A Must See: <br>Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis

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Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis' current program of exhibitions offers a stellar example of the dynamic curatorial tactics for which the museum has become known. Alongside "Aïda Ruilova: The Singles 1999 - Now," the first U.S. solo museum show of the New York artist's compulsive, viscerally demanding video loops, the Contemporary presents Berkeley-based artist Lutz Bacher's Spill, one in a three-part project that includes the publication of SMOKE (Gets in Your Eyes) and My Secret Life, a solo exhibition at P.S.1 scheduled for 2009. While the P.S.1 exhibition promises to be a more conventional survey of the artist's 40-year career, Spill is anything but ordinary. Bacher centers the show around eclectic, site-specific installation Our Beloved Revolutionary Sweetheart, which features a grouping of life-size Star Trek characters; shattered guitar debris; intersecting, curved ramps; and a multi-channel video of a line-drawing traveling, in anthropomorphic fashion, over a monochromatic landscape. An old Budweiser sign and beer cases draw the exhibition's second space into conversation with St. Louis (Anheuser-Busch's headquarters), motion sensors in the museum courtyard trigger a sound installation, and displays of Bacher's earlier works are periodically supplemented or removed. Considering the diverse quality of the artist's output, which has always relied on appropriation strategies and "deliberately migrates between methods, styles, and attitudes," the piecemeal, shape-shifting nature of Spill seems on point. As if to supplement the exhibition's provisional ethos, the Contemporary's Front Room will concurrently mount a series of shows ranging from one day to a few weeks in length, often by younger artists and collectives indebted to Bacher's practice. Reena Spaulings, Claire Fontaine and Dexter Sinister will all take a turn. - Tyler Coburn


Image: Lutz Bacher, Spill, 2007, black and white photograph with unknown substance, 50 ...

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Tools of the Trade: Sam Pluta's Cinematic Compositions

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Video: Sam Pluta, American Tokyo Daydream I (Calypso Sunrise)-Full Version, 2008


For this installment of Tools of the Trade, Melody Chamlee reports from last week's Dorkbot meeting in New York. - Ceci Moss

Composer Sam Pluta demoed his new performance piece at Location One in SoHo as one of the featured presenters for September's New York Dorkbot meeting. He creates original music scores and visual experiments that contain mathematically arranged sequences to make his compositions using his own software scripts.


Pluta says he began experimenting with software-generated music by exploring data structures, which he defines in his software using specially selected algorithms. His compositions use non-traditional, un-syncopated beats to create rhythm in common sounds, which can play like robotic malfunctions one moment and complicated tribal drum sets the next.


He began by using algorithms to chop up set blocks of sound samples, which were programmed to mix up and repeat to make it difficult for human hearing to sense repetition in the sounds. Pluta then says he found he was able to generate unique compositional percussion scores with even the tiniest of sounds, such as the shearing of a pair of scissors and the slurping of drinks.


Not content with the single mathematical re-arrangement of the same sound samples, Pluta began exploring MIDI sample distortion until he was able to arrange samples not just by sequence, but also pitch and length, creating true musical melodies that could be played in different scales.


He says his biggest challenge to date has been attempting to use his software in live performances. "Using algorithms is great for track mixing, but for live performances, it's hard to collaborate with."


As Pluta experimented with software audio application design he also began exploring visual notes to show as well as play intense sounds ...

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A Tasty Mixture:<br> J&L's "Videos and Vodka"

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Available this month, "Videos and Vodka," the second DVD anthology from J&L Video, comprises selections from a video salon artist Jacob Dyrenforth and curator Eva Respini ran out of their Brooklyn loft from 2004-2006. A strong sense of community binds the works, owing in part to the fact that Dyrenforth received his MFA from Columbia alongside many of the featured artists, including Ohad Meromi, Guy Ben-Ner and Lisi Raskin, as well as to the number of emerging, New York-based artists in the program. In an essay accompanying the anthology, Dyrenforth and Respini foreground these facts, describing their decision to create Video Salon as arising, in part, from a need to provide their friends and the broader public with "non-traditional viewing spaces," in the style of the "collectives, collaboratives and artist-run spaces" established in New York in the 1970s. While the 1990s saw the rise of high-production films, videos and moving-image installations from artists like Matthew Barney, Doug Aitken and Jane and Louise Wilson, many younger artists, the curators claim, "are reconnecting to a history that pre-dates the black-boxed multi-channel universe." Several of the works, for example, build whimsical or fantastical scenarios from patently everyday materials and circumstances, like Untitled, Air Guitar (2005), in which Robin Rhode plays and destroys a guitar drawn, sequentially, on a wall; or Ben-Ner's Berkeley's Island (2000) where the artist/father's desire for solitude manifests itself as a Crusoe-esque life on a desert island, comically set in the center of his kitchen. Others present intensively personal or shared narratives, from the deconstructed footage and text of Lisa Oppenheim's Dioptric (2003) - taken from an imaginary scrapbook - to the three-way telephone conversation in John Pilson's Sunday Scenario (2005), where the back-and-forth between baseball aficionados becomes a language unto itself. - Tyler Coburn


Image ...

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Processing the Signal

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Documentary about video art and artists using the medium in the 1980's. Featuring Nam June Paik, Bill Viola, Zbigniew Rybczynski, John Sanborn, Kit Fitzgerald, Paul Garrin, Peer Bode, John Hanhardt, Marie Perillo, Ira Schneider, Reynold Weidenaar, and Dean Winkler.

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Then and Now: Desire on Screen

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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 ...

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A Feast for Your Eyezz

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One of the hallmarks of the current era of net art is the exhibitory display of one's consumption. While a lot of early net art was self-reflexively directed at the traits of networked environments, newer work seems to be largely about running around and exploring those environments, then generating responses. The output of the pseudonymous artists behind Triptych.tv (Jimpunk, Abe Linkoln, and Mr. Tamale) forms a bridge between these two eras. It incubated in the hour of the first boom's waning and waxed ahead of the current surf blog curve. As a result, Triptych.tv (which, readers are forewarned, could very much hijack its predecessor Screenfull.net's motto, "We Crash Your Browser With Content") marries the best qualities of these two eras. The site simultaneously evades initial detection as a blog while exploiting (in the true hacker sense of the word) all of the default structural conditions that make blogs such a performative space. The artists post heavily and skillfully manipulated videos, sound clips, images, and animations, to the order of optical poptitude; and while their individual posts stand on their own, the degree to which they harmonize with each other could finally--after so many decades--stand to illustrate the truly exquisite nature of the exquisite corpse. This is net art decadence at its richest. Now if the site sounds familiar to you, we'll admit to having covered it before, but the group's current summer marathon inspired us to remind you of its presence. This, afterall, is another trait of current net art blogs. There are no one-hit-wonders, and despite the ".tv" in the site's URL, there are no reruns here. To truly take in this collaborative artwork's beauty, one needs to resign themselves to the compulsion to repeat. - Marisa Olson


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Going Public

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"Private fears and shared desires" take the public stage for "Tarantula," a month-long film and video program projected on Europe's biggest LED wall, in Piazza del Duomo, Milan. In collaboration with MIA (Milano In Alto) and Fondazione Nicola Trussardi, which is dedicated to finding "new channels and strategies to distribute contemporary art in the city of Milan," curator Massimiliano Gioni has invited fifteen contemporary artists to screen works twice a day on a screen normally reserved for commercial advertising. Certain works build upon this strategy of intervention, like Pipilotti Rist's series of sixteen one-minute video segments, Open My Glade, originally commissioned by the Public Art Fund, in 2000, to air on the NBC Astrovision by Panasonic video screen in Times Square, New York. Other notables include the film component of Johanna Billing's You Don't Love Me Yet project, documenting the studio recording of Roky Erickson's eponymous 80s pop hit by more than twenty singers; Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore (1999), Mark Leckey's nostalgic chronicle of cross-sections of British dance culture from the 70s and 80s; and Dictio pii(2001), a parade of high-fashion outfits repurposed, by artist Marcus Schinwald, as disturbing fetish-objects. Like the Bob Dylan novel from which it takes its title, "Tarantula" presents rituals public and private, compulsive and fanciful, to show the ways "new rules and behaviors can transform life into a joyful carnival of exceptions." - Tyler Coburn


Image: Mark Leckey, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999

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Web TV

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Public exhibition of single-channel video typically falls under two models: theatrical screening and gallery installation, each with particular benefits and limitations. In theatrical screenings, a relatively captive audience becomes engaged with the rhythms of the work over a predetermined length of time; individual titles in a program can speak to one another in a linear fashion. The cinematic format allows for potentially deeper engagement, but poses pragmatic limits: too many short videos in an extremely long program suffer. Gallery installation lends itself best to shorter pieces, loops and environmental works, and suggests the medium's relationship to the gallery Ur-forms of painting and sculpture, as well as to the architectural space of the white box. Why + Wherefore's online exhibit This One Goes Up To 11 provides yet another way to program video--something like a DVD compilation gone immaterial. Four curators--Summer Guthery, Hanne Mugaas, Lumi Tan and Nicholas Weist--chose ten videos each for the show around the easily malleable theme of "pop and media culture." Hosted by Vimeo, the forty titles range in length from twelve seconds to twenty-four minutes, with a combined runtime of three hours and forty-seven minutes. Alphabetically arranged on a long horizontal window, the lineup functions more like a mere database of options than a conscious progression. With so many choices of widely varying length and quality, user control precipitates a hot-or-not brutality: the best works--Guthrie Lonergan's Artist Looking at Camera, Bad Beuys Entertainment's Champion #4, or Tricia Baga's Season One, to name only a few--will run satisfyingly to completion, while certain others will be impatiently click-and-dragged to their ends. Video needs better attention paid to temporal rhythms and the experience of spectatorship; while an ambitious experiment, Why + Wherefore's attempt collapses into curatorial shovelware. - Ed Halter


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We Heart Our VCRs

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It's been said that necessity is the mother of all invention. That is, that true innovators were often responding to a lack of materials in crafting their art. This seems particularly true in the field of filmic media, where art history offers us so many examples, ranging from the Soviet KINO school's use of rearranged bits of paper to fine-tune the practice of montage to Britain's early-80s Scratch Video movement. The latter is the subject of an exhibition at London's Seventeen Gallery, May 28th-June 28th. "SCRATCH" presents work by intimate colleagues George Barber, The Duvet Brothers, Goldbacher & Flitcroft, and Gorilla Tapes, each of whom participated in this movement that involved sourcing material directly from existing broadcasts and other moving images sources, and often reprocessing them with what were then the latest in video editing techniques and tools. While all of the these artists' work responds largely to the new creative possibilities afforded by the birth of the VCR, Seventeen points out that they took this work in two distinct directions: politics and aesthetics. (Not that the two are mutually exclusive!) The Duvet Brothers and Gorilla Tapes directly engaged the Thatcher/Reagan new world order of conservativism and the ongoing issues in Northern Ireland with an anti-establishment ethos that marked all of their works. Their peers in the show explored visual styles ranging from dreams to pop music videos, imbuing their sources with rhythm, pulse, and a new life. If you're in the area, come check-out this often under-recognized work whose copious imitators, in the last two decades, are a testament to its influence and staying power. - Marisa Olson


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Personal Electronics

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Audio-visual performance duo Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus, better known as LoVid, will be reading people's auras tonight at the Museum of Modern Art in New York-- or at least generating an electronic approximation. For their live work "Video Fingerprints," which premieres in the show, a select group of participants (including a few artists and curators familiar to Rhizome readers) will hold a quarter-inch plug in their bare hands, thereby generating natural electric currents which will be translated into analog video images corresponding to each person's unique body signal. The cords carrying these biofeedback signals have a touch of the handmade as well, crafted with homey cardboard and fabric coverings that mirror the chunky, multicolored video patterns created in their performances. "Video Fingerprints" is the latest in LoVid's growing body of elaborately low-tech projects based around the rough malleability of the electronic signal, updating the image processing practices of first-generation video artists like Stephen Beck and Skip Sweeney with a 21st century taste for noise, overload and disruption. In addition, LoVid will enact "Venus Mapped," a double video projection which Hinkis and Lapidus perform live A/V patching to create one image that follows a prerecorded "visual score" on the other. They'll also give a talk about their work, and screen a number of single-channel recordings produced over the last few years. - Ed Halter


LoVid, Venus Mapped, 2007

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