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The Arts

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Art and Conflict in the 21st Century
Edited by Peter Weibel

Today political protest often takes the form of spontaneous, noninstitutional, mass action. Mass protests during the Arab Spring showed that established systems of power—in that case, the reciprocal support among Arab dictators and Western democracies—can be interrupted, at least for a short moment in history. These new activist movements often use online media to spread their message. Mass demonstrations from Tahrir Square in Cairo to Taksim Square in Istanbul show the power of networked communication to fuel “performative democracy”—at the center of which stands the global citizen.

An Alternative Space for Art

During the 1960s and 1970s, magazines became an important new site of artistic practice, functioning as an alternative exhibition space for the dematerialized practices of conceptual art. Artists created works expressly for these mass-produced, hand-editioned pages, using the ephemerality and the materiality of the magazine to challenge the conventions of both artistic medium and gallery.

Inventing the Singular

Yayoi Kusama is the most famous artist to emerge from Japan in the period following World War II. Part of a burgeoning international art scene in the early 1960s, she exhibited in New York with Andy Warhol, Donald Judd, Claes Oldenburg, and other Pop and Minimalist luminaries, and in Europe with the Dutch Nul and the German Zero artist groups. Known for repetitive patterns, sewn soft sculptures, naked performance, and suggestive content, Kusama’s work anticipated the politically charged feminist art of the 1970s.

A Pataphysical Life

When Alfred Jarry died in 1907 at the age of thirty-four, he was a legendary figure in Paris—but this had more to do with his bohemian lifestyle and scandalous behavior than his literary achievements. A century later, Jarry is firmly established as one of the leading figures of the artistic avant-garde.

To photograph storm-tossed waves during a hurricane, Clifford Ross goes into the surf himself, deploying a wetsuit, flotation vest, and a rope that tethers him to his assistant back on the beach. The result is a series of stunningly dramatic black and white photographs that are among Ross’s best-known works. This book collects for the first time the entire “Hurricane Waves” series (begun in 1996), presenting black and white tri-tone images of all eighty-four of the “Hurricane Waves” in the series, along with detailed close ups, and historical color images.

The Lifeworks of Tehching Hsieh

In the vibrant downtown Manhattan art scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Taiwanese-American artist Tehching Hsieh made a series of extraordinary performance art works. Between September 1978 and July 1986, Hsieh realized five separate one-year-long performance pieces in which he conformed to simple but highly restrictive rules throughout each entire year.

Bell Labs, the S-C 4020, and the Origins of Computer Art

In 1959, the electronics manufacturer Stromberg-Carlson produced the S-C 4020, a device that allowed mainframe computers to present and preserve images. In the mainframe era, the output of text and image was quite literally peripheral; the S-C 4020—a strange and elaborate apparatus, with a cathode ray screen, a tape deck, a buffer unit, a film camera, and a photo-paper camera—produced most of the computer graphics of the late 1950s and early 1960s. At Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, the S-C 4020 became a crucial part of ongoing encounters among art, science, and technology.

Weimar, Dessau, Berlin, Chicago

Bauhaus has established itself with designers and architects as a standard work and the most comprehensive collection of documents and visual material ever published on this famous school of design. Now this definitive work on Bauhaus is available again in a boxed hardcover edition.

The Language of Human Movement

In Motion and Representation, Nicolás Salazar Sutil considers the representation of human motion through languages of movement and technological mediation. He argues that technology transforms the representation of movement and that representation in turn transforms the way we move and what we understand to be movement. Humans communicate through movement, physically and mentally.

Architecture and Aurality

In Auditions, Rob Stone proposes a new and transformative view of architecture and sound. He offers a radical rethinking of the inhabitation of architectural space in terms of its acoustic dimensions, presenting a concept of aurality as an active, speculative, yet conditional understanding of the complexity of social spaces. The aural architectures he discusses are assembled from elements of architecture and music—including works by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and John Cage—but also from imagined spaces and other kinds of less obviously musical sounds.

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