Tag Archives: happening

the on-the-street political reality of CicLAvia…it’s totally nice

Some of you might know of CicLAvia, LA’s biannual celebration of bikes, feet, skateboards, roller skates, roller blades…anything non-motorized, really. We and many of the world’s cities have Bogotá, Colombia to thank for originating the Ciclovia concept of shutting down city streets to car traffic for real, street-level participation, and straight-up giddy physical engagement with our built environments. The streets are packed and yet the people are smiling.

Angelenos have CARS (Community Arts Resources) for its wildly successful adoption, as well as galvanizing multiple, much needed, bike lane designations throughout the city. If you needed proof of political buy-in, please cast your eyes upon this picture of the tracings of a photo-op. Yes, we were just in front of City Hall, and yes, that is a bike lane. Meta.

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Filed under Public Space, Quotidian

Weibel, P. (2007). It Is Forbidden Not to Touch: Some Remarks on the (Forgotten Parts of the) History of Interactivity and Virtuality. In _Media Art Histories_, O. Grau, ed. Cambridge and London: The MIT Press.

Peter Weibel has been the Chairman and CEO of the ZKM/Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe since 1999. Prior to that he was curator at the Neue Galerie Graz, as well as artistic consultant and artistic director of the Ars Electronica in Linz. In addition, he has been Professor for Visual Media Art at the Hochschule für Angewandte Kunst in Vienna, Associate Professor for Video and Digital Arts and Center for Media State at SUNY Buffalo.

In this piece, Weibel argues kinetic and op art are being rediscovered, only with new applications, and that it’s in art, specifically kinetic and op art (not computers) that we find the richest interactive and virtual art interfaces. In op and kinetic art, the viewer is now essential for the work. The illusion is not the device but the object, and in some cases viewers experience the kinetic/spatial “stereokinetic effect” (30).

Kinetic and op art are: contemporaneous with the emergence of computer arts and graphics, dependent on interactivity and virtuality, and bear “the rudiments of rule-based algorithmic art” (21). Algorithms are decision procedures; they have a set number of rules and instructions that lead one to a determined end. They are present in digital and electronic tolls, art and non-art, and rely on two forms of interactivity: manual/mechanical (e.g. op art) and digital/electronic (e.g. new media art).  There are two uses for algorithms in modern art: “intuitive application” (e.g. Fluxus) and “exact application (e.g. computer art). “The future of digital art can be found in approaches explored by kinetic practitioners” (38).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

Stiles, K. and Shanken, E. (2011). Missing in Action: Agency and Meaning in Interactive Art. In _Context Providers_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Kristine Stiles is professor of contemporary art and theory in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies at Duke University. She’s written Concerning Consequences of Trauma in Art and Society (2010), Correspondence Course: An Epistolary History of Carolee Scheemann and her Circle (2010), and World Art Since 1945 (2011, with Kathy O’Dell).

Edward Shanken is author of Art and Electronic Media (2009) and editor of Telematic Embrace: Visionary Theories of Art, Technology and Consciousness (2003). His essays are in such journals as Art JournalArt ByteArt Criticism, aminima, Leonardo, and Technoetic Arts. He has a PhD in Art History from Duke and an MBA from Yale.

For Stiles and Shanken, “interactivity” and “agency” are bandied about a great deal in media art, often together, the idea being that in order for interactive art to be meaningful, it must enhance “the fullness of agency” (35). Only many interactive projects can be conventional and problematic. Kaprow eventually abandoned the happening, claiming people weren’t ready culturally to interact responsibly. This is not to his credit, really, because he tacitly collapsed all publics into one, but Stiles and Shanken provide a powerful anecdote with the “Hall Street Happening” (1963). After Cynthia Mailman fell through the garage roof on which she was dancing, audience members did nothing, and so exemplified the limits to interactivity and the aesthetic experience’s requisite cool detachment. The sanctity of art over agency. (But then as I think about this, perhaps that that public’s response. What if she’d performed for a group less informed about contemporary art etiquette? Might she have gotten help immediately?)

Yet the utopian dream for interactivity persists, married with the “rhetoric of novelty” trope in association with new media. Further, per Latour, power structures and prevailing social codes still construct “agency.” Technology is an interesting player here, too, because while technology itself is neutral, its very presence signifies a certain hegemony. In order for their work to be genuinely radical, artists must recognize that prevailing hegemony, and engage in Laclau and Mouffe’s “radical democratic politics” and Hardt and Negri’s “constituent activity,” which subsumes empathy, responsibility, and reciprocity.

“… we suggest agency that sets empathy in motion toward responsible interaction and constructive change is meaningful” (46).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

Rush, M. (2005). _New Media in Art_, 2nd. Ed. London: Thames of London.

Michael Rush, PhD in Theology and Psychology from Harvard University, is the founding director of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University. Most recently he was director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. He contributes regularly art world publications and scholarship. His books include Video Art, New Media in Art, New Media in Late 20th-Century Art, Marjetica Potrc: Urgent Architecture, and he’s written monographs on Gunther Brus, Steve Miller, and Alexis Rockman.

This book is a well-organized, beautifully illustrated (124 of 267 illustrations are in full color) and straightforward history of new media in art. Rush organizes the text quasi-chronologically, but emphasizes modes of practice, with chapters entitled, “Media and Performance,” “Video Art,” “Video Installation Art,” and The Digital in Art.” Suffice it to say, Muybridge and Marey, and Duchamp are the technological and conceptual benefactors, respectively, whose ideas are experimented with and added to over the next century, first by artists migrating from other disciplines and eventually by first-generation artists.

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

Helguera, P. (2011). _Education for Socially Engaged Art: A Materials and Techniques Handbook_. New York: Jorge Pinto Books.

Pablo Helguera is a New York-based artist who works with installation, sculpture, photography, drawing, and socially engaged art and performance. In addition to his artistic practice, he has worked as an education curator in contemporary art museums. From 1998-2005, he was the head of public programs at the Guggenheim. Since 2007, he has been MoMA’s director of adult and academic programs. He’s written several books, ranging from novels, to curatorial stories, to essays on memory, and so on. His most recent product is based on his “knowledge, experience, and conclusions derived from specific applications of various interactive formats, from discursive and pedagogical methods to real-life situations” (x).

The goal, which I believe he achieves handily, is to give insight into how to use art in the social realm, while placing it within a larger discussion about the debates, both theoretical and application-based. His main point is that the tools of education share parallels with art — they rely on collaborative dynamics, experimentation, and the development of materials. However, what educators understands better than many artists is their “socially engaged art [SEA] can’t be produced inside a knowledge vacuum” (xiii).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields

Tribe, M., Jana, R., & Grosenick, U., eds. (2006). _New Media Art_. Cologne: TASCHEN GmbH.

American artist and Rhizome founder, Mark Tribe is Assistant Professor of Modern Culture and Media Studies at Brown University. He’s authored The Port Huron Project: Reenactments of Historic Protest Speeches (2010), as well as co-authored this book. He received his MFA in Visual Art from UC, San Diego. His interest in new media art is not so much the technologies but the way these technologies can engage cultural engagement, aesthetic awareness, and political engagement.

Reena Jana is a New York-based writer, editor, and consultant whose work focuses on culture, innovation, and business. She’s now a contributing editor and blogger at SmartPlanet, and has written for the New York Times, Wired, Fast Company, to name a very few. She attended Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences where she was a National Arts Journalism Program Fellow at Columbia Journalism School.

Uta Grosenick is a Cologne-based freelance author and editor. Her work for TASCHEN includes several books from the Basic Genre Series, Women Artists (2001), ART NOW (2002), Büttner (2003), and ART NOW II (2005).

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Filed under Annotated Bibliographies, Media Arts, Minor Field, Research Fields