Samuel Cepeda | Nina Czegledy + Marcus Neustetter | Darko Fritz
Andreja Kulunčić | Geoff Lucas | Edita Pecotić | Eloi Puig
Thomson + Craighead | Transfer | Goran Trbuljak
25 July - 11 September 2011
(Excerpt from "I Couldn't Believe You Could Get From There to Here in Such A Short Time!",i by Sarah Cook. The full text is included in the HICA publication, Exhibitions 2011)
In an age of hyper-global biennials and swingeing cuts to government funding for education and the arts, it feels peculiar to be one of very few people on the planet to have been fortunate enough to visit and feel that I know personally two ‘remote’ artist-run spaces, the Highland Institute for Contemporary Art in Scotland and grey) (area in Croatia, as part of my academic research work and art euro-jet-set tendencies.ii Both are sites of experimentation; places where it is understood that art is instigated, supported, and realized in a spirit of interpersonal conversation and exchange.
The activities of grey) (area, while based on Darko Fritz’s longstanding connections to artists and curators working with conceptual media spaces, are about bringing people into material contact with the ad-hoc conditions of temporary exhibition-making. Given this partnership, it would be easy to suppose that works of art that address technological networks might themselves be immaterial, but those selected for exhibition disputed this. As Geoff has written, the works demonstrated a “less apparent order of materiality … our title for the show developed from feeling there wasn’t an appropriate word for this, i.e. immaterial, insubstantial, intangible, etc., all seem the wrong implications.”
While it was a deliberate conceit of the curatorial exchange that visitors would have to imagine the physical other half of the show, with the help of the medium of the web, one wonders if this provocation was a kind of prop to hang these ideas of the concrete and the immaterial from – as, after all, viewers almost always have to imagine the ‘other half’ of the art work – its creation. Furthermore, works that are made from networks, or exist within networks, are nevertheless physically-sited, and conditioned by protocols, hardware, software and the ‘wetware’ of the minds and bodies of those who are experiencing them. For Darko Fritz to emblazon the familiar internet-surfing message 204 No Content (other of his works feature the ubiquitous 404 File Not Found) across a mountainside, many people had to labour under hot sun to plant the vegetation in which it was written.iii For Andrea Kulunčić to create her text, photo and video archive about the island of Korčula, where
grey) (area is based, she spent many long and tiring days in the open market talking to passers-by about tourism, and trading their stories for strange tatty objects on which she had printed excerpts from the island’s peculiar ancient constitution that in theory refutes the commercial impulses the island economy now thrives upon. Paradoxically it was Andrea’s project, titled Commercialization of the history, which was the most “popular” of grey) (area’s programme that year, with a large number of curators and artists choosing to travel to Korčula, to participate in it, and, by extension, in the tourist economy.
Thus, what role does economics play in these technologically savvy artworks, and in how their successive remote showings are manifest? Is economics here also a kind of system determining the reconciliation of content to form?
In this regard one could consider the different projects from Korčula presented in Inverness-shire as not so much of their place but in contradistinction to the idea of place at all, functioning in a fluid, critical questioning of the economics of place. HICA and grey) (area as venues, for all their excruciatingly picturesque sited-ness (two perfect holiday destinations), tend in their activities to almost ignore, or exist irrespective of, their settings.
A few of the works which were ‘exchanged’ and shown in Croatia were ones in which the work itself was mediated or, more concretely, processed through technology, witnessed on screen. And yet the works were actually embodied and sited within their screening conditions, as it were (as opposed to being work which takes place elsewhere and is documented through technology, as in many of the works from grey) (area shown at HICA).
This idea of making evident the formal considerations of technological systems – its economics and its materialities – is demonstrated in media art, where the work potentially offers different structures, alongside ideas of how structures work. Geoff Lucas’ text-based animation loosely based on a Mullah Nasruddin story, and involving Jackson Pollock, and Thomson & Craighead’s single-channel video Time Machine in Alphabetical Order embody this. They both enact a kind of systematic instruction on to their material – drawing or film – media which we think we know well. Their visual disruption of linear narrative is obvious and deliberate but that makes the works very much of their medium, present in their technological and concrete manifestation. They are works which could be shown anywhere, and so are frankly placeless and digitally ephemeral, residing on hard-drive, file, and screen.
Perhaps this discussion of the placelessness or sitedness of technology and its corresponding economics, is too easy. It is a both a contradiction within and a connection to the works chosen for exhibition. Like the exhibition’s title, Concretely Immaterial, it is an affirmative paradox.
i Quotation from the story retold in the work by Geoff Lucas.
ii It is possible that my partner is the only other.
iii HICA did consider planting the message in their garden rather than show photographs of the earlier versions, but the plan was dropped for practical reasons.
(L to R)
Nina Czegledy + Marcus Neustetter: Visual Collider Diagram (dimensions variable, digital print, 2009). Charting the progress through exhibition of The Visual Collider, presented with an artists' book in response to the Large Hadron Collider
Transfer: Stills from Theoretical Films, 1999 - 2002
Andreja Kulunčić: Commercialization of the History, 2010. Prints and text, intervention in public space
Edita Pecotić: Stills from Temporary (Internet) Files, 2007-2009. Time-lapse video showing one-year's images from an online webcam, 192 mins.
Further exhibition information on www.grey-area.org
Exhibition supported by The Henry Moore Foundation
For the exhibition press release click here
For the exhibition press release click here
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