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FEATURE: Front Wheel Drive Summer Reading List, 2007

Front Wheel Drive

We’re late again with the summer list, but here it is. Thanks to all who participated, including newcomers Dave Allen, Howard Bloom, Alex Burns, and Calvin Johnson, as well as verteran contributors Mark Pesce, Patrick Barber, Steven Shaviro, and Gary Baddeley. As this list proves year after year, there’s a lot of good stuff out there to read. Enjoy.

Mark Pesce, Author, The Playful World

J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Arthur A. Levine Books): I must be the only one reading that.
Philip K. Dick The Zap Gun (Gollancz)
John Robb Brave New War: The Next Stage of Terrorism and the End of Globalization (Wiley): Highly recommended!
David Weinberger Everything is Miscellaneous (Times Books)
Richard Vinen A History in Fragments (Da Capo)
John Henry Clippinger A Crowd of One: The Future of Individual Identity (PublicAffairs)

Read all the summer reading recommendations at Front Wheel Drive

TEXT: Media Art – A Mixed History, book review by Horea AVRAM

Media Art Histories, Edited by Oliver Grau;
Cambridge, Massachusetts, London, England: MIT Press, 2007.
More information: mediaarthistory.org

Media Art Histories, edited by Oliver Grau aims to occupy a central position among an increasing number of edited volumes of essays or overview histories dedicated to new media art. Like other such endeavours Media Art Histories proposes to fill the gap between a full-speed developing practice, the crystallization of a systematic theoretical knowledge and the establishment of a history (and in fact legitimacy) for the phenomenon of new media art.

The principal merit of this book is synthesized in the title itself: it doesn’t pretend to deliver a history, but histories, that is, a pluralist account of media art. Indeed, the volume is comprised of a mosaic of approaches and attitudes regarding new media art seen from a historical perspective. However, there is a declared common premise, which is, according to the editor, the need to put media art and its histories on a more stable basis, to bring them to a sort of mainstream institutional recognition, and introduce new media “full time” in the academic curricula. And there is something more: the affirmed ambition of this book to understand media art not only as a technical/technological gadget but also as a complex theoretical issue situated in a historical context and seen in relationship with other akin disciplines: film, cultural and media studies, computer science, philosophy, and sciences dealing with images.

Continue reading »

New Reviews on Furtherfield 30/4/07

http://www.furtherfield.org

– Jess Lacetti interviews Chris Joseph (Babel):
Chris Joseph is Digital Writer in Residence at De Montfort University, Leicester, UK. He is a writer and artist who has produced solo and collaborative work since 2002 as babel. His past work includes Inanimate Alice, an award-winning series of multimedia stories produced with novelist Kate Pullinger; The Breathing Wall, a groundbreaking digital novel that responds to the reader’s breathing rate (also with Kate Pullinger); and Animalamina, an A-Z of interactive multimedia poetry for children. He is editor of the post-dada magazine and network 391.org.
http://www.furtherfield.org/chrisJosephinterview.php

– Article on Yves Klein by Joseph Nechvatal.
– Long live the immaterial! Yves Klein,
The Chelsea Hotel Manifesto. Yves Klein is for me, and many others, the most important French artist after Henri Matisse. This may sound somewhat appalling to some, as Klein enjoyed only a very concise, but invigorating, seven-year artistic career. But I will clarify this controversial judgment by pointing out his historic relevance to our era of digital culture. The emphasis here will be on Klein’s conceptual articulation of the spatial and the ephemeral/immaterial in relationship to our current actual state of virtuality. Indeed the subtitle of the exhibition, CORPS, COULEUR, IMMATÉRIEL (Body, Color, Immaterial), itself brings out the salient viractual aspects of Klein’s art.
http://www.furtherfield.org/YVESKLEINreview.php

– What If We Played A War and Nobody Won?.
– Review by Natasha Chuk.
What If We Played A War and Nobody Won?: Critical Approaches to War in Videogame Art is a mouthful of a title that asks the big question that lingers in our contemporary culture’s collective mind and begs its audience to consider the possibility of deconstructing war through game metaphor. This online exhibition is comprised of six online games that tamper with the rules and styles of standardized games. Each explores an aspect of war — from its gruesome realities to its philosophical blurriness – through play. What is being reinvented here is not the act of play and the skills required to “win”, rather the motivation behind play and how it relates to our perceptions of war.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=227

– The Last Tag Show by Pash*.
– Review by Nathan Lovejoy.
The Last Tag Show cleverly took advantage of Last.FM’s technical structure to pull off a 24 hour performance. As the allotted time progressed, viewers saw tracks and artists appear in succession on Last.FM user profile lasttagshow’s profile page. These were no ordinary songs however, the artists instead altered the metadata of audio tracks such that when they were uploaded to the Last.FM servers they appeared as a multi-character dialogue. The principal personages in the performance include “Moderator,” “Hannah,” “Voiceover,” “Instructor,” “Marck,” “Zita Vass,” and “Gregg,” with occasional guest stars like Thom Yorke.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=228

– The Postnational Foundation by Dan Phiffer.
– Review by Luis Silva.
Dan Phiffer, a computer hacker from California (now based in Brooklyn), interested in exploring the cultural dimension of inexpensive communications networks such as voice telephony and the Internet, created the Postnational Foundation, a website/series of public interventions, defined as “an ongoing series of brief, personal interventions, an open-ended question about personal agency and a starting point for doing something meaningful”. Each of these three goals contains a very important concept, contextualizing Phiffer’s practice (and discourse): interventive behaviour, personal agency and meaningfulness. In these three concepts we can anchor the importance of The Postnational Foundation, in the steps of Lyotard’s views of the contemporary world.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=229

Other Reviews:
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreviews.php

About Furtherfield Reviewers:
http://www.furtherfield.org/reviewersbio.php

If you want your work reviewed or to be a reviewer on Furtherfield,
contact – marc.garrett@furtherfield.org

BOOK REVIEW: “Baudrillard’s The Counter Fearful Thing” by Joseph Nechvatal


Baudrillard at the “Chance Event”5

This review was originally published in International Journal of Baudrillard Studies. It is republished in NMF with permission.

Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005. Reviewed by Joseph Nechvatal
(Professor of Theory of Art at The School of Visual Arts in New York City and The Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey, USA).

There is for me an evidence in the realm of flesh which has nothing to do with the evidence of reason.1

For Pataphysics all phenomena are totally gaseous.2

Eadem mutata resurgo
I arise again the same though changed.3

We are nothing more than a state of virtual fart…4

There is no deal to be made with death.6

The first remarkable thing about Jean Baudrillard’s limited edition text Pataphysics is its passé, handmade, deckle-edged, luxury cover. I say remarkable in that I still tend to identify Baudrillard with the small, slick black covers in which Semiotext(e) introduced him to America; covers which implied more of a techno aesthetic than this solemn neo-gothic one. The second remarkable thing about this book is its slim size: it is only 14 pages long.

I was immediately struck by the nonsensical pairing of a distinguished looking façade that supposedly signified some kind of venerable “authenticity” with an interior teensy-weensy substantive content. But as I gleefully plunged past the books sign-value packaging and into the distinguished Simon Watson Taylor’s English translation (his final) of this circa-1950 text (ostensibly on the subject of Pataphysics, which Baudrillard here defines as “the philosophy of gaseous states”7, as “tautology”8 – the use of redundant language that adds no information and as “the mind’s loftiest temptation”) this pairing made a peculiarly drôle sense, as immediately I started reading about “fake” “stucco” “self-infatuation” and “vast flatulence”, followed soon after by talk of “fake universes”.9

I had first encountered this slim but fascinating text, which Baudrillard wrote at the tender age 21, when it appeared unexpectedly in Baudrillard’s collection of art-related essays which Sylvère Lotringer’s Semiotext(e) released in 200510 (it is a different translation, however). But lacking the kind of provocative packaging Atlas (in association with The London Institute of Pataphysics) has given this version, it made a rather minor impact on me at the time. But this new stucco-coated version, with the what one might be tempted to say is rather pretentious outside packaging, has focused my mind sympatheticly by actualizing some of the significant pataphysical concepts raised within the text itself. And for that its idiosyncratic design intelligence must be appreciated.

Of course this style choice is internally consistent with Baudrillard’s notion that systems of signification and meaning are only understandable in terms of their ambivalent interrelationships. How better to reinforce his iconic concepts of viral seduction, simulation, and hyperreality than this paradoxical presentation of the blatantly conservative with the imaginative far-out?

One might first be tempted to point to the traditionalist signifiers being played with here as substantive affirmation of what some of his readers have identified as Baudrillard’s rather thinly veiled conservative longing for a lost originality in face of digital virtuality; an impulse which verges on the nauseating nostalgic. Indeed this impression is enhanced when reading in the prelude that the publisher pulled out the old rare book ploy here. There are only 177 numbered copies of this letterpress-printed book and 44 numbered copies signed by the hand of Baudrillard himself. What a rare and valuable commodity – if one dances to that sort of consensus trance.

Undeniably, such a comic example of self-imposed rarity in the age of virtuality can be infuriating – but that would be taking this project way too seriously. Assuredly Baudrillard here puts forth that “Pataphysics is not serious” but that it possesses a silliness that perhaps “constitutes precisely its seriousness”.11 Better to just scan it and pass it around up on the internet. Better still to just concentrate on its intangible pleasures.

First off, there is the pleasure to be found in examining Baudrillard backwards (so to speak) in terms of hyperreal nonsense.12 Backwards in that we already know considerably well his mid-career and recent oeuvre, but poorly, if at all, such early formative texts. And following this backwards flip, we may examine him circularly and hence self-pataphysicly in that Baudrillard also defines Pataphysics as that which “revolves around itself”.13 So we can now regressively time trip and spin-view retrospectively his various observations, theories and analyses of technological communication through a young and delirious metaphysics deeply inspired by French and German poetry, the pataphysical anti-concepts developed by Alfred Jarry and the brilliant ravings of Antonin Artaud. These last two associations are explicit, as the reader is clued into these two contextual references in the text’s prelude, most importantly the text’s lapidary reaction to the publishing of key Artaud texts and the formation of the Parisian Collège de Pataphysique.14

By way of the understanding Artaud’s impact on the young Baudrillard, it may be valuable to recall Artaud’s proposal in Le Théâtre et Son Double (The Theatre and its Double) that art (in his case drama) must be a means of influencing the human organism and directly altering consciousness by engaging the audience in a ritualistic-like trance. Even though in his essay The Theatre of Cruelty and the Closure of Representation Jacques Derrida describes how Artaud’s theory may be seen as impossible in terms of the established structure of Western thought15, this is precisely why Baurillard’s youthful creative text can be placed in position to Artaud’s hypothesis and well within the College de Pataphysique. Indeed Baudrillard writes here that “Artaud demands a re-evaluation of creation, of coming into the world”.16

The Collège de Pataphysique was founded on May 11on May 11th, 1948 by an anarchic group of artists and writers interested in the philosophy of Pataphysics. These zealots devoted their time to perpetuating (and often distorting) Jarry’s philosophical pranks. In 1959 Marcel Duchamp agreed to be a satrap in the Collège de Pataphysique17 and there have been numerous links established with the Oulipo literary movement – specifically through the participation in both groups by the poet Raymond Queneau. The fabulous wordsmith Jean Genet has described himself as following in the pataphysical tradition, and so Baudrillard seems now retrospectively like a fitting young candidate for the Collège (he evidently became a transcendent satrap there) as he, like Jarry and Genet both, obsessively circumnavigate around absurd mocked-up topographies.

For anyone who may not know, Pataphysics is the absurdist pseudo-philosophy/ideology devised by Alfred Jarry. The term first appeared in print in Jarry’s article Guignol in the April 28th (1893) issue of L’Écho de Paris littéraire illustré. It is a form of conceptual flatulent hot air that hinges on the idea of utter nonsense. A practitioner of Pataphysics is a pataphysician or a pataphysicist.

For Jarry, Pataphysics is the anti-scientific realm beyond metaphysics that examines the laws which preside over exceptions – an attempt to elucidate an imaginary cosmos. Jarry specifically defined Pataphysics as the “science of imaginary solutions, which symbolically attributes the properties of objects, described by their virtuality, to their lineaments”.18

Alfred Jarry

So we recognize here some rhizomatic roots that may have nurtured Baudrillard’s hyperbolic and jaded view of an incongruous virtual-reality drenched world. In Jarry we already relish an artificial Baudrillardian simulated world created by an hallucinatory social structure where shimmering objects decree in odd ways what people can and cannot do within the vast void of virtuality. Indeed, like Jarry, Baudrillard mostly arrives at this social examination without demonstrating any sustained systematic analysis. Poof! Voila: a gaseous bon délire: an airy imaginary solution. But in Pataphysics, every occurrence in the universe is established to be an extraordinary event. No simulation possible.

Of course this aim of creating an inorganic world ex nihilo and luxuriating in its rarefied artificiality was not unique to Jarry. Indeed it was perfectly articulated in 1884 with the publication of Joris-Karl Huysmans’s decadent novel; A Rebours (Against Nature), a story of a recluse art worshiper who yearns for new sensations and perverse pleasures within a transcendental artificial ideal. Recall that decadent French theory, which is almost equivalent to Fin-de-Siècle Symbolist theory, aspired to set art free from the materialistic preoccupations of industrial society.

But what struck me as most exact to the young Baudrillard text’s bizarre propositions was its deep reflection (one might even say brooding) on the theme of ignobility, and this shoddily shifted something in my appreciation of Baudrillard’s total word production. Notably, already evident is Baudrillard’s display of a mordantly witty obsession with language, a flatulent smoky language that tests the limits of form and stretches the bounds of meaning by recasting our experiences of encountering wildly disjunctive ideas into the sumptuously physicality of total negation.

This reality-rejecting text delivers an airy irrational punch of nonsensical negation by tying together methods of insouciant informality with a visceral camp irony: at turns hip and flamboyant, then turning towards the morally outrageous. At times the text simulates the disappearing ephemeral we associate with electronically provided information today on the internet, and the flickering of its translucent form. Still the reader is expected to work devotedly to solve the absurd flatulent conundrums supplied here, to supply mental transitions between the diverse and massive assortment of irrational elements which supply the text its pataphysical hooks. One must fabricate a complicated forensic fairy-tale out of this flatulent melange, which keeps slipping in and out of idiosyncratic narration. And that recitation keeps turning back into one about stinking death, that strange, incurable and deeply irrational affliction. Baudrillard in fact defines here the rules of the pataphysical game as narcissism of death, a lethal eccentricity”.19 Yes, I read this text as a meditation on humiliating death in all its undifferentiated fabulousness, by which I mean its essentially nasty comedy. So this is a young man’s text about funny, difficult death then, which while pulling down our pants and revealing our soiled undies, keeps everyone laughing (or at least gurgling) till the bitter end.

According to Baudrillard, in Pataphysics “all things become artificial, poisonous, resulting in a schizophrenia induced by pink stucco angels…”.20 But also there is here an awareness of impertinent splendor in the tranquility of flatulent decomposition, which makes it all seem faintly heroic in face of death’s inexorability. Thus this irrational text implies an antiphilosopher’s knowledge of dumb death’s putrid ignobility – but Baudrillard will not give in to that parody either. And this is what gives the work its extraordinary sense of dignity, a dignity which asserts life’s primacy over death because death is beyond narration and words.

So this text’s irrational gaseous hypothesis is actually fine absurdist Ubu art.21 But an Ubu art which does not merely help us pass the time away; it enlivens time if we surrender to its fearful pataphysical difficulty. A vertigo intricacy of which Baudrillard says is “anaemic” and “impossible” as its “procedure is a vicious circle within”.22

So Baudrillard’s work here provides the chance to do the counter-fearful thing then, to look at what we fear so that such an effort will help release us from fear’s irrational grip. Then we can pataphysically expand into the airy void and see beneath the stucco surface of Maya23 and so enjoy absurd life all the more. So that the ignobility of death can be ignored and nonsensical dignity restored – for the fleeting moment.

Endnotes

1 Antonin Artaud. Manifesto In Clear Language.

2 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005.

3 Motto of The Collège de Pataphysique.

4 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005.

5 The “Chance Event” was produced by Cris Krauss at Whiskey Pete’s In Las Vegas from November 8-10, 1996. Baudrillard is photographed reading the text of a song he wrote a decade earlier called “Motel-Suicide”.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.:8.

8 Ibid.:7.

9 Ibid.:7-8.

10 Jean Baudrillard and Sylvere Lotringer (Editor). The Conspiracy of Art. New York: Semiotexte and MIT Press, 2005.

11 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005:10.

12 A. Sokal and J. Bricmont. “Jean Baudrillard” in Fashionable Nonsense: Postmodern Intellectuals’ Abuse of Science New York: Picador, 1998:147-153.

13 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005:8.

14 Ibid.:5.

15 Jacques Derrida. “The Theatre of Cruelty and the Closure of Representation” in Jacques Derrida Writing and Difference. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1978:232-250.

16 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005:10.

17 M. Sanouillet. “Marcel Duchamp and the French Intellectual Tradition,” in Marcel Duchamp, Philadelphia: The Museum of Modern Art and Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1973.

18 Alfred Jarry. “What is Pataphysics?” Evergreen Review, Number 13, 1963:131

19 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005:8.

20 Ibid.:11.

21 Ubu is defined by Baudrillard in this Pataphysics text as “the gaseous and caricatural state…” (page 7), (among other things). Baudrillard builds here on Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi, a play that created a famous scandal when it was first performed at the Theatre de l’Oeuvre in Paris in 1896. It is an important precursor of Dada. Through a language of shocking hilarity, Ubu Roi tells the farcical story of Père Ubu, an officer of the King of Poland who is a grotesque figure who epitomizes the mediocrity and idiocy of middle-class officialdom. It was through writing Ubu Roi that Jarry became the creator of the science of Pataphysics, his absurd a-logic which defined the science of imaginary solutions as enshrined since 1948 in the Collège de Pataphysique.

22 Jean Baudrillard. Pataphysics. London: Institute of Pataphysics and Atlas Press, 2005:10-11.

23 The concept of Maya in Indian philosophy refers to the purely phenomenal, insubstantial character of the everyday world.

REVIEW: YVES KLEIN CORPS, COULEUR, IMMATÉRIEL by Joseph Nechvatal

YVES KLEIN CORPS, COULEUR, IMMATÉRIEL
5 OCT. 06 – 5 FEB. 07
The Centre Pompidou / Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris


“Anthropométrie de l’époque bleue” (1960)
© DR
source: LVMH

Center Pompidou: http://www.centrepompidou.fr/
Pompidou/Accueil.nsf/tunnel?OpenForm

Long live the immaterial!
-Yves Klein, The Chelsea Hotel Manifesto

Yves Klein is for me, and many others, the most important French artist after Henri Matisse. This may sound somewhat appalling to some, as Klein enjoyed only a very concise, but invigorating, seven-year artistic career. But I will clarify this controversial judgment by pointing out his historic relevance to our era of digital culture. The emphasis here will be on Klein’s conceptual articulation of the spatial and the ephemeral/immaterial in relationship to our current actual state of virtuality. Indeed the subtitle of the exhibition, CORPS, COULEUR, IMMATÉRIEL (Body, Color, Immaterial), itself brings out the salient viractual (*1) aspects of Klein’s art.

Yves Klein’s own lived life is the first major example of the ephemeral. Klein was born near Nice in a village called Canges-sur-Mer in 1928 of artist parents; Fred Klein, a figurative painter, and Marie Raymond, an abstract painter in the tradition of the École de Paris. He died unexpectedly in 1962 of a heart attack shortly after seeing the sensationalizing Yves Klein segment of Gualtiero Jacopetti’s Mondo Cane exploitation film at its Canne Film Festival debut at the young age of 34. He was at the height of his fame.

On entering this exhibition the viewer is immediately introduced to the fact that Klein first studied Oriental languages, Zen philosophy and Judo via a highly accomplished digital presentation which was augmented by a plethora of photographs, drawings and texts. Indeed Klein achieved black-belt stature in Judo and taught and wrote a book about the subject after spending fifteen months at the Kodokan Institute in Tokyo. He then went on to found his own Judo school in Paris, making a living teaching Judo from 1955 to 1959. He also played music in a jazz band.

With such a basis in sport and music performance, Klein easily brought his theoretical concerns around space, color and painting into the theatricality of conceptual and performance art and thus negated and undermined the classic art object, dissolving art into action and thus styling himself into an artistic personality in a way that anticipated the strategies of Andy Warhol and Joseph Beuys and Orlan. His staging of even the minutest details and the orchestration of their documentation and framed reception, along with his linking of art and technology, make him a most relevant figures for current art practice.

What was not pointed out in the show very well was that in 1948, at age 20, Klein discovered a book by Max Heindel (1865-1919) which teaches the basic beliefs of an esoteric Christian sect called the Rosicrucians. Klein obsessively studied the book for five years, and after coming to Paris in 1955, began to refer to himself as an initiate in the sect (he was made a Knight of the Order of Archers of Saint Sebastian) and was married to the beautiful Rotrault Uecker (now Rotrault Klein-Moquay) within it’s highly flamboyant and ritualistic ceremony. This exceedingly formal marriage is presented further on in the show in a delightful color documentary film.

Based on the Rosicrucian metaphysical ideology, Klein avowed to indicate to the world a new age, the Age of Space. In the Age of Space, boundless spirit would exist free of form, objects would levitate, and humans would travel liberated from their body. This contextual understanding is essential for understanding Klein’s artistic importance, as this ideology of the immaterial informs all his work, even the paintings but most explicitly such conceptual-technological works as the Sculpture aérostatique (1957) which was the release of 1001 balloons, and the Illumination de l’Obélisque (1958) in the Place de la Concorde. Indeed, the exhibition reinstates Klein’s metaphysical ideology as the basis of his ephemeral actions as equal to his monochrome paintings. Definitely the well-known IKB blue monochrome were for him no more than an introduction to his ideological “blue revolution”, which he saw as the diffusion of immaterial pictorial sensibility throughout the whole cosmos, both visible and invisible. So blue color was for Klein was not pigment and binder but a spiritual, cosmic force that stimulates the entire environment, transforming life itself into a work of art.

Admittedly, Klein’s idea of pure virtual open space (free from form) was first actualized in his blue monochrome paintings, where the bisecting nature of line was rejected in favor of an even, all-over, ultramarine-blue color which he called IKB (International Klein Blue). However, later some of his monochromes were painted pink or gold. The Ex-voto dédié à Sainte-Rita (1961) which was deposited by Klein at the Convent of Santa Rita in Cascia, Italy (and presented for the first time at this exhibition) is valuable evidence of the importance of pink and gold alongside blue in Klein’s imaginative, viractual, and ephemeral universe.

Of course Klein, by all accounts, was not all theory. He was a showman too. In 1957, not long after the appearance of the first monochromes in 1955, Klein turned to the further exploration of the immaterial aspect of his art through act and gesture. His exhibitions of evanescent performance works, ephemeral sculptures in fire or water, sound works, “air architectures” and artistic appropriation of the entirety of space (extending to the whole cosmos) were all manifestations of the ephemera and invisible idea that for him is the essential experience of art itself.

We must remember when gazing into his luxurious blue paintings that Klein’s interests in open areas of color and light, in vibrating voids, and in sheer saturated colors emptied of figurative presence are primarily directed towards space’s and color’s aoristic qualities, qualities which subsequently will interest future generations of ambient-oriented artists and digital artists.

Most notably, in 1958 Klein went beyond the monochrome rectilinear canvas with a distinguished ephemeral and immersive presentation titled Le Vide (The Void), which was held at Galerie Iris Clert in Paris. For this exhibition Klein cleaned out and whitewashed the gallery and “impregnated” the empty space with his consciousness; filling the freshly whitened gallery (emptied of figurative presence) with Le Vide, through which Klein led small groups.

I consider this installation to be of utmost importance to the identification of the immersive ideals of virtual reality in that it crystallizes the body’s entrance into a consciousness of aoristic space. (*2)

Further along these lines, in early-1961 Klein installed, as part of his retrospective at Museum Haus Lange in Krefeld Germany, another immersive walk-in installation called Raum der Leere (Room of the Void) in reference to his Le Vide which consisted of a 285 by 442 by 172 centimetre room (approximately 9 by 14 by 5.6 feet) painted white (with slightly rough textured surface) lit by neon lamps. This work is documented through photographs and drawings in the exhibit.

Also notable is Klein’s faux Leap into the Void: Man in Space! The Painter of Space Throws Himself into the Void! of 1960 of course deserves some mention concerning immaterial idea art. Klein’s famous photomontage Leap into the Void, which depicts him floating above a street, is a symbol of the desire to overcome gravity and thus enter into the unlimited aspects of virtuality. It is a manifestation of Klein’s will to transcend limits, which runs through his entire oeuvre.

Beginning in 1960 Klein devoted himself increasingly to the immaterial aspects of fire as a medium to express elemental energy. I very much liked and respected the Cosmogonies “paintings” on view here, which capture the imprint of wind, of rain. Fire and air, two invisible fluids that Klein officially claimed as his own, give rise to works both real (fire paintings) and utopian; such as his air architecture projects and his schemes for planetary air-conditioning. But the gorgeous color film of Klein painting various Anthropometries through the use of “living paintbrushes” (i.e. female nudes) in a black dinner jacket while his proto-minimalist one note Monotone Symphony (1949) is performed is certainly one of the high points in the show, even though it perhaps was responsible for his death after he viewed it in the dreadful context of the Mondo Cane film. The music is performed brilliantly live as the nude models paint each other from the buckets of lush IKB Blue paint, gently pressing their naked bodies against the canvas that had been placed on wall and floor – while Klein (wearing white gloves) directs them verbally, never touching the paint or the bare models. (*3)

This is, needless to say, a highly ephemeral way to paint which pointed the way towards (and then away from) the Nouveaux Réalistes (New Realists), the French post-war avant-garde movement which was organized and theorized by the French poet and art critic Pierre Restany (1930-2003). The core issue of the Nouveaux Réalistes was the conception of art as formed by “real” elements, that is, materials taken from the world directly rather than formed pictorially. Influenced by Yves Klein and the general anti-rationalism that opposed the machine-like logic which underlay the killing efficiency of aerial war, many artists followed in these deep but shifting footsteps.

Despite numerous retrospectives, among them the exhibition at the Centre Pompidou in 1983, much of Klein’s immaterial-oriented work remained somewhat unknown until recently. In bringing together 120 paintings and sculptures, some 40 drawings and manuscripts and a great number of contemporary films and photographs, this exhibition offered me a new reading of Klein’s work, this time in the context of virtuality. Adhering as faithfully as possible to the artist’s own intentions as revealed in his recently published writings, the design of the exhibition brought out the importance that Klein accorded to the diverse aspects of his artistic practice: not only painting and sculpture, but also immaterial performances, sound works, interventions in public spaces, architectural projects and, most essentially, immaterial art theory. This diverse oeuvre, all produced during a period of just seven years, is indeed impressive as much of it anticipated the trends of Happening and Performance Art, Land Art, Body Art, Conceptual Art and Digital Art. Thus it has had an, ironically, durable influence on art through its essential interest in and expressions of the immaterial.

Note: The exhibition will also be presented at the Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Wien (Vienna, Austria) from 9 March 9th to June 3rd, 2007

(*1) The basis of the viractual conception is that virtual producing computer technology has become a significant means for making and understanding contemporary art and that this brings us to a place where one finds the emerging of the computed (the virtual) with the uncomputed corporeal (the actual). This merge – which tends to contradict some dominant techno clichés of our time – is what I call the ‘viractual’. This blending of computational virtual space with ordinary viewable space indicates the subsequent emergence of a new topological cognitive-vision of connection between the computed virtual and the uncomputed corporeal world.

(*2) Aorist is a classical Greek spatial term which was used when discussing an occurrence without limitations. Aorist literally means without horizons.

(*3) A short film, with a non monotone sound track, of a Klein painting performance can be viewed on-line at:
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=8859506883702524061&q=Yves+Klein

“Voodoo Economics A Remix from the South, and a Requiem for Uncounted Ancestors” by Julian Jonker

Paul D. Miller, _Rhythm Science_, Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2004

I Wild Style
Towards a Cartography of the Fourth Dimension
———————————————-

The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.

— William Gibson.

I live in a place where the progress of time is distributed as a fractal. It’s complex, really. Or, as they say in mathematics, it’s irreal, outside the cartesian geography of the real. Poses aside, there’s no hope of keeping it real in this windswept city by the sea. Paul D Miller’s alter ego, DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid and creator of the sound called ‘illbient’, has always professed to like keeping it surreal. He might like it here. But he might easily get bored with the ponderousness of a city powered more by the whim of sea currents than the steady pulse of electricity. The rhythm of this city measures the weight of the past rather than the lightness of the digital now, the unburdened flow of the current.

Cape Town, says a friend writing postcards from the suburban edge, is a state of mind. Not quite: it defies the seriousness of states, whether legitimate or illegitimate. Southern cities by the sea are where people come on holiday, to play. In altered states, the structures of class and race coalesce out of fractures and mirages like ships coming in from the sea. Even in this state the city is a rhizomorphic one, in Gilroy’s sense. You must understand, my city is a port city. It exists not as a place with roots in the soft earth of a continent, but as a point drifting along the routes that span oceans: oceans of sound, borrowing notes and rhythms from the trade winds.

In four dimensions, this city is not a port, nor a point, but a vector: that which Miller describes as a “relation between a determinate and an indeterminate property”. The vector, which has fixed dimensions but no fixed position, is the idea which can be recalled into any position in the geography of thought. The vector is the technology that transforms graffiti into wildstyle, that typographical art which Kodwo Eshun calls the “Escherization” of graffiti. The vector is the concept-tool of _Mille Plateaux_, or the beat pulled seamlessly into the mix. _Rhythm Science_ is a vector: a DJ tool, ready to be played.

In this manner too the city drifts in the mists of time and histories, waiting to be activated. It is without stated intentions, a city at play. Press play, and let the flow of histories coagulate into a mix. DJ Spooky names the track: “The virtual dimension to any vector is the range of possible movements of which it is capable. This is the wildstyle. Check the flow.”

Read the entire article

New Reviews/Interviews at Furtherfield.org Oct/Nov 2006

Welcome to Furtherfield’s current collection of reviews and interviews. Please find time to read all of the writings, they are in no particular order. After reading, do explore all the networked behaviour generously written and thought about, in context.

http://www.furtherfield.org

-Boredom Research: Interviewed by Aaron Steed.
-PHONETHICA: Reviewed by Franz Thalmair.
-Alex Dragulescu – Blogbot: Review by María Victoria Guglietti.
-VISP Project – MACHFELD: Interview by Julian Bleecker.
-The Lost Biology of Silent Hill_: FurtherCritic Article by [[Mez]]
-disturb.the.peace [angry women]: Review by Eliza Fernbach.
-2nd Upgrade Meeting at Oklahoma City: Review by Luis Silva.
-Jason Nelson – Vholoce: Review by John Hopkins.

Boredom Research: Interviewed by Aaron Steed.
———————————————————————>
An interview with Boredom Research on their latest project ‘F.wish’ a new online project commissioned by Folly (http://www.folly.co.uk/); based on the Lam Tsuen Wishing Trees. In Hong Kong near the Tin Hou Temple you can visit these trees, write your wish on a “bao die”, tie it to an orange and throw it up into the branches. If your wish is caught in the branches it is said to come true. The tree used to be a camphor tree where a tablet for worshipping Pak Kung was placed before it withered and became hollow. The myth goes that a worshiper prayed to the tree to fix his son who was slow in learning. The granted wish led to many more wishes being made of the tree.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=202

PHONETHICA: Reviewed by Franz Thalmair.
———————————————————————>
The contradictory overlap between diversity and similarity of languages and their corresponding cultures is the initial point for the project PHONETHICA by Takumi ENDO and Nao TOKUI. More than 6.5 billion people on our planet share approximately five to six thousand languages. Nevertheless, every single individual owns a speaking equipment, which enables him/her to produce the same sounds in every corner of the world. Consequently, there exists some coincidental similarity within the different idioms. Looking at languages in this specific way, it must be concluded that phonetic rather than semantic aspects of languages result in an overlapping of language phenomena in different cultural backgrounds.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=204

Alex Dragulescu’s Blogbot: Reviewed by María Victoria Guglietti.
———————————————————————>
Blogbot and productive inertia.
Sometimes silence is unbearable. Alex Dragulescu’s graphic novel What I Did Last Summer inundates our screen with words that we can almost touch. The phrases are intermittent, fragmentary, irrevocably silent… “I don’t ask why…” “Now, you’ve got all that on…” “I read the Stars and Stripes and….” These are textual bombs; scattered sentences harvested by Dragulescu’s software agent Blogbot. The phrases are actual extracts captured from the famous war blogs My War[sub]1[/sub] and Baghdad Blogger[2], two of the most famous blogs written by participants and witnesses of the war in Iraq.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=198

The Lost Biology of Silent Hill_: FurtherCritic Article by [[Mez]]
———————————————————————>
/The game Silent Hill [all 5 versions] attempts to restitch game-genre predictability. The versions progress using suspense/dread evocation as their primary engagement tool. Various game elements produce this introspective thrill-connection through the use of sound biting [almost literally], sinister environ expectancies [limited visual negotiations through fog/blackness], rotten materiality [decay + dereliction] and puzzle elements designed 2 provoke survival adaptions [fight-or-flight responses].
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=203

disturb.the.peace [angry women]: Review by Eliza Fernbach.
———————————————————————>
Can anger be beautiful? Can rage be aesthetic? The collaborative net-based installation site D/tP disturb.the.peace [angry women] thinks so. What after all is more powerful than an angry woman but a group of angry women doing art? The infamous ‘angry young man’ epitomized by the likes of James Dean and Marlon Brando in the cinema of the Fifties hasn’t really been mirrored in a feminine glass. Polishing a reflection on angry women- young or old is the aim of this site that Hollers back and out into the future with bravado. Curated by Jess Loseby
(http://rssgallery.com/), submissions to the site are ongoing and the bar has been set high by the founding fems who grace the inaugural page.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=200

2nd Upgrade Meeting at Oklahoma City: Review by Luis Silva.
———————————————————————>
This year, the Oklahoma City node will host the Second International Meeting. Having the DIY (Do-It-Yourself) ideology as its theme, as well as a metaphor for the functioning of the Upgrade! network, this city in the middle of the United States of America will witness, from November 30th to December 3rd, a worldwide meeting of new media artists, curators, critics and theoreticians. Over twenty nodes will be present and have been preparing specially for the occasion a program that will feature exhibitions, performances, lectures, workshops, screenings and debates. Spreading all over the city, in spaces like Untitled [ArtSpace], IAO Gallery or The Oklahoma City Museum of Art.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?review_id=206

Jason Nelson – Vholoce: Review by John Hopkins.
———————————————————————>
Vholoce is one project in a long line of projects which seeks to creatively engage the ubiquitous data-streams that are flooding our virtual world. The rising flood of data is useless without sensible display. Visual (and sonic) display of digital data is a fundamental contemporary issue. But what is sensible display? Using a data stream as a basically random source for visual display is one way to play with the stream. The syntax of visual display (possibly) becomes the site for expression by the creative producer. The data-stream source, the method of (and reason for) display, and the overall creative process need to be interrogated in order to find the basis for the type of digital engagement.
http://www.furtherfield.org/displayreview.php?From=Index&review_id=199

If you are interested in being a reviewer on Furtherfield contact:
marc.garrett@furtherfield.org

Furtherfield Neighbourhood & Projects:
# www.furtherfield.org
# www.http.uk.net
# www.visitorsstudio.org
# www. blog.game-play.org.uk
# www.nodel.org (with many others)
# http://netartfilm.furtherfield.org
# www.netbehaviour.org
# www.furthernoise.org

REVIEW: Cultura y Media: En Construcción, A preview of things to come, by Pablo Hadis and Alejo Petrucci


Gastón Duprat and Mariano Cohn, “Llamadas”

Something has been gathering steam in Buenos Aires. An ambitious project to create one of the largest new media exhibition and experimentation centers in Latin America is being developed and implemented at the Centro Cultural San Martín. The building is conveniently located next to the traditional Teatro San Martín in downtown Buenos Aires, and has been known through the years for offering a wide range of cultural activities.

“Culture & Media: Under Construction” is the first edition of a multi-disciplinary exhibition that focuses on art and technology and makes the renovation and expansion of the San Martín Center (which is expected to be finalized in two years) part of the exhibit itself.


Colectivo: Multimedia por simpatÃŒa, “Camas Calientes”

“This event is organized to celebrate the construction of the new cultural center” says Lic. Graciela Taquini, curator of the show, “the ‘Under Construction’ theme is also related to the digital medium because digital works are in a sense always ‘in progress’ due to elements [specific to the language of the medium.]”

There are lots of things to see at “Culture & Media”, the exhibition featuring a broad sample of artwork being produced by both renowned and emerging artists using new technologies, provides screenings of documentaries and experimental shorts, and includes a collection of web-related art curated by Argentine artist Gustavo Romano. There are also various activities to attend and participate in.


Luis Ter·n, “Cartelera”

So what gives “Culture & Media” its distinct Latin American, or to be more specific, Argentine flavor? What makes the artwork being displayed different from that shown recently in ZeroOne San José (California), for example? Interestingly enough, subjects such as work and working conditions were present in some installations, such as “Camas Calientes”, by the group “Colectivo: Multimedia por simpatía”.

Work as a subject has been brought once again to the limelight due to the harsh economic crisis the country has had to endure and it’s being addressed by focusing on the situations created by this crisis. The term “camas calientes” (warm beds) refers to the dire conditions in which people work non-stop and take turns at sleeping in beds inside the factories, always replacing each other, and thus keeping beds always warm. Graciela Taquini points to levels of aggression present in certain pieces (which one could perhaps attribute to a post 2001 crisis period), as well as a healthy dose of humor, and above all a sense of irony that she says is characteristic of Argentines.


Augusto Zanela, “Bola S/T”

Other highlights from the show include Augusto Zanela’s “Bola S/T”, a hypnotic projection created in real-time through clever use of close-circuit video and Mariano Cohn’s and Gaston Duprat’s “Llamadas” which lets the audience listen to various private conversations, among many others works.

“Culture & Media” has received strong backing and participation from a great number of academic institutions as well as official support from the government of the city of Buenos Aires. The exhibition is bound to expand through the years (18,000 m2 are being added to the building, which will sport new screening rooms and theater stage) and become one of the main venues for dialogue between Argentine and other Latin American artists, as well as artists from many other countries. It’s definitely a place to keep an eye on.


“Usos de una teorÃŒa de mano”, one of the talks offered at the event

REVIEW: Edge Condition and other exhibits at ZeroOne/ISEA2006. Comments on the experience of the festival by Molly Hankwitz


Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin, Listening Post (detail), 2002-2005.

Mapping out the festival terrain from San Jose Mercury News insert…eager to see friends. Went to several exhibits – San Jose Art Museum and at South Hall…

“Edge Condition” – this is a beautifully curated exhibit at San Jose Art Museum. Young Hae Chang “Heavy Industries” one of my all time favorite works of web art. “Listening Post” –sound of chat installation was thoroughly amazing, while not having much, if any, concrete relationship to the internet as a particularly technoutopian space, it was a very impressive outpouring of internet noise! Tired looking artists sitting on the couches with eyes closed listening abounded.

I enjoyed Jennifer Steinkamp’s very pretty rooms of huge colorful electronic moving paintings and particularly the way they overlapped into each other in a giant three-d collage. Effects Design, the stellar projection architecture company in Novato, CA should really collaborate with her if they have not already done so. Sometimes its nice to just groove on spaces designed to make you feel good. But, what I really liked was the mix of new and old. I liked seeing early photographic collages of Lynn Hershman. “TV Land” is a great work of art, as is “Ruby’s Mood Swings”. These pictures have a lot of meaning for me.

Christiane Robbins’ work ‘I-5’ about the interstitial space of commuting and again, about air pollution data collection is a very precise work, stark and threatening in the museum space and demanding of one’s attention. There were references to John Cage’s music and performances and Peter Cook’s drawings for “Instant City” at the entrance. It was a heady trip. There was so much work, a lot of which came from San Francisco’s electro- conceptualists. Jim Cambell’s piece evoking, in absolute abstraction, the space of the street was stunning; all red and blinking.

As formalized works of electronic art, this show had many classic pieces, too. One of the late Nam June Paik’s TV large figurative sculptures. I love his work so much, very upset when he died. Still have a printed copy of the obituary posted to “nettime”. {It’s amazing how “nettime” exists in this completely unique space.}

I found myself thinking yesterday, the difference between Ars Electronica and ZeroOne is the lack of art media at ZeroOne. At Ars, you get artists radio for hours; mujsic, noise, interviews, performance. ORF devoted hours of kunstradio on the airwaves. ZeroOne needs this. I could find almost none, and often the cellular art required 3G phones. I didn’t have one. But one aspect of the media landscape I particularly liked the idea of and wanted to try was dialing in to hear the artists talk about the work on my cell phone. That was an innovation for learning about the works first hand. That’s meaningful and …a relatively public…overlay of communications technology onto the arts. In fact, in a city like San Jose, with so many artists coming in and not knowing their way around, the cell phone acts as a remarkable navigational tool for connecting and meeting up with friends.

Edge Conditions Website

TEXT: How Remote am I? by Helen Varley Jamieson

Date: 5.29.05
From: Helen Varley Jamieson
Subject: How re:mote am I?

This text is republished in collaboration with Rhizome.org. It was released on Rhizome Digest, 5/29/05, and appears here as it was originally posted.

How remote am I?

What does it mean to be remote in an electronic art world? This was
one of the questions posed by re:mote (http://www.remote.org.nz), a gathering of digital artists and theorists in Auckland, Aotearoa (the Maori name for New Zealand) on 19 March 2005. Held in a geographically remote country, the event was an opportunity for local wired artists to meet face-to-face as well as an invitation to ponder the meaning of “remote” in the 21st century. Re:mote was an event by and for artists, organised by r a d i o q u a l i a (http://www.radioqualia.va.com.au/) and ((ethermap (http://www.ethermap.org/). The first in a series of one-day experimental festivals, it was run “on the smell of an oily rag” (as we say here) and made possible in part by Adam Hyde’s residency at the University of Waikato. Questions posed by the organisers included: are there ‘centres’ and ‘peripheries’ within a world increasingly bridged, criss-crossed and mapped by digital technologies? Can technologically mediated communication ever be a substitute for face-to-face dialogue? Is geographical isolation a factor in contemporary art production? Is remote a relative concept?

Fourteen presentations from new media art practitioners and theorists in Europe, Japan, Australia and New Zealand were squeezed into eight hours and ranged from a cosy midnight feast in Finland to a glimpse of the expansive Antarctic wilderness, and from musings on information from outer space to the virtual escape of a death row prisoner. Various methods were employed to connect remote (as opposed to re:mote) participants with those at the Auckland venue – the Elam School of Fine Arts lecture theatre. A live MP3 audio stream enabled the off-site audience to hear everything from the venue, and they could communicate through a text chat which was also used to convey an impression of what they couldn’t see. QuickTime, Skype, IRC, iChatAV, iVisit and the Palace were among the applications used in different presentations.

The international speakers were scheduled first to accommodate their time zones, with Steve Kovats and Graham Smith from Rotterdam kicking things off. Visible via web cam, their presentation nicely illustrated their discussion on how telecommunication transforms the concept of distance from space to time. They were in the dark of Friday night, while we in Auckland were well into a sunny Saturday. Also still in Friday night and dressed in her best pyjamas, Sophea Lerner (an Australian new media theorist and artist currently studying in Helsinki) tucked into a midnight feast while elaborating on the promises and assumptions of remote communication. She proposed that the most interesting thing about a remote location is not the remoteness, but the location. This contrasted with the previous presentation’s focus on time as the distancing element rather than space or location. Any location, whether it’s the heart of a teeming metropolis or an empty beach in southern Aotearoa, can be remote when you’re outside it, rendering it exotic, intriguing and desirable. It’s the differences, rather than distances, that make a “remote” location interesting – and the unexpected similarities.

Lerner also addressed the concept of peripherality and how one can experience being peripheral in many different places, depending on one’s perspective of the “centre”. Finland may appear peripheral to Europe, but from the New Zealand perspective it’s almost in the middle of that centre. Contemporary politics place Europe and North America in the centre, but as the power balance shifts that centre may relocate to Asia or even cyberspace. Today’s technologies release us from the geographical definition of centre, creating globally dispersed “peripheral centres” and “central peripheries”. Technology has penetrated even the periphery of Antarctica, as shown by Phil Dadson’s presentation about his recent artist’s residency there. A looping video of his shadow crunching across the endless white landscape, broken only by the bones of some unfortunate beast, removed not only all sense of place but also time. The simple act of filming his shadow on the ice placed Dadson at the centre of a peripheral environment.

Japanese radio pioneer and artist Tetsuo Kogawa spoke about technology and the body and gave a history of Mini FM, a project which aimed to tactically deregulate the Japanese airwaves by teaching people how to create and broadcast from their own free radio stations. During the 1970s and 80s, Kogawa held radio parties in Tokyo apartments where he taught people to build transmitters, broadcasting from the domestic periphery to the centre of the airwaves. Footage from these events reveal the political act of taking ones own space on the airwaves as also entertaining and community-building. His goal was to use radio technology not as a substitute for face-to-face communication but as a means to bring people together and to propose political and social alternatives. During re:mote, Kogawa also gave an audio performance and the following day led a mini FM transmitter building workshop.

Pre-recorded appearances were made by New Zealander Sally Jane Norman, who has lived in Europe since the 1970s, and Zina Kaye from Australia, who discussed her project “The Line Ahead”, which gathers data from airports to create LED signs in a gallery. Sally Jane Norman began with pre-internet architectures of performance, asking how physical gesture can invest digital space, and described the remote manipulation of space probes as “advanced puppeteering”. Achieving physicality within digital spaces alters the concept of remoteness; how remote am I if, from Aotearoa/New Zealand, I can physically move an object on the moon? Both air and space travel create bridges between centres and peripheries, destroying the relative remoteness of New Zealand in the space of a few hours and offering instead the greater remoteness of outer space.

The trials and tribulations of remote collaboration were addressed by a number of presenters including myself, Zina Kaye and Trudy Lane. Zina had encountered some difficulties in working with technicians located elsewhere, while Trudy’s ongoing collaboration with mi2 in Zagreb (on the online magazine ART-e-FACT) works smoothly. Physically meeting your remote collaborators may make some things easier, but it’s also possible to work successfully without meeting, as demonstrated by Avatar Body Collision. This work was presented by Leena Saarinen (in Finland), Vicki Smith (in NZ’s South Island) and myself at the venue. Our greatest difficulty is in finding times when the four of us can be online together for rehearsals, but the advantages are many. We taste each others’ geographical and social locations and are telematically transported from our peripheral homes to the centres of arts festivals and conferences. Returning to one of the questions posed by re:mote – Can technologically mediated communication ever be a substitute for face-to-face dialogue? – during four years of artistic collaboration, Leena Saarinen and I have never met, so technologically mediated communication is an excellent and necessary substitute for face-to-face. Our “remote” relationship is as real and valuable as if we had met, so how remote are we?

The variety of local presentations given during the afternoon illustrated the diversity of concepts of “remote”: a web site about a fictional nation state; universal nomadism and the generic city; “glocalisation”; and a multi-locational artistic picnic were among the projects discussed (for more information on all presentations see www.remote.org.nz). While these presenters were all New Zealanders living in New Zealand, their presentations had connections all over the globe – Lithuania, Croatia, Amsterdam, the USA. As an artist in the electronic world, living in an isolated location doesn’t mean that your work must be of that location. There will always be some degree of local perspective, but sources and context are often global; this combination of local and global is “glocalisation”.

Live improvised audio performances were given by Tennis (London) in the morning, and at the end of the day by Tetsuo Kogawa, Adam Hyde and Adam Willetts. Tennis (Ben Edwards and Doug Benford) performed with a web cam showing them seated at their computers. As our off-site audience could only hear the audio stream, I provided them with a commentary of what we could see on the screen in the IRC chat. This created another level to the performance, and an extrapolation of remoteness: I was interpreting and relaying my visual observation of an audio performance back to a twice-removed audience, some of whom were in the same country as the performers and on the other side of the world from me. For the Auckland audience in the same room as me, I and my commentary became a part of the performance as well – yet the performers themselves were not aware of this. Thus at least three different performances were taking place: the audio performance given by Tennis; the sound, text and images experienced in the venue in Auckland; and the online version, consisting of sound and text. Reading the chat log several weeks after the event, the remoteness doubles again – comments on now unheard sounds and descriptions of vanished images are like shadows cast by an invisible body. This fascinating unplanned metamorphosis was a result of the event and our various layers of remotenesses. A briefer but related “performance” had occurred earlier in the day when Adam Hyde and James Stevens were speaking over Skype, but James had left his computer speakers on, generating an echo loop that took on an unstoppable life of its own.

My personal experience of re:mote was bound up with the technologies, both in my presentation (using the Palace and iVisit) and in my role at the keyboard as a “chat wrangler”, delivering commentary to the off-site audience. The off-site audience’s responses to my descriptions of the visuals and the audio stream they were hearing are preserved in the chat log and offer a surreal perspective on the day. Once again, re:mote was answering its own questions, as the chat substituted face-to-face communication reasonably effectively and rolled our individual peripheries into the centre.

As someone who communicates and collaborates remotely on a daily basis, I always value the opportunity to work and collaborate in the same physical space with others. Creating such gatherings in far off places like Aotearoa/New Zealand is especially important, as sometimes we’re so busy worrying about what’s going on in the rest of the world that we overlook the wealth of activity happening locally. How remote are we when we know what our colleagues in New York, Amsterdam or Belgrade are doing but we don’t know what’s going on in Dunedin or Wanganui? Our perceived remoteness is embedded in the identity of the people of this small, distant and relatively insignificant country, and fuels a need to be a part of the wider world to counter this feeling of isolation. Yet one of the ideas that came through strongly during re:mote was the possibility to feel peripheral in any situation, and the individual relativity of a myriad of centres and peripheries which are now becoming bridged, mapped and interconnected by digital technologies.

Congratulations and thanks to Adam Hyde, Honor Harger, Adam Willetts and Zita Joyce for making re:mote happen; it was an intense, enjoyable and thought-provoking day. The second re:mote has just taken place, in Regina, Canada – unfortunately I was “remote” in the sense of being offline while on holiday so I was unable to attend, but I’m told it went well. Documentation of both events should soon be online at www.remote.org.nz, and I’m looking forward to re:mote 3.

http://www.remote.org.nz
http://www.soilmedia.org/remote/
http://www.radioqualia.va.com.au/
http://www.ethermap.org/


____________________________________________________________

helen varley jamieson: creative catalyst
helen@creative-catalyst.com
http://www.creative-catalyst.com
http://www.avatarbodycollision.org
http://www.writerfind.com/hjamieson.htm