Saturday, May 19, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Opening: May 9, 6–8pm
Conversation with Joachim Koester and João Ribas, 5:30pm
Weisner Bldg. E15
20 Ames St.
Cambridge, MA 02139
Koester’s interest in historical subjects is evident in the early series of photographs, Day for Night, Christiania (1996), which documents the community in Copenhagen founded by squatters in an abandoned military base in 1971. In The Kant Walks (2005), he attempts to reconstruct through images and text the daily walk of the philosopher Immanuel Kant through his native city of Königsberg. Other photographs depict attempts to bridge the world of matter and consciousness, through both magical and sensual means, as well as the ruins of further utopian experiments. Morning of the Magicians (2005) depicts the derelict villa in Sicily at the center of the occult mysticism and drug experimentation of Aleister Crowley and his followers, known as the Abbey of Thelema. The two-channel video installation One + One + One (2006) revisits the Abbey as a place of transgression of all taboos—religious, social, and personal—whose legacy extended into the counterculture of the 1960s and ’70s.
While engaging the histories of such experimentation, Koester’s recent work has looked to bodily practices and altered states of consciousness intended to access experience beyond the rational or empirical. In Tarantism (2007), a group of dancers enact an ecstatic “dancing cure” of convulsive movements that according to folklore, could ward off symptoms caused by the bite of the tarantula. In To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown necessitates an attitude of daring, but not one of recklessness (movements generated from the Magical Passes of Carlos Castaneda) (2009), an actor performs exercises described as atavistic gestures meant to enhance the ability to navigate “the dark sea of awareness.” For Variations of Incomplete Open Cubes (2011), Sol LeWitt’s eponymous variations are performed through a choreography of hand gestures. Other films in the exhibition reflect Koester’s interest in the exploration of both the “uncharted” out there and hidden within, from exchanges between the body and architecture, to the ghostly photographic remnants of 19th century exploration. The installation of these films follows the artist’s interventions in which windows or rooms were covered or partitioned with salvaged wood, first for the Malmö Konstmuseum, Sweden, in 1994, and later at the Overgaden Institute of Contemporary Art, Copenhagen, in 2008.
Joachim Koester: To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown… is curated by João Ribas, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Support for Joachim Koester: To navigate, in a genuine way, in the unknown… has been generously provided by the Danish Arts Council Committee for International Visual Art; the Royal Danish Embassy; Greene Naftali Gallery; the Consulate General of Denmark, New York; the Council for the Arts at MIT; the Massachusetts Cultural Council; and the Office of the Associate Provost at MIT, with special thanks to the MIT List Visual Arts Center Advisory Committee and the Friends of the List. Media sponsor: The Phoenix Media Communications Group.
Left: Joachim Koester, #1 (from the series “The Kant Walks”), 2003. C-print. 18,5 x 23.5 inches.
Edition of 5. Courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery.
Right: Joachim Koester, Tarantism, 2007. 16mm black and white film. 6.31 minutes continuous loop film still. Courtesy Greene Naftali Gallery.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Here is a short clip of the exhibition:
And a review of the show from the Boston Globe:
"Hands down the most beautiful room in Greater Boston right now is a gallery in the MIT List Visual Arts Center. The gallery is just a small, windowless room. It’s dark, too - or it would be if it were not for an astonishing and constantly changing arrangement of patterned light orchestrated by 83-year-old artist Otto Piene." (More)
Monday, January 09, 2012
The catalog for the 12th Istanbul Biennial, edited by Jens Hoffmann and Adriano Pedrosa with coordinating editor Pelin Derviş, includes my essay "The Fourth Critique," on the relationship between art and politics in contemporary art. The catalog is one of three publications that accompany the exhibition, and is published by the Istanbul Foundation for Culture and Arts and Yapı Kredi Publications. Along with an overview of the exhibition, it also features essays by Jessica Morgan, Julieta González, Chus Martinez, and Aykut Köksal, as well as a number of texts by Hoffmann and Pedrosa. Via e-flux
Sunday, January 08, 2012
The book is a collection of texts inspired by a piece of graffiti in Piero della Francesca’s Legend of the True Cross. A horse depicted in the cycle of frescos bears Sacchi's name on its forehead. Yet no evidence of his work or biography exists apart from a short entry in a 19th century dictionary of painters and engravers. The contributors to the book were invited to "shape a possible (unauthorized) biography for Sacchi," and so "to reconsider the limits and possibilities of art writing."
Monday, October 10, 2011
Otto Piene: Lichtballett
MIT List Visual Arts Center
October 21, 2011 - December 31, 2011
The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to announce an exhibition of the light-based sculptural work of Otto Piene. Otto Piene (b. 1928, Bad Laasphe, Germany) is a pioneering figure in multimedia and technology-based art. Known for his smoke and fire paintings and environmental “sky art,” Piene formed the influential Düsseldorf-based Group Zero with Heinz Mack in the late 1950s. Zero included artists such as Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein, Jean Tinguely, and Lucio Fontana. Piene was the first fellow of the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies (CAVS) in 1968, succeeding its founder György Kepes as director until retiring in 1994.
Otto Piene: Lichtballett highlights the artist’s exploration of light as an artistic and communicative medium. First produced using hand-operated lamps directed through perforated stencils, Piene’s Lichtballett (light ballet) performances of moving light became mechanized in the 1960s. The artist’s early light sculptures consisted of revolving lamps, grids, globes, and discs operated by electric switchboards, causing what he described as “the steady flow of unfurling and dimming, reappearing, and vanishing light.” These light machines evolved into kinetic sculptural environments of mechanized effects by the late 1960s.
Bringing together several of the artist's works from the 1960s and ‘70s with two new sculptures, the exhibition is synchronized into a choreographed installation. Electric Rose (1965) consists of a polished aluminum globe covered with neon light bulbs that emit light in four sequenced phases. The piece was featured in Piene’s first solo exhibition in the United States, Light Ballet, at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York in 1965. An important work in the permanent collection of the MIT List Visual Arts Center, the piece has undergone significant restoration by Denkhaus GmbH, Düsseldorf, and is now exhibited for the first time in over two decades. The conservation process, overseen by the artist and the MIT List, included a complete rewiring of the piece, removal of surface damage and dents, and replacement of the light fixtures and bulbs to exact specifications.
The exhibition also showcases several other significant early works alongside new sculptures. The two interior lamps of Light Ballet on Wheels (1965) continuously project light through a revolving disk. The sculpture Electric Anaconda (1965) is composed of seven black globes of decreasing diameter stacked in a column, the light climbing up until completely lit. Piene’s new works produced specifically for the exhibition, Lichtballett (2011), a site-specific wall sculpture, and One Cubic Meter of Light Black (2010–11), continue his decades-long investigation of technology and light phenomena.
Otto Piene: Lichtballett is organized by João Ribas, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Saturday, September 03, 2011
MIT List Visual Arts Center
September 6th - September 22nd
The MIT List Visual Arts Center is pleased to present The Otolith Group's Otolith Trilogy, an interconnected series of films made between 2002 and 2009 that relate scenarios of a speculative future, projected from events in our recent past. Combining fictional narration with archival and documentary footage, the artists create a set of plausible predictive outcomes for the future, from life in the city of the future, to the 22nd Century, when the earth is no longer hospitable to life. The three films Otolith I, Otolith II, and Otolith III show the possible effects of our past and present actions on various aspects of human experience and knowledge, including biology, space travel, urbanism, architecture, economics, media, and culture.
Otolith I (22:16 min.) is set in the 22nd Century, when the human race is no longer able to survive on Earth and is obliged to live in the microgravity conditions of the International Space Station. Dr. Usha Adebaran Sagar, the future descendant of Otolith Group member Anjalika Sagar, is an exo-anthropologist researching life on an earth that she can experience only through media archives. Otolith I imagines a mutant future that looks to the past to find the commonality between the post-war non-alignment movement in South Asia and the USSR, and the 2003 protests against the invasion of Iraq. Otolith I began in November 2002 as a collaboration with artist Richard Couzins. It was completed in 2003 with the support of The Arts Catalyst and The Mir Consortium, which made it possible for the artists to film in a microgravity environment.
Otolith II (47:42 min.) is set in the near future and mixes fiction, archival material, and documentary footage filmed in Mumbai and Chandigarh. The film explores the affective pressure exerted upon inhabitants residing within contrasting and competing versions of the city of tomorrow. Otolith II investigates the politics of futurity in which predictive models of the masterplan, the corporate scenario, and real estate speculation converge to extract labor, convert attention, and capture potential for profit. Otolith II was commissioned in 2006 by the Kunsten Festival Des Arts and ARGOS Centre for Art and Media in Brussels, Belgium, and Casco Projects in Utrecht, Netherlands.
Otolith III (48 min.) takes The Alien, the unrealized screenplay of the legendary Bengali director Satyajit Ray, as its point of departure. Written in 1967, The Alien would have been the first science fiction film to be set in contemporary India. Otolith III returns to 1967 to propose an alternative trajectory in which the fictional protagonists of The Alien attempt to seize the means of production in order to create the conditions for their existence as images. Filmed in London, Otolith III is an experiment in temporal and geographical displacement that The Otolith Group calls a premake, a remake of a film before the original. Otolith III was completed in 2009.
The Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy is organized by Joao Ribas, Curator, MIT List Visual Arts Center.
Support for the Otolith Group: The Otolith Trilogy has been provided by the Council for the Arts at MIT and the
Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Monday, August 15, 2011
"The house that was one of the most perfect products of the modern movement, the cryptically christened E1027, was designed by Eileen Gray, an Anglo-Irish designer, a woman in a man’s world who had been excluded by the artistic and avant-garde establishment.
Le Corbusier, the leader of that architectural avant-garde, was either in love with or incensed by the presence of this house and scrawled a series of sexually charged murals to Gray’s great chagrin. She was slightly consoled when the German soldiers who later occupied the villa used the abstracted figures for target practice. The house that had tormented him as he had tormented it was perhaps the last thing Le Corbusier ever saw – he drowned in the sea outside in 1965. For years it lay abandoned, one of the great houses of the modern era desecrated in one of the countries that most valued its modernist past – while Le Corbusier’s houses were lovingly turned into temples, museums of modernity." (Read more...)
"Outside Paris’s Musée d’Orsay, lines are currently shuffling under tall billboards that reproduce, some eight times life-size, L’Amazone by Édouard Manet. An amazone is a horsewoman, and by extension the tight-fitting black riding habit she would wear in the nineteenth century, matched by a black silk top hat. Thomas Couture, Manet’s teacher, noted how this “pretty costume…chastely delineates the forms of the upper body,” and Manet’s image dramatizes the tug of interests implied in his words.....Manet, you can make out, went at his subject with a brisk attack, springing from paint swipe to paint swipe--here jostling, there blending---as he moved in on that succulent fresh face...The momemtum of his excitement carried through as he switched brushes to bash a mess of blues and whites around the outline of her head and shoulders..."(Bell, Sudden Sensuous Dazzle..)
"Much of Manet's achievement you can understand by reading the books and looking at the colour plates; much else is apparent only in front of the pictures themselves. "Manet black" reproduces fairly well; "Manet white" very poorly. Olympia, aside from its continuing erotic challenge, is also a Whistlerian "Symphony in Off-White" (subtle exchanges between flesh, coverlet, bedclothes, flowers and – the sharpest white of all – the paper in which the flowers are wrapped). In the portrait of Zola, a central patch of white blazes out: it comes, appropriately, from the pages of the book the novelist is reading. "Jimmie Durham performing at the Reykjavik Experiment
Thursday, July 07, 2011
Two interesting posts from Excerpter with texts from David Greaeber's The sadness of post-workerism and Friedrich Kittler's The City Is a Medium.
Politics is that dimension of social life in which things really do become true if enough people believe them. The problem is that in order to play the game effectively, one can never acknowledge its essence. In this sense politics is very similar to magic, /…/ something that works because people believe that it works; but also, that only works because people do not believe it works only because people believe it works.
Yet the same bankers and traders who produce these complex financial instruments also like to surround themselves with artists, people who are always busy making things—a kind of imaginary proletariat assembled by finance capital, producing unique products out of for the most part very inexpensive materials, objects said financiers can baptize, consecrate, through money and thus turn into art, thus displaying its ability to transform the basest of materials into objects worth far, far more than gold. More
MEDIA exist to process, record, and transmit numbers. A Greek city, probably Milet, provides us with two of our oldest forms of media: the coin and the vowel alphabet. 13 Rome, in order to extend itself from a city into a state, adopted the most advanced form of oriental transmission media: the Achaemenidian postal system. 14
Thus our terms for media, if not directly, like “heart” or “brain of a circuit,” derived from the human body, stem nonetheless from the city. From the day Shannon applied George Booles’s circuit algebra to a coupling of telegraph relays, the elements which are logically the most simple, and which have no memory, have been known as gates or ports. Circuits, on the other hand, whose initial and final positions are not only a function of the gates and ports, but also of the circuit’s own prehistory, presuppose (no less municipal here) a built-in memory. When the World War II mathematician John von Neumann laid down the prin-ciples for sequential working-off or computation for almost all present-day computer “architectures,” he bestowed the fitting name “bus” on the parallel channels between hard drive, gate, and memory, and thus extended the Biedermeier tradition of metropolitan traffic. Von Neumann’s prophesy that only computers themselves would be capable of planning their own, more intelligent, next generation, because the complex knot of networks would surpass the planning ability of the engineers, has been fulfilled by computer programs called “routing”: network models, like Shannon’s mouse, which operate as if they were street plans (with all the aggravations of jaywalking and traffic jams). Entire cities made of silicon, silicon oxide, and gold wire have since arisen. Yet the living units or houses in these cities must be measured in terms of molecules whose total surface area, even after having been reproduced millions of times, barely fill a square millimeter. The technologic media miniaturize the city, while magnifying the entropy of megalopolis. Not only have the technological traffic modules of modernity, such as parking garages and airports, rendered obsolescent the age-old module “life-sized,” indeed, it seems to me that modulization itself has been rendered obsolescent. And graph theory is responsible. The more one thinks about a capital like Paris, wrote Valéry, the more one learns about oneself from the city. No system, however, is self-governing, neither the city nor the module. It is hence more urgent, in a grey field without reference points, to connect up networks without value systems, and to take leave of..(More)
Non-Newtonian Fluid on a Speaker Cone
More on "cymatics" (study of visible sound and vibration) here.