Hairy Blob visitors were invited to draw an image of time on a ball and toss it into a net that was suspended from the ceiling. Roboscanning and Site Design by Bob Woodley.
This system has been trained on a variety of sources. It learns the syntax and vocabulary of its sources but not the meaning of what it has read. As a result, its responses may seem offensive. Works cited: Hairy Blob (Adelheid Mers), 8088 microprocessor manual, In A Queer Time and Place (Judith Halberstam). Bot by Max Metzger. Max Metzger works in the field of artificial intelligence. Web design+dev by http://www.onchanneltwo.com.
TIME: An explanation is an experience is an experiment.
We are a class in the nation's only free-standing public art college, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. There are 17 of us.
We range in age from 18 to 40. The class was designed by Judith Leemann to serve as a Studio Foundation TIME class, a required course for all freshmen, and to function simultaneously as a satellite site for inquiry into the themes of the Hairy Blob exhibition. Each of the works here is anchored at three points: the shared inquiry of the class into temporal phenomena, the themes of the Hairy Blob exhibition, and the personal curiosity of the individual maker.
Hairy Blob Reception, Sunday, April 22. 3PM - 5PM.
1) In March 2012, Tehching Hsieh went to Taiwan, the country of his birth. The occasion was a lecture tour and the launch of the Chinese translation of his book, Out of Now: the Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh, which is co-authored with Adrian Heathfield. I had the privilege to accompany Tehching, along with Adrian, and the translator, Jow Jiun GONG, on this tour; we first spoke at the Taipei Fine Art Museum, then went south to Tainan National University of the Arts, and finally returned to capital, to speak at the Taipei University of the Arts.
Since leaving Taiwan in the mid-1970s to live and practice art in New York, Tehching has returned many times to his homeland, and has spoken there with artist friends and scholars, but, before last March, he had hitherto never spoken in public about his life and work. The reasons are complicated, and I can only hint at some of them here. Tehching was an illegal immigrant in the US until the late 1980s when he became a citizen through an amnesty programme. Most of his acclaimed performances thus happened while he did not have a "proper" status in his adopted country. Tehching has always resisted the category of being an Asian artist or an Asian American artist. The reception of his work in Taiwan was initially hostile. Recently, the prevailing tendency is to claim him within a nationalist narrative.
What follows is a text derived from the notes that I used for my presentation at the Taiwan Fine Art Museum.
2) We are not the stories we tell ourselves. The problem isn't that, try as we might to be honest and fair, the meanings and interpretations we impose upon our lives never equate with the reality. History may be imperfect and approximate, but there's a reason we haven't taken up the urging of the American New Wave band, the Talking Heads, to "stop making sense". We can't help ourselves; we are storytellers by nature. Although perhaps it's not the nature of narrative that is in question - maybe it's our own character instead. We are as if in the midst of the most lucid of dreams: our self-awareness astounds us, we tell ourselves we are not awake, yet we cling to sleep. What we wish for is to be in a better dream. There is a gap between our stories and our selves, a gap not well encapsulated by any notion of the ideal. Our stories don't add up to what we could count as wisdom; their sum doesn't afford us the clarity for which we yearn. We do not know what they teach us.
In my talk for today, I will tell a few stories. I am well aware that there is something missing in my stories. I have been invited here to talk about Tehching, and while I am thinking about Tehching, I will not always speaking directly about him. There is a gap between the stories I tell, and what I hope to learn from them.
I begin with an expression of doubt. For twenty years, I have lived and worked in Singapore, a place that is, on the one hand, especially anxious and insecure - about its small size, about the perils of the global economy - but, on the other hand, it also over compensates by being so certain of itself. The country is famous for its high-level of centralised government control. So much so, some of my friends and I like to joke, the only gaps in Singapore society are between the subway trains and the station platforms.
This is one reason why I appreciate the Singapore artist Ho Tzu Nyen. I admire his sense of irony, the way he explores the pleasures of doubt. His first major film work was called, Utama - Every Name in History is I. With this work, Tzu Nyen re-tells the tale of the founding of Singapore. Or rather, he presents us with an open-ended series of origins for this impossible island, named "Lion City" in Sanskrit, in a region where no lions exist. Utama was first presented in 2003 as an installation of paintings and a nearly half-hour digital-video film. Its subject, Prince Sang Nila Utama, as legend would have it, founded Singapore around the 14th century. He pointed at the land, and named it after the beast which he allegedly shot with an arrow. Tzu Nyen's paintings, which mimic 18th- and 19th-century European artworks, portray Utama alongside several renowned pioneers and conquerors, including Stamford Raffles, Alexander the Great, and Vasco de Gama - all modelled on the film's two principle actors. Every image of each historical personality appears to substitute for one another. The paintings are like film stills, and the film, a painting-cum-moving picture.
In one pivotal scene, Utama and, let's call him, the Fool - no designation is more apt than the Shakespearean one - are caught at sea during a storm. The crew have thrown aside everything on board, but still the ship is threatened with sinking. The Fool tells Utama to cast away his heavy crown. Utama refuses. But the Fool presses him, and with an impeccable logic. Get rid of your crown, which is a mere symbol, and you will gain something real in return: the undying loyalty of your subjects whom you will save from drowning. The Fool beseeches Utama to relinquish his emblem of authority, in order to gain true power - just like Caesar, who was thrice offered a crown by the senate, but who refused each time, thus establishing his popular base of support. Only when you are willing to give up what you want, can you attain it.
Later in the film, a digression into the myth of the hunter Actaeon and the goddess Diana yields, possibly, the ultimate moral lesson of the Utama story. Tzu Nyen's revision downplays the cruel irony of Actaeon's death: caught gazing at Diana while she is bathing, he is punished by her and turned into a stag, hunted by his own dogs and killed. Instead, the point of the anecdote is Actaeon's pursuit of Diana. The hunter sees a glimpse of her, falls in love, searches all over the forest for her, only to arrive back where he started, at an image. In contrast to the "wanting, giving up, and getting" of the scene at sea, here, on dry land, we are presented with the other, predominant, trajectory of desire: wanting, chasing, and never getting.
Another reason I like this particular work by Tzu Nyen is because it has a literary quality to it. When I was a school boy, I didn't read many novels. Only later, when at university, did I start reading literature seriously, trying my best to catch up, and become educated. One of my favourite authors was, and still is, Samuel Beckett. The Irish writer is best known for his two-act tragicomedy, "Waiting for Godot", a play where nothing happens - twice. Its protagonists, the tramps Vladimir and Estragon, pass the hours on the side of a barren country road, chatting, arguing, even pondering the meaning of it all, as they wait in vain for someone named Godot.
Why mention Beckett now? Lately, I've been thinking about art criticism and literature, and how the latter influences my own practice of the former. While it's been a long time since I've been a student of literature, I've had this lingering doubt: novels may start off as promising - premises are laid out, characters and situations carefully developed; it's all gripping and moving stuff - but then the endings disappoint. It's not that I want the final portions of these books to sustain my interest by being more engaging, surprising or revelatory. Rather, my disappointment is philosophical. As if the writers did not fully think through the logics of their imagined worlds. Of course, there are some great exceptions to this generalisation. Beckett among them.
Beckett, if anything, is all about endings. His worlds are a relentless exploration of what is left to be said, when there is nothing left to be said. Amidst the apparent nihilism and minimalism in his work, readers of Beckett admire the dark wit, the clarity and precision of his writing. From the opening of the novel Murphy - "The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new" - to Estragon, "Nothing to be done", and Vladimir, "I'm beginning to come round to that opinion", Beckett is the storyteller who exhausts the very urge to speak, and yet, as the voice in the Unnamable says, "you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on."
I only came to learn of Tehching's work in the 1990s. A mutual friend of ours, Ray Langenbach, introduced his work to me. Then when I became the co-artistic director of The Substation arts centre in Singapore, one of the first things I did was invite Tehching to come to Singapore to give a talk. That was 2001. He had recently completed his 13-Years Performance.
Maybe reading Beckett prepared me to appreciate Tehching. This is a connection that has only recently occurred to me, and it's something I'd like to explore further. A number of times when I've lectured on art, and Tehching is a topic of discussion, I've shown his six minute documentation of his second One-Year Performance, the Time Clock Piece. The one where for every hour on the hour, twenty-four hours a day, every day of an entire year, Tehching punched a Time Clock, and took a picture of himself standing next to it. At the start of the year, he shaved off all his hair, and as one sees the film, one sees his hair grow out. At 24 frames a second, a day is captured in a single second of film, and a year takes about six minutes.
There are times when I've shown this document twice in a row. And I've joked, it's like the two-act play "Waiting for Godot", which, as I mentioned has been called a play in which nothing happens, but twice. There's something about sitting in silence watching the video twice in a row. You acquire, if only momentarily, a greater appreciation of the passing of time. A moment ago, I just stated that Beckett is all about "endings" - maybe I should correct myself. More than endings, Beckett is about the passing of time. You can here it in that famous sentence I quoted, "you must go on, I can't go on, I'll go on." I would say Tehching's work is not as bleak as Beckett's worlds, but they share a sense of clarity, of philosophical precision and beauty. Especially the later Beckett short novels that are so sparse and minimal. Tehching and Beckett find a way of expressing how life is - in essence - simply and profoundly about the passing of time.
3) Last year, one of the most respected Singapore performance artists, Amanda Heng, had a major solo exhibition at the Singapore Art Museum. I was invited to contribute to the publication for the exhibition, and in repeating her story here today, I am juxtaposing it with my some of my thoughts about Tehching's work.
Ray Langenbach, whom I mentioned above, my friend who introduced me to Tehching, gave a talk at the Singapore Art Museum on "Performance Art as a Way of Thinking". Ray discussed a number of issues: from developments in the field over the last 20 years - citing examples from Asia, Europe and the Americas - to the diversity of methods and philosophies of practitioners; from recent theoretical currents in performance studies, to the social and political dimensions of the art. He argued that "performance art often operates between": between the state and civil society, between public and private spaces, between "appropriated speech, parody, mimicry, or re-constituted social rituals, such as national day parades". As a way of distinguishing performance art's way of thinking from other artistic approaches (modernist painting, for instance), Langenbach proposed that we consider the difference between the "gaze" and the "glance".
The gaze confronts its object. As such, the gaze constructs a binary relationship with its object, whether the thing is desired or detested. The gaze risks being trapped by the logic of its object, which is particularly problematic when the gaze is intended as critical. For example, Clement Greenberg's theory of modernism proffered a critique of traditional art, but just as Greenberg rejected naturalism and representation in painting, he inadvertently set up abstraction and the flatness of the pictorial plane - his preferences - as the next dogma to be disputed. Or consider the criticisms of biennales that depict these events as capitalist spectacle. These analyses often focus on the curatorial conceits, the frameworks, the underlying ideologies and socio-political ramifications, but sometimes overlook the art. Such criticisms can foreclose other interpretations of the encounters between art and its diverse publics. (This is not to say that one should not criticise spectacle and capitalism - one should! - but that perhaps the critical gaze is not enough.) In contrast to the gaze, the glance is the look about, rather than the look at. The glance does not apprehend directly, but addresses things indirectly. Whereas the gaze fixes its object as something singular, the glance is mobile and its objects always plural. In his lecture, Ray contended that performance art, with its mode of operating between, glances about rather than gazes at its objects, and that performance, more than any other field of practice, has developed this way of thinking in contemporary art.
Let me share with you now, one of my favourite performances by Amanda Heng.
Walk with Amanda was part of a triple bill in the September 2000 session of [names changed to protect the innocent], a platform for experimental performance curated by The Necessary Stage. That evening, an audience of more than 40 assembled at the lobby of the theatre company, located in the basement of the Marine Parade Community Centre. Escorted by ushers, we ambled towards the nearby Parkway Parade office and shopping complex, not knowing our final destination. We formed a long line, and as we walked, people talked. I'm sure that many, like myself, while not terribly eager with anticipation, were curious about what was going to happen. And I am sure that I was not alone in feeling surprised when we finally arrived at the busy hawker centre next to Parkway Parade. We found Amanda laying pink tablecloths on the normally unadorned, plastic-coated table tops, and we could see that a crowd had gathered. They must have been wondering what this woman was doing. I'd wager that no one in the hawker centre recognised her as an important artist. Then the two groups of people were confronted with each other. The hawker centre crowd saw us, the just-arrived art audience, and we saw them, as already there, already looking. Some of the art audience sat down. Amanda finished covering tables, and served food. After a while, she asked a member of the art audience to cut through her t-shirt and retrieve a bloodstained packet. Inside which was some money, and she repaid members of the audience the price of admission for the evening's triple bill. Finally, Amanda led us back to The Necessary Stage, laying a long strip of red carpet on the ground for us to walk on.
That moment of arrival at the hawker centre revealed so much that is at stake in looking in art. Perhaps Amanda's work truly began, not when she started laying table cloths, but only when the audience arrived - and not to see her, but to see the crowd that had gathered, and to see itself as different from a "crowd". The crowd too could see itself as different from an "audience", because it didn't have the prior intention of looking for art. Amanda's actions prompted both groups to see what it means to look. Her performance was a moment where a slightly odd gesture, an unexpected gift of pink tablecloths, is revealed to be like a punctum that opens up as a work of art, and both the art audience and the hawker centre crowd can see the transformation happening then and there. A fine moment that cuts between - yet at the same time welds - public and art spaces, everyday objects and moments, and the complex game of looks, frames and privileges that is art.
Indeed, Walk with Amanda is exemplary of how performance art pivots on glances rather than on the gaze. The hawker centre crowd and the art audience were both gazing at the ostensible object of the artwork, Amanda Heng. But as I have been advocating, the crux of the piece lies not in the person of the artist, but in the exchange of mutual glances between the two groups.
4) I'd like to pursue this thesis about glancing versus gazing at, and consider Tehching's body of work. What I'd like to suggest is that Tehching's oeuvre offers us an exemplary case of glancing at art history.
Tehching began all his performances by making declarative statements: "I, Sam Hsieh, plan to do a one year performance piece, to begin on September 30, 1978. I shall seal myself in my studio, in solitary confinement inside a cell-room measuring 11' 6'' X 9' X 8'. I shall NOT converse, read, write, listen to the radio or watch television, until I unseal myself on September 29, 1979."
Though not quite a statement in the same register, Tehching's statements make me think of the philosopher Descartes, and his famous statement, "I think, therefore I am." Although perhaps what Descartes should have said is: I doubt therefore I am. One can doubt everything, except that one is doubting. And perhaps we can think of Tehching as a Cartesian machine. He ruthlessly clarifies everything and gets down to the very basics: and we realise that the other thing that we cannot doubt is the experience of doubting in time; we can doubt everything but the passing of time.
There's a good case for arguing that the whole of Tehching's body of work constitutes a single performance.
The Cage Piece, where he sealed himself in his New York studio. The Time Clock Piece. Then for his third One-Year Performance, Tehching lived on the streets of New York for one year, always being "outdoors", never seeking shelter of any kind. For his fourth One-Year Performance Tehching and Linda Montano began living tied together by an eight-foot rope, never separating, but never touching. For his fifth and final One Year Performance, Tehching lived completely withdrawn from the art world. On December 31, 1986, Hsieh began his Thirteen Years' Plan. He stated: "I will make ART during this time. I will not show it PUBLICLY". On December 31, 1999, Hsieh ended his last performance, and on January 1, 2000, he made a public report, saying simply, "I kept myself alive".
The first four could be considered performances in the philosophy of art - they use time as their medium and matter, and really make us think of the nature of time and space.
The last two could be considered performances with art history. If these four works make the case for Tehching's entry into the canons of art, then the last two pieces raise questions about the process of canonization and art history. Of course, the very notion of a "canon" demands the "test of time". Also at stake are the issues of visibility and circulation. As Adrian points out in Out of Now, while Tehching's work attained cult status in the 1980s and 90s, it was hardly written about. After establishing a reputation and becoming a potentially hot art commodity, Tehching went into hiding as the taste for cultural difference and "Asia" became established.
While lacking the "how-did-he endure-that?" aspect of the preceding four One Year Performances, the fifth performance arguably completes the series. It looks back on the previous four, and is a form of self-reflection as self-erasure, and the Thirteen Years Performance only deepens this process of self-erasure as self-reflection. Today, people who are committed to thinking deeply about Tehching's work are faced not only with the profound philosophical implications of his work, but his very difficult relationship with art history.
For the philosopher Arthur Danto, what exemplifies contemporary art is its radical plurality - anything can be, and does, get used as art: a found object, an iconic media image, or even time itself. If art is now no longer framed by any grand narrative or any particular direction, then a certain history of art has come to an end. Tempting as it may be, I'm not nominating Tehching Hsieh as the poster boy for Danto's "End of Art". Rather, my point is that Tehching is neither the exception that proves the rule, nor the counter-example that disproves Danto's thesis. The alternative to the radical plurality of today's art is not to be found in identifying, from the recent past, heroic figures and their absolute alterity. The challenge of thinking again about Tehching's work is a far more nuanced one. Tehching is, to cite Adrian Heathfield, an untimely figure, "caught in a time unlike anyone else's time". I have insinuated that Tehching, while no longer, strictly speaking, a practicing artist, is still very much a presence to be reckoned with today. His oeuvre is happily making its way into the canons of art history, as it should. This raises the question: has his art has now become part of the past? My reflex is to answer and say, no. Tehching is still our contemporary. But in ways we have yet to come to grips with. Perhaps an interesting approach to his work is to connect the issues of doubt and of the glance (as opposed to the gaze). Try to fix and gaze at Tehching's work as a typical object of art historical investigation, and you will probably not see it clearly. His work, it seems, is made for glancing at. For Tehching may be very much part of our time, and yet his work is also, always, out of now.
Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago, IL / Gallery 1, 2, Cleve Carney Gallery and the Jackman Goldwasser Catwalk Gallery
The Hairy Blob dissects traditional concepts of time and resources through artworks in video, sculpture, drawing, installation, dance, and sound. The exhibition shows how artists depict time by analyzing various built and natural environments. Rather than discussing time as memory or nostalgia, the works present time as a means to address notions of power and politics, and their impact on the use of resources. By employing geologic time; land use; archival history; historical data; environmental narratives; and mediated time (through film and computer manipulation) the participating artists - Becky Alprin, Nadav Assor, Deborah Boardman, Ashley Hunt in collaboration with Taisha Paggett, Sarah FitzSimons, Judith Leemann, Kirsten Leenaars, Faheem Majeed, and Emily Newman - address a wide range of ideas about the interdependence between time and materiality. Design contributions: Tristan Sterk, Adam Trowbridge and Jessica Westbrook.
The Hairy Blob is curated by Adelheid Mers, an artist and faculty member at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
The Hairy Blob: How the visualization of time impacts thinking about resources, curated by Adelheid MersLife is short. Landscapes erode. Possessions are bequeathed. Money earns interest. Resources should be sustainable. Information can be stored. Art is eternal.
FitzSimons has exhibited internationally and in cities across the U.S. In recent years she's been an resident artist at the MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, I-Park, and Vadehavsfestival 'Any Questions' in Mando, Denmark. She currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
My web contribution is a show-and-tell-style skype conversation about my piece in the exhibition and other recent projects involving (among other things) the Pacific Ocean and my bedroom.
Deborah Boardman is a painter, installation artist and member of the Chicago-based collaborative ED JR. Recent projects include Steady As She Goes, a solo exhibition of paintings and site-specific wallpaper at EBERSMOORE gallery in Chicago, Magic Mountain in Bangalore, India and CoLaboratory with ED JR. at Columbia College in Chicago.
For my animation project and accompanying gouache portraits, I engage serendipity, longing,regret and the circularity and the unpredictability of time. Drawing upon my experiences in Mysore, Bangalore, Agra and New Delhi, India, where I spent seven transformative weeks this winter, I culled from my personal notes, video footage and photographs, painting portraits of individuals and groups I documented, sometimes finding them buried in my footage. Writings based on my observations and feelings that sometimes overwhelmed me both during and after my visit are presented separately in book form.
"This program was supported in part by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council, a State Agency."
Kirsten Leenaars was born and educated in the Netherlands. She is an artist, teacher, organizer, fascinated by the human species and collector of personal stories. In her work she ponders the nature of self-making narratives and questions how we relate to other people and what shapes these relationships?
In our world time is becoming unruly. We do not know how this is happening, but it is happening. The fabric of time is beginning to tear...
During a multi-week, June-July residency period at HPAC, Leenaars will create a science fiction video about daily life at the Hyde Park Art Center in which the center is transformed into a flagship on a time mission. Its crew: HPAC staff, teachers, board members, and visitors, invited to participate as lay performers. Guided by Leenaars, they move from scene to scene, improvising around short scripts that are fluidly shaped by each day's events. Over time their roles will begin to unfold, revealing their place within an evolving bigger picture. Throughout the process, a wall of the exhibition space will be used to present the developing storyboard.
After the residency period the video will be edited and presented as part of the exhibition.
Judith Leemann is an artist, writer, and educator. She frequently works in collaboration with others and with system-based methods of inquiry, poaching structures from outside of the arts in order to create things that don’t behave as proper art objects.http://www.judithleemann.com/
For several years now I have been experimenting with gathering and making object- based explanations of complex behaviors. These investigations were developed in collaboration with the Boston-based Design Studio For Social Intervention (http://www.ds4si.org/), a creativity lab for the social justice sector. We were seeking ways of surfacing system dynamics and interrupting well-rehearsed explanations of phenomena such as horizontal (youth) violence, and became interested in what these non-verbal, physical demonstrations prevented and what they allowed.
The videos here are attempts to extend that experiment into an exhibition context, replacing textual wall didactics with attempts to physically diagram the particular temporality embodied by each of the exhibition’s works.
Faheem Majeed is an artist, curator, and community facilitator. Majeed blends his experience as a non-profit administrator, curator and artist to create works that focus on institutional critique and exhibitions that leverage collaboration to engage communities in meaningful dialogue. Majeed received his BFA from Howard University and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). From 2005-2011, Majeed served as Executive Director and Curator for the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC). Recently, Majeed transitioned out of his role as Executive Director so that he can focus on his own practice on a full time basis.
"Planting and Maintaining a Perennial Garden" is a part of an ongoing series of work that utilizes cedar wood panels to host a variety of interventions. Based on the 1930's New Bauhaus designed wood paneling of the South Side Community
Art Center's Margaret Burroughs Gallery, these wood panels will also serve as a didactic tool that will physically record the artists and community members that utilize them. Sometimes installed as walls, tables, or floors, every intervention will inevitabl leave marks that will create a patina of usage.
As a part of the "Hairy Blob of History" exhibition, these wood panels were used to create a 10' x 10' table and a 30' wall. For the purposes of this "intervention", I have positioned ephemera and other short life objects from the South Side Community Art Center (SSCAC). These are found objects that have not, and perhaps never would have been, perceived as collection or archive appropriate. being randomly set aside over a period of time, they have formed their own "collection". Although ephemeral in their original life, they currently serve a new purpose, gaining importance from the story they tell in their diverse multitude... now "almost collectible".
Emily Newman was born in Singapore in 1977 and received her MFA from CalArts in 2004. Her contribution to "Hairy Blob" was produced during a five-year stint living in St Petersburg, Russia. She has exhibited in the US and abroad and is represented by the Klaus Von Nichssagend gallery in New York City.Polyteknicheskaya (Don’t Love Here)
In the 1960s, a new neighborhood sprang up on the outskirts of St. Petersburg -- named after the local polytechnical institute, the area would be called “Polyteknicheskaya”. One of the first Soviet-planned suburbs, it embodied the optimistic spirit of the “thaw”, and those who were given private apartments in its modern blocks were considered a fortunate elite. Fifty years later, residents live on beyond the vision of the original planners, while the area’s institutes operate in facilities that look abandoned to outsiders and cherry trees planted by pre-revolutionary aristocrats grow at the feet of high rises. In the shadow of yet another oncoming scheme to redevelop, the landscape and the ideology it represents, is rapidly eroding. In Polyteknicheskaya (Don’t Love Here), Emily Newman and other residents elegize the neighborhood through the consideration of two local histories and one plan for the future.
Let’s Live Better!
The redevelopment of Polyteknicheskaya is to begin this year with the demolition of the 55th residential block which neighbors the 19th century “Dacha Benois” and the late-Soviet “White Tulip” tower. During the mid-Soviet period the buildings known as Khruchevki were erected here as temporary barrack-style apartment houses. Having outlived their predicted lifespan, they fell into disrepair in the 90s but for some residents, still retain their practical value. The “Dacha Benois” has been vandalized and burned repeatedly, some say by developers who wish to invalidate the protected landmark status of the site. The “White Tulip” is the focal point of a plan to turn the area into a space-themed amusement park.
In the summer of 2011 a group of St Petersburg artists met with international peers to build a model and consider alternatives to the published redevelopment scheme.
Karl and Emilia, Star-Crossed Lovers of Polyteknicheskaya
Polyteknicheskaya lore has it that in the 1850s, a couple was dredged from a local lake, hands entwined, after their parents denied them permission to marry. Their tomb was placed opposite to what is now the metro station, and a street in the 54th block, was named for them. At the time of their death, the area was the site of villas, factories, farms and a German colony. In Polyteknicheskaya (Don’t Love Here), a group of neighborhood children and their teacher (the painter, Zhenya Golant) re-enact the love story with dolls in a cardboard landscape. When the game is through, a group of boys engage in a frenzied demolition-reconstruction.
Disclaimer: The version of the story that the children learned has the lovers turn into immortal golden fishes instead of dying.
Toska Tokamaka—Love-Sick Reactor
Major advances in the sciences were made in Polyteknicheskaya including the invention of the Theremin Vox and discoveries in the fields of holography and plasma physics. The Ioffe Institute is still home to a working tokamak--a thermonuclear fusion reactor that heats common isotopes found in seawater in a magnetized metal chamber to create an electric sun. Viktor Golant, (father of Zhenya) whose family was given a sunny top-floor apartment in Polyteknicheskaya, led the tokamak team at Ioffe until the Soviet Union collapsed and support for the project went dead. Many of the tokamak physicists emigrated but Golant stayed. Shortly before his death he was honored by the international Science community, who named a star after him. In Polyteknicheskaya (Don’t Love Here) a small tokamak comes to life in the family apartment.
The image of a sun-machine appeared in Soviet science fiction as early as the 1920s, however, far from a far-fetched fantasy, the next-generation joint-international tokamak, ITER, is slated for completion in 2019. It is to be the last experimental reactor before the technology goes mainstream with the production of actual generators. If and when the tokamak is perfected, it will stand as a belated victory to Soviet science and places like Polyteknicheskaya, which in the eyes of some linger as a depressing reminder of the failures of the Soviet experiment, will develop a new aura.
Full length video from the installation: please listen with headphones for a full spatial experience!
Installed April 22-July 29 2012 on the 80 ft long facade of the Hyde Park Art Center in Chicago, as part of the show The Hairy Blob
To make this piece I rode my bicycle throughout the year, in all seasons, day and night, on multiple paths through a unique part of Chicago that has been completely transformed by human artifice, in the process losing any sense of a consistent ground plane or uniformity of locale: it consists of violent oppositions between landscaped parks, underground service tunnels, parking-caverns inhabited by impounded cars and homeless derelicts, three level underground highways, manicured lake-shores, luxury living condos and walled in observation decks, fountains and fireworks, garbage dumps and engine rooms- all stacked on top of each other within less than a square mile.
The technical mechanism by which the panoramic image is generated is similar to the system I used for previous pieces in this series: A continuous video is shot from a camera mounted on a bicycle moving through a location. Consecutive moving frames from that single traveling shot, are spatially laid out next to each other so that each “slice” shows a moment a few seconds behind that shown by it’s neighbor. The intervals in time between these slices are constantly in flux, thus generating a landscape of shifting spatial proportions.
Previous pieces in the series were shot in Xuzhou, China, and on a northern cross section of Chicago. Following is a short documentation video of these:
In addition to the video installation series, Strip also takes form in an ongoing series of lightbox prints, available for viewing here: http://www.nadassor.net/2011/06/strip-prints-and-studies/ The piece is currently being developed for a live performance, called “Stripping”, in which live feeds from “drones” scanning the venue area will be converted into panoramic video strips in real time, alongside manipulated 4 track tape loops of location recordings (coming up July 20th, Hyde Park Art Center, Chicago).
More information may be found online at:www.nadassor.net
Ashley Hunt and Taisha Paggett have been working as a collaborative team since 2004, with much of their work going under the title "On Movement, Thought and Politics." In addition to being artists, Taisha teaches dance at Columbia College, and Ashley teaches art at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), in Los Angeles. Their artworks have been shown in museums, galleries and community spaces around the U.S. and other parts of the world.
For their contribution to Hairy Blob, Taisha Paggett and Ashley Hunt will build an artwork with members of the Youth Art Board of the Hyde Park Art Center. Following previous workshops and their 2010 project, “Par Course A,” “Par Course B: Labor Questions” will begin by asking questions of LABOR: When is our labor our own? What happens when we sell our labor to somebody else? What power resides within our labor that we can unlock? Through experiments in art and movement and collective decision-making, the team will build a work that invites viewers into a meditation on the powers that make our communities run and the magic of human energy.
Ashley Hunt and Taisha Paggett use a variety of approaches — drawing, dance, photography and video, games and performance — to think about power, the power we each hold to make our lives, homes and communities strong, vibrant and sustainable. Their collaboration began in 2003 out of a desire to question the limits and possibilities of their respective disciplines — dance, visual art, teaching, writing and activism. After building initial workshops and projects, “Par Course A” (at Sea and Space Explorations in Los Angeles) was their first attempt at giving their workshops a decentralized and spatial form, allowing the participants to direct themselves. “Par Course B: Labor Questions” will use this as a template for the outcomes of this workshop at the Hyde Park Art Center, and it will become part of the Hairy Blob exhibition beginning in mid-June.
Lauren Carter is an interdisciplinary artist currently living in Brooklyn, New York.She works with a variety of media photography, video, found objects, paint to make work that transforms modern systems of mass-culture in ways that bring out their relationships to the individual.She studied visual art and biology at Brown University before receiving an MFA from The Art Institute of Chicago in 2011.
In Sunsets, the history imbedded within over twenty sets of encyclopedias is reduced to pure form, a minimalist sculpture that directly relates to the viewer’s physical body. Each of the 650 encyclopedias is organized in such a way that the gilded pages of the books altogether create a golden mirror that reflects a shadowy image of the space and people around it.Just as the cabinets of curiosity that preceded it and the ever-expanding Internet that has superseded it, the encyclopedia is an example of a compendium of knowledge and information, one that is never complete and ever-expanding. As soon as an encyclopedia is printed, it is already out of date.Both the information and the form are rendered useless as mere relics of cultural perception.More than anything else, encyclopedias exemplify our desire to contain and codify the world as information.The simplification of the information contained within each encyclopedia into a mirrored wall, displays society’s impulse to systematize and organize the physical world and our experiences within it.
Becky Alprin's work explores human nature through the built environment and its relationship to the surrounding landscape. Born and raised in Washington, DC, Alprin earned her MFA from MICA's Mount Royal School of Art in 2008. She has exhibited at such venues as (e)merge art fair, Arco International Contemporary Art Fair, and the Baltimore Museum of Art, among others. Alprin lives and works in Chicago.
Carry Along is an installation that travels a little bit each day. Many simple shapes are carefully arranged to evoke a city, and the footprint, height, and character of the city changes with its travels. As the city advances, it cut its way through the gallery like a river. New landscapes are encountered in the space each day, causing visitors to instinctively negotiate the terrain of the exhibition in different ways. Visible within the action of the city are patterns of growth, transformation, and decay, and above all, a sense of inexorable movement.
hairy about the heel: fables for the present
Hairy about the heel: fables for the present is the official fourteen-episode audio reading companion to the Hairy Blob.
Passages of text are stripped of citational armor and fitted one into the next to generate recursive loops of almost-story. The reading companion and the exhibition share a common focus on the visualization of time as well as a kindred interest in fostering practices of presence.
Suspended temporally between the fourteen meetings of a class I'm teaching on time (January 19th - May 3rd) and the fourteen weeks of the Hairy Blob exhibition (April 22nd - July 29th), hairy about the heel marks the fourth year of the practice of reading aloud.
Initially produced in response to a seminar student's request, the first season of reading aloud introduced a kind of shared dream life into the class - no one required to listen, no one expected to discuss. In its second season, it served as a reading companion to the Gestures of Resistance exhibition I co-curated with Shannon Stratton at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. In its third year it fancied itself a correspondence course and acted the part.
The first episode will be posted on Monday, March 26th and the final one on Monday, July 9th, with no episode posted on May 14th or 28th.
Listen to hairy about the heel: fables for the present on the archive.org site
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 01
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 02
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 03
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 04
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 05
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 06
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 07
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 08
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 09
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 10
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 11
Listen to hairy about the heel episode 12
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Beyond the Left-Side of the Brain
In the beginning, the topic of “time” and the visualization of it seemed rather out there for a left-sided brain thinker like me. I am pragmatic, logical, linear and I like structure. I have spent my entire life thinking, experiencing and understanding time from the everyday:
- Anticipating my morning alarm clock sounding off at 6am every morning.
- Calculating the commute time from the network of trains, buses and subways to get to work.
- Watching the clock tick down between 9 to 5pm Mondays to Fridays.
- Planning meals for breakfast, lunch, snacks and dinner that I would like to eat.
- Waiting for the next long weekend or vacation when I can go play.
- Awaiting the seasons to change so I can pack or unpack appropriate seasonal clothes.
And so on.
It really did not surprise me that when asked to use my right-side of the brain to visualize what time looked like, I was only able to squeeze out a series of lines that vaguely resembled a line chart depicting linear time. More specifically, I drew an Andex Chart (www.andexcharts.com) which maps out historical stock market trends and movement, as homage to my past Banking career. After all, up until that moment, my previous world was filled with time-related anecdotes such as, “leveraging the past to learn for the future” or “the past does not always lead to future performance”. It only seemed fitting that my ability to visual time was based on a practicality of literal translations of linear time. And then, I saw what the rest of the class did; from crumpled up pieces of paper to paper sculptures to intersecting spirals, I realized that there was going to be much to learn over the next few weeks.
Throughout this course, I have been exposed to many ideas about time and its visualization. From experiences of affect to depictions of geological time, it has been immensely eye opening and mind bending. All of the artists who are participating in the Hairy Blob exhibition, has played a contributing role in broadening my mind about conceptualizing the ideas of time. With their unique outlook and constructions of artwork, thinking about and visually engaging each artist’s piece furthers the internal dialogue within my own understanding of what is time? Where is time? When is time? In fact, to visualize time as a series of pretty coloured line charts in a forward direction is only a microscopic fragment of its true meaning. Time is all encompassing, it is infinite, it is everywhere and it is no where.
In truth, while the concept of time has multiple theories and is continuously explored in all interdisciplinary fields, the true learning for me was having the experience to broaden my own mind beyond the literal to the abstract. While there is nothing wrong with living the world through one’s own perspectives and experiences, there is joy to experience it from some place completely foreign; if only for a moment.
This morning I spent a few hours going through box after box stuffed full of objects and ephemera from the South Side Cultural Center. It was a simple enough task of unpacking boxes, photographing objects and then repacking the boxes in a semi- organized fashion. As I began this task I looked at each box and its contents as a jumble of disparate objects that had hardly any resemblance to art but more to a rummage sale. The more I unpacked and the dirtier my hands got the more I could see the layers of connectivity; a tangle of early 80’s audio wires encasing a vintage powder blue “push button” telephone. While a sense of cohesion still remained just beyond my grasp, those boxes still held a peculiar feeling of mystery.
The more I worked the more I was struck by a sense of familiarity. A familiarity with working on theatre sets. I have worked on several types of sets and done everything from build a wall to hot glue moss to a stage. Here I was reminded of working to build an alternate reality with bare hands. And I will admit the idea of a gallery within a gallery is more than a little reminiscent of the play within a play device that often exemplifies the heart of the theme of the overreaching story.
Working on the Hairy Blob has let me witness how connections are drawn amongst what may seem to be disjointed parts but intertwine into a larger tapestry of concepts. Thoughts and ideas have been tied together in unexpected ways and have illuminated new vistas of understanding.
This picture shows the spectrum of a certain length of sound I recorded which lasted for 5 minutes. The sound wave represents my interpretation of the hairy blob, or time, to be specific. From the diagram, one can easily find the way the spectrum changes with time and time can be visualized by such an interpretation. The length tells us the minute spent while the evolution of waves tells us something happened during that time: maybe a car passing by or maybe someone was talking back then. Occasionally, the evolution might occur over a very short time span or the whole duration of the sound itself may be very short or even faded. But it is the evolution telling us that changes occur over time. It might just simply be a thin line over time, but the factors responsible for that level are complicated, intertwined, and recursive.
After Katie Paterson’s artist talk at the Art Institute, I began reflecting on the idea of deep time, space-time, and sustainability. Particularly in her work ‘The History of Darkness’.
NASA's Hubble telescope has given human beings the ability to look far into the universe. Images depicting galaxies that are 12 billion years away remind us of how large the universe is. When thinking about deep space one cannot separate the idea from deep time. The galaxies and stars shown in these Hubble images are so far that their light is taking 12 billion years to reach us. Time and space become blurred by the telescope’s abilities and our knowledge of these images. We are reunited with what is so far in both time and space. Essentially we are looking at the universe 12 billion years ago. Eventually, these galaxies encountered events like super novas, gamma rays and other explosions which eventually, due to elliptical movements and collisions, created larger masses which later became other stars and other planets, eventually our solar system, and eventually life on earth.
In this sense, what we are looking at when we see these Hubble images are the originsof our lakes, oceans, landmasses, and our flesh and blood. What will we eventually become?
When thinking about the larger history of the universe and our planet, one can trace the geological and climatic changes throughout our planet’s history in the archaeological record. Energy on earth has constantly shifted due to elliptical orbits, magnetic fields and gravitational pulls. Our planet is constantly rearranged due to these forces.
Lately many scientists worldwide have attributed some of these phenomena to human action. We have affected the world’s ecosystem with increasing industrialization and energy consumption. The earth’s atmosphere has changed allowing for these forces in the greater universe to change the way our planet is affected, causing extreme climate changes.
It is important for humans to remember what we are made of. To remember that energy cannot be created or destroyed. Thus further reminding people that the earth’s energy is not a never-ending source. It must be recycled or ‘renewed’ in ways that also do not affect the atmosphere. Images of deep space serve as a reminder of where we come from and where we are going, as a species, as a planet, and as a universe.
Feeling a Year
I had an epiphany when I was in second grade: I was starting to grasp the concept of time. I understood what five minutes was or how long one hour was, not how many minutes or seconds in an hour but how it felt. If I was watching TV, at some point my mom would tell me to turn it off and out of instinct I would respond with, “Just five more minutes!”, not fully comprehending what I was saying. I just knew saying that allowed me to watch a show for a bit longer. Once I got to second grade, that all changed. That year was one of the longest years of my life. I was bored, the teacher was a dud and I was in a different class than my friends. Everyday dragged on and on; complete torture. Then one day, this epiphany happened. Out nowhere, it just dawned on me in the middle of class, like when you have a brilliant idea pop into your head. It was during those days, when I sat bored out of my mind in class, that thirty minutes, an hour, two hours, and so forth, began to make sense. I finally started to piece together what time felt like and what time meant. That year I had begun noticing how “time flied” when I was at recess but when I was in class, doodling in my notebooks, time came to stop.
It’s this idea of time that interests me: what time can feel like. Sure we say it’s nine am or ten-after eight pm, but it’s what you feel when you hear those numbers that affects us. When a meeting is moving slow, it feels as if time as come to a halt. Time in fact has not changed one bit, but the clock we have in ourselves is different than that of “actual” time. The moment I had this epiphany, realizing the different ways five minutes could feel depending on the mood, I had been looking at the clock every thirty seconds for a good three minutes. It doesn’t seem like a long time, three minutes is an incredibly short amount of time compared to history, but since I was not happy or engaged with the lesson, three minutes could have been three hours for all I knew.
Time has a way of affecting how we live our lives. The first thing we do when we wake up is look at the clock, did we over sleep or did we wake up before our alarm? When we’re stressed out and in a hurry, all we every do is look at our watch, hoping somehow time will just magically stop so we can catch a breath. Twix, the candy, makes a commercial of a man awkwardly hitting on a woman at party, messing up the pick up line and “pausing” time to eat a Twix so he can think of what to say next. This uncomfortable situation that we have all be in at some point or another reminds us of how time seems to speed up when we get nervous. How we take in five minutes or four hours completely depends on our current mood. The “actual” time that is passing does not change, but how we perceive it does.
I was not able to actually formulate these ideas in my head when I was eight, but I knew by the end of second grade that if I was having fun playing with my friends or toys, time would speed up and if I was bored, I knew time had slowed down. Whether or not I actually knew if time literally slowed down or not is unknown, I was beginning to piece together the concept of time and connect my mood to time.
you move like time egg beater geometric and abstract like Stuart Davis in the 20’s you make dynamic slices of silence‚ quietude active as the inner guts of a clock ticking‚ metallic egg beater‚ you are the intervals between notes of jazz‚ the brassy space amid substance whipping away until the original is wholly altered‚ until my then here now is there and my today moves through your silver curves‚ egg beater‚ as a rope dancer balancing on shadow
Working on the ‘Hairy Blob’ has forced me to consider what a visual representation of time might be and what it would look like. I have worked through various terms and ideas that came to mind when thinking of time, trying to make sense of what time is and how it can be represented.
I also considered and attempted to think back to when I first became aware time passing. Though as both a child and an adult there are always times when you feel time passing, like being a child that is anxious to go out and play, or an adult waiting to hear whether they got that job. There are also times when one stops thinks back and realized how much time has passed.
The awareness of time plays out like an electrocardiograph in my mind, showing peaks and dips in the awareness of time, as opposed to the electrical activity of a heart.
Understanding of time
Our understanding of the future time is dependent on what we have experienced in the past. The past is ever present, dictating the directions that we take, and the choices we make. Life becomes the familiar unfamiliar, a version of what we have previously experienced. Sometimes we recognize it in fragments, like déjà vu, some seemingly knew that presents itself as something recognizable.
Scripted by North Eastern American Society
Product of the 19_ _ s.
From birth until the age of four I was carefree. At the age of five I started school. From the age of five until the age of eighteen I made friends, lost friends, studied, took up sports, volunteered, and joined extracurricular activities—I did anything to help develop my college application. Luckily, I identified a college major at the age of sixteen. Then, I graduated high school (on my eighteenth birthday.) I enjoyed one last summer at the beach with my family. That fall I headed off to college. I graduated when I was twenty- one. I got married that year, too. I worked for two years. I started an evening master’s degree program which I did part time until I was twenty-five. That’s when we had our first child. When the child turned two, we bought a house. It was quiet for about five years. Then child number two came along. On my thirty-fifth birthday, I got promoted. I worked there until I was sixty-five. Every year we would take a ten-day vacation at the beach. Took us five hours to drive there. When I retired, I joined some social clubs and started volunteering. By the time we had both retired, we ate like clockwork: 7 am, 12 pm, 4 pm, 8 pm. We never skipped a meal. Then we’d park ourselves in front of the television. We’d watch our favorites films and TV shows. Occasionally, we’d have a slight upset in our routine: doctor’s appointments, grandchildren, and quarterly travel. It was normal to have bi-monthly social engagements. We spent the rest of our days on schedule. We were in bed by 10. We woke at 6. Now that they’re gone, that has changed. I am in bed by 9 and I am awake by 5. I keep seven social appointments per month.
My American Realty (Scripted by multiplying mutated cells.)
“…experience has become something that approaches and concerns us. It is a passion and a suffering. But we can open ourselves to this passion, decide to experience.” Vilem Flusser At the age of ________, I was diagnosed with ________. It was the ______ thing that ever happened to me. If that sounds strange to you, allow me to explain. For ______ year(s), I was on the receiving end of a rigorous schedule of _________. I would be in the hospital for _____ to _____ days at a time. Then, I would have _________ to ________ days off. I was left _______. When not in the hospital, I was at home _____________ and preparing my body for its next _________ treatment. My life (and my ________) had been dictated by ________ and blood _______. I was a ______ lab rat. I was too sick to ________ when not in the hospital. Most days I would lie on the couch watching _______. “What time is it?” my brother would ask me. “Half past, the Price is Right, I’d respond.” I told time by television.