Tag Archives: Western Front

Terminal 4.0

For the final segment of the Terminal installation at Western Front in Vancouver, Canada, Terminal 4.0 reflects on the quality of sociability with social media sites. The web-based content for Terminal 4.0 is a social media platform entitled State of Exceptional Webnation that was built by a duo of artists. The platform is part of a larger critique concerning the saturation of image culture and media hyberbole with online communication. Jean-Paul Kelly’s essay, TERMINAL; INTERFACE is the first essay that was commissioned by Media Curator, Alison Collins for the Terminal project. His essay sets a reflective tone toward the progression of visual content and the future exchange with the current digital interface.

Kelly’s essay begins with the visual exploration of Op Art from the 1960’s and continues through the evolution of various media and art. The significance of reflecting on a fifty plus year time-period is meant to persuade the reader to heavily consider the progression of the visual style of abstraction. Abstraction tends to be categorized from the modernist movement with concepts related to autonomy. An example that established the abstraction style would be artists breaking away from the European taste of art and culture in the early 20th Century. Within art history studies it is commonly known that there are cycles within each century that artists have broken away from some sort of established institutionalized visual paradigm.

Screenshot of Terminal 4.0 Jean-Paul Kelly's 2016 Facebook Post on Western Front website April 2017

Through my observation of Terminal 1, 2, and 3 it has been demonstrated how new media has been part of the shift of analyzing the visual language of art. Kelly’s essay references previous critiques of Op Art and examples from contemporary art to argue that abstraction is not a neutral visual. He continues by stating at the end of his essay that these works of art cannot be singularly analyzed by a formal visual analysis. This is a technique to interpret visual information (artwork) into written words by utilizing methods of observation from the visual elements and principles of the image’s composition. Kelly’s argument implies that abstraction is not neutral because viewing art in this manner corrupts the viewer’s exchange with emotions, along with social and political concepts.

The ending of Kelly’s essay is what led me to think about the current digital interface of social media sites. I asked myself the question, “What does the future look like with the progression of ideas toward the activation of individualized social exchange in a very crowded Cyberspace?” In addition, I reflected on Collins’ references to social media in her introduction of Terminal 4.0. The first example from Collins is her recent experience at a Canada Council summit that had an emphasis on the promotion of utilizing the digital within the art community. She also reminds the reader of the corporate influences that have a hand in the Internet’s future with the quality of sociability. This aspect of the Internet is a current turning point for social media concerning net neutrality rules and censorship. Taking all these elements of Terminal 4.0 into consideration and the understanding that digital media transitions are at a quicker pace than the traditional fine art mediums, I have posed an ending question for my four part blog series on Terminal: Is there currently another cycle of artist’s breaking away from the now standardized digital format related to the Internet?

Time will reveal the next cycle of modern and/ or post-modern movements. To continue with our observations of the digital within contemporary art, I believe Collins states it best in her introduction. “Visual research is ongoing, where the surface and image are intermixed with other forms of content, both visible and hidden.”

 

References:

Collins, A. (2017) Introduction for Terminal 4.0 [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed April 3, 2017].

Kelly, J. (2017) TERMINAL; INTERFACE [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed April 3, 2017].

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/29/opinion/sunday/fcc-invokes-internet-freedom-while-trying-to-kill-it.html?action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=opinion-c-col-left-region&region=opinion-c-col-left-region&WT.nav=opinion-c-col-left-region&_r=1  [Accessed April 29, 2017].

By: Carrie Ida Edinger

Carrie’s interest with new media is in interdisciplinary methods and the use of the Internet as a presentation site for evolving contemporary projects.

Terminal 3.0

Following the lineage of Terminal 1.0 and 2.0, Cyberspace is explored in Terminal 3.0 from a social and cultural context. The web-based content is a collection of essays that relate to network-based art and an active chat room for the duration of the exhibition.

The chat room gives the online viewers an opportunity to interact with the Western Front New Media Curator, Alison Collins. Collins mentions at the end of her Terminal 3.0 introduction that she can be found lingering intermittently in the #westernfront chat room. I did take the time to choose a nickname for logging in and posted a short message. Since our time zones are on the opposite coasts of North America, Collins and I did not have a chance to have a live chat via the portal.

Screenshot of Terminal 3.0 Chat Room on Western Front website February 2017

This inclusion of the chat room was a perfect interactive media addition to the Terminal 3.0 webpage, since CyberPowWow (CPW) no longer has those active online features. CPW began in the mid 1990’s and was a platform for network-based art made by Indigenous artists. Mikhel Proulx essay, CyberPowWow: Digital Natives and the Early Internet, outlines the network conditions of the group of artist’s who launched CPW, along with the rhetoric surrounding the global communication network.

I have not experienced the original online version of CPW. My perspective is from Proulx’s essay, the accompanying images of the artist’s web-based projects, along with browsing the online writing and works index. I consider Terminal 3.0 as a web-based reading room with its digital library. To get a little more insight of the cultural impact of CPW, I kept coming back to the site and reviewing the essays.

CPW network based-art and related events were on a biennial schedule for 8 years. Instead of confining the artist work to the website, the project also had “gathering-sites.” These gathering-sites would be at physical locations such as artist run centers in North America. The gatherings included a gallery opening and on-site computer stations to encourage engagement with the online version of CPW. In addition, there were tech-savvy gallery assistants to aid with the visitors personal Cyberspace experience. From my perspective of the readings, the events from CPW are what created the solid foundations for its longevity and outreach.

From Collins’ introduction she highlights how the Internet has had an impact on the evolutionary process of the social sphere. This includes concepts with social practice that are related to the engagement of people through the communicational modes of machines. CPW embodied this evolution of the Internet and social practice, but by considering the current state of the digital divide the project reached a presence beyond Cyberspace. The CPW artist’s awareness of the global network system social and cultural standing within the specific time-period (mid-1990’s) is one of the main aspects to their progress with the engagement of their viewers with the networked-based art.

This is outline in Proulx’s essay, which notates the digital divide as having limited accessibility to the Internet. A few examples that are included in the digital gap are a lower social economic background and the placement of Indigenous land in remote geographical locations that can be very far from fibre-optic cable areas. Proulx continues by referencing other early Internet social aspects from the mid 1990’s time-period; Cyberspace was less populated and it was not the norm for the majority to own a personal computer. The active engagement from the CPW gathering sites that responded to computer literacy and hands on experience with navigating the Web-based platform was effective in the early Internet stages of this networked-based art, because the viewers had the opportunity to be exposed to a distinct culture in an experimental collective environment.

Intentionally, my post does not mention the artwork and Indigenous background related to the CyberPowWow. I suggest browsing the online writing index from each biennial and the online works index published via links on the Terminal 3.0 webpage. From my online experience, this is the best exposure to the various stages and voices related to CyberPowWow. As a starting point from my view of physical sites and Cyberspace, I recommend Jolene Rickard’s First Nation Territory in Cyber Space Declared: No Treaties Needed, which is in the CyberPowWow 2 section of the online writing index category.

References:

Collins, A. (2017) Introduction for Terminal 3.0 [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed January 22, 2017].

Proulx, M. (2017) CyberPowWow: Digital Natives and the Early Internet [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed January 22, 2017].

 

By: Carrie Ida Edinger

Carrie’s interest with new media is in interdisciplinary methods and the use of the Internet as a presentation site for evolving contemporary projects.

Terminal 2.0

This second part of my four part Hub blog series continues to discuss my singular interface experience of the Western Front’s virtual space of Terminal. Terminal 2.0 is a web presence that considers the impact of graphical user interfaces (GUI’s) on the progression of artists' creative processes. In the early 1980’s, GUI’s offered a user-friendly visual means of making the operation of personal computers more accessible. These types of visuals are usually in the form of graphic icons or menus. The transition of computer operations from command-line interfaces to point and click devices transformed the manipulation and processing of imagery.

Commodore Amiga 1000 personal computer with 1081 RGB monitor. (1985) Photo Courtsy of Creative Commons Attributions, Kaiiv

Commodore Amiga 1000 personal computer with 1081 RGB monitor. (1985) Photo Courtsy of Creative Commons Attributions, Kaiiv

The web presence of Terminal 2.0 consists of computer animations by artists Barry Doupé and Amy Lockhart, along with Clint Enns’ text, Nostalgia for the Digital Revolution: Interfacing with Obsolescence. The Amiga personal computer that was sold by Commodore as a ‘multi-media’ machine is the focus of Terminal 2.0. The personal computer era from the 1980’s and 90’s was a technological phase that influenced digital drawing and animation. Clint Enns’ text illustrates the historical and technological influences on digital tools that are utilized today with personal computers. With these insights, Enns also includes the relevance of nostalgia toward this style of digital imagery and the devices that enabled it.

Doupé and Lockhart’s animations have a sense of nostalgia. Doupé’s Vhery visually presents an abstract manner of drawing, but progresses traditional drawing techniques by pairing them with digital animated movement and “techno” sound. Lockhart’s Amiga Shorts presents the sense of nostalgia by indicating to the viewer that her digital animation was created with an Amiga Emulator. An emulator offers the ability to obtain a specific style by simulating obsolete equipment and software. Both animations embody an early experimental approach to digital imagery. The bright color palette and pixelated edges of the 2D forms indicate some of the limits present in early stages of painting and drawing software.

I grew up during this time-period (1980’s – 1990’s) and have my own sense of nostalgia toward this style of digital imagery. With the progression of digital imagery and my own fine art study from the early 1990’s, I can relate to the nostalgic accessibility of obsolete software. Because of my work with current software, I can also relate to the progression of Photoshop that has enhanced my ability to digitally refine imagery. I remember an undergraduate design course that included a painting program in the curriculum. These software options were offered as part of the course to stimulate critical thinking around the use of digital imagery and to make these tools accessible for students to utilize in future projects.

Looking back on that course, I realize that the inclusion of the painting software offered an inkling of how to work in the “now”. I define “working in the now” as an artist working with a current technological means to create art. Considering the exploration of Clint Enns’ essay and accompanying videos, below are two examples of artists that created work with the media available at the time. Each example is accompanied by a video that documents the artist’s perspective.

John K. Ball’s The Artist and the Computer, a 1976 documentary about experimental filmmaker Lillian Schwartz, explores Schwartz's experience working with a Bell Telephone Laboratory engineer to produce some of the earliest computer animations. Approximately a decade later, Andy Warhol used the Amiga 1000 to push the boundaries of the portrait further. Watching Warhol’s ease-of-use with the early 1980’s GUI’s offers a move away from complicated technological notions of the creative process. The decade’s difference in videos visually depicts the "user-friendly" options of a personal computer to an artist collaboration with technicians with specialized computers.

Screen Shot of Terminal 2.0 Graphical User Interface on Western Front website November 2016

Screen Shot of Terminal 2.0 Graphical User Interface on Western Front website November 2016

Because of my own background with fine art printmaking, I can’t help but consider Warhol’s foundations in graphic arts and print in relation to this digital work.  Walter Benjamin's The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility investigates the cultural influence of media and art.  Benjamin's essay refers to the condition of media production by considering chronological print history (woodcut, moveable type, lithography) and how print was surpassed by photography in pictorial reproduction. Benjamin includes artists' tasks within his discussion of media production. His argument is that photography relies primarily upon the eye to create an image. The succession of media has freed the artist’s hand from manual tasks, especially drawing. Benjamin’s 1930’s perspective of the human relationship to the acceleration of technological processes comes full circle with the specific working tasks and digital tools of Schwartz and Warhol. Benjamin’s argument is that “the eye perceives more swiftly than the hand can draw.”  The computer brings a quicker speed of production to Benjamin's condition of media production, while the computer's capabilities of restoring and remembering an artist process bring the eye and the hand back together for the artists tasks.

This is particularly demonstrated with Schwartz using a light pen in the production of her animations. The Amiga 1000 and the early 1980’s GUI’s bring the concept of “point and click” to the ways in which hand and eye relate in the process of creating imagery. While these late 20th Century technologies do bring back some sense of physicality to artists' tasks, Lillian Schwartz describes her experience of using a light pen in detail in the documentary. She considers the physicality of working with a digital tool, but relates the task back to the movement of painting or creating visual gestures. Schwartz states in the video that the only thing missing in this process is the smell of the paint.

I view Schwartz’s remark as a moment of nostalgia in relation to a traditional art medium with her loss of the sense of smell in the digital process. Enns’ final section of his essay, Dead Media: Emulating Nostalgia offers these technological and nostalgic ideals toward obsolete equipment and imagery. While I have only hinted at a sense of nostalgia with my time spent with Terminal 2.0., Enns’ essay and accompanying media increased my sense of wistfulness toward the progression of media as it is used within the creative process.

REFERENCES

Benjamin, W. “The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility: Second Version” in The Work of Art in the Age of its Technological Reproducibility and Other Writings on Media, Eds. Jennings, M., Doherty, B. and Levin, T., Translators Jephcott, E., Livingstone, R., Eiland, H., and others. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA, 2008.

Enns, C. (2016) Nostalgic for the Digital Revolution: Interfacing with Obsolescence [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed November 10, 2016].

Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2011) Walter Benjamin [Internet] The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University. Available from: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/benjamin/ [Accessed November 30, 2016].

Terminal 1.0 Part One NMC Hub blog series

By: Carrie Ida Edinger

Carrie’s interest with new media is in interdisciplinary methods and the use of the Internet as a presentation site for evolving contemporary projects.

Terminal 1.0

My curiosity began with an animated, vintage flashing square cursor next to the title Terminal 1.0. Terminal is an installation project at Western Front in Vancouver, Canada. The installation project examines single-user interfaces, along with how technology influences the adaptation of new artistic forms. My mini blog series will follow the four-part installation project through 2017.

Media Curator, Allison Collins has curated the project so that it occupies two available spaces, one physical and one virtual. In our email exchange Collins described the physical location, “The on-site element of the project repurposes an under-used space in the Western Front building, to deliberately offer an alternative to installing a computer into a traditional exhibition space. It allows for a single user to access an intimate experience of a work created to take place on a machine.”

bp Nichol, First Screening, 1984 Photo credit : Ben Wilson

bp Nichol, First Screening, 1984 Photo credit : Ben Wilson

I asked Collins about her specific curation methods for Terminal. She stated, “The methodology was one of pairing and contrasting the possibilities for accurately conveying artworks within those two spaces.” With these methods she considered what the project addressed, which was the user-experience of the computer. What brought together these two different spaces were both the experience of artists who utilize computers to create and the viewers of the computer-based artist works. This is how her curation methodology necessitates thinking about the virtual and physical spaces as separate experiences.

Collins has navigated the different spaces to inquire with an audience for viewing a specific work on-site and other work online. Since she curated the project in Vancouver and I reside on the East Coast of the United States, my text will present the single-user experience from online viewing. The first installation is entitled Terminal 1.0 Programmed Poetry. It considers language within the broader investigations of the overall installation project. The artist and two poets presented on the webpage utilize text, while the written format was modified from a specific technological time-period. This not only demonstrates the experimental process from the 1960’s era to now, but also offers insight to how artists and poets from the Vancouver area had a role in influencing theses specific processes.

From my singular interface experience, I immediately noticed how the curation of the digital content runs parallel with the context of the selected work. The acts of composing text, distributing and reinterpreting language can be distinguished within the curation process. I have observed this by the multimedia choices of text, audio and video. These multimedia elements refer back to Collins’ curatorial selections, made specifically for the virtual space.

terminal1_screenshot

Screen Shot of Terminal 1.0 Programmed Poetry on Western Front website October 2016

Collins’ text, Media Poetics: The Cut, The Context and The Cute, offers the viewer an opportunity to have a detailed insight that reaches beyond the technical elements of a computer-based work. The inclusion of social and cultural aspects of the artist creative process offers a broader depiction to the progression with technology, along with the impact the medium had for contemporary experimentation. The text depicts this with the work of each poet and artist.

Programmed Poetry regards the human element from the creative process with technology. In 1966 Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.) was formed and was based in New York City. The first large project that E.A.T. is known for is Nine Evenings. The electrical engineer at the forefront of the movement E.A.T., Billy Kluver acknowledges, from a 1995 interview with Garnet Hertz, that from his experience with E.A.T. he recognized that involvement of artists with technology has introduced a more humanizing element with the collaborative projects. Kluver’s assessment is derived from his matching of artist’s projects with knowledge from engineers. Part of his evaluation suggests that the artists brought situations to the standards of technology that were not in an engineer’s everyday routine concerning rational problems. Kluver believes the questions raised by artists concerning the use of technology brought the engineers and the technology from that time-period closer to humanity.

Programmed Poetry examines single-user interfaces from poets and artists and their own technological knowledge rather than a specific collaboration between artist and engineer. Poet, bpNichol transformed language and the viewer’s engagement with basic code. In the early 1980’s, a period of technological evolution where computers became affordable and portable, the Apple IIe was accessible on a consumer scale. bpNichol utilized the Apple BASIC programming language to animate, communicate and distribute his twelve kinetic poems, First Screening. He extends the context of code by embedding the virtual accessibility of two of the twelve poems on a 5.25 inch floppy disc that was in an edition of 100. The viewer would have needed to be code savvy to activate the text-based digital animation with the BASIC command (RUN 1748-). Reading Collins’ text reveals the human element of bpNichol’s creative process with code, which was by placing puns and language tricks to play on the commands of the program for the curious viewer. She does acknowledge bpNichol’s perspective of handling code as a space for the invitation of user interaction.

Crossing disciplinary boundaries in the 21st Century is artist and poet Tiziana La Melia. Viewing the Eyelash and the Monochrome images on the webpage, I relate back to the concept of “the cut” with the direct collage composition of each print. The two spaces La Melia is inquiring with are from the software of Word’s virtual page and the visual art space of the image plane. The Eyelash and the Monochrome image titles that begin with (Spread 1) (Spread 2) persuade my thinking of how many variations there could be of these prints. Collins’ text and the image titles inform me that La Melia’s working progress has direct links to the computer. It comes from the input of composing text and output of printed objects. In a broader context, La Melia’s project resonates with the current single-user interface by creating the unlimited ability to reinterpret content and the various transmission methods.

screenshotterminal_lemelia

Screen Shot from Terminal 1.0 Programmed Poetry of Tiziana La Melia, The Eyelash and the Monochrome on Western Front website October 2016

My intimate viewing via the Internet had the curation structure and multimedia elements aiding in my interpretation of the time-periods and specific works. The obvious limit is being absent from the physical object or moment of experiencing the physical site of Terminal 1.0. Even though I haven’t physically seen bpNichol’s First Screening run on an Apple IIe, or stood in front of Tiziana La Melia prints, I was able to mentally engage with the physical aspects of these works by invitation of Collins’ text. I do not see that I am completely missing out on the physical site, because Programmed Poetry occupies two available spaces and I experienced the work in the virtual space. The virtual space, similar to the context of the works and the curation of Programmed Poetry, has transformed the language of experiencing installation projects.

 

REFERENCES

Collins, A. (2016) Media Poetics: The Cut, The Context and The Cute [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://terminal.front.bc.ca/ [Accessed September 10, 2016].

Hertz, G. (1995) The Godfather of Technology and Art: An interview with Billy Kluver [Internet], Vancouver, Canada. Available from: http://www.conceptlab.com/interviews/kluver.html [Accessed July 10, 2013].

By: Carrie Ida Edinger

Carrie’s interest with new media is in interdisciplinary methods and the use of the Internet as a presentation site for evolving contemporary projects.