Browsing articles in "Events"

Seekers: A Bicoastal/Mediated Performance

May 6, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog, Events  //  Comments Off on Seekers: A Bicoastal/Mediated Performance

Photo by A. Hasler for Boston Cyberarts


On Saturday, April 30th Boston Cyberarts Central hosted “Seekers: A Mediated Performance” in the atrium at Atlantic Wharf. Directed by Alissa Cardone and Alla Kovgan, the performance featured both live dancers and recorded video of dancers in a studio in Los Angeles. Each of the eight dancers improvised his or her dance as a “persona”, which each dancer created based on responses to the questions used at popular dating websites in the creation an online profile. The improvisational score that resulted explored the separation between online and real-world personas, and seeks to answer Kovgan’s question, “Can you actually create the essence of a person from these profiles online?”

For the performance, four dancers (Alissa Cardone, Olivier Besson, Zack Fuller, and Asimina Chremos) appeared on four separate dance floors set up side-by-side. Above each dance floor a flat-screen monitor showed a video of another dancer, who improvised his or her contribution in a studio in Los Angeles. The final improvised performance for the Cyberarts Festival relied heavily on interaction with both the other dancers present in the atrium and the recorded dances. In a question and answer session that followed, the director and the dancers shared the method they employed to create the final performance. Notably, the dancers played an integral role in the creative process, as each responded to the questions from the online dating sites with images and musical suggestions for the playlist that accompanied the performance.

Originally the organizers had intended to show a live feed of the Los Angeles-based dancers’ performance, but opted to use pre-recorded video because the technology necessary for a live feed remains either prohibitively expensive or provides a video of insufficient quality. Additionally, the dancers and director noted that the performance would have had a remarkably different tone if the video of the dancers in Los Angeles appeared on larger screens than the monitors available in the atrium. Ultimately, it seems that while technology has had a major influence on the imagination of those who plan and create performance art (especially as it regards spanning long distances, as in the case of “Seekers”), the realities of the use of technology in performance remain elusive to those artists and directors.

For more on Boston Cyberarts, visit their festival website.

Written for the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival. For more from Adam Hasler, visit adamhasler.com.

April 30th – Trace with Me

May 2, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog, Events  //  Comments Off on April 30th – Trace with Me

TRACE WITH ME :: An Audience Participatory Performance

On Saturday April 30th, a friend and I visited Zsuzsanna V. Szegedi’s installation “Trace with Me :: An Audience Participatory Performance,” part of the larger Boston CyberArts Festival, at the SubSamson gallery in the South End.

In this exhibit, Zsuzsanna wanted to explore the idea of tracing a piece of art and then allowing others to attempt to re-create the piece with trace paper.  To trace the work, Zsuzsanna recorded her movements and then used glowing dots to mimic the movement of her hands.  The glowing dots were projected onto trace paper, allowing participants to follow the dots and recreate the image.

In the end, we saw many different images in our drawing, and in the process of creating, we saw first hand the role interpretation plays in the viewing and understanding of art.  The fact that we used different colors and shading techniques took our piece in an entirely different direction.

Even though I’m curious to know what Zsuzsanna’s original piece was, I don’t think it matters.  We created meaning for ourselves in this process, and perhaps this is what she had in mind.

Written for the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival; read more by Cristy at http://bostonurbansafari.blogspot.com/2011/05/safari-28-boston-cyberarts-festival.html

Greg Sholette, Dark Matter, and “Art on the Waterways”

May 1, 2011   //   by van Gelder   //   Blog, Events  //  Comments Off on Greg Sholette, Dark Matter, and “Art on the Waterways”

The Boston Cyberarts Festival’s patrons joined UMass-Boston Assistant Professor of Art Cat Mazza and her digital media class on April 22nd for a lecture by New York-based artist and art instructor Greg Sholette. Sholette, writer most recently of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture, spoke on tactical media and the historical antecedents to today’s public art interventions. In a unique twist to the usual educational setting, Sholette delivered the lecture in the main cabin of a 64-foot boat while it cruised Boston Harbor. The cruise and lecture highlighted Spectacle Island, currently part of the Harbor Islands park system and the setting for one of Sholette’s favorite works of literary cyberpunk and dystopia, Zodiac by Neal Stephenson. The ship ended its trip at the Institute for Contemporary Art, where passengers could disembark and continue on to other Cyberarts Festival events.

Early on in his lecture, Sholette endeavored to define some of the parameters for the genre and artistic movement in which he has participated since the beginning of his career in the early 1980’s. In terms of content, tactical media tends to take the form of institutional critique, both in reference to social issues and politics or the art world itself. Many of the artists that Sholette offered as exemplars of the movement favor what Sholette and other critiques refer to as interventionist or tactical practices to communicate their ideas. This includes groups like the Yes Men, who have received significant mainstream media attention for their performances and media interventions mimicking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Chevron. Sholette noted many of the major differences between traditional art practices and the form of political or social art on which he focuses in his attempt to better define the practice. Most notably, he drew a blurry boundary between the art work and “real life” for those engaged in tactical media works, and he identified a fairly clear distinction between lasting materials, objects, or artifacts and the tendency of tactical media (in addition to other types of art like installation or performance) toward a more temporary or ephemeral result.

“One thing about tactical media,” Sholette remarked, “you’re never sure if it’s going to last.”

Sholette demonstrated the wealth of knowledge on tactical media he has acquired through both his own art practice and his career as a researcher, writer, editor, and art instructor as he moved from an introduction of tactical media and political art to a narrative history of the genre’s foundations. He told stories and showed images of the work of the Russian constructivists, the term critics and historians associate mostly with the Russian art and architecture that came, at least indirectly, out of the Bolshevik revolution and in the early years of the Soviet Union. Le Tatlin, Rochenko, Klucis, and Maykovsky remain the most well known of this movement, and Sholette suggested that during the period in which these artists work, observers can see the formation of a new attitude and definition of art. These individuals made “work for everyday people”, and, as Scholette articulated, had an idea of art “as something with a presence in the day-to-day world.”

More recently, artists who work in a similar vein have taken on the issues of today, such as economic marginalization, through either globalization or ineffective distribution of resources and creativity, militarism and hyper-consumerism. With regards to the latter theme, Sholette held up Reverend Billy & the Church of Life After Shopping and Spain’s Yomango. He noted the Lower Manhattan Sign Project, a project on which he worked, as an example of tactical media’s strategy to represent itself as a part of or participant in the real world, but reveal upon more close inspection a critical message. His most recent project, the Institute for Wishful Thinking, provides a platform for “self-declared Artists in Residence of the US Government”, and invites artists and designers to join the process of solving pressing social problems.

For more on Boston Cyberarts, visit their festival website. For more on Greg Sholette’s work, visit his website, and the online home of Dark Matter.

The Boston Cyberarts Festival’s patrons joined UMass-Boston Assistant Professor of Art Cat Mazza and her digital media class on April 22nd for a lecture by New York-based artist and art instructor Greg Sholette. Sholette, writer most recently of Dark Matter: Art and Politics in the Age of Enterprise Culture, spoke on tactical media and the historical antecedents to today’s public art interventions. In a unique twist to the usual educational setting, Sholette delivered the lecture in the main cabin of a 64-foot boat while it cruised Boston Harbor. The cruise and lecture highlighted Spectacle Island, currently part of the Harbor Islands park system and the setting for one of Sholette’s favorite works of literary cyberpunk and dystopia, Zodiac by Neal Stephenson. The ship ended its trip at the Institute for Contemporary Art, where passengers could disembark and continue on to other Cyberarts Festival events.

Early on in his lecture, Sholette endeavored to define some of the parameters for the genre and artistic movement in which he has participated since the beginning of his career in the early 1980’s. In terms of content, tactical media tends to take the form of institutional critique, both in reference to social issues and politics or the art world itself. Many of the artists that Sholette offered as exemplars of the movement favor what Sholette and other critiques refer to as interventionist or tactical practices to communicate their ideas. This includes groups like the Yes Men, who have received significant mainstream media attention for their performances and media interventions mimicking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and Chevron. Sholette noted many of the major differences between traditional art practices and the form of political or social art on which he focuses in his attempt to better define the practice. Most notably, he drew a blurry boundary between the art work and “real life” for those engaged in tactical media works, and he identified a fairly clear distinction between lasting materials, objects, or artifacts and the tendency of tactical media (in addition to other types of art like installation or performance) toward a more temporary or ephemeral result.

“One thing about tactical media,” Sholette remarked, “you’re never sure if it’s going to last.”

Sholette demonstrated the wealth of knowledge on tactical media he has acquired through both his own art practice and his career as a researcher, writer, editor, and art instructor as he moved from an introduction of tactical media and political art to a narrative history of the genre’s foundations. He told stories and showed images of the work of the Russian constructivists, the term critics and historians associate mostly with the Russian art and architecture that came, at least indirectly, out of the Bolshevik revolution and in the early years of the Soviet Union. Le Tatlin, Rochenko, Klucis, and Maykovsky remain the most well known of this movement, and Sholette suggested that during the period in which these artists work, observers can see the formation of a new attitude and definition of art. These individuals made “work for everyday people”, and, as Scholette articulated, had an idea of art “as something with a presence in the day-to-day world.”

More recently, artists who work in a similar vein have taken on the issues of today, such as economic marginalization, through either globalization or ineffective distribution of resources and creativity, militarism and hyper-consumerism. With regards to the latter theme, Sholette held up Reverend Billy & the Church of Life After Shopping and Spain’s Yomango. He noted the Lower Manhattan Sign Project, a project on which he worked, as an example of tactical media’s strategy to represent itself as a part of or participant in the real world, but reveal upon more close inspection a critical message. His most recent project, the Institute for Wishful Thinking, provides a platform for “self-declared Artists in Residence of the US Government”, and invites artists and designers to join the process of solving pressing social problems.

For more on Boston Cyberarts, visit their festival website. For more on Greg Sholette’s work, visit his website, and the online home of Dark Matter.

Written for the 2011 Boston Cyberarts Festival; for more about Adam Hasler visit his site, adamhasler.com.

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.

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