Being a Rhizome member certainly has its benefits. For some time, I only had a username and password, which didn’t do much. I couldn’t add art events, I was unable to add new artists as favorites to my profile, and couldn’t really engage with other Rhizome members. Last month, I finally decided to give Rhizome my $25 to get my virtual hands on some artwork and the ability to leave comments on some well written critical pieces on art and technology. In any case, The Download (available to members only) launched this morning. The first downloadable artwork is Ryder Ripps: Ryder Ripp’s Facebook (2011). Ripps’s digital piece is reminiscent of Kenneth Lo’s conceptual work, Every Stone Thethered to Sleep (2010), that showed early this year at Southern Exposure gallery in San Francisco. They both look at the nature of memory and how one connects with the rest of the world.

Looking through Ripp’s Facebook photos and videos, one may wonder how a bunch of file folders containing Facebook photos and videos can be considered art. Then again, that’s the point, to discuss. I have friends post fancy edited photography of their kids and landscapes. Is that art? Well, personally, I don’t think so and here’s why. People want to show you something (i.e., My kid is cute., The sun setting over the Pacific Ocean is gorgeous., etc.). There’s an assertion and assumption that what is shown to you is a thing of beauty. Right? I mean, that’s why people post photos of themselves in the best light. For goodness sake, I do that with my profile pictures!

My point: Art such as Ryder Ripps provoke us to perceive in different ways. When photographs and sculptures based on social networking are brought to a viewer’s attention, whether it be a download or an exhibition in a gallery, these artworks aren’t blatant or spoon-fed cuteness or pretty retinal delights. Works such as Ripp’s want us to think about what’s in the background, why something is important, what might be missing that we’re not seeing, or just plain humorous and absurd. Remember, artists are like film directors, they’re only going to show you parts of a whole so you can gestalt the rest.

In any case, looking forward to looking through more of Ripp’s photos and videos. Now, you maybe asking yourself, “She paid $25 to look at artists photos and videos?” The answer is yes but I’ll have a lot more to discuss at a dinner party than you…I’m certain. 😉

Print Screen and save to desktop. New way to preserve memories?

 

 True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories. ~ Florence King, Novelist

Having seen Kenneth Lo’s show at the Southern Exposure Gallery this past week, it’s got me thinking about the way we preserve our memories or what we even perceive as memory. To think something is utterly sublime and beautiful one moment can be gone within a second. Lo’s work has stuck with me, really stuck with me since I saw it. Yeah, sure, I have art crushes (lots of them, quite frankly) yet there was something about the every stone tethered to sleep exhibition that put into physical form what I’ve always felt about the nature of the mind in contemporary times. The mind is more scattered and inundated with massive amounts of information coupled with emotions, feelings, experiences, and memories. I swear, sometimes, I wonder how many gigabytes of memory I have. It’s even worse when I’m physically writing or drawing and thinking, “Damn, control-Z!! control-Z!!!” Ah, well, that’s technology for you.

Yes, Mr. Lo has become an artLove. Sigh.

By the way, my girlfriend is fully aware of this affinity I have for Mr. Lo.

With the ephemeral nature of comment threads, twittering, and status updates, the tangibility of feeling seems lost. I believe many humans have this irrational notion of permanence. This foolish idea that things persist. We could get all complicated and I won’t do that but, at some point in our lives, we die. Things die everyday. As Lo shows us, even our exchanges are subjected to a type of death UNLESS we examine them. Maybe, this is why I’m fixated on the work. Death, technology, and social networking rolled up into one? I mean, come on, you don’t think that’s ridiculously and wickedly clever? Well, it doesn’t matter, I think it is and that’s why I can’t stop writing about it, which leads me to the photo I posted today. 

My Mom has impeccable timing (and has given me an excuse to talk about Lo’s work). She felt the need to change her profile picture and let me know. She was sensitive to the fact that I may wonder why our picture (a picture my cousin took of us a few months ago) is no longer her profile picture. Whether this is true or not, is irrelevant. The fact that she was sensitive enough to write was really thoughtful. Do I care if she changes her Facebook profile? Of course not!! That type of decision is left to her own volition BUT the sensitivity expressed was pretty priceless if you ask me. As a matter of fact, the comment thread resulted in this quite heartfelt and endearing exchange. Truthfully, there have probably been hundreds of thoughtful exchanges with friends and family that I have discarded. Now, I’m not going to encourage everyone start print screening and cropping their threads and putting them into scrapbooks (what a surreal thought, eh?). However, I will say this, why is it that art comes to the rescue when people forget that they’re people (living beings for goodness sake)? Why is it becoming so natural to pay less and less attention to the things we say, express, and how we act? Lastly, most importantly, why on earth does my mother continue to use license plate language when leaving me comments or text messages (sorry, Mom, you know how I feel about letter and number combinations in written form)? Only joking…

If she’s reading this, I know she’s laughing.

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A few photos from Southern Exposure of Kenneth Lo’s exhibition, every stone tethered to sleep/every presence wedded to stone

Everything is Nothing/Nothing is Everything, 2010, Granite, 31" x 24.5" x 12" - Artist: Kenneth Lo

Having a father that was significantly older than my mother (older than my maternal grandfather as a matter of fact) made for an interesting childhood. Many funerals were attended. More than any other kid I knew. That being said, there was a familiarity with all the little details that outfitted such an occasion. The headstone alone was the summation of a person’s life – Name, Birth and Death Date. Perhaps, for the living (and, if money permit), an epitaph accompanied with etchings of roses or some serene landscape. It is safe for you to assume I know a thing or two about what is involved in the ritualistic aspects of burying a person and the act of commemoration. Kenneth Lo’s work is the whole package – intelligence, wit, humor, and correlation to universals. It’s undeniable quite frankly. Sure, the work may cater to one’s fascination with death and impermanence but it brings forth aspects of our daily lives we would often neglect or choose to forget. Lo’s work in his solo exhibition, every stone thethereed to sleep/every presence wedded to stone, 2011, showing at Southern Exposure Gallery (San Francisco, CA) addresses memory, ritual, loss, being/non-being, nothingness, and fixation.

Not everyone’s actions will be memorialized, bronzed, marbled or collected for posterity, but that does not detract from someone’s legacy. ~Michael Hall

One never really knows where thoughts and conversations go after all is said and done especially with technology giving the illusion that time moves faster than our physical existence. If one were to think about this, philosophically, time is linear, doesn’t change, and the adage is right – it, certainly, doesn’t wait for anyone. Although humans are constantly evolving, there is still that irrationality of permanence. With a rapidly evolving globalized world dictated, in many ways, by technology, Hall asserts that Lo, “…realizes that in the end, all the monuments, all the lists, the forget-me-nots, don’t mean a thing if no one remembers. After all, it’s often the small, significant moments we remember best.” It is even more impressive to turn the lens on oneself and disclose aspects of every day life that would otherwise be buried in the deep recesses of cyberspace.

With commemoration comes the choice of material. Lo’s use of granite and concrete lent itself extremely well to the ritualistic nature of burying the dead. It is the one physical thing that remains. It serves as a marker of life and truly universal. From a wooden cross to an elaborate gravestone, culture and tradition obliges us to place that physical marker at the end of life. Lo examines this act of morbidity by re-contextualizing and re-interpreting this ritual. The viewer is forced to read and remember these moments. A tombstone is synonymous with an end albeit a tangible artifact of a life lived but for Mr. Kenneth Lo, this exhibition has exuberantly breathed new life (pun very much intended) into our collective understanding of modern life that is completely worth the examination.

He is one to follow.