec, Michael Betancourt, and Tim Jaeger investigate the interactive angle of VJing while Lara Houston, Ziv Lazar, Xarene Eskander, and Ana Carvahlo situate VJing historically and socially. - Ceci Moss
Ongoing in Amsterdam, through February 24th, is the twelfth annual Sonic Acts conference and festival. This year's focus is on The Cinematic Experience and the framers of the symposium have an interesting take on the nature of this experience. They argue that cinema preceded celluloid (with the magic lantern, zoetrope, etc) and that it now supercedes it--not only with video, but also with higher resolutions, faster distribution networks, and ever more portable recording devices. They ask what the future of the cinematic experience will be, and to reflect on this question, they offer a series of performances, talks, and exhibitions, the highlight of which is a show at Netherlands Media Art Institute featuring the work of Julien Maire (F), Ulf Langheinrich (D), Boris Debackere (BE) and Kurt Hentschl�ger (AT). Ultimately, this merging of sound and cinema is a provocative one, as it casts into speculation the relationship of our senses to these evolvingly more "virtual" media. If a trip to Amsterdam isn't in your immediate future, check out the festivals live feeds, online. - Marisa Olson
Over the course of its twenty-year history the annual Berlin festival Transmediale has undergone multiple transformations. Originally an offshoot of the Berlin Film Festival, it grew into Video Fest, then Transmedia and now Transmediale- an evolution that reflects the trajectory of the medium from a specialized activity to a ubiquitous component of daily life. Organized under the theme of "CONSPIRE", this year's festival seeks to, "question, subvert, undermine and bypass the unspoken rules, hidden codes of conduct and assumed truths entrenched within our information driven communication cultures and ideological belief structures." A large and truly international exhibition interprets the conspiratorial through a series of thematic 'clusters' including "Bio-Organic Systems," "Twisted Realities," and "Alternative Science / Science vs Fiction." The annual conference and keynotes includes papers by an equally diverse cast. Of particular interest this year is the session "Web 3.0: Conspiring To Keep The Net Public," which will focuses on the question of "who controls the rights, identities of the users therein" and the increasing commodification of online data and personal expression. Moderated by runme.org co-founder Olga Goriunova, the panel is composed of an international group of theorists, activists and artists including Seda Gurses, Fran Ilich, Felipe Fonseca, Michelle Teran and Simon Yuill. In addition to the exhibition and conference, the festival also hosts a series of film and video screenings and performances. The conference as a whole will be streamed live for the duration of the festival. Transmediale runs from January 30th to February 3rd. - Caitlin Jones
Editor's note: Rhizome will run a comprehensive review of the festival next week by correspondent Michelle Kasprzak.