Spiral Jedi

“This is a short mash up my friend Teddy Gage digitally altered for me. It is a snipet of footage taken from Robert Smithson’s film Spiral Jetty. I asked Teddy to “Star Wars Kid” it for me. Just as the original footage of a kid caught on video goofing around with a broomstick was altered by countless anonymous animators by added light sabers effects, Teddy has inserted a light saber into Smithson’s hand” – John Powers.

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The Obvious

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“It is the obvious which is so difficult to see most of the time. People say ‘It’s as plain as the nose on your face.’ But how much of the nose on your face can you see, unless someone holds a mirror up to you?”
― Isaac Asimov, I, Robot

Pic: Bill E. Lytton, Red Telephone Box, from the series London Tourism, 2012. Created by layering thousands of tourist photos of typical London sites.

“C’mon, Dave, get back; we gotta load up.”

“On July 30, 1971, the Lunar Module touched down on moon’s Hadley-Apennine region, between a meandering gulley and a range of steep mountains. With Al Worden orbiting overhead, Scott and Irwin spent three days on the surface. During that time, Scott toured around in the never-before-used lunar rover; he describes himself as “the first licensed driver on the moon.”

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“His time on the surface was nearly finished before Scott managed to squeeze in a brief Fallen Astronaut ceremony. “I was going to drive the rover out, set up a TV camera to watch the liftoff, put down the little astronaut and the plaque, and take a photo,” he says. “On Apollo 15 we took over 1,100 photos on the surface of the moon, and all those are without any rangefinder or light meter. So that was another part of setting up the Fallen Astronaut: making sure I got a good photo of it, because nobody knew about it.”

Finally Scott found his moment, and he wanted to keep it private. Irwin distracted Mission Control in Houston with inane chatter while Scott took a few bounding steps north from the lunar rover and made Fallen Astronaut a citizen of the moon.

“He pulled Fallen Astronaut from his oversize pocket, placed it directly on the moon dust, and nestled the memorial plaque next to it. A spiritual man who keeps his faith private, Scott treated the dedication of Fallen Astronaut as a wordless funeral service. And a short one. “There was a big checklist to take care of first,” he says. “We had to stow all the rock samples and the cell samples, and there’s a lot of procedures you have to go through before you get in and close the hatch for the last time. So it was a brief moment, then Jim [Irwin] said, ‘C’mon, Dave, get back; we gotta load up.’ ”

Text & Pic: The Sculpture On The Moon, Slate.

 

“The alien, the industrial & the natural…”

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“In Dan Holdsworth’s latest series Transmission: New Remote Earth Views, he appropriates topographical data to document the ideologically and politically loaded spaces of the American West in an entirely new way. In his images of the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Mount Shasta, Mount St. Helens, Salt Lake City and Park City, we see stark, uninterrupted terrains where meaning is made through what it is absent, as much as what is seen. What at first appears to be a pure white snow-capped mountain is in fact a digitally rendered laser scan of the earth appropriated from United States Geological Survey data, a ‘terrain model’ used to measure climate and land change – to measure man’s effect on the earth. Belying his empirical methodology is the fact that each of these terrains has a rich and conflicting cultural legacy. Beginning with the idealised aesthetic of the Romantic sublime via the deadpan industrial frames of the New Topographics photographers a century later, each has been subject to the gaze of artistic, political, and sociological categories claiming this territory as their own. Extending ideas of the frontier and seeing anew, Transmission captures the world as if from space, functioning not only as a map of the land but as a mapping of the discourses that these lands have come to represent. Working outside of the wilderness myths that render the images from the photographic avant-garde the ‘after’ to nineteenth-century visions of Carlton Watkins’ ‘before’, Holdsworth opens up a working territory that is open to the ambiguous and ethereal, oscillating between realms of art and science, the familiar and the alien, the industrial and the natural…”

Text & Pic: Dan Holdsworth, Transmission: New Remote Earths, 2012.

Internal Logic

 

“At Kelly Richardson’s show ‘Legion’ at the NGCA in Sunderland we are presented with a number of major landscape works. Very quickly we become aware that these worlds operate under their own internal logic. For example in works such as ‘Exiles of the Shattered Star’ (2006) meteors fall from the sky like rain. In ‘The Erudition’ (2010) we are presented with a lunar-like landscape; across the terrain holographic trees flicker into and out of life. In this piece time seems to be elastic, the landscape is primordial (as it is elsewhere in the show) but the trees specifically suggest an unrealised future. Is there no such thing as a ‘real’ tree in this world’ Is it impossible to grow here’ If artists are generous in their visions then this is where the facade of Godlikeness will fade. It is the space that they leave for us where we can begin to add our own readings of what is going on. The strength of Richardson’s work is that the reasoning is left up to us….”

“Richardson continues these ideas in her major new commission ‘Mariner 9’ (2012) currently on display at Whitley Bay’s historic Spanish City Dome. This stunning 12 metre-long panoramic installation, depicts a dark vision of Mars. Here we find the landscape littered with the detritus, or more like, the dying, prostate bodies of previous explorer craft, twitching in their last moments of life. Presumably the current probe, ‘Curiosity’ will join this ‘elephants’ graveyard’ of human exploration. Again there is no reason given for the demise of these machines; it is up to us to decide if it was a Martian fight-back or a failed attempted at colonisation of the red planet. In a sense these attempted explorations, the desire to extend human knowledge (and therefore power), are Godlike attempts to capture information – to become all-knowing. But as Kelly suggests in this work, we are not gods; we are human, weak, full of hubris. But here, where the facade and the attempt to control our world falls away, it leaves a space for the unknown or unplanned to emerge.”

Text: James Smith, Mariner 9 and Legion by Kelly Richardson, This Is Tomorrow.

Pic: Kelly Richardson Mariner 9 

Novel, but not too novel

 

“Now and then, a painter like Claude Monet or Pablo Picasso comes along and turns the art world on its head. They invent new aesthetic styles, forging movements such as impressionism or abstract expressionism. But could the next big shake-up be the work of a machine?

“An artificial intelligence has been developed that produces images in unconventional styles – and much of its output has already been given the thumbs up by members of the public.

“The idea is to make art that is “novel, but not too novel”, says Marian Mazzone, an art historian at the College of Charleston in South Carolina who worked on the system.

“The team – which also included researchers at Rutgers University in New Jersey and Facebook’s AI lab in California – modified a type of algorithm known as a generative adversarial network (GAN), in which two neural nets play off against each other to get better and better results. One creates a solution, the other judges it – and the algorithm loops back and forth until the desired result is reached.

“In the art AI, one of these roles is played by a generator network, which creates images. The other is played by a discriminator network, which was trained on 81,500 paintings to tell the difference between images we would class as artworks and those we wouldn’t – such as a photo or diagram, say.

“The discriminator was also trained to distinguish different styles of art, such as rococo or cubism.

“The clever twist is that the generator is primed to produce an image that the discriminator recognises as art, but which does not fall into any of the existing styles.”

Text: Artificially intelligent painters invent new styles of art, New Scientist.

Pic: Roy Lichtenstein 1974 – Cubist Still Life With Playing Cards, Oil and magna on canvas (244 x 152 cm).

Fear Is Not An Uncommon Reaction

 

“UPON THE BASEMENT’S completion after Kelley’s death, the first thing Loren did was to cover a wall with Destroy All Monsters artwork. That was followed by a sort of “christening” by Loren and Shaw, who recorded some music in the space, including a demented cover of Andy Williams’s “Lonely Street.” Since then, Loren has mostly invited Kelley’s friends underground, including the artist Paul McCarthy and the band he plays with, Extended Organ, which performed in one of the rooms. “I can’t say it’s inviting,” McCarthy said of the space. “I like it, but it’s not cozy. I don’t think it’s meant to be cozy.” McCarthy was as surprised as anyone by the existence of the basement: “I never knew he was doing it until literally the day of his memorial, and he’s already gone.”

“MOCAD and the Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts have a strict policy about maintaining the privacy of the basement, in keeping with Kelley’s wishes that “the underground zone will not be open to the public and the works produced there would have to be presented elsewhere, or not at all.” One cannot simply walk into MOCAD and ask to see it. Perhaps one wouldn’t want to. Amy Corle, the curator at the museum who runs the programming for “Mobile Homestead,” had told me that fear is not an uncommon reaction to standing over the hatch that is in what would have been Kelley’s childhood bedroom closet.

“A lot of people think they want to go down,” she said, “and then they look and say, ‘No.’ ”

“This reaction is understandable. A clunky and awkwardly placed ladder leads to a concrete room with another ladder leading farther downward. There is a path at the bottom with more ladders that go up into tunnels that connect to different rooms. Some of these chambers have extremely low ceilings that an adult of average height could not stand up in. Light comes from small fluorescent bulbs in caged fixtures, the kind found in a submarine. One of the tunnels leads to the space where Paul McCarthy played with Extended Organ. It is covered in cheap Halloween decorations. In another room, Loren installed a God’s Oasis sign. Elsewhere, he stored some of Kelley’s ashes.

“The space is both claustrophobic and improbably vast, and panic can set in quickly. Standing there, staring into the dark of one of Kelley’s concrete tunnels, about 40 feet beneath the ground, with only blackness visible ahead, it helps to think of home.”

Text: M.H. Miller, Mike Kelley’s Underground Afterlife, The New York Times.

Image: A digital rendering of “Mobile Homestead,” including both the public section and the house’s underground areas.