Farhad Bahram. Reciprocality (2012); color photograph; 4 x 12 in. Courtesy of the Artist.

It has been too long since my last Shotgun Review for Art Practical! I wrote about In the Current show, which showcases some phenomenal Iranian artists! Below, you will find my write-up. Please enjoy and I highly recommend stopping by the exhibit. Enjoy!

*          *          *          *

In the Currents, an exhibition of Iranian-American artists curated by Taraneh Hemami and Lucy Kalyani Lin, complicates and makes personal the ways in which Iran and Iranian culture are portrayed in much of Western media.

In Azin Seraj’s video installation, kaseye sabr labriz mishavad (bowl of patience, 2012), four Iranians speak about how their lives have been affected by the United Nations sanctions against Iran. Seraj layers the footage of the speakers with that of droplets of water filling a bowl, creating contorted and muddled images of the speakers, though their voices are clearly heard. Curiously, the visual rippling effect forces a viewer to concentrate on the intonation of words—even though only Farsi-speaking viewers are likely to understand them.

Farhad Bahram’s piece, Reciprocal Subject (2012), also complicates the view of its subjects. Like Seraj, Bahram empowers the subjects and makes them anonymous, but  they share in the creation of the work. Bahram and each subject simultaneously took pictures of each other in open public spaces, and Bahram arranged the resulting color photos on a board in an apparent order or system that mimics a scrapbook, with names appearing beside each photo. Each of the faces is partially obscured by a camera, frustrating any viewer’s desire to identify the subjects. The public spaces that serve as backdrops add an additional level of neutrality and anonymity. Still, there is a complicity that only exists between Bahram and each subject, leaving viewers curious about their relationship.

Another notable piece, Flag (2012), from Sanaz Mazinani’s series “Conference of the Birds,” uses photographic images to create a patterned flag reflective not of a particular region but of a specific idea. Her flag is rooted in solidarity as opposed to being grounded in a specific physical location. The repeated images coalesce to form a tightly knit pattern that creates a visual mesh of people, places, and cultures. Mazinani’s work, along with that of Seraj and Barham, blurs the expected lines of perception and demands that viewers participate in the act of seeing not only their works but also their culture.

IN THE CURRENTS IS ON VIEW AT THE ASIAN RESOURCE CENTER GALLERY, IN OAKLAND, THROUGH JUNE 15, 2012.

Original posted to Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical, please click here to view.

Click on the images below… 🙂

One of the best tweets (ever)

*          *          *          *

A description of Shotgun Reviews on Art Practical by Alyse Mason Brill (an AMAZING editor, by the way)!

*          *          *          *

What Alyse had to say about my piece on Tim Roseborough's work, "Notes in/troducing Englyph

Reinterpretations, remakes, and contemporary works are strategically placed throughout God Only Knows Who the Audience IsPerformance, Video, and Television Through the Lens of La Mamelle, engaging viewers in what is almost an infinite loop of observation that changes with every go-around. Douglas Davis’s The Last Nine Minutes (1977) welcomes viewers to the second floor of the exhibition. The video piece involves Davis walking around a space that simulates a dark cave. Viewers’ anticipation bubbles to the surface as they wait for him to acknowledge his audience. Within the uncharted territory of television as a means of engagement with a spectator, Davis’s gestures and acting serve as a metaphor and barrier between the artist and viewer. The onus falls on the viewer to acknowledge the artist.

In Mario Garcia Torres’s All That Color is Making Me Blind(2008), a lone black screen with scrolling green type reminiscent of a teleprompter provides context for the grid of televisions displayed across from it. The scrolling text imparts the language associated with the visual information received by the grid. The multiscreen artwork displays television spots artists have bought to disseminate art to the masses—a startling reminder of television’s osmotic effect on its viewers. Both Davis’s and Torres’s works require a curious and engaged audience. Yet, as the name of the exhibition suggests, the nature of questioning and understanding in performative and video-based art is inherently cyclical.

Pitch-black walls on the second level simulate a hermetic box, in which videos playing performative acts are the only stimulation. The works both insulate and isolate: much like the onscreen subjects, viewers become inaccessible once they are enveloped by the onscreen work. Although each artwork has been set up to replicate a living space, creating an atoll of viewing islets, there is an unrelenting cacophony from the other televisions. With the multitude of sounds and experiences working in tandem, viewers are forced to play close attention and actively search for understanding or resonance. As a result, they concentrate on particular aspects of the video performances that might otherwise go unnoticed.


 

Mario Garcia Torres. All The Color Is Making Me Blind (Notes on the Beginning of the End of Video Art), 2008; nine-channel video installation. Courtesy of the CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts. Photo: Dorothy Santos.

Active watching and viewer engagement are paramount in the works of the art collective La Mamelle/ART COM. The act of watching as a primary mode of experiencing the exhibition serves as the foundation for dialogue and conversation, which is imperative in the discussion of how arts and technology work together to explore the role of spectator. The work inGod Only Knows Who the Audience Is demonstrates the creative and investigative processes of performance, video, and television, and the ways contemporaneous study is imperative in examining the evolution of performance art and spectatorship.

GOD ONLY KNOWS WHO THE AUDIENCE IS: PERFORMANCE, VIDEO, AND TELEVISION THROUGH THE LENS OF LA MAMELLE IS ON VIEW AT THE CCA WATTIS INSTITUTE FOR CONTEMPORARY ARTS, IN SAN FRANCISCO, THROUGH JULY 2, 2011.

Originally posted to Shotgun Reviews, please click here to view

Please click on the AP logo to view my Shotgun Review of Manufactured Organic at Root Division

Art Practical, Online Art Magazine

On the heels of reading Christine Wong Yap’s Art Practical feature, I figured it was time to create a new page on my blog – Shotgun Reviews Archive! Shotgun Reviews via Art Practical has been an incredible way for me to interact with the Bay Area Arts Community and take part in the conversation. My hope is to bring more people into the Art Scene and World and engage all types of individuals in the dialogue because art is everywhere and it speaks to so many universal concepts and ideas but, sometimes, the conversation, to people outside of the art world, seems to be within a close knit esoteric circle. Not true. Not true at all.

Here’s hoping you engage with me and feel free to offer up comments and/or constructive criticism.

All the best,

E/IC Art Writer

Hot off the presses…Enjoy!

*****************************

Is the imagination a mode of technology? What role does the imagination play in technological advancements such as sensor-laden homes, personal GPS devices, and televisions that can display four channels simultaneously? Artists for Retro-Tech, an exhibition at the San Jose Museum of Art, answer the question of how imagination operates in combination with technical knowledge, and ask the viewer to engage in re-working notions of technology quite imaginatively.

The exhibition includes Katya Bonnenfant, Aleksandra Mir, Tim Hawkinson, Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott, among others. Each salvages what may have been forgotten by colliding past and present, known with the unknown, imaginary and physical space.

Mir’s collages re-contextualize imaginary space and religious iconography. She delicately places pious imagery within galactic space. Through such visual dichotomies, the viewer must reconcile unearthly opposites. In Aerial Mobile (1998), Hawkinson utilizes television antennae, fabric, and strings to provoke the viewer into seeing an obsolete object—the television antennae—in a different modality. The object embodies movement rather than functioning as it has historically, to make a moving picture still.

Bonnenfant meshes old and new technologies in her piece 2:57 Onibaba Anguish from “Vintage Packaging for Animation” (2009). In it, digital animation commands the viewer’s attention via an iPod Touch carefully installed within a vintage clock. Her craftsmanship in re-fashioning a retro digital clock illustrates what happens when imagination works in tandem with technology. Her confinement of the new by the old forces the viewer to recognize rapid change in a digital age.

The “No Matter” collection is the opposite of its name, but playful semantics remind patrons that these art objects, at one point, were derived from the imagination. Scott Kildall and Victoria Scott venture into a virtual economy by working with

Scott Killdall and Victoria Scott. Gift Horse, 2010; installation view photographed in progress. Courtesy of the Artists and the San Jose Museum of Art.

Second Life users to bring imaginary objects into physical space by painstakingly and meticulously creating paper sculptures from inkjet prints on archival paper from digital renderings. In addition, the complexity of Kildall and Scott’s process and production alone couldn’t have prepared the museum staff for the arrival of a monumental thirteen-foot-tall Trojan Horse, reconstructed as a No Matter project and embedded with handcrafted viruses by visitors and artists alike. The horse was “gifted” to the museum and served as an incredible bridge between new technology and old-fashioned art making.

The exhibition also includes the work of Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla from Puerto Rico; the collaborative work of REBAR (Blaine Merker, John Bela, and Matthew Passmore), from San Francisco; Camille Scherrer from La Tour-de-Peilz, Switzerland: Xu Zhen from Shanghai, and Ricardo Miranda Zúñiga, based in New York. Although these artists present varying methods of reinventing old technologies, collectively they show imagination and technology are, perhaps, synonymous. Technology makes one more imaginative, but it is the imagination that provides the impetus for technological advancement and ingenious iterations of the past.

You can visit the Shotgun write-up here