Secret Agency

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Image: Jill Magid, Prologue, 2009
(Courtesy Jill Magid, Courtesy Yvon Lambert Paris, New York)

"The secret itself is much more beautiful than its revelation." Written backward and presented through translucent paper, this text can be deciphered on the obverse of a large framed page of the suppressed novel Becoming Tarden in Jill Magid's solo exhibition at the Yvon Lambert Gallery. On another wall hang seven detailed photographs of banal notebooks with brightly colored tabs and scrawled titles, a white pedestal with a glass case contains a stack of prints neatly wrapped in paper, and a monitor plays a fuzzy live feed from a security camera at the Tate Modern. "Objects to Be Handed Over or Destroyed" documents a project that explores the connections between transparency, secrecy, and, ultimately, power.

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Image: Installation shots of Jill Magid's "Objects to be Handed Over or Destroyed" at Yvon Lambert New York
(Courtesy Jill Magid, Courtesy Yvon Lambert Paris, New York)

In 2005, the Dutch secret service (AIVD) invited Magid to create a work of art for their headquarters with the dual objective of improving the agency's public image as well as fulfilling a Dutch law requiring new buildings to commission art. In response to their offer, Magid posed as an undercover agent and interviewed members of the AIVD with the intention of giving a personal face to the organization without revealing individual identities. The commission resulted in the exhibition "Article 12" in 2008, but the agency refused to allow the public display of seven prints from the letterpress series "18 Spies", and heavily redacted a manuscript for a novel based on her experience.

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Image: Jill Magid, Notebook I Personal Data, 2008
(Courtesy Jill Magid, Courtesy Yvon Lambert Paris, New York)

Consistent with her earlier work, Magid's project attempts to personalize ...

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Seen and Heard

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There seems to be an unshakable division of labor between two of our major senses. 'Sight and Sound' and 'Audio and Visual,' are often paired as binary opposites, understood both as semantically and biologically distinct yet totally interdependent. “See This Sound,” an exhibition currently on view at the Lentos Museum in Linz, Austria, delves deeply into this co-dependent relationship. Far from another "art and music" show, the exhibition looks at numerous cultural, metaphysical, biological and neurological explorations of these senses - and how artists have mined them for decades. By highlighting their distinct and convergent streams of influence, “See This Sound” uses sight and sound as a metaphor for similar divisions and dependencies between "visual," "sound" and "media" art.

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Untitled #100 (Fantasia) (2009) - Josh Azzarella

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Michael Jackson’s iconic music video for “Thriller” stripped entirely of its dancers and music, instead the artist presents an emptied set, accompanied by an ambient soundtrack.

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Video Takeover

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Borna Sammak's debut solo show "Best Buy" took place last night for an exclusive two hour stint in the Soho location of electronics mega-retailer Best Buy. Thirteen of his vibrant and hallucinogenic high-definition "video paintings" were displayed on every single television on the lower level floor, making for an incredible (and gloriously surreal) sight. I snapped a few photos of the installation, below. To read the full backstory behind the show, check this interview with Borna Sammak and curator Thomas McDonell, conducted by artist Kari Altmann.

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Notes on Going Under

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But the whole discourse of noise-as-threat is bankrupt, positively inimical to the remnants of power that still cling to noise. Forget subversion. The point is self-subversion, overthrowing the power structure in your own head. The enemy is the mind's tendency to systematize, sew up experience, place a distance between itself and immediacy... The goal is OBLIVION. - Simon Reynolds, "Noise"

Replace the word OBLIVION with DE-EVOLUTION and you have encapsulated the essence of the strangest art-music project that ever emerged from Akron, Ohio. While a quintet of jerky ectomorphs in hazmat suits (seemingly) singing about sadomasochism breaching the Billboard Top 20 in 1980 seemed unlikely, the legacy of DEVO is fraught with such contradiction. Formed in 1973, DEVO began as a polemical performance project, became a major buzz band and then crumbled under the weight of the attention they had cultivated. Outside of influencing a generation of musicians and artists, a surface reading would suggest the band only registered a few blips on the broader pop culture radar—"Whip It", their pioneering music video work and a legendary Saturday Night Live performance—but tracing the dramatic arc of DEVO reveals a fascinating back story. While the group might be most easily read in relation to their 1970s Ohio peers Pere Ubu, The Dead Boys or Chi-Pig, more enduring points of reference may be found in the deadpan, dour and decidedly humorless synthpop of Telex, Gary Numan and Kraftwerk. Comparisons notwithstanding, DEVO defied categorization and their creative exploration of emerging technology, hermetic logic and contentious relationship with the mass market make them quite relevant to new media artists—they're just the band you want!

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Forever Heath Death (2009) - AIDS 3D

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Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival Report

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Image: Abandon Normal Devices logo

The debut Abandon Normal Devices (AND) launched in the North West of England, 23rd -27th September 2009. The inaugural festival was centred in the city of Liverpool with satellite events taking place in Manchester. AND, a collaboration between FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) in Liverpool, folly in Lancaster and Cornerhouse in Manchester positions itself as a mixture of new cinema, digital culture and media art, showcasing work in partnership with galleries, venues and public spaces around the city. Over five days, the festival featured a broad array of conferences, talks, exhibitions, screenings, performances and online works, with artists and practitioners from a wide range of backgrounds including, The Yes Men, MARIN (Media Art Research Interdisciplinary Network), Blast Theory, DJ Spooky and Michael Connor. FACT acted as the central hub for the festival and hosted the majority of screenings, talks and events; it also celebrated its 20-year anniversary on the opening night.

In line with its snappy title, the festival set out to discard all that is typical, regular or average, seeking to question normality in an array of forms. There was a particular focus on exploring disruption to traditional methods of production and distribution in cinema and media art. Interfering and interrupting the familiar and ordinary were played out in public space, on screen and through performance.

The festival opened with a new performance/lecture by Carolee Schneemann, renowned for her performance work of the 60’s and 70’s that challenged the normalised perceptions of the body, sexuality and gender. In a work which took the format of a lecture, titled Mysteries of the Iconographies, Schneemann went on a journey through the creative products of her life from early childhood drawings, through painting, to performance and video installation. The performance was accompanied ...

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No Strings Attached (2007) - Pascual Sisto

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This is where we’ll do it #5 (2008) - Martijn Hendriks

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YouTube video that was downloaded, partially erased and uploaded to YouTube again 18 sec loop, black and white, no sound

From This is where we’ll do it, series of YouTube videos from which the performing people were erased

-- FROM THE ARTIST'S STATEMENT

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Floater Final Sequence (1983) - Jane Veeder

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This is an example of early computer graphics animation developed by Jane Veeder at the Electronic Visualization Lab, using the Datamax UV1 graphics system and ZGrass programming language.

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