Book review: Post-Digital Print - the Mutation of Publishing Since 1984

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2013-01-07 11:01:08

0Ludovico-PostDigitalPrint.jpgPost-Digital Print - the Mutation of Publishing Since 1984, by Alessandro Ludovico.

You can get them on amazon UK and USA.

Publisher Onomatopee writes: In this post-digital age, digital technology is no longer a revolutionary phenomenon but a normal part of everyday life. The mutation of music and film into bits and bytes, downloads and streams is now taken for granted. For the world of book and magazine publishing however, this transformation has only just begun.

Still, the vision of this transformation is far from new. For more than century now, avant-garde artists, activists and technologists have been anticipating the development of networked and electronic publishing. Although in hindsight the reports of the death of paper were greatly exaggerated, electronic publishing has now certainly become a reality. How will the analog and the digital coexist in the post-digital age of publishing? How will they transition, mix and cross over?

In this book, Alessandro Ludovico re-reads the history of the avant-garde arts as a prehistory of cutting through the so-called dichotomy between paper and electronics. Ludovico is the editor and publisher of Neural, a magazine for critical digital culture and media arts. For more than twenty years now, he has been working at the cutting edge (and the outer fringes) of both print publishing and politically engaged digital art.

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Michael Mandiberg, Old News, 2011

The Mutation of Publishing Since 1984... I won't hold it against you if you tell me that this sound austere. This book is however a joy to read. It is entertaining, impeccably researched and written in a compelling style. Alessandro Ludovico blends together retro-futuristic drawings, theory, anecdotes, art works and personal observations to narrate the paper vs pixel battle and ultimately kick off a discussion about the role of print in digital times. To be honest, i knew Ludovico would write a good book about the issue because i've followed his many activities and researches in the field for a number of years now but i had no idea i'd have so much fun reading it. I can't remember having had in my hands a book that made my brain go from quotes by Clay Shirky, Marissa Mayer, Jorge Luis Borges, Vuk Cosic, or Cory Doctorow to stories about keitai shousetsu, Paulo Coelho's call to 'pirate' books, Amazon erasing from your Kindle the copies of George Orwell's books 'while you were sleeping', Daniel Vydra's New York Times Roulette, artistic imitation of banknotes, Sniffin' Glue punk zines, mail art, etc. Add to that the odd flashback (for example the magazines that used to be sold with a floppy disk containing 'bonus' content) that reminds you how fast the publishing world has to adapt in order to keep on attracting readers.

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Twitter switch for Guardian, after 188 years of ink

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Villemard, En L'An 2000, 1910. At School. Photo

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Stencil duplicator or mimeograph machine

The first chapter, "The death of paper (which never happened)" analyzes 7 moments in history when a new medium has been heralded as a superior alternative to paper. Chapter 2,"A history of alternative publishing reflecting the evolution of print", looks at how artistic avant-gardes have been using print throughout the 20th century. The third chapter, "The mutation of paper: material paper in immaterial times", explores the reasons why paper still makes sense in our digital age. Chapter 4, "The end of paper: can anything actually replace the printed page?", take a critical look at electronic devices, strategies and platforms. The Fifth Chapter, "Distributed archives: paper content from the past, paper content for the future", explores the long-term implication of choosing a medium rather than the other one. The final chapter, "The network: transforming culture, transforming publishing" explains how much quality cultural entities can gain from working as a network.

I've been particularly fascinated by the Appendix which brings side by side the world of print and the digital world to highlight their similarities and differences: shelf space vs web host storage space, shipping strike vs no connection, smell of ink vs sound of clicks, etc.

Post-Digital Print is a book i'd recommend to bloggers, journalists, writers, publishers, designers (of the physical and the 'immaterial' alike), and to anyone who wants to be able to shine at elegant dinners when the conversation turns to questions such as "what's more eco-friendly? is it the print or the digital?' "Will printed magazines disappear in the coming years?" "Is The Pirate Bay killing the publishing industry?"

Alessandro Ludovico's affection for paper and enthusiasm for pixel culture are illustrated by the way the book is distributed: you can either buy it from the publisher or download it as a free PDF.

And because Alessandro Ludovico is the founder and editor of the magazine Neural, he illustrated many of the observations, facts and ideas about post-digital print with a series of artworks. Here's a couple i discovered along the pages:

The Quick Brown monitored Fox News regularly and highlighted changes made on the headlines over the course of the day.

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Jonathan Puckey, The Quick Brown

Pamphlet: people typed a message on a computer. As they pressed the 'send' button, the message was printed and dropped as a pamphlet from the 10th floor of the building.


Helmut Smits, Pamphlet, 2006

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André Breton, René Hilsum, Louis Aragon, Paul Eluard, 1919. Wearing false moustaches and posing with the issue number 3 of the Dada journal

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Hans Haacke, News, 1969/2008. From the exhibition The Last Newspaper at the New Museum in New York, 2010

Tim Schwartz's iPod's contents cataloged on paper cards:

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Tim Schwartz, Card Catalog, 2008

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Berg/Cloud, The Little Printer

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Tobias Wong, The Times Of New York candle

Alessandro Ludovico was interviewed about Post-Digital Print in visualMAG.

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Artissima 2013 - images without commentary

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2013-01-03 12:53:30

Since the last Artissima post was so verbose, this one adopts the opposite strategy.

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Robert Longo, Untitled (Shark 7), 2008

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Rainer Ganahl, Painting a Pig Head in front of a Giorgio Morandi, Testa di Maiale 1, 2012. At Galleria Astuni

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Rainer Ganahl, Painting a Pig Head in front of a Giorgio Morandi, Testa di Maiale 8, 2012. At Galleria Astuni

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Jonathan Meese, Das Letzte Volksfest Schreit: Kunst Ungleich Klassenkampf, 2012. At Tim Van Laere Gallery

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Jonathan Meese, Dragonbaby, from the "Johnny" Series, 2012. At Tim Van Laere Gallery

Maurizio Anzeri makes his portraits by sewing directly into found vintage photographs.

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Maurizio Anzeri, Boo. At A Palazzo gallery

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Maurizio Anzeri, Ben. At A Palazzo

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Maurizio Anzeri, Victoire. At A Palazzo gallery

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Giuseppe Stampone, Giochi per bambini, 2012 (detail.) At Prometeo Gallery

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Giuseppe Stampone, Giochi per bambini, 2012. At Prometeo Gallery

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Giuseppe Stampone, Giochi per bambini, 2012 (details.) At Prometeo Gallery

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Vladimir Fishkin, Tour en L Air, helium ballons, music (waltz of P.I. Tchaikovsky), engines connected with transmitter-receiver. Variable dimension (each balloon 90 cm in diameter), 2009. Photo: Marcus Schneider. Galerija Gregor Podnar

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Vadim Fishkin. Geo-graphic. Galerija Gregor Podnar. Image CEC ArtsLink

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Eugenio Tibaldi, Sound 011, 2011. Galleria Umberto di Marino

Check out another of Eugenio Tibaldi's work: the Landscape 011.

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Per Dybvig, I've Got Something for You

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Alexander Gutke, 1-2-3-4 (film still), 2010

I'm quite convinced that in contemporary art, "The Poles Do It Better." Demonstration:

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Robert Kusmirowski, Positiv Negativ, 2010. At Guido Costa Projects, Torino

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Leszek Knaflewski, aka Knaf, Koło Klipsa, 1983-1990

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Leszek Knaflewski, aka Knaf, installation at Artissima. Image LETO gallery

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Paweł Śliwiński

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Paweł Śliwiński (detail)

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Paweł Śliwiński (detail)

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Joseph Kosuth, Satisfaction

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Nedko Solakov, Plan B

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Anja Ciupka, Fur Clara

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Kati Heck, Alles Muss, Nichts Darf, 2012. At Tim Van Laere Gallery

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Giorgio Guidi, Is it just a matter of opinion? At Fondazione Spinola Banna

Pop is a waxwork of Turk as Sid Vicious in white jacket and black trousers, pointing a gun with the same gesture as Elvis Presley in the famous Andy Warhol's painting.

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Gavin Turk, White Pop, 2011. At Galerie Krinzinger

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Moataz Nasr, Propaganda, 2008

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Ólafur Eliasson, Duo-colour double polyhedron lamp, 2011. At i8 Gallery

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Ceal Floyer, No Positions Available, Lisson Gallery, 2007

Rachel Foullon's barn objects from the Clusters installation look like props from a Western movie. They look worn and faded but they are also impeccably clean and their fold, creases and position seem to be the result of a careful study.

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Rachel Foullon, Clusters, 2012. At LDT Los Angeles

Teresa Margolles asked people she met in the streets of Juarez what they thought about the city. The answers were incised on keys hand-made by a local artisan who works on the streets.

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Teresa Margolles, Llaves (Keys) (Asesinados - Freedom), 2012. At Peter Kilchmann

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Maurizio Mochetti, Mission. At Oredaria arti contemporanee. Photo Fulvio

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Maurizio Mochetti, Mission. At Oredaria arti contemporanee

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Nathaniel Mellors, Bad Copy

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Flavio Favelli, Sicilia. At Galleria Francesco Pantaleone Arte Contemporanea

Random views (i visited the fair on press day, hence the empty space):

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More images.
Previously: Artissima 2013 - the photos, Artissima 2013 - From Philospher's stone to tomato crops Arnold Odermatt, policeman photographer and Artissima - Valerio Carrubba.

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Artissima 2013 - From Philospher's stone to tomato crops

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2013-01-02 12:25:52

An art fair is not the best place to discover works related to science, technology or politics. And when there are indeed such works on offer, they are not easy to spot. Galleries exhibiting at art fairs don't usually accompany the artwork with a text explaining what the piece is about. In fact, several galleries don't even write down the name of the artists they exhibit. You have to go and ask them. Which i do when i'm desperate but most of the time, i just want to keep on walking from gallery to gallery (there were 172 of them this year at Artissima) and see the rest of the show before my head explodes.

I did however, spot a few gems at the latest edition of Artissima.

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Taisia Korotkova, Delivery Simulator. Triumph Gallery, Moscow

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Taisia Korotkova, In Vitro Fertilisation laboratory. Triumph Gallery, Moscow

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Taisia Korotkova, Models

The paintings of Taisia Korotkova immediately got my attention. There is something odd and slightly off-putting in the way she portrays childbirth. In the Reproduction series, Korotkova combines her impressions of her recent stay in the hospital with imagery of recent technology for artificial insemination. the intimate subject of child perception is tripped bared from any privacy by depicting the process as purely scientific, hightech and machine based. The anti-utopist Korotkova stresses that she recreates the already observed with sharper edges, while her style is reminiscent of optimistic illustrations of the 1960s with the cold pastel tones.

Korotkova paints her modern icons in the technique of traditional icon painting in tempera with a dip of humanized social realist painting.

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Simon Starling, By night the Swiss buy cheap-rate electricity from their neighbours which they use to pump water into holding reservoirs. By day they use the stored water to generate hydroelectric power which they then sell back to their neighbours at peak-rate proces. (After Christopher Williams/After Jean-Luc Godard), 2005

The Castello di Rivoli was showing a black and white photo by Simon Starling. As its ultra long title suggests, the work is inspired by Christopher Williams's seven photographs of the Grande Dixence, the Swiss dam where Godard shot Opération Béton (Operation Cement). I'm mostly copy-pasting the description provided at the fair (the Castello di Rivoli is a museum, hence the magnanimous addition of information): Starling re-photographed Williams's shots and exhibited them with a title that describes how Switzerland profits from the resale of energy. Actually, the work is based on a stratagem that Switzerland carries out, buying electrical energy at night from nearby countries, at a low cost, then using that energy to pump water into the dam's holding reservoirs, generating hydroelectric energy, which is then resold by day at a higher price to those same neighbouring nations. Taking his cue from this small escamotage, or evasion, the artist carried out an analogous action that, through his appropriation of Williams's photos, causes his work to take on an already substantial value, which he then increases by printing these same images using a platinum rather than silver salt process - the former being a much more costly process than the one originally used. In this way Starling adds the material value of the means employed to the 'artistic' valie of the acquired photographs, infusing Williams's work with new meanings and adding another stage in the object's evocative path.

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Goldin+Senneby, Money Will Be Like Dross, 1780s/2012

In the 1780s mineralogist August Nordenskiöld was employed by the Swedish king Gustav III to discover the legendary alchemical substance Philosopher's Stone and turn base metal into gold. The gold was intended to finance Sweden's military and economic expansion, but Nordenskiöld had a different agenda, he aimed to produce so much gold that its value would be lost and the "tyranny of money" abolished. One of the few remaining artifacts from Nordenskiöld's laboratory is a coal burning alchemy furnace.

In the project The Nordenskiöld Model, Goldin+Senneby (a duo of artists as elusive as an offshore company and who have been exploring the abstract nature of money for several years) explore the relation between contemporary finance and Nordenskiöld's utopian ideals and alchemical experiments.

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Kamen Stoyanov, Tomato Plants in White Cubes. At Galleria Astuni

Kamen Stoyanov's Tomato Product takes forms and ideas from the physical to the virtual and back. The work started with a very literal take on the Facebook game, Farmville, in which players receive a small piece of land to grow virtual crops and raises livestock. The artist used the garden of a historically significant building in West Hollywood (a city associated with an 'unreal' lifestyle) to grow tomatoes. Each plant pot measures 12x12 inch, the size of land ones get starting to play Farmville. Stoyanov also prepared tomato soup, canned it, added a label and put it on display, as a reference to Andy Warhol.

And a happy new year to you, dear readers!

Previously: Artissima 2013 - the photos, Arnold Odermatt, policeman photographer and Artissima - Valerio Carrubba..

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Lara Favaretto in Sharjah

Feed : Universes in Universe - Magazine
Published on : 2012-12-31 06:37:57
Just Knocked Out. Modified version of her exhibition shown before at MoMA PS1, 15 December 2012 - 6 February 2013 at Bait Al Serkal, Sharjah.

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Artissima 2013 - photos

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-12-30 11:18:33

Almost two months ago, i wrote a couple of measly posts (Arnold Odermatt, policeman photographer and Artissima - Valerio Carrubba) about the 19th edition of Artissima, the contemporary art fair that takes place in Turin each year in November. I've finally decided to catch up with my reports from the fair.

While reading articles in the local press, i learnt that Artisima broke all its records of affluence this year. That doesn't surprise me. A few years ago, Turin decided to squeeze all its major cultural events into the same November week. So the art fair was accompanied by various openings in the city and by an 'off' fair, nothing unusual here. But that same week also saw the commissions It's Not The End Of The World displayed in various museums for a few days, a digital art festival, a festival of electronic music, a photo fair, an exhibition dedicated to 'emerging art'', etc. A fantastic strategy to attract tourists. A lame idea for art-loving people who live in this city.

Artissima is nevertheless my favourite art fair in Europe. First of all because of the quality of the galleries selected and the works they show. Then there's the press team which -unlike Art Brussels and Frieze- doesn't require bloggers to go through a Stasi-style cross-examination process in order to be granted a press pass (sans catalogue, access to photo sets nor fabric bag obviously.) In Turin, i got the pass, the catalogues, the bright pink fabric bag (as worn by my little colleague over here.) The other reason why i'd hate to miss an edition of Artissima is that i've always found that people in Turin genuinely cared about contemporary art. They have the appetite and the taste for it. I'm convinced that even the security guys whom i see each year sneering and guffawing openly from one gallery booth to another find something that touches them at the end of their tour.

As a brief intro (which will actually be the third 'brief intro'), here's a quick copy/paste of the photographic works that i found most interesting at Artissima. Some of them are purely photographic works. But because i didn't see as many stunning photos as usual this year, i'm adding images that document performances and interventions. Starting with...

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Ragnar Kjartansson. Scandinavian Pain (twilight), 2006-12. i8 Gallery

The 11 metre long, pink neon sign was first erected on the roof of an abandoned barn in a region of Norway made famous by Edvard Munch. Kjartansson lived there for a week, looking dejected and playing the guitar for days, many of which not a single human visitor came.

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Andrea Galvani, A few invisible sculptures #1

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Eva Frapiccini, Untitled (from the series Under the Rough) (2012) Courtesy of Alberto Peola, Torino

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Tobias Zielony, Horseman, 2009. Gallery Lia Rumma

Naufus Ramírez Figueroa was one of the 3 winners of the Premio Illy for young artists.

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Naufus Ramírez Figueroa, Beber y leer el arcoiris

Karen Knorr's series of large-scale photos star wildlife animals inhabiting the elegant salons of famous cultural institutions and castles.

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Karen Knorr, Fables (Musée de la chasse), 2005 - 2007

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Libia Castro & Ólafur Ólafsson, Untitled, 2000-2006

Ondrej Pribyl's photos are made using the daguerreotype process, the photographic technique patented by Louis Daguerre in 1839.

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Ondrej Pribyl, Untitled

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Ballen Roger, Appearances

Edgar Leciejewski: a name to add to the already long list of artists working with blow-ups of "Google Street View".

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Edgar Leciejewski, 302 West 22nd Street

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Edgar Leciejewski, 146 East 77th Street

Per-Oskar Leu's "The English: Are they human?" site-specific installation showed two Italian Mille Miglia parka. Their integrated goggles and 'built for speed' appearance has made these jackets a sought-after garment among football fans with inclinations towards fighting and luxury apparel. Since the early 1980's groups of British 'risk supporters' have embraced a dress code of upmarket, mainly French and Italian sportswear brands, a look which has in turn been adapted by fans in Europe following an increase in 'The English Disease' of football hooliganism. Simultaneously, Leu conjures up imagery from other cross-cultural phenomena equally fixated upon the cult of youthful aggression; namely the Italian Futurist movement and its English offshoot the Vorticist group, founded in 1909 and 1913 respectively.

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Per-Oskar Leu,
The English: Are They Human?

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Robin Rhode, Slalom Triptych. At Tucci Russo, 2012

In 1999, Nedko Solakov wrote fourteen short messages and narratives on the wings of six of Luxair's Boeing 737's. Each of them was visible only from the window seats.

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Nedko Solakov, On the Wing (texts on the wings of 6 Boeing 737...), 2001. At Galleria Continua

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Roni Horn, This is Me, This is You (GROUP II), 1998-2000. At i8 Gallery

In case you were wondering what the fair looked like:

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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Photo: Enrico Frignani

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One last reason why i love Artissima:

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Previously: Arnold Odermatt, policeman photographer and Artissima - Valerio Carrubba.

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Death: A Self-portrait

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-12-26 12:48:22

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Marcos Raya, Untitled (family portrait: group), 2005

Exhibitions at the Wellcome Collection are always eventful. I've seen sliced brain, freeze-dried brain, dessicated brain, two wax babies heads dissected, tin face masks for WWI soldiers disfigured by explosions and gunshot, i've learnt about the history of narcotics, read about a gentleman turned on by dirty maids, etc. Wellcome's exhibitions are dramatic and engaging but they are also impeccably researched and edifying. I can't remember having exited one of their shows without being fascinated by the amount of information their curators manage to pack in each room. Except this time.

The recently opened exhibition Death: A Self-portrait is entertaining, it contains some fantastic pieces and it definitely deserves a trip to the Euston Road museum but it is a bit light in reflection and cross-disciplinary references compared to what Wellcome has used me to. The show displays some 300 works -most of them being skulls- from Richard Harris's collection of cultural artefacts, artworks and scientific specimens devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it.

The artefacts are grouped into five themes: "Contemplating Death" (a room full of memento mori), "The Dance of Death" (the 'many' faces of death, most of them are actually skelettons), "Violent Death" (artists representing the ravages of wars), "Eros and Thanatos" (the human fascination for death) and "Commemoration" (death, burials, mourning and their rituals). One moment you're looking at rare prints by Goya, next you find yourself in front of anatomical drawings, puzzling photos in black and white, ancient Incan skulls, or a gigantic chandelier made of 3000 plaster-cast bones.

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Otto Dix, Shock Troops Advance Under Gas, from the series Der Krieg (The War), 1924. Photograph: Wellcome Images/The Richard Harris Collection

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Otto Dix, Wounded soldier - Autumn 1916, Bapaume, , from the series Der Krieg (The War), 1924

One of the most striking work for me was the truly horrific cycle of 51 prints that Otto Dix made to document his time fighting as a machine-gunner on the Western Front during World War One.

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Otto Dix, Night-time encounter with a madman, plate 22 from Der Krieg (The War), 1924

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When Shall we Meet Again?, c. 1900. Photograph: Wellcome Images/The Richard Harris Collection

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Halloween. Anonymous photo. The Richard Harris Collection

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Edward S Curtis, Kwakiutl Man, Crouched, Cradling Mummy, c.1911

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Linda Connor, Death Dancers, Hemis Monastery, Ladakh, Himalayas, Linda Connor, 2003. Photograph: Wellcome Images/The Richard Harris Collection

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Linda Connor, Skeleton, Shrine, Kathmandu, Nepal, 1980. Photograph: Wellcome Images/The Richard Harris Collection

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Linda Connor, Young Monk with Death Mask, Ladakh, India, 2003, from Gates of Reconciliation

Dr Luis Crucius's drawings of skeletons animated a promotional calendar distributed to doctors by the US Antikamnia Chemical Company in 1900--01. Ironically, the company's antikamnia painkillers contained an active ingredient which was later found to be toxic and addictive.

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Dr Luis Crucius, Antikamnia Calendars, 1900

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Metamorphic postcard (c1900-10). 'La vie et la mort, Leben und Tod' (Life and death, life and death). Photograph: Wellcome Images/The Richard Harris Collection

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Dana Salvo, from the series The Day, the Night and the Dead. Photograph: Wellcome Images/The Richard Harris Collection

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Jodie Carey, In the Eyes of Others, 2009. Picture: © Jodie Carey

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Iturbide, Graciela, Procession. Chalma, Mexico, 1984

Our (western) culture tends to keep death in the background. We have lost touch with death and its rituals (unlike, for example, Mexico which celebrates the Día de los Muertos in the most flamboyant fashion.) And since none of us has a direct experience of death, we leave its interpretation and representation to artists.

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Marcos Raya, Untitled (family portraits). Photo by Happy Famous Artists

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Marcos Raya, Untitled (family portrait: woman in yellow dress), 2005

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Marcos Raya, Untitled (family portrait: Grandma), 2005

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Photo by Happy Famous Artists

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Photo by Happy Famous Artists

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Photo by Happy Famous Artists

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Photo by Happy Famous Artists

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Found Human Skull. Anonymous photo taken in 1927 at the San Diego home of Phebe Clijde. Part of the Richard Harris collection

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Tibetan carved wooden mask, 19th century

Photos by Happy Famous Artists. The Guardian has a slideshow.

Death: A Self-portrait remain open until 24 February 2013 at the Wellcome Collection in London. Admission is free.

Related: Doctors, Dissection and Resurrection Men right now at the London Museum, Exquisite Bodies at the Wellcome Collection, Mind Over Matter and Brains: The Mind as Matter.

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Book review - A Guide to Archigram 1961-74

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-12-23 12:57:05

A Guide to Archigram 1961-74 , edited by Dennis Crompton.

(Available on amazon USA and UK.)

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Publisher Princeton Architectural Press writes: In the decade of the Beatles and the moon landing, cybernetics and megacities, an ambitious group of young British architects burst on the scene with a bold manifesto for urban building. The Archigram group pioneered a playful brand of architecture that was visionary, utopian, and grounded in social need. Through a provocative series of publications and exhibitions, the avant-garde cooperative challenged an architectural establishment they felt had become reactionary and self-serving. They advocated a complete rethinking of the relationships between technology, society, and architecture, rightly predicting today's information revolution decades before it came to pass.

A Guide to Archigram 1961-74 is a compact history showcasing the group's most interesting and influential schemes, from walking cities and plug-in universities to inflatable dwellings and free time nodes. This book, the most comprehensive guide to Archigram's voluminous output, collects the critical responses of the period, in addition to hundreds of drawings and photographs.

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Amazing Archigram, 1964. Cover illustration of the fourth issue of Archigram magazine

I thought i knew Archigram. I had read about their vision of technology (or 'technocratic future' as magazine editors like to call it), about the walking city, the plug-in city and the instant city. I even read about the swimming pool for Rod Stewart. But this book confirmed that my knowledge of their work and ideas was -at best- superficial.

The book is like a paper version of the Archigram Archive that the University of Westminster made available online a couple of years ago. There's only a couple of contemporary essays in the book. The rest is drawings, comics, editorials written by Peter Cook for the Archigram magazines, essays by members of the group, project descriptions, black and white photos, etc. You jump from an essay mentioning the anti-aircraft Maunsell Forts recycled into headquarters for offshore pirate stations to houses you can carry on your back, inflatables villages or even traveling metropolis. With Archigram, robots are shooting screens, seminars and conferences are adopting the model of the circus to move around the country and Roy Lichtenstein draws urban super heroes.

Archigram is a product of their time of excitement, innovation and faith in the future when thinkers, engineers and architects were dreaming of marine cities and flying houses. Yet the texts written by Peter Cook in the issues of the Archigram magazine haven't lost their spark nor visionary relevance. Back in the 70s they were already saluting the rise of diy initiatives, of people being creative and playing a more active part in the environment in which they lived. And while today, we're talking about smart fridges, a 1969 Archigram project imagined the 'electronic tomato' which would do the shopping and direct business operations for you.

Reading Archigram's essay is uplifting and thought-provoking. Because of the vivid imagination, the use of comics to communicate ideas but also because of Archigram's critique of society (and of the architecture profession in particular.)

It's also a bit disheartening at times, i know that next time i visit the graduation show of a design school, i might look at some of the projects and realize that they have that uncanny air of "Archigram's been there, done that!"

Two words about the format: it is squarish, super thick and short. The kind of shape that never quite fits into the most manicured bookshelves. The inside has a vintage feel with thick, mat pages and tiny fonts.

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Archigram Magazine Issue No. 1

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Page from Archigram Magazine n. 5, Computer City, November 1964

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Archigram, no. 8, 1968

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Archigram, "Walking city" Concept

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Ron Herron, Enviro Pill, 1969

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Living Pod, 1966. © David Greene, Archigram

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Living Pod, 1966. © David Greene, Archigram

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Gala Ambiance, Monte Carlo Palm Tree Project, Archigram Architects, 1971


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Room of 1000 Delights, Peter Cook, 1970

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Peter Cook, Blow-out Village, 1986

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Electronic Tomato, 1969. © Warren Chalk, David Greene, Archigram

Photo on the homepage: Blow-Out Village, Peter Cook, Archigram 1966.

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Shomei Tomatsu at Barbican

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-12-20 09:08:22

I wasn't particularly dazzled by the press pictures of the exhibition Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s and i thought i'd visit it on a day i'd be really really bored. Which you're never supposed to be in London. Still, last Sunday i was at the Barbican, attempting to recover from the heart attack i had when i saw the endless queue to experience Random International's Rain Room and took the lift to see the photo show. I found that the press pictures didn't do it justice. Everything Was Moving is a magnificent, albeit slightly exhausting, show. The exhibition shows the work of photographers who lived and worked in countries as different from each other as Ukraine under Soviet control and Apartheid South Africa, Maoist China and Vietnam attacked by American soldiers. Plenty of politics, social issues and conflicts to cover!

I might not have (or rather 'take') the time to cover the whole exhibition but one of the rooms that impressed me the most was dedicated to the work of Japanese photographer Shomei Tomatsu. His most famous series is "Nagasaki 11:02". Fifteen years after the horrific atomic bombings of the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Shomei Tomatsu was commissioned by the Japan Council Against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs to document the effects of the A-bomb on the city of Nagasaki and on its inhabitants.

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Shomei Tomatsu, A Bottle that Was Melted by Heat Wave and Fires (from the series Nagasaki 11:02) Nagasaki, 1961

The series is named after the photo of a watch that was dug up 0.7km from the epicenter of the explosion and which stopped at the exact moment the bomb fell: 11:02 a.m on the 9th of August 1945.

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A Wristwatch Dug up approximately 0.7 km from the Epicenter of the Explosion. Nagasaki, 1961

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Steel Helmet with Skull Bone Fused by Atomic Bomb, Nagasaki 1963

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Christian with Keloidal Scars (from the series Nagasaki 11:02) Nagasaki, 1961

Another of his most admired series is Chewing Gum and Chocolate which exposes the influences of the US occupying forces and of American military and popular culture on Japanese society.

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Shomei Tomatsu, Prostitute, Nagoya, 1958

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Untitled, from the series Chewing Gum and Chocolates, Yokosuka, 1959

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Untitled, from the series Chewing Gum & Chocolate, 1966.

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Untitled, from the series Chewing Gum and Chocolate, 1967 (Shomei Tomatsu)

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Shomei Tomatsu, Coca-cola, Tokyo, 1969

Everything Was Moving: Photography from the 60s and 70s remains open until 13 January 2013 at the Barbican Art Gallery in London.

Photo on the homepage: Hairstyle, Tokyo 1969.

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#A.I.L / artists in laboratories, episode 15: Ollie Palmer

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-12-18 04:16:53

The last episode of 2012 of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present ResonanceFM, will be broadcast today Tuesday 18th December at 4:00 pm. There will be a repeat on Thursday 20th December at 10:30 pm. You can catch it online if you don't live in London.

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Ant Ballet. Photo Ollie Palmer

This week i'm talking with Ollie Palmer is a designer, artist, a tutor at Bartlett but he is also the guy who's so interested in dancing insects that he's embarked on a 6 year project to choreograph and stage an Ant Ballet.

Developed with the support of scientists from University College London and the Institute of Zoology in London, the work uses a robotic arm which sprays synthesized pheromone in artificial trails that the ants will follow in preference to their own natural foraging behaviour. The project will grow over several phases and one of them involves the creation of intercontinental ant telecommunication devices.

During the interview, Ollie talks ants and more precisely Argentine ants, a particularly invasive species that the UK wants nowhere near its shores. We also learn about the best way to collect ants, to synthesize pheromones and end the show with a few words about the Godot Machine, a device built for the sole purpose of preventing a single ant to move around.


Ollie Palmer, Ant Ballet at FutureEverything 2012

What a merry interview to end the year! The next episode of #A.I.L / artists in laboratories will be up at resonanceFM in mid-January.

Previously: An Ant Ballet at FutureEverything.

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Winter Sparks (part 2)

Feed : we make money not art
Published on : 2012-12-16 12:23:04

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Alexandre Burton, Impacts, 2012. Interactive Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater

The Winter Sparks show at FACT Liverpool is small and efficient. Three large-scale installations that experiment with scientific phenomena and pay homage to Nikola Tesla. The works can be experienced without mediation but each of them also conveys several layers of meanings and readings, whether you're intrigued by the technical description or by the sheer beauty of the sparks, lightening bolts, and sonic properties of the works. Each piece in the exhibition also functions as both an art installation and a musical instrument that the artists played during the opening night of Winter Sparks.

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Alexandre Burton, Impacts, 2012

I already told you about the Evolving Spark Network installation yesterday so let's move on to Alexandre Burton's Impacts, a work that demonstrates convincingly that you can still stun and amaze the crowd using a technology that was invented around 1891. The installation uses Tesla coil and a quick look at its wikipedia entry taught me that the electrical resonant transformer circuit is so popular that its enthusiasts show off their home-made Tesla coils at "coiling" conventions, that Björk used a Tesla coil as the main instrument in the song Thunderbolt, and that others use coils to play Mario Bros theme song.

Right before we approach the installation, we are advised that it's better not to go too close to the work -actually "Do not to touch!" is a better way to describe the warning, not to enter the room with a pacemaker, nor to let unaccompanied children in. Even mobile phones are not invited to the party as "there is a chance that the electromagnetic field emitted by the tesla coils could corrupt the flash or damage the memory of your mobile device or crash running programs."

The Tesla coils are activate by the presence of the visitors. As you go near, arcs of electricity of variable intensities come crashing against a glass pane. The violent flashes of light and sound are dramatic and fascinating, because of the lightning bolt patterns formed of course but also because you have the feeling of being in close proximity to danger.

Impacts from artificiel on Vimeo.

With this new work, Alexandre Burton proposes the use of plasma (loosely defined as an electrically neutral medium of positive and negative particles) as matter and medium itself, circumscribed by a defined frame and articulated through unique programming. In this way, IMPACTS serves as a reminder of the danger and muscle of this marvel while capturing its sublime beauty and rhythmic potential.

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Alexandre Burton, Impacts, 2012. Interactive Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater

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Alexandre Burton, Impacts, 2012. Interactive Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater


The last work in the exhibition, Wilberforces, is the outcome of Bosch & Simons's research into unpredictable systems.

Part physics experiment and part art work, the installation takes its cue from the Wilberforce pendulum, a spring hung on the ceiling with central and eccentric weights that alternate between two oscillation modes. Once calibrated, vertical and circular movements alternate even without additional external energy. It is an example of a coupled mechanical oscillator.

Bosch & Simons equipped the springs with audiovisual equipment that documents everything around the FACT Atrium. The video camera, microphone and loudspeakers capture sounds in the environment and in turn, generate visual and audio data that visitors can experience on a screen located in a dark room nearby.

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Peter Bosch & Simone Simons, Wilberforces, 2012. Interactive Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater

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Peter Bosch & Simone Simons, Wilberforces, 2012. Interactive Installation at FACT. Photographer: Brian Slater

Winter Sparks remains open at FACT in Liverpool until 24 February 2013.
Related story: GAKONA at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris.

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