Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Raphael Lozano-Hemmer & Cory Archangel at MoMA

I went to the lecture and interview mentioned below at MoMA on Tuesday:

Open Source

Artists Speak: Conversations on Contemporary Art with Glenn D. Lowry
Panel Discussions & Symposia

This program explores contemporary art in the age of YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia, online resources that connect people and information in countless ways and through immeasurable distances. Artists Cory Arcangel and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer discuss the ways in which they utilize electronic databases to create works of art. Glenn D. Lowry, director of The Museum of Modern Art, moderates a discussion.

Readers of this blog will remember that I am a huge fan of Raphael Lozano-Hemmer. I mentioned his amazing installations in the Mexican Pavilion/Villa at the 2007 Venice Biennial as well as the recent heart-beat/light installation here in NYC at Madison Square Park. He was also included in a MoMA show in 2007 about art intersecting technology. It was called Automatic Update and you can view the exhibit archive here. Cory Archangel was also included in that show.

While I haven't mentioned Cory Archangel's work in this blog before, I have certainly been aware of and impressed by it. I've seen many videos at Team Gallery here in NYC, and I've seen one video game work at the Margulies Warehouse in Miami. The work he described in this MoMA talk was more intriguing in that it explored even more inventively the ways technology fails us and fails to live up to our expectations. It is a central tenet to much of his work. His web based piece, Dooogle, in which any search brings back Doogie Howser, MD results was a treat. Try it here. I was also very taken with a piece he did called "a couple of thousand short films about Glenn Gould. He dubs microsecond snatches of guitar shred videos from the web and knits them into a performance of a variation from Bach's Goldberg variations. A boomy, unsatisfying video of an installation of the work is on YouTube here. A precis about the project from the website of The Northern Gallery of Contemporary Art in the UK:

New York-based artist Cory Arcangel's newly commissioned two-screen installation
'a couple thousand short films about Glenn Gould' rescores Johann Sebastian Bach's famous 1741 composition the 'Goldberg Variations'.

To produce 'a couple thousand short films about Glenn Gould', Arcangel has spliced together nearly 2000 clips of amateur musicians' performances taken from video sharing web sites such as YouTube. Each note of the score jumps between individual clips of different musicians, with each screen carrying a separate melody line. The final effect is an almost hallucinatory montage - a flood of images which we are engulfed into. Arcangel allows anonymous guitarists, keyboard players, tuba players and other enthusiasts from around the world to unintentionally collaborate in recreating Bach's masterpiece.

But my biggest pleasure was a fraternal one. Time ago, my brother, Matthew, wrote a column for the New York Times covering digital and web-based art. It was called Arts@Large. He was the first major journalist to cover many of the artists, and he was way ahead of the curve on Cory Archangel and Raphael Lozano-Hemmer writing about Mr. Lozano-Hemmer as far back as 1999. I remember when I told him about this fabulous installation I had seen at the Mexican Pavilion in Venice 2 years ago, he said, "Oh yeah, so you met Rapha. I interviewed him 8 years ago". I don't know what the Times was thinking in letting him go. There still isn't a major art journalist consistently covering this field, and Matthew's reviews are consistently prescient. I couldn't be more proud and impressed by him. Here are links to two articles about Lozano-Hemmer:

Mirapaul, Matthew. "Electronic Messages Become A Beacon In the Darkness", The New York Times, Thursday, November 6, 2003.

Mirapaul, Matthew. "Online Art Lights Up A Square in Mexico City", The New York Times,1999,

If you want to read more, his column was called Arts@Large and can be found here.

Cory Archangel's website

Raphael Lozano-Hemmer's website

If you have any curiosity about or interest in computer/digital/online art, you can't go wrong with either of these guys. their work is consistently great. Check 'em out.

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