At a time when so many Americans are disgusted with the personhood of corporations, it's surprising that more persons don't move to secure their expanded rights. Dan Graham notes, “Jasper Johns was the first American artist to fully understand that the newly subjectivized advertising icon and the gestures of Abstract Expressionist painting—which struggled against the cultural domination of this new form—were virtually identical.”1 The place of the (white male) individual and his potential for transcendence had already merged with corporate strategy. Warhol began operations at his Factory in 1962, and by 1966 Foucault proclaimed that man “would be erased, like a face drawn in sand at the edge of the sea.” In 1978, the band Devo told The SoHo Weekly News that they’d decided to “mimic those who get the greatest rewards out of the business and become a corporation."
According to Bernadette Corporation, “Mock incorporation is quick and easy … no registration fees, simply choose a name (i.e. Booty Corporation, Bourgeois Corporation, Buns Corporation) and spend a lot of time together. Ideas will come later.” Bernadette Corporation was founded in 1994 as "the perfect alibi for not having to fix an identity."2 Similarly, the Bruce High Quality Foundation employs a post-individual aesthetic while using the language of a endowed institution as opposed to a corporation. Yet the post-individual kernel is clearer in the Foundation’s mission, which presents itself as the arbiter of the estate and legacy of “the late social sculptor” Bruce High Quality. The Foundation is founded on the negation of an already fictional identity. The Icelandic Love Corporation, based in Reykjavik, adopts the title of a corporation without jettisoning their identities.
Corporate art practice challenges stale narratives of contemporary art, which resuscitate themes and tropes of 20th century conceptualism. By claiming the featureless corporation as the active artmaker, BC and other similar façades maneuver around cliché and retreat from the individual artist-archetype: a character to be media-narrativized into a pop-psychological explanation of their noble craftsmanship or pathology of resistance.
Bernadette Corporation's The Complete Poem installation at Greene Naftali (2009)
Corporations, much like contemporary art, have a unique relationship with the iterable. In an essay discussing the irony of the corporate sponsors of the San Diego Zoo, critic and writer Chris Kraus explains, “Like contemporary art, corporate linguistics seeks to eliminate the dreary mechanics of cause and effect. Shit happens. People demand.”3 Corporate language rests on clichés that are instantly understood. Phil Spector reportedly wondered, “Is it dumb enough?” while listening to “Da Doo Ron Ron.” The question that defined popular music has as much bearing on contemporary art: unencumbered by the boring (Kraus’ “dreary mechanics”), only that which is instantly understood remains. That which is dumb enough.
The artist Ed Fornieles, whose work includes the trend-forecasting agency Recreational Data and the management training company Coaxiom, indicated to me that part of what he likes about working with corporate aesthetics is the power of boring corporate cliché both in language and imagery. “Corporations have their own logic,” Fornieles told me. “It doesn’t always have to be about me.” In a sense, engaging with corporate style makes transparent a generic corporate aesthetic—visible in promotional materials, architecture, offices, commercials— which is both recognizable and unfixed. What’s appealing about something so blandly real is its ability to blend into the fabric of reality without the risk of a unique stake or identity...
So much of your work relies on the interaction between technology and performance, and I'm wondering if you can explain the intersection of new media and performance as you see it, in your work and in general.
Today we deal with a torrential flow of information, a very rapid flux that is contingent on volatile temporary contexts. Beyond high speed, some contextual factors that influence artworks with digital networked technology are the multiplicity of uncontrollable sources of information, unpredictable human and algorithmic interactions and unstable environments, so nothing can happen twice in the same way. Moreover information and media are always more ephemeral, they disappear quickly, often without leaving traces. Data, software and devices continually change, for instance: You can't keep a tweet forever in the streamline, as well as the interface of a social media platform or a smartphone's Operation System. Ultimately the controversial private ownership and restrictive policies of some technology and data don't even allow to the artists to own and maintain their own work. These conditions require us to consider most of the artworks done within networks as a type of contemporary live performances, a thesis reinforced by the participatory elements brought by the audience, whose involvement is often the main aim of the works.
For these reasons I prefer to display offline installations about my works within networks, which is a solution for conserving performance art that’s been adopted for more than half a century already.
To preserve the performance, I translate concepts, material and documentation of the live performances into durable objects, materializing pure information and the processes of making the artwork and live network interventions.
I like to define my artwork as the sculptural performance of information's power, with correlations to Joseph Beuys’ idea of Social Sculptures ...
Unboxing Body by Body
"Brand Innovations for Ubiquitos Authorship" focuses on the rise of customizable print-on-demand products as aided by the internet. A sampling of the impressive roster of more than sixty artists includes Parker Ito, Daniel Temkin, Lauren Christiansen, and Jayson Musson. Artie Vierkant, who organized the show at Madison Avenue's Higher Pictures gallery, explained some of the thinking behind the exhibition:
I always thought of these services as a very interesting sign of where we're headed in consumer space. The Internet has helped make one-to-many content empires stumble and niches to become stronger, and consumer goods are now no exception. The idea is that we've moved past mass production and into something like custom/craft/artisinal production on a massive scale; production for each individual amongst the mass. It's easy to get wrapped into that idea--particularly if you watch something like Zazzle's 'About Us' video, which hits you with a combined rhetoric of liberation-through-self-expression and environmental-consciousness--even if in practice Internet-ordered custom items are often a cheap and mass-produced object marked with an image emblazoned by an expensive printer.
All objects were shipped directly to the gallery and opened on site with little to no prior knowledge of how the artists had chosen to customize their products. Videos of this unboxing process, like the one above, can be seen on the show's Youtube page. Vierkant stressed that by sending all products to Higher Pictures, artists in foreign countries avoided high shipping costs that could have barred even small objects from being included in the show. Vierkant added that not every artist had chosen to work with the suggested on-demand services: Borna Sammak, for example, contributed a limited edition jacket made by Buron, based on one of the artist's designs. "This kind of ...
Cataract, site specific installation, dimensions variable, 2010
Your series "I Would Prefer Not To" consists of 22 photographs and action figures in vitrine, labeled based on disorders and psychoses. The series focuses on "men without qualities," males cut off from society by the Internet, videogames, and anime. What drew you to this subculture? Do you think of their withdrawal as a kind of decadence that accompanies historical and literary portrayals of societies on the brink of disaster?
Growing up in Hong Kong in the 80s & 90s, it was very easy for a boy to become immersed in the manga and anime that was being imported over here from Japan. For this project, I was drawn to what is popularly known as “otaku” culture partly because of this childhood familiarity. In Chinese, “otaku” is often translated as 宅 男, which although usually spoken in the same breath, actually carries very different connotations. 宅 is short for housing (complex), or tenement (block), and 男 means male. The term thus describes the stereotype of the otaku as a socially inept male subject walled up in his apartment. While this is a generalization of a more complex state of affairs, I do think there is a certain truth to the suggestion that otaku culture arose, or at least thrives within a uniquely urban context. It’s difficult to imagine an otaku pursuing his/her hobby in a log cabin in the woods. My concern with this work then was not why otaku do what they do, but rather, what kind of space allows this to happen? It is as if the extremely dense accumulation of cramped interior spaces that characterize many Asian cities encourages a turning inward, or a vacuum of mental space itself.
I hesitate to use the term decadent because of ...
Interview with Stan VanDerBeek from John Musilli's 1972 documentary The Computer Generation
Jonas Meekas crowned Stan VanDerBeek the "laughing man of the bomb age," refering to his starry-eyed embrace Cold War technology and its transformative aesthetic and spiritual potential. Of VanDerBeek’s numerous large scale proposals, his Movie-Drome was the most fully realized. VanDerBeek began creating films for the Drome in 1957. Built next to his home in Stony Point, NY, the Movie-Drome operated between 1963 and 1966. During that time, viewers would lie on the floor with their heads against the wall and watch and watch projections throughout the dome’s interior. It's visible at the New Museum as part of the exhibition "Ghosts in the Machine" next week until September 30.
The full potential of the Movie-Drome, as proposed in his Culture: Intercom manifesto, was not fully realized. In that tract, VanDerBeek proposed:
That immediate research begin on the possibility of a picture-language based on motion pictures.
That we combine audio-visual devices into an educational tool: an experience machine or "culture-intercom."
That audio-visual research centers be established on an inter-national scale to explore the existing audio-visual devices and procedures, develop new image-making devices, and store and transfer image materials, motion pictures, television, computers, video-tape, etc.
That artists be trained on an international basis in the use of these image tools.
The Movie-Drome was to be the exhibition space for these experiments: a network of Movie-Dromes would have been built throughout the world to show experiments from the culture-intercom. “The audience,” wrote VanDerBeek, “Takes what it can or wants from the presentation and makes its own conclusions. Each member of the audience will build his own references and realizations from the image-flow.” Additionally, the urgent utopianism of his project cannot ...