Archive for January, 2010

Monday, January 11th, 2010

The artist Cory Arcangel arrived at a strategy for inserting a conversation regarding virtuality/computers into contemporary art without making work about personal computing or contemporary art per se.

Rather, it is an investigation into the force that bridges those worlds.

Here is a passage from an interview Arcangel conducted with Petra Heck, a curator at the Netherlands Media Art Institute, where Arcangel explains the title of a show he did there called “Depreciated”:

[…] in software “depreciated” means something should be avoided and is no longer being updated or supported. In short, something depreciated has been replaced by something newer, but still continues to exist in a sort of state of suspense. This very much comes into play in my work. A lot of these ideas we’re talking about – structuralism, phasing, atonality – were once the vanguard of creative practice, but are no longer being ‘supported’, so to speak.


He does a nice job here of connecting the term “depreciation” from the world of technology to the world of contemporary art, suggesting how the bridge between both of them is their objects’ inability to persist and stay relevant as time has its way with them.

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

I feel like I have Seth Price’s practice as an artist on the tip of my tongue and it gives me that feeling – sort of like trying to get a shit out – where I alternate between receding (letting it come out itself) and pushing it out.

But, it will never come out.

Did you ever receive a pleasure from simply experiencing the feeling of having a word on the tip of your tongue? Like the catharsis of getting it out would have been a disappointment?

That’s maybe the first feeling to refer to when trying to come to terms with Price’s practice. Perhaps one could say that Price’s practice is about that line between memory and articulation. Perhaps.

But it would feel like a lie – like there would be so much else in the work that’s being neglected.

Alternatively, saying that might feel like a lie because the work actually falls far short of such an ideal. It’s “just an object, just a gesture,” as Price puts it.

And perhaps that is what the work is about in the end. Perhaps.

Perhaps one should stop trying to over-think these things!!

But, then, that pleasure – that perverted love of the delay – is lost. Is that what I want?

Honestly, no.

Here’s a confession:

Ever since I’ve become at all interested in the work of Seth Price, it’s been one of the few things that “keeps me going.”

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

I am sitting in my apartment and I am trying to watch Ryan Trecartin videos on my computer and I’m having a lot of difficulty doing it. They are simply too nutso. At first, I thought, “he’s got to do something about that… I honestly can’t even watch this for more than a couple of minutes,” but, then, I realized that, in fact, Trecartin had latched onto something really smart about the way he makes his videos. They are not meant to work cinematically, where one starts from the beginning and watches the whole way through (well, perhaps, one could do it, but to my mind, the point lies elsewhere). His videos, rather, work much better in the world and language of contemporary art where the audience is going to come in at any time and watch for a minute or two, until they get the aesthetic or the point and, then, maybe stay and watch for longer (maybe stay for the whole thing), but, most likely, move on to the next work of art or the next gallery or the next whatever. The art occurs in the conception of the aesthetic, in reflecting upon the fact that this artist made something that works like this and the fact that he did it really convincingly, than it is in the pleasures of the narrative, per se. The fact that there is a narrative is simply part of the art (it’s something you like), but the actual experience of the video as art lies in considering the fact that this thing exists in the world and you’re actually watching it right now and “isn’t that really weird/amazing/whatever?” In an interview with Karen Verschooren, Cory Arcangel talks about this in relation to video art’s emergence into contemporary art:

You have a lot of gallery video artists now and things became less paced in cinema-time. A gallery will change the concept of cinema-time or narrative time. It doesn’t completely erase it, but people can walk in at any point and people can leave at any point. So you’re dealing with a different concept of time than with single-channel video art for instance.

So, one thing that those gallery video artists started to do was to take this into account. They also started to deal with questions like how does a video look, how is it installed, how is it projected, and so on. These are all things that brought video out of the single channel distribution model and into the gallery. We will also have to deal with this.


However, after that consideration of the video within the art gallery context, what is there? What does the work tell you about itself now that you’re acquainted? How does it reflect upon itself, how does it reflect upon its world (the world of contemporary art)?

In some ways, Ryan Trecartin’s videos work better at a party, some sort of social situation where someone is playing a strange or unique video that is not meant to be watched beginning to end (it’s too noisy, you’re talking to people, etc.), than it is, instead, to be reflected upon as part of a social situation, as something that someone would play at their party, like as a lens through which to consider the party.

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

The critic Holland Cotter, in a New York Times review of Ryan Trecartin’s first solo show at Elizabeth Dee Gallery, said:

[…] he definitely owes a debt to the Internet, where everything is allowed because you allow it, and where many people, including several of those in ”I-Be Area,” live full time these days. Mr. Trecartin takes something from all of this and adds something to it, something yet to be described or defined, but newish, and this is great.


Not bad.

Trecartin brought the experience of the Internet world into the world of contemporary art. This is very difficult to do and he did it with fearlessness and a deep insight into what this technology and its associated gadgetry can do to the human mind. The depiction of subjectivity in his videos gets at the experience of being conscious in a totally synthetic, brand-driven hyperreality: manic and overwhelmed by experiential stimulus.

Furthermore, by exaggerating the sense of time in contemporary experience as drastically as he does, Trecartin allows the viewer to see (as if for the first time) what “normal” time looks like right now. The extremity of his vision nudges the viewer’s mind to project their own image of how time functions in order to make a comparison.

Friday, January 1st, 2010

The main idea of “Lost Not Found: The Circulation of Images in Digital Visual Culture,” an essay written by Marisa Olson for LACMA’s Words Without Pictures essay series, is this:


After Web 2.0, the materials that form the foundation of the Internet – what Olson calls the “vertebrae” of the Internet – are all of the circulating found photographs and amateur videos contained in searchable databases and meme blogs. These vertebrae tend to be overlooked, though.

She writes:

Those split-second bloopers, acts of conspicuous consumption, and diaristic elevations of otherwise banal moments found on sites with names like FAIL ( and Ffffound ( comprise the backbone of contemporary digital visual culture. They are the vertebrae of a body that we otherwise seek to theorize as amorphous. We tend to overlook this proliferation of images, considering it as somehow anomalous and not yet part of the master narrative of network conditions.



Because these anonymous images and video clips are not visible as the vertebra of the network, certain artists – she calls them “Pro Surfers” – working on Internet Surfing Clubs such as are taking these materials “out of circulation,” and re-contextualizing them so that might be seen as more than disposable net ephemera. By doing so, they create “portraits of the Web.”

She writes:

(Pro Surfers) are engaged in an enterprise distinct from the mere appropriation of found photography. They present us with constellations of uncannily decisive moments, images made perfect by their imperfections, images that add up to portraits of the Web, diaristic photo essays on the part of the surfer, and images that certainly add up to something greater than the sum of their parts. Taken out of circulation and repurposed, they are ascribed with new value, like the shiny bars locked up in Fort Knox.


These artists, then, are not merely playing art world games, but helping people see what the Internet looks like right now.