Marisa Olson
Since the beginning
Works in Brooklyn, New York United States of America

Marisa Olson is an artist, writer, and media theorist. Her interdisciplinary work has been exhibited at the Venice Biennale, Centre Pompidou, Tate(s) Modern + Liverpool, the Nam June Paik Art Center, British Film Institute, Sundance Film Festival, PERFORMA Biennial; commissioned and collected by the Whitney Museum, Museum of Modern Art, Houston Center for Photography, Experimental Television Center, and PS122; and reviewed in Artforum, Art21, the NY Times, Liberation, Folha de Sao Paolo, the Village Voice, and elsewhere.

Olson has served as Editor & Curator at Rhizome, the inaugural curator at Zero1, and Associate Director at SF Camerawork. She's contributed to many major journals & books and this year Cocom Press published Arte Postinternet, a Spanish translation of her texts on Postinternet Art, a movement she framed in 2006. In 2015 LINK Editions will publish a retrospective anthology of over a decade of her writings on contemporary art which have helped establish a vocabulary for the criticism of new media. Meanwhile, she has also curated programs at the Guggenheim, New Museum, SFMOMA, White Columns, Artists Space, and Bitforms Gallery. She has served on Advisory Boards for Ars Electronica, Transmediale, ISEA, the International Academy of Digital Arts & Sciences, Creative Capital, the Getty Foundation, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Kennedy Center, and the Tribeca Film Festival.

Olson studied Fine Art at Goldsmiths, History of Consciousness at UC Santa Cruz, and Rhetoric & Film Studies at UC Berkeley. She has recently been a visiting artist at Yale, SAIC, Oberlin, and VCU; a Visiting Critic at Brown; and Visiting Faculty at Bard College's Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts and Ox-Bow. She previously taught at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts' new media graduate program (ITP) and was Assistant Professor of New Media at SUNY-Purchase's School of Film & Media Studies. She was recently an Artist-in-Residence at Eyebeam & is currently Visiting Critic at RISD.

The Remote Control Frontier


Artist Christy Gast's new year-long curatorial project exploits the charms of TV-programming in a remote location while drawing on the benefits of using the web for wider distribution. The Moab Video Project is one in which artists' videos are played weekly on MAC21, a public access channel in the small rural town of Moab, Utah. The videos are curated through an open call and are shown between infomercials, public service announcements, weather reports, and other community programs. They must also be less than five-minutes in length and comply with FCC regulations, so together this highly-localized audience and these ground rules provide a fair enough dose of contextual restrictions to add-up to a very interesting opportunity for artists. But those outside of Moab's broadcast range need not fret. Gast posts links to the artists' videos, online, so that we can all take viewing pleasure in the selected works. This month she's showing four videos (one per week) by artist Lydia Moyer. Each of these works explores tropes and mythologies of the American West, ranging from the visual strategies typically used to represent "lady gunfighters" to a narrative inspired by Dolly Parton's autobiographical tale about trying to grow ponies in the desert earth. If the Western movie genre is defined by a story's contestation around the frontier (a border between porch and desert, interior and exterior, city and country, reality and fantasy), then Moyer's Western narratives are a perfectly fitting selection for a project that straddles the frontier between online and offline or local and international broadcasting. - Marisa Olson

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Nan Hoover, 1931-2008


American artist Nan Hoover passed away last week, in Berlin. She left behind a large body of work that has had a pioneering influence on the fields of performance, video, and photography. In a statement about her photos Hoover says, "I am a painter. Everything I do is seen through the eyes of a painter. I only use brushes from time to time." Buried between the lines of this message is an indication of Hoover's tight relationship to her materials--which varied to include not only new media, live performance and photographic media, but also drawing, installation, and perhaps most significantly, light. If there is one thing that cannot go unsaid about her work it's that Hoover owned the light. Indeed, it proved better, more searing, and more beautiful than paint in her many decades of practice, ultimately "shedding light" on the sublime beauty inherent in objects ranging from otherwise banal domestic interiors to majestic outdoor landscapes. In an art world which has, at various times, sought to polarize beauty and intellectual rigor, Hoover consistently proved that the two could live in harmony. An exhibition of her lens-based work just opened at Mannheim's Sebastian Fath Contemporary Art Gallery. The show was in the works before her passing, but is now a retrospective of sorts--a show developed in conversation with Hoover about what it meant to continue her signature first-person visual experiments in a world increasingly mediated by digital experience. A memorial will be held at Amsterdam's Montevideo Institute for Time-Based Art on June 20th. Meanwhile, an online condolence page has been established for the many who were touched by her work to stay in touch. - Marisa Olson

Image credit: Nan Hoover, "Moving Towards 13 degrees," video room installation, Galerie Ulrike BUschlinger Wiesbaden, 2000. Photo: Horst Ziegenfusz



Composer, musician, and creative hacker Tristan Perich is a New York City phenom. Unsurprisingly descended from Warhol-era conceptual artist Anton Perich, the younger Perich has become a fixture in the local avant garde scene, bringing his own brand of circuit-bent instruments to the contemporary music sphere. His band, The Loud Objects, have made a very well-received international magic-show of their singular work, which involves soldering musical chips together atop an overhead projector--clad in futuristic sunglasses, no less! He released an album of music composed entirely of 1-bit tunes, "the lowest possible digital representation of audio," in which the cd itself contains a circuit completed by the insertion of headphones into a jack on the side of the jewel case, at which point forty minutes of lo-fi music is played for the listener. Part sculpture, part sound-art, the project is a novel (and nice-sounding) interjection into a recording era dominated by ephemeral, low-quality MP3s. This Wednesday, Perich will premiere a new composition at Brooklyn's Issue Project Room, called Untitled (Bernadette Mayer). The work revolves around a poem written in 1969 by the eponymous poet and is arranged for five voices and fifteen channels of 1-bit music, providing evidence that working in a supposedly low-level system can still yield high levels of creativity and aural complexity. Perich's piece will be played together with his older three-violin work, Rotary. Both compositions will be performed by a diverse and extraordinarily talented group of Perich's contemporaries, including Abby Fischer, Lesley Flanigan, Sarah Moulton, Daisy Press, Pamela Stein, Monica Davis, Yuri Namkung, and Jessica Pavone. Incidentally, it is also worth noting that Perich has pulled-in some serious girl power here, which bodes well for what can tend to be a male-dominated community. If you're in the area, you won't want to ...


Monkeying Around

Humans are capable of such funny contradictions. Take, for instance, our proclivity to forget that we, too, are animals, while nonetheless looking to other primates in an effort to further study ourselves. In a video series entitled "Primate Cinema," Rachel Mayeri dives headfirst into this often comic dilemma. Three videos in this series are currently on view at Los Angeles' TELIC Arts Exchange, and each takes the increasingly popular primate narrative genre as its starting point to build "an observation platform for viewing the social, sexual, and political behavior of human and nonhuman primates." In Jane Goodall and the Wild Chimpanzees we see a live performance of a classic nature documentary, developed and taped as the result of a three-week workshop at TELIC. The piece explores the documentary medium and the work it does to dramatize scenarios, despite its presumed objectivity. How to Act like an Animal also unfolded from a workshop--in this case co-led by primatologist Deborah Forster and theater director Alyssa Ravenwood. The tasks rehearsed speak to common perceptions of the primitivity of non-human animals, with the close study and re-interpretation of a nature documentary leading to the act of "hunting, killing, and sharing the meat of a colobus monkey." An earlier video in the series, Baboons as Friends, reaches beyond the model of pure consumption and survival to explore the emotional and social lives of primates. Shot with human actors in a film noir style, the piece explores the ways in which "lust, jealousy, sex, and violence transpir[e] simultaneously in human and nonhuman worlds." While entertaining, the videos also taxonomize and observe the field of primate studies as a model of inquiry and a classic medium of scientific thought. If anything, Mayeri's work takes a compelling look at the evolution of a field crafted to ...


Time to TRIP Out

Despite their long lineages, the fields of locative media and psychogeography have only recently entered the art world. Every year there are increasingly more festivals and exhibitions devoted to the work of a growing number of artists who identify with these terms, but there has yet to be a substantial enough response on the part of art critics, academic journals, and others whose engagement is needed to help flesh-out the art historical trajectory and even genre conventions associated with locative media. Now a Manchester-based program called "Territories Reimagined International Practices" (conveniently abbreviated "TRIP") seeks to bring together artists, academics, and arts professionals under the umbrella of a three-day event (June 19-21) designed to present the best work in the field and generate more discourse around it. The gathering will feature a full-fledged conference, along with citywide performances, exhibitions, and interventions. Interestingly, the organizers have made precise efforts to wrestle differences between the few existing narratives currently swirling around this work, such as the seemingly contradictory aimlessness of the "psychogeographic drift" and the tightly-honed artist intervention. Like many subsets of new media art, those with a stake in this field have the double-edged challenge of speaking to the pronounced, shared qualities of its practitioners and also their diversity, which is indicative of a thriving field. Visit their blog for more details on the evolving program and use it to start your own psychogeographic bibliography. - Marisa Olson

Jane Samuels, "3.15pm, School House. Torches off. Cold, bright, quiet." (From the Abandoned Buildings Project), 2007

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