Nástio Mosquito takes a bow, and then another, appearing as a figure in silhouette in a virtual space of colour (I see shades of blue and lilac). He takes a step forward, an ordinary, casual gesture. The minutiae of body, clothing and face are obscured, and he could, in fact, be any man. The colour of the screen shifts to shades of lilac-pink, and Mosquito begins to sing, the familiar refrain of Prince’s Purple Rain, as digital renderings of rain fall. His singing becomes exaggerated, he begins to growl the words, he drops his body forward, and I hear "SHIT", and then he begins to talk in Portuguese, as the colour of the screen changes once more. Mosquito’s body, digitally transformed, splits and becomes two, a cyborg with the capacity to morph and transform. The two figures, mirror each other. They face one another, they face me, they talk, they gesture, and they move through each other from one side of the virtual space they occupy to another. Gestures performed are ordinary, part of everyday conversation, observed and enacted by the artist, so that we begin to think about their meaning in social life. Then the figure of Mosquito becomes three figures singing Purple Rain as if one [continue reading ...]
Edwin Coomasaru: At an ICA panel discussion in May, Boris Groys claimed that algorithms would become the new art historians and curators due to their ability to process huge quantities of data supposedly needed to make distinctions of ‘taste’. What role do search engines play in how information is accessed and disseminated?
Rosamund Lakin: There is a beguiling illusion of an infinity of online information, accessibility and coherence. Search engines seem to point towards the idea of there always being an answer; it is so shocking to us when Google has no results. We all know that search engines are largely tailored by our search history, but we still look for a kind of impartial, absolute truth when typing in a search. I think it will be more distressing when search results no longer give the impression of objectivity in its display of information, and it becomes very specific to us as individuals, tailoring its results to what it thinks we will like – and hopefully ‘like’ [continue reading ...]
Jonathan Jones’ attempt to catalogue the whole of Western art in his ever-growing assembly of ‘top 10 things’ is growing a little tiring.1 This form of art-writing-lite-click-bait isn’t necessarily bad in of itself: we live in Buzzfeed times and not everyone is interested in reading lengthy, academic art historical work. The anxiety I get when I read Jones’ ‘greatest 10 things’ has more to do with the act of curating as a practice. These articles are exhibitions (of sorts).2 Like most curators (myself included), Jones masks his own subjective opinions as objective facts. This is problematic because entrenched value systems such as sexism, racism, hetero-normativity, anthropocentrism and militarism have historically been mythologised as ‘natural’ by claims they are somehow innate to the supposedly ‘top’ artwork.3 That’s not to say that Jones is necessarily the worst offender in this regard – he’s devoted more space to women than most commercial galleries.4 However, a list is just as notable for what is has excluded, ignored or branded ‘not good enough’. In response, I’ve decided to write my own: top 10 things that Jonathan Jones overlooked [continue reading ...]
Just off busy Oxford Street lies a not so hidden gem, The Photographers’ Gallery. I had been wanting to visit for a long time and finally made my way there this past weekend to view the current display of nominees for the Deutsche Börse Prize. Annually (since 1996) The Photographers’ Gallery awards a photographer of any nationality for his or her outstanding contribution to the medium of photography in the previous year. The Deutsche Boerse has been sponsoring the £30,000 prize since 2005. This year’s nominees were Alberto Garcia-Alix (Spain), Jochen Lempert (Germany), Richard Mosse (Ireland) and Lorna Simpson (US). On May 12th 2014 the prize was awarded to Richard Mosse [continue reading ...]
A package is due to be delivered by a courier. It may or may not arrive. Upon arrival, a person is required to sign. The signing takes place electronically. There is that moment, when handed the courier’s ballpoint pen (incongruous with the electronic surface) one fumbles awkwardly (ink no longer required). There are times when packages disappear without a trace except for the authenticating courier parcel tracking systems; and the mark of an invisible signatory. Other times, if no one is there to sign, packages migrate backwards and forwards between locations. Micheál O’Connell (or Mocksim) brings this banal activity into view in works collectively titled Missing You (2013). He describes his own experience of the back-and-forth of a parcel accompanied by ‘Sorry We Missed You’ cards. He draws attention to the absurdity of checking the remote tracking system to confirm his parcel (after having already received it). And then he discovers the blurriness of a system that despite its performance of technological certitude is vulnerable to human error, chance and forgery: ‘Alongside the usual information I’d just left; a Point of Delivery (POD) signature. I keyed in an invented consignment number and saw the parcel information for a stranger; the times, movements and their similar JPEG image’ [continue reading ...]
There’s this site called Rhizome I like to look at on rainy days. It’s an online gallery of sorts. One of the works is a Michael Guidetti from 2009, a watercolour on canvas with animated digital projection. Guidetti places icons of the computer age, its default palate, over a watercolour of a conventional gallery. These images are digitalised; the Rabbit and Dragon of gaming images, and the ‘Utah Teapot’ (a 3D computer model so ubiquitous on the internet that Wikipedia calls it an ‘in-joke’ for programmers. Whatever tickles your fancy I suppose). The piece amounts to a simple animation of light crossing the floor of the gallery. These images, and this room, become an analogy for the internet; each new sight/site is a new particle of light falling on one of the internet’s key tropes [continue reading ...]
Speaking Through SelfiesClodagh Glaisyer, Ray Husain, Theodora Sutton, and Isabella Smith // 2 April 2014
Clodagh Glaisyer, Good cause this no make up selfie thing - but I didn't wear make up for the first 40 yrs of my life - and now can rarely be arsed - shame that women feel such pressure to continually disguise and primp and preen - make the best of what you have but don't be a slave to peer pressure #justsaying (2014).
I have an eleven-year-old daughter whose interest and knowledge of make-up completely surpasses my lukewarm appreciation of it. I only attempted to wear make-up in my early forties, hoping to give my pale increasingly fading features some clarity. On average I now wear make-up about once a fortnight and my friends and family often tell me not to bother. I find it hard not to tease my daughter and her friends with their pouting selfies and layers of cosmetics. I worry about a society that brain washes its young girls to believe they are only good enough when they pout vacuously, redden their lips, darken their lashes and dampen their natural skin-tones with a monotone veil of foundation – and this is all from the age of ten years old! Is it still that age-old burden of women only being as good as they look? Don't be a slave to peer pressure, don't feel you have to catalogue every life experience, and please stop pulling that inane selfie smile pout! A face without make-up is honest [continue reading ...]
(Im)material Museums: Evolving the ExhibitionEdwin Coomasaru // 10 March 2014
It might seem that the figure of the curator is ubiquitous in the Internet age. From Twitter to Tumblr, the rise of blogging and social media platforms has presented a myriad of opportunities to collect, archive, share and re-contextualise. Could a hashtag or a YouTube playlist constitute an exhibition? For some, ‘curating is now linguistically deluded beyond the point of return to an artistic context – Whole Foods encourages you to ‘curate’ your own selection of organic produce’.1 But is this necessarily a problem? Curating has never taken place solely in museums: every CD collection, family photo album, pin-board or bookshelf is an archive maintained by someone. The fundamental characteristic of curating – the valuation of an individual’s judgement, taste or agenda – remains the same whether it is Justin Bieber’s Twitter feed or the Turner Prize.2 The public dimension of the Internet has just made many more of these collections visible to a much wider audience at a relatively low cost [continue reading ...]
Leaving Fear BehindLucy Walton // 19 February 2014
Leaving Fear Behind was filmed in the months preceding the 2008 Beijing Olympics, with the aim of voicing the opinions of Tibetan people living in Chinese-occupied Tibet about the upcoming games and rule by the Chinese Government. Shortly after filming was completed, the film’s director Dhondup Wangchen and his assistant Jigme Gyatso were arrested by the Chinese authorities for ‘inciting separatism’. Wangchen is currently serving a six-year prison sentence and is due for release this year, Gyatso was released in May 2009. Both have reported the use of torture by the Chinese authorities, and Wangchen has contracted Hepatitis B in prison, for which he has been denied treatment. The footage was safely smuggled out of China, and the film has subsequently been shown internationally. At the time of their arrests, uprisings started by monks in Lhasa swept across Tibet, in protest against the Chinese occupation. It is estimated that 140 people were killed.1 With international attention surrounding the Olympic games, protests spread worldwide [continue reading ...]