Monday, April 07, 2008

Always Already Live

For those of us who are record collectors, the word "live" may actually remind us of the mediation that necessarily goes along with the term. A "live" performance may be one that has many auditory artifacts from the crowd and recording equipment that interfere with the experience of the music itself. "LIVE" at the Beall Center for Art + Technology at U.C. Irvine similarly suggests that the "live" is always mediated, particularly in the age of search engines, surveillance cameras, and Internet tickers. This photograph comes from "Want," which was created by MTAA and the Radical Software Group, for which Alexander Galloway came to the UCI campus for the opening reception. This video installation "consists of 900 video clips in which individuals declare something that they desire, which are then triggered by search requests from a peer-to-peer network." At the large scale of panels of saint's portraits, this depiction of supposedly private and anonymous searches emphasizes human corporality, voice, and affect.

As a very deliberately structured montage of webcam footage, Los Angeles-based artist Natalie Bookchin’s "All that is solid" features "images from online security cams that are openly accessible on the web" that are "overlaid with a soundtrack of recorded personal conversations also found on the internet, and originally transmitted over the airwaves – the telephone and the radio."

Being a policy wonk, I particularly liked Aphid Stern and Michael Dale’s wiki-style Metavid, which makes searching for digital video from the House and Senate much easier than the current hodgepodge of video offerings on individual Committee web pages. For example, I could see what my own congressman, Henry Waxman, was up to easily access clips off him speaking on the floor.

As a fan of performance artist Karen Finley since the punk days, I'll admit to being somewhat disappointed in her piece, "Business as Usual," which only shows two computers whose "screens present an ever ending listing of the deaths" as piles of printer papers. As an example of information aesthetics, it's pretty impoverished, and there have been a lot of art exhibits in recent years that play with the trope of death counts in more creative ways.

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