Belated and speedy report on the 5th Kinetica Art Fair.
Year after year, i go to Kinetica with enthusiasm. I might find it a challenge to spot the real gems in a sea of (sometimes) artistically questionable works but that's part of the fun. Kinetica might not be the Mecca for art & science that some bloggers and journalists describe (too many holograms!) but it's certainly a good place to discover kinetic, electronic, and robotic art. It also has a friendly, open atmosphere that makes it surprisingly easy to have a chat with artists, art dealers and other exhibitors.
This year, the theme of Kinetica's exhibition and programme of talks and performances was 'Illusion and Reality' and the thin veil that divides what is real and perceived. The -fairly broad- theme aims to challenge ideas on what is real, perceived or imagined, and focuses on transformation, metamorphism, visual paradox, vibration, nature, the subliminal and the subconscious.
This year, i liked:
Wu Xiao Fei Dyson's Musical Typewriter sits quietly on a table. Each of its letters is attached to a fishing line that disappears quickly in a confusion of other fishing lines and triggers a little hammer as you type. The hammers strike empty barrels of rapeseed cooking oil, jars of Marmite, cans of Pepsi, wine bottles, etc. Each producing a different sound.
Mechanical Flipbooks by Mark Rosen and Wendy Marvel, (based on the motion studies of Eadweard Muybridge) are inspired by Eadweard Muybridge's pioneering photographic studies of motion.
Mechanical Flipbook, Horse in Motion
Right at the entrance of the fair, The Walk was impossible to miss. The 2.5-meter diameter sphere is covered with some 35,000 LED's displaying a video loop that tells a story loosely based on Dante's Divine Comedy of the journey from Hell to Purgatory.
The most exciting booth was by far the one set up by All Visual Arts. They showed six works inside a small dark room.
The level of water contained in Ben Tyers' Breathe glass sculpture goes up and down following a slow, regular rhythm. In fact, the mechanism 'inhales and exhales' the same capacity of air as two human lungs. There's something meditative about the piece as after having watched it for a short period of time, you realize that your own breathing pattern calms down.
Paul Fryer's Chess for Tesla (which some of you might have seen at The Art of Chess exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery) is an homage to Nikola Tesla. Because Tesla was a pioneer of the vacuum tubes, the 32 pieces in the set are glass vacuum tubes. I didn't dare touch the work but apparently The board of the chess set powers the vacuum tube pieces so that when unplugged the individual pieces glow for a little while, struggling to keep connection with the board, and then die. Plug them back in and they reactivate.
I was told that the chess board was about to travel to Hollywood to feature in a blockbuster scifi movie (Star Trek if i remember correctly.)
More images, including Kinetic LEGO sculpture by Alex Allmont and a kinetic-tensegrity-roof and reactive floor.
David John Rosewell's Puppets to our Creation mirrors the movements of the viewer who stands in front of it. The person becomes thus both the puppet and the puppeteer.
The other day i received the code to download the photos of the photographers shortlisted for the 2013 Sony World Photography Awards Exhibition. Idle and bored, i opened the files and thought i should share the images. Because that's the kind of thing you do when you're an idle and bored blogger but also because the photos are as stunning as ever.
As usual in this kind of international photo competition, there's a couple of winning shots about Palestine, some portraits of magnificently coiffed people, plenty of violent deaths, prisoners living in dire conditions and almost half of these talented photographers are Italian. I'm very impressed by the Afrometals series, btw.
Most of these images will be exhibited next month at Somerset House in London in April and i'll take the opportunity to highlight the fact that for the first time in 5 years, i'm actually writing about an exhibition before it has closed.
Here's a quick selection with texts copied/pasted from the txt file accompanying each images.
A group of 20-30 men and women with 12 horses and sleighs will travel during three days, crossing snowed roads and iced lakes, to reach to reach the opening day of Røros winter fair in Norway.
In Botswana metal music has landed in the nineties, but the rock came in the seventies by two Italian brothers, Ivo and Renato Sbrana, born and raised in the heart of Africa. The metal complexes are performing in nightclubs, concerts, festivals. The most famous African rock band is now Skinflint.The ranks of their fans has expanded dramatically. These fans wear jackets and black leather pants, studded belts, boots and cowboy hats. On their t-shirts stand out skulls, obscenities, historical covers of hard-rock groups popular in the seventies and eighties of the last century such as Iron Maiden, Metallica, AC / DC. Basically they created their own style look that is inspired by the classic symbolism metal, but also borrows heavily from the iconography of hands-Western film and the traditional rural world of Botswana (ever-present horns of animals concealed beneath the leather jacket ).
Tamagni is also the author of the equally amazing Gentlemen of Bacongo.
On 14 November 2012 Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched a seven day operation in the Hamas controlled Gaza Strip, dubbed 'Operation Pillar of Defense'. The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights said that 158 Palestinians were killed during the operation, of which: 102 were civilians.
The area of Rochester where these pictures have been taken is part of the so called 'Crescent', a moon shaped area that runs across several Rochester neighborhoods and where crime rates are significantly higher than the rest of the city. The Crescent is home to 27 percent of the city's residents and 80 percent of the city's homicides. The reasons behind the burst of violence include the lagging upstate economy, a steady migration of residents to the suburbs and a growing number of abandoned houses prone to become centers of drug sales and use. Rochester also has a school system that performs poorly. People inside the Crescent experience those problems in greater concentration. ''It's an area of great poverty and high consumption rate of drugs which fuels an incredibly high number of homicides,'' said the Rochester police chief. Rochester, NY. USA 2012
Honduras is considered one of the most violent countries in the world. Every day in the streets of cities like San Pedro Sula or Tegucigalpa capital murder, robbery and violence are increasingly present. Ineffective internal politics of a country as unstable where drug trafficking into the USA is uncontrollable and unsafe neighborhoods of Maras is the closest thing to a daily war.
Ghoramara island is located on a delta region in West Bengal. Due to the dramatic increase in sea level, resulting from the effects global warming since the 1960s, the shores of this island are being perpetually washed away. Since the 1980s more than 50% of the territory has vanished due to erosion by the sea. Many of the people still living on the island are farmers and fishermen who depend on the islandís resources for their livelihoods. According to a civil servant I met, in 20-25 years the Indian government could abolish the island and has already formulated a plan to evacuate villagers to another island named Sagar. However, this evacuation plan does not ensure any financial support or compensation for those having to relocate their lives. I situated villagers on the shore and took portraits of them in juxtaposition with the beauty of the vanishing island. There will come a day when these people will have no choice but to move out of their homeland.
I spent 10 years travelling for South-America jails. A different and complex world in which violence and abuse are part of convicts life. I saw how the convicts try to find a space similar to that one they had outside jails. They try to preserve their dignity. The necessity to recreate their space is the only way to defend them. They hardly try to maintain their habits in a human boundary condition and overcrowding status. Violence and power management inside the jails are direct consequences of these conditions. I went around for 74 male and female jails in Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile, Uruguay, Brazil, Colombia e Venezuela. I got in contact with prisoners and guards, with fear and anger, with hope and diffidence. Some convicts considered me a distraction, others looked at me with envy, others again with contempt because they thought that I was there only for taking pictures to sell of their confined life.
Tuberculosis department of Kherson, August 4, 2011. "I had a great loving family. I was my daddy's little girl. At 42 years old, my father went for a swim and died. My younger sister was going to college, and we needed money to pay for that. The economy was bad at the time, no one was getting paid. That's how I got into drugs." To provide for her family and pay for sister's education, Natalie gave up her music education and started selling drugs instead. Over time, she began to take drugs herself. That's how she contracted HIV, and later - tuberculosis. Natalie died in August 16, 2011. Her sister got married, gave birth to a daughter, and now lives in Moscow.
Series Description: In 1995, the World Health Organization declared the tuberculosis epidemic in Ukraine. Over the past 16 years, the situation has deteriorated even further. Each day TB takes lives of 30 people, annually of about 10,000 people.
The pupil of Cossack's children military-patriotic camp "Crimea-Sech" eats buckwheat cereal at a separate table, during a lunch break in camp, Thursday, August 02, 2012, the Crimea (Ukraine). The main rations of pupils are the cereals and flour's products, tinned stewed meat. Children make breakfast, dinner and supper for themselves.
"Crimea-Sech" accept the children and teenagers between the ages of 8-18 years coming from different regions of CIS countries (Ukraine, Russia, Belarus). These children are cadets and already valid Cossacks of the various Cossacks organizations. Every day pupils of the camp are involved in dissimilar occupations -weapon assembly and disassembly, tactic combat simulation, survival in extreme conditions, reconnaissance work, terrain orientation, hand-to-hand fight, firing from different types of firearms.
Territory is focused on various aspects and boundaries in the urban landscape. There are boundaries in landscapes which exist between the public and the private space, there are specifics of vision and perception, and an urban landscape serves as evidence of the way in which people populate and move around in territories. Each image features a guard and his guardhouse. Guard booths are architecturally inexpressive and humble, although present in the urban landscape. Those are images that feature the moment at which the guard has spotted or is approaching the photographer.
Taking its point of departure in the idea that every person on Earth is connected in the sixth degree, this series of photos depicts human connections through the city of Copenhagen. The set up is that Jens Juul portray random people that he engage with in the streets, and that these chance meetings end up with him taking highly personal photos of these people, who then each send Jens Juul on to another person in their network, who he can portray, who then gives me the name of another person...
"Of the Tiger and Turtle" is a work of art on an industrial landmark. In the background you can see a steel mill.
Image Description: Jaranan is one of traditional culture in Indonesia, this dance usually play with trance by ghost. It looks unusual because jaranan usually has played by adult . this boy playing as pentulan.
The programme of Project Space, the quiet gallery by the side entrance of Tate Modern, almost in front of the gadget shop, is often bolder, brainier and more socially-engaged than Tate's more blockbuster offerings (the Lichtenstein retrospective is a joy, btw.) Project Space is now showing Ruins in Reverse, a small-ish exhibition that takes its title from a a paragraph from an essay that land artist Robert Smithson wrote in 1967 while he was visiting industrial ruins in New Jersey: That zero panorama seemed to contain ruins in reverse, that is -all the new construction that would eventually be built. This is the opposite of the 'romantic ruin' because the buildings don't fall into ruin after they are built but rather rise into ruin before they are built. This anti-romantic mise-en-scène suggests the discredited idea of time and many other 'out of date' things. (...)'
Six artists were invited to show existing or specially commissioned work that consider the -sometimes fictitious- relationship between historical monuments and urban ruins.
No More Stars (Star Wars) is perhaps the series that most clearly embodies the idea behind the show. Rä di Martino photographed the quietly decaying Star Wars movie sets in the deserts of Tunisia, which now look like an undusted archaeological site. I like the fact that her photos intrigue and attract the eye even if at first, you have no idea that they show the dissolving remains of a cult sc-ifi movie.
Pablo Hare's Monuments series documents the proliferation of public statuary on public squares and in the landscape of the young Republic of Peru. These dolphins, dinosaurs, Ancient Greece-style statues and other sculptures are sad rather than majestic and are often at odds with the spirit of a place they are supposed to epitomize.
Eliana Otta's Archaeology as Fiction surveys and maps the decline of Lima's (analogical) record industry since its 1960s and 70s heyday, and the concurrent construction boom taking place in Lima.
The artist wrote down the addresses she could find printed on the records she owns and hunted for their location in the city. Most have disappeared and the buildings are either crumbling or have been replaced by offices of the Opus Dei.
The installation at Tate shows cassettes, photos, CDs, vinyls, lyrics written by hands or printed, etc. Each artefact has a material relationship to music and to an era that might now look like fiction to people who grew up with digital culture.
Haroon Mirza's sound installation Cross Section of a Revolution combines turntables, radio set and computer keyboards, fragments of technological obsolescence that form part of our domestic archaeology, with intangible fragments of the fast-paced Internet era. A TV monitor is repurposed to deliver a YouTube clip of a public speaking competition in Lahore. The turntable assemblage emits a repetitive electronic sound. It sounds like cacophony, i've no clue what the guy on the screen is talking about but the result is rather engrossing.
This way for the video.
Other works include Amalia Pica's video On Education showing a man painting an equestrian statue and a commission by José Carlos Martinat which explores the idea of the neglected urban ruin. The artist hung resin skins peeled from Lima's city walls by the windows of Tate Modern. They show ads and graffiti and they assume a whole new meaning when hanging inside the museum space.
Center for the Aesthetic Revolution has more photos and info.
Project Space: Ruins in Reverse is curated by Flavia Frigeri at Tate Modern and Sharon Lerner Museo de Arte de Lima. The exhibition is at Tate Modern, Project Space, Level 1 until 24 June 2013.
The works on show visualise diverse physical occurrences. From the ground floor to the top floor, the installations, videos and photographic pieces investigate phenomena that get further and further away from our daily experience.
The installation on the ground floor, Thermic, screens the usually invisible heat waves floating through space. Hot air produced from a streaming heat source made visible by a spotlight rendering shadows of it onto the wall. Like a mirage, we can see fluctuations of air thus realizing that we are not surrounded by empty space but by physical, flexible matter.
One floor up, the video future past perfect pt. 04 (wolken) shows clouds that appear almost as an optical illusion - the camera zooms in while different shots of clouds are interspersed together. Accompanying prints from the wolken series show clouds that reveal resemblances to both micro and macro structures.
In particle noise on the top floor of the gallery, radioactive particles and magnetic noise are captured in sound, with Geiger counters being the source for a sound installation. The
Carsten Nicolai - Observatory is at Ibid Projects until 20 April 2013.
The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, is aired tonight.
My guests at Resonance today are creative technologists Asa Calow and Rachael Turner, the founders of the MadLab. Madlab is the short name for Manchester Digital Laboratory, a remarkably active community space for science, technology and art located in Manchester Northern Quarters. Luckily for me, Rachael and Asa are currently in London, where they are heading a series of workshops and events as part of their residency at The Arts Catalyst.
The events explore in a hands-on way the world of DIY Biology. Participants learn how to build their own labs using LEGO and affordable materials, create microbe-powered LED lights using local mud, go on a hunt for water bears and participate to a feast of cellular gastronomy. Yesterday night, i participated to the workshop on genetic modification for beginners. It was eye-opening and fun (although scientific protocols tend to be a bit repetitive.) Many of the events are already sold out but some have bigger capacity and there's still a few spots to grab. So have a look at the website of artscatalyst.org for more details.
KK Outlet, a communication agency slash art gallery slash bookshop, is now showing Franck Allais' comical Subverting The City, street photos of city boys dressed in their usual grey suit attire from the waist up but in pencil skirts and heels from the waist down.
And i was going to leave you with this when i realized i might as well add a quick sequences of of images illustrating exhibitions i've seen around town recently.
There's Tarzan and Arab! Their posters pastiche the Hollywood war movie genre. The title of each film sounds very action movie: Summer Rain, Autumn Clouds, Defensive Shield, Sea Breeze, Cast Lead, etc. The cruel irony is that each of them is also the name of a Israeli military operation against Palestinians. Their latest creation is Operation Pillar of Cloud which refers to the eight-day Israel Defense Forces offensive on Gaza.
Pillar of Cloud, as the poster states, is a film by IDF Production, produced by U.S.A. government and directed by Benjamin Netanyahu (assisted by Arab Governments.)
Laila Shawa's Stealth Cross-Metamorphoses, a cross equipped with four rockets, looms over your head as you go down the stairs of the gallery.
Adel Abdessemed, an artist who has my eternal gratitude for turning my ham-addicted boyfriend into a vegan, is at the David Zwirner gallery. The show is about war, violence, and spectatorship. There's an aptly-titled Le Vase abominable positioned on top of explosive devices. No explanation about the meaning of the work but there is a guided tour of the exhibition on March 7 and i do intend to find out. Upstairs, among other works, are drawings featuring soldiers in full battle gear. The animation in the adjacent room is fascinating on its own but i just read what it is about and i'm even going to copy/paste the text accompanying it: State is projected onto all four walls in a separate room and features labyrinth-like drawings which recall Republican prisoner protests at HM Prison Maze in Northern Ireland during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Fighting for their right to wear their own clothes on the basis that they were not convicted criminals, they wrapped themselves in blankets rather than the provided uniforms and refused to leave their cells, which in turn were not sufficiently cleaned. They consequently smeared the walls with their own excrement, beginning the so-called "dirty protests."
Never a dull moment with Abdessemed.
The central work in Massimo Bartolini's exhibition at Firth Street Gallery is a scaled-up barrel, like that of a giant musical-box, slowly revolves, opening and closing the valves of a wind organ whose pipes form part of the structure on which the mechanism sits. The music produced by the organ has been composed in collaboration with the artist by Italian composer Edoardo Marraffa. Surprisingly soothing and seductive.
Viral Research is the second exhibition dedicated to the Collection Sandretto Re Rebaudengo that i visit at the Whitechapel Gallery. The first i saw was all about Maurizio Cattelan. His dead squirrel, cheese carpet and hanged self-portrait. Viral Research is supremely different. I particularly liked the b&w photos of Zoe Leonard.
Paradise Row has a few good works in Kiss Me Deadly, a group show of new art from Los Angeles framed by the sensibilities and concerns of film noir culture that flourished in L.A. in the 1940's and 50's.
I'll close with one of Michael Bauer's paintings at Alison Jacques gallery.