Curated by Alice Russotti, Meg Webster’s ”Wave” opens at the Upper Gallery at The Arts Center on Governors Island in New York. Beyond assembling classic environment-focused studies spanning sound and video like Nearest Virgin Forest (1987) and Waterfall (1996), the solo show includes new pieces (re)engaging foundational Webster motifs including Moss Mound (building on the 1986 work Moss Bed, image), and Pollinating Garden which tasks viewers with treking 1 km southwest to a GrowNYC site to take in a durational piece—a plot recently seeded by the artist.
Most recently shown at “METAMORPHOSIS” at Hyundai Motor Studio Seoul last year, Matthew Biederman’s Serial Mutations (z-axis) v04 (2019) opens at Montreal’s ELEKTRA Gallery. Emerging from the vein of Biederman’s work that pushes at the limits of geometry and perception, it deploys the Necker cube optical illusion as the basis of an indeterminate shifting field that reconfigures itself ad infinitum, outside of perspectival space. Installed in ELEKTRA Gallery’s window vitrine, the animation will be displayed through June 19.
Sam Durant’s Untitled (drone) goes up at the High Line Plinth, a space for public art in Manhattan’s iconic rail-line park. Sitting atop a 25-foot pole, the life-sized fibreglass sculpture of a Predator drone appears to hover over 10th Avenue, “reminding the public that drones and surveillance are a tragic and pervasive presence in the daily lives of many living outside—and within—the United States,” says Durant. The piece is the second Plinth commission selected from over 50 submissions in 2016. It will be on view through August 2022.
“A lot of it deals with the calculations of harm—of researching it, experiencing it, and archiving it. It’s unpacking how we navigate digital pain, trauma, and harassment—from the perspective of those that receive it and those that make it legible to larger power structures.”
Work produced during the Toronto-based South Asian Visual Arts Centre’s (SAVAC) ADA-DADA Residency is shared online. Spanning CGI, videogames, and fiction, pieces by CAM Collective, Vishal Kumararswamy, Lingxian Wu, and others are accessible via the RPG-esque gather.town platform. Overarching themes include migration, alienation, and exploitation, with Hiba Ali’s The Real Love Memo V.2 (image) generating anti-Amazon critiques in response to an infamous Jeff Bezos memo.
Investigating notions of play and gamification in contemporary image-making, “How to Win at Photography” opens at Fotomuseum Winterthur, Switzerland. Featuring 40 artistic positions including Cory Arcangel, Aram Bartholl, John Yuyi (image), Akihiko Taniguchi, and Ai Weiwei, the assemblage of multimedia artworks and vernacular images questions the very function of photography today. “Are we playing with the camera or is the camera playing us? Who is playing along? And can this game be won?”
“Vive le cinéma! Art & Film” opens at Filmmuseum, Amsterdam. A celebration of the venue’s 75th anniversary, the show assembles work by filmmakers from five continents including Lucrecia Martel (Argentina), and Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese (Lesotho), and Jia Zhangke (China). Beyond the expected projections of film, it includes several instances of space-as-film—a light–colour study by Netherlands-based video installation duo Leopold Emmen (image), and an architecture-scale film reel that the viewer steps into, by Mexican director Carlos Reygadas.
Built to give seven of his kinetic light works a permanent home, Christopher Bauder’s 1,000 square meter exhibition space DARK MATTER opens in Berlin. The career-spanning selection also includes Inverse, a choreography of 169 black spheres set against white light (image) the German artist created specifically for this space. “The artworks which have travelled the world over the last 20 years are now coming together in one exhibition in Berlin,” Bauder writes. “Never before have I had the opportunity to show so many of my installations in one place.”
A team of researchers led by material scientist Yoel Fink, have developed a digital fiber that can “sense, memorize, learn, and infer.” Moving beyond previous analogue fibres, it encodes discrete bits of information—the prototype (shirt) can store a “767-kilobit full-color short movie file and a 0.48 megabyte music file.” It also tracks the body temperature of its wearer, and extrapolates what actitivies they are engaged in with high accuracy, bringing us one step closer to future ‘smart’ clothing that monitors health and vital signs.
Hailed as a “landmark digital media auction” of 28 screen-based works, Sotheby’s opens “Natively Digital: A Curated NFT Sale.” Working with crypto artist Robert Alice, the American fine art trader prides itself in bringing together emerging crypto artists such as Larva Labs and XCOPY as well as old genre masters like Addie Wagenknecht, Casey Reas, Simon Denny, Anna Ridler, and Ryoji Ikeda (A Single Number That Has 10,000,086 Digits, image crop). The 28 works are on display at Sotheby’s galleries in New York City through auction end on June 10.
“What is in and what is out? Is the architecture of a commercial gallery a factor in your reception of its exhibition? Are the protestors in the museum’s lobby? What if the security guards have prevented the protestors from entering, but their chants filter in through a window?”
Hijacking the media’s engagement economy for climate action, Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne launch Synthetic Messenger, a botnet boost for climate news. Commissioned by Eindhoven’s STRP Festival, the botnet artificially inflates the value of articles on climate change with advertisement clicks. It’s a “second-order climate engineering scheme” that manipulates the algorithmic systems that shape narratives, state the artists. “What if media itself were a form of climate engineering, a space where narrative becomes ecology?”
While researching the CO2 footprint of the Ethereum (ETH) cryptocurrency chain, media artist Kyle McDonald discovered ‘graffiti’ early miners left in ETH blocks using the “extraData” field. “One miner operating in 2016 decided to tell a story: one word per block, over 2.5 months,” McDonald writes on Twitter. “Maybe one of the slowest monologues ever” was mined over 129 blocks for 648 ETH and had a happy ending: “it looks like they cashed out early this year, for around half a million USD.”
A vision of a post-anthropocentric kinship future, Superflux’s immersive installation Invocation for Hope premieres at the Vienna Museum of Applied Arts as part of the Biennale for Change. Set to an original soundscape by Cosmo Sheldrake, the London-based speculative design studio charts a path through a burnt forest destroyed by wildfire so that visitors may experience its restoration as they walk towards the centre. Here, a pool invites reflection, “as part of the planet, not masters of it.”
“There’s a kinship with some of my collaborative art projects, where users inhabit these extremely technical and often quite sterile, even hostile, environments like a phone interface. ‘Push 1 if X, push 2 if Y, push 3 if Z’—one of the most hated technological inventions of our age.”
Featuring three new browser-based works by Mary Maggic (Estroworld Now: Quarantine Edition, image), Luiza Prado de O. Martins, and Sissel Marie Tonn, “Toxicity’s Reach” launches as part of AND 2021. Channelling the history of industrial pollution of the River Mersey in Liverpool—this year’s home of the nomadic festival—the Dani Admiss-curated online exhibition asks how “contaminants of emerging concern (CECs)” such as microplastics, fertilizers, and pharmaceuticals in our waterways affect us biologically, socially, and ideologically.
SAMSUNG MEANS REBIRTH premieres, as part of the 11th Seoul Mediacity Biennale. Squarely focused on South Korea’s most prominent technology multinational, Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries’ seven-episode video series offers an unflinching look at Samsung’s fervent corporate ethos and poses related questions of labour and value. In the first episode “The Executive,” tales of obedience and overreach are spelled out in big punchy typography—bleak narratives of corporatized death and devotion, synchronized with a jazzy score.
International researchers have compiled an atlas of microorganisms residing in subways (or mass transit) in major urban centres. Building on enthusiasm for geneticist Christopher Mason’s 2015 research on microbes in New York City’s subway system, this study dispatched teams of scientists and volunteers to swab turnstiles, railings, ticket kiosks, and benches inside transit stations and subway cars in 60 cities. Their findings, published in Cell, include the discovery of 10,000 previously unidentified species of viruses and bacteria.
Seoul-based artist duo Kimchi and Chips transforms a pedestrian bridge in Gwanmyeong, Gyeonggi-do province, South Korea, into a dynamic op-art display by adding a kinetic light artwork as a permanent outdoor fixture. Optical Rail features a more than 11-meter-wide band of backlit monochromatic patterns that are distorted by a motorised array of Acrylic lenses. As the array moves across the patterns, the lenses “decode a layer of time stored in static images, rendering a duet between the motion-ful and the motionless.”
Curated by Hashim Sarkis, dean of MIT’s School of Architecture and Planning, the 17th Venice Biennale of Architecture opens, asking “How Will We Live Together?” Among the 112 participants are Ani Liu (A. I. Toys), Dani Ploeger (A Space War Monument), Pinar Yoldas (Hollow Ocean), and Superflux (Refuge for Resurgence), offering evocative visions of planetary restoration. “At this moment, we are tired of dystopias,” Sarkis told Architectural Record. “We were looking for signs of hope and optimism, and we found a lot of it.”
Hundred Rabbits reveals uxn, an 8-bit virtual computer and new forever home of their eccentric software; a (truly) back to basics approach, it shifts from dependency to “longtermism.” Building on work with 6502 assembly (of NES fame), uxn—new tools built by the duo—is lightweight enough to run on NintendoDS or Rasperry Pi. “Most software is designed to run on disposable electronics and near impossible to maintain, we decided to not participate in this race to the bottom,” they summarize.
Bringing together artists Sidsel Meineche Hansen, Rachel Rose, and Jisun Kim, “Host Modded” opens at Seoul’s Art Sonje Center. The trio draw on an eclectic mix of source material including a 3D model of Keanu Reeves (Hansen), Philip Johnson’s iconic Glass House (Rose), and AIBO the robotic dog (Kim) while exploring notions of space and embodiement. In aggregate the works ask “whether advancements in technology have modded us into people who perceive in disparate ways,” writes curator Hyo Gyoung Jeon.
Satellite imagery of Gaza is conspicuously low quality compared to other dense cities. For the BBC, Christopher Giles and Jack Goodman detail why this lack of hi-res up-to-date images matters, and how the blurry state of Google and Apple’s satellite photography impedes journalists and human rights activists from keeping tabs on Israeli violence against architecture and infrastructure. “I see no reason why commercial imagery of this area should continue to be deliberately degraded,” comments investigator Nick Waters.
“The Paradox of Stillness: Art, Object, and Performance” opens at Minneapolis’ Walker Art Center. Curators Vincenzo de Bellis and Jadine Collingwood mine the gap between ”still life and the living picture” through works by 60 artists active over a half century—from Joan Jonas to Jordan Wolfson. The strangeness of Haegue Yang’s Sonic Intermediates (2020, image) captures the lines blurred within the show—interactive, ‘viewers’ turn its eccentric forms, sounding metallic tones and textures.
Marking the 37th birthday of Mark Zuckerberg, The Wrong kicks off a four-week long 24/7 stream of Ben Grosser’s ORDER OF MAGNITUDE (2019), a 47-minute supercut of every time the Facebook CEO said the words “more,” “grow,” or metrics such as “one billion” between 2004 and 2019. The piece premiered as part of arebyte On Screen and “acts as a lens on what Mark cares about, how he thinks, and what he hopes to attain.” Now you can now subject yourself to 750 minutes of it—it’s “more more than ever before.”
Hailing from the future, Mapping Festival “2051” returns to Geneva with “deviant art and electronics.” Over the course of ten days, works by Frederik de Wilde, Anne Horel, Jonghong Park, 1024 Architecture, Cie Ultra and others are exhibited and performed across the city. Robert Seidel, for example, is set to project his light work Tempest onto lake Geneva’s iconic water fountain while onshore, Ted Häring’s totemic sound sculpture ANTNA (image) imitates the “disturbing majesty” of cellular 4G/5G antennas.
Sarah Friend launches Off, an NFT project that is artist edition, artwork, and multiplayer game all at once. 255 collectables, each the exact pixel dimension of various computer, smartphone, and tablet screens, contain both a public and a secret image. Hidden across all secret images is an encrypted essay and its key. With a majority of key shards required to decrypt the hidden sentences, the essay is revealed only if enough collectors are willing to share their images. “Will you choose to cooperate or defect?”
Songs of the Humpback Whale made waves in the 1970s, shaping new age culture and the environmental movement. For e-flux, Alaina Claire Feldman offers a definitive history—delving into the album’s cold war origins (surveillance for Russian submarines) and its artifice (assembled in an editing suite). Framing whales as “barometers of the traffic and health of our oceans,” she describes the “minor listening” we do, in reconstructing the ocean’s soundscape for human consumption.
“What if, instead of focusing on production capacity and economic growth, we started to take attempts to measure internal transformation more seriously? One result might be that more countries adopt universal healthcare, free education, and a higher minimum wage.”
A trail of early and recent cryptoart laid out by curator Kenny Schachter, “Breadcrumbs: Art in the Age of NFTism” opens at Cologne’s Galerie Nagel Draxler. Works by 16 artists including Rhea Myers, Kevin Abosch, Anna Ridler, and Sarah Friend are presented in an eccentric installation—photos, paintings, objects, and screens are augmented with written commentary—and soon as NFTs. “The show will put to rest two demonstrably false assumptions: that this is a fad, and/or not art,” writes Schachter.
Digital art pioneer Manfred Mohr celebrates the 50th anniversary of his solo show “Computer Graphics: Une Esthétique Programmée,” that opened at ARC Musée d’Art Moderne, Paris, on May 11, 1971. “I showed around 25 computer generated pen plotter drawings and demonstrated the use of a flat-bed plotter,” Mohr reminisces in his newsletter. “Thanks to the incredible foresight of Pierre Gaudibert, founder and director of ARC, this show became the first one-person show of digital art in a museum.”