Thanks, Johannes! I had meant to chime in earlier regarding the VR discussion (more on that below) but am happy to talk a bit more about Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965 - 2018, which I co-curated with the Whitney's head of conservation, Carol Mancusi-Ungaro -- who oversaw the conservation of Paik's Fin de Siecle, which you mention in your message -- and curatorial assistant Clemence White. The Programmed website — https://www.whitney.org/Exhibitions/Programmed -- features a lot of material, including all the exhibition texts and several videos; if you scroll through them you find one on the conservation of the Paik piece, which took 5 years to restore.
Programmed was entirely drawn from the Whitney's collection, and I had wanted to curate a collection exhibition on the histories of digital art for a long time. That being said, the exhibition was driven by the fact that we live in a world that increasingly is algorithmically coded — from our conversations with our smart devices to our financial markets — and it seems important to look at the aesthetic and social impact of these codes and the ways in which they construct materialities. What kind of programs do we create to express ourselves or govern the world we live in? The exhibition links two strands of artistic exploration: the first examines the program as instructions, rules, and algorithms with a focus on conceptual art practices and their emphasis on ideas as the driving force behind the art; the second strand engages with the use of instructions and algorithms to manipulate the TV program, its apparatus, and signals or image sequences.
Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018 | Whitney Museum of American Art<https://www.whitney.org/Exhibitions/Programmed>
Apart from being the adjunct curator of digital art at the Whitney, I'm also the director and chief curator of the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center, which is the umbrella name of the two galleries at The New School. This spring we featured a VR show curated by Tina Sauerländer, Peggy Schoenegge, and Erandy Vergara and titled Speculative Cultures -- A Virtual Reality Exhibition:
photo and video documentation: http://www.peertospace.eu/#/speculative-cultures/ <http://www.peertospace.eu/#/speculative-cultures/>
All the works were shown as installations and as you can see in the documentation, all (except for one) incorporated screens and projections that showed the audience not using the piece what the person viewing and interacting was experiencing. Only at the opening did we have a sign-up sheet and dedicated attendants for each piece who would keep the lines flowing. The viewing experience overall seemed to work very well. Needless to say, the industry is putting a lot of effort into the development of multi-user VR worlds right now. Whether an artwork should be single- or multi-user is of course a choice that is dependent on the respective work's concept and intent.
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of Johannes Birringer (Staff) <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, July 2, 2019 11:17:10 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: curating VR Art then and now
perhaps the discussion on VR ended a few days ago, but I had a small lingering question for Adinda or others in our forum here; it came to my mind after reading Simon Poulter's humorous reference to Toy Stories, and his comment that:
It’s perfectly okay to me that thousands of people drift through a large scale ‘immersive’ production, but then the same would be true if it was a handful of people dressed in black. Inevitably we might witness much more porous processes of devising and making where installation, storification, live music and theatre are co-authored in technological environments.
I’m less interested myself in being surrounded by sharks underwater or standing in a multi-coloured forest...
His not necessarily craving to stand in multi-colored forest made me pause, as we had talked about scale and immersion, yes, and about facilitating/curating VR (single experience in a booth, interaction, larger space AR and VE, dance and VR etc), and about a few other issues, but rarely did we mention or hear a more detailed critical response to the content and aesthetics of the actual works at VRHAM! (the first international Virtual Reality & Arts festival). Adinda, I don't think you mentioned anything about why one would curate these works and what kind of forms and subjects they transmitted?
I came across a review article in PAJ about "Posthuman Visions" (by Sarah Lucie), and it mentions "Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art, 1965–2018" [exhibition at Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, September 28, 2018–May 14, 2019], which I believed was co-curated by Christiane Paul, and the critical response is interesting as it looks at software and algorithms (as new forms to create with) but keeps in mind the notion of a "choreographing" of materialities and concepts, trees and toys (linking, say the current VR art that we discussed here, to older conceptual and media art forms that used ready-made video-content/graphics or loops or this or that imaginary, anticipating a posthuman trend in the current cybertyping, algorithmic and AI discussions - and how "human' is defined or how the binary divisions between human and non-human are retooled, how the elemental and the animic are dislocated/relocated.... Christiana perhaps you might tell a little about what drove "Programmed" .. (I was touched to see the old Nam June Paik "Fin de Siècle" photo pop up. I remember seeing the installtion in '89, and writing about it in '98, and then I forgot about it..... Did you re-stage it?
From: Curating digital art - www.crumbweb.org<http://www.crumbweb.org> <[log in to unmask]> on behalf of adinda van 't klooster <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: 26 June 2019 09:21
Thanks for all the well thought out responses. I just wanted to respond to a few things. The VR exhibition inside exhibition at VRHAM wasn't an example of where others are watching you as you have the VR experience: nobody was watching as they controlled it so that only the person experiencing the piece is in the VR booth. There were twelve separate VR booths, all lined up in a sort of square formation. And there were a few attendants sorting out technical issues if they came up. This avoided situations where people get stuck and walk away in frustration. But yes, the issue of having to queue up in from of an IPAD was alienating and frustrating, in particular as it hadn't been made clear from the start.
I am often bemused when people dismiss VR because it being in essence a solitary experience. First of all so is reading and it is exactly the fact that this is a solitary experience that allows you to visually create your own world from reading a book. I think solitary experiences are just as valid as shared experiences, as we can still talk about the experience with others afterwards if we want to share it. I am however also very interested in using VR for shared experiences, and in theatre and dance some interesting things have been created using VR. Marcel Karnapke was speaking at VRHAM about his work with the art collective CyberRäuber, and gave the example of some theatre performances they have developed for children, where magical worlds where they help the story are available through a VR headset. Only one person can see it at the time, but even this restricted access was making the children talk a lot to each other about what they had just experienced. Your kimosphere no. 4 sounds interesting as well, Johannes, and Simon's work with Hololens also sounds intriguing.
The issue of cable of wired headsets will soon be an issue of the past, especially with the Quest having come out now VIVE will have to do something similar. I think what I mostly noticed after doing a few VR experiences on a row was that the air quality in the exhibition booths was not great and I started to crave fresh air. Quite a few of the experiences were using nature as a starting point, even if this was then represented in a highly abstracted manner.
The issue of interaction is ofcourse an interesting one and I agree that the VR experience can be made quite rich quite quickly if interaction is used in an interesting way. Surprisingly from the twelve VR artworks in Hamburg only a couple were interactive, but I found myself quickly accepting less detailed graphics if I was allowed to interact with the work in an interesting way. Blowing into a circle was more interesting than smashing objects off a shelf though and navigating through a landscape can in its own already be quite tricky if you're not used to a gaming environment which I think was the case for a lot of the gallery visitors.
thanks again for all responses, you've given me some works to look up! best wishes, Adinda
Adinda van 't Klooster - Artist
Mobile: + 44-(0)7412-717737
home page Adinda van 't Klooster<http://www.adindavantklooster.com/>
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