Fall in NYC: Must See Shows

This Fall we had the opportunity to attend several great openings in NYC.  Needless to say, we were  thrilled that there was so much incredible new media art to see. If you find yourself in NYC, MUST SEE shows include: Michal Rovner @ Pace Until Oct. 22

Bruce NaumanSperone Westwater gallery Until Oct. 29

Casey Reas @ bitforms Gallery Until Oct. 16

Rashid Johnson @ Hauser Wirth  Until Oct. 22

3 peeps

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Studio Visit: Refik Anadol

Studio Visit: Refik Anadol

This summer we were thrilled to be invited to the Los Angeles studio of cutting edge media & data artist Refik Anadol. Located in the Silver Lake area on the east side of LA, the studio is accessed from a small side door. Step inside and you're immediately enveloped by a sleek white space with 20ft ceilings, desks dotted with enormous computer screens, a brand new projector and great Mid-century modern furniture.

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A Conversation With Kelani Nichole of Brooklyn's TRANSFER Gallery (Part 2)

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We are big fans of Brooklyn based TRANSFER. Gallery founder/director Kelani Nichole, started the exhibition space nearly four years ago in order to support and and cultivate artists with computer-based practices. Get to know Kelani: kelani-nichole-headshot

What are the biggest challenges you face dealing in a digital medium both as a gallerist and as a curator?

Technical details aside, I’d say the biggest challenge currently facing the market for media-based artworks is around preservation and documentation of the artists’ intent.  Much of the work I deal with is software-dependent, ephemeral, or online public artwork, so preserving the larger context and supporting platforms becomes the major consideration when appreciating these works.  Just as any traditional format of artwork, new forms of media require restoration and care, and have the added complexity of authentication.

What are the biggest challenges in collecting digital art?

Preservation and authentication are the two biggest challenges to growing a secondary market for these artworks.  Additionally, the body of criticism is still developing – the artworld is warming up to how to talk about these works, and successful institutional displays are somewhat few and far between.

I’m very keen to explore new methods of authentication. The current standard for authentication is a signed certificate, often accompanied by a digital still, editioned media storage device/object or other accompanying physical ephemera.  In the near future I believe digital transfer of ownership will become more prevalent, as new standards emerge. 

How do you think a platform like Niio will affect the medium of digital art?

I think Niio has solved some of the challenges related to displaying these works. I’m particularly interested in the workflows and collaboration points of the software between collectors, curators, galleries / institutions, agents and artists and believe a method of seamless exchange is an important step to making the work more accessible.  

You’ve said that this year all the shows you’re staging at TRANSFER feature only women artists.  Why is a series like that important to you?

I dedicated 2016 to showing new works from the studios of women, all of them experimental in their format and looking to test new ideas from the studio at TRANSFER.  Gender balance was a hot topic in the artworld last year, a group of women working with new forms of performance and media were featured in ‘Women on the Verge’ in artforum.  

This article crystallized a movement I had started to engage with during ‘gURLs’ a night of performance at TRANSFER  in 2013, and have been tracking ever since.  I found this article inspiring, and saw a timely opportunity to deepen my own understanding of the ways in which women are pushing into new forms of performance, installation and time-based media unlocking new opportunities for technology that are emotional and deeply human. Carla Gannis launched my 2016 program, introducing a new body of 4K video works of self portraiture, a continuation of a year-long performative drawing project.  Claudia Hart’s large-scale media installation was extended through the summer at TRANSFER.  Next I’ll launch Angela Washko’s first video game artwork in September, followed by a new body of work from Morehshin Allahyari in the fall.

Read Part 1 of our interview With Kelani.

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A Conversation With Ben Fino-Radin, Preservation Expert (Part 2)

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Ben is a NYC based media archaeologist, archivist and conservator of born-digital and computer based works of contemporary art. He is the Associate Media Conservator at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In this role, he develops strategies and policy that contribute to the preservation of the museum's digital collections.  He has also worked with the Whitney Museum, Cory Arcangel, JODI, Rhizome just to name a few. We are thrilled that Ben has joined us as an Advisor and is working with us on a key part of the Niio platform – – digital preservation.

What do you believe are the biggest misconceptions about digital / moving image art and what would you like people to understand?

The idea that digital means immaterial. So often I hear collectors and institutions describe digital artworks as being fundamentally ephemeral and immaterial. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Take for instance Andrew Blum’s book Tubes: a Journey to the Center of the Internet – Blum travels around the world tracing and documenting the immense and complex physical infrastructure of the internet. An earlier example of this kind of hacker tourism / documentation is Neal Stephenson’s 1996 piece for Wired Mother Earth Mother Board, where Stephenson documents the gritty blood, sweat, and tears involved in laying a transcontinental fiber optic cable.

This same brutally physical reality exists when considering the storage of digital files. Let’s say you had 100 reels of 35mm film prints, and you digitized and digitally restored them. Are these now immaterial?  You’ve now created roughly 206 TB of data. If you were going to stored these on LTO 6 tapes, they would take up 4,684 cubic feet, and would weigh a total of 37 Lbs (16.7) kg. If you stacked the tapes, they would be almost 6 feet tall. Is that immaterial? Absolutely not. Granted, the amount of physical space in the real world that a digital bit requires is very small – but it is still very much physical.

Do you see a time when digital art / time-based media is considered mainstream?

It is. I think we can all agree that MoMA is mainstream, no? The atrium at MoMA is most often the first gallery that visitors see when coming to the museum. Now, consider the kind of artworks that have been shown in this atrium – the most prominent space in the museum – in the last five years. I would estimate that 75% of the work has been at least partially time-based media.

How do you define mainstream? Will media art be mainstream when museums are selling Ryan Trecartin coffee mugs in museum gift shops? Is that something we even want?

What do you think about all the hype surrounding VR?  Do you think it’s a tool that artists and museums will eventually embrace?  

Artists of course started playing around with the various new VR platforms as soon as they could get their hands on them, and I think that the response on the part of museums has been rather rapid.  MoMA in fact has been including VR in its curatorial programming, and it is only logical to suppose that it is just a matter of time before a VR work is collected.

Personally I approach anything that is hyped as hard as VR with a great deal of skepticism, but having tried various examples, it is absolutely an incredibly rich area for artistic exploration. The sensation is rather astounding. 

As an artist yourself, what drew you to “digital” vs. a more traditional medium?  

I’ve always been the kind of person who likes to take things apart, figure out how they work, put them back together (or not), and make something from the parts. I think that anyone with this predisposition is naturally attracted to working with computers, and time-based media in general.

Many of the professors I met in art school had been heavily involved in the upstate New York video art scene of the 60s and 70s – and they had built our studios accordingly. I became very immersed in real-time video synthesis and processing – hacking, circuit bending, custom electronics, etc. I was lucky enough to have spent time at the Experimental Television Center in the early 2000s, before it’s closure in 2011. Throughout this time I was still drawing, making sculpture, prints, painting, everything really. I was fortunate to have a very interdisciplinary art school experience.

Niio Co-Founder in front of a work by Cory Arcangel in the Lisson Booth @ Frieze NYC.

What was the first piece of digital art you remember experiencing?

Either Paper Rad or Cory Arcangel

Who is doing really cutting edge work?

Tabor Robak continues to amaze

If you could own one piece of art, what would it be?

Any Ed Ruscha

Favorite museum (aside from MOMA)?

The New Museum is always a favorite for a weekend afternoon.

Favorite city for exploring art?

New York, naturally

 

Read Part 1 of our interview with Ben.

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About Ben Fino-Radin

Ben is a NYC based media archaeologist, archivist and conservator of born-digital and computer based works of contemporary art. He is the Associate Media Conservator at the world-renowned Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). In this role, he develops strategies and policy that contribute to the preservation of the museum's digital collections.

Prior to MoMA, Ben worked as a Digital Conservator at Rhizome at the New Museum where he structured preservation and collecting practices for collections management, documentation, and preservation of born-digital works of art. As an Adjunct professor at NYU's Moving Image Archiving and Preservation (MIAP) program, Ben taught a course on Digital Literacy designed to equip first year graduate students with fundamental technical skills for careers in digital archives as well as Handling Complex Media, a course designed to give second year graduate students practical skills for the identification, risk assessment, preservation and treatment of creative works that employ complex and inherently unstable digital materials.

Research interests include: digital preservation, digital cultural heritage, web based creative communities, computer history, information architecture, metadata and animated gifs.

A Conversation With Kelani Nichole of Brooklyn's TRANSFER Gallery (Part 1)

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Kelani Nichole, Founder/Director of Brooklyn based TRANSFER Gallery, started the exhibition space nearly four years ago in order to support and cultivate artists with computer-based practices through solo exhibitions, events and international art fairs. She's passionate about nurturing and growing the digital art market via exposure and education and has taken the time to share some of her insights, challenges and hopes for this fascinating medium.  Get to know Kelani. 

Kelani Nichole

What led to your interest in digital art, specifically computer-based work?

I studied Art History at university and in 2010  joined a curatorial collective in Philadelphia.  As I planned my first exhibition it seemed natural to engage with studios practicing online.  I gravitated toward the avant garde online movement loosely referred to as ‘net art’ and I was hooked.

Over the years, my curatorial specialty has developed along with these studios and I am happy to have a hand in evolving the means of support for artists working with distributed online art practices.

What inspired you to open a physical gallery space dedicated exclusively to digital art?

Opening the gallery was an experiment – I wanted to continue working with the studios I supported in my early curatorial projects.  An article from Claire Bishop in Artforum late in 2012 titled ‘The Digital Divide’ was influential in my resolve to further develop these works through exhibition format in the gallery.

The idea was to focus on solo exhibitions featuring new, challenging work coming from the studio that didn’t have another venue to be realized. The roster of artists was strong right out of the gate and the market came knocking on our door.  

What do you believe are the biggest misconceptions about digital art and what would you like people to understand?

The biggest misconception with ‘digital art’ is that it’s any different than other means of contemporary artmaking. I’m keen to stop using the word ‘digital’ to talk about these practices.  One of the biggest challenges to the appreciation of these emerging formats is our lack of vocabulary to discuss these practices and their implications on the institutions of the artworld.  The practices I support are contemporary art practices that have a fundamentally computer-based process – the works that come from the studios are an even split of moving images/software pieces and physical objects.  

The genres of practice are moving image, photography, sculpture, performance, time-based media, glitch, procedural animation, algorithmic art, installation with a heavy conceptual slant present in my program. I’m specifically interested in Internet aesthetic, distributed art objects, the public space of the Internet, and emerging display technologies such as VR/AR and high-definition 4K formats.  I am working to build a new market for animated GIF artworks, distributed public artworks and application based artworks.

How or where do you see the medium of digital art in 5 years?  Do you see a time when digital art is considered mainstream?

Yes. I believe it is nearly there.  However, there is a grey area in the visual landscape we live in, a world flooded with creators and curators. I believe the art world is still struggling to address these practices and figure out meaningful ways to adapt and contextualize the explosion of creative authorship in our contemporary moment within the canon of art history.

What do you think about all the hype surrounding VR?  Do you think it’s a tool that artists will widely embrace?

Yes. Absolutely.  If you haven’t used HTC Vive go do it immediately.  Go, and you won’t even ask that question anymore. Our world is rapidly virtualizing and I hope artists will deeply engage with VR to help ensure this technology develops with criticality and humanness.  I actively support VR/AR practices and believe this is the future for much of our human experience.

Carla Gannis

Tell us a little bit about your current collaboration  with the Minnesota Street Project, TRANSFER DOWNLOAD. 

I visited the Bay Area this spring just as Minnesota Street was launching, and found my way there on the recommendation of Magda Sawon of Postmasters Gallery.   I could tell this was an opportunity to engage with a fresh new energy around contemporary art. I was lucky to meet the folks involved and found the rotating media room to be a (somewhat smaller) replica of my own space in NYC. MSP has been hugely supportive and I’m excited to spend the summer hosting salons and tours at the space.  I’m fortunate to have fabulous collaborators on the west coast, which is home to an incredible creative coding community.  

NYC TRANSFER Gallery + Niio @ Minnesota Street Project (SF)

NYC TRANSFER Gallery + Niio @ Minnesota Street Project (SF)

We are big fans of Brooklyn based TRANSFER. Gallery founder/director Kelani Nichole, started the exhibition space nearly four years ago in order to support and and cultivate artists with computer-based practices through solo exhibitions, events and international art fairs.

Read More