State of Emergency
Co-edited by Irish researcher and lecturer Rachel O’Dwyer, the 66th issue of the media art journal explores crises and calamity. Highlights include interviews with artists Dasha Iliana, Michele Spanghero, Screen Walks curators Jon Uriarte and Marco De Mutiis and research agency Forensic Architecture.
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NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) successfully impacts its target, demonstrating the potential for future asteroid deflection and planetary defence. After ten months of flying in space, NASA’s spacecraft crashed directly into Dimorphos, a 160 metre moonlet orbiting the larger asteroid Didymos. More than a feat of precise guidance and navigation, the test was “a mission of unity with a real benefit for all humanity,” says NASA Administrator Bill Nelson.
“Systems of Belief,” a group show that dives deep into artistic worldbuilding, opens at HALLE FÜR KUNST Steiermark in Graz, Austria. Intriguingly, it puts works by late artists like Storm de Hirsch, Paul Laffoley, and Lee Scratch Perry in conversation with young(er) artists including Irina Lotarevich and Harm van den Dorpel. The latter contributes Markov’s Dream (2022, image), a generative subdivision study (based on a 2004 work) inspired by the Russian mathematician.
“Refined Vision,” an exhibition in which Kuwaiti artist Monira Al Qadir draws parallels between Texas Gulf Coast and Persian Gulf region petro-cultures, opens at the Blaffer Art Museum in Houston. Featured works include Crude Eye (2022, image), a new single-channel video piece on landscapes and infrastructures of extraction, and Spectrum (2016), a series of 3D-printed sculptural forms that abstract the ‘alien’ aesthetics of (ornate) oil and gas drill bits.
Duke University researchers develop a novel method of encrypting text, harnessing the chaos of computer simulated bacterial growth. Expanding on their recent article in data science journal Patterns, the team summarizes their use of machine learning frame-by-frame analysis of organic reaction–diffusion system animations to en- and decode text strings. “These patterns in essence constitutes a new, digitally generated coding scheme, which we call Emorfi,” they write.
Created for “Digital Self,” a group exhibition at Montréal’s Jano Lapin Gallery, ‘Famous New Media Artist’ Jeremy Bailey debuts Internet Artist (2022), another AR sculpture and NFT that hijacks art history (see here, here). An “update” to Nam June Paik’s media art classic TV Buddha (1974), Bailey—not Paik’s buddha—is shown watching themselves. Other artists co-curators Samuel Arsenault-Brassard and Anne Jano included are Chris Coleman, Francoise Gamma, Mario Klingemann, and Martina Menegon.
“Blood and Breath, Skin and Dust,” a solo show that zooms in on Kim Morgan’s eight years working with scanning electron microscopes, opens in Halifax. Featuring work across digital images, installation, and intervention (image: Blood Galaxy, 2017), the show deploys the same imaging technology that revealed the coronavirus for all to see, provoking questions about “understanding threats to human health, and of the social disparities that a virus spread exacerbates.”
“RE_________,” the U.S. stop of Norwegian artist Sissel Tolaas’ touring retrospective, opens at Philadelphia’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA). Foregrounding issues including climate change, geopolitics, and anthropology through 20 interactive stations that deploy the researcher’s primary medium—scent—the exhibition invites visitors to smell, experience, and contemplate Tolaas’ provocative claim: “nothing stinks, only thinking makes it so.”
“Tracing Memories,” a show presenting two decades of projects by Maarten Vanden Eynde, opens at Berlin’s NOME gallery. Its collected works articulate the Belgian artist’s driving question (“how will we look back to the past in the future?”), and answer it with witty and incisive sculptural encapsulations of pressing issues including peak oil, broken democracy, prolific mass production, and unchecked resource extraction (image: History of Man, 2022).
A group show bringing more than 30 artists together, “Territories of Waste” opens in Basel with a global roster of participants including Revital Cohen & Tuur Van Balen, Otobong Nkanga, Ed Ruscha, and Pinar Yoldas. Contributed environment and extraction focused works include Eloise Hawser’s The Tipping Point (2019), a video installation scrap metal shrine, and The Last Particle (2017), Anca Benera and Arnold Estefán’s rumination on mineral analysis (image).
Transplanting the ringing of ten iconic bells from France to Turkey, “Silent Echoes: Notre-Dame” opens. Silenced after the 2019 fire that gutted the Parisian cathedral, sound artist Bill Fontana recorded the (currently decommissioned) bells into an eponymous 10-channel mix that makes its international debut in Istanbul. The installation is accompanied by recent experimental video work that explores related soundscapes (image: Silent Echoes (Acoustic images series), 2022).
“Dark and Perfect Memories,” a solo exhibition by Tia-Simone Gardner exploring the troubled legacy of the Mississippi River, opens in Toronto. Drawing on archival research and digital cartography, Gardner maps how the river extended the transatlantic slave trade inland, and drove economic production. Included works range from inkjet prints of salt water, to steamship models, to representations of Black geography (image: …when we had a smooth sea and moderate wind…, 2019).
“IMAGE CAPITAL,” an exhibition organized by Estelle Blaschke and Armin Linke, opens in Essen, Germany. Arguing ‘photography is information technology,’ the show (and companion website) explores six themes: memory, access, protection, mining, imaging, and currency. Tracking the photograph across contexts including scientific imaging and archives (image: Max Planck Institute, 2018), the curators ask “when and under what circumstances did images become operational?”
Manfred Mohr’s solo exhibition “liquid symmetry” opens at bitforms gallery, New York, presenting vibrant algorithmic compositions from the veteran’s latest phase. Started in 2020, the titular series has diagonal paths pass through 11-dimensional hyper-cubes, leaving colour traces and generating shapes. The results are shown on-screen, as inkjet prints, or laser-cut aluminum reliefs (image: P3011_3) and juxtapozed with several of Mohr’s historical works from the 1960s and ’70s.
“Common Measures,” a show featuring three installations by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, opens at Pace Gallery in New York. Included are interactive crowd favourites Cloud on Water (2016) and Pulse Topology (2021), and a new generative work. The latter, Hormonium (2022, image), presents dynamic CGI waves crashing in synchronization with how the rhythm of human hormone release varies over the course of a day (i.e. cortisol in morning and prolactin at night).
Curated by Miriam Arbus & Peggy Schoenegge, “Seed Systems: Neo Ecologies in XR Art Today” opens in Berlin, featuring artists that explore “speculative approaches to future human-nature relationships,” including Alison Bennett, Nicholas Delap, Matthew D. Gantt, and Nadine Kolodziey. Contributed works range from Mohsen Hazrati’s experiments with CGI bioluminescence to Lauren Moffatt’s “flourish and decay” studies (image: (De)Composition, 2022).
Delving into their (eponymous) new film (image, 2022), “Capture,” a solo exhibition by Metahaven, opens in Trondheim, Norway. In it, the artist collective explores ‘knowability’ on three fronts: a rumination on the inscrutability of bats, CERN’s hunt for the Higgs boson, and the remarkable qualities of lichens. Their displayed media, and accompanying textiles and collages contemplate consciousness in “both speculative deeply implicated ways,” writes curator Stefanie Hessler.
“On Breathing,” an exhibition by Nina Barnett & Jeremy Bolen that examines respiration relative to “pressure, particulate, filtration, and flow,” opens at Johannesburg’s Adler Museum of Medicine. Its lone installation, On Breathing—Iron Lung With Blue Gums (2022, image), puts a hulking iron lung in conversation with Blue Gum Trees, mine dust, extraction residue, and radioactive bricks, contrasting the deep time of resource extraction with local atmospheric conditions.
“This Unfathomable Weight,” a lightbox and billboard project parsing the trauma of “the massive crises of recent years,” opens at University of Toronto Mississauga campus. Curated by Farah Yusef for The Blackwood, the show invites Jessica Thalmann, Christina Battle, and Erika DeFreitas to sequentially contribute works; Thalmann’s opener, cut between the supports and collapse (2022, image), documents the emotional weight of time spent in the ICU (as a primary caregiver) during the pandemic.
Populating a former steel mill with recent media art, “IN TRANSFER—A New Condition” opens in Esch-Alzette, Luxembourg as part of the 2022 European Capital of Culture program. Co-presented by Ars Electronica, artists including Tega Brain, Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley (image: Black Trans Archive, 2020), Julian Oliver & Bengt Sjölén, and Mimi Ọnụọha & Mother Cyborg collectively offer an “artistic, social laboratory in which reality and the future are simulated.”
Presenting a new series of dramatic computational landscapes, Quayola’s solo exhibition “Forces / Vectors / Chromia” opens at Marignana Arte in Venice. Storms draws on a series of “ultra-high definition videos of stormy seas shot on the coasts of Cornwall” that the Italian artist used like a dataset. “The video is not the matrix of the painting,” writes curator Valentino Catricalà, “instead it is the data inferred by it: vectors and chromia, forces and intensity.”
“Cloud Walkers,” an exhibition speaking to “climate, imagination, and hyperlinks alike,” opens in Seoul. Pairing Asian video and installation artists with architects, its contributors include Lawrence Lek, A.A. Murakami, Tromarama, and Samson Young. Curated by June Young Kwak, the show cultivates dialogues across mediums and epochs, as exemplified by the placing of Lu Yang’s hyper-digital DOKU Hello World (2021) in Đoàn Thanh Hà’s (traditional) Floating Bamboo House (image).
Imagining a future on a rapidly changing planet, “The New Earth” opens at Public Works, Chicago. Ten artists including Jeremy Bolen, Susan Goethel Campbell, Sam Rolfes, and Kat Jarvinen provide “a testing ground for addressing the preeminent issues of our time,” from AI to climate change. Jarvinen’s Feral Devices (2021, image), for example, disrupt waste cycles and assumptions about technological decay in search for “alternative realities for those things we throw away.”
Featuring contributors including Ant Farm, Joan Jonas, and Jacques Cousteau, “Who Speaks for the Oceans?” opens in New York. Looking to challenge the legacy of “colonial, racialized, gendered, and terra-centric” ocean histories, the collected works foreground nonhuman perspectives and ecological responsibility. In Ursula Biemann’s video installation Acoustic Ocean (2018, image), for example, the artist-researcher documents her efforts to record the sonic ecology of marine life.
From 15th Century painting to NFTs: “Meta.Space: Spatial Visions” opens at Francisco Carolinum in Linz, Austria, gathering over 30 artists that examine “social, real, and imaginary space.” Next to the virtual worlds of late luminary Herbert W. Franke, for example, towers the site-specific ‘crypto sculpture’ by Alexander Grasser and Alexandra Parger. Open Architectures (image) is a wooden model of one of 50 community structures built collaboratively via interactive NFT.
Leaning in to notions of immateriality and the technological sublime, “Digital Art Waves” opens in Paris. Featuring artists including Kika Nicolela, Manfred Mohr, Quayola, and Nicolas Sassoon, whose contributions range from prints on paper and metal to video and NFTs. Sabrina Ratté, for example, reconstitutes her reflection-heavy 2016 CGI video piece Wintergarden, which “straddles the line between abstract architecture and an enclosed garden,” as an NFT (image).
“Undamming Rivers,” a retrospective of food and environmental crisis-focused artist duo Cooking Sections, opens in Stockholm. The exhibition presents three iterations of the artists’ ongoing research on the impact of fisheries (image: Salmon: A Red Herring, 2020), as well as a new project exploring the removal of hydro dams. The curators note that both topics are poignant in Sweden, where widespread “salmon-breeding programs were established to compensate for habitat loss and migration obstacles.”
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