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Notes on March 2009 Visit to El Salvador, by Eduardo Navas

Front of Cultural Center of Spain in El Salvador

Image source: Cultural Center of Spain

Cultural Center of Spain invited me to lecture in San Salvador, El Salvador from March 8 to the 13, 2009. During this period I also learned about the contemporary art scene as well as the art history of El Salvador.

I presented my research on Remix at the Cultural Center on March 10, and I lectured on art and new media in the Department of Visual Arts at the University of El Salvador (popularly known as La Nacional) on March 11. I met artists from different generations, some who are becoming more established, and some who are up and coming. I also visited the Museum of Art (Marte) which currently is exhibiting a thorough survey of Art in El Salvador since the 1800’s


Scalable City: Interview with Sheldon Brown, by Eduardo Navas

Image and text source: gallery@calit2

The following interview with Sheldon Brown was commissioned by gallery@calit2 for the exhibition “Scalable City”. Exhibition dates: Thursday, Oct. 23, 2008 – Monday, Dec. 15, 2008

Sheldon Brown is an artist who works in new forms of culture that arise out of developments in computing technology. He is Director of the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts (CRCA) at UC San Diego, where he is a Professor of Visual Arts and an academic participant in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2). During his early career, Brown experimented with emerging technologies to develop works that explore the possible meaning of “virtual reality.” His installations were often designed for immersive audience participation. Many of these works have been developed for the gallery, such as “MetaStasis” (1990), an art installation consisting of a room that visitors enter to experience what appears to be, as Brown himself has called it, a “zoetrope of TV images.” Brown took his interest in mediated reality to the public sphere in installations such as “Video Wind Chimes” (1994), which projects broadcast TV images on the street sidewalk – images selected according to how the wind blows. In both of these projects, as well as many others, Brown emphasizes how metaphysical experience is contingent upon our increasing dependency in immersive media of all forms. Brown’s longstanding interest in mediation is further explored in “Scalable City.” In the following interview, the artist reflects on how Scalable City connects his interests in emerging technologies as well as longstanding traditions of art practice.

[Eduardo Navas] Unlike many artists who claim to be interested primarily in expressing their ideas and not being bound to a specific medium, you have chosen to focus on the development of art that is involved with computing technology. Having said this, the computer makes possible metamedia – meaning it simulates other media, and in this sense it allows artists to focus on idea development. It appears, then, that you share the interest of exploring ideas in the tradition of modern art practice with artists who might play down their preference for a particular medium. With this in mind, could you reflect on the shifts that art practice may be taking based on the increasing role of computers in all aspects of our lives? How do you see your art practice in relation to previous practices which may have downplayed their preference for a particular medium?

[Sheldon Brown] It seems you attribute conflicting claims for my relationship to “medium”, but I don’t see computing as a medium in the 20th century sense. Probably even the idea of it as a meta-medium does not capture its character. It may be more useful to think about computing as creating certain cultural conditions, and I’m doing work which utilizes and responds to those conditions. It might then be more like the interest in speed as a condition for the futurists, but I wouldn’t want to make too much of any analogies to previous art movements and their concerns. The impact of computing on culture comes after the modernist, conceptualist and post-modernist engagements, and just as I have called it a meta-medium, I could also call it a meta-ism – it is able to simulate any and all of these previous attitudes. Not that my interests in this begin and end at simulation of previous forms; this is but one of the gestures possible in this condition, but when it performs any of these simulations, they become rapidly engaged in a new dynamic which doesn’t stop at borders of previous operations.

Ant Farm’s Cadillac Ranch Remixed

The above image is a photoshop composite by Steve Brown for the New York Times. The background was taken from the Getty Images archive. It is an illustration for the article Putting the Dream Car Out on the Pasture, published on July 27, 2008, which explains how people are coping with the high cost of gas prices.

As many people in the arts would know as well as those who love to take road trips, the above image borrows from Ant Farm’s famous land art piece “Cadillac Ranch,” in which Cadillacs were dumped into the ground at Amarillo, Texas. In 1997 it was moved a couple of miles from its original location. It is a disappointment that there is no reference to Ant Farm’s work. Below are some images of Ant Farm’s public art installation, along with comments by the people who took the pictures.

Image from Flickr

Quote: “The Cadillac Ranch just west of Amarillo is a famous Route 66 landmark. Built up in 1974 by said to be eccentric but brilliant millionaire Stanley Marsh 3 and The Ant Farm, this line of old Cadillacs are buried nose first into the ground. The angle of the cars are also reputed to be the same as the ancient pyramids at Cheops. The Cadillacs were moved further west in 1997 from its original location due to growth from nearby Amarillo. The Cadillac Ranch is another of the must see sights off the Mother Road.”
-RoadsidePeek.Com Website

Image and text from Treehugger

Quote: Ant farm was a group of artists and architects that, along with Archigram, was hugely influential among architecture students in the seventies, particularly if you were into mobile architecture, alternative technologies and dovetail joints. Many know about their Cadillac Ranch, which remains an iconic statement about the end of oil as it was in the last oil crisis; few, including Regine at Worldchanging know about their other work. However she does now, after seeing an exhibition of their work at the The Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporaneo in Seville.

The State of Swift Production: Interactivos?’08 (part 3 of 3), by Eduardo Navas

Image: Anaisa Franco, Testing software for “Expanded Eye”

See Part 1: http://remixtheory.net/?p=315
See Part 2: http://remixtheory.net/?p=319

Interactivos?’08-Madrid promoted Vision-play as a point of entry to reflect on how interactivity is redefining aesthetics in art particularly invested in emerging technologies. The Medialab-Prado website presented the two week work intensive series of events as a “workshop [that] aims to use open hardware and open code tools to create prototypes for exploring image technologies and mechanisms of perception.”[1]

To provide a rigorous contextual ground following this premise as a frame of reference for artists and collaborators, the Medialab organized a two day long conference in which artists presented their projects and scholars and writers presented papers focused on the ongoing changes of the image (vision-play) in contemporary art production. On the first day Marta Morales presented “Caída del juego: lo inaparente en la imagen” (Fall of the Game: The Inapparent in the Image), a text in which she explored the void of experience leaning towards the sublime in the work of Giacommeti; she examined his work from drawings to sculptures. I followed with “The Bond of Repetition and Representation,” in which I outlined previously introduced definitions of Remix and their links to the ongoing play between repetition and representation in digital media. Nadine Wanono then discussed her research on Visual Anthropology in “The Camera and The Perspective, as Tool and Metaphor.” In her talk she questioned the supposed objectivity of perspective, both formally and conceptually, when anthropologists study non-western cultures. Wanono’s presentation consisted of selected research she performed in Mali, West Africa, where she spent many years with the Dogon people. And the evening ended with Domingo Sarrey who presented “Cuadrats 40 años después” (Quadrats, 40 Years Later). Sarrey took the evening when he made many Spaniards in the audience aware about art and computer science explorations that took place in Madrid during the sixties. Sarrey was one of the first artists in Madrid to use the computer to develop drawings during that time period. (more…)

Marie Sester Interview: Access, Transparency and Visibility in “Exposure”, by Eduardo Navas

Still from second video sequence.

Image and text source: gallery.calit2.net

The following is an interview published for the exhibition “Exposure” A Video Installation, Pre-9/11, at gallery@calit2.net, on view from April 10 to June 6, 2008. In this interview Sester’s views on Surveillance expose how elements of appropriation vital to Remix are at play in culture publicly, and which since 2001, have redefined privacy for the average person. This interview was originally published in conjunction with the text “Exposure” Pre-9/11.

Marie Sester is an artist born in France, currently living in Los Angeles. She was trained as an architect, but soon after receiving her degree realized that her real interest was in understanding the role of architecture as discourse in culture and politics. She found art an ideal space to develop her interdisciplinary projects. Sester sees her art practice as an ongoing process partly defined by a person’s desire to visualize certain things, while making others invisible. Throughout the 1990s, Sester explored how surveillance redefined our understanding of reality. In the following interview Marie Sester generously shares the story behind her three-channel installation, “Exposure,” explaining how her role as an artist allowed her access to information which she could not obtain today due to the security measures put in place after 9/11.

[Eduardo Navas]: You explain that you are interested in the concepts of transparency, visibility and access. Can you explain how these came to shape your project “Exposure” and your interest in surveillance?

[Marie Sester]: The situation that became a reality in the U.S. after 9/11 had been developing in Europe for some time. Bombing attacks were part of my reality in France, hijacking planes and taking passengers as hostages was something we lived with day to day. This was often done to ask for money, or demand for political prisoners to be released. Such unfortunate events were not part of U.S. reality.

Terrorism was already present in Europe. There were many individuals from small groups using what today we call terrorist strategies; it was at this time that surveillance devices were introduced. I was intrigued by this shift, which was a bit disturbing. As surveillance technology started to be introduced at the airport, it became normal to have one’s luggage X-ray scanned. It became common to find scanners at the airport, as well as government buildings like City Hall. The unexpected beauty of surveillance technology fascinated me.

Suddenly, there was a new form of presence and reality defined by these new devices. And I wanted to work with the images they produced. I had already been working with pre-made objects and images for some time. At that time I forged and assembled the notions of transparency, visibility and access and they are still the basis of my work.

On The Mixed Up Films Of Mr. Andy Warhola, by Gregger Stalker

Image and text source: Greg.org

Originally posted on September 14, 2007

Wait, the Warhol Museum called the 1-hour excerpt of Empire released on DVD an unauthorized bootleg?

Yes they did, in 2004:

“It’s a bootleg!” says Geralyn Huxley, a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh.

Which is odd. The Italian company Raro Video has released several Warhol films on DVD over the last couple of years. Andy Warhol: 4 Silent Movies is listed as a 2005 release on Amazon, and there’s a Chelsea Girls DVD, too.Last year, Raro compiled 11 films and 8 discs into a box set, Andy Warhol Anthology, which–like all the films–is issued in region-free PAL format. There are extensive bilingual notes, interviews, and bonus material accompanying the discs, but there are also odd errors in formatting:

At least two of the silent films, Kiss and Blow Job, are mastered at the wrong speed [25fps instead of 16fps], and the once-randomly silent or audible soundtracks on the split-screen Chelsea Girls are provided in a single, seemingly arbitrary configuration which omits much well-documented dialogue.

Read the entire entry at Greg.org

A Controversy Over ‘Empire’, by Karen Rosenberg

Image and text source: New York Magazine

Published on November 22, 2004

At eight hours, Andy Warhol’s 1964 film Empire is something that one watches, as its creator said, “to see time go by.” Officially, the only way to see the artist’s epic stationary shot of the Empire State Building is to borrow a 16-millimeter print from MoMA or attend one of the museum’s infrequent screenings (there’s one on November 20). But a one-hour edit appears on a new Warhol-film DVD, Four Silent Movies, released by the Italian company Raro Video. “It’s a bootleg!” says Geralyn Huxley, a curator at the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which owns the artist’s films. Raro says the disc is authorized; the museum disagrees and, says Huxley, may sue.

The qualities that make Empire a precursor to reality TV—no script, elevation of the mundane—would seem to encourage sampling. But defenders of the film (which Warhol slowed down; shot at 24 frames per second, it’s projected at 16) say it simply can’t be cut. “It’s conceptually important that it’s eight hours long,” says Callie Angell, director of the Whitney’s Warhol Film Project. “Some people show it at the regular sound speed to make it go by faster, and I just think that’s not the film.” Seeing the whole thing offers surprises, she adds. “[Warhol and Jonas Mekas] were shooting it from the office of the Rockefeller Foundation in the Time-Life building, and when they changed the reels they’d turn the lights on. In three reels, they started before they turned the lights back off, so you can see a reflection of Warhol and Mekas in the window. No one had ever mentioned that before. Probably no one ever had sat through the whole thing.”

Ground Zero – Five Years Later

Image: SPI, dbox

Image and text source: Architectural Record

Note: This is a great resource offering several articles about design proposals for Ground Zero in NYC. Click on the above link to access all articles. It was published sometime in 2006.

Today, New Yorkers awoke to déjà vu. This crisp September morning, with fiercely white sunshine piercing a cloudless sky, was almost exactly like the day that greeted New Yorkers on September 11, 2001. While the similarity is uncanny, the platitudes are correct that the world is forever changed.

Words fail to fully communicate the experience of the terrorist attacks, and their transformative effect on society, politics, and the economy. Can the architecture that will replace and memorialize the Twin Towers fill the gaps?

We are getting closer to an answer. Despite the many conflicts about which commentators had forewarned us early on, Ground Zero’s rebirth inches toward reality. In the few weeks leading up to this fifth anniversary, news of progress has appeared with increasing frequency. Power switched hands, designs were revealed, steel was shipped. Ground Zero promises to be home to works by the generation’s most famous architects. That fact alone guarantees neither universal praise nor timelessness. But its completion will open a new chapter in which the public demands innovation and excellence throughout the built landscape, not just in rebuilding what’s lost.
ward reality. In the few weeks leading up to this fifth anniversary, news of progress has appeared with increasing frequency. Power switched hands, designs were revealed, steel was shipped. Ground Zero promises to be home to works by the generation’s most famous architects. That fact alone guarantees neither universal praise nor timelessness. But its completion will open a new chapter in which the public demands innovation and excellence throughout the built landscape, not just in rebuilding what’s lost.

North Quad Remix: It’s Over Your Head | Architecture Column, By Austin Dingwall

A view of the front side of the Frieze Building. (ALI OLSEN/Daily)
Image and text source: The Michigan Daily

Published: 9/13/06

niversity President Mary Sue Coleman and the other administrators were right to delay the North Quad project, choosing to perfect its architecture rather than accepting a mediocre design. The project’s completion may be pushed back a year, but the permanence and importance of this building will affect generations of students, faculty and Ann Arborites for decades to come. This structure is to be the gateway to Central Campus from the north, yet the recent March proposal from architecture firm Einhorn, Yaffee, Prescott showed a lackluster building, both piecemeal and uninviting. Most importantly, the proposed renderings did not express an externally unified charisma to harbor the building’s innovative interior.

In July, the University hired Robert A.M. Stern Architects to redesign North Quad while keeping Einhorn, Yaffee, Prescott on to retain the integrity of the interior programming. With this decision, the University is poised to get more of, if not exactly, what they want for North Quad. Time and time again, Robert A.M. Stern Architects have proven that they are masters at adapting to context while providing traditional, distinguished architecture.

Read the entire article at  The Michigan Daily

Soft Modernism: The World of the Post-Theoretical Designer, by Mike Grimshaw

Le Corbusier
1947, Photogram
Image source: http://www.govettbrewster.com/

Text source: Ctheory


“Architecture is either the prophecy of an unfinished society or the tomb of a finished one.”
— Lewis Mumford, 1934. [1]

Of all the varying impacts of postmodernity (whatever we can or cannot agree that to mean) one of the most ubiquitous has been the preponderance of Lifestyle as ‘a life of style’ — the “Wallpaper*ization”[2] of the proposed environment we are meant to inhabit. The stylist, the designer, the imitator has sought to create a modernism within postmodern eclecticism. Yet this is a modernism that only embraces the totalitarianism internal to a mis-read Nietzschean-derived will to power and order.

While it could be argued that postmodernism was the triumph of theory over substance, it was a reversal of a Marxist derived modernism: now all that melts becomes solid in the air. Like melting substances, disorder became the form of representation. Like a melting substance, that which seemed ephemeral became attached, sometimes organic, sometimes as collage but always, and this is crucial, as a form of ornamentation.

Read the entire text at Ctheory

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