(un)popular culture, Selena de Carvalho
The performance and installation (un)popular culture exposes a constructed and documented action using a séance smartphone app featuring a ‘medium’ attempting to make contact with ‘spirits from the other side’. Selena will attempt to make contact with the lost digital signal PAL (Phase Alternation Line rate) which was recently switch off Australia wide, prompting an influx of analogue Television sets being dumped nationally and the eradication of this signal.
Install shot (Aaron Horsley)
NAF:TMFC was formulated with the aim of extending kinship groups (revelry), critical discourse (theory) and participant’s hands-on skills-sets (practice). Artists worked with an experiential prototyping framework as a model for art-making. This approach is an active creative engagement that looks simultaneously at technology and the signs it produces. Experiential prototyping is a dynamic model embracing a playful attitude toward artistic production, championing the amateur in the realm of the professional. It advocates home-brewed methods for collective gain (think of self-organized digital literacy circles) and eschews hierarchical assignations of value2. The realization of this practice model was supported by access to a 24/7 tinker-studio/kitchen/gallery/library/chill-out room at Contemporary Art Tasmania, which allowed contributors (invited and self-motivated) to engage and experiment through informal dialogue. Eminent international media artists and thinkers were paired with eight early-career Tasmanian artists. This interaction resulted in Notorious R&D, an exhibition of work by the local artists inserted into the spatial and conceptual fabric of the pre-existing NAF:TMFC exhibition at Contemporary Art Tasmania.
Working within an experiential prototyping framework, performative presentations were a core element of the Notorious R&D program. Constructive peer-critique helped to mold and unfold anticipated audience responses to each artist’s work. Artists were asked to consider their work through;
Notorious R&D participant Nick Smithies constructed an aleatoric system prototype, Networked Sound Device 1.0, a chance-driven audio apparatus. In considering the topologies of networks and global flows and retention of data, he set out to explore what little control and understanding the typical end-user has of the process of data exchange. He writes:
Gaining direction from the NETworkshop, led by critical engineers Julian Oliver (NZ/GER) and Danja Vasiliev (RU/GER) (see fig #2 and 3) Smithies chose to focus on networked interaction rather than the ‘look and feel’ of the work as a starting point in the prototyping process. This approach provided insight into, and functional knowledge of, the emergent agency of computers. Computer-mediated communication and computer agents (script automation) were identified as key social actors and communicative partners in the human domain.
Benchmarking the Deranged, a performance lecture by artist and theoretician Rosa Menkman (NL) encapsulated experiential prototyping approaches to contemporary art practice as manifested across NAF:TMFC. Menkman’s practice focuses on the visual artefacts created by accidents in digital media. Her video scapes ‘are the result of glitches, compressions, feedback and other forms of noise.’ Although typically perceived as ‘negative experiences’, Menkman emphasises the ‘positive consequences’ of these properties.4
Menkman’s performance The Collapse of PAL (Eulogy, Obsequies and Requiem for the planes of blue phosphor) reflects on the PAL (Phase Alternation Line rate) signal and its termination.6 This broadcast format was recently switched off Australia wide and its eradication provoked widespread dumping of analogue Television sets (see figs. 05 & 06), not to mention a spate of nostalgic exhibitions fetishising the defunct signal.
Following a similar line of inquiry, Selena de Carvalho presented (un)popular culture, a work composed of two elements: a performance and an installation. In the former, the artist used a séance smartphone app, featuring a ‘medium’ attempting to make contact with ‘spirits from the other side’, in an attempt to make contact with the PAL television signal. In the installation component, which documented her experience at an electronics dumping ground, she responded to media ecologies embodied within the environment. This was framed through reference to ‘cargo cults’, a cultural ‘belief that various ritualistic acts will lead to a bestowing of material wealth (“cargo”)’, ‘to explor[e] the distance and the tension between technology and the voracious desire for technology’7. The work aspired to raise questions around our relationship with technology rather than formulate answers.
The experimental prototyping approach celebrates emerging artforms which are not premised on the ‘visual’ but none the less are often visually engaging, and whose abstract and not easily pinned down nature often sees them excluded from conventional exhibition platforms.8 In this way, experiential prototyping in a contemporary art context encourages the questioning of acquired responses and behaviors to artistic production and reception. For instance; it beckons an artistic understanding of the Internet as a cultural apparatus, where art can happen, rather than merely a platform for the presentation of existing work and a channel for self-promotion.9
A common theme that emerged during the event was an interest in and desire to regain control of technology. This deep and ongoing engagement with media design and its systems is a guiding principle of experiential prototyping. The prototype may occasionally bend and alter the very nature of the system it is embedded (and functions) within, generating unanticipated ripples and on-flows of influence far beyond the maker’s intent. The radical ethic of risk-taking that NAF:TMFC nurtured through this approach is distilled in a principle espoused by Linus Torvalds’ (winner of the Prix Ars Electronica Golden Nica for the operating system “Linux” in 1999) Torvalds insisted that, rather than treading lightly for fear of a crash, the error should be embraced as it carries with it an interrupt signal that is an extremely positive opportunity for thinking alternatively, if not radically. At the kernel of experiential prototyping, these ‘interrupts are not hidden’10.
Networked Art Forms and Tactical Magick Faerie Circuits ran from 31 May – 30 June 2013. The Notorious R&D exhibition was included as part of the MONA Dark MOFO 2013 programme. For more information, visit tacticalmagick.net or miss-hack.org.
1. WARP Magazine April 2013. p.15.
2. For a comprehensive article on detailing experience protoyping, within the industrial design worldfield, see; Buchenau, Marion and Suri, Jane Fulton. (2000) Experience Prototyping in DIS ’00 Proceedings of the 3rd conference on Designing interactive systems: processes, practices, methods, and techniques. New York : ACM. p 424-433.
3.Artwork textual correlation http://www.tacticalmagick.net/nicksmithies, accessed 11 September 2013
4.See more at: http://gli.tc/h/blog/author/rosa/, accessed 11 September 2013
5. Rosa Menkman, ‘Benchmarking the Deranged’ presentation abstract NETWORKED ART FORMS & TACTICAL MAGICK FAERIE CIRCUITS | 31/05 – 30/06 2013 http://www.tacticalmagick.net/rosamenkman, accessedCited 11 September 2013
6. http://rhizome.org/artbase/artwork/54452/, accessed 11 September 2013
7.Artwork textual correlationhttp://www.tacticalmagick.net/selenadecarvalho, accessed 11 September 2013
8. A pertinent article ‘The Push Pull Decade’ by Stephanie Britten, founder of Artlink, brings this optical centric habit of the contemporary visual art world to our attention; ‘Surprisingly the wider art-going public continues to prefer contemplating large paintings or objects of complex elaborated decoration in the hush of an art museum, the kinds of places where the quality controllers are thoroughly at home…less familiar modes such as work in the digital arena continue to be a small audience niche, underlining the need for magazines like Artlink, Art Monthly and others to continue to keep the conversation going about the reality of today, networked or otherwise, into the future.”’Artlink Australia,vol 30 no 4, 2010. http://www.artlink.com.au/articles/3535/the-push-pull-decade/, accessed 11 September 2013.
9. The conundrum is that recently visual artists have a propensity to uptake new technologies that are sometimes merely a response to consumer fetishism without the necessity to rethink culture and society. Florian Cramer discusses how ‘fine artists who create…white-cube installation works are the most avid networkers via blogs and social networks, more so than many net and media artists with their frequent reservations towards these systems. In sheer reader and posting quantity, e-flux for example has by far surpassed Nettime and all other net artistic mailing lists and has created a powerful network of artists, critics and curators. (2011;12). ‘Net Art Back to Square One’ in Nettitudes Let’s talk about Net Art by Josephine Bosma. Rotterdam Institute of Network Cultures; NAiPublishers.
10.Torvald, Linus (1991). Notes for linux release 0.01 http://ftp.funet.fi/pub/linux/historical/kernel/old-versions/RELNOTES-0.01, accessed 11 September 2013
Nancy Mauro-Flude is a Tasmanian interdisciplinary artist and theorist. Performativity, media experimentation and pedagogy form the basis of her work. Nancy draws on arcane hermetic traditions and computer hacker culture; linking spell casting to live performance and executable code in the form of performances and installations. She takes paraphernalia and transforms it, imbuing it with ‘renewed’ meaning. Mauro-Flude’s performance work most often involves computational machines where by touching their inner parts, she employs bespoke technologies. Nancy opens up systems in order to execute in unusual ways.
Published internationally in print and online, her work is commissioned, exhibited and performed in Australia, UK, Europe, North/South-America and Asia for events and venues including: Transmediale, Berlin; WORM, Rotterdam; ISEA 2013; Gallery Vermelho, Sao Paulo; Critical Path, Sydney; Artspace, Sydney, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery; CAT, Tasmania; Museum of New and Old Art MONA, Tasmania; HTMLles Festival of Digital Art and Culture, Montreal; Netherlands New Media Art Institute, Amsterdam; Brighton Digital Festival, UK; and STUK, Belgium.
She was been artist-in-residence at Somatic Movement Institute (2000-1); DasArts: advanced institute for theatre and dance Amsterdam School of Art (2001-4); Waag Society for New & Old Media (2003-5); and Museum Quartier, Vienna (2008). Nancy was awarded an MA in Media Design, Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam University of Applied Sciences (2007). In 2008 she was an Honorary Researcher at Slade School of Fine Art in Electronic Media, and is currently completing a PHD at the School of Art, University of Tasmania.
In 2013 Nancy received two major commissions for new work: Valetudo, a large-scale embroidered Vodou flag with an Augmented Reality level sewn into it, for the exhibition Testing Ground as part of the Ten Days on the Island Festival; and Is Starlight a WIFI Signal?, a telematic tableaux vivant performed between Darwin, Sydney and Hobart, produced for the International Symposium on Electronic Art 2013 in Sydney.
Under various pseudonyms she actively works to fuse radical forms of open culture with educational and social structures, with particular focus upon relatively conservative and weakly networked regions and communities.
Nancy co-founded Moddr avant creative-industrial complex/a medialab in Rotterdam and she is the International currency officer for Dyne, a free software foundry. As founder of Miss Despoinas Critical Engineering Space she, along with other events, has curated ~/encoding_experience/10_October_2008_18:00_EST.* at Plimsol Gallery, and Networked Art And Tactical Magick Faerie Circuits presented at CAT (2013) where artists, programmers and thinkers from the front line of the maker aesthetic engage with Local Tasmanian artists.
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