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Subject:

Re: Big Media Art. March Theme of the Month

From:

Julie Lazar <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/

Date:

Sat, 3 Mar 2001 07:34:49 -0800

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (181 lines)

I'm sure you've seen this.

J.

6.

Date: 3.2.01
From: Marisa S. Olson ([log in to unmask])
Subject: Blast Off!--"01.01.01: Art in Technological Times" Opens at SFMOMA

Roughly two months after the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art's
ambitious Net exhibition of Website commissions went live, one minute
and one second into the first day of the first month of 2001, the three-
dimensional portion of their code-riddled show, "010101: Art in
Technological Times," (http://www.sfmoma.org/010101) is opening.

According to the museum's director, David Ross, "010101" is not intended
as a show of cybernetic art, but rather as one of work created in
response to life in the digital era. "This is not an exhibition of
previously well-received ideas," he says, "this is a collection of new
ideas in response to new technologies, new environments." Like the
mathematician to whom Ross chose to dedicate the show--Claude Shannon,
the virtual prophet who realized that all data could be converted into
zeros and ones, and who passed away less than a week before the show's
opening--artists from "010101" are figured as acute observers of the
digital age. By extension, their work constitutes experimental
reflections on the challenges of that age and on what Curator of
Architecture, Design, and Digital Projects, Aaron Betsky, calls "the
ugliness and beauty made possible by new technology."

While all 29 of the installations are impressively provocative, eight
stand out. Experiencing Janet Cardiff's 17-minute digital video "tour"
of the museum, "The Telephone Call" (2001), involves following a small
DV camcorder's images throughout the museum, while listening to the
artist's semi-fictional narrative soundtrack. Cardiff used a special
stereophonic recording device to capture haunting ambient sound so real
viewers may find themselves horrifically enchanted by their undefined
role in the piece. The viewer will be swept away by Cardiff's project to
"piece together the fragments of our memories, never knowing what's made
up and what's real."

Wandering the museum, visitors are sure to notice Sarah Sze's site-
specific installation, which cascades down three floors of SFMOMA's
trademark stairwell. Committing vernacular objects to sculptural form,
Sze's untitled piece is a beautiful assemblage of rope-bits, styrofoam
peanuts, scrap metal, and sponges which precariously spills out of an
auto-body carcass to collectively slither toward approaching ticket-
holders. More ramshackle than revolutionary, the sculpture employs
simple motorized fans and levers as if to playfully weigh the balance of
the digital urge.

Artist Chris Finley exemplifies remarks by John Webber, the museum's
Curator of Education & Public Programs, that the exhibition "is about
what it means to make something visual, today...regardless of whether
the artists are using pixels or paint." Finley literally paints
cyberspaces, translating on canvas what he's created on screen, using
basic imaging software. Absorbing the delicate blow of his "Goo Goo Pow
Wow" (2000-2001), one can't help but compare Finley's glossy palette to
that of British artist Gary Hume, while his crisp lines and sordid
geography uniquely resemble the paintings of Matthew Ritchie (himself
included in the web portion of "010101"). "Goo Goo Pow Wow" invites
viewers to enter an artificial space through the natural language of
paint.

Jeremy Blake paints with pixels, going so far as to frame active screens
like 2D canvasses. The super-sexy, ever-shifting collage imagery in his
day-glo "Guccinam" and "Liquid Villa" (both 2000) provides a nice
contrast to the work of Jochem Hendricks. Hendricks's "eye drawings"
look like frenetic scribblings but are, in fact, maps of the movements
of the artist's eyes in looking at various objects: a painting, light,
porn. While some pieces are truly mimetic, so that we can see the
columns of his newspaper or shape of his hand, others are entirely
abstract; all are available in newsprint for a "nominal price."

The eyes have it all over again in Yuan Goang-Ming's anxious
installation, which will bring out the chemistry nerd in anyone. Here, a
projector briefly shoots a video-portrait of a man at a membrane filled
with light-retracting phosphorous powder. Expertly timed, the membrane
retains the image after the projector is turned of and dissolves at the
moment that the man in the portrait screams.

If that doesn't "sound" like art, Chris Chafe and Greg Niemeyer's "Ping"
(2000-2001) will. With perhaps the most prototypically "new media"
installation, Chafe and Niemeyer record the aural, temporal, and quasi-
geographic patterns of data packet transfers, via the Web, specific to
individual Websites. A kiosk displaying URLs, which visitors can edit,
controls a patio surround-sound installation in which variable tones and
instruments convey the "pinged" spaces between networked computers.

Among all of the installations, Chafe/Niemeyer's and Char Davies's most
stand out in their embrace of high technology. "010101" presents two of
Davies's virtual reality pieces, "Osmose" (1995) and "Ephémère" (1998),
which feature both a classic brace-and-helmet VR experience and a
gallery installation in which viewers can watch simultaneously a
silhouette of the current navigator and a real-time display of what that
viewer is seeing. One participant said that the latter was actually more
enjoyable, since he could enjoy the virtual spaces on a larger scale,
without wearing a heavy helmet. Both "Osmose" and "Ephémère" take
viewers to painterly landscapes comprised of rocks, streams, trees,
bones, organs, tissue, and hair. These plotscapes have a hierarchical
structure, so that while viewers are always moving forward, from
beginning to end, in the space, they may move up and down through the
digistrata of "landscape, earth, and body" by breathing in and out.

If this is truly a show about "art in technological times," then the
history of stereography is worth recalling, here. As the "new" media of
the mid Nineteenth Century, the stereoscope gave photos a third
dimension, rendering the photograph "public art" by dissolving that
space between the viewer and the image dramatists call the "fourth
wall." Three decades prior to the opening of the amateur photo market,
families looked to stereocards for images of fantastic places to which
they could not afford to travel or otherwise experience.

The double-take of the stereograph implies a "now and then." If
Nineteenth Century stereocards broke down the fourth wall, contemporary
stereographic VR exhibits may be said to break down a fifth wall--the
boundary between what Asymptote architect Hani Rashid calls "1st
reality" (the living world) and virtual reality: a neuromantic place of
spatio-temporal redefinition wherein visitors are propelled by somatic
functions and distance is measured only by memory.

This redefinition could be a theme for the entire show. All of the above
and those pieces not mentioned here somehow engage the principle of
"ambient art" to which Media Arts Curator Benjamin Weil devotes his
"010101" catalogue essay. They surround us with sounds, visions,
textures, and scents that pervade our senses in their construction of a
hyperreal environment, until we're no longer sure even of the role of
the museum space.

http://www.sfmoma.org/010101
http://www.abbeymedia.com/Janweb/jan.htm
http://www.jochem-hendricks.de
http://ccrma-www.stanford.edu/~cc/
http://www.stanford.edu/dept/art/ar/bios/niemeyer.html
http://www.immersence.com
http://www.asymptote-architecure.com

-----Original Message-----
From: Curating digital art - www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/
[mailto:[log in to unmask]]On Behalf Of Sarah Cook
Sent: Saturday, March 03, 2001 3:35 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Big Media Art. March Theme of the Month


Hello to our ever-growing list,

I'd be interested to hear from anyone who attended the opening of SFMoMA's
exhibition 01010101 last night, as to the relationship between what's been
online since Jan 1 2001 and what's in the galleries. As Beryl has written,
the target audiences for new technology shows is one that, if hard to pin
down, is certainly interpreted differently by those constituencies within
the museum -
curators, marketers, education officers etc. Do you reckon they are
completely different shows with completely different participants? And do
the two parts of the exhibition further the conflicting stereotypes about
new media art? (Char Davies' VR installations being of the "hands-on" game
variety, and the web-based work being more about entertainment,
commercialism, hacking)?
An example of the lacuna within museums to market two parts of an
xhibition  -- one online, one in a gallery -- to the same degree was the
Let's Entertain exhibition at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis
(www.walkerart.org/va/letsentertain). Its web component, Art Entertainment
Network (aen.walkerart.org), was almost ignored by the original marketing
plan, and when the large
exhibition toured to other venues, although AEN was still online, it wasn't
included or remembered at the other venues as part of the tour.
Does anyone have suggestions as to how curators in a large institution can
work to overcome this divide in audiences and perceptions of new media work?

Sarah Cook

_________________________________________________________

Curatorial Resource for Upstart Media Bliss
http://www.newmedia.sunderland.ac.uk/crumb/

Co-Editors: Telephone: +44  191 515 2896
Beryl Graham: [log in to unmask]
Sarah Cook: [log in to unmask]

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