Though I miss the Martians, I appreciate what’s taken its place; real-world initiatives – like Biosphere 2, NASA’s Rover- and creative efforts that give us a lively peek into the future of interplanetary habitation. Each weekend at The Boiler, The Menu for Mars Kitchen by Douglas Paulson and Heidi Neilson and chefs (a rotating cast of art-foodie futurists) concoct beverages, and assorted meals, all made from ingredients carefully chosen for space-travel duration. While this loosely translates into lots of dried stuff, liquid and lard, the surprise is in the taste and texture; (mine was mac n’cheese made from freeze-dried crickets) not to mention conversations that hover deftly above the earth’s gravitational field (references to sci-fi flicks). Real-time mini-cams project multiple views of chefs deep in thoughtful food prep, relaying ingredients and sharing cooking tips as curious earthlings, peruse and read text posted to set-ups, drawings and plants all sealed within a plastic enclosure that conjures up the possibility of thriving on the red planet.

Tattfoo Tan

David Grainger

Participants: Albert Park, Alex Tsocanos, Alice Gorman, Anna Dabney Smith & David Grainger, Gil Lopez, Heather Kapplow & Thalia Zedek, Hoi Cheng, John Roach, Joshua Liebowitz, Justin Amrhein, Kerim Zapsu, Lindsay Iserman, Marco Castro, The Planetary Society ¬New York City, Sian Proctor, Tattfoo Tan, Ward Shelley, Will Owen with Matthias Borello.

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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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How does one create a performative work that considers the aesthetics of narrative while simultaneously speaking to the political moment we are in? In 2014, I planned this performance to include several Staten Island, NY residents that would be presented in a prominent community space. Select participants, including myself, were given a notebook with 100 pages in which to capture an observation for each day that passed over a three + month period. Then, in late July of that year, Eric Garner’s death occurred within blocks of the performance location; a historic WPA, New York City Parks building. As I took in the events that occurred both in NYC and in Ferguson, MO, I saw the need for this group to create a narrative that spoke directly to their lived experience. In private conversations with each, issues of of marginalization came up whether for socio-economic, or other reasons and I spent hours with each person talking about a timeframe of their lives in which an experience or form of struggle had brought about enormous change or a shift in perspective.

This is the resulting piece from those conversations. In looking forward to 2015 (and beyond), I am seeking different environments and situations to present an updated incarnation of this idea.

30:00 clip: https://vimeo.com/118503791

10:00 minute excerpt: https://vimeo.com/119306210

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In this compelling interdisciplinary peformative work Moss, explores the nuanced and not so nuanced legacy of the abolitionist John Brown. The piece, which is structured in seven segments of John Brown’s provisional Constitution of 1858, is a rich theatrical experience with seasoned collaborators including teens that are by turns stagehands and occasion performers interacting with the dancers.

Moving between austere solos to vibrant muscular group pieces that speak to militarism, race and defiance, the props and projected video components are seamlessly integrated into the physicality of the piece; at one point the action on the stage halts to make way for a enacted video segment between John Brown and Fredrick Douglas about suitable time for a man to marry a seemingly under-aged woman (“once she has bled”), and the ensuing outrage that an executed Brown expresses at Douglas’s passionate interracial relationship.

For me the most satisfying aspect of this work occurs where scenes of intense physicality call forth the shame and humiliation foisted upon ‘blackness’ through its association with slavery, and the unresolved aftermath of a legacy that continues to haunt the American psyche to this day.

from 'johnbrown' performance

from ‘johnbrown’ performance

I made the trek to this 2-day Arts/Science gathering of all manner of arts/science folk pontificating the intersections of arts and science (and more precisely the ‘scientific method’). A generous opening intro by MIT Art History Prof. Caroline Jones, and next day follow-up with Exec. Director of MIT/CAST, Leila W. Kinney.  A lot of paper-giving sprinkled with coffee breaks on  topics ranging from 4-D space, color mapping, to Gaia, and Synesthesia. Bright spots to be found in the talks of Tauba Auerbach, Tomas Sareceno, Bruno Latour, with historical insights re: experimental music and ‘resonance’ by composer Alvin Lucier. The post-talk schmooze opps were stimulating and offered up a global community of scholars and creatives who had traveled (from France Sweden, London) just for this.   NYC Artist Daniel Kohn took a small posse to see his painting installation at the MIT Genome Lab where he was artist-in residence for a number of years. Also met curator  Franciois Larini, Post-Doc Associate and Interactive Programmer Peter Torpey, Sculptor Anne Corrsin, Choreographer Asa Unander-Scharin.

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Spent a Friday participating in this lively packed house of demo-giving techies, artists, start-ups  and varying educational interactive, and social engagement projects. A lot of time on my part  explaining my project  and the site Arcosanti  (where this 4-channel video was filmed).  A lot of interest which was good, and while seeing a short clip is not ideal, people did take time to stop, look and listen.  Particularly liked  seeing how the interactive social engagement pieces worked.

Showing demo clip of 4-Channel video 'Arcosanti'

Me showing demo clip of 4-Channel performative video ‘Arcosanti’

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.