G.H. Hovagimyan
Since 2003
ghh@thing.net
Works in New York, New York United States of America

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BIO
G. H. Hovagimyan is an experimental cross media, new media and performance artist who lives and works in New York City. He was born 1950 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. In 1972, He received a B.F.A from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and received an MA from New York University in 2005. He is a professor at the School of Visual Arts in the MFA Computer Arts Department. He was one of the first artist's in New York to start working in Internet Art in 1993 with such artist's online groups as, the thing, ArtNetWeb, and Rhizome.
He has collaborated with English/French sound artist Peter Sinclair (sound artist) on a number of works. <br>

From 1973 to 1986 he was involved in the SoHo and Lower East Side underground art scene. He exhibited a rigorously conceptual art show at 112 Workshop in 1973. He was a friend of the artist Gordon Matta-Clark who was also involved in 112 Workshop. He worked with Matta-Clark on several projects namely; Days’ End, Conical Intersect, Walking Man’s Arch, and Underground Explorations. In 1974 during the video-performance series at 112 Greene Street, he performed opposite Spaulding Gray in Richard Serra's video, A Prisoner's Dilemma.<br>

Much of his early work was ephemeral in nature. It involved performance art, written and language works and temporary installations in galleries. A word piece, Tactics for Survival in the New Culture, was exhibited in "The Manifesto Show" (1979) organized by the artist collective colab. This particular piece was to become the basis for one of his first online hypertext works in 1993. He showed in several group exhibitions organized by Jean Dupuy, a French Fluxus artist living in New York at 405 E. 13th Street. In 1980 he did a series of punk performance pieces for Artist's Space series called Open Mic. One piece, Rich Sucker Rap was recorded by Davidson Gigliotti for a video tape called Chant Accapella which Electronic Arts Intermix carries in its catalog. He also performed in several No Wave Cinema films among them, The Offenders(1980) by Scott B & Beth B and The Deadly Art of Survival by Charles Ahearn.

In the early 1990’s he started working in Media Art and New Media Art. Some of the pieces involve using a combination of photographs and text, often mimicking advertising. In May, 1994 his twenty billboard project for Creative Time, Hey Bozo… Use Mass Transit, received quite a bit of press. The work was seen on several newscasts such as Good Day New York, and the NBC Nightly News (nationally). It was written up in the NY Post, NY Daily News, The New York Times, etc. A telephone interview with the artist and a report on the project was distributed over the AP newswire.

Around the same time he began working with computers and the internet. One of the earliest internet artists, his first pieces, BKPC, Art Direct and, Faux Conceptual Art, were written about in the art magazines Art in America ( Robert Atkins, 1995 Art in America, December, “Art On Line” pp.63) and Art Press (Special Issue, Techno: Anatomy of electronic culture, 1998) France. He also hosted an internet radio/TV talk show called Art Dirt. The first of it's kind, Art Dirt, is part of the Walker Art Center's Digital Studies Archives collection. Of his collaborative works with Peter Sinclair, the most well known are a Soapopera for Laptops/ iMacs, Shooter and Rant/ Rant Back/ Back Rant. Shooter, an immersive sound and laser installation was developed at Eyebeam Atelier as part of its’ Artist in Residence program.
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DISCUSSION

DISCUSSION

Which Came First Art or Technology?


Which came first art or technology? This is a very odd question. There are of course two sides. The artists claim that technology came from art. The technologists say the opposite. The way the debate goes back and forth can be quite interesting. Often the same premise is used with totally different points of view. For instance, many of the utopian movements of the nineteenth and 20th century take the position that by integrating art practice into the the utopian community that ?everyone will be an artist.? This seems to be a recurrent theme across such communities as; the American Shakers, or William Morris?s design community in England, or De Stihl in Germany or Soviet Constructivism in Russia. The technologists enter the debate, especially in the most recent spate of internet utopianism by saying that they are designing digital tools to put the means of creativity directly into to the hands of the people so that ?everyone can be an artist?. I believe these sort of statements come from a fundamental misunderstanding of what creativity is and what an artist?s role in society might be. Technologists think they can engineer or automate creativity. Artists on the other hand feel that by unleashing the creative daemon within everyone and expanding the narrow art world they can somehow gain, legitimacy.
Art and Technology are jealous siblings, like Cain and Able, constantly switching roles from betrayer to betrayed.

Back to the original question. Which came first. Let?s look at the Paleolithic Lascaux cave paintings. If people think about the manner in which they were made they believe the pigment was applied by a brush or perhaps daubed on the walls with the hands. Not true. The pigments were applied to the cave walls by the artist blowing the pigment through hollow reeds, essentially, spray painting. The question is did the spray painting technology come first or did the artist invent the technology to achieve the goal of painting large images on walls or did the art and technology happen at the same time?

Let me make an odd connection. In the Bronze Age copper tools were developed this allowed for the dressing and carving of soft stones such as limestone and marble. In the 1970s a New York artist , Gordon Matta-Clark used demolition tools, sawzalls, chisels, cutting torches etc. to carve apart buildings to make sculpture. The notion of removing material in both instances find very different final forms. Technologies solve a general need within a culture. The artist , uses technology to give meaning to a culture.

Art and Technology share a common archetype. In the tarot it is The Magician. It is the card for the artist or inventor. The image is a man pointing with one hand to the sky and the other to the earth. The meaning is , ?Spirit penetrating matter and informing it.? The magician is also the alchemist or to be more precise Hermes Trismegistus. Trimegistus was a student of the Kabbalah. Which brings up another archetype that of the Shaman. The Kaballah is a series of Jewish arcana writings that deal with the path to enlightenment or transformation. The Jewish tradition is a Shamanistic one. The prophets of the old testament as well as Jesus Christ were shamans. The Shaman archetype has several identifying typologies. The circumstances at birth are unusual. The child exhibits, unusual talents at an early age. A practicing Shaman recognizes the unformed talent and taps the young Shaman. The shaman goes through a purifying experience and is transformed after which the young shaman returns to the community with powers of vision, prophecy healing etc. The purification process is the subject of the Kaballah. The alchemists believed that not only the analytic/experimental procedure to transform base metals , the scientific process, but also the purification of the alchemist spirit at the same time brought about the transformation of lead into gold.

One of my favorite artist stories is about the time someone gave Constantin Bracusi a radio. This was to encourage the sculptor to be ?modern.? For a year it sat in a corner of his studio not used. At a certain point Brancusi carved a beautiful marble box for the radio and placed its inner workings inside the box. Those who heard the sound of the radio remarked that the tones and clarity of the sound were better than the original form. Here the intention of spirit penetrating matter is interwoven or folded into the radio wave transmission and the spirit of the artist shaping the stone.

To return to the question again, which came first. Consider the inventor of television, Philo T. Pharnsworth. He was not an engineer. He was not an artist. He was a farmer. Yet his initial inspiration was the simple act of drawing or describing a picture with lines. He got this idea from plowing the straight furrows for planting. In this case the hand-eye activity, the art, the spirit penetrating matter , became the basis for a new technology.

Turning to music, which has always been at the forefront of technological innovation, new musical instruments have throughout the ages inspired musicians to create new musical forms. J.S. Bach?s pieces , The Well Tempered Clavier, were created when Bach was giving a new instrument, the clavier piano. He was set to the task of creating works using this new invention.

A final anecdote. When Alexander Graham Bell finally got his invention to work it occurred when he accidentally spilled acid on his hand and the prototype diaphragm for his telephone. He then called for his assistant, ?Watson come here, I seem to have hurt myself.? These were the first words spoken over a telephone. In an effort to promote his marvelous invention Bell did what may be the first electronic performance art. He had a demonstration in which he and Watson would recreate the dramatic moment in small town auditoriums throughout the US. Watson would wait outside the auditorium and listen for Bells voice and then rush into the auditorium. To demonstrate to the audience in the auditorium sound being transmitted the other direction, Watson would then go outside the auditorium and being an amateur operatic soprano would proceed to serenade the audience in the hall throught the telephone. This act was I believe the first example of technological perfomance art.

As an artist who uses technology I stand in between the worlds of art and technology. I find myself arguing with the scientists that they need artists to give meaning to their technology. I also find myself facing hostility from traditional artists who feel threatened by new digital forms.


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