See Me, Hear Me: A/V Circa 2008

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American Music Center recently published a new issue of their web journal NewMusicBox, titled "See Me, Hear Me: A/V Circa 2008," which attempts to take stock of current audio/visual practice. Towards this end, the issue features four lengthy interviews with the A/V artists Scott Arford, Betsey Biggs, R. Luke DuBois, and the duo LoVid (Tali Hinkis and Kyle Lapidus). While the editors admit the difficulty in establishing an overarching conclusion given the diversity of the practitioners interviewed, they do underscore the increasing presence and significance of "musical art" following the democratization of technology and tools. - Ceci Moss

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Call Me!

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Touting the theme of "Impakt yourspace," the latest edition of Utrecht's Impakt Festival takes on the impact of Web 2.0 through its typically tightly-organized set of panels and curated programs of film, video, new media and performance. The central event, "Hybrid Playground," presents variations by Dutch artists on the melding of social networks and physical spaces. Here, attendees will experience KKEP's ParaPlay project, a democratic iTunes happening, and Bliin, which enables mobile phone users to post media to shared geographic maps; NetNiet.org's Gifted, a real-time phone-enabled social judgment system; and Alchemyst's open-source Roomware, which detects phone users and links their identity to networked personal profiles. Other internet-aware events include tech-inflected animations by painter Federico Solmi and "Self-Confession vs. Exploitation" a program of film and video diaries ranging from Joyce Wieland's 8mm work of the 1960s to modern-day web-based autobiographies. In perhaps the most self-referential move of all, Impakt will convene a panel on "The Future of Festivals" with organizers from Migrating Forms, Submarineand tank.tv, exploring what the role of live media events should be in the light of our increasingly online social world. - Ed Halter

Image Credit: NetNiet.org, Gifted, 2008

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From Krakow With Luv

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Williamsburg, Brooklyn-based gallery Vertexlist is named after the string of numbers that codify a digital image and, as one might then expect, is a haven for electronic art in New York. From May 9th-June 8th, the space will be an outpost for ten emerging media artists from Krakow who are featured in the exhibition, "Blankly, Perfect Summer." While there is no more heavy-handed organizational logic than shared residence, the show promises not only a professional boost for these Polish artists, but also an opportunity for Americans to take a first glimpse at some compelling work. Karolina Kowalska's JPG/TXT (2007) features the long-term archiving and live projection of snippets of text and images pulled from art, music, and media theory blogs, but no longer visible to Google. The projected juxtapositions instigate an interpretive competition between these ephemeral words and images, and are meant to examine "the special conditions of perception and representation of art works and art-related concepts on the web." Wojtek Doroszuk's film, The Dissection Theatre (2006), is an intense documentary of the autopsy process that explores the culpability of the camera for its own act of dissection, while linking the splayed body to the history of representational art. Lidia Krawczyk and Wojtek Kubiak present their video, Kaleidoscope (2008), which is part of their larger Genderqueer cycle. The piece throws a series of photographic portraits into kaleidoscopic relief, prying ornamental accessories and marked physical traits (facial hair, painted lips) from the whole and places these gendered signifiers into constellation in a way that playfully shakes up conversations about the "social fabrication [of] heterosexual norms." In their respective projects, both Jacek Malinowski and Grzegorz Szwiertnia also focus on the body, and specifically upon precarious narratives revolving around protagonists with physical disabilities. Also included in this interesting summer show ...

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Water Curses by Animal Collective

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Artist and prolific chart-maker Andrew Kuo directed a vibrant and wonderfully pixelated music video for Animal Collective's new song "Water Curses." See below.

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Identity Art: Alive and Flickr'ing

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Identity art long predates electronic art. Even among the avant garde, artists were using their work to sort out their personae long before we plugged-in machines to perform our computations. In many ways, this genre hit its heyday in the 1970s, after the emergence of video, and coasted through the '80s and '90s only to take on a stale whiff in the '00s, particularly after 9/11 and the Iraq War upped the ante for artists to look beyond themselves as subjects. So, if nothing else, it is incredibly bold for this year's EMAF (Electronic Media Arts Festival) to take up "Identity" as its theme. Running April 23-27 in Osnabrueck, Germany, the fest will present the work of a wide range of artists in over 300 installations, films, and videos, host two conferences, and act as a platform for a range of student projects by people apparently just learning about identity. All jesting aside, the festival's organizers have succeeded in arguing that a category of artistic practice previously kicked to the academic recycling bin is still alive and operating under new conditions. Afterall, it's no longer just Bruce Nauman and Cindy Sherman pointing cameras at themselves, but every person who maintains an account with social networking sites like Facebook and MySpace. And, of course, the question of digital reality (even digital indexicality) has taken well-cooked debates about the documentary status of reality TV and similar forms to a new level, when aimed at Second Life and machinima. In a statement signed by "The Festival Team," prospective attendees are asked, "How do digital technologies change all areas of private and public life?" Ralf Bendrath's lecture on "Digital Identity" will respond to this weighty inquiry by investigating "the forms and consequences of the increasing capture of private data ...

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Curvilinear Historiographs

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Norwegian-Serbian artists Synne Bull and Dragan Miletic (a.k.a. BULL.MILETIC) exemplify the modern fantasy of the nomadic artist, taking up shifting residences around the globe in conjunction with various residencies and exhibitions. This experience of constantly re-situating oneself in relationship to a new political geography plays out beautifully in their video works which are concerned with exploring "the relationship between physical and mental space.... to examine their immediate surroundings (architecture, objects, landscape, urbanity) as containers of emotions, memories, and political decisions." Their current solo installation in the salon of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Belgrade, is entitled Unfinished: Scars of the Past/ Face of the Future and in it the couple creates a romantic tension--a sort of "love rhombus"--between the eyes of the viewer, those of the artists, the perspective of the camera, and the visage of the space itself. Because they are interested in what gets visually and ideologically framed-out of the histories of city spaces, the artists tried to construct a sense of objectivity in developing a method that doesn't require them to peer through a lens in order to capture on film what they see as the tension between Belgrade's past and future, as manifest in the tension between monumental architecture and new improvised developments. This method is one which captures a 360-degree panorama, feeding each sliced point-of-view into a streaming loop, thus effecting a psychological and visual sense of continuity that places the construct of history on a more fluid continuum while likening both video-making and video-viewing to the process of "mental mapping." The piece will be on view through May 12th. - Marisa Olson

Image credit: Bull.Miletic, Unfinished: Scars of the Past/ Face of the Future, video installation detail, 2007

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Off the Grid, Into the Air

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On view at the Neuberger Museum of Art, through June 1st, is a group show entitled "Off the Grid," which presents the work of thirteen artists injecting a sense of ecological responsibility into a world increasingly polluted by an obsession with power, energy, and wireless communication. In this case, the concept of "the grid" takes on multiple meanings. While it initially invokes the act of unplugging from a communications network, it also means escaping the rigid conventions artists have traditionally followed in addressing environmental issues. This is to say nothing of the historical role of the grid, in modern art, in entrenching the perspectives and organizing principles of machine culture. Curators Jacqueline Shilkoff (of the Neuberger Museum) and Galen Joseph-Hunter, Tianna Kennedy, and Tom Roe (of free103point9) say that they sought to include "contemporary works which formally and/or conceptually challenge conventional and commercial infrastructures"--a wise idea, since it is commercial enterprise that has delivered us to the messy environmental quandary in which we now find ourselves. These works include Seth Weiner's Cryptographic Payphone (2008), which "employs a chaotic motion system to encrypt wireless data transmission, modeled upon the patented use of lava lamps to generate random numbers for the creation of cryptographic codes;" Nina Katchadourian's Ant Static (2003), a continued exploration of inter-species collaboration in which a mass-mob of ants are assigned the creative role of meditating on the levels of competition and technological conflict found in nature; and Cary Peppermint and Christine Nadir's (a.k.a. EcoArtTech)'s Environmental Risk Assessment Rover-AT (2008), a "solar-powered, all-terrain mobile station that collects real-time risk data relative to its GPS coordinates," thus reacting to and changing its environment by projecting videos (cued by a 14-tier threat level system) onto immediate surfaces. Also included in the show are ...

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Triple Play

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Danish site Netfilmmakers.dk provides what it terms "a non-commercial projectionspace for netfilm, net art video and net art," structured around a series of online curated mini-exhibits of just three works each. The latest and 13th edition is "To Kill at Dusk With Foam," featuring videos by Jana Eske, Andreas Kurtsson and Abhishek Hazra. In Eske's Apfelschnappen, a camera poised at the bottom of a tank of water records various individuals bobbing for a green apple, Kurtsson's Debris narrates the witnessing of a crime within a dream over images of depopulated exurban architecture, and Hazra's nicely inscrutable Nasal Sceptre portrays a pixelated rotating teapot covered with inscriptions of what may be bizarre online lingo ("RLAIAADKTEATCOR: rotate left arm in an anticlockwise direction keeping the elbow as the centre of rotation" -- one left out of Marisa Olson's recent Netacronyms?) The accompanying essay's attempt to tie these three works together under the themes from the Mahabharata and the anthropological concept of liminality constitute theoretical lily-gilding, but the site's micro-curated format nevertheless bears the satisfying succinctness of a video haiku. - Ed Halter

Image: Andreas Kurtsson, Debris, 2008

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Sending Mixed Signals

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In February of 2009, the US will force a mandatory end to analog television broadcasts, in a regulated move towards digital upgrade. The shift will ultimately generate an enormous amount of e-waste when old monitors are discarded as useless. Portland-based artists, The Video Gentlemen, wonder, "What residue, ghost-images, or other artifacts will persist in the nooks and crannies of this technocultural turn-over?" They've organized an exhibition, in their city's New American Art Union, to anticipate the theme of the afterlife of "dead media." From March 19-April 27, "BYOTV" will be the preemptive channel for "a series of audio-visual works, presentations, performances, workshops, and panels that remix, retell, reimagine, rewire, and/or reclaim electromagnetic modes of cultural production." The gallery will beam with single-channel broadcasts by over forty artists, including Video Gentlemen collaborators Carl Diehl, Jesse England, and Mack McFarland; Amy Alexander, Craig Baldwin, and Nerve Theory; plus a special program curated by transmission arts organization Free103Point9, which includes 31 Down, The Dust Dive, Tianna Kennedy, LoVid, Todd Merrell, ben owen, and Tom Roe. (The entire program can be found here in PDF format.) Together, these artists' low wattage output will emanate from a variety of seemingly defunct sources, so that unlike a traditional exhibition, viewers don't see TVs passively displaying videos, but instead must play an active role in picking up the signals by bringing their own TV--hence the show's title. This reduction of telecommunication to such a small space and limited time forces viewers to get intimate with the medium, while considering its pending obsolescence. - Marisa Olson

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Phase Chancellor at the Stone

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This past February, renowned experimental composer and harpist Zeena Parkins curated an eclectic series of events at New York's avant-garde music venue The Stone. During the last week, Parkins invited a number of guiding lights from San Francisco's experimental media scene to perform. One highlight was the synthesizer trio Phase Chancellor, an improvisational group who have made memorable, yet infrequent appearances at various art and music spaces since 2005. Comprised of video artist Nate Boyce, musician J. Lesser, and Matmos's M.C. Schmidt, the outfit channels the early investigations in electronic art and video carried out by John Cage, David Tudor, and Nam June Paik. Phase Chancellor distance themselves from their predecessors through their integration of digital technology. The backbone of the performance is Boyce's mesmeric imagery, prepared mostly through the processing software Jitter, but altered and added upon live using a hacked video mixer fed oscillations by his Korg Mono/Poly synth. (In the accompanying video, imploding circles in the center of the image are generated by the arpeggiator function on this device.) The Mono/Poly is also part of the sound mix, to which Lesser and Schmidt contribute a rich counterpoint of electronic textures, avoiding the concept of drone altogether in favor of a perplexing and ever-shifting sonic environment. - Nick Hallett

Video: Phase Chancellor at the Stone, February 22, 2008

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