Spontaneous Combustion!

SPRING 2012: V.08 N.01: CAA Conference Edition 2012

 
Preston Poe
Salisbury University, Dover, Delaware

Panel Chair: Preston Poe
Panel members: Joseph DeLappe, Robert Lawrence, Ceci Moss, Lee Montgomery and EI Janet Lin.

Spontaneous Combustion Panel Chair Preston Poe, 2012, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Spontaneous Combustion Panel Chair Preston Poe, 2012, photo credit Paul Catanese.

REPORT

Spontaneous Combustion! proved to be an exciting and energizing experience for the audience and participants. Panelists included Joseph DeLappe, Robert Lawrence, Ceci Moss, Lee Montgomery and EI Janet Lin.

The topics ranged from an inside view of critical practice in contemporary methodologies and interventions regarding political viewpoints on current culture, the identification of social space and new modalities of integrating social media, the historical application of internet art through anagrams and references between the physical and virtual, broadcast technology and open-source experimentation, and ultimately the role of misperception and hyper-reality in online streaming and live media.

The artists submitted their work as initial abstracts and then shared the following reports on their research, in this way integrating their own reflections on the experience.

Special thanks should be made to John Cates for his technical support, in addition to the administration and staff of the Velaslavasy Panorama, as well as Paul Catanese, who provided the still images that accompany this chair’s report.

Still Image from Joseph Delappe’s Chatroulette: Discipline and Punish, 2011, © Joseph Delappe.

Still Image from Joseph Delappe’s Chatroulette: Discipline and Punish, 2011, © Joseph Delappe.

HEAD SHOT!  Performative Interventions in Mixed Realities.

Joseph DelappeForector, Digital Media program, Department of Art, University of Nevada, Reno.

Through description and analysis Joseph DeLappe contextualized an approach to creative activities in computer games and online communities as locations for interventionist performances and/or sites for data extraction for the creation of artifacts.  DeLappe traced a history of performative agency in computer games starting in 1997 when he first engaged with creating abstract drawings while playing “first person shooters” with an Apple mouse reconfigured as a drawing tool.  Since then, he has engaged in a series of performances in online shooter games using the in game text chat that combine aspects of political protest, historical reenactment, and street theater.   DeLappe’s presentation focused on several of his most recent projects engaging in activist oriented performance and Internet based art projects.  dead-in-iraq (2006 – 2011) was an in-game protest/memorial taking place in America’s Army, the popular Defense Department funded recruiting first person shooter, wherein the names of fallen United States military are typed by the author into the game’s text messaging system.

Still image from Dead in Iraq, 2006, © Joseph Delappe.

Still image from Dead in Iraq, 2006, © Joseph Delappe.

DeLappe spoke about the ongoing project, http://www.iraqimemorial.org.  The work is an online call and exhibition of memorial concepts and projects dedicated to the many thousands of civilian casualties in the Iraq conflict.  He further described the creative reenactment of aspects from the life of Mahatma Gandhi in the online community.  These include, The Salt Satyagraha Online: Gandhi’s March to Dandi in Second Life, (2008) which involved the creative reenactment of Gandhi’s famous 240-mile, 1930 protest march in what was a mixed reality durational performance work involving a specially converted treadmill.

Joseph Delappe performing at Eyebeam, 2008,  © Joseph Delappe.

Joseph Delappe performing at Eyebeam, 2008, © Joseph Delappe.

This performance was followed by a continuation of the reenactment entitled Twitter Torture, in which MGandhi was imprisoned 24/7 in a recreation of Gandhi’s jail cell where he was interred by the British following the Salt March.  While in prison in Second Life, MGandhi engaged in daily readings of the Bush era “torture memos,” word for word, in a three-tiered performance feeding the text chat from SL automatically to DeLappe’s Twitter and Facebook updates.

Graphite drawing by Joseph Delappe, 2007, © Joseph Delappe.

Graphite drawing by Joseph Delappe, 2007, © Joseph Delappe.

Further discussed were ongoing projects to engage contemporary shooters – including Medal of Honor and Call of Duty – both of which depict aspects of the ongoing conflict in Afghanistan.  They included new projects involving the extraction of 3D gaming based data and the construction of polygon sculptures of Taliban fighters and graphite drawings created from screen shots.  The latter works reflect an interest in depicting the slippage between computer-based war gaming and the battlefield artist as re-imagined for the age of simulation.  In presenting and discussing these works and others, DeLappe argued for the continued expansion of such online contexts as sites for transgressive, creative and political content.  As a performance artist operating in online gaming contexts, one is uniquely situated as an ontological explorer through the promulgation of political agency, critical mischief and hacktivist positioning.

Robert Lawrence presenting during the panel “Spontaneous Combustion!” 2012, Velaslavasay Theatre, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Robert Lawrence presenting during the panel “Spontaneous Combustion!” 2012, Velaslavasay Theatre, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Any Here & Now Whenever: Projects, Tools and Practices for Hybrid Real/Virtual Investigations of the Real/Virtual Construction of Indentity…

or: Deploying Internet and Mobile Media to Interpret and Lampoon the Contradictions That Are We.

Robert Lawrence
Associate Professor; Coordinator of Electronic Media; School of Art and Art History; University of South Florida, Tampa.

The renaissance invented the individual.

Modern industrial culture prioritized and isolated him [sic].

Postmodernism fractured him/her.

Internet culture amplifies all these tendencies.

While reducing us to demographic market targets, the Web facilitates mass indulgence in perversely individual interests. The Internet makes ‘virtually’ ‘real’ an unlimited menu of identities for us to choose from. Most individuals using the Internet are living double, or extravagantly multiple, and likely contradictory virtual lives.

For 14 years Lawrence’s projects have offered hybrid constructions of physical elements and accompanying web components that contradict likely readings of the corresponding physical forms. Through this hybrid practice Lawrence examines the way we now construct identity fluidly across the real and virtual planes.

Lawrence’s 1998 work, The Way Things Grow, was the first exhibition to link each gallery object to a web page, which in turn linked to a geographic location. Later works Location Sequence and Beginning/Middle & End, innovatively initiated decades-long series of site-specific installations investigating the confluences of sitedness, personal and historical narratives, and lived and chronological time; all nuanced as an evolving critique of the culture-of-the-instantaneous that the Internet propagates.

His Tango Intervention series resensualizes public space through public dance actions while its web components reveal hidden histories and social issues at intervention locations. Tango Panopticon addresses video surveillance of public space, using Lawrence’s open source software Vupango to coordinate live simultaneous streams of video from worldwide actions. Requiring only cell phones and the free software, Vupango represents a significant step in the democratization of media.

Innovation in live streaming video from synchronous actions worldwide will continue in 2012 in Lawrence’s upcoming Horizon. Video from live actions in direct engagement of the actual horizon line will be added horizon to horizon on an ever-widening web page. Following this will be gallery and urban screen projections of HD footage edited from actions around the world.

www.rolawrence.com

www.tangointervention.org

Ceci Moss presenting during the panel “Spontaneous Combustion!” 2012, Velaslavasay Theatre, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Ceci Moss presenting during the panel “Spontaneous Combustion!” 2012, Velaslavasay Theatre, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Within the last 5 years, two terms have cropped up in discussion of contemporary internet-based art – “internet aware art” and “post-internet art.” The term “internet aware art” stems from an interview with artist Guthrie Lonergan conducted by curator Thomas Beard, published on Rhizome in March 2008. In the closing section of the interview, Beard asks Lonergan to elaborate his move toward “offline art.” Lonergan responded that he was researching “objects that aren’t objects” and characterized the new offline works as “Internet Aware Art.” Lonergan’s statement regarding “Internet Aware Art” can best be understood as works that depend on the internet for their transmission, and in some instances, reflect on that process itself, but do not need to reside completely within that environment, and often go offline. Unlike older internet-based works that could only be viewed and experienced online, these artworks are not predicated on their immateriality, but are seen as always having the potential to become material. The dispersed nature of many of these works also allows multiple forms of engagement, across a number of different contexts. One prime example is OMG Obelisk (2009) by the art group AIDS-3D. The work originally existed as a temporary installation, whose photo was then translated into a widely-blogged animated gif, which was then the basis for another, larger sculpture presented in the 2009 exhibition at the New Museum, “The Generational: Younger Than Jesus.” The other term – “post-internet” – was coined by Marisa Olson to describe her own work, and then became a central focus of the blog “Post Internet” by Gene McHugh.1 Artie Vierkant, in his essay “The Image Object Post Internet,” describes “post-internet” in the following way:

Post-Internet also serves as an important semantic distinction from the two historical artistic modes with which it is most often associated: New Media Art and Conceptualism. New Media is here denounced as a mode too narrowly focused on the specific workings of novel technologies, rather than a sincere exploration of cultural shifts in which that technology plays only a small role. It can therefore be seen as relying too heavily on the specific materiality of its media. Conceptualism (in theory if not practice) presumes a lack of attention to the physical substrate in favor of the methods of disseminating the artwork as idea, image, context, or instruction.

Post-Internet art instead exists somewhere between these two poles. Post-Internet objects and images are developed with concern to their particular materiality as well as their vast variety of methods of presentation and dissemination.

Graphic  Representation of Lee Montgomery’s Park, Park, Revolution, 2012, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Graphic Representation of Lee Montgomery’s Park, Park, Revolution, 2012, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Networks, Collaboration, and Experimentation

Lee Montgomery
Assistant Professor of Electronic Art in the Deptartment of Art and Art History at the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque.

Lee Montgomery presented his work as a collaborative process developed with other artists, as well as his students at the University of New Mexico.  Lee talked about his 8-year ongoing collaboration with the Group, Neighborhood Public Radio (which he founded in 2004, and who were featured in an article by Sarah Kanouse in a recent issue of CAA’s art journal), and described performances like “Park, Park, Revolution” and “Picnic Revolution” that involved remote students and artists in collaborative participation.  For his discussion of the performance “Radio Net Remix,” Lee presented a collaboration that was developed with students in his “The Art of Transmission” class. “Radio Net Remix” used readily available technologies to replicate and imitate the expensive and relatively inaccessible NPR national network used by Max Neuhaus for his original 1977 “Radio Net” piece.

Most recently, for “ABQ/OSLO Hole in Space,” students in Lee’s class were paired with students at the Oslo National Academy of the Arts to create an international link through Skype. This piece was modeled on the work “Hole in Space” by Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz with influences from Nam Jun Paik, specifically the video piece, “Global Groove.” Students performed “ABQ/OSLO Hole in Space” with live improvised mixing of YouTube videos selected by students at each institution that were shared live via Skype. Skype streams from each institution were merged into a single compressed and chaotic swarm of video which somewhat surprisingly synchronized perfectly for about a minute in the middle around the theme of domesticity.

Graphic representation of ABQ/OSLO Hole in Space project by Lee Montgomery, 2012, © Lee Montgomery.

Graphic representation of ABQ/OSLO Hole in Space project by Lee Montgomery, 2012, © Lee Montgomery.

This piece and “Radio Net:Remix” both demonstrate how using freely available software allows performative and conceptual pieces from the past to be re-imagined and experimented with as a contrast to their original presentations where technical and financial access limited the conceptual and experimental  possibilities.  In his presentation of both “Radio Net:Remix” and  “ABQ/OSLO Hole in Space,” Lee pointed to the ways that the re-imagined  pieces were effected by and developed new possibilities through the greater access that we now have to tools that were relatively inaccessible and thus rarified in their earlier analog incarnations.

Ceci Moss, Robert Lawrence, and Janet Lin at Spontaneous Combustion! Panel, Velaslavasay Theatre, 2012, photo credit Paul Catanese.

Ceci Moss, Robert Lawrence, and Janet Lin at Spontaneous Combustion! Panel, Velaslavasay Theatre, 2012, photo credit Paul Catanese.

CAA Spontaneous Combustion!

Ei Jane Janet Lin
Independent artist. Based in Chicago, Illinois.

Cam4 describes itself accurately as “Free Live Sex Webcams” and chat-space featuring amateur webcam pornography. Cam4 generates expectations of domestic spaces/locations, dim lighting and close-ups of bodies. By transgressing Cam4 community expectations, I perform confrontation, intervention and critique in my work Collaborations 1 – 6.

Janet Lin critiques and juxtaposes virtual and analog worlds, staging performances online to engage the Internet’s original purposes of communication and networking. Through supposedly actual realities and fabricated fantasies, I present ‘dualities’ of: reality and fantasy, masculinity and femininity, control and disruption, convention and transgression in the context of pornography.  Following Collaboration 4, my collaborator Miao Jiaxin and I started selling my assprints on eBay as suggested by a Cam4 viewer.  The wide spread re-posting of the eBay listing opens a critique on commodity fetish and valuation in Capitalist markets.  Incorporating the earliest mass-production technique of printmaking (“with my own ass”), my performance complicates both commodity and fetish. With its subversive qualities and consumer context, pornography is the best playground for such critique.

Collaboration 4, work in progress by Janet Lin, 2012, © Janet Lin.

Collaboration 4, work in progress by Janet Lin, 2012, © Janet Lin.

As an artist who engages her audience in a participatory process, Lin questions  “critical distance.” Virtual and analog experiences are both experiences. Differences between these decrease every day.  We now live in a much more inclusive technological system of information exchange. This condition gives voice to individuals but also produces exclusivities.  It is almost impossible now to not be somehow involved online. Involvement has always been necessary to investigation and critique.  To maintain classical critical distance is neither possible nor practical.  Virtual reality is at times far more real than reality.

In her performances, Janet Lin weaves male gazes, complicated by socially-constructed gender roles. Performed, gazes come from voyeurs. Online, gazes are remote. In galleries, the audience’s gaze merges both, side by side. While reading live comments from Internet voyeurs, gallery art audiences rewatch gazes produced during performances and experiences interactions between performers, Internet users, and themselves.  Her performances also play with the expectations and limits of Cam4, often being falsely accused of violating the rules of Cam4. This tension between expectations, realities and performativity underscores complex human relationships and power exchanges in art and pornography.  Her performances are not only Collaborations between Jiaxin and herself, but also between the Cam4 users and ourselves. Meaning lies in the juxtaposition of interactions between performers and viewers, determined neither by the Cam4 alone or by us as artists, but rather by all of our human interactions.  It is, truly, humanity at its best.

Collaboration 3, “Two perspectives create a full picture of Janet Lin”, 2012, © Janet Lin.

Collaboration 3, “Two perspectives create a full picture of Janet Lin”, 2012, © Janet Lin.