Archives for category: video art

Took a bus trip up to SUNY, NP,  from downtown NYC with many of the original members of this 60’s video collective. The trip up to New Paltz was animated and festive as Skip Blumberg a former freex-er, strolled the aisle welcoming old friends from the collective along with younger fans.  Bus monitors were ablaze with freex videos, and on-board noise cheerful with  introductions, stories and general hob-nobbing. EAI Executive Director Lori Zippay was aboard as was former MoMa curator Barbara London. Greeting us upon arrival the Samuel Dorsky Museum, was Andrew Ingall, Curator, who welcokmed  the group with  a wonderful spread; the Prosecco was flowing. A large community and distance traveling fan base turned out for the opening, and I bumped into videographer Kathy High (Associate Professor of Video Art & New Media at Rensselaer Polytechnic) and Paper Tiger’s Dee Dee Hallek.  Made the acquaintance of renowned theatrical  lighting designer Beverly Emmons (!) and another freexer, Davidson Gigliotti.  The  Museum did a great job of showing the video in the context of ephemera from that time, from photos of Maple Tree Farm, to events posters and news-media clippings. I was most impressed by footage of a performance taken on Prince street (late 60’s early 70’s) of naked artists being soaked in pigs blood dropped from above.

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Maria Lassnig
Illuminating was the work of Austrian painter Maria Lassnig at PS1, having just come from Coded After Lovelace at White Box Gallery on the LES. The dominant theme in Lassnig’s work are self-portraits, particularly her representation of ‘body as self’, in which the work -over time- presents her journey from abstract Euclidian form to her haunting painting style. In later work, inner psychological conflicts meet harsh external realities; creature-like heads merge with prosthetic artifices, conveying a low-grade horror, as do armless nudes, echoing the Thalidomide crisis of the 50’s and 60’s, (a drug banned in the U.S. and Europe for causing birth defects). The work intimates a foreboding of advanced technology’s effects on the corporeal (female) experience as ‘self’ threatened or undermined by abstract, pernicious and uncontrollable paternal forces. Coded After Lovelace, a group show displays related aesthetic and ethical concerns expressed in a variety of guises, presented by seven artists who have been both forerunners in the use of art and technology as well as some of its most current and prolific practitioners. The show’s title references Augusta Ada King, Countess of Lovelace an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on Charles Babbage‘s early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Analytical Engin.LillianSchwartzAmongst this group of artists are significant pioneers whose explorations paved the way for the ubiquity with which media-generated art is currently embraced. Lillian Schwartz’s large projected videos show a variety of work created over a 40+ year time-span; the earliest of which show crude digital geometric animations that merge with bio-cellular structures speaking to a prescient ‘singularity’ writ large. Schwartz, an employee at Bell Labs for 30+ years was given rare access to a state-of-the-art lab to explore and collaborate in the use of digital imagery and sound. One can see the progression of improvement in both the technology as well as Schwartz’s understanding of possibilities and her own facility with it’s applications, particularly in the recent Tacit Expressions, an explosively lush, hypnotic, colorful graphic 3-D experience that speaks to the elegance of technology as a transcendent cosmic art form.
Arleen Schloss - A.E. Bla Bla Bla In a related manner Arleen Schloss, known for hosting 80’s performance/techno jams, shows documentation of her ambitious interdisciplinary opera for Ars Electronica Vienna in 1986, A.E. Blah, Blah, Blah. With a large collaborative cast, Schloss humorously plays with language, in her iconic use of the alphabet, and seeks high and low ground in this mixture of performance, video projection, and audio. The documentation of this work generates a kind of joyful dissonance out of abstract components at a time when technology’s fusion with performance was still a relative novelty.
Carla Gannis -Non-Facial Recognition Project claudia-hart-caress
Of a younger generation Carla Gannis’s recent video Non-Facial Recognition Project uses uploaded selfies from the artist’s Facebook newsfeed. In this constantly shifting piece, faces are segmented, stretched, and extruded, morphing seamlessly to reveal hidden biologies as well as collaged masks of variants on bling-y celebrity-style personae. In a related manner, Claudia Hart’s Caress shows a white computer-generated reclining female figure segmented into thirds and echoing classical forms of ancient Greco-Roman and late 19th century statues; the idealized mythic female form now a ghostly robotized image subtly sweeping her arm across a smooth plasticized body. In both of these, animated excesses contrast and compliment the static horror of Lassnig’s paintings; it feels part of a grounded late 20th and early 21st century continuum stretching back to Warhol.

Coursing though these and other works in ‘Coded’ are themes that pose concerns relevant to the philosophical underpinnings of our technologically advanced society; whether such resources are our tools, or are the multitudes, being subtly converted into ‘tools’ at the behest of larger unseen forces, is the world we now negotiate.

Video still: Adam Douglas Thompson

Adam Douglas Thompson @ NurtureART
In the current Videorover show at NurtureArt, Adam Douglas Thompson’s projected scrim of a white-cube gallery space is relentlessly reconstituted; its space regularly being re-made with invented digital ‘shows’. Each one of Thompson’s doll-house-like concoctions is convincingly placed within this circumscribed digital context; and within minutes and (often seconds) the scene is washed over for the flavor-of-the-moment art idea or series that comes next. There are groups of paintings, sculptural objects, and installations; each group a thoughtful show in itself, lightly referencing the ‘canon’ yet neatly – and perversely (through the wonders AfterEffects) swept away, and replaced with another visual idea. It’s both compelling and unsettling as the constant stream of change (like the seasons in a gallerist’s space) and the more ubiquitous media landscape, perpetually engages, confuses, and entertains in offering up the latest possibility.

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Susanne Hofer/ Light Bulb Magic @ Fresh Window
In entering the Fresh Window Gallery of Susanne Hofer’s show, I see lit on the floor, of a darkened room, a pile of empty oddly arranged boxes, cartons, cleaning materials, and the flotsam of office and carpentry ‘stuff’. “Oh no.” I think; a Sarah Sze wannbe? I linger a bit longer looking down at the stuff and then -in hanging with the crowd who face an opposing wall- I notice that the stuff casts a shadow on a projected (video) scene which – it turns out- is a setting sun. This shadow of stuff, is resurrected as an invented cityscape casting a dark skyline against the fading day. Another deceptively simple piece is a peephole several inches wide in the wall. Looking through it you see a vast scene on a reduced scale of New York Harbor at work. The pleasure of these pieces is in the trick of expectation; being disappointed, then fooled and delighted in finding the sublime plumed from the commonplace and disposable of the everyday.

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BEFORE traverses physical and psychological manifestations of power and memory through late-capitalisms’ fault lines. With a weighty catalogue forward by curator, Niels Van Tomme, this short-run MFA thesis show at the Kitchen presents fresh takes on 21’st century anxieties from a diverse group of Parson’s grads.

Among the most intriguing is Alona Weiss’s Negative Space, a performative video in which the artist uses herself in varying poses and movements that either align with or play against, her projected drawings of buildings and statues. These cartoonish images are sketches of Israeli monuments and memorials commemorating a plethora of tragic events most occurring before Weiss’ s birth. In using herself as a stand-in for a younger generation’s interface with these sculptural tributes, this work calls attention to the fleeting nature of memory and meaning in the public sphere.

In another work, Extract, David Connolly’s podium teleprompter ­- the type used for speeches-given by government and corporate officials- shows cascading text projected on its glass plate; revealing the disquieting aspects of how instruments of public communication are often used to distort and undermine those it portends to serve.

These are just two of BEFORE’s 16 artists, who utilize subtle as well as provocative strategies for merging meaning with cultural critique. This is a show that arouses a viewer’s curiosity, making it well worth a visit.

Charlemagne_ Palestine

I met Charlemagne Palestine after attending his book signing at Electric Arts Intermix in December and went to his opening a few days later at Sonnabend. It was nice that we had mutual friends and even better that his process intersects with my own vis-a vis a personal bodily engagement. A trio of video installations: Ritual Dans La Vide, Motions x 24 and Cemetery Trio, blend lo-tech, fleeting imagery with bellowing sonic rants and architectural meanderings. I was drawn into his winsome world of empty rooms, resting places (cemeteries) and rides (Coney Island’s Cyclone). The technical equipment made friendly with his fetish-y objects and fabric, it’s a go-to; worth the effort before the show closes Feb 1. He’s performance history and it’s the real deal.

Köken Ergun, Ashura, Protocinema

Through December 14, 2013 @ Westbeth Building (Basement)

55 Bethune St.at Washington St., New York. NY

Hours: 12:00 – 6:00 PM, Wednesdays – Saturdays

Protocinema

Former Chelsea gallerist and 2011 Protocinema founder/director Mari Spirito, creates pop-up spaces in New York and Istanbul to host site-sensitive works of emerging and established artists. The most recent, Ashura, a four channel installation by Turkish artist Köken Ergun is installed in a stripped down basement that mimics the site in Istanbul, where the actual ritual occurs. The reenactment by Shi’a devotees is of the martyrdom of Imam Hussein –grandson of prophet Muhammad, and central figure in Shi’a religion.   In Ashura, Ergun provides the viewer an intimate look at both the dramatic and humble elements that this sacred ritual encompasses within a cultural tradition that maintains its autonomy within the majority Sunni population of Turkey. Challenged by a level of piety, and its attendant focus, on display–men crying during the recitation of the martyr narrative–  I initially found it difficult to fathom likening the performance to a Passion Play. Yet it is this visible devotion, and its bodily surrender as well as its necessity to the participants as cultural glue within their group, which holds the viewer captive on the vast prayer rug; possibly the same rug in the video where the ritual is performed. Since 9/11, Islamic images of devotion and its differences from the Judeo-Christian tradition- have forged their way into Western consciousness giving rise to introspection regarding the nature and place of religious fervor and faith. On a deeper level that which cannot be fully measured or quantified, forces secularists to question what ultimately gives meaning to our lives in lieu of ever more fleeting notions of sanctity and stability.