[-empyre-] Re: Interventions
Thank you, I'm flattered by your reaction/thoughts on Dentimundo. Yes
ease of use and bandwidth were primary concerns due to my hope of having
an audience from south of the US border. Yes I also seeked for
Dentimundo to be inline with the mission of inSite by presenting a study
of a socio-economic reality that exists due to the border. Ideally the
site may be used by people looking for cheap dental care.
In so far as the intervention project "The Jewel/In God We Trust" by
Joao Louro, although I agree with you that the piece carries
postcolonial mentality, in doing so it investigates economic realities
that divide the US and Mexico. And I should point out that proceeds
from the auction of the junked golden car as sculpture "will be given to
an elementary school in Tijuana and used to support visual art workshops
for children, where students will be encouraged to add further layers of
imagery to the paper money." So the end users are not the auction
participants but rather the children at this Mexican elementary school.
I consider the project an interesting investigation into the exchange
of capital - a European car with a California license plate, junked in
Tijuana, painted in gold in Tijuana, transported to San Diego and
auctioned as art, and the money from the auction returned to Tijuana
where the object was abandoned.
I attended the silent auction of this piece and was amazed at the
opulence of this private party held at a large home in LaJolla of a San
Diego Museum's board member. This opulence in general is not surprising
as it is the world of the Art collectors, museum board members and the
upper echelons of the Art World; it only becomes perplexing when
considered along side the issues revolving around the theme of the
exhibition - the border culture between San Diego and Tijuana.
For the most part, I believe that the artists participating in the
interventions made an effort to consider the poverty that exists in
Tijuana and even seeked to create projects that in some way gave
something in return to a Tijuanese community, be it money for the arts
to an elementary school, water and a model for solar water purification,
aesthetic improvement of an overlooked bridge
(http://www.dentimundo.com/exhibition/insite3.html)... And in general,
I like to believe that artists seek to be socially conscious, a belief
that I don't necessarily share for the collectors and board members,
where wealth can skew perspective.
I'm going to take a Robert Smithson quote out of context as he critiques
museum/gallery exhibition and apply it to a significant problem with New
Media curating in the US:
"Cultural confinement takes place when a curator imposes his own limits
on an art exhibition, rather than asking an artist to set his limits.
Artists are expected to fit into fraudulent categories."
As an online artist I hit this wall when I was told by inSite that my
project could only exist on the network and could not have a physical
aspect (at least not as part of inSite). I chalked this upto inSite's
short sightedness insofar as online work, but this lack of insight I
believe is common amongst art institiutions in the United States.
When I attended a panel discussion by inSite Intervention artists, I
learned that some had used the web as a major component in their
projects. They were not told that they could not use the network and
that their projects must only exist in the public physical space. So
perhaps the inSite organizers may now see that the network is a
component of public life, not a separate element...
With that note, I'd like to reconsider some of the questions posed in
the introduction for this month's discussion:
Is the net a vast ?no-man?s-land,? a border-free zone contiguous to
every place but specific to none? Or does the net re-enact the politics
of physical geography, with its own border policies and politics of
exclusion, recognition and reciprocity? Is it possible for new media
artists to activate the net for the staging of projects responsible and
responsive to communities that fall between legitimized power sectors,
and if so how?
> Ricardo, Angel, and empyreans,
> Exploring your project, Ricardo, on a formal level, I am struck by
how you use the conventions of comic book illustration and talking heads
(kind of a reversal of Nick at Night's PopUp Videos derived from the
Brady Bunch reruns).
> So that you force into a tight juxtaposition the fact based
documentary, the Q and A, with a really direct GUI design that probably
runs well on 56k. I've always loved the apparent artlessness of your
online work, its really flat out, no frills, no bullshit interface.
Certainly this interface itself is an expression of the Tijuana Calling
theme, because your minimal style is super accessible both artistically
and in terms of bandwith; as you write below,
> "The guests gathered this month have concerned themselves with
translation and issues surrounding the shrinkage of our world through
technology and communication."
> And further, this rigorously transparent graphic interface seems to be
as flat out a gesture as the sculptural and site specific graphic
installations among the mainstream projects at the TJ/SD border--I am
reacting especially to The Jewel, where the trashed car is 'gold plated'
, ---- not only an homage to Jeff Koons (think "La Ciccolina" ), but
more subtlely, like your interface of really basic sort of old school
superhero comic book talking faces (the Tijuana dentists as superheroes)
, a very basic pop skin or layer (the 'gold' ) -- in order to create an
interesting displacement, or maybe you could call it an
elision/breakpoint/breakdown so that something can be seen freshly and
vividly. The hidden aspects of economic exchange that cross the border
expose themselves through the interface. In the case of the sculpture,
'The Jewel", its finale is germane: it will be auctioned off to wealthy
Californians after its installation! Rags to Riches. In "Dentimundo"
the frank remarks of the dentist Dr. Felix, for example, expose the
desire for personal service for which the Californians are willing to
pay and sustain <http://www.dentimundo.com/interviews.php>. And yet your
work goes much further in this border crossing, than the sculpture "Jewel".
> "Jewel" somehow feels like it still relies on a postcolonial mentality
on the part of the audience or, in the end, 'user' (the auction
participant); whereas your work rigorously ignores difference. Just
intuitively moving along here, but I sense that the interface for
"Dentimundo", and the method of communication, assumes nothing about the
user/audience, except that they have low bandwith access at least.
There's no performance gesture at the end of the installation, as with
"Jewel", whose end may be viewed in light of its cynical absorption into
a staple of contemporary art collecting -- the auction. In your work,
the performance itself is in "Dentimundo": it is itself a site study,
and doesnt rely on a gesture beyond itself to succeed as a
communication. In this respect I think" Dentimundo" couldn't be more
spot on to the stated intent of InSite, to begin with.
> Maybe, one wonders, the transparency in "Dentimundo", or perhaps we
should say, "white! bright! perfect smile!" makes it hard for InSite to
know what to do with it. ( Otherwise, if it didn't, "Dentimundo" ,
via a really obscure link in a corner of your HTML, could have a
sinister function as a Pay Pal enabled site for sales of gold from
teeth?? -- a Swiftian modest proposal to be sure!). You don't want to
make out with the audience in a series of Koons-oid moments or photo ops
here (as "Jewel" might). Your works insists on being taken straight up.
> Thoughts, riffs on this?
> For inSite05, the organizers decided to include an online component for
> the first time - "Tijuana Calling" and invited Mark Tribe as curator.
> Two of this month's empyre guests are participating in the online
> exhibition - Angel Nevarez and myself. Links to Tijuana Calling are at:
> The Interventions' artists were given two years and four residencies to
> develop their projects along with substantial budgets. The online
> artists were invited onto the exhibition with less than a year before
> the opening, were brought to San Diego once for a three day weekend as
> an introduction. Needless to say, it felt as if I had entered the New
> Media ghetto - a side show or after-thought for a large-scale exhibition
> in which the organizers thought "hmmm, there's this Internet Art thing
> going on, perhaps we should include it this time around, it may
> eventually be of consequence..."
> This seemed apparent at first, however once I began my investigation and
> spent time in Tijuana and requested help from the inSite crew, they were
> incredibly helpful and even gave me an apartment to stay for a two week
> period in Tijuana. However, this only happened, because I requested
> help that they had not thought necessary for online projects.
> Exhibitions such as inSite05 are riddled with questions and problems
> that have been in discussion for quite a while now - such as what is the
> responsibility of artists when invited to a site specific exhibition
> that s/he may have no relation to... This same question may be further
> complicated by the use of the Internet as a creative medium when
> associated to site specificity and the online translation of culture -
> as posed in the introduction for this month's discussion. The guests
> gathered this month have concerned themselves with translation and
> issues surrounding the shrinkage of our world through technology and
> communication. inSite05 is merely one instance.
> empyre forum
ricardo miranda zuñiga
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