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Histories and Theories of Intermedia

This Blog contains materials and resources for the University of Maine Intermedia MFA Program

Updated: 2018-04-25T03:36:53.828-07:00


Bill Viola - Artist Biography


ARTIST BIOGRAPHY Bill Viola (b.1951) is internationally recognized as one of today’s leading artists. He has been instrumental in the establishment of video as a vital form of contemporary art, and in so doing has helped to greatly expand its scope in terms of technology, content, and historical reach. For 40 years he has created videotapes, architectural video installations, sound environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, and works for television broadcast. Viola’s video installations—total environments that envelop the viewer in image and sound—employ state-of-the-art technologies and are distinguished by their precision and direct simplicity. They are shown in museums and galleries worldwide and are found in many distinguished collections. His single channel videotapes have been widely broadcast and presented cinematically, while his writings have been extensively published, and translated for international readers. Viola uses video to explore the phenomena of sense perception as an avenue to self-knowledge. His works focus on universal human experiences—birth, death, the unfolding of consciousness—and have roots in both Eastern and Western art as well as spiritual traditions, including Zen Buddhism, Islamic Sufism, and Christian mysticism. Using the inner language of subjective thoughts and collective memories, his videos communicate to a wide audience, allowing viewers to experience the work directly, and in their own personal way. Bill Viola received his BFA in Experimental Studios from Syracuse University in 1973 where he studied visual art with Jack Nelson and electronic music with Franklin Morris. During the 1970s he lived for 18 months in Florence, Italy, as technical director of production for Art/Tapes/22, one of the first video art studios in Europe, and then traveled widely to study and record traditional performing arts in the Solomon Islands, Java, Bali, and Japan. Viola was invited to be artist-in-residence at the WNET Channel 13 Television Laboratory in New York from 1976-1980 where he created a series of works, many of which were premiered on television. In 1977 Viola was invited to show his videotapes at La Trobe University (Melbourne, Australia) by cultural arts director Kira Perov who, a year later, joined him in New York where they married and began a lifelong collaboration working and traveling together. In 1979 Viola and Perov traveled to the Sahara desert, Tunisia to record mirages. The following year Viola was awarded a U.S./Japan Creative Artist Fellowship and they lived in Japan for a year and a half where they studied Zen Buddhism with Master Daien Tanaka, and Viola became the first artist-in-residence at Sony Corporation’s Atsugi research laboratories. Viola and Perov returned to the U. S. at the end of 1981 and settled in Long Beach, California, initiating projects to create art works based on medical imaging technologies of the human body at a local hospital, animal consciousness at the San Diego Zoo, and fire walking rituals among the Hindu communities in Fiji. In 1987 they traveled for five months throughout the American Southwest photographing Native American rock art sites, and recording nocturnal desert landscapes with a series of specialized video cameras. More recently, at the end of 2005, they journeyed with their two sons to Dharamsala, India to record a prayer blessing with the Dalai Lama. Music has always been an important part of Viola’s life and work. From 1973-1980 he performed with avant-garde composer David Tudor as a member of his Rainforest ensemble, later called Composers Inside Electronics. Viola has also created videos to accompany music compositions including 20th century composer Edgard Varèse’ Déserts in 1994 with the Ensemble Modern, and, in 2000, a three-song video suite for the rock group Nine Inch Nails’ world tour. In 2004 Viola began collaborating with director Peter Sellars and conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen to create a new production of Richard Wagner’s opera, Tristan und Isolde, which was presented in proj[...]

Andre Breton - Philosopher, Artist, Publisher, Author, Editor, Journalist, Poet, Literary Critic


French writer and poet André Breton is best known as one of the founders of the Surrealist movement in literature and art.“I believe in the future resolution of these two states, dream and and reality, which are seemingly so contradictory, into a kind of absolute reality, a surreality.” —André Breton Synopsis André Breton was born on February 18, 1896, in Tinchebray, France. After a brief medical career and military service in World War I, he settled in Paris and joined the city's artistic avant-garde. In the early 1920s he became one of the founders of the Surrealist movement. He wrote a Surrealist manifesto encouraging free expression and the release of the subconscious mind, followed by the novel Nadja and volumes of essays and poetry. He died in Paris in 1966. Early Career and Influences André Breton was born into a working-class family on February 18, 1896, in Tinchebray, a small town in Normandy, France. As a young man, he attended medical school, taking a particular interest in the study of mental illness. When his education was interrupted by his service in World War I, he worked in the psychiatric wards of military hospitals. He also read the writings of famous psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud, whom he would meet in 1921. Breton was also interested in the work of Symbolist poets like Arthur Rimbaud and Charles Baudelaire, and in the political theory of Karl Marx. He soon came into contact with other aspiring writers who shared his interests, including Guillaume Apollinaire. In 1916, Breton joined the group of artists associated with the subversive Dada movement in Paris, including Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray. The Surrealist Movement By the early 1920s, however, Breton had shifted his allegiance to another group of intellectuals who would become known as the Surrealists. In 1924, he published Le Manifeste du Surréalisme (The Manifesto of Surrealism), a document announcing the new movement's embrace of all forms of liberated expression and its rejection of social and moral conventions. The Surrealists were fascinated by the fine line between reason and irrationality, especially as manifested in dreams, erotica and mental disorders. They encouraged writers and artists to adopt spontaneous means of expression such as free association and a stream-of-conscious method called "automatism." Breton was one of the co-founders of Littérature, an influential journal that featured the first written example of automatism, titled Les Champs magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields). He also promoted visual artists such as Pablo Picasso, Joan Miró and Max Ernst by reproducing their work in the journal La Révolution Surréaliste (The Surrealist Revolution). In the 1920s and '30s, Breton composed two more Surrealist manifestos and other texts about Surrealism, including Les Vases Communicants (The Communicating Vessels) and Qu'est-ce le que le Surréalisme? (What is Surrealism?). He also wrote poetry and fiction. His most famous novel, Nadja (1928), is a fantastical love story between the narrator and a mysterious, possibly insane, woman. L'Amour Fou (Mad Love), published in 1937, is a poetic meditation on obsessive love. Breton's commitment to Marxism led him to join the French Communist Party in 1927. Although he left the party in 1935, he remained dedicated to Marxist philosophy. In 1938, he traveled to Mexico, where he and revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky collaborated on "Manifesto for an Independent Revolutionary Art," which examines art's connection to social upheaval. Travels and Later Work Breton emigrated from France in 1941 in order to escape World War II. He lived in New York City for several years, and in 1942, he organized a groundbreaking exhibition of Surrealist art at Yale University. After his return to Paris in 1946, Breton published more poetry collections and essays on Surrealism. Breton married three times, to Simone Kahn, Jacqueline Lamba (with whom he had a daughter named Aube) and Elisa Claro. In his later years, he divided his time between a country house in southw[...]

Surrealism - Examples and Definitions


Definition of SurrealismThe term surrealism indicates a specific thought and movement in literature, the arts, and theatre, which tries to integrate the confused realms of imagination and reality. The proponents of surrealism endeavor to mix up the differences of conscious and unconscious thought through writing and painting by using irrational juxtaposition of images. Initiated by André Breton (1896-1966), surrealism is a kind of artistic movement started in the French capital, Paris, during the 1920s. This movement lasted until the 1940s. Breton, a famous writer as well as a philosopher, boosted this movement further by publishing his manifesto, “The Manifesto of Surrealism.” Although it gave new dimensions to art, it was not a political manifesto. The manifesto states that, horrified by the destruction caused by the world wars and subsequent confusion, art and literature faced numerous political challenges in resolving those confusions, the reaction of which emerged in the shape of surrealism. This movement rather aimed at preventing bloody revolutions by breaking the limitations placed on arts and literature by the politics of that time. Examples of Surrealism in LiteratureExample #1: Freedom Of Love (By Andre Breton) “My wife with the hair of a wood fire With the thoughts of heat lightning With the waist of an hourglass With the waist of an otter in the teeth of a tiger My wife with the lips of a cockade and of a bunch of stars of the last magnitude With the teeth of tracks of white mice on the white earth With the tongue of rubbed amber and glass My wife with the tongue of a stabbed host.” (Lines 1-8) This is one of the best examples of surrealist poetry by Andre Breton. These lines have been taken from his poem “Freedom of Love.” See the irrationality in images about his wife and a wood fire, an hourglass, and teeth of a tiger. None of these images have any relation. They have been just irrationally put together to demonstrate the mind of the poet, and a situation of the reality in which he is living. Example #2: Dark Poet (by Antonin Artaud) “Dark Poet, a maid’s breast Haunts you, Embittered poet, life seethes And life burns, And the sky reabsorbs itself in rain, Your pen scratches at the heart of life.” (Lines 1-6) These lines have been taken from poem “Dark Poet” by Antonin Artaud. This poem juxtaposes the poet with the breasts that is quite irrational and hence surreal. Example #3: A Season in Hell (by Arthur Rimbaud) “A while back, if I remember right, my life was one long party where all hearts were open wide, where all wines kept flowing. One night, I sat Beauty down on my lap.—And I found her galling.—And I roughed her up. I armed myself against justice. I ran away. O witches, O misery, O hatred, my treasure’s been turned over to you! (Lines 1-5) Just check the images presented in the first few lines of this poem by Arthur Rimbaud. These are contradictory and irrational images. That is why “A Season in Hell” is one of the best surreal poems.  Example #4: Hidden Faces (by Salvador Dali, translated by Chevalier) “Then an unheard-of being, unheard-of beings, will be seen to rise, their brains compressed by sonorous helmets, their temples pierced by the whistling of air waves, their bodies naked, turned yellow by fever, pocked by deep vegetal stigmata swarming with insects and filled to the brim with the slimy juices of venom, overflowing and running down a skin tiger-striped and leopard-spotted by the gangrene of wounds and the leprosy of camouflage, their swollen bellies plugged to death by electric umbilical chords [sic] tangling with the ignominiousness of torn intestines and bits of flesh, roasting in the burning steel carapaces of the punitive tortures of gutted tanks. That is man! Backs of lead, sexual organs of fire, fears of mica, chemical hearts of the televisions of blood, hidden faces and wings — always wings, the north and south of our being!” This excerpt has [...]

Surrealist Writing Techniques


The dream narratives, the exquisite corpses and writing under hypnosis are all the others techniques used by the Surrealists to combine happenstance and unconsciousness into writing. AUTOMATIC WRITING Practiced by most surrealist writers, automatic writing is about leaving free field in the brain, writing every spontaneous thought down on paper before logic takes over and rephrases it. The more passive the writer is, the more automatic the writing will be – that’s at least what Breton, who experimented with this process in 1913, affirms, almost a decade before the beginnings of Surrealism. His text Magnetic Fields, published in 1920, was also almost completely written according to the process of automatic writing. Closely linked to the interest André Breton has on psychoanalysis and Freud's theories, automatic writing must make the subconscious speak, and even the unconscious, before the Id, ego, and super ego, psychic portion of each man subject to pressures and social restrictions, take over it. The resulting writing, sometimes transcendent, does not remain at least without an absurd side, which defies logic. In this sense, it approaches the 'Pataphysics of Alfred Jarry, science theorizing reconstruction of reality in the absurd. Jarry, held in high esteem by the Surrealists, and especially by André Breton - who said the playwright was a real surrealist, because of his absinthe consumption but also because of his vision of the world – it’s not so far from the surrealists in his deliberately absurd writing, which claims, for instance: "God is the shortest path from zero to infinity, in one way or another." NARRATIVE OF DREAMS AND WRITING UNDER HYPNOSISAs automatic writing, the dream narratives, under hypnosis, or even under the influence (of drugs, alcohol) are intended to eliminate the possible control of the flow of writing. The writer finds themselves completely unrestricted in their possibilities. Several surrealist authors, again intrigued by the psychoanalytic theories of the time, were interested in the relationship between dream narratives and the "common thread" connecting them to reality. EXQUISITE CORPSEThe only rule of this playful writing technique, widely adopted today as a game, in all contexts, is to follow the grammatical form: noun, adjective, verb, and direct object, adjective.. On a folded sheet, where participants cannot see the word written by the previous player, they must write a word of their choice that respects the order shown above. Wacky phrases are obtained, such as that which gave the game its name ("The exquisite corpse will drink the new wine") or even "White bread will shake the oblong breast laughing." This exquisite corpse is also one of the first obtained: in the first meeting of the Surrealists where the game is played, André Breton, Jacques Herold, Victor Brauner, Yves Tanguy, Peret and Elsie Houston are present. Behind this "objective chance" seemingly harmless, obviously hides a pleasing deeper reflection: opposite to automatic writing, where the writer plays alone with their unconscious, and therefore closer to psychoanalysis, the exquisite corpse allows both real intrusion of chance in writing as well as the discovery, purely poetic, of new combinations of unthought words. TECHNIQUES THAT SPAN THE MEDIAThe automatism, the role of chance and the unconscious are not exclusive features of the surrealist literature: they are also found in all other types of art that affect this movement. Automatic writing finds its equivalent in the automatic drawing, practiced for example by André Masson, French painter of the years 1920-1950. The exquisite corpse, too, is as well practiced with words as with body parts! Max Ernst's collages or the photosensitive works of Man Ray also recall the patched appearance of the exquisite corpse. above copied from:[...]

A Brief Guide to Surrealism


Surrealism emerged as the direct result of the publication of André Breton’s first Le Manifeste du Surréalisme (Manifesto of Surrealism) (1924). In this manifesto, Breton presented two definitions of surrealism: SURREALISM, noun, masc., Pure psychic automatism by which it is intended to express, either verbally or in writing, the true function of thought. Thought dictated in the absence of all control exerted by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations. ENCYCL. Philos. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of association heretofore neglected, in the omnipotence of the dream, and in the disinterested play of thought. It leads to the permanent destruction of all other psychic mechanisms and to its substitution for them in the solution of the principal problems of life. The first definition speaks to the surrealist methodology—the use of techniques, such as automatic writing, self-induced hallucinations, and word games like the exquisite corpse to make manifest repressed mental activities. The second definition lays out the surrealist view of reality and expresses the surrealist’s desire to open the vistas of the arts through the close observation of the dream state and the free play of thought. The roots of surrealism can be traced back to Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Isidore Ducasse, also known as Comte de Lautréamont. Surrealists also found inspiration in the poetic methods, such as calligrammatic poetry, used by Stéphane Mallarmé and Guillaume Apollinaire. The first text that took up the banner of surrealism and used automatic writing as its methodology was Les Champs magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields), penned collaboratively by Breton and Philippe Soupault. The surrealist coalition that formed around Breton included such young French poets as Louis Aragon, Antonin Artaud, René Crevel, Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Michel Leiris, Benjamin Péret, and eventually the Dadaist Tristan Tzara. The group’s membership fluctuated due to changes in ideology and personality clashes. During this time several journals served as a space for the expression of the growing surrealist ideals, journals such as Révolution surréaliste (1924-29), Le Surréalisme au service de la révolution (1930-33), and Minotaure (1933-39). A second generation of surrealists included René Char, Aimé Césaire, and David Gascogne. The final stage of surrealism began after the end of World War II. By this point surrealism had disseminated around the world in various diluted forms. The far-flung practitioners were held together by their use of personal juxtapositions, placing distant realities together, so that the interconnections between them were only apparent to the creator.
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Surrealist Writers


Surrealism is a movement in literature and art whose effective life is generally assigned the years 1924-1945 by historians. In 1924, André Breton's first Manifesto of Surrealism appeared, defining the movement in philosophical and psychological terms. Its immediate predecessor was Dada, whose nihilistic reaction to rationalism and the reigning "morality" that produced World War I cleared the way for Surrealism's positive message. (Other precursors and influences are listed below.) Surrealism is often characterized only by its use of unusual, sometimes startling juxtapositions, by which it sought to trancend logic and habitual thinking to reveal deeper levels of meaning and unconscious associations. Thus it was instrumental in promoting Freudian and Jungian conceptions of the unconscious mind. Throughout the 1920s and '30s, the movement flourished and spread from its center in Paris to other countries. Breton controlled the group rather autocratically, annointing new members and expelling those with whom he disagreed, in an effort to maintain focus on what he conceived as the essential principals or the fundamental insight which Surrealism manifested (a conception which changed, to some extent, during his life). In the early '30s the group published a periodical entitled Surrealism at the Service of the Revolution (Le Surrealisme au service de la revolution, 1930-33). Communism appealed to many intellectuals at this time and the movement flirted briefly with Moscow; but the Soviets demanded full allegiance and the subordination of art to the purposes of "the State." The surrealists sought absolute freedom and their aim was a profound psychological or spiritual revolution, not an attempt to change society on a merely political or economic level. (The full history of surrealist political involvement is quite complex and led to dissent and the formation of various factions within the movement.) With the advent of World War II, many of the Parisian participants sought safety in New York, leaving Paris to the Existentialists. By the war's end in 1945, Abstract Expressionism had superseded Surrealism as the western world's most important active art movement. "Ab Ex" grew out of both the tradition of Abstraction (exemplified by Kandinsky) and the "automatic" branch of Surrealism (exemplified by Joan Miro and André Masson) with Roberto Matta and Arshile Gorky as key pivotal figures. But Surrealism did not die in 1945. Though the attention of the fickle art world may have shifted away, Breton continued to expound his vision until his death in 1966, and many others have continued to produce works in the surrealist spirit to the present day. The ongoing impact of Surrealism cannot be underestimated and must be granted a distinct place in the history of literature, art and philosophy.
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Capturing Ideas: The Surreal Photography of Erik Johansson


Swedish and Berlin-based mixed media photographer Erik Johansson has created astounding work that is perhaps only surpassed by his remarkable process. We featured an image of his earlier on. At first glance, his surreal images – essentially landscape photographs transformed into something more magical – rouse wonder in people, and upon closer inspection, they are dressed to impress, with every minor detail considered and perfected. It’s his process, however, that really had us at hello. While many Photoshop artists use stock images to create their art, Erik is going out of his way to make his photographs more realistic and entirely his own. He meticulously draws, paints, creates miniature sets and cardboard cutouts, and shoots different spots and locations himself, all the while paying great attention to every single detail, before blending all these aspects together in a single photograph. Erik tells the Phoblographer: “To me photography is a way to collect material to realize the ideas in my mind. I get inspired by things around me in my daily life and all kinds of things I see. Although one photo can consist hundreds of layers I always want it to look like it could have been captured. Every new project is a new challenge and my goal is to realize it as realistic as possible.” Erik’s dedication to the craft is something we don’t see every day, which makes his work all the more inspiring. And with his painstaking creations, he actualizes images in his mind and molds them into something real for others. As he points out, “I don’t capture moments, I capture ideas.” See Erik Johansson’s breathtaking work and his behind-the-scenes videos after the jump. To see more of Erik’s work, visit his website.
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Surrealist Photographer Erik Johansson Bends Reality Without Photoshop


Even if you’ve never heard of Erik Johansson, chances are that you’ve already come across one of his surrealistic masterpieces online. The Swedish-born photo artist uses both physical objects and special retouching techniques to create fantastical worlds in which everything seems possible. Erik currently lives in Berlin where he’s steadily working on his amazingly creative photo projects, producing an astonishing amount of work and giving an incredible TED Talk before hitting his thirties. The Creators Project: Can you tell us about the creative process behind making these photos? Erik Johansson: For me, it's basically just problem solving when I’m trying to make a picture. It always starts with an idea and then I just have to sort of figure out how to translate that idea into an image. Every image consists of different parts and because I always want my work to look as realistic as possible, I shoot all of those parts individually with my camera and never use CGI. So in my work, I’m constantly trying to find out where and how I can capture all the various elements that make up a work. It takes just as much time to do something in real life as it does trying to "fake it" in Photoshop, so I just thought it would be more fun to do it for real. And because you use actual images, no one can ever tell you it doesn’t look realistic, which to me is very important. Finally, I really like the contrast of being in the countryside taking the photos and then coming to the city and putting it together. I like to combine both parts. Apart from the stunning visual effect, what other messages are you trying to convey with your photography? There's not some hidden meaning or something that you can figure out by looking at the images. It’s more about the visual aspects of it all, and the images reflect what I am thinking. So I guess it’s more up to the viewer to see the message in that sense. When I would read children's books as a kid, I rarely read the text. I just wanted to look at the pictures and create my own story. People should be able to do the same with my pictures. I merely want to give it a title and not talk too much about the message of the picture. "Let's Leave" "Face Fist" What inspires your work? Any specific sources, in particular? Inspiration can basically come from anywhere. It’s about seeing connections between things that normally don’t fit together. For example, I have this work where you see high-voltage cables that run into a guitar. That idea came simply by looking at it and thinking: Hey, those could be guitar strings. That was how the idea was born. It can be that simple sometimes. On your website there are a lot of instructional videos on how you made your projects. Can you tell us about offering these tips and encouraging people to possibly make similar work? I really enjoy seeing behind-the-scenes videos from other artists, as well. I think it’s very interesting to see how others work and how they create something. But if I had to give beginning artists a piece of advice, I’d say: Trying is the best way of learning. Just go out there and do stuff. With photography you just have to take pictures, you don’t need a fancy camera or know how to retouch something. You can learn a lot with very little. When I don't know something, I just Google it and find a solution for what I need. In the end, it's all about imagination and what you can come up with. I would really like to see more people doing this sort of thing. I think that would be very interesting. The scenes in your images are so specific that it's clear they come from one person's control and vision. Would you describe yourself as a control freak? I think you need to be a little bit of a control freak in order to do this kind of work. I always try to make it look perfect. And although I think it is impossible to actually achieve perf[...]

Photography and Surrealism


Surrealism was officially launched as a movement with the publication of poet André Breton’s first Manifesto of Surrealism in 1924. The Surrealists did not rely on reasoned analysis or sober calculation; on the contrary, they saw the forces of reason blocking the access routes to the imagination. Their efforts to tap the creative powers of the unconscious set Breton and his companions on a path that carried them through the territory of dreams, intoxication, chance, sexual ecstasy, and madness. The images obtained by such means, whether visual or literary, were prized precisely to the degree that they captured these moments of psychic intensity in provocative forms of unrestrained, convulsive beauty. Photography came to occupy a central role in Surrealist activity. In the works of Man Ray (2005.100.141) and Maurice Tabard (1987.1100.141), the use of such procedures as double exposure, combination printing, montage, and solarization dramatically evoked the union of dream and reality. Other photographers used techniques such as rotation (1987.1100.49) or distortion (1987.1100.321) to render their images uncanny. Hans Bellmer (1987.1100.15) obsessively photographed the mechanical dolls he fabricated himself, creating strangely sexualized images, while the painter René Magritte (1987.1100.157) used the camera to create photographic equivalents of his paintings. In her close-up photograph of a baby armadillo suspended in formaldehyde, Dora Maar performs a typical Surrealist inversion, making an ugly, or even repulsive subject compelling and bizarrely appealing (2005.100.443). But the Surrealist understanding of photography turned on more than the medium’s facility in fabricating uncanny images. Just as important was another discovery: even the most prosaic photograph, filtered through the prism of Surrealist sensibility, might easily be dislodged from its usual context and irreverently assigned a new role. Anthropological photographs, ordinary snapshots, movie stills, medical and police photographs—all of these appeared in Surrealist journals like La Révolution Surréaliste and Minotaure, radically divorced from their original purposes. This impulse to uncover latent Surrealist affinities in popular imagery accounts, in part, for the enthusiasm with which Surrealists embraced Eugène Atget’s photographs of Paris. Published in La Révolution Surréaliste in 1926 at the suggestion of his neighbor, Man Ray, Atget’s images of vanished Paris were understood not as the work of a competent professional or a self-conscious artist but as the spontaneous visions of an urban primitive—the Henri Rousseau of the camera. In Atget’s photographs of the deserted streets of old Paris and of shop windows haunted by elegant mannequins, the Surrealists recognized their own vision of the city as a “dream capital,” an urban labyrinth of memory and desire.
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Man Ray, The Gift


The American artist Man Ray (born Emanuel Radnitzky) arrived in Paris in 1921. Within a year, the artist had his first solo show at a Parisian gallery. Among the works he exhibited was one unlisted sculpture: the object, which he called The Gift, was an everyday flatiron with brass tacks glued in a column down its center. According to Man Ray in his autobiography Self-Portrait, the object was made quickly, in a bout of inspiration, the day of the gallery opening. What do we make of Man Ray's relatively simple, yet subversive act of presenting a modified household Samuel Kravitt, A Sister's Hands Ironing, c. 1931-36, photo, Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts (Library of Congress) Samuel Kravitt, A Sister's Hands Ironing, c. 1931-36, photo, Hancock Shaker Village, Massachusetts (Library of Congress) appliance as a work of art? The flatiron – intended to smooth wrinkles from fabric – has been rendered useless with the addition of a row of brass tacks. We are perhaps expected to react the way the store owner supposedly did when Man Ray purchased these items, by exclaiming, “But you'll ruin the shirt if you put tacks there!” Dada, or the nonsense of the everyday Before arriving in Paris, Man Ray was associated with the New York Dada group, which included the artist Marcel Duchamp. As a loosely-affiliated group of like-minded artists, they were particularly interested in using humor and antagonism to question the definition of a work of art. Re-defining art was prevalent in Duchamp's Readymades, such as his Bicycle Wheel, a sculpture made by conjoining a bicycle wheel and a stool, two utilitarian objects. The Surrealist object Marcel Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel, 1951 (third version, after lost original of 1913), metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool, 129.5 x 63.5 x 41.9 cm (The Museum of Modern Art), © 2014 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris / Estate of Marcel Duchamp Marcel Duchamp, Bicycle Wheel, 1951 (third version, after lost original of 1913), metal wheel mounted on painted wood stool, 129.5 x 63.5 x 41.9 cm (The Museum of Modern Art) Although made in the spirit of Dada, Man Ray's The Gift prefigured by several years a key artistic practice that would develop within the Surrealist movement: the “Surrealist object,” a type of three-dimensional art work that included found objects, modified objects, and sculpted objects. The Surrealist object—one of many literary and visual practices in the movement—became prominent beginning in 1936, after its association with a series of extravagant international expositions organized in London and Paris. Surrealism had been first publicly announced in 1924, with the publication of André Breton's first "Manifesto of Surrealism." Stridently activist, Surrealists sought to release society from cultural constraints and the need to conform to social norms, which they felt curtailed people's desires to live as they wished. Function/Dysfunction Of the many types of Surrealist objects that were produced, two important features are present in Man Ray's The Gift. First, an everyday object has been changed so that its original function is denied. Indeed, the artist's relatively simple addition of tacks transforms a useful device into a destructive one. Second, Man Ray's alteration gives a common object a symbolic function. The flatiron, associated with social expectations of propriety and middle-class values, becomes a subversive attack on social expectations. Even if Man Ray's tack-lined iron is no longer used for pressing clothes, the object resonates with ruinous, violent possibilities. Denial and destruction While denial and destruction are qualities are not intrinsic to all Surrealist art, there are striking examples, like The Gift, that show Surrealists working with banal objects to question the viewe[...]

Camera-less Photography Techniques


The essence of photography lies in its seemingly magical ability to fix shadows on light-sensitive surfaces. Normally, this requires a camera, but not always. Several artists work without a camera, creating images on photographic paper by casting shadows and manipulating light, or by chemically treating the surface of the paper. Images made with a camera imply a documentary role. In contrast, camera-less photographs show what has never really existed. They are also always ‘an original’ because they are not made from a negative. Encountered as fragments, traces, signs, memories or dreams, they leave room for the imagination, transforming the world of objects into a world of visions. Processes & techniques Camera-less photographs can be made using a variety of techniques, the most common of which are the photogram, the luminogram and the chemigram. These techniques are sometimes used in combination. Many involve an element of chance. Chemigram Chemigrams are made by directly manipulating the surface of photographic paper, often with varnishes or oils and photographic chemicals. They are produced in full light and rely on the maker's skill in harnessing chance for creative effect. Documented experiments are often an important part of the process. Digital C-print A print made from digital images using digital printers. Inside such printers, chromogenic (or 'C'-type) photographic paper is exposed to red, green and blue lasers. The paper is then processed in the traditional, chemical-based manner. Images created by camera-less methods can be digitised and turned into C-prints. When processed in this way, camera-less images can be retouched, enlarged and reproduced as multiples. Dye destruction print A print made using direct positive colour paper. This paper was originally introduced in 1963 for printing colour transparencies or negatives. It is coated with at least three layers of emulsion, each of which is sensitised to one of the three primary colours. Each layer also contains a dye related to that colour. During development of the image, any unexposed dyes are bleached out (hence 'dye destruction'). The remaining dyes form a full-colour image. Gelatin-silver print A print made using paper that has been coated with gelatin containing silver salts. Where light strikes the silver salts, they become dark. The image is then developed out using chemical developer. The paper itself can have a matt or gloss surface, and the image can be toned. Introduced in 1871, the gelatin-silver print is still in general use today. Luminogram A variation of the photogram (see below). In a luminogram, light falling directly on the paper forms the image. Objects placed between the light and the paper (but not touching the paper) will filter or block the light, depending on whether they are transparent or opaque. Photogram Photograms are made by placing an object in contact with a photosensitive surface in the dark, and exposing both to light. Where the object blocks the light, either partially or fully, its shadow is recorded on the paper. The term 'photogram' seems to have appeared around 1925. The photogram artist is not able to predict the results in the viewfinder of a camera, and often works in the dark. The final image is only apparent after physical and chemical manipulation or development. Reading list Luis Nadeau, Encyclopedia of Printing, Photographic and Photomechanical Processes New Brunswick, NJ (Atelier Luis Nadeau), 1989, and the related website, Gordon Baldwin, Looking at Photographs: A Guide to Technical Terms Los Angeles and London (J. Paul Getty Museum in association with the British Museum Press), 1991 This text was originally written to accompany the exhibit[...]



How a Humble Pineapple Became Art
LONDON — How did a pineapple become a postmodern masterpiece? The aesthetic merits of tropical fruit inadvertently entered Britain’s national cultural conversation after two students jokingly placed a store-bought pineapple on an empty table at an art exhibition this month at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, a port city in northeastern Scotland. When they returned a few days later to the exhibition — part of the Look Again festival, which aims to highlight Aberdeen’s cultural heritage — they were shocked to discover their pineapple protected by a glass display case, instantly and mysteriously transformed into a work of art. After one of the students, Lloyd Jack, 22, who studies business, put a photograph of the pineapple on Twitter, along with the words, “I made art,” the image was shared widely on social media, turning the fruit, fairly or not, into a cultural sensation. To some, though, the stunt was a self-promoting social media prank befitting the digital age. Mr. Jack’s post received nearly 5,000 likes on Twitter. Before long, the work, which the two students titled “Pineapple,” had been deconstructed on art blogs and social media worldwide; parsed in Paris, Texas and Tokyo; and even featured on Canadian television. Some on Twitter lauded its “genius,” while others ridiculed it as the latest example of conceptual art’s plodding banality. Mr. Jack said he and the other student, Ruairi Gray, also 22, had been stunned by the attention afforded the pineapple, which he said the two had put on the table in a moment of lighthearted whimsy, slanted slightly to the left to give it a bit more gravitas and flair. He said the “work” was on display for nearly a week before it was removed. “We weren’t sure how the glass case got there, and initially assumed it was bungling curators,” he said. “We couldn’t believe our eyes, and didn’t expect our lowly little supermarket pineapple to become a global star.” The fruit cost one pound, or about $1.30. Nevertheless, he said, the pineapple, alone in its display case and destined to rot, was a poignant symbol of Britain in the era of “Brexit,” the nation’s decision to leave the European Union. (Unlike England, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain.) “The pineapple symbolizes the U.K. leaving the E.U., standing alone, attempting to survive, cut off from the outside world,” he said. Others saw hidden meaning in the pineapple, including an art professor at the university who, Mr. Gray said, enthusiastically lauded the “purposeful way” in which the display case had pressed down on the fruit’s leaves. “It just goes to show the ludicrousness of conceptual art and how anything can become art,” Mr. Jack said. Others were not altogether amused, including the organizers of the Look Again festival, who found their exhibition suddenly hijacked by a fruit. After investigating the renegade pineapple, they discovered that the glass case had been placed at the exhibition by a janitor — though it was unclear whether the act had been motivated by humor, artistic sensibility or both. “This pineapple was nothing more than a prank,” said Hilary Nicoll, an associate director of the festival, with amusement tinged with slight irritation.

Most Successful Virtual Band: Gorillaz "Adding Substance to Pop"


Most Successful Virtual Band: The Gorillaz “Adding Substance to Pop”Genre:Avant-Pop, Experimental Pop, Alternative Rock, Brit Pop, Trip Hop, Hip Hop, Electronica, Indie, Dub, Reggae and Pop.Awards: Grammy Award, Two MTV Video Music Awards, NME Award, (New Musical Express) Three MTV Europe Music Awards, Nominated for Nine Brit AwardsStudio Albums Gorillaz 2001 Demon Days 2005 Plastic Beach 2010 The Fall 2010 Humanz 2017Tours Phase One Tour (2001-02) Demon Days Live (2005-06) Escape to Plastic Beach Tour (2010) Demon Days Festival (2017) Humanz Tour (2017)Permanent Band MembersDamon Albarn- Vocals, Keyboard, Guitar, Bass Guitar, Drums, Percussion, Melodica (1998-Present) Jamie Hewlett- Illustration, Visuals, FX (1998-Present)Live Band Members Mike Smith- Keyboards (1998-Present) Jeff Wootton- Lead Guitar (2010-Present) Seye Adelekan- Bass guitar (2017-Present) Jesse Hackett- Keyboards (2010-Present) Gabriel Wallace- Drums, Percussion (2010-Present) Karl Vanden Bossche- Drums (2005-2007, 2010-Present)Animated Band Members 2-D Murdoc Niccals Noodle Russel Hobbs    The british virtual band Gorillaz was created in 1998 by “Blur” Musicians named Damon Albarn, and Graham Coxon. During a Blur interview Albarn and Coxon met Jamie Hewlett of Deadline Magazine. Hewlett began to hang out after the interview in with Damon sharing common interests. One evening they had a conversation at Albarns while he and Hewlett were watching MTV and Hewlett remarked… “If you watch MTV for too long, it’s a bit like hell, there's nothing of substance there. So we got this idea for a cartoon band, and something that would comment on that.” [1]    MTV during 1998 would have shown the Backstreet Boys, Third Eye Blind, Usher, Matchbox Twenty and other popular artists. These contemporary 1998 pop artists provided good jumping off contextual building points for the two to start creating their ideas and begin their Avant-Pop directed approach. Originally after formation the Gorillaz identified as singular “Gorilla” without the “z” and released their first song “Ghost Train”. allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">          Which lives on the second side of the single “Rock the House”, and the second side of compilation “G Sides”. The “Ghost Train”collaboration included Albarn, Del The Funky Homosapien, Dan the Automator, and Kid Koala. The same producers that worked on “Time Keeps on Slipping” by Deltron 3030. Although Albarn still claims, “The first ever Gorillaz tunes was the Blur 1997 Single “Own Your Own”. [2] allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560">     Jamie Hewlett was the artist to bring alive the 4 animated members that would eventually populate the Gorillaz media. This was the first virtual band that the world had ever seen. Hewletts previous comic work “Tank Girl” served as a jumping off point for the aesthetic of the animated members of the captivating virtual band. The virtual band consists of, 2-D who’s the lead vocalist that plays keyboards. Murdoc Niccals that plays bass guitar & vocals. Noodle plays guitar and keyboards. Russel Hobbs is the Drummer & percussion sounds. The four characters are completely fictional and are intended to not resemble any real contemporary musicians or themselves. At this point in time it was extremely avant-garde and experimental in the music video world to be using cartoon characters. It’s even more avant-garde in the sense that the cartoon characters were not resembling [...]

Hi-tech art that talks back.


Title: Hi-tech art that talks back. By: Driedger, Sharon Doyle, Maclean's, 00249262, 4/24/95, Vol. 108, Issue 17Database: Academic Search CompleteSection: ArtIn a bold new show artists express joys and fears about cyberspacePortraits by Montreal artist Luc Courchesne do not hang quietly on a gallery wall. They chat and, occasionally, argue with each other. They talk to viewers and, if they like someone, will share their feelings and perhaps even confide a secret. If not, they become moody, abruptly ending the dialogue. Courchesne creates this dazzling illusion of art-with-an-attitude in his interactive work, Family Portrait: Encounter with a Virtual Society. The artist's ``virtual beings,'' who respond to the click of a mouse, are stunningly lifelike. They appear suspended in space, as if separate from the computers, video monitors and laser discs that generate them. But electronic wizardry is not the point of Family Portrait, says Courchesne, whose work has been exhibited at the National Gallery in Ottawa and New York City's Museum of Modern Art. ``I'm like an alchemist,'' he says. ``I try to do crazy things--like turn technology into experience.'' Courchesne, 42, is one of six Canadian artists represented in Press Enter: Between Seduction and Disbelief, an international exhibit on art and technology that opens this week at Toronto's Power Plant gallery, part of the beleaguered Harbourfront cultural centre. This timely show focuses on artists' fascination with cyberspace as well as their skepticism about an increasingly wired world. A strong undercurrent of technology has flowed through the art world for more than a decade with the proliferation of microcomputers. ``Then, in '94, there was an explosion as the Internet brought everybody together,'' says Derrick de Kerckhove, director of the McLuhan Program at the University of Toronto. ``Now, art and technology is literally taking off.'' An array of new computer technologies is transforming culture, as musicians perform ``live'' on the Internet, museums offer tours via modem, and virtual reality plays on the stage. ``Technology is evolving our traditional notions of art,'' says Mark Jones, publisher of CyberStage, a new Canadian quarterly devoted to art and technology. ``It's also creating new forms of its own.'' Artists are applying their new electronic palette in surprising ways. ``They are stretching the use of these technologies,'' says Jean Gagnon, associate curator of media art at the National Gallery. ``They can be playful and ironic and give a humoristic twist to them.'' They are also addressing serious issues. De Kerckhove theorizes that artists express the collective unconscious of a society, and ``there is a great deal of fear of computers out there.'' That anxiety about cyberspace and individual identity is one of the main themes of Press Enter. And, according to Louise Dompierre, chief curator of the exhibit, most of the artworks are interactive, so people can experience them ``in a real, visual way.'' Some deal with issues of privacy, notably American Jim Campbell's Untitled (for Heisenberg), in which, through an ingenious use of computers and video, the viewer's image pops up in bed with a naked couple. Others, such as German artist Christian Moller's Electronic Mirror, which unexpectedly erases a visitor's reflection, illustrate a lack of control over technology. It was the potential for interaction that first attracted 34-year-old David Rokeby to the electronic medium. ``I wanted to repair the rip that had appeared between the audience and contemporary art,'' explains Rokeby, originally from Tillsonburg, Ont. Behind him, in a corner of his studio in the heart of Toronto's Chinatown, two color-splashed canv[...]

Dances with Machines by Rebeccla Zacks


Dances with Machines by Rebeccla Zacks Section: HumachinesThe movements of the lanky man of the videotape mesh perfectly with the undulating rhythms and cascading tones that accompany his dance. As the music swells, his gestures grow pronounced and emphatic; as the sound dwindles to the pulse of a synthesized bass or the flutter of an electronic clarinet, his motions diminish to the twitch of a hand or the slow weep of an arm. The choreographer, it seems, must have worked closely with the dancer and the composer to make such a seamless piece. The reality is more complex; This dancer is, in fact, also choreographer and composer, choosing his moves on the fly while simultaneously making the music to match in a intimate collaboration with a video camera and a homemade computer system. Sprawled shoeless on the living room floor in his Toronto home, 38-year-old DavidRokeby watches the 28-year-old version of himself on a small TV set. Though his worn jeans, wire-rimmed glasses and only slightly scruffy hair make him look like the math professor his parents wanted him to be, Rokeby has instead become an internationally known interactive artist--his multimedia installations invite gallery goers and exhibition attendees to become active participants in the artistic process. In language that shifts easily between the professorial and the poetic, Rokebyexplains both the technology and the artistic intentions behind his work. In many ways, his career sounds like that of a researcher. Rokeby thinks of each of his installations as an experiment; observing the hundreds of thousands of people who have participated with his pieces has given him an invaluable opportunity to learn about humans, machines and the very complicated relationships between them. Through these artistic explorations, Rokeby has begun to understand how people's interactions with computers change as technogadgetry becomes more and more common. And he has uncovered some ways that machines can subtly distort human perceptions. After years of investigating such ideas, Rokeby worries that our increasing interaction with the Internet and "intelligent" technologies might cause us to devalue some of the attributes that make us human. So while others work toward a transparent interface between person and machine, Rokeby aims to expose the quirks, foibles and rough edges of that relationship. "Because I've programmed a lot, because I've built computers, I know what it's like to write a program and then watch people deal with it, and watch how my decisions change people's experiences" says Rokeby. "For me, it's important that I somehow articulate the importance of that act." Rokebyplayed the videotape of his dance on a sunny January afternoon to demonstrate his best-known project: Very Nervous System. The name is an umbrella term for an ongoing series of installations the project's technological roots date back to some fiddling around with light sensors and a synthesizer that Rokeby did in the early 1980s. Over the years, Rokeby has used the technology behind Very Nervous System not only in his artistic endeavors, but also to support them; reduced to its initials, VNS is an image-processing device he builds and sells to performers, composers, researchers and other artists. What VNS does, essentially, is translate the motion captured in a live video image into a digital signal. That signal can, via a Macintosh computer, drive electronic equipment such as synthesizers, video players and lights--all in real time. In a typical Very Nervous System installation, a body moving in the camera's field of vision becomes an integral part of the work, triggering and modulating sounds or other effects. Rokebydevel[...]

Ten Dreams of Technology


Ten Dreams of TechnologySteve Dietz AbstractThis article presents the ten dreams of technology that frame the author/curator's selection of ten new media artworks. The "dreams" or themes presented by the author have been developed and/or questioned by artists throughout the history of the intersection of art and technology. This history emerges through artworks that the author describes as containing a "compelling vitality that we must admire." The collection of dreams includes: Symbiosis, Emergence, Immersion, World Peace, Transparency, Flows, Open Work, Other, New Art, and Hacking. The author notes that these dreams of technology have a future, even if it is not yet determined. Tom Stoppard, in his play Arcadia, states, "The future is disorder.... It's the best possible time to be alive, when almost everything you thought you knew is wrong." From Richard Wagner's gesamtkunstwerkand Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto to Nam June Paik's "electronic highway" and Jaron Lanier's virtual reality universe to Roy Ascott's "vegetal reality," the history of the intersection of art and technology is one of the prognostications of an irrefutable, inevitable, and even immanent future that never comes to pass-at least not exactly as we thought it might [1]. This is not to deny that Douglas Engelbart or Alan Kay or Marc Weiser, or even Brenda Laurel and Purple Moon "predict the future by inventing it" [2]. Arguably, however, "technological art" is always less fulfilling than when the technology on which it is based becomes more or less invisible-a tool like a pencil, as John Baldessari would have it. The ultimate demonstration may have been Engelbart's mouse-a spellbinding vision of a future few others could even imagine at the time. But it is Perry Hoberman's Cathartic User Interface that is the most compelling and cathartic statement of where that future has dumped us [3]. In between the invention of a technology and its quotidian disappearance are the manifestoes, declaimed and implicit. Janet Murray has suggested the notion of "incunabular" media. In this stage we can imagine the outlines of Shakespeare and the very idea of a written literature in the magical, mechanical reproductions of the early printing press. We can also imagine something beyond the incunabular RPG and shooter video games. In either case, these dreams of a certain future have such compelling vitality that we must admire them, even as we quibble about their navel-gazing mediumness and complain about how simplistic and complex they are. We must then acknowledge their inability to change humankind into the likeness of their vision. Here, in no particular order, are ten dreams of technology that have a future, even if we do not yet know what it is and despite the certainty with which it is predicted [4]. 1. The Dream of SymbiosisThe hope is that, in not too many years, human brains and computing machines will be coupled together very tightly, and that the resulting partnership will think as no human brain has ever thought and process data in a way not approached by the information-handling machines we know today. -J.C.R. Licklider, 1960 [5]Norbert Wiener is credited with coining the term "cybernetics" from the Greek word "kybernetes," or steersman. This research on controlled feedback loops-interaction between humans and machines-postulated that by allowing each to learn from the interaction with the other, both could evolve to higher levels of functioning. Many artists have dreamed the dream of what Wiener's younger contemporary, J.C.R. Licklider, referred to as[End Page 509] man-machine symbiosis, from Joseph Weizenbaum's Eliza(1966) to Ken Rinaldo's [...]

Transformations of Transforming Mirrors: An Interview with David Rokeby


Labels Art and Science, Art and Technology, Conceptual Art, Electronic Art, Interactivity, Systems Art, Video Art, Installation, David Rokeby, Interview, Transformations of Transforming Mirrors: An Interview with David Rokeby By Ulrik Ekman  and David Rokeby 1. IntroductionDavid Rokeby began exploring questions of interactivity while studying at the Ontario College of Art (OCA) in 1981. His earliest interactive pieces were constructed with text or photography and specifically designed to be completed by the audience in one manner or another. There were no technological interfaces involved. At OCA, Rokeby discovered a small group of teachers and students in the school’s tiny Photo-Electric Art Department, where it was possible in the early ’80s to take courses like “Programming for Artists” and “Cybernetics for Art” with remarkable teachers like Norman White and Doug Back. Although Rokeby had had some experience programming computers in high school, he had not seriously considered using them in his art. His encounter with the Photo-Electric Art Department at OCA led him to bring together his interests both in audience-involvement and in computer technology. Most of his time at OCA was occupied with the development of what was to become Very Nervous System. Advancing from interactive sound systems involving single light cells and analog electronics, this project evolved over a decade into a sensitive interactive sound installation in which everything from the audience’s small finger movements to large leaps drew out accompanying sounds that interpreted these movements in some manner. Alongside its life as an artwork, Very Nervous System served the practical study of intense physical computer-human interaction. As a result of observing both himself and thousands of others in this installation, Rokeby generated ideas about the characteristics of the machine-human relationship. These ideas were first expressed in his 1989 text “Transforming Mirrors: Subjectivity and Control in Interactive Media.” In producing Very Nervous System, Rokeby not only designed and built his own specialized computers, he also wrote some simple computer languages, and a lot of other code. While he did this, he watched himself program and, as a result, became interested in programming as a cultural practice, and in the role of programmers as cultural producers. While Very Nervous System focuses largely on the relationship between human bodies and computers, his next major work, The Giver of Names, looks at the relationship between human intelligence and machine intelligence. For this project, Rokeby spent more than ten years working along the edges of artificial intelligence research, developing software that attempted to replicate human perceptual and cognitive abilities. The Giver of Names was an artificial subjective entity that considered objects presented to it and responded with spoken sentences. The aim of this pursuit was not so much to succeed at replicating human behavior as to provide an inside view of the process of trying to do this, in order to open the pursuit to some sort of questioning. The installation was presented, in part, as a sort of public research space where anyone could explore issues of (artificial) perception and intelligence in a practical and playful but non-trivial way. At the time he developed The Giver of Names, Rokeby turned his attention to surveillance systems. His surveillance installations of the late ’90s and early 2000s, such as Watch, Taken, and Sorting Daemon, brought the real-time interaction of Very Nervous System together with the more advanced per[...]

Early Risers by Matt Price


Early Risers by Matt Price AUTHOR: Matt Price TITLE: EARLY RISERS SOURCE: Flash Art (International Edition) 39 104-7 O 2006 COPYRIGHT: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited.     IN RECENT YEARS LONDON has consistently had a healthy flow of young commercial galleries and the current crop is particularly vibrant. Fortescue Avenue/Jonathan Viner, Laura Bartlett, Dick smith, Fred, Herald St, Holly Bush Gardens, Hotel, Museum 52, Riflemaker, David Risley, Rokeby and Store are among those at the forefront, bringing together professional acumen, entrepreneurial spirit and a real enthusiasm for the artists they represent. A balance of young and mid-career artists brings a sense of both excitement and maturity to many of these galleries, as does the range of art they show, ranging from the reliably commercially viable to the more outlandish. While these galleries are distinctive and individual, the relationships between them are strong. "The scene is what it is partly because of that," comments Hotel's Darren Flook. So, who's behind these galleries?BACKGROUNDS    While many studied fine art, art history or art theory, curatorial master's degrees such as those on offer at the Royal College of Art and Goldsmiths were undertaken by several gallerists, including Fortescue Avenue's Jonathan Viner, Hotel's Christabel Stewart, Store's Louise Hayward and Hollybush Gardens' Malin Stahl. Such courses reflect the growing professionalization of curating in the last fifteen years and the impact this is having on the new generation of gallerists. Vincer also spent time working as an artist's assistant for Mona Hatoum, and the success of the previous generation of artists. especially the YBAs, has offered paid training for several of today's other emerging gallerists, including Rokeby's Beth Greenacre, who was assistant for Gavin Turk, and Museum 52's Matthew Dipple, who was studio manager for Sam Taylor-Wood for three years. Several gallerists spent time after graduating working for prominent commercial galleries -both Jonathan Viner and Laura Bartlett, for example, worked at Gagosian. The combination of postgraduate study along with time spent working for established artists and galleries, has spawned a generation of young gallerists that are highly educated and professionally experienced.STARTING UP    While some had been in touch with artists whom they represent for a long time before opening, others set about putting together a roster of artists from scratch. "Finding artists is the most challenging part of the job," says Viner. Laura Bartlett spent time traveling to see works, finding Harrell Fletcher at the Whitney Museum and Sachiko Abe at P.S.1 in New York, neither of whom had previously shown in London. Degree shows are useful to some--several of Riflemaker's artists were found in this way, such as Jamie Shovlin and Francesca Lowe, as were many of Rokeby's, such as Sam Dargan, Graham Hudson and Michael Samuels. "Degree shows are important for sourcing new talent," says Beth Greenacre. "They are also a way of keeping an eye on what trends are developing at that level." Hollybush Gardens, which opened in September 2005 and currently represents just five artists, plans to increase the number of artists as the gallery establishes itself. Museum 52, on the other hand, already has around twenty artists on its books. "They c[...]

Between Real and Ideal by Caitlin Jones and Lizzie Muller


Between Real and Ideal by Caitlin Jones and Lizzie Muller BETWEEN REAL AND IDEAL: DOCUMENTING MEDIA ARTCaitlin Jones, #3 223 St Marks Ave., Brooklyn, New York. 11238. USA. E-mail: .Lizzie Muller, Creativity and Cognition Studios, University of Technology, Sydney, PO Box 123, Broadway, NSW 2007, Australia. E-mail:.AbstractThis paper describes a new approach to documenting media art which seeks to place in dialogue the artist’s intentions and the audience’s experience. It explicitly highlights the productive tension between the ideal, conceptual existence of the work, and its actual manifestation through different iterations and exhibitions in the real world. The paper describes how the approach was developed collaboratively during the production of a documentary collection for the artwork Giver of Names, by David Rokeby. It outlines the key features of the approach including artist’s interview, audience interviews and data structure.IntroductionArt historians, conservators and curators all look to documentation to support their research and their ability to preserve artworks, maintain collections, and mount exhibitions.  Media artworks rarely exist as static, discrete and unique objects, but rather as collections of components, hardware and software, which together create time and process based experiences. Such works may change radically depending on the contextual conditions of their staging. Even the material components of such works are subject to rapid change due to technological obsolescence. Documentation is, therefore, increasingly important in media art, as it provides a continuing source of knowledge as to how a particular work manifests over time.Traditional models of documentation are not well adapted to such works. Recent attempts to develop new models for documenting media art offer flexible paradigms which focus on the processes of creation and exhibition, rather than on static objects [1, 2]. However, there is still an important gap around the documentation of the audience’s experience of the work, and ways to integrate experiential documentation with other information [2]. In late 2007 we were awarded research residencies at the Daniel Langlois Foundation Centre for Research & Documentation to explore ways of documenting media art. The result was a case-study documentary collection for the artwork Giver of Names (19912004), by David Rokeby. Through the creation of this case-study we have developed a promising new approach which draws together the artist’s intentions for the work and the audience’s experience. The approach creates a dialogue between the ideal, conceptual existence of the work and its actual manifestation through different iterations and exhibitions in the real world.David Rokeby’s Giver of Names David Rokeby is an artist who has written extensively about his work, particularly on his iterative production methods and the importance of audience experience. He is highly reflective and articulate about his process and intent. Giver of Names is an interactive piece which requires considerable participation from the audience in order to be activated. It has a long exhibition history and has evolved through many iterations. Significantly, however, Rokeby suggests that the work has reached its “sweet spot,” [3] where few changes are envisaged in the future. This creates an excellent opportunity to review the work’s history and create a record of its existence at this moment in time. The documentary collection for Giver of Na[...]

Next Memory City from Border Crossings


Next Memory City from Border Crossings TITLE: NEXT MEMORY CITY SOURCE: Border Crossings 21 no4 36-40 N 2002 The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited.    "Next Memory City" is a collaborative project involving architect and curator MICHAEL AWAD, pianist and sound artist EVE EGOYAN and multimedia artist DAVID ROKEBY. Their project was chosen to represent Canada at the 2002 Venice Biennale in Architecture and was on exhibition at the Canadian Pavilion from September 8 to November 3.    The following forum is a collage of separate responses by the artists to questions that have been removed. It is an exercise in interstitial reduction.    MICHAEL AWAD: The project was based not only on urban space, but on the lack of architecture. Even though David and I had never met, we were working on exactly the same projects, except that I was working in an analog form and he was working in a digital form. My piece is specific to Toronto: one image of Chinatown, four minutes of activity recorded in the heart of the most densely populated part of the city. But it records without any architecture in the background; it only registers things that happen or change--people, automobiles and movement.    DAVID ROKEBY: There's a fundamental link between what Michael is after in his photographs and what I've been interested in since the early '80s in tracking, monitoring and translating movement through my video systems. I find the more I look at Chinatown, the richer it gets. What was interesting in retrospect was trying to figure out how to balance a live, moving image and a still image from the perspective of the viewer. And it has something to do with time: Michael's piece requires time to view successfully.    AWAD: What we really tried to create in our pavilion was a pause. Amongst all these other pavilions with high-powered architecture and an overwhelming focus on buildings, our space was a bit of a quiet, dark oasis where people could actually stop for a while. On many levels we counter-programmed by presenting an installation that focussed attention on urban space devoid of buildings. But I can't imagine the installation without the sound. As soon as the sound came up, it engaged the images so directly. It became integral.    EVE EGOYAN: The sound definitely seemed to draw the images off the wall and into the space with the people. My work was on the ground and on the ceiling. On the ground I placed the same stones that were used on the Giardini walkways, and that made the floor both visual and auditory. We wanted to create an atmosphere where people, when they were looking at other people, would have a sense of themselves in the space. There were also moments of silence where the images went back to the walls and everyone was left just with themselves. We had eight channels along the ceiling and we had sounds that were really intense--a vaporetto and a streetcar. There were sounds from Venice and Toronto, and I had to work with the combination of them as if they were orchestral. For me, it was a question of thinking about the two cities and what their sounds represent. Toronto sounds are upbeat, they have vivacity, largeness and multi-ethnicity. Venice is slow, quiet, extremely transparent and really lovely to record. If there is such a word, it w[...]

Techno Hectoring by Christopher Bradshaw


Techno Hectoring by Christopher Bradshaw AUTHOR: Christopher Brayshaw TITLE: Techno Hectoring SOURCE: Border Crossings 20 no2 135-6 My 2001 The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited.    The first things you see, once your eyes adjust to the dim light of David Rokeby's video installation, Watch, are two wall projections, two slightly different views of the same downtown intersection: cars waiting for the light and pedestrians clustered on the sidewalks. Wait a moment; the walk signals flash; the pedestrians begin to cross, then abruptly freeze in place, like still holograms through which the speeding cars aim. Another moment, and the cars blur into long trails of light, the dark pavement overlaid with the trace of successive vehicles' passing.    These changes unfold so imperceptibly that neither projection seems to change much; you can't point and say, here is where it changed, as you can with a film cut, because the changes only occur in discreet aspects of the otherwise static scenes. In this, Rokeby's work is closely related to a number of other recent artworks that consciously blur the boundaries between a still and a moving image. I'm thinking, for example, of the Per Kirkby-designed "chapter headings" for Lars Von Trier's Breaking the Waves, which look for all the world like mobile J.M.W. Turner paintings, and, closer to home, the video loops and "projected stills" Vancouver artist Mark Curry recently exhibited at the Western Front.    In Rokeby's case, the work does not remain physically divorced from viewers because, at intervals, an image of the audience is projected onto the wall in a space previously occupied by one of the intersection images. In this way, Rokeby suggests that human consciousness is shaped by technology, that our access to events we did not personally experience is always mediated by imaging and surveillance technologies. But--and this is a big but--the mind-numbing thematic literalness of this piece renders it a deeply unsatisfying work of art.    By including viewers "in the picture," Rokeby implies that we are as effortlessly absorbed into his project's surveillance routines as are the lines of cars and shoppers--just look, there we are! The problem is, the shock of recognizing yourself "in the picture" in no way equals wholehearted identification with Rokeby's thesis, but, rather, provokes impatience with the artist's insinuation that this device might be sufficiently convincing on its own.    The day I visited the exhibition, a UBC fine arts instructor was visiting Watch with a class of undergraduates. He doggedly rehearsed the conceptual premises of Rokeby's work out loud, while his students nodded and took notes. They--and I--couldn't disagree with any of the claims he was making for the work. At the same time, it was obvious that they (and I) were totally estranged from and unmoved by it. An art exhibition is not just an illustration of a thesis; the formal choices an artist makes in constructing a work must somehow amplify it, kindling a corona of unspecifiability around the work's thematic core. Nothing like this was visible in this plodding, earnest work. I felt embarrassed and vaguely resentful in Watch's presence, conscious that the work was lecturing me with all the formal energy Rokeby[...]

Review of David Rokeby’s Installation, Taken at Williams College By Luke Jaeger


Review of David Rokeby’s Installation, Taken at Williams College By Luke Jaeger Williams College Museum of Art/Williamstown, MA DAVID ROKEBY: TAKEN The fertile territory at the intersection of art and surveillance is hot real estate these days. David Rokeby stakes his claim with Taken, an installation at Williams College. Three screens occupy the gallery's walls. The first, a ten-foot-by-ten-foot grid, alternates projections of previous visitors' faces with close-up surveillance shots of current visitors', each labeled with an adjective such as "resigned," "reassured," "unthreatened." Rokeby's miraculous custom software picks out a visitor's face and follows it around the room-a white square appears on the screen tracking its progress - and though one's rational mind knows these adjectives are assigned at ran­ David Rokeby, Taken, installation. Courtesy dom, a moment of panic ensues: If contemporary surveillance technology can recognize your face, can it also tell how you feel? On a second screen, visitors' images scroll continuously upward through a flux of shifting gray shapes. Movement is detected by a camera and mapped into this stream. When standing still, one's image disappears -a discovery that is at once liberating and terrifying. Is a Unabomber-like retreat into isolation and nonexistence the only alternative to having every movement monitored? The third screen gives a hint of an escape route. Here one can see one's own image overlaid, like a photographic exposure, with those of everyone else who has walked through the gallery. Alone in the space, the visitor shares the virtual space on the screen with the specters of previous visitors who mill about in a dense, semitransparent jumble of bodies. Your first instinct is to wave your arms or jump around in order to pick your own image out of the crowd-but that's what all the previous visitors did, too. A roomful of ghosts waving their arms, silently clamoring for recognition before the automated eye of the surveillance apparatus: a metaphor of the artist's role in a paranoid and security-obsessed society. Copied from UMaine Folger Library Database on 03.07.17Chicago Style CitationJaeger, Luke. 2005. "Williams College Museum of Art/Williamstown, MA: David Rokeby: Taken." Art New England 26, no. 6: 31. Art Full Text (H.W. Wilson), EBSCOhost (accessed  March 07, 2017). [...]

Anonymity in David Rokeby’s Electronic Creations: A Duchampian Model? By Ernestine Daubner


  Note: Article appears in both French and English. Only the English has been copied. Anonymity in David Rokeby’s Electronic Creations: A Duchampian Model? By Ernestine Daubner Developing the software and hardware for interactive installations and artificial perception systems for two decades, Canadian Media Artist David Rokeby has had much occasion to reflect upon the nature of subjectivity, control and disappearance in electronic art. In his interactive works, he invites the viewer to actively engage with the technologies. “Each participant is an interaction,” says Rokeby, “receives the sensation of responsibility; each has the ability to respond.” Such expressions generate a seemingly open-ended situation were meaning is produced by and is contingent upon the participation of the visitor, and were the interactors subjective experience becomes the focus of the artwork. Not all of Rokeby’s works are interactive, however. Some, based on surveillance and tracking systems, even appear to reinstate the traditional viewing experience as they position the visitor in the role of the surveillant, or as the person viewed. Whether engaging in Rokeby's interactive works or subjected to his monitoring systems, one is prompted to pose important questions about new technologies. Are these electronic creations neutral and objective? Does the artist-programmer, like the anonymous writer­ scripter, strive to relinquish authorial control? How do Rokeby's electronic works relate to former conceptions of anonymity in art and culture?Several decades prior to the advent of electronic media art, avant-garde artists like Marcel Duchamp, whom Rokeby claims is "the first interactive artist,"2 adopted various strategies of anonymity, renouncing the authorial role of the artist. Intentionally elusive, Duchamp adopted various pseudonyms, the most famous being. that of his female alter ego, Rose Selavy. As infamous iconoclast, he consistently exhibited a blatant irreverence for the artist as a persona constructed by the culture industry. Most importantly, in rejecting the role of omniscient, authoritative author, Duchamp assumed the position of the anonymous or impersonal writer. He described this as a mediumistic role. Wishing to re­ move himself, as self-conscious subject, from the creative process s, he indicated that art should follow the direction of the writer Stephane Mallarme. Similar strategies of anonymity, with regard to the writing process, were theorized later in the century by post-structuralists as the "death of author" and the birth of the writer-scripter.As an anonymous or impersonal writer, Duchamp produced a variety of works, words and gestures capable of being read as a network of recurring and self-reflexive signs that interweave, intersect and dialogue  with each  other.  Duchamp's  sign system spawns an indeterminate and indefinable space that is neither presence nor absence, and that posits neither a position nor a negation. This is a conceptual space in which readings are both simultaneously either-or and neither-nor; and where a myriad of inscriptions and erasures of signs trace a field without origin and where there is a perpetual fluctuation between the creating or becoming of meaning and the state of "forgetting." How is one to name such a sign system: writing or scripture, a play of difference, simply, the "modem allegory?" Perhaps Duchamp's own cryptic notes about an "allegory on 'forgettin[...]

Danilo Maldonado Machado's testimony


Danilo Maldonado Machado Testimony before the Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, Transnational Crime, Civilian Security, Democracy, Human Rights and Global Women’s Issues February 16, 2017Thank you for the opportunity to amplify my voice to denounce the situation of human rights violations of where I come from, Cuba. I am 33 years old and have already served 4 sentences for the only reason that I have critized the Cuban dictatorship through my art. In Cuba, freedom of speech by artists is prohibited by Article 39 of the Constitution. According to this, “artistic creation is free provided that its contents is not contrary to the Revolution.” This means that the work of artists such as myself and my collegues Gorki Águila and Tania Brugera, which is critical of the dictatory regime of the Castro brothers, is illegal in Cuba. For that reason I served 2 years when I was 18; 1 year when I was 24; 10 months at age 31 and most recently 2 months at the age of 33. Now I’ll refer to the last two occassions in which I was in prison. On Christmas Day 2014, as part of a performance, I tried to release two little pigs on the streets of Havana, both painted in green, one with the name of Raul and the other with the name of Fidel. I called that performance “Animal Farm in memoriam”in honor of Gorge Orwell. This cost me 10 months in prison. During that time I was tortured physically and psycologically by the dictatorship to the point that I declared myself on hunger strike and even considered the possibility of letting myself die in prison as a result. After 10 months without previous warning, I was released and driven to my house from prison. Until today I have not been served any notice of pending criminal charges nor have I been summoned for any type of trial. At that time I was released following my protests and my hunger strike in prison, and constant protests by my mother, my sister, my grandmother, friends, and international institutions such as the Human Rights Foundation, the Cuban American National Foundation, Amnesty International, etc. These same friends and others came together again this last time I was in prison. I was in a maximum security prison in Havana for the simple crime of not having expressed any “sadness” over the death of dictator Fidel Castro. On the night of December 26, when his death was announced, I was awakened by calls from friends and my sister. I dressed quickly and when I left my house I could surely perceive fear as the streets became emptier and more silent. That day I began to think over how many atrocities and how many crimes against humanity had been committed in more than 56 years by brothers Fidel and Raul Castro. So I went out to the streets to shout "Take the streets, the murderer died, the mare died." I walked about a mile, took transportation to the other side of the city, and walked for a while celebrating until my video, that went viral on social media, was transmitted live as the only celebratory event in the city of Havana, and on the island. In the video, by assuming my itendity as a free person in a country controled by a totalitarian dictatorship, I took the risky decision of graffiting the wall of the hotel where Fidel Castro’s troops were quartered for the first time in Havana almost 60 years ago, armed and a without democratic election. I did that following the example of the great Vaclav Havel, the artist and former president of the Cze[...]

How Duchamp’s Urinal Changed Art Forever


How Duchamp’s Urinal Changed Art ForeverARTSY EDITORIALBY JON MANN
On April 9th, 1917, just over 100 years ago, Marcel Duchamp achieved what was perhaps the most brilliant and absurd art event of the 20th century.The story is legend. Duchamp, wanting to submit an artwork to the “unjuried” Society of Independent Artists’ salon in New York—which claimed that they would accept any work of art, so long as the artist paid the application fee—presented an upside-down urinal signed and dated with the appellation “R. Mutt, 1917,” and titled Fountain. The Society’s board, faced with what must have seemed like a practical joke from an anonymous artist, rejected Fountain on the grounds that it was not a true work of art. Duchamp, who was a member of that board himself, resigned in protest.Is it really art?Artists and intellectuals surfaced on both sides of the issue, with perhaps the clearest explanation of Fountain’s importance coming from an anonymous editorial believed to be written by the artist Beatrice Wood.It read: “Whether Mr Mutt with his own hands made the fountain or not has no importance. He CHOSE it. He took an ordinary article of life, placed it so that its useful significance disappeared under the new title and point of view—created a new thought for that object.”  Wood, who had followed Duchamp’s work closely, recognized the groundbreaking power of the work. And Duchamp had for years championed the use of “readymades”—existing objects taken from real life and modified or re-contextualized to function as works of art. The idea at hand, of art primarily as a conceptrather than an object, is what would make Fountain arguably the most intellectually captivating and challenging art piece of the 20th century.What is a work of art? Who gets to decide, the artist or the critic? Can a work derive from an idea alone, or does it require the hand of a maker? These questions strike at the core of our understanding of art itself.Over the past century, Duchamp’s Fountain has spawned myriad offspring and fueled numerous debates: How was the work conceived? What did the artist intend?
There are even theories about whether Duchamp came up with the work at all—one account has him attributing the work to a female friend who sent him the urinal under the male pseudonym “R. Mutt,” which he then signed on it. Similarly, his famous quip that the only works of art America had contributed to the world were “her plumbing and her bridges” has been tentatively restored to its true author: our erstwhile Duchamp defender Beatrice Wood.But to try and establish the true authorship of the Fountain is exactly the kind of quixotic undertaking that would have had Duchamp in stitches. Let’s take a moment to recall that Monsieur Duchamp took a urinal, turned it upside down, signed it “R. Mutt,” and submitted it to a salon; the pursuit of truth was decidedly not his quest.Rather, the unanswered questions that Fountain provoked are precisely what contributed to its conceptual underpinnings and its enduring (and confounding) legacy.Contemporary artists riff on DuchampAmong the contemporary artists that have explored these questions by riffing on Duchamp’s work is Mike Bidlo, with his Fractured Fountain (Not Duchamp Fountain 1917) (2015). Made as an edition of eight works that directly reference Duchamp’s “original,” the work provides a perfect e[...]