Tag Archives: media art

Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries is one of my homepages

Here’s one of the many excellent reasons why.The Last Day of Betty Nkomo It’s not new but it’s always special.

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Rogers, K. 2010. We Are Here, We Could Be Everywhere. _Video on the Loose: Freewaves and 20 Years of Media Arts_. Los Angeles: Freewaves.

Starting with an urban myth about a collector’s shelving the first half-inch videotape used by Nam June Paik in 1965 for his Sony Portapak, Rogers considers the history of video — how it seemed to have a history even as it was emerging — and its potent political uses and inclinations throughout. The collector’s story reveals:

“…there is a specter that haunts the history of video, a residual belief that impedes us from cultivating an alternative approach to history based on social practice rather than archival preservation. That specter is the construct of medium specificity…” (17).

The medium was affordable, fairly easy to use, and easy to distribute, and so it was a tactic against the spectacle: “video had an unsurpassed capacity to deliver nimble, targeted strikes against the corporate despotism of television, and to engage in guerilla counter-measures against all forms of cultural hegemony” (19). And so, the process of institutionalization and historicization of the medium was inevitable. Rogers wonders, what if we look not for the history of video through the video itself but through the attendant “practices, cultures, communities, economies, projects, and events that have come to be oriented around this figment?” (30).

Freewaves, “less an organization than it is a network” (38) gives us clues. For Freewaves, the work was never the video for something but something — namely questioning the civic realm, and promoting intercultural understanding, social justice, connecting, and so on — through video. What we learn, then, is this:

“What needs to be retained in video history is not this technological, medium specific, object-based view prepped for the collector and the art historian, but a social and cultural one used to forge new networks and experiences of community” (40).

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Rogers, K. (2007). LA Freewaves’ _Too Much Freedom?_ Alternative Video and Internet Distribution. _Spectator_, 27(1):56-68.

Ken Rogers is Assistant Professor, Media and Cultural Studies at UC Riverside. He is Board President of the prominent Los Angeles-based media arts organization Freewaves, and he is an editorial board members of Resilience: A Journal of Sustainable Critique. His interdisciplinary research and publication concerns the intersection of labor, attention, political economy, art practice, and digital media.

Since 1989, LA Freewaves has produced the largest theatrical exhibitions of avant-garde video. But for 2006’s Too Much Freedom?, Freewaves scaled back its theatrical output to just four venues, using the Internet for the festival’s remaining programs. Freewaves has always articulated relationships and partnerships for distribution and promotion, such as KCET, cable access channels, museums and galleries, private collections, distribution houses, university systems. The paradox here is that this distribution model puts the alternative mode in the same category as studio arts. So the Internet turn of Too Much Freedom meant to move away from this condition of tricky obtainability.

However, Rogers argues, Freewaves may have in fact sacrificed the opportunities for community building with the intentionally democratic move. The exhibition opening event (two nights at the Hammer), like the website was intentionally directionally ambiguous, underscoring Freewaves dedication to the alternative distribution model. However, the site was still unidirectional (i.e. there was no comment field implicitly privileging the cultural producer over the viewer. Freewaves’ apparent democratic impetus, stymied, offering questions about how we can improve interactive opportunities online.

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Miles, M. (1997). The City (Ch.1), The Contradictions of Public Art (Ch.4), and Art in Urban Development (Ch.5). In _Art, Space, and the City: Public Art and Urban Futures_. London: Routledge.

Malcolm Miles, PhD, Architecture from Oxford Brookes University, is Professor at Plymouth University’s School of Architecture, Design and Environment. He chairs the Culture-Theory-Space research group and researches the intersection of critical theory, contemporary visual culture, and urbanism.

Miles here aims to undo the nostalgic view of public art, particularly transhistorical modern art, which, rejecting context, helps to “project a compensatory fantasy of the present which abolishes conflict” (88), including — especially — those of race, gender, and class. Genuine public art should reflect that there are numerous discrete publics, and that the public realm evokes more than urban sites.

“The reconfiguration of a city introduces, in treating its existing fabric as a contourless ground on which to inscribe a new design, the possibility of a radical break with history…. perhaps the urge for a new city derives from a desire to purge the unclean, abolishing the mess and complexities of the past” (23).

He levels, following Zukin (1995) and Deutsche (1991), an attack against using art for redevelopment purposes, particularly the prosperous 80s. The essential question, linking art, urban policy, and the predictable gentrification is, Who controls the process? Miles holds that Percent for Art projects ignore the difference between “urban development” and “urban regeneration.” The latter evokes something more sustainable and strives for social justice. The former, by contrast, too often means capitulating to developer interests. Saskia Sassen (1996) worries about cultural districts/centers because reflect middle-class interests and flatten difference. Yet, per Sassen, “A large city is a space of difference” (as cited on 118). Again, whose public art is this? Who’s in control? Because even though they’re agents of gentrification, it’s rarely the artists who feel empowered on their way out.

“Developers do not develop in order to construct the ‘city beautiful,’ they construct the city beautiful in order to conceal the incompatibility of their development with a free society” (130).

For Miles, “art” and “public” didn’t jibe in the 19th century and they still don’t today, and he contends the art-and-architecture trope is a framework for conventional, male-dominated public art. A sculpture in a plaza isn’t necessarily any more approachable than hallowed museum galleries. Per museum director Kathy Halbreich (1984), “Public art should not be restricted to artworks placed in public plazas but should encompass relationships and dialogues between artists and the public” (as cited on 94). But, per feminist art historian Arlene Raven (1989), “the new public-spirited art can…critique…the uneasy relationship among artworks, the public domain, and the public” (as cited on 100). (Thus, harking Helguera (2011), the community member’s input is key.)

Finally, Miles quotes Suzanne Lacy’s (1995) Mapping the Terrain proposal for new, socially active modes of art practice.

“An alternative history of today’s public art could read through the development of various vanguard groups, such as feminist, ethnic, Marxist, and media artists and other activities. They have a common interest in leftist politics, social activism, redefined audiences, relevance for communities (particularly marginalized ones), and collaborative methodology” (as cited on 101).

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McCullough, M. (2006). On the Urbanism of Locative Media [Media and the City]. _Places_, 18(2).

Malcolm McCullough, M.Arch from UCLA, is Associate Professor, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning from the University of Michigan. He researches digital media for the built environment. His best-known book is Abstracting Craft (1996), a philosophical inquiry into work practices.

In this article, McCullough praises locative media: “Would be flâneurs are now streaming their dérives. The urban media experience is now interactive; comprising not just the broadcast push but walker’s own messages, maps, tags. Locative media is “the newer paradigm of ubiquitous computing [that] brings thing back to the messy multiplicity of street level” (26).

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Kabisch, E. (2010). Mobile after-media: Trajectories and points of departure. _Digital Creativity_, 21(1):46-54.

Eric Kabisch, PhD, Information and Computer Science from UC Irvine, is an artist, interaction designer, and researcher. For his latest project, he built and evaluated a geospatial gaming and visualization platform that allowed people to construct interactive virtual environments on the top of physical space. He has an MFA in Arts Computation Engineering, also from UCI.

Following Certeau (1984), Kabisch upholds walking through a city to know and create it. This existential interaction with the city transforms one from consumer to producer. Digital technologies, specifically locative media, offer ways to integrate physical mobility into art practice, “a welcome shift of discourse from virtuality to hybridity” (52).

Kabisch, likewise, upholds interactive art for its capacity to “engage users on an even deeper level” (53) than non-interactive. Per Tuters and Varnelis (2006), locative media liberated artists from their stationary machines and net art, adding physical mobility and comprising “a welcome shift of discourse from virtuality to hybridity” (52).

However, Kabisch admits frustrations. Given that locative media technologies are related to GIS platforms, the artist is stuck with the traditional representative symbols. This has visual and cultural implications. First, human complexity is reduced to a marker on a screen. Second, these are commercial sector technologies, often associated with surveillance and hegemony.

“A place–in all its richness–becomes a static marker on a map, a journey becomes a line, and a community becomes a polygon outline…. We must move from modes of engagement that focus on representation and move to those which engage the interaction and performance of the user and the environment” (50).

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Gibbs, M. (2004). Locative Media. _Art Monthly_, 40:280.

Michael Gibbs is an Amsterdam-based artist, critic, and regular contributor to Art Monthly.

In this article about locative media, Gibbs explains the contemporary social context encouraged by mobile telephony:

“With the advent of mobile phones, space has become translocal. The boundary between public and private space is effaced as, oblivious to our surroundings, we now have private conversations in public. In fact, it no longer matters where one is, as long as one is connected” (280).

Media artists have long been drawn to the public realm because it’s genuinely site-specific — context is all. Locative media, operating on mobile software, frees artists from traditional infrastructural concerns about screens, projections, sounds, etc. More important, though, are its psychogeographic philosophical underpinnings, as well as its unprecedented (and necessarily collaborative and social) engagement with public space via “Cellspace.”

Locative media is “being vigorously pursued and promoted as the latest form of artistic intervention in public space” (280).

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Davenport, G. (2005). When Place Becomes Character: a critical framing of place for mobile and situated narrative. In _The Mobile Audience: Media Art and Mobile Technologies_, M. Rieser, ed. London: BFI.

Glorianna Davenport, MA from Hunter Collect, is Principal Research Scientist at the MIT Media Laboratory. She founded the Interactive Cinema group (1987-2004), as well as the Media Fabrics group, which she directs. She is a trained sculptor and documentary filmmaker, and is internationally renowned for her work in digital media forms. Her recent research explores the creation of customizable storyteller systems, able to serve and adapt to a wide audience.

“New technology has brought new opportunities for overlaying real physical spaces with active agencies of history, culture, and personal storytelling. . . . The participant audience can become immersed in an evocative sensory surround or can gather bits and pieces of surrogate experience to be later used in acts of creation, consumption, and sharing” (6).

This essay explains places’ rich characters and stories, and gives a few examples of her work. For Davenport, places in stories often express the driving psychology of that tale. It can be imbued with a sense of everything from hope, to trauma, to horror, and back around to romance. Likewise, in new media art works, “place can and often does take on an active role approximating that of a character” (2) and audience members transform into agents who can influence the path and its stories through “acts of navigation, selective gestures, or other methods of communicating desire to the responsive system” (2).

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Lovejoy, M., Paul, C., & Vesna, V., eds. (2011). Introduction. In _Context Providers: Conditions of Meaning in Media Arts_, M. Lovejoy, C. Paul, and V. Vesna, eds. Bristol and Chicago: intellect.

Context Providers explores the ways in which media art and culture — specifically digital and art/science collaborations–are challenging and changing the creative process and our ways of constructing meaning” (7).

Margot Lovejoy is Professor Emerita of Visual Arts at the State University of New York, Purchase, and author of Digital Currents: Art in the Electronic Age (2004). She’s received a Guggenheim Fellowship, an Arts International Grant in India, multiple NYSCA grants, NYFA’s Gregory Millard Fellowship, and the 2007 CAA Award for Distinguished Teaching of Art.

Christiane Paul is the Director of Media Studies Graduate Programs and Associate Professor of Media Studies at The New School, NY, and Adjunct Curator of New Media Arts at the Whitney Museum of American Art. She writes widely on new media arts and lectures internationally on art and technology.

Victoria Vesna is a media artist and Professor at the UCLA Department of Design | Media Arts and Director of the Art|Sci center at the School of the Arts and California Nanosystems Institute (CNSI).  As of 2011, she was Visiting Professor and Director of Research at Parsons, Media + Technology, the New School for Design in New York, and a senior researcher at IMéRA – Institut Méditerranéen de Recherches Avancées in Marseille and Artist in Residence at the Insitute of Advanced Studies, University of Bristol.

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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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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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About/By/In Out the Window

Out the Window is the first of its kind participatory learning experience for young people and the Los Angeles Metro ridership. A collaboration among four of Los Angeles’ media arts organizations – LA Freewaves, Echo Park Film Center, Public Matters, and UCLA REMAP (Center for Research in Engineering, Media, and Performance) – and Transit TV, the project engages youth and community-based artists in producing relevant and meaningful videos about their neighborhoods and lives. The project is divided into two phases: the first involves the work of students from East Los Angeles, Echo Park, and Historic Filipinotown, and the second adds videos by LA artists, activists, and storytellers. All work aims to engage and inspire the LA Metro ridership.

I hope this is a representative, if not comprehensive, report of the works achieved and things learned over the course of Out the Window’s implementation.

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