Poklong Anading. “Anonymity” (2008-2011) is a series of nine black and white Duratrans prints inlightboxes . © Poklong Anading, 2011; Courtesy of Galerie Zimmermann Kratochwill, Graz, Austria.

“…Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past explores how Asian cosmologies, view of nature, and religious outlooks are being carried on in the practice of artists “here and now”. Further, it shines a light from “here and now” on the history and traditions of Asia, expanding our imagination into a realm that transcends space and time and awakening the receptivity that enables us to sense the invisible forces that resound to this day like a basso continuo.”

                                                                                                                – Mami Kataoka, Co-curator of Phantoms of Asia

The ethereal and enigmatic serve as inspiration for many of the works currently showing at the Phantoms of Asia: Contemporary Awakens the Past exhibition at the Asian Art Museum (San Francisco, CA). Specifically, this collection of artworks transforms the materiality of objects into explanations of our relationships to Time and the Cosmos. These ideas are certainly at the core of Poklong Anading and Ringo Bunoan’s work. Since a primary objective of art entails illuminating truths that may be dormant in human subconscious or obscured by dominant culture, the artist’s aim is to delve into the past to conjure up truths about the present and possible future.

Works from the exhibition look at how traditional forms, methods, and ancient philosophies inform and serve as the impetus for contemporary works. Cultural nuances and long withstanding beliefs play a tremendous role in Phantoms of Asia. Both Anading and Bunoan aim to capture the complexities surrounding our notions of the intangible. They look at our collective human experience and connection with the earth and the environment, in particular, Anading’s creation of a meditative gaze to the ritualistic gestures as seen in Bunoan’s work. With the flash of a bright light to the image of rolled blankets as sculpture, the two artists use simple gestures as a way to communicate and entice a dialogue with the viewer on our complex existence and mortality.

While wandering through the exhibition, I couldn’t help but reflect on the definition of the word ‘phantom’ and its relationship to the exhibition and its overall meaning to contemporary Asian Art. Naturally, in looking up the definition, I found the following, as defined by the Merriam Webster dictionary:

1 a : something apparent to sense but with no substantial existence : apparition

1 b : something elusive or visionary

1 c : an object of continual dread or abhorrence

2 : something existing in appearance only

3 : a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal

Although the popular definition is suitable for the show, the last definition was the most striking, “a representation of something abstract, ideal, or incorporeal”. Both Anading and Bunoan examine the corporeality of objects within an environment as well as byproducts of human existence. The subjects contained in the works provoke the viewer to grapple with notions of transcendence, life, and death. As I stepped into the dimly lit gallery, slowly walking through a pair of glass doors, I saw the work of Poklong Anading. At first glance, the unique display of light boxes from his photographic series, Anonymity (2008-2011), gave the light within the photograph even more illumination.

The light against the transparent prints provided a stark contrast to the subject’s environments and accentuated highlights and shadows that would otherwise remain flat. Mirrors reflecting blazing rays of sunlight, seeing bare feet adorned by flip-flops, and the surrounding environments of each subject, Anading does a superb job at making the viewer believe this could in fact be anywhere in the world. The faceless subjects were not only anonymous but where their faces once were became a meditative focal point. These subjects become ethereal beings thus forcing the imagination to wonder and the anonymity becomes a meditation. There is a revealing in the unrevealing. In a visual and figurative sense, Anading removes the subject’s gaze to serve as an interpretation of what transcendence may look like. There is a sense of wonder and mystery to the subjects’ lives as the viewer fixates on the light.

Ringo Bunoan. “Passage”, 2007.

On the opposite end of universals, Bunoan’s work looks at the concept of death and our connection to the past. In her work, Passage: The Blanket Project (2007), the performative and sculptural work was created while Bunoan was living in Pashupati, Nepal. Living with the sick and elderly, she found materiality to be the least of residents’ concerns and worries. Allison Harding, co-curator for the exhibition, reflects on Passage by noting on the object itself, “Once symbols of warmth, comfort, and rest, the blankets in Passage signify the bodies they covered. Partly memento mori and partly the artist’s farewell to Nepal, the documentation of Bunoan’s work from a single afternoon reminds us that after death, traces of us may remain”.

In viewing photographs of the Nepalese residents engaging in performative gesture resulting in a sculptural piece that bears a striking resemblance to a casket, the viewer can easily see that much of Bunoan’s work relies heavily on the senses and community. Each rolled up blanket becomes a composite entity, which seems to be a metaphor for the multi-faceted human being, a community, and the interconnectedness of humankind on a global scale. The ceremonial nature of the work serves to remind the viewer that physical remnants prevent us from being wholly detached from spirituality or one another.

The work of Poklong Anading and Ringo Bunoan fit perfectly in this exhibition in that each set of works extrapolates the enigmatic nature of spirituality, life, and death. Regardless of a viewer’s beliefs, there is something inherent in the pieces that transcend the physical human experience. As humans constantly struggle to understand ourselves, Anading and Bunoan provide us with visual representations of the intangible because the art provides yet more extraordinary explanations to ideas we so desperately try to wrangle and comprehend yet consistently elude us.

Originally posted to PlantingRice.com, please click here to view additional photos of the exhibition

ZERO1 artist alum, Scott Kildall, is working on yet another amazing arts and technology project, Tweets in Space. The project has been covered by BBC, Forbes, Scientific American, CNET, Tech Trendy, Tech Mash and many other media organizations! Below, you will find a full description of ‘Tweets in Space’ and links to the Rocket Hub fundraising page and the project site.

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Official Press Release and Text Source: Artists ‘Tweets in Space’ Project Site

Artists, Scott Kildall and Nathaniel Stern will beam Twitter discussions from participants worldwide towards GJ667Cc – an exoplanet 22 light years away that might support earth-like biological life. Anyone with an Internet connection can participate during two performance events, which will simultaneously take place online, at the International Symposium on Electronic Art (ISEA2012, New Mexico), and in the stars. By engaging the millions of voices in the Twitterverse and dispatching them into the larger Universe, Tweets in Space activates a potent discussion about communication and life that traverses beyond our borders or understanding. It is not just a public performance; it performs a public.

The artists will collect all Twitter messages tagged #tweetsinspace and transmit them into the cosmos via either a home-built or borrowed communication system. Our soon-to-be alien friends will receive scores of unmediated thoughts and feedback about politics, philosophy, pop culture, dinner, dancing cats and everything in between. All tweets will also be streamed to a live public website, where they’ll be permanently archived, as well as projected – as animated twitter spaceships towing messages – at the Balloon Museum and planetarium-like digital dome (IAIA), in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

Your donation will help buy equipment that will enable the artists to build their own open-source transmission system, upgrade an existing one through partnership with another institution, and/or time with one of the world’s extant high-powered communicators. Any funds above our goal will pay for a better system, or go towards online coding, design, and promotion. RocketHub is not an investment or charity. It is an exchange: funds from fans for rewards from us: both the ability to send Tweets into Space, and then some. It’s an All & More funding mechanism for us: if we don’t reach our financial goal we get to keep what we raise. But if we do reach our goal, we get access to exciting opportunities.

Tweets in Space asks us to take a closer look at our spectacular need to connect, perform and network with others. It creates a tension between the depth and shallowness of sharing 140 characters at a time with the entire Internet world, in all its complexity, richness and absurdity, by transmitting our passing thoughts and responses to everywhere and nowhere. These “twitters” will be stretched across all time and space as a reflection on the contemporary phenomenon of the “status” updates we broadcast, both literal and metaphoric.

Please click here to help fund Tweets in Space via RocketHub* and to learn more info on the project, click here.

Kildall and Stern are slated to launch the project at ISEA — the International Symposium on Electronic Art — this September in New Mexico, and are excited and are now trying to raising $8500 since it turns out it’s pretty difficult to send messages into the cosmos.

* What is RocketHub? RocketHub is very much like Kickstarter, only a better fit for our project. They do direct credit card payments, instead of going through Amazon Payments, they can handle international orders and have more of a science focus.

Originally posted to ZERO1, please click here to view

A Puzzling Display by Tim Roseborough

Official Press Release and Text Source: Tim Roseborough, Digital and New Media Artist

A Puzzling Display” is a new artist-created online arts and culture game, where registered participants compete and test their arts and culture knowledge. Inspired by the annual “puzzle hunts” hosted by institutions such as MIT and Microsoft, Silicon Valley digital artist Tim Roseborough has created “A Puzzling Display”: an Internet-based set of 20 intelligent and challenging interactive puzzles covering topics such as art history, music, film and culture.

In the 21st century, gaming and game-related paradigms are steadily integrating themselves into contemporary culture. “A Puzzling Display,” continues Roseborough’s exploration of the techniques and theories of gaming and play in the context of contemporary art. The website will be accompanied by an exhibition of Roseborough’s limited edition prints that translate each puzzle into the artist’s “Englyph” writing system, created via hieroglyphic-like images from everyday language. With an aim of blurring the distinction between fine art and diversion, Roseborough’s virtual artwork incorporates interactivity, video, sound art, and computer animation to take a fresh look at arts and culture. For “A Puzzling Display”, Roseborough has utilized limericks, silhouettes, common names, videos and art charades to challenge gamers.  All of the challenges are fun, but not all of them are easy. The order in which you play the challenges is up to you.

  • Win points for correct answers, check your overall progress and compare your score with other players on the scoreboard.
  • The competitive game time coincides with an exhibition of prints related to the game at the New Art Center in New York City.
  • The dates of the exhibition are May 1-19, 2012. The game begins at 8am EDT on May 1, 2012 and ends at 11:59pm EDT on May 20th, 2012.
  • The first five players to reach a perfect score or the highest five scorers at the end of the competition will receive 8″ x 10″ prints from the exhibition signed by the artist and infinite bragging rights!

A Puzzling Display: How to Play

1) Register:

Register for the game by choosing a username and email. You will be asked to verify your account with an email address. Your address will not be shared with or sold to a third party.

Q: Why do I have to register to play?

A: Registering with a username, password and email address will allow you to play the game at your pace, check your progress and compare your progress with others’.

2) Pick a Challenge:

Pick from twenty (20) challenges. You can play the challenges in any order you like.

Q: Should I start with the first puzzle? 

A: The challenges are loosely arranged from easier to more difficult, by you may have skills and knowledge that may help you do better on some puzzles more than others. Feel free to explore!

3) Explore the Puzzle:

Read the instructions above each puzzle carefully, as they hold clues to solving the puzzle. Be sure to click around the puzzle space below, as the challenges are sometimes behind the Englyph artwork.

Q: I’m stuck! Can I get some help?

A: Don’t be afraid to use search engines or the links provided at the bottom of this page to help you solve the puzzles.

4) Enter Your Answers

Answer entry fields are always below the puzzle space. As an aid, the correct number of letters for each answer is displayed. Your score on each challenge will be revealed immediately after you submit answers.

Q: Does punctuation count in the answers?

A: Letter counts do not include punctuation except for the dot (“.”) in a URL, but feel free to enter appropriate non-letter characters. They will not be counted in your answer. 

Q: How many times can I submit answers?

A: You can only submit answers once per challenge, so check them carefully before submitting. Feel free to write down your answers on scratch paper. 

Q: When can I see the correct answers?

A: Correct answers to the puzzles will only be posted after the main competition is over, after 11:59pm, May 20, 2012.

5) Check Your Progress

You can track your progress by clicking on the “My Progress” link and check your scores against other players by clicking on the “Scoreboard” link.

About the Artist

Tim Roseborough is a digital artist and musician. His artwork and exhibitions have been featured in numerous publications, including Art In America, ARTNews, San Francisco Chronicle, SF Arts Monthly, SF Examiner, and the San Francisco Bay Guardian. Roseborough has performed and exhibited his artwork nationally, including the 2010 ZERO1 Biennial, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, Root Division, Artexpo New York, The Garage San Francisco, ARTWork SF, and the Catharine Clark Gallery in San Francisco. Mr. Roseborough lives and works in San Francisco, California. Please visit his site and learn more about A Puzzling Display here.

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I went to the Night Light: Multi-Media Garden Party at the SOMArts Cultural Center. It was great seeing friends and meeting some wonderful artists. Below, you’ll find some footage I shot of Radka Pulliam‘s piece, Up and Down the Street. It’s quite clever in that the viewer must “look in” the building to “look out” at the street view. The placement was spot on since it was in a relatively inconspicuous place towards the front of the entrance. I noticed people stopped when they noticed someone looking down and ponder the location of the projection.

One of the memorable performances of the evening was the Spanish Contemporary dance routine of Elias Aguirre and Alvaro Esteban. They are amazing. The isolations and articulation of their bodies is best seen in person. If you were at Night Light, you would know exactly what I’m talking about. Fortunately, there is a video of this phenomenal Spanish Contemporary Dance duo.

I had the great pleasure and opportunity to ask artist, John Craig Freeman, a few questions regarding his art practice and work. Below, you will find some wonderful answers that include his perspective on the trajectory of public art and art as intervention. In addition, Freeman will be doing an artist talk at the SOMArts Cultural Center Thursday, March 29th! Lastly, there are spots left if you are still interested in taking his Augmented Reality Workshop this weekend. Please click here for more information.

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Dorothy Santos (DS): What was the impetus for you intermingling virtual art objects as interventions into physical space? Is there even room for translation to occur? Cognitively, I find it fascinating the way visual information is processed and what occurs when the two (virtual interventions and physical objects) are mixed versus an actual translation (i.e., virtual to physical, physical to virtual).

John Craig Freeman (JCF): My interest in public art as intervention precedes augmented reality technology by more than two decades. In 1990, I created “Operation Greenrun II,” which consisted of eleven 10′ X 40′ bitmap images on billboards along Highway 93 at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant in Colorado. This project demonstrates an early interest in emergent technology as art practice and public art as intervention. Intervention in in both institutions of high culture and intervention in government policy and the institutions of the nation state. Think of the media as a kind of virtual reality, which of course it is, that can be intervened in. The decision to shutdown Rocky Flats was made in 1991, during the media firestorm this project was created, proving that art does have a role to play in tangible political change.

Whereas the public square was once the quintessential place to air grievances, display solidarity, express difference, celebrate similarity, remember, mourn, and reinforce shared values of right and wrong, it is no longer the only anchor for interactions in the public realm. That geography has been relocated to a novel terrain, one that encourages exploration of mobile location based monuments, and virtual memorials. Moreover, public space is now truly open, as artworks can be placed anywhere in the world, without prior permission from government or private authorities – with profound implications for art in the public sphere and the discourse that surrounds it.
In the early 1990s, we witnessed the migration of the public sphere from the physical realm, the town square, to the virtual realm – the Internet. In effect, the location of public discourse and the site of national identity formation has been extended into the virtual world. Augmented reality folds the distributed, placeless network back upon location and brings it crashing back down to place.

Using emergent technologies, including augmented reality, to produce large-scale public work at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities, my work seeks to expand the notion of public by exploring how digital networked technology is transforming our sense of place.

Much of my work is located in contested places such as borders and ports. I like to explore, and make evident, the edges, if you like. The metaphor of liminal space can also be applied to the boundary between the physical and the virtual. Augmented reality makes this boundary porous, allowing the digital network to spill into the physical.

DS: This issue has been brought up several times in my writings, blog posts, and general conversation about new media and digital arts. I’m curious of your perspective. How do you envision people with very little or no accessibility to technology (i.e., no smartphone or android) to engage in the discourse of Augmented Reality?

JCF: I have had to contend with this question as well, most recently during a talk I gave at the College Art Association conference.

I have to say that the concern over this issue puzzles me in regard to both art and technology. To begin with, art has always been an elitist proposition. Even if people can afford the price of admission to the museum, conceptual access to the meaning of art and its value is carefully controlled by taste-makers and marketers. Incidentally, the Rocky Flats work was a response to the art world’s mission of social class reinforcement. Further, the ubiquity of cell phone technology is our best chance at the collapse of the digital divide. From the favelas of São Paulo to the shantytowns of Kinshasa, cell phones are becoming the rule rather than the exception. It is just a matter of time before these devices will all be internet ready. Less than a decade ago, it would cost tens of thousands of dollars to create a cave environment for viewing virtual reality. Augmented reality is virtual reality in your pocket.

DS: Typically, imagination conjures images from a story or a narrative. What role does the imagination play in Augmented Reality when the images are created and inserted into our visual perception?

JCF: The most profound example I can offer was from my experiences documenting to Border Memorial project in Southern Arizona last January. Each one of the data points represents a very specific location where human remains were recovered. Accordingly, each place I visited represented a very real and tragic story of how an individual person died trying to cross the desert in search of work and a better life. Although I was careful to strip individual names from the data, prior to the project being deployed, the scene was often rich with details. These details, both large and small, evidence of a campfire; fragments of clothes; empty water bottles, as well as the topology of the landscape, a sandy wash indicating the most likely route over the pass on the mountain just beyond, painted a sobering picture.

DS: Lastly, other than a formal intervention, how do you see Augmented Reality making an impact amongst traditional art institutions and patrons? More and more individuals are learning about the impact of new media and digital arts but there still seems to be a very specific following and engagement from the art community.

JCF: ManifestAR, the international artists’ collective with which I often work, formed after the groundbreaking uninvited augmented reality intervention at the MoMA in autumn of 2010. It is now the artist, not the curator, who decides which artworks can be placed where. The group sees this medium as a way of transforming public space and institutions, by responding to and overlaying the configuration of located physical meaning. Utilizing this technology as art is a new proposition that explores all that we know and experience as the mixture the real and the hyper-real. Art world power structures, the nature of art exhibitions and discourse, are all called into question, even the border between art and life itself.

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John Craig Freeman is a public artist with over twenty years of experience using emergent technologies to produce large-scale public works at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. John is currently an Associate Professor of New Media at Emerson College (Boston) in the Department of Visual and Media Arts and a Visiting Scholar at the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts at UC San Diego.

Originally posted to ZERO1

When I’m not thinking about the afterlife, I’m thinking about love. This is true. Currently live blogging at Wire + Nail Gallery for Carissa Potter’s opening, People I’ve Loved. One of my favorite artists.

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