What How Why 29-5-13
A yet-to-be-titled nine-minute video loop contains two types of footage.
A tightly cropped interior shot frames the view of a small-scale conveyor belt revolving in the direction of the camera, it rests on a table containing a pile of Albert Heijn Supermarket 'minis' (miniature reproductions of products that are part of their 'free gift' promotions) and commemorative Kings Day wuppies (more free gifts from Albert Heijn) and Kings Day orange hagelslag (sweet sprinkles) tin and Kings Day Albert Heijn brand coffee. The commemorations are for the advent of the first Kings Day to be celebrated in the Netherlands on 26th April 2013, where the reigning Queen Beatrix abdicates her throne to her son, Willem-Alexander.
A glass of water sits at the back. The artist appears behind the table, framed by the shot from the waist down. Taking an orange jacket from the table's corner she puts it on over her zebra print cardigan. She shakes out her shoulders in preparation. [Pause. Inhale. Exhale] Each mini is chosen from the pile and presented, occasionally with a flourish, in a pile of orange hagelslag that the artist pours in the centre of the conveyor belt. The selection and ordering of the minis is always the same; first placed is an Albert Heijn 'bonus' card, then a Rook-worst, followed by a round of cheese, Doube Egrets brand coffee, and Calvé brand peanut butter. The wuppie follows up the rear, preceeding the final placement of the (comparatively oversized) commemorative tin from which the hagelslag has been poured.
The conveyor belt carries the procession of products slowly to the front of the shot. The artist picks up the water glass. Reaching the front one by one, the mini products fall. Heard but not seen they land somewhere beyond the frame. The artist sets down the glass, removes the orange jacket and, returning it to the corner of the table, leaves the shot.
The three versions of the performance with conveyor belt contain embedded images of handycam style footage, capturing scenes from the smaller celebrations surrounding the official coronation in Amsterdam, NL. A series of shots detail the following: Between the shoulders of two Kings Day supporters the camera records a television set playing a live broadcast of the official coronation ceremony. The former Queen Beatrix and the new Queen Maxima sing side by side. A cutaway shot reveals a group in orange costumes seated and standing around the television within a busy street scene. Two women laugh as they raise their arms, gesturing to the television screen with a three-fingered hand signal making out a 'W'. 'W' for the King, 'Wee of Willem'.
Shot canal side, scenes of a boat parade contain crowds of orange-costumed spectators cheering and watching a procession of various decorated party boats filled to capacity with orange-costumed inhabitants. Within the crowds two young male figures are picked out for particular focus: a man dressed in a king's costume and another who is energetically gesturing to those around him encouraging them to respond to the music.
Establishing shots of a park are blurry, is it snowing? The camera pulls focus and then lowers its view, tracking through a rubbish-strewn park prominently featuring Albert Heijn bags and Heineken cans. The camera turns to haphazardly follow a 50 year old woman up to the edge of the crowd at a large stage. A resoundingly repetitive nineties techno/house anthem 'House of God' increases in volume, on the stage a neon sign flashes 'Cartel'. In the foreground of the shot a guy in a rasta hat sprays 'Long live the King' on a makeshift flag.
The interior footage of the three nearly identical conveyor belt performances forms a repetitive base line which the exterior footage of King's Day is imbedded within and between. Located within the composition of the conveyor belt performance, smaller frames sit as if on the conveyor belt. In this way and through the transitions between the edits, connections between details within the two kinds of footage develop.
The yet-to-be-titled video continues the themes of its precursor video work, (Untitled) Finished Sketch, in which I playfully misunderstand/appropriate the function of products from iconic Dutch brands during attempts to find methods for belonging through processes of mimicry. In this follow-up work the same world of products are explored but now the camera also witnesses the conveyor belt as symbolic of the methods of their production. Importantly, the camera also leaves the studio to even-handedly investigate the practice and performance of the ideologies that the products represent; brand identities, national identities, collective representation, belief, and belonging.
Standing outside of the miniature french kitchen, the two young women in matching red coats were talking freely. "If I have this baby, I have to consider that I am going to be not only ancient but also reborn through it, right?" The woman in the slightly less red jacket paused and considered the tiny kitchen inside "Yes you could consider that, but you have to consider the interval between you - that the meaning that you might ascribe to yourself or have ascribed to you will be changed in its transport through this new arrival into the new context." A guy with a pizza under his arm walked by. "Its called transmission" she added with a hungry stare. "Hmm," the first more red jacketed woman pondered, "I think I'm going to have the baby maybe".
Georges Didi-Huberman 'The Supposition of the Aura: The Now, the Then, and Modernity'. First published in Negotiating rapture: the Power of Art to Transform Lives (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1996).
Following Benjamin's understanding of the aura as decline and re-inflection, Didi-Huberman's essay presents a hypothesis that the aura is present in the viewer's experience of modernist art as 'supposition'. Outlining the nuances across Benjamin's writings on the aura he considers key moments of its development as "that which emerges from the process of becoming and disappearance" and which is distinguished as "not the source" but a "dynamic 2 way flow of a historicity that asks to be recognised as a restoration, a restitution, and as something that by that very fact is uncompleted, always open". By contrast, supposition, Didi-Huberman explains, is the act of "placing below" and "means producing a hypothesis - also 'underneath' - which then becomes capable of offering not only the principle 'subject' of a work of art, but also its deepest 'principle'". Critiquing Panofsky's restorative reading of the return of iconography in abstract modernist works ("Newman was not a Kabbalist"), Didi-Huberman instead proposes that an articulation between two paradigms must be sought in every work of art, that of: "formal singularities and anthropological paradigms". This articulation leads to Huberman's question of process and a discussion of dialectics: how a painting supposes, and how it acts on the viewer's gaze.
Synopsis of 'The work of art in the age of digital recombination' by Jos de Mul. In Digital Material.
Contributing to discourse on the role of media in the configuration of the human mind and experience, Mul argues that the present age is one of digital recombination and has caused a shift in art's ontology through the model of digital image database technologies. Following from the loss of the aura and cult value and its replacement with exhibition value in Walter Benjamin's essay 'Art in the age of mechanical reproduction' , Mul explicates how an image's exhibition value is sited in the endless reproducability and recombining of the auratic copy, using the mediagenic factor of the celebrity to show how exhibition value operates.
Recent developments in database technology show a trend towards the model of relational databases for their greater flexibility and wide application beyond the world of computing. Mul argues that once the database evokes acts in the material world the model operates as a material metaphor and, through customisation (here he cites industrial and genetic technologies), may create a meaning surplus - in which case the database functions as a conceptual metaphor structuring our experience of the world and ourselves within it. Through a manipulation of database technologies (add, browse, change, destroy) Mul argues that attention is directed to the medium itself and that, through this ABCD process, the work of art has become repoliticised.
Synopsis of 'Remixing and Remixability' by Lev Manovich
In this text Manovich argues for a continuity of modularity in the technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries, compares the different forms of modularity that they take, and relates their effects on wider culture. While the industrialisation of the 20th century reached a systemic character standardising and modularising the products of mass culture in the production process (video tapes, photographs) Manovich points out that the making of content was always performed by teams of human authors on a one by one basis, thereby retaining a character of individuality so important to the ideology of the time. In remixing/remixability users are now modulating culture from the outside. Manovich proposes 21st century modularity extends beyond a pre-prescribed vocabulary (such as elemental shapes or the module of the cassette tape) as its modules constitute any well-defined part of any finished cultural object (such as chapters in a DVD or 'notes' in Flickr) in unlimited combinations. The structure of 21st century computer technology and the resulting modularity of its cultural products encourages remixing of these modules by its users. 21st century communication is characterised by the multi directional movement of information, where each reception point is one of many temporary stations on information's path and these diverse modules become accessible to all. Collaborative remixability platforms such as wikipedia make spaces of production available for all users of the internet, collapsing the distinction between professional and amateur producers and between samples (i.e. stock photo's) and 'authentic' cultural works.
1. At a craft market stall a sign advertises 'While You Wait' illustrations of: "Tales, Yarns, Gossip, Folklore and Histories… of… Rebellion, Impropriety, Transgressions, and Miscreance... etc." I wait, greet people, sit, actively listen, illustrate on paper and also record on audio tape those tales of passers-by who stop in. We sit either side of a cloth-covered card table. Lying on the table is drawing and recording equipment. Sometimes a small crowd gathers. When the passers-by finish recounting their tales I wrap and seal my illustration for them in brown paper. The illustrations are rudimentary, like visual note taking. I keep carbon copies to pin on a board which is fixed to the back of the stall above a bench. At the bench people can sit and listen to the audio recordings. Over four weekends and as part of a Public Art Biennale in Christchurch, NZ, Tales Illustrated accumulates 50 or so stories.
2. A commercially hand painted billboard at the entrance to the gallery's building advertises 'Visible Mending' by Garment Repair Services, directing people to the second floor. Within the building and climbing the stairwell, two pointing-finger signs further direct people upwards to the gallery. Here they encounter one of six visible menders ready to barter their services across the faux wood surface of a counter top. Behind the mender stands a small false wall, papered in seventies wallpaper, a facade reminiscent of a stage prop. On it a shelf holding a pot plant, clock, vintage mending tools, and mending in-progress. Menders have requisite needlework skills, including my mother and I. Gallery visitors bring garments to be visibly mended. The bartered transactions include cardboard boxes, a mixed-tape, a puppet show and heirloom recipes. Menders receive their negotiated exchange and gallery visitors receive their garments, mended visibly in the style of the mender they encountered and bartered with.
3. A cacophony of original and found imagery is melded with digital and photographic montage techniques across three 2.4m x 3m billboards, displaying the latest work of a collective of four artists. On the first billboard fireworks explode in circular bursts, foregrounded by a scene bordered in hazard tape. Within, a pile of strewn clothing and a layered digitally-degraded image of a woman opens curtains to reveal more hazard-pattern. Billboard two contains a cropped photograph of a naked woman's upper torso, her breasts obscured by a pair of hypnotic swirl-filled a-ok hand gestures made with purple fingers. 'The Gayze Off(TM)' is overlaid like a digital watermark, an extra Z in fluro green scrawl produces The Gayze'z' Off(TM). A matching fluro green lipstick lies in the foreground of the third billboard. Behind it, a shell-like cut out of black, windswept hair is semi obscuring an upside down image of a group of five women.
PHILIP EWE Response to Description 1.
How does it make you feel? I'm curious about the stories and about the setting and the people coming by - I'm given a taste but knowing the transgressive nature of the stories I want more! There is a lot that's not detailed but I really have a picture of the scene by the cloth-covered table and the opening line which places us immediately with atmosphere (the market) and the basis for it all - the sign. The writing makes me feel cuir
What kind of atmosphere does it evoke? The stories themselves one can only guess - probably a bit exciting! Despite how busy the public context was and how lively the tales may have been there is a lightness to the writing, no firey examples of rebellion which also opens up the subject because the there is none of the titillation that comes from gossip and tales of impropriety. In this way the voice of the writing makes no judgement calls: tales in this spot, as everywhere, come and go and the core of the work is catching them with a butterfly net, to be recorded and then let free again. This lends a kind of mystery to the work.
Where can you position it? Practically speaking: I position the writing as an stylish description that would fit well in an overview of the artists work.
When did it begin to exist as an art object? The description of the work, the writing, comes into artistry right from the beginning. The description reads like a story as much as the tales people are recounting are stories and there is a wonderful sensitivity to the style and descriptions of the work and the rituals of involved in the making of it: recording, drawing, wrapping of drawing and the hosting of other people.
Does the work have integrity? What kind of integrity? This is a tricky question, is this a yes/no answer, is integrity a club that you are in or out of? The artwork described in Liz's writing has an ethereal quality, no examples of summaries of the stories of impropriety, rebellion and miscreance description and the ethereal description itself are so ethereal in nature that it's .
What was the motivation behind making it? The motivation feels like a belief in the power of story telling, that for something to exist it must be heard and that the stories that are being heard are free from judgement despite their rebellious nature - this could be fun to divulge and fun to hear! The writing itself feels motivated to tell the story of this situation, it works as a testimony for the artist: it feels like it has a beginning, middle and the end: 50 stories were collected by the course of the four weekend
At the same time there is a trade of sorts, tell me a story and I will give you a picture, but the trade is a trade seems less a trade of worth but more like a custom, that a story deserves a picture and a picture deserves a story - the cloth-covered card table lends a taror-reading quality to the artwork. What is the motivation for Liz and her passers-by? Perhaps there is an understanding and curiosity from both ends that this is not about capital, a trade off and more about communication, on terms personal to the tale-teller (they can tell it how they like) and the picture-maker (she can draw what she likes)- what story shall he tell? what picture shall she make? Similarly the stories may have been shared but they are no paraphrased or retold by Liz, as a kind of loyalty to people's stories. There is no mention of how willing people were, whether passers-by took some persuasion or not - this is the mystery of the art making.I can only imagine her motivation was for good.
What preceded it? I can only imagine, for the artwork thoughts, the usual proposals and emails with the organisers, sourcing equipment. For the writing - it was an assignment!
Where can you position it? Outside, summertime, in a public and commercial environment. In a place where craft is valued. Within the institutional structure of an Art Biennale.
Does the work have integrity? What kind? The works integrity relies on: the interaction between the story teller and the listener - was the encounter valuable for both sides? Why? The work's integrity also relies on its ability to act as a provocation to the conservative majority in the city that it was held in.
What kind of atmosphere does it evoke? The work privileges the value of a good story over the legality or morality of the act told within it - therefore the atmosphere evoked is one of mischievousness. It also creates an open environment for the telling of stories, the active listening process provides a generous service.
When did it begin to exist as an object? The project began as an object the moment documentation of it appeared in the public.
What was the motivation behind making it? Tales Illustrated was motivated by a desire to interact with 'the public' in Christchurch, to hear their stories. The stall was a listening booth, the service was a rather immaterial one - but still a craft! I wanted to set up an experiment where the conceptual elements of my practice could be brought into a context where they could be compared and valued in the terms of the craft market.
What preceded it? A curatorial invitation. An interest in storytelling and the performance of placeness through the storytelling process. An interest in the work of Suzanne Lacy and other New Genre Public Artists. I also like craft stalls.