|Florian Cramer on Thu, 5 Jul 2007 18:09:33 +0200 (CEST)|
[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]
|[Nettime-nl] Josephine Bosma, Mediated Remains (over de Piet Zwart Media Design eindexamen projecten)|
Deze tekst werd geschreven voor de graduatie catalogus van het Media Design M.A. programma van het Piet Zwart Instituut, Willem de Kooning Academie Rotterdam. De expositie zal op Zaterdag, 7 Juli, 15:00 + 21:00, bij WORM, Achterhaven 148, 3024 RC Rotterdam geopend worden. <http://www.wormweb.nl/agenda.php?id=1002> & <http://pzwart.wdka.hro.nl/mdma> (Sorry for het Engels!) Mediated Remains: hidden bits of ourselves The Human System Technology is part of the body. Humans have been able to sustain themselves in the world by incorporating bits and pieces of that same world into their own expanding physical system (the monkey and his stick are one). A celebration of technology is a celebration of ourselves. A critique of technology is a critique of ourselves. An investigation of technological systems and errors is an investigation of the way we recreate and handle ourselves. The 'body' can be perceived as a collection of systems and fragments of systems. It is at the same time dispersed and whole. We are experiencing a continuous but fruitful fragmentation and recombination. The 2007 graduation show of the media design students of the Piet Zwart Institute seems to revolve around one theme, even if it was not consciously chosen. All works show a fascination for obscurity, for the hidden, for the disappearing, for the superfluous. The graduates explore drifting fragments of ourselves in our media environment. These fragments are sometimes part of hidden processes and at other times they are (remnants of) unwanted objects: trashed bits. A few of the projects are not based on the obviously hidden. These projects reveal the delicate obscurity inherent to old and new taboos: from the acceptance of physical death to the 'death' of the author. All works deconstruct or question the wholeness of the image. Our expectations of technology, and our exchanges with it, reflect not only simple needs and desires, but they also reflect value systems. It should be quite safe to say that one of the most dominant drives behind technological developments is a quest for perfection. Perfection is always a highly subjective experience, yet throughout history it has mostly been connected to the divine, to the whole, to the absolute. Like we have projected perfection outside of our messy, mortal bodies onto a divine power, we have projected a similar higher power onto our willful material attempts to a state of perfection through technology. The promise of perfection has even become one of the most persistent slogans in present day advertising. We can have the perfect hair, the perfect smile, the perfect car, the perfect phone and the perfect software solution for your company. Our relationship with technology has almost become a matter of faith. In Praise of Noise In the beginning of the 20th century the Futurists exclaimed a loud, naïve yet energetic praise of technology. This art movement seemed to believe in the technological triumph of man over nature. Filippo Marinetti writes an ecstatic piece about the car in his famous Futurist Manifesto: "We are already living in the absolute, since we have already created eternal, omnipresent speed". The Futurists glorified technology through practically all art disciplines: from architecture and theatre to painting and music. Marinetti's Futurist colleague Russolo invented a new kind of musical instrument, an instrument to create noise, the 'intonarumori', which was to be more in tune with modern life then violins or pianos could ever be. It even had to create an appreciation of the sounds of war. Was it their glorification of war and violence, which made John Cage write his 4'3'', 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence, in 1952? It does not matter, for both Russolo's manifesto The Art of Noises and Cage's 4'33'' opened the musical ear to the previously non-musical, to machinic noise and environmental sound as music. Noise is always transgressive and as such it is part of the obscure. Even in contemporary music, in which it is largely accepted and perceived as an inextricable part of a track or song, loud or dissonant sounds are still recognizable as noise. Noise cannot be safe. Noise is accepted as music, but it is still an outsider, a polluter, a sign of dissidence and discordance. Much like the ultimate state of perfection, the divine, the ultimate noise equals the experience of near death. The ultimate in noise is that of white static: the death of the televised image. Whereas the Futurists created music that more or less celebrates technological productivity, Piet Zwart graduate Nancy Mauro-Flude seems to pay homage to its neglected, inescapable imperfection. She has built her own noise instruments from trash, to be used in her performance art. Performance art is noise by many standards (as art is often perceived as superfluous in itself and performance is the most fleeting form of it), yet in the environment of media art it tends to represent the source of all technological imperfection: the body. Nancy Mauro-Flude's "breakcorenoise- performance" 'Paraphernalia' is a temporary (re-) combination of dance and noisy, trashy and poetic fragments. The transgressive and dissonant qualities of noise make it attractive for so-called alternative music cultures. Noise in that case represents criticism and rejection of commercial and mainstream music cultures. Andreea Carnu's project 'Incoreporated' is a pr company for the punk and hardcore music community. She combines contemporary research (in this case statistics retrieved from myspace) with personal consultations with musicians in order to make 'hardcore' tailored business plans for punk bands, for whom a dedication to noise apparently can make them loose touch with reality altogether. Carnu seems to want to create not just a commercial enterprise, but also a monument and ode to the hardcore punk, counter-cultural lifestyle. Noise represents the fallable physical source of technologies. It reminds us of our most basic self, of our imperfect body, of illness and death. The imperfect, mortal body is but a faint echo in our mediated environment. We have become nearly numb to images and news of death and disaster in far away countries. Yet as mediation starts invading every aspect of our own lives we loose a sense of intimacy with our loved ones too. This is what Audrey Samson's 'Spectres?' is about. She recorded several personal stories about death for us. We have to listen to them standing at a crowded bar, with headphones on. This experience is moving and embarrassing at the same time. Death is carefully edited out of our lives. The dead and stories of death have turned into electronic ghosts that we can turn off and switch on again, like in for example John Jesurun's 1986 award winning play about a boy that gets trapped in a cinematic projection: Deep Sleep. In western culture only two things equal death in their transgressive qualities: sex and violence. Strangely enough depictions of sex are often censored more strictly then those of violence. The orgasm is sometimes called 'the small death'. Sex and orgasm in particular are a threat to the quest for the perfect, whole body. In the digital domain several tools have been released that are supposed to automatically cleanse our sexual experience. Dominik Bartkowski's project with the provocative title 'Bareback' takes these tools and turns their purpose around. Instead of filtering the most sensitive, 'bare' sexual imagery, the filter becomes an aesthetic tool, creating special visual effects. Instead of accepting the morality of the filter, it reveals the dubious logic behind it. Bartkowski is critical of the trend towards automated filtering. The definition of noise is often too subjective and temporal to be left to a machine. Defragging Culture There are also other trails through the static. The digital terrain is layered, logical, but 'flexible'. We create distinctions and rules in this environment that are by no means demanded by its structure. We tend to disregard the importance of what we choose to leave out (and what we can only hide from sight). As we develop our physical selves in this further mediated environment (as in Katherine Hayles' posthuman) we accumulate a huge amount of technological and cultural debris in our trail, which is just as telling about us as our 'official', neatly raked path is. In the digital age the amount of hastily discarded trash and obscured technological traces has grown exponentially. This explosion of technical, cultural and social traces might be a nightmare for authorities, but they offer a radically fertile ground for all kinds of explorations. The fecundity of our current media environment is almost poisonous in its strength. It is because of this that we witness an explosion of all kinds of play with existing digital structures (like SecondLife, Google or social software such as MySpace). Artists and designers are tapping into the boiling sources of our information flows and they find a huge amount of superfluous, hidden, 'cached', filtered, forgotten or trashed material to toy with. This is the new wealth: a simultaneous, indistinguishable production of culture and cultural sources. In 1998 the american artist Perry Hoberman presented an installation called 'Systems Maintenance' at the Rotterdam based institution for unstable media V2. In this installation the audience was invited to allign a set of furniture in physical space with its copy in digital space, the result of which could be followed realtime via a projection on the wall. This deceivingly simple work revealed its magic when interacting with it. It turned out to be very, very difficult to allign the apparently identical objects in the two different worlds. Frustration and despair grew by the second. 'Systems Maintenance' was a brilliant combination of poetic and conceptual gestures. I was reminded of it when seeing Walter Langelaar's project 'TODO (Tangled_Object_Description_Overview)'. Langelaar uses 3D object material from Second Life which is 'mixed' with a representation of the WORM building (in which the Media Design graduation show takes place) taken from Google Earth. The new virtual structure that is created this way is then 'collided' with the original building. Differences are emphasized by adding them to the original building physically, by "perforating" the real space with virtual architecture. Whereas Hoberman lets the audience actively experience the awkward split between physicality and activity in real and virtual environments, Langelaar chooses a more subtle approach. Much like Jan Robert Leegte, just like Langelaar originally a sculptor, he creates a sense of estrangement by literally placing virtual objects outside of the digital grids into the real world. If Hoberman is skeptical of our new environments, Leegte and Langelaar experience it much more as a room for play and surprise. The mathematical structure of the internet, despite the human landscape created in it, simply begs for systematic and generative art practices to explore it. Like traditional sculptors will see a lump of clay or wood and feel the possible structures inside of it, artists working with the net see connections and metastructures most of us are blind to. Already 8 years ago the first net art generators started to appear. The most (in)famous one is the one created by german artist Cornelia Sollfrank, whose 'net.art generator' was part of a larger project called 'Female Extensions'. Sollfrank is still exploring the legal consequences of her 'net.art generator' today, since she stumbled upon possible lawsuits when creating exhibitions of it. Piet Zwart graduate Marc de Bruijn has now built a web site generator, a work entitled 'This website is under construction'. De Bruijn is very critical of web design and created his generator as an ironic statement on hypes and fashions, such as the 'web 2.0' buzz. His software includes the option to create four different aesthetics: the aesthetic of the amateur, the aesthetic of web 2.0, the corporate design aesthetic and that of graphic design. By turning these design clichés into caricatures he forces an escape from failing web design, and 'teases out' a new approach. Sometimes caricatures can be hard to recognize. The most subtle form of satire is the one in which the subject in question does not really notice he or she is being ridiculed, or responding to the joke would be more damaging then the joke itself. One such work is a relatively unknown work from 1997 by the artist Vuk Cosic: 'Mira'. 'Mira' shows a picture of the wife of Slobodan Milosovic, the late president of Serbia. Cosic calls Mira Milosovic "the cannibal" in one of his texts on the mailing list nettime. The audience can choose different flowers to put into Mira's hair. Mira Milosovic was known to wear flower corsages, a habit that rather contradicted her bad reputation. Shahee Ilyas has created a similar ironic tool, which generates frames for portraits of presidents and other rulers of countries. 'Framing Leaders' uses statistics of various sites to track the freedom of press in a country and the length of reign of its leader. The data then are used to generate more or less ornamental frames around the picture of a particular leader. The heavier and more pompous the frame is, the less democratic is the depicted leader. Reading into data, interpreting information, has become the new challenge, and not just for marketeers and authorities. Most of this reading and interpreting, like Ilyas' work, is done automatically. It is virtually impossible nowadays to surf around the web without enabling your browser to accept cookies for instance. Cookies gather information about Internet users. They are relatively invisible, only showing themselves in almost hidden directories on your harddrive. Andrea Fiore developed a plug in for the Firefox browser that allows the user to do a bit of countersurveillance: cookies are tracked and the information about them gathered in an online database. The 'info-cloud' that is constructed this way maps the use and spread of cookies, enabling a view of the extent of for instance ad campaigns. A different view of the Internet then unfolds. Delicious Pre-Decompositions We are witnessing a new form of recombination of materials that bears resemblance to earlier forms like collage, quotation, citation, assemblage, but which is more evident, more inescapable, due to changed technological parameters. Writer and DJ Kodwo Eshun described this situation in relation to music and sampling in an interview published in his book 'More Brilliant Than The Sun', already in 1998: "The idea of quotation and citation, the idea of ironic distance, that doesn't work, that's far too literary. That assumes a distance which by definition volume overcomes." The sheer volume of technological bits, scraps and products that surrounds us and the simple means to re-interpret, re-arrange and re-use them almost within the blink of an eye is turning cultural production into a form of cultural scavenging. The fragmentation of culture, due to new technologies and also due to sheer volume of information, is seldom represented through 'old' media such as books. Experiments are scarce and often unsuccessful. New publishing techniques, especially publishing on demand, slightly erode the illusion of completeness of the book. Publishing on demand often refers to single or few prints of a specific book. Like unprinted publications however, the book now becomes personalized, and is created from unique, individual choices by the reader. In 2003 the Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo hosted an exhibition about net.art called 'Written in Stone'. This exhibition had a unique catalogue, which visitors could assemble on the spot by choosing texts on a computer, printing them and having them bound. The catalogues even had an ISBN number. This years graduation show of the Piet Zwart has a similar catalogue. It is the graduation project of one of its students: Jorrit Sybesma. 'Design Paradigm Shifts' allows for the audience to choose an individualized catalogue. There are two options: a simple, basic, informative catalogue or an elaborate, individually adjusted catalogue. The latter contains unique, specially generated pages of the work of each artist. The pages are not bound into a traditional book, but presented as loose leaves in an envelope that accentuates each individual gift. What better way then to present this exhibition of fragments, scraps, traces, bits and noises? Josephine Bosma, Amsterdam, June 2007
______________________________________________________ * Verspreid via nettime-nl. Commercieel gebruik niet * toegestaan zonder toestemming. <nettime-nl> is een * open en ongemodereerde mailinglist over net-kritiek. * Meer info, archief & anderstalige edities: * http://www.nettime.org/. * Contact: Menno Grootveld (email@example.com).