Monday, 21 February 2011

Sophie Calle & Paul Auster - Gotham Handbook

Gotham Handbook first appeared in 1999 as part of Double Game, a bookwork by French artist Sophie Calle. It is a document of a collaboration between the artist and author Paul Auster, who issued Calle with instructions on how to improve life in New York City through a series of artistic interventions.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Agnes Denes - 'Wheatfield - A Confrontation'

In 1982 Agnes Denes staged 'Wheatfield - A Confrontation'. Where she planted a two-acre field of wheat in a vacant lot in downtown Manhattan, one of the most financially valuable and coveted areas of land.

The work puts into perspective "human values and misplaced priorities". The artwork yeiled 1,000 lbs of wheat, which then traveled around the world as part of 'the International Art Show for the End of World Hunger'.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Unitary Urbanism at the end of the 1950s, Internationale Situationniste, 1959

In August 1956, a tract signed by the groups preparing the founding of the SI [Situationist International] called for the boycott of a would-be "Festival of Avant-Garde Art" being held in Marseille at the time, an event that the tract called the most complete, official selection of "what in twenty years will represent the idiocy of the 1950s."

And, indeed, the modern art of this period turns out to have been dominated by, and almost exclusively composed of, camouflaged repetitions -- a stagnation that bespeaks of both the definitive exhaustion of the entire old theatre of cultural operations as well as the incapacity to discover a new one. At the same time, however, underground movements have come into existence. Such is the case with the origins of unitary urbanism (UU), intuited as early as 1953 and first named as such at the end of 1956 in a tract distributed on the occasion of a demonstration by our Italian comrades in Turin. ("Obscure statements," wrote La Nouva Stampa on 11 December, on the subject of the following warning: "Your children's future depends on it: demonstrate in favor of unitary urbanism!"). Unitary urbanism is one of the central concerns of the SI and, despite any delays and difficulties that might arise in its application, it is entirely correct (as the opening report of the Munich conference confirms) that unitary urbanism has already begun at the moment that it appears as a program of research and development.

The 1950s are about to come to a close. Without trying to predict whether the idiocy of this decade in the art and practice of life -- itself a function of more general causes -- will diminish or intensify in the short run, it is time to examine the current state of UU following the first stage of its development. A number of points need to be clarified.

First all of, UU is not a doctrine of urbanism but a critique of urbanism. By the same token, our participation in experimental art is a critique of art, and sociological research ought to be a critique of sociology. No isolated discipline whatsoever can be tolerated in itself; we are moving toward a global creation of existence. 

Monday, 14 February 2011

The Temporary Autonomous Zone

The Temporary Autonomous Zone is a book by social theorist, philosopher and anarchist Hakim Bey

Comprised of eight chapters the book focuses on temporary spaces that elude formal structures of control, negating a hierarchical system of social relationships Bey asks us to focus on the present. By giving uncompromised agency to the individual in this new territory allows an empowerment through creativity.

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Adam Curtis on the Yanomamo

Guinea Pigs Up The Creek by Adam Curtis

Adam Curtis is the documentary filmmaker behind series such as The Century Of The Self and The Power Of Nightmares. His methodology involves trawling through the BBC's film archives and pulling together threads in order to craft astonishing stories of our recent historical and political past. His style is polemical and the stories that emerge are often amazing.

His blog - The Medium And The Message - is a regularly updated outlet for things he stumbles across during his research, alongside Curtis' illuminating commentary.
The above linked article details the history of the various, ever-changing ways that the western media has portrayed the Yanomamo tribe; A remote tribe who live on the borders of Brazil and Venezuala, and apparently the inspiration for James Cameron's Na'vi people in the 2009 film Avatar. Each time they appear in the archive it seems they are used to illustrate a different western ideal about human nature and primitive civilisation, becoming a mirror for our anthropological fanatasies, utopian dreams and political ideals.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Susan Hiller - Magic Lantern

An Audio-Visual installation, of 3 synchronized slide carrousels and sound 12 minutes.

Each slide machine fades through a series of yellow, blue and red slides which intersect at varying degrees with superb clarity and brightness. The audio presents looped Asian mantras and excerpts taken from archived audio recordings repeated 3 times, each recording has ambiguous interpretations.

There is a clip of the audio below.

Magic Lantern is currently showing at the Camden Arts Centre as part of 'Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable pasts)' Curated by Simon Starling until the 20th Feb. And at Tate Britain as part of a retrospective of her work until the 15th May.

Friday, 4 February 2011

Stan Douglas - Win, Place or Show

Stan Douglas' 1998 film Win, Place or Show: A two-channel video in which the film's protagonists, Donny and Bob, talk, argue and fight in an endless loop that plays out over and over in an ever-shifting and altering array of combinations. The total number of possible combinations is said to total 20,000 hours of play - over two years.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Stuart Croft - The Death Waltz

Recently shown at Fred gallery in London. Stuart Crofts film The Death Waltz is a eery recount of a ghost story at a dinner party. In a strange and displaced narrative the story unfolds telling us of two soldiers Celia and Joe on leave from an un-named war, in an un-known time. Their homecoming party turns into a horrifying and frenzied waltz whereby two characters become horribly disfigured.

The 8 minute super 8mm film is looped demanding Celia and Joe to return to the party year after year for their deathly dance.

Here is a short clip below.

Bruce Nauman - Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square

Bruce Nauman's Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1967-68) in which Bruce Nauman walks, in an exaggerated manner, around the perimeter of a square.