today’s node is techno-performance, that shifting terrain of art and the body in/under techno cultures. considering performance art quickly-according to amelia jones it is most often about intersubjectivity (the subject of the work of art and the object of the work of art are the same). so, in the “traditional” performance art canon, embodiment is everything. but what happens when bodies become telematic, networked, or virtual? what about databodies? some pioneers in thinking critically in this area are donna haraway with her seminal essay “the cyborg manifesto” and n. katherine hayles’ work on the post-human. i’ve already mentioned that second front has been invited to participate with one of their second life performances in performa this year, some more recent works of techno-performance have been done by los cybrids, coco fusco, la pocha nostra, stelarc, christina mcphee, survival research labs, laurie anderson, and subrosa-to name just a few of my own influences. franklin furnace funds the future of the present, which is a great way to start tracking down recent efforts in the intersection of performance art and technology. one of my recent faves is the black factory by william pope l. some great books on the topic have recently been published-=digital performance and data made flesh are very good. an outstanding blog on networked performance is maintained by turbulence. what software might techno-performance artists employ? max msp, pure data, and isadora are obvious choices-but this type of work runs by any media necessary.
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this week we are combining two nodes of new media practice in the arts into one. the integrating factor here might be the construction or manipulation of a virtual world. if we consider a fragile definition of videogame art, we can begin by understanding the various ways that contemporary artists have become involved in videogames. consider sweat, opensourcery, natalie bookchin, feng mengbo, and some of cory arcangel’s projects like super mario clouds for starters. the idea of virtual cultures and worlds might best be expressed by second life, which has also been taken on by artists such as patrick lichty and the performance collective second front-a participant in performa 07. a pioneer in this area is char davies. an excellent example of an artist collective whose work integrates games and real/virtual structures is the uk based blast theory. games themselves have quite a history in the arts, marcel duchamp-who was often lost in the “world” of chess-is a good example. of course we have an excellent example of videogame art in the gallery right now with with scmrpg. and in case you didn’t already know, controversy comes with video games! it’s always come with art…. what happens when the two get together? if you’re interested in exploring videogames as art, take a look at stagecast. but there are tons of ways to get into making your first game (sourceforge anyone?)
this week’s node in the intro course is sound art. this genre has many origins and that makes it difficult to point students in any one direction. but certainly the influence of john cage, whether or not he considered his work “art” or “music,” is omnipresent for contemporary sonic artists. a good place to start poking around in this area is the sonic arts network. also check out the ccmixter. an excellent book about the influence of sonic culture on contemporary art has been written by djspooky, who is also one of new media’s most sought after contemporary artists. one monumental contribution to digital art from sound art is midi (musical instrument digital interface), which allows artists to hook up peripherals to computers for live performance. since midi is such a successful translation, just about anything can get hooked into a computer for real time interaction. take a look at pure data and max msp. if you’re into it, check out the links in the sonic section.
video art is in many ways the contemporary precursor to the digital arts (and of course in many ways it isn’t!), and i see video art as a basic skill that all contemporary artists should have-its fundamental to everything we do. today we will look at some early video art and consider the foundations that influenced contemporary video discourse. video has always been a very complete medium-a video camera can capture sound and video together very nicely. notice that important and influential video artists such as gary hill, bill viola, and shirin neshat all make video art with incredible sound that is most often captured by the camera itself. i cannot overemphasize the importance of the audio half of your video art work. think of the video cam as a circuit for electronic capture-not just as a viewfinder. a good place to start mapping out your own video art influences is the video data bank-its a very comprehensive archive of video artists and their work. today video remains a very complete medium and despite the doomsday predictions of many critics (video is dead or dying because of new media), it has adpated and grown with todays technologies. video art is now made with mobile phones and other wearable, locative media (i like to say “micro video”) and is also completely networked (ex. youtube). just take a look at the perpetual art machine. in august of 2006 i was an artist in residence at the santa fe art institute where i had the privilege of hanging out with one of the best young video artists working today, anri sala. in one of our converstations about video art sala told me these things about my work and i want to share them with you now because they are such useful comments and i think they could be used by my students to build some good video art. you can ignore them if you want, but just consider that anri sala has been in the venice biennale and documenta.
“film the event as another event.
it is important to clearly create a reality, make the film feel like film.
documentation should be thought out just as much.
performance has no framing.
what is off the frame and what is in the frame?
trying to please us too much.
locate the energy elsewhere.
idea of the video as an icon.
duration becomes part of it.
duration as one of the main qualities of the moving image.
thinking about framing with a photograph.
how would you shoot a photograph?
shoot video like you are taking a picture.
question the way you frame something.
make choices before you film.
you have to set the premises.
first you have to have an angle.
how are you going to connect them together?
have a conviction about how you see things.
what is your way of looking?
the image and the space of the camera cannot be separated.
sound is an installation in your video.”
anri sala, august 2006, santa fe art institute
We made it through the midterm (in the intro course) and now we are moving into the second half of our semester where we will focus our attention across the broad landscape of time based media (any thing that moves). let’s begin by considering etienne marey and eadweard muybridge. these two pioneering photographers tracked objects in motion as a research practice of data visualization. in many ways, our artistic and cultural notions of time, motion and sequence owe a debt to this early research. artists in the last century seized the opportunity to work with time-based media and such efforts have in part laid the foundation for contemporary digital media arts.
this week we will consider animation as one of our themes in time, motion, sequence and hyperlink (network?). future topics will include video art, video games, performance art, net art, sound art, and tactical media. animation has always existed at the margins of the worlds of art and cinema. christiane paul (the author of our text) writes that “animation is one of the genres that most resists classification. it has continuously merged disciplines and techniques and still exists at the border of the entertainment industry and the art world. exactly how far animation can and should be considered an art form remains a topic of debate, but it is certainly now more frequently incorporated in exhibitions” (110). today we will look at one of contemporary art’s best animators-william kentridge. since we make a concerted effort in our class to consider the notion of digital media both inside and outside the world of art, careful thought should be given to animation’s current ubiquitousness in contemporary digital culture. in one sense, everything animates today-from flash players on the net to the lcd display on your car stereo or mp3 player, animation is a fundamental component of interface, which itself is inextricably linked to current digital networks. we could ask c. paul the question, “is animation really at the fringe of anything?” your thoughts on animation are appreciated in this course. one thing is certain, animation is a language that we all speak. a good example would be the animation “hope” for the nelson mandela foundation by alfredo jaar.
i’m not an animator, but i’ve started a collection of links to various resources for students who are interested in animation. one good option for simple animation technique is the open source application pixen.
today (in the intro course) we are discussing chapters 1 and 2 from christiane paul’s digital art (the required text for our course). paul is also adjunct curator of new media at the whitney where she is responsible for the artport. she also maintains intelligent agent. an interesting interview with paul from 2001 (before she wrote digital art for thames and hudson) is here.
this week in the advanced course we read “how i was played by online caroline” by jill walker. its a nice intro into the major philosophical and cultural debates currently being generated by what i term loosely “virtual culture.” in our advanced class we need to have an understanding of the history and possible trajectory of simulation, ai, virtuality, immersion, and interactivity in contemporary digital media arts. because these works are complex, both in technique and concept, they are almost always collaboratively built. one excellent example is blast theory who won the golden nica at ars electronica in 2003 for “can you see me now?” a pioneer in the field has been lynn hershman. check out “agent ruby.”
Lynn Hershman, Agent Ruby Mood Swing Diagram, 2002.