Artist Home Website: www.staalplaat.org
Interactive Media Art Web Reviews
By Molly Kleiman
Artist Home Website: www.staalplaat.org
An Amsterdam and Berlin based operation, Staalplaat (under the creative vision of its founder Geert-Jan Hobijn) is a record label turned, in their own terms, "trashy extravaganza." Staalplaat has lifted music from its techno dj booths and punk arenas and reset it in site-specific public art installations–inspired by, influencing and playing with the environment. Several installations have involved constructing appliance orchestras: in "Lullaby In Kitchenland" and "104 Washing Machines" beeps function as mechanical forms of communication, music, exchange. In "Floating Islands," the River Spree was populated by floating rows of sound capsules (made from plastic bottles and batteries from vacuum cleaners). Their function: to "float, sound and dream." By reprogramming common appliances, animating them with whimsy and absurdity, Staalplaat’s projects reintroduce us to everyday machines, forcing us to reevaluate our relationship to the commercial products we use and the spaces we inhabit. Duchamp the Musical, anyone?
Artist: Margot Jacobs
Artist Home Website: http://play.tii.se/projects/pps/tejp
Margot Jacobs terms her installation projects "Public Play Spaces," syntactically revealing the fact that Jacobs’ art is dependent upon and defined by the roles of a public audience to complete it ("public play") and a public environment to shape it ("space"). In her project "Tejp" (pronounced "tape"), Jacobs invents a form of aural graffiti. She attaches small, semi-concealed recording devices to urban street walls, and invites strangers to create "aural tags" (message, song, poem). The installation is thus in constant flux; any stranger can make an anonymous, artistic imprint.
Artist: Leonard van Munster
Artist Home Website: www.debates.nl/index.shtml?520+522+3090
Leonard van Munster’s most recent project, "The Activator," may be seen as a counterpoint to Margot Jacobs’ "Tejp". Van Munster also uses sound as a form of public communication; however, instead of creating a vehicle for dialogue between strangers, he has constructed a device that documents the "conversation" that already exists in strangers’ movements through the city streets. His "Activator" is an innocuous sound box, located on street level, that is, in essence, a musical motion sensor. The patterns, frequency and speed of movement of urban pedestrian traffic is transposed into music and projected back into the city landscape.
Artist: E AnthoÃ¯Â¿Â½n-BaslÃ¯Â¿Â½
Artist Home Website: http://kvadrata.free.fr
E. AnthoÃ¯Â¿Â½n-BaslÃ¯Â¿Â½ Square plays on the artistic conceit of "the frame." For him, the square is no longer the shape of a pictorial container, but rather a geometric space that by virtue of its own delineation becomes the art itself. This is certainly no revolutionary idea, modern and contemporary artists are forever reinventing and subverting our notions of "what is a frame" and "what is art." However, his elastic definition of "square," makes for inventive projects. Many pieces are located in nature, where an artificial delineation of AnthoÃ¯Â¿Â½n-BaslÃ¯Â¿Â½’s square is juxtaposed with the natural wild of the setting. But he takes this idea further: he strives to create a square you cannot perceive all at once. He has created a global square, marking out each corner on a different hemisphere of the world: As arbitrary as national borders and as incomprehensible to the earth’s small inhabitants (us) as the mass of the globe.
Artist: Jean-Pierre Brazs
Artist Home Website: www.jpbrazs.com
Jean-Pierre Brazs plays with natural and manicured settings to create unexpected, fantastical landscapes. In "Danse Avec Les Arbres," he takes a grey, stone, raw space that seems eerily abandoned and "plants" several stripped, thin, bare white "trees" in its center. Other pieces also deal with the intersection of natural space and the human organizing impulse. Compare "Collection 1" (a monastic display of small petri-dishes filled with different forms of earth, trash and rubble, organized by color) with "Peinture Discrete" (located out of doors, in between naturally grown trees, geometric swatches of land are coated with layer of ochre and saffron colored pigments).
Artist: Julia Guehria
Artist Home Website: www.guehria.com
Julia Guehria works with the most organic (wood, paper, natural inks) and artificial (plexiglass, plastics) materials; her color palette is mostly muted, natural, creamy browns, muddy blacks, punctuated by red. Her works appear as palympsestic objects–layered with image upon text upon handwritten scrawlings. Words and images overlap, integrate, blur and are redefine. She calls this new language a "living Braille"–fluid, tactile, and comprehendible. Guehria adapts this form to varying scales–small wall paintings, divided into window-like frames; large ceiling trimmings, floating from roof beams like torn pages from an ancient enormous book.
Artist: Mags Harries and Lajos Heder
Artist Home Website: www.harriesheder.com
Most striking about the Harries and Heder public art works is their diversity–location, medium, scope. Each installation (whether in a Boston metro construction site or along a river trail in Maine) engenders its space with a unique sense of the surreal and the sublime. In New York City, one can visit the "Topiary: a 20 Year Project." This enormous, fantastical metal sculpture forms the entryway to the Prospect Park Wildlife Center. The metal bracings, though of industrial material and of intimidating size, bend and curve gracefully, dramatically, echoing the shapes of animals found in the Wildlife center. Over the next 20 years, seedling vines will grow along and intertwine with the metal sculpture, creating a living, evolving work of art.
Artist: Isaac Julien
Artist Home Website: www.iniva.org/archive/person/12
Filmmaker, artist, photographer, academic, critic, Isaac Julien is seen as a bold, innovative leader in each of his fields. In his layered, multi-media work, Julien entangles, subverts and unpacks issues of sexuality and race, illness and nationality. He is, perhaps, most famous for his biographical documentary on Langston Hughes, "Looking for Langston." In Julien’s gallery video installations, he transposes compositional elements out of the screen and into the gallery space itself; recently, he has experimented more with multiple projections, layering images, spooling videos, and integrating mediums. In his film, the camera is "not a witness but an accomplice."
Artist: Aaron Williamson
Artist Home Website: http://framework.v2.nl/archive/archive/node/work/default.xslt/nodenr-62365
It is difficult to categorize Aaron Williamson’s medium as he integrates and recreates the fields of sculpture, dance, and spoken word. Through inventive, interactive performances, Williamson creates a forum where he, a deaf artist, is communicator and translator and teacher. In the "Oracle," Williamson constructs a space where the motions, vibrations, and mutterings of viewers are translated into a unique code on a screen. At specific junctures, Williamson enters, "reads" the code and translates into a dance. He creates a new language whereby artist and audience, deaf and hearing interact and transcend medium.
Artist: David Link (aka Gabriel)
Artist Home Website: www.alpha60.de
David Link uses the newest in technology and virtual reality devices to create interactive forums for participants. No longer just the device of science fiction novels and video games, virtual reality technology is used here as a vehicle for connection and artistic interaction. In "Memory," VR helmets and 3D screens allow participants to create, what he terms, "memory phantoms:" gestures, words, and objects in virtual space. The "Poetry Machine" allows viewers to step up to a podium and project words up to a web of text floating on the gallery wall, creating an ever multiplying poem.