Magazine review: ASPECT – The Chronicle of New Media Art

0a2aspect78.jpgASPECT is a biannual DVD publication. Each issue highlights 5-10 artists working in new or experimental media, whose works are best documented in video or sound. The works can be viewed with or without an additional commentator audio track.

I don’t care much for DVDs. I already spend too much time in front of my laptop screen as it is but ASPECT won me over. Think of it as an intelligently-curated exhibition you can visit in the company of eloquent guides. You can either watch the video without comments or select the version with audio comments on top of it. Informed and perceptive as they are, the comments are a fantastic way to get a better understanding of the work. Audio comments come with some drawbacks though. It’s hard to keep your attention on the comments when the video they are running on is also featuring subtitles. Besides, some art critics might not be so much at ease in front of a microphone as they are in front of a white screen. One of the commentators had so much trouble finishing her sentences that it was an agony listening to her.

0aasaiddfgrande.jpgRuti Sela and Maayan Amir, Beyond guilt – The Trilogy, 2003-2005, video still

The current issue focuses on the Middle East, presenting nine artists’ perspectives from both inside and outside of the region.

0aahmounialarissa.jpgLarisa Sansour, Soup Over Bethlehem (Mloukhieh), 2006

The selection of videos as well as documentation of performances and installations is fantastic. There’s as much politics as you can expect but there’s also enough talent to make us see beyond the newspaper headlines and put into question our own assumptions about the region.

0aajonkesslercircus.jpgJon Kessler, Kessler’s Circus (Detail), 2008

Each volume of ASPECT can be purchased online.