The New Catalogue artist collective, composed of Mary Voorhees Meehan, Neil Donnelly, Jonathan Sadler, and Luke Batten, collaborated with composer Judd Greenstein to explore humanity, history, memory, space, and the unknown in their exhibition This is a Present from a Small Distant World: New Catalogue + Judd Greenstein, at the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art. When viewers first enter the exhibition space, the large-scale installation is enclosed by two parallel white walls covered with friendly messages written in black bold sans serif type. Multicolored light boxes illuminate printed words such as “coffee,” “vinyl cutter,” “advice from a family member,” “string cheese,” and “twenty books.” These are only a small fraction of the humorous, endearing, and poignant answers to questions about communication with extraterrestrial beings.
Walking through the red carpeted interior of the makeshift corridor, flat-screen monitors pose questions to the public. Classical music permeates the space. Between the exposed, unpainted, raw wooden beams, questions on newsprint paper invite viewers to participate in an analog discussion. Some of the questions include “What are ten things aliens would need to see/taste/touch/experience to understand life on earth?“; “Which five songs would you bring to space so alien life could understand us?”; and “What do you imagine aliens are like?” Answers to that last question included “Lady Gaga,” “Nikki Minaj,” and “Michael Jackson,” suggesting that some of the most colorful human beings in the public eye are the most foreign and otherworldly.
These human observations ask us to consider what would happen if we could transmit and receive communication with alien life. Based on the posted responses, possibilities range from humankind’s greatest accomplishments in the arts and sciences to the sharing of radical and pointed views about our political and social state. The responses also speak to something deeper and more existential. New Catalogue and Greenstein have created a work that reminds viewers of the qualities philosophers and scientists have posited separate humans from other species: the ability to introspect, activate memory, and create awareness.
Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please clickhereto view.
Humans are resilient. Our anatomy is extraordinary and highly complex. We build, construct, destroy, and synthesize. But human nature involves understanding the biology and mechanisms that provoke us to move and accelerate. In Movement in Many Parts, an exhibition curated by Lucy Seena K. Lin and Weston Teruya, artists investigate human evolution through nature and industry. Their ruminations are shown through organic forms, moving image, photography, drawing, and painting. Each work reminds us of the adage that the totality of many things in concert is far greater than one single part of the whole.
In A1007 (Wall II) (2011), Noritaka Minami asks us to peer into the modular housing built within the Japanese urban landscape. At the start of the series, a viewer is let into a small room with a single, large round window that looks out onto the city and other pods. There is no returning gaze; a viewer sees only the disheveled room of a seemingly busy city dweller. The room could very well be a viewer’s; the window is the only way to see outside and to observe other living things. Stagnancy is apparent through the dull colors of bed sheets and the aging, disintegrating papers on the wall. Even the dated typography of the numbers on the clock suggests a thick layer of dust has settled over things untouched. The scene gives the sense that the busyness of city life has depleted the weary soul that inhabits this space. Minami’sTower (Facade 1) (2011) includes a segment of the exterior architecture that gives a viewer not only a sense of scale but also of how nature has weathered the building’s exterior. The erosion suggests that the original design is obsolete in this fast-paced environment.
While Minami’s photographs depict an environment, Kim Anno’s photographs ponder the effects of climate change and demonstrate how humans may adapt to and work with rising sea levels. Men and Women in Water Cities (2011) shows individuals fully clothed in suits and corporate attire turning their bodies toward a viewer, as though caught in mid-action. The picture plane presents something absurd. Yet, is it as absurd as we think? Anno proposes peculiar but perhaps ingenious ways we might survive despite nature’s disposition, showing what humans may be driven to do when it is necessary to endure. It is this human tendency toward movement that forces resiliency.
Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please clickhereto view.
You know what is awesome about grad school? Being around talented and brilliant artists and writers. Check out fellow classmate Erica Gomez’s guest blog post on the SOMArts Cultural Center blog regarding the Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Group show. It’s a great write-up! Click here to view on SOMArts!
The Annual Murphy & Cadogan Contemporary Art Awards Exhibition is on view at SOMArts through October 2, 2012.
It’s been a few weeks since grad school started and I must say…I love it. The people, the discussions, the seminars, the reading (yes, even the ‘dry’ and ‘dense’ stuff) has been great. As challenging as it is to balance work with school and freelance obligations, I feel like I’ve had no other choice but to become extremely organized. Although there will be tough times ahead (I’ve already experienced a couple of late night study/writing sessions!), I have already grown significantly. My writing practice is shifting and taking such a different course. It’s all new territory for me but my brain is enjoying the cerebral nourishment. For anyone remotely interested in learning a bit more about the classes I’m taking, you can click here, here, and here. If you have any questions or want to share your thoughts, please feel free to leave a comment.
I took a few pictures from our department dinner this past Friday. I had the opportunity to meet second and third year grads and spend some time with a few of my classmates. The Ramp was a great choice and drinks at dusk was such a great way to end the week. 🙂
I can’t believe it’s the first official day of school! I feel like a rambunctious kindergartener inside. My first class doesn’t start until noon so I’m checking in with professional and personal tasks and getting settled into my new surroundings. It’s a great feeling being here. One of the first things I did on campus was get the library sticker for my school ID. Since I wanted to ‘hit the ground running’ with research, the first question out of my mouth was, “Are we allowed to request books that are not in the library to be included in the collection?” The school librarian (and I’m sure one of my new BFFs) stated that the students are able to request books for purchase! Nice. Naturally, I wondered, “What is the budget for requests like that?”. In any case, I’m sure a portion of my tuition goes to this library so I better take good care of my resources.
As I settle into my new space, I’m not going to lie, I’m nervous. Taking classes for personal enrichment is great and good. But going into a graduate program with the economy the way it is and learning adjunct professors don’t get paid squat, well, it’s a bit disheartening to say the least. Yet, I believe this is the right path for me despite what the naysayers think. Besides, I’m looking at an emerging field – new media and digital arts theory. Exciting stuff! Finding new friends, discovering artists, meeting scholars, and reading books (and more books) about this new territory is daunting but I know I’m in the right place.
Bottom line: Having the support and the tools is great BUT it matters how you go about using them. It’s also about taking the onus for my success and failures and turning them around to make even bigger and better things (whether it’s writing, collaborative work, or helping build an organization). I will continue to use this space, primarily as a writing portfolio and sharing the exciting events happening at some of my favorite places (including ZERO1, GAFFTA, SOMArts Cultural Center, and Art Practical), which I will be sure to post. Also, with my recent trip to Phoenix, Arizona, pictures will be in the near foreseeable future (as soon as I can get them uploaded)!
If you are curious about my academic life, check me out over here.