Earlier this month the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts announced its 2014 grant cycle, awarding over $520,000 to sixty-eight projects that further the Graham’s mission of supporting work that expands and reconsiders ideas in architecture through exhibitions, films, publications and research projects across a range of media. Of the many international grantees, nine are based in Chicago, at close range to the Graham, which is housed in the historic Madlener House in our city’s Gold Coast. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jason Foumberg
A new method of curating diverges from the standard model of curator-as-expert, but instead of watering down the practice by crowd-sourcing, this new train-of-thought curating culls from the seemingly endless stream of digital images in order to casually organize them. The exhibition is infinite. Image-sourced exhibitions, whether in real gallery spaces or online, tend to flatten the collected images and emphasize their logic of connections. It’s a loose logic. The organizational flow emphasizes the personality of the organizer, as well as the conditions of browsing and receiving images in a fast-paced viewing environment, rather than the slow contemplation of single images or masterpieces.
This is the case in “Test Fit,” an experimental exhibition at the Art Institute of Chicago, facilitated by the museum’s curatorial department of design in which the NYC-based graphic design team Project Projects (composed of Rob Giampietro, Prem Krishnamurthy and Adam Michaels) plucked images from the museum’s permanent collection database and arranged reproductions of art objects—paintings, drawings, decorative objects and more—into an idiosyncratic display in the Modern Wing. No original art objects are included, the walls are painted mental-institution blue, and the reproduced images are all printed in black-and-white, at their original sizes. The effect of the associative image collection is almost convincing as a romp through Project Projects’ brain, but it’s their object labels that are most original. Accompanying Laszlo Moholy-Nagy’s “Nuclear 1, CH,” the label reads: “This is a painting of the end of the world. What is your strongest memory of the sky? In the city, it always looks like an illusion.” Each image is appended with these daydream narratives. The real Moholy-Nagy painting can be viewed downstairs, in another exhibition. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jason Foumberg
If there was an awkward reveal during “Publication in the Expanded Field,” Triple Canopy’s presentation this past March (as part of Columbia College’s Interdisciplinary Arts Department visiting artist program) of their Internet art magazine, it didn’t come via their slogan, “Slowing down the Internet,” nor in their ability to convince writers and artists to transform their materials into purely digital terms, such as a downloadable program that randomly casts shadows across your desktop, nor in their conviction that technology is finally satisfying both the archival impulse and the creative drive. No, the eye-opening moment arrived as an aside during the Q&A: Triple Canopy, the art magazine on the cutting edge of the digital divide, confessed the hope to one day anthologize its online magazine into a printed book. It’s too expensive to keep up with ever-evolving technology, said their web developer, so a book would be permanent, a safeguard against the dematerialization of electronic content. This reversal, this coveting of the physical, ink-and-paper format by a new media group, turns the crisis of the publishing industry on its head. We have experienced the future of the published page, and it is inadequate.
If Triple Canopy were a book, it might read like “Blast Counterblast,” a newly published collection of artists’ writings and short fiction from the WhiteWalls imprint, edited by Anthony Elms and Steve Reinke. Both Triple Canopy and “Blast Counterblast” envision an ideal reader who wants to be educated, inspired and surprised, all at once—and they push readers through exciting interfaces and design enhancements. Triple Canopy presents text as a multimedia experience, and the essays in “Blast Counterblast” have words heightened with colored ink, like suggestions for hyperlinks that the reader must connect. These modifications are subtle, respecting the fact that content should ensnare readers too. Read the rest of this entry »
By Jason Foumberg
It seems like centuries have passed since the term “cyberspace” sparkled with hope for a technological utopia where we could zip along the information super highway direct to the future. That route, if you recall, was plastered with animated GIFs, those cartoonish website animations of such snazzy effects as rainbow text spinning on its axis and dancing emoticons. The Graphics Interchange Format, or GIF, was a primitive tool, producing pixelated images in limited color palettes and, like many things that live and die on the Internet, was quietly replaced by more complex codes and software. Yet, as long as there is old technology there will be old-technology enthusiasts, and the animated GIF, like many other bad habits from the 1980s, is making a comeback in a big way.
Visual artists are on the front line of the GIF renaissance, and it’s not a big leap to consider animated GIFs as artworks. They can be entrancing, visually punchy, funny, strange or boring, and many have become iconic. Artists are not only creating new animations in the 8-bit format, but also constructing complicated GIFs using new software, and others are acting in a curatorial way to harvest classic GIFs from the early Internet, archive them, and re-present them in educational contexts. Read the rest of this entry »
Spinoza and Heidegger made similar points, illustrated with a hatchet and a hammer respectively, that a tool, subsumed in its utility, only truly becomes an object when broken—as do, by implication, our brains and bodies. At the end of Peter Greenaway’s 1985 film “A Zed And Two Noughts,” twin veterinarians obsessed with making time-lapse films of decaying animal corpses finally euthanize themselves before their automated camera—which ceases to function when the room is overrun with snails attracted to the rot. The malfunction, the glitch, breaches the thin line between the ideal, virtual form or function, and the electrified molecules comprising its material substance—and thus, new forms and functions arise. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Workman
It’s always like this. Walking through the West Loop gallery district this past Thursday was not unlike wandering into a ghost town, sans tumbleweeds. Every year in mid-August, the sea pulls back before the storm rages in to flood the mainland, a few quiet end-of-summer moments before the frenzy of the fall openings. But for now, dealers are still away at their summer homes or enjoying the last warm weeks outdoors—as was the case when I paid a visit to gescheidle at 118 North Peoria (www.gescheidle.com). I’d gone in to have a look at “Wonder Twin Powers, Activate!” back while the show’s curators and artists were installing and was finally getting around to checking out the completed exhibition. Though the gallery was officially closed, director Susan Gescheidle happened to be in, making phone calls in preparation for a week away kayaking. Thus is late summer in the art world. Read the rest of this entry »
By Michael Workman
On a sunny but cool Saturday, I’m driving with my wife and son through the back roads of Wicker Park, looking for the Gosia Koscielak Studio and Gallery on Bosworth. We find it at 1646, past a vacant lot and behind the building that used to house a Blockbuster Video, at the end of a narrow street that merges into a blind turn. It’s in a spot that nobody would have any reason to visit, except kids roaming the alleys to dumpster dive or homeless people looking for a dry spot to sleep under the Kennedy Expressway overpass. Outside, it’s a storefront building in one of those prefab-looking buildings that developers throw up to create a postage-stamp’s worth of real estate. Inside, it’s a textbook version of a white-cube art space. Care was clearly taken in preparing the room—there’s nice lighting and it’s unexpectedly pristine. It’s only their third show, but they’ve got a solid foundation to build from. Koscielak is thoroughly European in her approach—her stated goal is to place American art in an international context—and she really wants to get noticed. Read the rest of this entry »