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The days of happenings and Fluxus signaled a pivotal transition and a prophetic glimpse into Post (Post) Modern art. Such progression into participant based art within art history entailed the coining of Relational Aesthetics. The times when artists sat around and drank beer ushered its way into the cannon of conceptual fine art. Also known as relational art, relational aesthetics encompasses an art practice within a social context and the creation of the art dependent on the exhibition visitors and participants within a specific environment. Or as prolific Internet phenom art critic, Hennessy Youngman (Artist: Jayson Musson), has eloquently stated,

Basically, Relational Aesthetics is when someone with an MFA wants to meet new people but because they spent all that time pursuing an MFA, they don’t know how to talk to people normally. And they got really poor social skills. And they can’t find no other way to meet new people other than forcing them into odd activities at their own poorly attended art openings. Relational Aesthetics is also when a successful artist who is too busy touring the globe going from biennial to biennial and they have no time to make physical art objects anymore so the famous artist uses the attendees at the exhibition as the artwork in some ways, na whut I’m sayin’, to explore the social relationships between people.

Youngman’s choice of the Internet as a means of connecting with the world exemplifies the Internet’s global reach. The question that comes to mind involves how we see and experience art virtually (online) without specific references (i.e., a vlog entry with a discernible human face) and how artists and writers are defining it as art. From Muralism to Performative art, the physical public space has served as a forum to create work utilizing people and physical environment as a context for the pieces themselves but what considerations ought to be made to distinguish virtual performance as art? With the undercurrent and burgeoning of open source programming and a multitude of sites and blogs catering to ever type of human need imaginable, how does the new media artist discern oneself as an artist without having to subscribe to the sensibilities of tradition? What are the various forms of documentation or absence of documentation that include virtual Performative art as a part of art history and its evolution? Joseph DeLappe provides an interpretation of online performance art that serves as art with civic action in mind.

Joseph DeLappe’s piece, ‘dead-in-Iraq’, utilizes the virtual environment of ‘America’s Army’, which is the United States Army’s recruiting game. The virtual role-playing game is open to anyone interested in establishing an online account and perhaps possesses a profound interest and curiosity for the military. The game itself simulates the actions and consequences of war. Allowing for fantastical play where the player has endless lives and has the ability to kill enemies and, perhaps, even soldiers in their own platoons with the absence of admonishment, the end user’s thoughts and emotions translate and weave themselves into a collection of memories that are both real and imagined. A simple game and task at hand, yet, the underlying message remains the same, and you are a machine. The human self morphs into a virtual killing machine (in the literal and figurative sense) and DeLappe’s ongoing piece goes above mere performance, there is a universal message of conjuring up the fallen. Those individuals without an avatar and no(body) to represent them. DeLappe crosses over into a space that is real and unreal simultaneously and the young men and women either pay attention and act aggressively or stop and wonder what DeLappe is trying to prove. His method is simple. He types the names of dead soldiers from the Iraqi War until ‘friendly’ fire or enemies kill him. There is virtual/imagined surrender to a certain extent, which would be unfathomable in real life.

DeLappe utilizes the virtual space as a form of protest. There is a front facing insubordination each end-user receives and experiences unknowingly. By the artist refusing to play the game they are putting themselves on the frontline with the intention of disobeying the rules with purpose. DeLappe’s abeyance of the gameplay is the art and the other virtual soldiers take place in relaying the message. Obviously, if a million people were to re-blog or tweet the happenings of such activity, would there be a proliferation of similar action? A resistance by the masses? Or, is this a form of expression and performative virtual aesthetic action only to be performed by the Artist?

We have yet to see.

Originally posted to zer01 blog, please click here to view

I haven’t forgotten about my last installment of the Spread Exhibition (which ended last week). I have yet to write my reflections on Laetitia Sonami and her selected artist Jacqueline Gordon. It’s forthcoming. I’ve got so much stuff in the pipeline and as mentioned, it’s been a pretty hectic and draining (to say the least). In any case, here’s a shorter video of Sonami’s work along with a brief interview.

Sonami’s selected artist for the Spread exhibition was artist, Jacqueline Gordon. Yet another amazing artist that does incredible work exploring architecture and how sounds (whether from the outside coming into a designated space or synthesized sound) affects both the space and the listener. Hoping to see her featured on artist site, The Limner, soon. You can view her upcoming graduate show here.

Although a pretty lengthy video, it’s worth the time and energy especially if you are into experimental music and abstract sounds. For the last installment of my reflections on the Spread Exhibition, which is unfortunately over, I’m working through the last pair that includes this incredible vanguard sound artist, Laetitia Sonami!

Photo by: Dorothy Santos

I’ve heard that anybody can be a photographer these days. I’m sure you’ve heard this as well.

From SLRs to point-and-shoots to our mobile phones, people with mobile devices have the ability to make anyone a photographer. Inevitably, this leads to artists having to re-construct and re-purpose such a medium. Anyone can take a picture but how does an artist show, through photography, elements of how we live, who we interact with, and how we know things through contemporary photography?

The photo above was taken while I was traipsing around my girlfriend’s apartment complex backyard. It’s, literally, an insane collection of discarded toys and plastic artifacts. I took pictures and ended up saving them on my phone thinking that I could, possibly, order a print (yes, from my phone, I still think that’s pretty unbelievable myself) if I was inclined. Either way, it was a way for me to record what couldn’t easily be described with words.

Before opening night of the Spread show, the OFFSpace Curatorial team sent a message to their distribution list encouraging individuals to contribute a photo that would be utilized in the Cell Tango (2010) piece by George Legrady and his selected artist Angus Forbes. The collaborative work involved sending a picture to an e-mail created specifically for the show, excluding text in the body of the e-mail, but adding one word descriptors or “tags” of the image in the subject line. When I submitted the above, my tag was “monster”. During the artist panel discussion, I stood in anticipation for my picture to appear. Eventually I saw my “monster” photo grouped with other photos. Legrady explained to audience that the photos sent by the audience were connected and streamed with Flickr photos with the same tags within the community. In Cell Tango, Legrady and Forbes showed the intersections of language and image and our collective understanding of objects and things and even ideas!

George Legrady's Student Artist, Angus Forbes