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Archive by August, 2008

Particles of Interest: An Interview with *particle group*, by Eduardo Navas

Images and text source: gallery@calit2

Note: The following is an interview published for the exhibition SPECFLIC 2.6 and Particles of Interest: Installations by Adriene Jenik and *particle group* on view from August 6 to October 3, 2008 at gallery@calit2. In this Interview *particle group* shares its critical approach on the ever growing nanoparticles market.

*particle group* is a collective consisting of Principal Investigators Ricardo Dominguez and Diane Ludin, as well as Principal Researchers Nina Waisman (Interactive Sound Installation design)and Amy Sara Carroll, with a number of others flowing in and out.  The collective draws from the hard and social sciences to develop installations that are critically engaged with the politics of science and its market.  Their aim with the installation “Particles of Interest” is to shed light on the lack of regulation of nanoparticles in consumer goods.  In the following interview the *particle group* shares its views on the current state of nanotechnology production, as well as a possible future that we may all be facing, in which nanomachines just might make difficult decisions for us.

[Eduardo Navas]: How does collaboration take place within the *particle group*? You describe members’ roles as Investigators and Researchers. Could you explain how these terms are relevant to each collaborator’s contribution to the project?

[*particle group*]: We mimic the structure of a research and development model for a university laboratory. By laboratory we mean a group of individuals who pursue conceptual investigations determined by a chronology of work that the Investigators have determined. Here, though, it should be noted that already we morph the template as Principal Investigators become Principle Investigators, homonymically signalling our investments in science’s narrative “engines of creation,” the aesthetic/ized practices and/or “naturalized” conceptualisms inherent in research, investigation, discovery and data transfer within scientific communities’ “normalized” articulations of self.

Generally the researchers participate from the beginning stages of materializing/performing/manifesting the work that the collective *particle group* eventually presents in counter/public spheres as varied as the art museum, the mall, and/or the scientific meeting. Researchers work in tandem with Investigators to develop their interpretations of the subject matter under investigation, augmentation, and/or erasure. So each time we are invited (or invite ourselves) to stage an iteration of our research, we meet and discuss via Skype or email what our intentions should be for the “performance.” To date we have had a different crew of researchers for each presentation so inherent in particle group’s particularization and particle-ization is a revolving/open door policy toward creative maelstroming. This project was produced in large part by Calit2, and so it made aesthetic sense to us to approach the project as would-be art(is)cientists and to stage a series of p(our)-us epistemologies (on the testbeds of these strange viroids of art and science) and not to see the gesture of art and science as two bunkers at war — but as possible thought-scapes of concern under the sign of “nano-ethics and nano-constructions.” Each one as blind as the other, each one helping the other over the rocking shoals of Particle Capitalism(s).


SPECFLIC 2.6: An Interview with Adriene Jenik, by Eduardo Navas

Adriene Jenik lecturing at Calit2

Images and text source: gallery@calit2

Note: The following is an interview published for the exhibition SPECFLIC 2.6 and Particles of Interest: Installations by Adriene Jenik and *particle group* on view from August 6 to October 3, 2008 at gallery@calit2. In this Interview Jenik shares the creative process behind her ongoing multi-faceted installation SPECFLIC, which points to a future where books have become rare objects.

Adriene Jenik combines literature, cinema and performance to create works under the umbrella of Distributed Social Cinema. For Jenik, this term means that the language of cinema has been moving outside of the conventional movie screens on to different media devices, which today include, the portable computer, GPS locators, as well as cellphones. Earlier in her career, Jenik worked with video and performance, and eventually she produced CD-Roms, such as “Mauve Desert: A CD-ROM Translation” (1992-1997). Jenik’s practice took a particular shift towards network culture when the Internet became a space in which she could bring together her interests in film, literature, and performance. “Desktop Theater: Internet Street Theater” (1997-2002) was a virtual performance which took place in an online space. It was based on Samuel Becket’s play Waiting for Godot. In line with these works, SPECFLIC 2.6 is the result of Jenik’s interest in the relation of networked culture to film, literature and performance. The installation, then, is also another shift in Jenik’s interest in the expanded field of storytelling. In the following interview, Jenik shares the influences and aesthetical concerns that inform SPECFLIC 2.6

[Eduardo Navas]: You describe your ongoing SPECFLIC project, currently in version 2.6, as “Distributed Social Cinema.” Given that your installation takes on so many aspects of contemporary media, could you elaborate on how you arrived at the parameters at play around this concept?

[Adriene Jenik]: SPECFLIC was initially inspired by the recognition that cinema was moving beyond a single fixed image at an expected scale to one of multiple co-existent screens with extreme shifts in scale. I was seeing video on miniature screens, as well as gigantic mega-screens, and seeing these screens move about in space and wondering what types of stories could take advantage of these formal and technological shifts. I’ve long been involved in thinking through layered story structures and at the beginning of SPECFLIC, I could “see” a diagram of the project imprinted on the inside of my eyelids. That original retinal image burn has since been honed and shaped in relation to the needs of the story and the responses of the audience and performers.

The SPECFLIC 2.6 installation takes excerpts from material that was created for SPECFLIC 2.0, and follows on the heels of SPECFLIC 2.5, which was commissioned by Betti-Sue Hertz and presented at the San Diego Museum of Art in Spring of 2008. For SPECFLIC 2.5, I stripped away all of the live, interactive aspects of the piece, and instead, emphasized aspects of the story that might have been more in the background of the live event. This type of “versioning” is something that is in evidence in software creation, but has also become a method for developing an art practice that can expand and embrace new research and technologies. Distributed Social Cinema is a form that takes into account the importance (for me) of the public audience for a film. As cinema-going practice becomes “home entertainment,” I’m interested in what is at stake in cinema as a public meeting space. At the same time, I’m playing with the intimacy of the very small screen, the ways in which having part of a story delivered into someone’s pocket adds a layer of meaning in its form of delivery. The SPECFLIC 2.5 installation was an attempt to consolidate some of these aspects of distributed attention and “voice.”

Granted the opportunity for networked interaction within the gallery@calit2, for SPECFLIC 2.6 I have rethought the installation to develop in concert with audience contributions. So the project is very much evolving in response to what I learn from each previous iteration as well as the opportunities afforded by the space, encounter with the audience, and technological framework.


“On Distributed Social Cinema and the Nano Market”, by Eduardo Navas

Adriene Jenik installation at the SDMA

Images and text source: gallery@calit2

Note: This text was written for the exhibition SPECFLIC 2.6 and Particles of Interest: Installations by Adriene Jenik and *particle group*, at gallery@calit2, from August 6 to October 3, 2008. The text outlines how dematerialization is at play ideologically and materially in contemporary life, and how it might be at play in the not so far future.

The installations “SPECFLIC 2.6” by Adriene Jenik, and “Particles of Interest” by *particle group*, on view at the gallery@calit2 from August 6 to October 2, 2008, ask the viewer to consider a not-so-distant future in which we will be intimately connected in networks not only through our computers, but also via nanoparticles in and on our very own bodies. Both projects respond to the pervasive mediation of information that is redefining human understanding of the self, as well as the concept of history, knowledge, and the politics of culture.

Information access to networked archives of books and other forms of publication previously only available in print is becoming the main form of research as well as entertainment. Access to music and video via one’s computer and phone as well as other hybrid devices has come to redefine human experience of media. From the iPhone to the Kindle, visual interfaces are making information access not only efficient in terms of time and money, but also in terms of spectacle. Accessibility usually consists of a combination of animation, video, image and text, informed in large part by the language of film and the literary novel.


HOW’D THEY DO THAT? The Batsuit gets a makeover, by Tom Russo

Special to The Times
Originally published: July 20, 2008

Image and text source: LA Times

Note: I’ve seen many of the live-action as well as animated features of Batman that have been spun out by Hollywood throughout the last few decades. As much improvement has taken place in the area of special effects in order to live up to the action that graphic artists created in comic books, one thing that had not been dealt with properly was the fact that in live-action features, when a super-hero ran in tights he looked quite silly. (The issue has been mainly with men. Women in tights like Elektra or Wonder Woman become sexual objects). Tim Burton’s Batman was not bad, but it looked as though Batman was wearing a type of plastic suit, and one could not quite believe the suit’s functionality as an enhancing device for the human body. Now, the suit for men has moved beyond the comic book’s concept of showing off an overdeveloped body onto become an extension, a type of body armor which not only protects but enhances the physical strength of the superhero. The LA Times article below eloquently reflects on this shift in the translation of the comic book to the big screen. One can only expect that comic books will pick up on this concept and incorporate it into new graphic novels, completing feedback loop.

– E. Navas

The ‘Dark Knight’ hero has tossed the sweaty rubber and molded-plastic costumes of yesteryear and sports a cooler, motocross-style flexi-suit this time around.

WHEN “THE Dark Knight” director Christopher Nolan and Oscar-winning costume designer Lindy Hemming considered how they would retool Christian Bale’s Batman armor for the new movie, one question leaped to mind immediately: “Why, in 2008, would a superhero put on a rubber suit?” Hemming asks. “Why would he wear something that made him less active and unbelievably, unpleasantly hot? He wouldn’t. He’d use all the technology available to be as comfortable as possible.”

So when audiences get a look at the new, heavily segmented Batsuit with its Kevlar pecs and abs and exposed titanium-mesh under layer, they should know that this was no George Clooney Batnipple exercise in impishly messing with tradition. Rather, the “Dark Knight” crew was adhering to the creative mandate that Nolan first set on “Batman Begins”: Ground the proceedings as much as possible in real-world believability. As costume effects supervisor Graham Churchyard pointedly puts it, “You’re supposed to be scuba diving in a neoprene body suit, not kickboxing.”

Read the entire article at LA Times

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