At A Distance #1
At A Distance #1 – Strategies for an Immaterial Global Art was held at WSU Shift Space Gallery in Wichita, KS in Spring 2017. This exhibition was organized by Jesse Allen, Conan Y. Fugit, and A. P. Vague and featured work by artists from six different countries.
An essay about this project can be found here.
New York, NY, USA
Philadelphia, PA, USA
I am interested in skin, the body it encases and the relationships that form around both. Throughout my work I use a peachy faux-flesh color as a stand in for the body. Considering the history of this manufactured color, its plasticity presents questions of race, identity and desire. I am most interested in artificiality and the separation from the body itself. My work addresses the body as something we all have in common as our vessel of perception and explores ideas surrounding comfort, preservation and loss. In my recent work, I have been using memory as a catalyst. With this as a starting point, I am exploring the types of distortions, whether mental or physical, that occur when distance is introduced. Working with Shift Space Gallery for this project, I was interested in furthering my research on distance and memory. Using email transcriptions of handwritten love letters that my grandmother sent to my grandfather during their courtship, I wanted to examine the relationship between time and physical separation. The gallery received four objects corresponding to four emailed letters: an object of former desire cast in crayon wax, a needle and thread, a roll of plastic sheeting and a container of Himalayan salt. Gallery assistants were asked to take on the role of my grandfather and create an interpretive response to the letters using the provided materials. The outcome of the work was creatively and completely up to the individual executing the response.
Sofie Elena Hodara
Boston, MA, USA
Dataveillance T is a mass-produced, grey, long-sleeved men’s t-shirt (size medium). On the front, it sports a minimalist graphic of a lighthouse, as much an illustration of the ever-evolving expanse of digital surveillance as a beacon of hope for lost sea travelers — or, in this context, digital navigators. The back of the shirt lists consumer products that conduct data surveillance, as part of the growing Internet of Things industry. Like many graphic tees, the Dataveillance Tee communicates a direct message: beware of who’s watching you.
Santa Cruz, CA, USA
Our collective interests rely mainly in creating own ways and experiences through sound, we like to assimilate this project as an open source of sound for everyone to explore and reshape, to imagine new atmospheres, create connections with nature/anthropogenia. We identify with contemporary thought as well as traditional one, union of opposites offering subtle cathartic guidelines.
The piece is composed of a quadraphonic sound art installation, and a Binaural broadcast for portable signal recievers interpolating space and sound experience. The piece is composed of two works, a soundscape stereo composition, and a quadraphonic sound composition. The sonic materials displayed are different field recordings from Central and Northeastern Mexico and South-East South-West USA, as well as a recording from traditional Mexican music. The field recordings were primarily focused in Bird Migration, they were registered in 4 stages: Anthropogenic, Urban natural reserve, Ejidal community, Natura. The title of this piece is Radio Migra, alluding to the yet unstoppable phenomena of bird migration even through political borders, being these last ones for “avian” purposes -Minimally existent-.
The quadraphonic is a sonic manipulation of this recordings as well as ‘digital media-generated sounds’. The artistic intention is to mutate the soundscape and traditional music into one and another. The sonic transformations are developed by performing different timbral and granular modifications along with spatial shifts. The transformation will encode the space reflection of each field recording. The soundscape consists of 4 sections that round from antropogenia to wild country, with two middle zones in between (urban natural reserve and ejidal community). The final composition work was done by these three mexican artists at a distance from Queretaro and Monterrey (Mexico), as well as Santa Cruz (US).
As central theme is the idea of “migration territory” and regionalism. This can be reflected on travels performed while doing the field recordings, and in various aspects of this proposed project, such as, sound acoustics (pitch trajectory), bio-acoustics, territorial analysis, contemporary political scenery, the act of travelling and our own development in this project which has been “at a distance”.
See Something, Say Something
New York, NY, USA
This project is based on two different interpretations of the cautionary slogan “see something, say something” that has proliferated in urban areas over the past several years. First, the piece presents a formalized version of mathematician John Conway’s Look-and-Say Sequence, which generates an indefinite pattern of integers based on the process of reading numbers out loud. The second component of the work invites viewers to add their own observations, with the simple instructions “write something you have witnessed that has affected you in a profound way.” The open-ended nature of these instructions allows for a variety of interpretations, with both positive and negative responses to “see something, say something” emerging throughout the course of the exhibition. This process asks us to consider the roles that language can play in shaping our experience of the world, from the abstract fear of terrorism to isolated moments of observation that demonstrate beauty and happiness on an individual level.
Providence, RI, USA
This art project examines the relationship between objectivity and subjectivity.
On one hand, it reflects the objective outcome of people’s choice and their life.
On the other, it is also a reflective landscape of one’s social connection.
Numbers, as a stimulus, helps participants to uncover their feelings and thoughts about meaningful or meaningless encounters in life.
The purpose of this art project is to raise two questions:
“Can we know ourselves by knowing others?”
“Can we know others by knowing ourselves?”
Xiaohan intentionally invites volunteers without limitations in nationalities, languages, time zones and geographical locations to join the process of this art project. Some of them are her friends for years, some of them are completely strangers.
There are two simple steps:
1.Take a picture of a 2-digit number (00-99)
2.Write down a text (story or poem), talk about why you choose this number (no
requirement in word number and language)
After they followed the two simple rules, the digital information they sent is gathered and organized through the Internet and finally published on the Tumblr page.
Every participant picks a number for some reason.
The outcome writing varies, some writes down a poem, some writes down a story and some just picks a number without any explanation.
Upon posting, they can choose to what degree to expose themselves, by real name, nickname or entirely anonymous
Instructions for Capturing the View from the Middle
Michael Namkung and Cara Levine
Portland, OR, USA
Miami, FL, USA
Cara Levine and Michael Namkung live in opposite corners of the country: Levine in Portland,Oregon and Namkung in Miami, Florida. They met in the summer of 2016 and formed a unique artistic connection. Upon returning to their respective homes, they have been makingcollaborative artwork from a distance, and about distance. Looking at a map of the United States, they wondered where the actual geographic middle point would be, as the crow flies, along the 2696 miles between them. Lo and behold, they discovered this point, the geodesic center, to be within a stone’s throw of Wichita, Kansas. Desiring but unable to travel to the midpoint themselves, the artists asked the curators of At a Distance to enact the artists’ meeting in their stead, to explore the view from the middle, and to contemplate the distance between two people. As surrogates, the curators were given precise directions for carrying out Instructions for Capturing The View From The Middle. As the exact midpoint lies on private property, the surrogates were to follow one set of instructions if they were given permission to access this point, and a wholly different set of instructions if they were denied access to this halfway point. In exploring the physical, emotional and spiritual distance between them, Levine and Namkung ask what it means to reach across the distance, what it means to find connection with another, in spite of and because of this distance. What does it mean in a relationship to meet someone halfway? To close the distance between? As human beings, we seek connection; yet often when two people attempt to meet each other halfway, unforeseen distances are revealed.
Neither Here Nor There (Nightbathing)
New York, NY, USA
Envious of the non-human, animate world’s ability to exist in a porous, boundary-free environment, my work searches for ways to empathize with a chosen location. Moving through installation, photography, collage, and drawing, I break a location down into formal qualities (lines, shapes, colors, textures, sounds, lighting, etc.) and their symbiotic interactions. Once acquainted with this abstracted sense of place, I am able to disintegrate defined boundaries, witnessing fluidity, reciprocity, and understanding.
The recognition of these formal qualities suggests a familiarization with the site, but it also creates room for individualized recreation of memory. If asked to picture any familiar location, we recall not a clear visualization but rather the blending of memorized sensory elements into an essence, like spices on a stovetop. Boundaries conflate to reveal a shorthand impression of place. This “sensorial fingerprint” is different for each of us, specific to our individual relationship with the site and how we organize it in our mind.
Stripped of all visual resources, Neither Here Nor There (Nightbathing) utilizes my own written recollection of a past site’s “sensorial fingerprint” to explore how my own, uniquely biased mind’s eye is translated to another (also uniquely biased) mind’s eye and back into three-dimensions. Focus shifts from the site itself to 1) my written recounting of it and 2) the translation of that information as it is received and visualized by those constructing the piece. Favoring sensorial memories over physical objects, my recollection conflates not only the boundaries between objects on-site but those within our own subconscious.
Wall Hanging Apparatus
Austin, TX, USA
These are the definitions I work with.
Drawing, an arrangement of marks on a surface.
Painting, an arrangement of paint on a surface.
Sculpture, an arrangement of objects in space.
Conceptualism, an arrangement of ideas.
Arrange, to move and organize (things) into a particular order or position, to give a particular order or position to the parts of (something).
Mark, an impression made on something.
Using these definitions, we can then arrive at this definition: Art, an arrangement of things.
Stroudsburg, PA, USA
Emile Askey and Dana Buhl
New York, NY, USA
Gathering Panel is a two-channel video installation of an ongoing conversation in the format of two YouTube playlists that run simultaneously and are updated and modified during the duration of the installation. This piece was conceived from a studio visit where we reminisced over photographs of the American West and lamented our inability to make “photographs” in New York City. We found ourselves recounting past travels by traversing highways on Google Maps and found ourselves lost in a new landscape of fake news, drone footage, 80’s television commercials and superlatively titled compilation videos. Gathering Panel explores what it means to dip a toe in the divergent rivers of temporal information that one can experience online to question the universality of time on the internet and the present moment.
Sea the See
New York, NY, USA
The premise of Sea the See is simple: the artist, appearing through a live video feed, runs in place for one hour with her eyes closed. Although we are not privy to the artist’s imagination, we are told that the artist traverses toward the direction of a bright white light. The juxtaposition between the seen and unseen—the artists vision against the viewers perception of the artist– is an attempt to accept the complexities and plain truths regarding the nature of the reality.
Brace’s work has long examined the idea that our perception of existence is fractured between multiple memories, interpretations of truth, and composite identities. The similitude overpowers verisimilitude. Regarding “Sea the See,” Brace states that she is “searching for moments of slippage when individual history becomes fantasy or fiction through individual or collective transmission.”
In-situ, one of the most compelling and symbolic aspects was the distortion and degradation caused by the poor quality of the audio-visual equipment, and the even-more poor quality of the wireless internet signal at the gallery. Throughout the performance, the feed intermittently paused to buffer the video. The image on the screen would shift in and out of focus. Occasionally, the image would cut out entirely. The artist’s visual impairment and compromised awareness created the potential for a number of accidents, creating a shared anxiety between the performer and the viewer. This collective tension, along with the circumstantial editing from external factors illustrates duality of what is real to us vs. what is real for all.
Though “Sea the See” is a deeply personal psychoanalytical exploration for truth within the self, it is crucial to recognize the historical and political significance of Brace’s costume. Dressed all in white, the artist’s clothing suggests a connection to the American suffragettes, who also wore white as they protested and campaigned for women’s rights to vote at the turn of the 20th century. While the suffragette are regarded as the founders of feminism’s first wave, they were also a strongly segregated and exclusionary organization. Many suffragettes heralded as feminist icons were also fierce opponents to abolition.
With the aid of nostalgia and erasure, society for the most part remembers the Suffragettes fondly. Thousands of American women dressed in white to vote in the 2016 election without mention of the negative sides of suffrage history. “Sea the See,” along with Brace’s oeuvre, forces us to question our own perception of memory and history to find the underlying faults hidden by our personal and collective subconscious.
The Work of Human Rights in the Age of Mechanical Keyboards
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The Work of Human Rights in the Age of Mechanical Keyboards is a networked piece addressing issues of political action, content production, and worldwide organization. The piece is composed of a central website and of a plug-in for Google Chrome. The plug-in, installed on computers around the world, captures, anonymizes and forwards each keypress that happens within that browser to the central website. Each keypress, then, is translated into an added character to a copy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which slowly unfolds in front of the spectator’s eyes. Once completed, the Declaration is sent to a set of email addresses to which any one can contribute. And then it starts typing again.
This piece explores the tension between the immediacy of technological action, as keystrokes are gathered from all around the world, instantly constituting this document, and then immediately sending it to email addresses to the most influential organizations around the planet in a heartbeat, and between the inconsistency and slower development of political action. The act of ignoring one’s inbox becomes a metaphor for dismissing the voice of the people a voice, which, in the end, only stems from endless waltz on computer keyboards, happening as an afterthought to normal, everyday action.
Virtual Proposition #1 (for Alison Knowles) – Make an Avatar Salad
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Beacon, NY, USA
Toronto, ON, Canada
Alison Knowles’ event score #2 Proposition (1962) – Make a salad premiered October 21st, 1962 at Institute for Contemporary Arts in London. Second Front have remediated this to a virtual performance that took place in the open-world online video game Second Life and presented as video in the gallery space. The “salad” here takes on a number of symbolic characteristics. The ostensible metaphor presents a salad bowl as an alternative to the cultural “melting pot” of American diversity. As melting pots have a homogenizing affect, the salad bowl allows different elements to remain unique while working in harmony with one another. This idea has become especially prescient when considering the reinvigorated distrust of certain ethnic groups in America, a reality that is further intensified by the respective locations of the participating artists.