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Saturday, Jan. 28 is the last day of "Breaking and Entering: Art and the Videogame" at PaceWildenstein. Planning to go later today; have held off for two reasons: (1) really more interested in videogames for the music and the visual shortcuts than thinking about them as an art movement; and (2) For blue chip PaceWildenstein, final resting place for nearly-dead canonical artists, to jump on this particular bandwagon is a bit like watching your pot-bellied, combed-over high school chemistry teacher "krumping."
But I want to see the Cory Arcangel installation above: that image looks drop dead gorgeous to me, and I can't believe the artnet reviewer's mildly sniping take on this.
The normally dynamic Cory Arcangel offers a large, static projection of a video game fighter jet and clouds to complement a primitive "found video game" displayed on a small portable laptop. Titled Bomb Iraq, the game depicts a crudely drawn bomb that the user can bring nearer to an outline of Iraq by pressing the arrow keys. Its inclusion is fine as a document of America’s meat-headed relation to the Middle East, but does nothing interesting with it -- except to prove that video games can be used as found objects just like everything else."A static projection of a video and clouds"? Hello, mural painting? James Rosenquist's F-111, maybe? And would it be worth mentioning that the laptop game, originally found on a Mac in a garage sale (see GIF below for a taste), dates to the first Gulf War? That's fifteen years of meat-headedness! Arcangel's pretty post-found object, I'd say. Is this bit of brain-damaged DIY propaganda really in the same category as the arch, Francophone disquisition of say, a Duchamp snow shovel? Perhaps, considered with the wall mural, it's actually a straight-up political statement, reportage from the frontiers of TV-addled suburbia. Maybe when I see the work I won't wonder about any of this. If I'm wrong I'll fess up.
The artnet article by Ben Davis, about current tech art, is otherwise good: it covers Dorkbot and the Superlowrez show at vertexList, in addition to "Breaking and Entering." I like what he said about the inclusive, curious spirit of Dorkbot as opposed to the regular art world's closed-mouth competitiveness (my phrasing). More about that in a later post.
Update: Just saw the show and the Arcangel piece is definitely not "static": the clouds scroll and the jet engines shoot bitchin' flames (that move). One good thing about nearly-dead canonical artists is they generate lots of cash to throw at artist projects. Paper Rad's hyperkinetic video was especially effective in a museum-scale installation. And Jon Haddock's real-world tragedy Sims illustrations looked much better in a huge wall-sized grid than the scattering that were in the Whitney's "BitStreams" show. I was feeling kind of bad about the comb-over reference till I got to the gallery and was met at the door by a big security guard, who lurked not so discreetly while I was looking at the show. Stuffy atmosphere or what?
Update 2: Changed "rich, near-dead white guys" to "nearly-dead canonical artists" since this whole videogame art trend, at least as represented at Pace, while arguably youthful, is very white. I'm keeping the krumping reference because it captures the scene-killing absurdity of what Pace tried to do here.
I have low hopes for V for Vendetta, since Alan Moore comic adaptations to film haven't been good so far, and he's disowned this one. The Wachowsis have some balls, though--this is about a terrorist blowing up buildings in a near-futuristic but Thatcher-like England. It's a really unsettling comic.
Some information about stopping the appointment of Samuel "Mr. White Male Resentment" Alito to the highest court in the land here. The info is already pretty dated but you can use the site to look up your Senators' Capital Hill phone numbers, so you can call them and urge them to filibuster the bastard. That would keep the vote open, possibly shame some Republican "moderates" into voting "no," and at the very least express of the will of, um, the majority of Americans. Remind the Senators that Bush's poll numbers are really, really low now, which means that they don't have to be fwightened of him any more. Offer a spinal transplant to those weak moFos.
"The toroids are exhibiting sexual behavior! Everyone thought they were inanimate! Better get over here quick and look; the images are starting to break up." (Channeling Michael Crichton. Math GIF via Jim and Eyebeam.)
"Scratch Infusion" [mp3 removed]. Move over, Chemical Brothers. Oh, wait, they already did.
"Scratch Infusion (Electro Vers.)" [mp3 removed]. The original tune.
Blogger Paddy Johnson is correct that the heavies would not be paying attention to Ellen Altfest's semi-photoreal paintings if she were showing at a 57th Street-style gallery like Fishbach or (the late?) Tatistcheff, instead of the Williamsburg-to-Chelsea transplant Bellwether. Finally made it over to see this "hot still life show," the last day, and did find most of the canvases to be rather dully rendered snapshots of cacti, etc. The best paintings were the ones without clearly delineated subject matter--a log, a lump of driftwood, and above, a piece titled Gourd--bulging with near-Gothic accumulations of detail. The vegetable matter appears far gone in a warty state somewhere between advanced decay and an ergot-induced fever dream (Jim, in the comments, thinks it looks like a peyote button). One hyper-rotted urban interior recalled Chicago visionary Ivan Albright's work. Wish there were more of those. Looks like Altfest spent a lot of time on the work, and since the show is a "hit," expect her to be under a lot of pressure now to speed the heck up. Will she succumb? Hire assistants? Stay tuned for part two: "The Sophomore Show." (Actually this is her sophomore show, whatever.)
Update: Continuing to think about the "peyote button" interpretation. This may be that rarest of instances where an artist took the sow's ear of an inability to convincingly render volume and turned it into a silk purse of ultimate psychedelic credibility.