Exhibition runs 13-31 October
Preview: 12 October, 6-8pm
Alex Bag, still image from Coven Services, 2004, Single Channel Video, 19:00 min, courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York
In it’s early stages New Media’s relationship with contemporary art was propelled by the alliance of pioneering electronic engineers and progressive artists. In the mid to late 1960′s Robert Rauchenberg and electrical engineer Billy Klüver founded the organisation Experiments in Art and Technology – whose aim was to use the artist to influence and give human scale to the development of electronics, as engineers became increasingly crucial in their influence upon the human environment. The outcomes of these partnerships defined new technology not in the context of the commercial market place but through an avant guard line of enquiry as a mark of revolutionary sociological process.
This line of enquiry however switched from one which aimed to influence the future development of electronic technology to one which was influenced by video and it’s mass availability through commercial success.
In response to the cultural impact of the accelerated availability of video technology in the commercial marketplace, artists have examined the medium and the potential to use the broadcast moving image in a manner which exonerates the individual, appealing to the masses by inspiring independent thought and challenging the public over the role of the artist in society. Works such as Chris Burden’s “The TV Commercials” from 1973-1977 and the video collective Top Value Television (TVTV) who pioneered guerilla video, have aimed to liberate the medium from government and corporate vision, into the individual’s hands by applying experimental and forward-thinking tactics and techniques within their limited access to it’s means of production.
The Definitive Gaze looks at artists who acknowledge the influence of television and the media-circulated image, pushing the viewers’ expectations inherent in the traditionally broadcast moving image. Artists Alex Bag, Eric Baudelaire, Jacob Ciocci, Tom Rubnitz and Marcus Vater re-examine from the platform of contemporary art the language of popular film formats drawing influence from the disparate genres of advertising, cartoons, news, music video and soap opera which are commonly shown side by side, challenging the modern conventions of the hierarchies of information.
From the mid-1990′s Alex Bag has produced works defined by the immediacy of their production. Influenced by the pace and structure of infomercials, news broadcasts and soap operas, her videos take on a flitting and self-perpetuating cycle that draws creative license from the lack of specificity and focus in television. Bag self-stars in her videos as skin-deep characters performing scripts which transform trivial television acting into absurd and humorous spectacle. In Coven Services/ Demo Reel Bag looks at the ghoulish desire of the mass media to elicit from it’s audience a dependency on the commercial marketplace and to manipulate the human condition.
Alex Bag lives and works in New York, recent solo exhibitions include Migros Museum, Zurich (2011), Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York, Galeria Marta Cervera, Madrid and The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2009).
Courtesy of the artist, Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York and Electronic Arts Intermix, New York.
Eric Baudelaire’s 72 minute video Sugar Water shows a microcosm of contemporary society that explores the relationship between individual social isolation and de-sensitisation through over-kill in the media. Filmed in an abandoned metro-station in Paris, a bill-poster methodically pastes a sequence of images onto a bill-board on the station platform which depict an exploding car on the streets of Paris. Throughout the duration of the film, dictated by the bill-poster, passengers enter and leave the station. However on continued viewing these characters re-appear, repeating or slightly varying their actions, causing the viewer to lapse into uncertainty as it becomes apparent that the passers-by are not genuine but are actors, as interchangeable as the ever-present images of advertising and catastrophic news-coverage.
Eric Baudelaire lives and works in Paris, recent solo exhibitions include Centre d’art Contemporain la synagogue de Delme, France (2011), Hammer Museum, Los Angeles and Gallery TPW, Toronto (2010).
Courtesy of the artist and Elizabeth Dee Gallery, New York.
Jacob Ciocci’s animations focus upon the cross-overs between contemporary pop culture and technology – the banal and the transcendental nature of imagery that is exchanged on television and on the internet at rapid-speed. As culture is reduced to abstract symbolism for a new, media-absorbed generation; Ciocci’s work drives home the absurd nature of disembodied associations found in this imagery. Jacob Ciocci co-founded influential east-coast trio Paper Rad – developing projects such as Wyld File – to create music videos for Beck, The Gossip and Islands which pushed the full creative potential of Macromedia Flash with customised drawing tablets using an explosive RGB colour palette. Ciocci is currently an Eyebeam fellow working on a number of projects including touring and developing new videos for his music project Extreme Animals.
Courtesy of the artist.
Tom Rubnitz pushed accessible, self-producing video formats of the 1980′s like u-matic tape to their chromatic limitations, creating electrified portraits of New York’s west village club scene. Reminiscent of pop art, Rubnitz’ work is simultaneously a critique and celebration of mass media – using fantastic, mesmerising colour, costume and set design to turn gender stereotypes inside out by adapting the conventional advertisement or music video.
Tom Rubnitz, 1955-1992 was born in Chicago and lived on Manhattan. Working with vibrant musicians and stars of the downtown drag-scene including Ann Magnuson, the B-52s, The “Lady” Bunny, and the late John Sex, his platform was television – showing works most regularly on Public Access TV, and also PBS and MTV, and reaching an audience that would never normally step into the Pyramid club or Club 57 to see it’s creation of characters drawn out of US-junk-culture with cutting humour.
Courtesy of LUX, London.
Markus Vater’s animations use the tradition of anthropomorphism in comics to discuss ideas surrounding Plato’s allegory of the cave. His works draw upon the continuous rotation of imagery through the popular media, ascribing to them a detachment from the material world, imbuing disconnected imagery with an evolving identity.
Markus Vater, born in Dussledorf, lives and works in London. Recent solo exhibitions include Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf (2010), ZINGERpresents, London and Rudolf Scharpf Galerie des Wilhelm Hack Museums, Ludwigshafen (2009)
Courtesy of the artist and Sies + Höke, Düsseldorf.