Browsing articles from "April, 2011"

Record > Again! 40 years of video art in Germany, Part 2

Apr 30, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog, Events  //  Comments Off on Record > Again! 40 years of video art in Germany, Part 2

Record > Again! 40 years of video art in Germany, Part 2 is an exhibition and symposium covering the second installment of a large collection of newly restored German video works made since 1969. The first installment of this project was exhibited by the Goethe Institute, Boston five years ago and was focused on the chronology of the works included. Part two contains the videos that were either more difficult to restore or didn’t fit into the curatorial vision of the first exhibition. Don’t let that mislead you, though– if the first exhibition was “better,” then I really need to find a copy as soon as possible, as part 2 is filled with compelling artworks that have had very few viewings anywhere.

The symposium was convened on Thursday night with local academic all-stars Gregory Williams (Boston University), Judith Barry (Art Institute Boston), Joseph D. Ketner (Emerson), and Ute Meta Bauer (MIT). Each tackled these 40+ works in a different manner.

Gregory Williams started the night attempting to place the works into a context, curating a small group of works that fought against their being pigeonholed by their German origins and focused on video’s ability as recording device, locking ephemeral moments into a permanent state. Works like Ulrich Rückriem’s 1971 video 1. Teilungen 2. Kreise  3. Diagonalen (1. Divisions 2. Circles 3. Diagonals), arise out of Ruckriem’s work as a sculptor. Recorded with little editing or manipulation the video matches his task driven actions which follow the most basic rules of sculpture: perform an activity on a three dimensional object. Williams also discussed the affect that Joseph Bueys had on German politics and artistry by exploring the complicated relationships in two of his videos: first, his 1972 boxing match with one of his students during Documenta 5, and second, a video created by Michael Bielicky and Ricardo Peredo when they found out that his Fat Corner sculpture had been destroyed by accident around 1986.

Judith Barry then followed up Williams by exploring the thesis that video of the 70’s had a relationship to both performative and sculptural practice. Investigating the work of Nan Hoover in depth, she discussed how Hoover’s Movements in Light (1975/6) attempts to differentiate video and television practices with anti-theatricality and sculptural minimalism using just a hand, a camera, and subtle motion as drawing tools. Her sketches came from the era’s general interest in phenomenology. The space and light movement from California also helped guide her productions during this era. Hoover’s goal was to produce space that was inhabitable by the viewer and to unfold the space available to the artist with a formal process. In her videos she explored the technical limits of the camera and the edges and spatial information that eventually led her to produce installations in the 1980’s.

Barry followed up her exploration of Hoover’s work by drawing similarities with other artists in the exhibition. Wolfgang Stoerchle’s 1972 Untitled (Lamp Performance) used just a camera, a flashlight, and an empty room to create dynamic flowing spatial movements that contained no actual motion. These minute formal changes messed with the camera’s ability to see and produced an involuntary motion on screen, all without computers or editing. These explorations came about during an era where time in an editing suite was expensive. One fluid take was what was necessary as well as what was practical.

After a brief break, Joseph D. Ketner explored in depth the separation between television and video methods by looking at work outside of this exhibition. As the television becomes the central altar in the home, video artists tried to contradict the elevated status by formally attacking the television set and the strategies that broadcasters used in their daily programing. Starting in 1963, the same year that Germany gets more than one television station, you find Wolf Vostell and Gunther Uecker producing sculptures that minimized the television’s importance and even used them like pin cushions, driving numerous nails into a television set. At Boston’s WGBH, Aldo Tambellini, an Italian artist who worked with the German Otto Piene, famously said “Television is not an object, it’s a live communication media. Black Spiral brings you live information. One day we will look at nature as the floating astronauts do in a spiral or circular form where no up or down or gravity exists.” This radical definition of video as a delivery device that we should actively resist formed a working method that is best presented in Jochen Hiltmann’s 1972 video Für Künstler (For artists). In this work, Hiltmann produces a fake television show and broadcast announcer that introduces a fictitious work titled What are you Doing Now? He walks around in the space that the camera can see, banging on the envelope of space that has enclosed around him. He is stuck inside the camera’s space, and says, “You simply cannot get out.

Ute Meta Bauer’s exploration of this collection revolved around her direct experience at German art schools where the artists in this collection were teaching. Though she knew many of these artists personally, there was no public awareness of their video works. Access was impossible, and the original tapes were heavily guarded. The artists had no screenings and made no attempt to have their works distributed widely. The technological limits of tape length and the types of visual decay that arises from duplication also forced some of these works to be considered unfinished or imperfect until these editions were produced for the exhibition. Gerry Schum’s 1972 interview at Documenta is a good example of the lack of access. When Schum produced Land Art and then TV Gallery in approximately 1970, the model of production was based around the artist’s fee versus a model of object for sale. Each work was produced by block grant instead of selling multiples of the finished product. The Documenta interview was one of the only given by Schum, and was produced with no concern for selling copies of it to recoup the production costs.

The symposium was a significant introduction to the hidden treasures in the second part of Record > Again! at the Goethe Institute. The time available to see this exhibition is unfortunately brief, but should be on every festival goers list.

Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens

Apr 24, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens

Photograph courtesy of the artist / David Zwirner, New York. Paradox of Praxis, still from Paradox of Praxis 1, 1997, video, 5 minutes

Expecting to encounter sculpture in an exhibition titled Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens, is expecting to be disappointed. When hearing the word sculpture, it is safe to assume that most of us immediately become concern with the technical and aesthetic qualities that are traditionally associated with sculpture. We question whether the sculpture is additive or subtractive, or whether it forms part of a building or it’s a relief panel. In the Francis Alÿs exhibition at the Davis Museum, a viewer’s notion of what sculpture is or should be, is challenged by both the artist and curator.

Born in 1959 in Antwerp, Belgium and having studied architecture and urbanism in Europe before settling in Mexico City’s historic quarters, Francis Alÿs’ work deal with the surrounding physical and social tensions of this dense Latin American city. There are no sculptures to be found in this exhibition at the Davis Museum or in the artist’s body of work, instead a viewer finds works consisting of performances and their video documentation, works; that capture the “moment” where the beginnings of sculpture are articulated.

In the video Paradox of Praxis 1 (Sometimes Doing Something Leads to Nothing), 1997 documents over eight hours edited to five minutes of Alÿs pushing an enormous block of ice around Mexico City, leaving only a small puddle at the end of the day. Paradox of Praxis 1 creates a three dimensional, sculpture like experience by documenting the action of pushing a block of ice. Throughout the performance, Alÿs casts shadows in his path and “pushes sculpture to transparent limits, finally consummated in the imagination.”[1]

Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens features videos, slide projections, drawings and the recently acquired The Sign Painters Series Cityscape, a triptych depicting an urban scene stripped away from any recognizable landmarks. The exhibition primarily takes place in one small gallery with videos and slides projected on three walls. In addition to these, 15 drawings on vellum and 2 color transparencies of the historic quarters are displayed on a light table.

The exhibition at the Davis Museum marks the artist’s first solo exhibition in the New England region and anticipates a major career retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City this May. Francis Alÿs: The Moment Where Sculpture Happens is on view at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College until June 5th, 2011.

Written for the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival; read more by Anulfo Baez at The Evolving Critic.

[1] Lorna Scott Fox, “Where Sculpture Happens” in Francis Alys: A Story of Deception (London, Tate Modern) 196.

Brian Kane: Free WiFi at the Cambridge Arts Council

Apr 23, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Brian Kane: Free WiFi at the Cambridge Arts Council

Free WiFi at the Cambridge Arts Council. Photo by A. Hasler

Brain Kane’s Free WiFi, now on view at the Cambridge Arts Council’s gallery space, brings familiar internet iconography and design into the real world with a floor-to-ceiling replica of the Google Maps pointer. The piece represents the third item in Kane’s series, the “Real Reality Project,” which seeks to replicate in three dimensions the objects from virtual or augmented reality. Free WiFi appears at the Cambridge Arts Council through May 13th as a collaboration with the Boston Cyberarts Festival, which will sponsor events from April 22nd-May 8th.

Kane constructed the piece out of vinyl, and a pump housed inside inflates the pointer to give it its characteristic shape. Suspended from the ceiling, the pointer bears a surprising likeness to its functional and now ubiquitous online parent. In a phone interview, Kane suggested that this version of Free WiFi may serve as a proof-of-concept for a later iteration made from a more permanent material like stone. Kane has already used stone in other works, most notably a granite iPhone.

“The Cyberarts Festival features a lot of tech-based exhibits, and this project extracts the language of these and makes something real out of it,” C.A.C. Public Art Administrator Jeremy Gaucher said. Read more >>

Drawing With Code at the deCordova

Apr 21, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Drawing With Code at the deCordova

The deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum is, up until April 24th (go this weekend!), home to the installation Drawing With Code: Works from the Anne and Michael Spalter Collection.  This exhibit, comprised of works borrowed from the Spalters’ extensive collection in Providence, displays works in various mediums, from the 1950s to the present, that all share a common element: they were created through the use of technology, frequently by employing original algorithms and letting them work their artistic magic.  You can find out more about the exhibit, the artists involved, and the deCordova itself here.

As is always the case, each individual will have their own connection and find their own meaning in the pieces of this collection.  What struck me on my first pass through (I recommend walking through the whole collection at least twice) was how ordinary much of it seemed.  While some of the pieces (those of Jean-Pierre Hébert in particular) are quite capable of inspiring awe, much of them resemble things we see everyday now, including some of the animations, which are eerily reminiscent of the outcome of a winning game of solitaire on a Windows computer.

Where the setup of this collection really shines, though, is in providing context to the pieces.  When you walk into the exhibition space, be sure to thoroughly read the provided explanation (pictured above).  While that explanation in and of itself gives great context to the pieces, you’ll also find a phone number in there that you can call to be provided with insight and analysis on various works.  As you walk around the collection, you punch in the code for a particular work and you can hear either the curator or the artist themselves discussing the state of art, the state of technology, and the state of society when these works were produced, as well as explanations of the technology involved and the artistic choices made. Read more >>

The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini

Apr 18, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini

Aldo Tambellini, Black is, 1965 still from 16mm digitized film

During the sixties and much of the seventies, people lived in a world that changed rapidly in a short amount of time. The politically awkward climate of the era was heightened by the assassinations of Robert and John F. Kennedy, Martin Luther King, Jr., the resignation of Richard Nixon, the Vietnam War, the fight for civil rights and other political and social conflicts. These forces ignited the creative spirit of American artists who further explored the turbulence of the times through the art that was being produced.

For those of a younger generation, it is through the New Hollywood and Experimental films made during the sixties and seventies that the struggles, turmoil and recreational pleasures of the times are experienced and shared. The Black Films of Aldo Tambellini at Emerson College transport the viewer into a world where the villain was larger than a person, or a thing, it was an ideological villain that shaped the lives of every American citizen.


Nathalie Miebach: In her own words

Apr 14, 2011   //   by Boston Cyberarts   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Nathalie Miebach: In her own words

Nathalie Miebach in her studio

Nathalie Miebach’s site-specific installation “Changing Waters” is on view at Fuller Craft Museum through September 25.

“Changing Waters” uses weather and marine data to drive the design of the work.  Can you explain a bit about how your process works?

“Changing Waters” looks at the ecological interactions between weather systems and marine environments. I collect atmospheric and marine data from buoys within the Gulf of Maine, as well as weather stations along the coast. The data are translated through two main elements: a large wall installation that plots information through the geographic anchors of a map of the Gulf of Maine, and a series of large hanging structures that look at more specific biological, chemical or geophysical relationships between marine ecosystems and weather patterns.

In working with the data, I become a sort of detective;  I look for patterns, inconsistencies, cause-and-effect behaviors that suggest linkages between variables.  I stare at these stacks of graphs, numbers and diagrams to find something worth investigating further.  Numbers function a bit like Lego pieces, in that I assign each value a physicality that gets integrated into the basket. I never change the value of the numbers to conform to some sort of aesthetic preference. This allows the sculptures to exist both as sculptures in space, but also as actual devices that could be used to read data from a specific environment.


Looking Back to the Future

Apr 13, 2011   //   by Boston Cyberarts   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Looking Back to the Future

The Boston Cyberarts Festival has always tried to include the history of new media in it’s programming. While the goal of the Festival is to present the most cutting edge art of the day, it is important in any art form to also discuss the innovators who came before. Four exhibitions this year look back and examine art and artists who made significant advances in new media.

At the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Drawing from Code: Works from the Collection of Anne and Michael Spalter, is an exhibition of the earliest computer-generated art by the form’s most important practitioners from the 1950s to today. The Providence-based collection of Anne and Michael Spalter is one of the largest and most important of its kind in the U.S. and shines a new light onto a darkened corner of the art historical record. In addition to the prints, mostly plotter drawings, are early computer animations made by artists, Stan Van Der Beek and Lillian Schwartz at Bell Labs in the late 1960s. Up through April 24.

As part of a joint exhibition kinetic sculpture at the Axiom Center for New and Experimental Media and the MIT Museum, the MIT Museum is showing two of the most important works of early kinetic sculpture from their collection. “Cybernetic Sculpture #301” by Wen Ying Tsai

(1970) and “Electro-Magnetic I” by Greek artist, Takis (1962) are two works by early masters of sculpture that incorporate motion. Open through the entire Festival.

Video art was the first form of new media and artists in the U. S. and Germany were the first to embrace this early technological art form. MIT’s List Visual Arts Center presents the first United States museum survey of the work of Chilean-born video artist Juan Downey (1940-1993). Juan Downey: The Invisible Architect will feature a selection of key works by this under-recognized pioneer of video art. Downey, who came to New York from Chili in 1965, was one of the masters of early video art. He mixed autobiographical and anthropological elements to make densely layered works that examined his own multi-cultural background. Opens May 5.

The Goethe Institut’s RECORD > AGAIN! – – Part 2 concentrates on early German video art, including several rarely seen, re-discovered works. The Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie in Karlsruhe has put together this fascinating compilation of early work.  The Goethe Institut will present an evening of works curated experts in the Boston area with discussion of the importance of this art form. Part 1 of this series was featured at the Goethe Institut for the 2007 Boston Cyberarts Festival. Thursday April 28, 5-9pm.


Apr 3, 2011   //   by Karasic   //   Blog  //  Comments Off on Welcome

Welcome to the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival Blog!

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