THE DIGITAL GESTURE
A Curatorial Project by Kristin Trethewey
“Our time is a time for crossing barriers, for erasing old categories – for probing around. When two seemingly disparate elements are imaginatively poised, put in apposition in new and unique ways, startling discoveries often result.” McLuhan
Gesture, a physical expression of human emotion, signals a personal perspective and intention through action. The term, “artistic gesture”, usually refers to a painter and the production of pictorial art. It describes the combined effort between the internal and external human faculties. There is a flow between the physical process and the internal conscious and/or subconscious. This gears the actions and defines the art object’s meaning. The Digital Gesture explores the comparison between this traditional artistic notion via digital born processes and its artistic presentation. At a time when the cultural influence of digital production and the Internet are ubiquitous, the works in The Digital Gesture reference earlier periods of art history, aligning digital imagery and tools within the broader and somewhat distant world of art and its history. Negotiating the connections between past and present, these works make digital gestures towards a more complete and current notion of art.
As the first quote by McLuhan suggests, startling discoveries can be made when the canons of art history are juxtaposed with digital art practice. The discoveries provide insight into the past revealing that we are still debating similar ideas of gender and identity. They also find aesthetic relationships within the tools of today and yesterday and realize that perhaps the history of painting can speak to code.
Jeremy Rotsztain uses Google search results for violent films linking the cultural representation of masculine violence to the destructive art legend, Jackson Pollock. Parsing out images of explosions and gunfire he reveals strikingly similar bursts of colorful expression to the famous abstract painter. The connection draws some common links between the popularity and economic success of masculine expression in both art history as well as popular culture.
In Malcolm Levy, Nathaniel Stern and Santiago Taccetti’s work misusing digital tools becomes the focus for artistic inquiry. Building unique processes with digital scanner beds and video cameras the emergence of new aesthetics occurs while the machine attempts to perform under duress.
Malcolm Levy (CAN)
Malcolm Levy is an artist, curator, writer and filmmaker living in Vancouver, Canada. Levy’s curatorial, film and video installation works have been presented in India, Australia, China, Germany and Canada. Levy’s photographic and video practice evolved out of his early work in documentary film. Feeling the need and desire to move towards the abstracted, he began a process of capturing ‘other’, previously unseen, frames of objects and landscapes by manipulating the digital camera’s chip (or sensor).
Malcolm recently presented on ‘Other-Frames’ at ISEA, The Inter-Society for Electronic Arts, which was held in Istanbul in September 2011. Levy’s most recent installation, A Place to Reflect, premiered at Nuit Blanche Toronto 2011.
Current projects include pursuing an MA in Media Studies at the New School in New York, developing a media lab for the grunt gallery in Vancouver, working on a Satellite project for the Goethe Institut, and producing a series of commissioned artworks for urban screens in connection with Mcluhan in Europe 2011. Feature length documentaries include Shambhala (2001-2008) and Walking on Glass (2006-present)
Past projects include co-founding Capital Magazine (1999-2005) and the New Forms Festival (1999-present), undertaking projects for CBC / 120seconds, Virtual Museum Canada, Project Stitch, and writing or curating for Mobile Muse, MUTEK, VIDFEST and Assignment Zero, among others. He was the curator of CODE Live at the 2010 Winter Olympics, where he oversaw the installation of over 40 interactive media artworks and 8 performances across the city.
Through experimentation with movement, focus, and depth of field, the digital camera’s sensor (commonly known as the chip) is manipulated into capturing physical reality in a different way. ‘Other-Frames’ are created through a process of slowing down imagery until new frames are artificially constructed through the chips’ search for information. This work might be considered a contribution to the sub-genre of concrete photography from a digital process, as the still created is no longer a medium or sign for something else, but another object or comment entirely.
‘Other’ in this case lies within its historical philosophical usages of the term not as oppositional, but more so as that which is unconscious or silent. Through movement of the camera, slowing down the video (to thousandths of its intended frame-rate), and extracting stills, a new image is created through the insights of the sensors’ action. This new image creates a different image than its source.
In abstracting an image through this process, the final memory of the object, scene and experience, is much more akin to that of the camera’s and the “operator’s” subconscious mind, than the referential image being recorded. Temporally, the images have created a completely new frame of time, by slowing the frame rate far below the original intended purpose. The blending of the images based on this time stretch also lends itself to the overall imagery. Visually, they have created a new reality and a way of seeing the literal objects that are being investigated. The frames, a chosen smaller quantity out of the thousands created, represent a new mode of both time and space.
Jeremy Rotsztain (CAN/US)
Is a Canadian digital artist who, taking cues from the practice of painting, works with movies, images, and sound as a kind of malleable and expressive material. In his work, popular narratives, pixels, and sound bites are sampled, transformed, re-arranged and composed in an effort to examine the language and patterns of contemporary media and the shared cultural experiences that we have with them. Jeremy writes custom software, enabling him to collect, edit, and compose with his materials in hybrid and unconventional ways that aren’t supported by existing commercial software applications. His work has been screened, performed and exhibited at the Cooper Hewitt and the New York Hall of Science in NYC, Urban Screens in Melbourne, Subtle Technologies and InterAccess in Toronto, Electric Fields in Ottawa, SAT in Montreal, and New Forms Festival in Vancouver.
Nathaniel Stern (US)
(born 1977) is an interdisciplinary artist who works in a variety of media, including interactive art, public art interventions, installation, video art, net.art and printmaking. He is currently an Associate Professor of Art at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.
For this ongoing series of prints, Stern straps a desktop scanner, laptop and custom-made battery pack to his body, and performs images into existence. He might scan in straight, long lines across tables, tie the scanner around his neck and swing over flowers, do pogo-like gestures over bricks, or just follow the wind over water lilies in a pond. The dynamism between the his body, technology and the landscape, each with their own agency, is transformed into beautiful and quirky renderings, which are then produced as archival art objects.
Santiago Taccetti (ARG)
Santiago Taccetti lives and works in Berlin. He has exhibited work in contemporary art centers and galleries such as Centre d’art Santa Monica, CCCB Centre de Cultura Contemporanea Barcelona, Kultur Buro Barcelona, Istituto Italo Latinomericano in Rome, La Panaderia in Mexico City, Centro Cultural San Martin and Centro Cultural Recoleta in Buenos Aires as well as .HBC and LEAP in Berlin. He has recently participated in the Fabra i Coats Residency 2010, the 2010 Proyectos Ultravioleta Residency in Guatemala, the CIA Centro de Investigaciones Artisticas Residency 2010 in Buenos Aires and the 2011 Watermill Center Summer Residency in New York. In 2009, Santiago Taccetti founded TWAIN, a collective project that is open to collaborations with various artists from around the world. The TWAIN project received the Generaciones 2011 Art Prize by Caja Madrid
Kristin Trethewey (CAN)
Kristin Trethewey is an artist, curator and media arts instructor. She holds a Masters of Fine Arts from Brooklyn College in Performance and Interactive Media. She is originally from Toronto, Canada and has been curating and collaborating with artists and musicians since the early 2000s. These projects are multidisciplinary, interactive, performance and video related pieces within the media, arts and music scene.
After a year working with the New Media Institute at the Banff Centre in Alberta, Canada she relocated to New York where she presented various artworks as well as a two-week international festival of video called Play With Fire Festival in 2009 and the month-long, international project, INDEX Festival in 2011. She currently curates projects between locations in Canada, New York and Berlin.