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Contemporary Art

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Edited by André Rottmann

For more than four decades, the elusive but influential Los Angeles-based artist John Knight has developed a practice of site specificity that tests both architectural and ideological boundaries of the museum, gallery, and public sphere. Knight’s works defy notions of stylistic coherence, even, at times, of instant recognizability. Grounded in a sustained method of inhabiting the material, discursive and economic conditions of varied sites, his works systematically challenge notions of object, sign, context, authorship, and value, and they confront audiences not only with mailers, posters, and journals but also with carpenter levels, commemorative plates, deck chairs, bicycle bells, flower arrangements, and credit cards. This volume offers essays and interviews that trace the critical thinking on Knight, discussing the artist’s trajectory from 1969 to 2011.

These texts, by such prominent figures as Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Anne Rorimer, Alexander Alberro, and Birgit Pelzer, offer close readings of Knight’s pivotal projects in situ while also considering them in terms of such art-historical paradigms as the readymade, the anti-aesthetic, institutional critique, and the relationship between art and design as well as corporate culture at large. The book provides the first collection of these often hard-to-find texts on Knight and will serve as an essential guide for further consideration of his oeuvre.

Thanks to advances in molecular science and microscopy, we can visualize matter on a nanoscale, and structures not visible to the naked eye can be visualized and characterized. The fact that technology allows us to transcend the limits of natural perception and see what was previously unseeable creates a new dimension of aesthetic experience and practice: molecular aesthetics. This book, drawing on an exhibit and symposium at ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, documents aesthetic developments in what Félix Guattari called the “molecular revolution.”
    
Just as artists in the Bauhaus movement began to use such industrial materials as metal, Plexiglas, and alloys as raw materials, artists today have access to new realms of the molecular and nano. The industrial aesthetic of machinery and material has been transformed into an aesthetic of media and molecules. Molecular Aesthetics suggests ways in which art can draw inspiration from the molecular sciences—and ways in which science can use art to make experimental results more intelligible and comprehensible. The authors of the essays collected in the book discuss the creation of molecules of remarkable beauty and the functional properties that stem from a few geometrical principles of molecular design; address the history of molecular structure representation; examine the meaning of molecular aesthetics for scientists; and compare chemical structures to artworks.

Edited by Oliver Grau

We are surrounded by images as never before: on Flickr, Facebook, and YouTube; on thousands of television channels; in digital games and virtual worlds; in media art and science. Without new efforts to visualize complex ideas, structures, and systems, today’s information explosion would be unmanageable. The digital image represents endless options for manipulation; images seem capable of changing interactively or even autonomously. This volume offers systematic and interdisciplinary reflections on these new image worlds and new analytical approaches to the visual.

Imagery in the 21st Century examines this revolution in various fields, with researchers from the natural sciences and the humanities meeting to achieve a deeper understanding of the meaning and impact of the image in our time.

The contributors explore and discuss new critical terms of multidisciplinary scope, from database economy to the dramaturgy of hypermedia, from visualizations in neuroscience to the image in bio art. They consider the power of the image in the development of human consciousness, pursue new definitions of visual phenomena, and examine new tools for image research and visual analysis.

The geography of the visual arts changed with the end of the Cold War. Contemporary art was no longer defined, exhibited, interpreted, and acquired according to a blueprint drawn up in New York, London, Paris, or Berlin. The art world distributed itself into art worlds. With the emergence of new art scenes in Asia and the Middle East and the explosion of biennials, the visual arts have become globalized as surely as the world economy has. This book offers a new map of contemporary art’s new worlds.
    
The Global Contemporary and the Rise of New Art Worlds documents the globalization of the visual arts and the rise of the contemporary over the last twenty years. Lavishly illustrated, with color throughout, it tracks developments ranging from exhibition histories and the rise of new art spaces to art’s branding in such emerging markets as Hong Kong and the Gulf States. Essays treat such subjects as curating after the global turn; art and the migration of pictures; the end of the canon; and new strategies of representation.

Radical Game Design

For many players, games are entertainment, diversion, relaxation, fantasy. But what if certain games were something more than this, providing not only outlets for entertainment but a means for creative expression, instruments for conceptual thinking, or tools for social change? In Critical Play, artist and game designer Mary Flanagan examines alternative games—games that challenge the accepted norms embedded within the gaming industry—and argues that games designed by artists and activists are reshaping everyday game culture.

Flanagan provides a lively historical context for critical play through twentieth-century art movements, connecting subversive game design to subversive art: her examples of “playing house” include Dadaist puppet shows and The Sims. She looks at artists’ alternative computer-based games and explores games for change, considering the way activist concerns—including worldwide poverty and AIDS—can be incorporated into game design.

Arguing that this kind of conscious practice—which now constitutes the avant-garde of the computer game medium—can inspire new working methods for designers, Flanagan offers a model for designing that will encourage the subversion of popular gaming tropes through new styles of game making, and proposes a theory of alternate game design that focuses on the reworking of contemporary popular game practices.

Japanese Media Arts in Dialogue with the West

This book grew out of Yvonne Spielmann’s 2005–2006 and 2009 visits to Japan, where she explored the technological and aesthetic origins of Japanese new-media art--which was known for pioneering interactive and virtual media applications in the 1990s. Spielmann discovered an essential hybridity in Japan’s media culture: an internal hybridity, a mixture of digital-analog connections together with a non-Western development of modernity separate from but not immune to Western media aesthetics; and external hybridity, produced by the international, transcultural travel of aesthetic concepts.

Spielmann describes the innovative technology context in Japan, in which developers, engineers, and artists collaborate, and traces the Japanese fondness for precision and functionality to the poetics of unobtrusiveness and detail. She examines work by artists including Masaki Fujihata, whose art is both formally and thematically hybrid; Seiko Mikami and Sota Ichikawa, who build special devices for a new sense of human-machine interaction; Toshio Iwai, who connects traditional media forms with computing; and Tatsuo Miyajima, who anchors his LED artwork in Buddhist philosophy. Spielmann views hybridity as a positive aesthetic value--perhaps the defining aesthetic of a global culture. Hybridity offers a conceptual approach for considering the ambivalent linkages of contradictory elements; its dynamic and fluid characteristics are neither conclusive nor categorical but are meant to stimulate fusions.

Kunsthalle Bern 1992

Michael Asher (born in 1943), one of the foremost installation artists of the Conceptual art period, is a founder of site-specific practice. Considered a progenitor of institutional critique, he spearheaded the creation of artworks imbued with a self-conscious awareness of their dependence on the conditions of their exhibition context.

In the work Kunsthalle Bern 1992, Asher removed the radiators from all the museum’s exhibition spaces and reassembled them in its entryway gallery. Metal pipes connected the relocated radiators to their original sockets; these tubular conduits, coursing in linear fashion along the Kunsthalle’s walls, kept the steam heat flowing and endowed the installation with directional lines of force. This “displacement of givens” offers a perfect example of site-specific practice, one that took the gallery space and the institution itself as its subject. In this detailed examination of Kunsthalle Bern 1992, Anne Rorimer considers the work in the context of Asher’s ongoing desire to fuse art with the material, economic, and social conditions of institutional presentation.

Rorimer analyzes Kunsthalle Bern 1992 in relation to the earlier innovations of such minimalist artists as Donald Judd, Carl Andre, Robert Morris, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and Dan Flavin as well as to such conceptualist contemporaries as Daniel Buren, Dan Graham, and Maria Nordman. She also considers the installation in the context of other works by Asher that have used non-art, functional elements, including walls, or that have investigated museological issues.

It may be time to forget the art world--or at least to recognize that a certain historical notion of the art world is in eclipse. Today, the art world spins on its axis so quickly that its maps can no longer be read; its borders blur. In Forgetting the Art World, Pamela Lee connects the current state of this world to globalization and its attendant controversies. Contemporary art has responded to globalization with images of movement and migration, borders and multitudes, but Lee looks beyond iconography to view globalization as a world process. Rather than think about the “global art world” as a socioeconomic phenomenon, or in terms of the imagery it stages and sponsors, Lee considers “the work of art’s world” as a medium through which globalization takes place. She argues that the work of art is itself both object and agent of globalization.

Lee explores the ways that art actualizes, iterates, or enables the processes of globalization, offering close readings of works by artists who have come to prominence in the last two decades. She examines the “just in time” managerial ethos of Takahashi Murakami; the production of ethereal spaces in Andreas Gursky’s images of contemporary markets and manufacture; the logic of immanent cause dramatized in Thomas Hirschhorn’s mixed-media displays; and the “pseudo-collectivism” in the contemporary practice of the Atlas Group, the Raqs Media Collective, and others.

To speak of “the work of art’s world,” Lee says, is to point to both the work of art’s mattering and its materialization, to understand the activity performed by the object as utterly continuous with the world it at once inhabits and creates.

New York Art Spaces, 1960-2010

This groundbreaking book--part exhibition catalogue, part cultural history--chronicles alternative art spaces in New York City since the 1960s. Developed from an exhibition of the same name at Exit Art, Alternative Histories documents more than 130 alternative spaces, groups, and projects, and the significant contributions these organizations have made to the aesthetic and social fabric of New York City. Alternative art spaces offer sites for experimentation for artists to innovate, perform, and exhibit outside the commercial gallery-and-museum circuit. In New York City, the development of alternative spaces was almost synonymous with the rise of the contemporary art scene. Beginning in the 1960s and early 1970s, it was within a network of alternative sites--including 112 Greene Street, The Kitchen, P.S.1, FOOD, and many others--that the work of young artists like Yvonne Rainer, Vito Acconci, Gordon Matta-Clark, Ana Mendieta, David Wojnarowicz, David Hammons, Adrian Piper, Martin Wong, Jimmie Durham, and dozens of other now familiar names first circulated.

Through interviews, photographs, essays, and archival material, Alternative Histories tells the story of such famous sites and organizations as Judson Memorial Church, Anthology Film Archives, A.I.R. Gallery, El Museo del Barrio, Franklin Furnace, and Eyebeam, as well as many less well-known sites and organizations. Essays by the exhibition curators and scholars, and excerpts of interviews with alternative space founders and staff, provide cultural and historical context.

Contributors
Jacki Apple, Papo Colo, Jeanette Ingberman, Melissa Rachleff, Lauren Rosati, Mary Anne Staniszewski, Herb Tam

Interviewees
Steve Cannon, Rhys Chatham, Peter Cramer and Jack Waters, Carol Goodden, Alanna Heiss, Bob Lee, Joe Lewis, Inverna Lockpez,
Ann Philbin, Anne Sherwood Pundyk and Karen Yama, Irving Sandler,
Adam Simon, Martha Wilson

The Art of Pierre Huyghe

Over the past two decades, French artist Pierre Huyghe has produced an extraordinary body of work in constant dialogue with temporality. Investigating the possibility of a hypothetical mode of timekeeping--“parallel presents”-- Huyghe has researched the architecture of the incomplete, directed a puppet opera, founded a temporary school, established a pirate television station, staged celebrations, scripted scenarios, and journeyed to Antarctica in search of a mythological penguin. In this first book-length art historical examination of Huyghe and his work, Amelia Barikin traces the artist’s continual negotiation with the time codes of contemporary society. Offering detailed analyses of Huyghe’s works and drawing on extensive interviews with Huyghe and his associates, Barikin finds in Huyghe’s projects an alternate way of thinking about history--a “topological historicity” that deprograms (or reprograms) temporal formats. Huyghe once said, “It is through the montage, the way we combine and relate images, that we can create a representation of an event that is perhaps more precise than the event itself.”
Barikin offers pioneering analyses of Huyghe’s lesser-known early works as well as sustained readings of later, critically acclaimed projects, including No Ghost Just a Shell (2000), L’Expédition scintillante (2002), and A Journey That Wasn’t (2005). She emphasizes Huyghe’s concepts of “freed time” and “the open present,” in which anything might happen.

Bringing together an eclectic array of subjects and characters--from moon walking to situationist practices, from Snow White to Gilles Deleuze--Parallel Presents offers a highly original account of the driving forces behind Huyghe’s work

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