Just wanted to give a quick heads’ up that Bad at Sports’ blogger/columnist Nicholas O’Brien has a guest post up on The Creators’ Project, a website focused on technology, culture and creativity. Nicholas writes what he describes as a “love letter” to Computers Club, “a group site dedicated to sharing art made with or by computers that was launched by artist Krist Wood.” I’m posting a tiny sliver of Nicholas’ essay below, but please click on over and check out his full post!
Since the first post on May 2, 2009, I have been addicted to Computers Club. The project, a group site dedicated to sharing art made with or by computers was launched by artist Krist Wood, and has been lauded as one of the preeminent locations of so-called netart and artists working with computer generated/manipulated imagery. Although the template of the site follows other previous group-based projects, I’ve never been completely thrilled with the idea of calling Computers Club a blog. This is probably due in part to how the content found within Computers Club has, since it’s origin, been a place where artists/members have been able to share work that typically reaches beyond the standard fair of netart.
When I talked with many of its members over the course of several weeks, they discussed how previous engagements with other group projects and/or personal blog-based sites had influenced the kind of experience they expected or hoped for with Computers Club (henceforth abbreviated to CC). Former outlets had similarly served as a way of showing work, but some members felt as though those projects didn’t offer avenues to push their practices beyond some self-induced restricting labeling of “netart” and whatever that label implied. As a way to combat these anxieties, CC members found ways to address more broad artistic concerns that were not solely located in computer-based art by creating works that could be conceptually considered through the lens of illustration, painting, performance, experimental video, and even music. Read more.
This week: Double header! First Brian and Patricia talk to the fine folks at the Kadist Art Foundation in San Francisco. Next Christopher Hudgens and Richard talk to Artist Lauren Levato about her new show at Firecat Projects “Lantern Fly Sex Cure”.
Work by Lauren Levato.
Firecat Projects is located at 2124 N. Damen. Reception is tonight (Friday) from 7-10pm.
A performance by Hermes Santana and Gwenn-Aël LYNN and a workshop with James Kubie, respectively.
Cobalt Studio is located at 1950 W. 21st St. BlackXican pozole requires an RSVP and begins tonight (Friday) at 7pm. Electuary is Saturday from 1-3pm.
Work by Cameron Crawford.
peregrineprogram is located at 500 W. Cermak Rd., #727. Reception is Saturday from 5-8pm.
Performances by Thom Stebbins, Mallow Hazard, Ten Thousand Miles Of Arteries, and White Rose/Lincoln Johns.
Fill in the Blank Gallery is located at 5038 N. Lincoln Ave. Performances begin at 7pm. $3 suggested donation.
Work by Salvador Jiménez Flores.
Antena is located at 1765 S Laflin St. Reception is tonight (Friday) from 6-10pm.
The Spectacular of Vernacular
Walker Art Center, Minneapolis
128 pp, $19.99
neapolis, Minnesota. With 26 contemporary artists and more than 40 artworks included, Vernacular was sure to be fabulous. Sadly enough, I didn’t get the chance to see this show, which is why this little catalogue is such a gem. To be honest, I picked it up because of snazzy cover, a detail of Lari Pittman’s A Decorated Chronology of Insistence and Resignation #30. Exhibition catalogues are best when they do more than simply document what has already occurred, when they instead take on their own identity and become a book. The Spectacular of Vernacular achieves this, mostly through the three contextualizing essays.
The introductory essay by Darsie Alexander, chief curator at The Walker, divides the concept of vernacular into three broad categories (I’m paraphrasing here): Location, Ritualistic, Amateur. She then uses these parameters to specifically discuss many of the works included in the show. Her definition of vernacular runs from regional signage to faux-naïve thrift store art. Ultimately, I needed this essay to understand the connective tissue that linked these sometimes disparate pieces. For example the seemingly unrelated Beauty, by Jack Pierson and Marina Abramovic’s video Balkan Erotic Epic: Exterior Part 1 (B). After reading Alexander’s essay, I came to see the relationship–using that which already exists (or at least seems to) to create something new. Something in the family of found art, if you can call Abramovic’s use of ancient religious ritual “found.” I wonder what the viewer who didn’t read the essay thought about the selections.
The concluding two essays were interesting but not necessary to understanding the exhibit. “The Vernacular,” excerpted from the 1984 book Discovering the Vernacular Landscape, by John Brinckerhoff Jackson discusses architecture, particularly of small town America. The book concluded with Andy Sturdevant’s delightful essay “You Are Not Nowhere!: Visualizing the Heartland Vernacular.” In it, Sturdevant discusses the perception of the Midwest as “nowhere.” Funny and true.
Nestled between these essays are the images of the art itself. There are probably as many pages of text as there are of art. Each of the 26 artists is represented along with their statement. I was pleased to find William E Jones included in this exhibition. His 2009 piece, Killed, is a presentation of photographs commissioned by the Farm Security Administration (FSA). It was the policy of director Roy Stryker to punch a hole through the negative when a work was removed, or killed, from the collection. Jones presents these photographs complete with black void looming somewhere in the image. What is so interesting about these photos is that there is no explanation of why the image was killed, leaving the viewer to wonder just what about the photograph was unacceptable.
The other new work that caught my eye was Lorna Simpson’s Interior #1 and LA ’57—NY ’09. In these works both contain snapshots, home beauty photos really, of a young Los Angeles woman in the 50s. Alongside, Simpson has taken photos of herself in period clothes and in the same postures. Looking at the photos compelled me to wonder which was real, which was “authentic.” I spent quite a while scouring the images trying to identify what made some look old while others were surprisingly contemporary.
Besides, the found photography element of the works by Jones and Simpson, what also connects them is that both artists manage to get the viewer, or reader in this case, to engage with a photograph in a different from what was intended by the original photographer. In a new context, the pictures are given new life. These works, and by extension, this catalog, drove me to the internet to read more about many of the pieces included in the exhibition. To me this makes the catalogue a success in its own right.
The Spectacular of Vernacular continues on to Huston, Texas, July 23-September 18, 2011; Mont Clair, New Jersey, October 8- January 1, 2012; Chapel Hill, North Carolina, January 14-March 18, 2012.
Check out the interview Bad at Sports’ Duncan MacKenzie did with New Mediator, a podcast and virtual gallery based in New Jersey and hosted by David LaMorte! Click here to listen to the interview, and check their Tumblr site to find other interviews and happenings from this group!