Monday, January 31, 2011

Paul McCarthy

Watch the full episode. See more ART:21.

Marina Abramovic

Interview with the Guardian regarding her work.

Exhibition/Performance at MoMA. The Artist is Present, 2010.

“I test the limits of myself in order to transform myself” states former resident of Belgrade (Yugoslavia) Marina Abramovic in an interview with the UK’s Guardian newspaper. The now 63 year old Abramovic gives a short, insightful glimpse into her life as a performance artist. In the interview, she clearly makes her stance known on the difference between performance art and all other types of art— “To be a performance artist, you have to hate theatre, theatre is fake...Performance is just the opposite: the knife is real, the blood is real, and the emotions are real” (Abramovic qtd by Sean O’Hagan). Later on in the interview, Abramovic vehemently proclaims the disgrace performance art has received in the art world. In her performance art, Abramovic’s pattern lies in the shock value of her audience in which she physically inflicts pain upon herself (Rhythm 10, 1973), allows herself to be mistreated by others (Rhythm 0, 1974) and endures many hours of endless solitude (The Artist is Present, 2010); and all for the sake of the art?
Unlike other performance artists, Abramovic is the focus of her performances—she is the one involved in the act of her art. Abramovic’s initial draw to painting soon melded into performance art as she began experimenting with “sound and confrontation” while recording the sound of a bridge collapsing and projecting it loudly onto the streets by a bridge. She explains her motive as “always wanting to shake everything up.” Through this fascination, she was led to Belgrade’s Academy of Fine Arts in which she greatly involved herself in public performances with other students and where her passion in performance art immensely grew. As a child, her escape was through painting because her family was divided as her parents greatly supported the Communist party and she lived with her grandmother who had strong ties to the Orthodox Church in Belgrade. She explains how everything in her “childhood [was] about total sacrifice, whether to religion or to communism” which may be the reason for her direct involvement in all her performances. The defaming one sees in Art Must Be Beautiful, Artist Must Be Beautiful, 1975 shows Abramovic violently brushing her hair while muttering the title of the piece which is an example of this type of self-internalization, self-inflicting pain that she controls unlike the pain experience in her childhood.
In the early 70’s, Abramovic was drawn to creating performances where she inflicted pain immediately onto herself in order to express her personal struggle. She states her motivation and inspiration to create these confrontational, and often hard to watch pieces, derives from her obsession of the tension between her communist and religious ties as a child; “It makes me who I am” (Abramovic). The violence and vulgarity one experiences in many of her films and performances challenges the audience to further enter into her art, though physically one may feel the desire to turn or walk away.
Abramovic’s latest performance, The Artist is Present (2010), presented at MoMA, is a performance in which Abramovic sits on a wooden chair at a wooden table for six hours during the museum’s hours. An empty chair is filled by many different visitors of MoMA as they agree to sit in silence, stillness and look into Abramovic’s eyes. She explains in the interview that many people would cry, which, in her mind, reveals her power to see “into” people through their masks and layers of fear and insecurity; “I give people a space to simply sit in silence and communicate with me deeply but non-verbally. I did almost nothing, but they take this religious experience from it. Art had lost that power, but for a while Moma was like Lourdes” (Abramovic). Although this may seem like a “simple” task, Abramovic had to train like NASA, literally, in order to be able to sit still for hours on end from March to May. Her entire normal schedule of life was devoted to this piece inside and outside of the performance times revealing that Abramovic’s life revolves around her art—her life is her artistic form. Abramovic explains her dedication to her form of art is what drives her in all her performances pieces. She is continually pushing the limits as to what she can perform in order to convey her emotions, thoughts and opinions about life and art in general. Unfortunately, the performance piece is no where to be found online, but photographs of those who sat with Abramovic can be found. Part of Abramovic’s belief is that the performance is intended for participation and interaction with the artist and the viewer which is why Abramovic is directly involved in the performing of her pieces—she makes the art communal by coming face to face with the audience in a provocative way.

Interview on her website titled "The body as medium."

Commentary by Lady Gaga on Marina. Really interesting.

Mathew Barney

Pipilotti Rist

Don't hate me because I'm beautiful from Julieta Averbuj on Vimeo.

Here's the link to the Top 25 "Youtube" videos from the Guggenheim.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Lesley Dill, Divide Light, 2008

Chang Heavy Industries, The End, 2000

The End was created in 2000 by Korean artist Young-hae Chang and American poet Marc Vogue of Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (YHCHI). As the video begins, text and numbers flash onto the screen and the viewer’s attention is immediately captured. Continuing in a staccato fashion, the following words appear: YOUNG-HAE CHANG---HEAVY INDUSTIRES--- PRESENTS---THE END. This is the typical sort of introduction utilized in YHCHI text videos, which also contains an evocative use of language and hyper-text narratives (in the Monaco font with blank backgrounds) synchronized with jazz music. From what can be seen thus far in The End appears to be a heated argument between two individuals, which is rapidly escalating into a full-blown, violent name calling and swearing brawl. Who exactly is calling out all this stuff and to whom? What is all this bickering about? It is within our human instinct to want to know and get to the bottom of certain things and to understand what is at heart of such emotional strife. These are some of the rare opportunities YHCHI provide us with, provoking our sensitivities and compelling us to take a stand in their debates which include themes of human violence, alienation, and sexual oppression.

Although this video is in English, the artists also employ other languages including Korean, French, Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. In this way, their messages reach a broad range of cultures and project at an international level. More recently in 2004, YHCHI exhibited their work titled The Gates of Hell, which was a remix of an original work that was displayed over nine Internet refrigerators. Like The End, this work is about domestic conflict, and more specifically, a social commentary regarding house wives. When asked in an interview how they create their works YHCHI stated, “We sit in front of our computers side by side on the floor of our tiny pre-World War II Japanese house in Seoul and try to ignore each other. Something inevitably comes up, and the laughs---sorry---the collaboration process begins.” Also in this interview, when asked about the cultural influences on their work, YHCHI named Marcel Duchamp, Roy Lichtenstein, and Andy Warhol as important figures. Much like these artists, YHCHI explore conceptual ideas, and political subjects.

Another video text I viewed by YHCHI is called The Art of Sleep, a video created for the Tate Museum of Art. Here the story-teller talks about the value of art at 2 a.m. in the morning and how he discovers a breakthrough, which is that art is virtually everything, from his whining dog to a piece of Japanese cheesecake. The narrator is very open and honest about what he thinks of art and critics, and it is amazing how you almost feel like you are reading his mind as he speaks out whatever is on his. However, what I find most captivating about YHCHI text video art and especially about The End is that you do not need to read every single word or phrase that flies onto the screen to understand and appreciate the overall rhythmic vigor and poetic nature of their master works.

A Words Free Interactive Installation

Beryl Korot, Text and Commentary, Babel: The 7 Minute Scroll

Text & Commentary, 1977

Although this work is from the earlier side of the video art spectrum, it is nonetheless important. Beryl Korot is one of the most renowned video artists and she was a trailblazer in many ways. She is interested mostly in communication, especially with the tools that we use to communicate to one another. She came up with a magazine in 1970 called Radical Software that looked at different types of communication tools and formats (i.e. video). We must remember that in her time, this was groundbreaking work and scintillating concepts. In this particular video Korot uses the loom to weave together a narrative over 5 video channels. She draws parallels to the loom and hypertext as both exist in a linear fashion.

Korot says of her work: "In 1974 I found myself working in 3 media simultaneously: in print (Radical Software), in video which I began to explore in 1972, and the handloom, the first computer on earth in that it programmed patterns according to a numerical structure. A silk weaver at the beginning of the 19th century invented the Jacquard loom, really the first punch card computer to create complex textile works through punch card programming, which also increased the speed with which this work could be made. I was drawn to the handloom after being involved in print and video because I was fascinated by the multiple channel genre in video and the loom offered clues about programming multiple channels. But what really fascinated me is that the information in all 3 of these media is encrypted in lines...In video the electronic camera reads an image at 30 frames a second, line by line; we read printed material line by line...pattern on the loom is laid down line by line, or thread by thread. Time is an important component of this linear structuring in terms of how quickly and effectively information is received and stored. Instant storage and retrieval systems characterize modern technology while tactility and human memory remain earmarks of more ancient tools."

Babel: The 7 Minute Scroll

Jenny Holzer, LED Installation, Art 21 Exclusive Clip

Jenny Holzer went to school at Ohio University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and participated in an Independent Study program at the Whitney Museum of American Art, as well as obtained a fellowship in Berlin. She works with words and ideas in text in public spaces--i.e. Street posters, signs, video, sound, light projections, stickers, even condoms. She wrote text for herself until 2001 then she drew on other people’s texts because they could say what she wanted to in a better way and she could focus on the visual representation. Her Installation process includes but is not limited to pausing, flashing, text.
She was a typesetter so her work needs to be correct, complete, pretty and fitted. She says that her presentation needs to engage and makes sense with the content. Holzer works with texts from Henri Cole, Wislawa Szymborska and Mahmoud Darwish. She also uses texts like US army documents from Iraq—she likes to make the secret, public

Themes in Holzer's work: violence, oppression, sexuality, feminism, power, war, torture, disease, lamentations and death.

Holzer was the first woman to represent the US in the Venice Biennale in 1990.

Ann Hamilton, abc, 1994/1999

This work by Hamilton, abc (1994-1999), is a film where Hamilton smudges letters off a glass surface with her fingertip. Hamilton said of this piece: I work with words as materials just like other artists use their materials.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

William Hoffmann, Daniel Mercadante, and Julius Metoyer III, Words, 2010

Here is the link for their website "Everynone" which has more videos by this trio of New Media artists.
Also, here is an article explaining the Youtube Play. A Biennial of Creative Video celebration at the Guggenheim museums.

In this film, Hoffmann, Mercadante and Metoyer III base the premise of their film around the infamous rhetoric tool, the pun. With shifting situations moving from shot to shot, they create a mesmerizing, innovative, humorous, and inspiring film. Based on information from their website, Hoffmann, Mercadante and Metoyer III are part of a group called “Everynone” which is somewhat a pun of itself in the name. The website explains how the three artists have collaborated their thoughts and ideas to create similar pieces to Words. “Everynone” explains itself as a production company in New York and Los Angeles. The film was one of many others for the Guggenheim’s (New York) top artistic Youtube films of 2010. Although Youtube films may not be considered “academic,” the fact that the Guggenheim chose to be apart of this revealing supports the importance “online” videos have in the shaping of the artistic New Media world. As director of the Guggenheim Foundation, Richard Armstrong, states, “The Guggenheim, together with YouTube, and HP and Intel, harnessed their collective expertise to create YouTube Play to celebrate this art form and the Internet’s power to catalyze and disseminate new forms of digital media.” With New Media art mediums, the accessibility to art is broadened and the world of Contemporary art is celebrating that, this event and competition being an example.
Particularly in Hoffmann’s, Mercadante’s and Metoyer III’s film, the exploration between language and our relationships with certain words and experiences is celebrated. Thus, the varying connotations of certain words range in a variety of ways all aiming to define different situations, which is why this film succeeds in its artistic make-up. Language in itself is an abstraction of sorts, and this film, Words, plays upon that pun in a new manner and representation. The definitions of one word vary not only in literal meaning, but vary in how one uses the word depending on what situation one is in. For me, this is what makes the film so enjoyable in that the artists are saying more about the experience one has with words and giving importance to how one uses words in daily life.

Gary Hill, Around and About, 1980

Due to the Youtube information, I cannot embed the video here, so here's the link.

Seattle resident and artist, Gary Hill is known for his exploration through sound, images and language as many of his videos and installations draw from poetic pieces and other literature (i.e. Incidence of Catastrophe, 1987). This five-minute film explores the relationship between the mind’s ability to make sense of what is being heard with what is being seen. As the film progresses, a man’s recognizable, though stated in a monotonous electronic tone, voice talks over the moving flashes and snippets of color objects. Every once in awhile, the images will form into something recognizable and symbolically match what the voice is saying. The voice talks directly to the viewer and predicts the thoughts of the viewer as the film continues. Hill challenges the viewer's participation in the piece by immediately involving the viewer in the creation of the film, because the viewers are the focus of the film. This exploration between the language of what we hear and the language of what we see is challenged through the medium of film art, and Hill creatively takes this post-modern approach.

"Happenstance (part one of many parts)", Gary Hill, 1982-3
(unable to embed)
Native Californian Gary Hill is well known for his incorporation of text and language his videos. In Happenstance, Hill focuses on the "ephemerality of linguistic meaning". In it viewers learn to read the forms that appear on the screen through the relation of sound and image, though Hill then challenges those relationships that allow us to make sense of written word. George Quasha, Hill's longtime collaborator, says: "Happenstance was like a read-out of a part of my own brain, because it proved something I fantasized was true, that in the deepest sense a poem is an animate force that is active in all of the minds projections, visual/aural/tactile".

"'Held' in my language means 'hero'", Tamzin Forster, 2009

'Held' in my language means 'hero' was created by animator Tamzin Forster for the Start in Manchester program, which exists to reconcile art and mental health. Students at Start in Manchester often are individuals who are prone to long-term mental distress – self expression and release from this distress are encouraged through artistic means. Forster's piece, 'Held' in my language means 'hero', was specifically created for an exhibition entitled “Held”, which explored the ideas of balance and well-being. In her animation, Forster probes into the dynamics of word 'held', investigating how language is entirely subjective and is shaped by each listener. The phrases we read on the screen contain common usages of the word 'held'. Forster, attempts to illustrate both the limitation and freedom that exists in our language by substituting other words for 'held' throughout her piece: 'stuck', 'clutch', 'took on'. Through this alteration, a layer of meaning is added to the original text, perhaps steering the reader to another understanding of the work (which happens to be an excerpt from a love story). Forster furthers this concept of layered interpretation by including animations that illustrate each phrase, providing another point of entry for the viewer into the story that is separate from text.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011