Tuning-In Intervention

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"As we walk the streets our bodies pierce magnetic fields." So begins artist Ricardo Miranda Zuniga's statement regarding his installation, "On Transmitting Ideology" at Philadelphia alternative art space, Vox Populi. This poetic preface underscores the ubiquity of radio waves, in our world, and the potential power of transmission. For while many of the powerful states and dictators Zuniga's work critiques use the airwaves as a means of broadcasting political dogma, the artist takes the space back in his own transmissions. For the show at Vox Populi, he will present an installation of wooden guns in which are embedded radios "broadcasting declarations on freedom and transformation in our society." The AK-47s and Uzis crafted by Zuniga take aim at the mass media and their role in disseminating ideology. This installation is accompanied by a screening of two new video works "that question the outcome of popular notions of freedom, liberty, and the power of capital." Both pieces touch on the political and personal struggles associated with immigration. Carreta Nagua, Siglo 21 (2007) is an animated narrative that also addresses aging and cultural and familial loss through the perspective of two aging TV superheroes, voiced by the artist's parents, and El Rito Apasionado (2007) "takes place in a hotel room where three Guevarrian Neo-Marxist Latino Terror Revolutionaries from Cuba, Nicaragua and Mexico gather to prepare an act against the history of U.S. intervention." Together, these projects exemplify Zuniga's forte for not only performing powerful interventions, but also interrogating the rhetoric of interventionist art and actions. "On Transmitting Ideology" will be open March 7-30. - Marisa Olson

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New Issue of Vague Terrain

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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

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Cory Arcangel's "Colors" Available for Download

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Artist Cory Arcangel, in keeping with his practice of providing public tutorials for his art projects, recently made his video application "Colors" available as "Colors PE" or "Personal Edition." Arcangel used "Colors" to screen Dennis Hopper's film Colors in his 2006 exhibition "subtractions, modifications, addenda, and other recent contributions to participatory culture" at Team Gallery, and the same version of the work will be exhibited in the upcoming show "Color Chart: Reinventing Color, 1950 to Today" at the MoMA. To begin experimenting with Arcangel's application, click here. Further information about "Colors" from the artist's website below:

"A couple years ago I made a very small video application called "Colors". This video came out of my interest in wanting to make something using slit scan. This is a very common and quite easy technique where basically something is photographed through a slit. After spending some time trying to teach myself how quicktime works and how video is displayed on a modern computer, I finally ended up with Colors. Anyway, basically Colors PE (the personal edition version) is a small application that will play any quicktime movie using a slit scan technique one line at a time starting from the top."

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Yes, No, Maybe So

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New York-based artists MRiver and TWhid (together, they are MTAA) began their collaboration as painters, but quickly moved into the world of new media. They were among the earliest internet artists and are at the forefront of a small handful who are still in practice from that first generation. Their work continues to push the boundaries of the genre, but is consistently informed by the history of conceptual art and performance. They very often contemplate the notion of "translation" between natural and computer languages, and in the form of "updating" works (their own or others') from the platform of one media epoch to another. While their newest piece, YES & NO (2008), grows very clearly out of this trajectory, it is refreshingly different. Like their One Year Performance Video (2004) and Karaoke DeathMatch 100 (2007), it uses software to string together pre-existing video clips of the two artists, but in a seemingly more random way than before. Always fans of language games, MTAA took turns taking sides in the binary of YES vs NO. They each recorded themselves saying these respective words sixty times and the computer randomly selects the order of each clip, so that the artists can disagree with each other in a myriad of chance combinations. Despite the randomness of these face-offs, they read as intentional, and like any good montage, meaning seems to emerge organically from the juxtaposition of the discrete units. The two-channel work looks quite a bit like the duo's Infinite Smile (2005), while perhaps illustrating that a sense of humor and the occasional agreement to disagree are the cornerstones to any happy artistic relationship. - Marisa Olson

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Cinema of the Future

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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

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A Thousand Knights; No Respawn (2008) by Ilia Ovechkin

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New work by Ilia Ovechkin entitled A Thousand Knights; No Respawn. Created using the Sauerbraten game engine, the piece features seemingly hundreds of knights repeatedly colliding into each other. "Respawn" is a gaming term referring to the resuscitation of a character after its death. The rapid movement and shapes in the video seem entirely removed from the gaming environment from which they originate, thus operating outside a virtual creation or death, or any sort of scenario. - Ceci Moss

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Mobile Media Hits MoMA

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The sometimes-celebrated, sometimes-critiqued origin myth of video art is that it was born with Sony's Portapak video camera and that the eponymous portability of this device enabled the medium to flourish. A similar logic might explain the recent plethora of exhibitions related to mobile phone pictures and videos. Though this line of reasoning seems to privilege the machine's form over its content, there is the sense that the increasing availability and usability of mobile devices (in Western culture, that is) is leading to a democratization of form that will ultimately generate an expansion of the genre. We saw this with internet art when the initial, highly self-reflexive context of net art gave way to a more diverse range of online practices. This has also been the trajectory for documentary film, which is the context of an upcoming mobile video screening at New York's Museum of Modern Art. CELLuloid is a screening of nine short docs, all made on cell phone cameras. The playlist boasts a range of humorous, politically-engaged, and highly topical works by "established artists experimenting with new technology as well as first-time creators inspired to document the world around them." These include Nao Bustamante's "Nanookie Of The North," Darrin Martin's "Every (Text, Image, Sound, Movie) from my cell phone," and Joshua Thorson's "UFO Days." Programmed in conjunction with MoMA's Documentary Fortnight series, the screening happens February 20 and will be followed by a discussion with the artists. - Marisa Olson

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Tone Poem (2005) by Marc Kremers

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Infinite, randomly generated song, based on glitches from a bad taping of Rodox Video Programme 358 by Color Climax Corp.

Tone Poem is a web-based work by London-based digital artist and animator Marc Kremers. This piece, which presents a peach-colored screen periodically intercepted by flashes of colored light and a minimalist score, is derived from a pornographic video tape. The final product totally obscures the original source material, rendering it invisible. Kremers, along with Thomas Eberwein, also launched the website As-Found which culls random images from the web. As-Found proposes to, "...choose images for different qualities than those which were intended to be seen. Therefore the creator is often irrelevant." Tone Poem similarly reframes and redirects visual imagery toward a new configuration, away from the intent of its initial creator. - Ceci Moss

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Flat Earth (2007) by Thomson & Craighead

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Image: Earth from Space, Apollo 17, 1972


After hearing rumors concerning the existence of secret NASA photographs of the Earth as seen from outer space, the writer and future digital-utopianist Stewart Brand fought to have these images released to the public. The hope behind Brand's 1966 campaign was that these "blue marble" photographs of the whole Earth would for the first time tangibly allow the planet to appear small, conceptually graspable and very much alone in the wilderness of space. Forty years later, the London-based new media artists, Thomson & Craighead, created the video Flat Earth (2007), a visualization of Earth that refers to a different perceptual moment.


Image: Thomson & Craighead, Flat Earth, 2007


Commissioned for Animate Projects in 2007, their project is not an unveiling of the spheric, "blue marble" image of the Earth as viewed from outer space but, rather, an attempt to describe the "flat" Earth as viewed from the membrane of the Internet. Blog entries and flickr photos interact with freely available satellite imagery to give a re-shaped conception of what space and distances between people effectively means in a networked world. The video begins in the tract housing of the American suburbs where we hear a performance of an actual blog entry from the angsty, young dancer, "teenangel." A few seconds later, we zoom into the sky above San Francisco as the bemused "patriot2000" informs us that he just read a translation of one of his blog posts into German and he's now curious to learn German. We travel across the globe to Zimbabwe, Iran, and Europe. It's a great seven minutes and it gets at something amazing about the Internet: if, according to Walter Benjamin, the technologies at the beginning of the 20th century allowed for perceptual reproduction to "keep pace with ...

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Straight-Faced Art

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Opening this weekend at San Francisco art space, The Lab, is the third and final installment of an international exhibition informed by a comedy genre known as "deadpan." Named "Deadpan Exchange", the project refers to communicative moments in which a statement is delivered with a straight face and the listener must determine whether it is funny or tragic. It is a model which gives the audience power to react and move in their own direction, and in this case it serves as a nice simile for the form of collaboration among the participants. The first two installments of the show were in Berlin and Copenhagen, and in each iteration a group of artists brought their work abroad, made their "statements" and then a subsequent group responded in the next show. Pieces have included a PowerPoint video by co-organizer Jonn Herschend, entitled, The Exact Chain of Events; Kara Hearn's video, 7 reincarnations, in which the artist "re-shot scenes from 7 Hollywood films in her apartment;" and video and installation projects by several artists that question the fidelity of language in storytelling and translation. This final chapter includes work by the Danish Koh-i-noor collective and the show opens with audio/visual performances by Joe McKay, Matthew Hughes Boyko, and the aggressive mimes of Team Lexington. "Deadpan Exchange" is intended to "begin a dialog that might not otherwise take place outside of formal institutions," and like all deadpans, it requires audience participation. - Marisa Olson

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