[-empyre-] Introductory Post

Michael Maizels michael.maizels at gmail.com
Thu Jul 30 07:11:17 AEST 2015

I am coming at this discussion from a particular vantage point in my
personal as well as scholarly life. For the first time, I am having regular
trouble sleeping. While the sources of this issue are variable—some
addressable, some not—this new development has led me reflect on the ways
in which sleep is singular psychological and physiological function.  It
exists between those processes that will occur without volition (breathing,
digestion) and those that must consciously enacted (eating, procuring
shelter).  I cannot decide simply decide to be asleep the way I can elect
to sit down to dinner, but I also am unable to passively surrender into it
the way that one breathes.

Reflecting on art practices that might form a counterpoint to this
curiously liminal state pushed my thoughts into two divergent directions:
those that aspire to conditions of total intentionality and those that
cultivate the possibilities of being acted upon.  It seems to me, that this
split has been with us for a long time—from the Bauhaus and the
Surrealists, to Don Judd and Robert Smithson.  It continues to frame ways
of making in the new media world: politically minded artists such as Trevor
Paglin labor to make plain the workings of power, while others such as
Peter Root are interested in the “digital detritus” that accretes as a
byproduct of the ongoing proliferation of data production.

But what interests me most as an historian is the way in which if on pushes
on these binaries, they do not so much disintegrate as invert into one
another.  The hermetic pursuit of purity in painting eventually produces
the Robert Rauschenberg’s Zen-inflected monochrome. On Kawara’s date
paintings eventually morph from exercises in deliberation and control into
something much more impersonal, something meditative or absurd depending on
one’s orientation.  Conversely, the Surrealist obsession with mining the
archaic roots of the preconscious mind often ends up with the reinscription
of a not-terribly-interesting subject position of sex-obsessed cisgendered,
white European man. Or as John Baldesarri famously put it, “Conceptual
artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that
logic cannot reach.”

On Wed, Jul 8, 2015 at 8:56 AM, Ileana Selejan <ileanasel at gmail.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Welcome to the July, 2015 discussion on -empyre- soft-skinned space:
> Intersubjectivity: New Media, Aesthetics, Networks, and Upended
> Cartographies
> Moderated by Ileana Selejan (RO/US) and Calin Man (RO) with invited
> discussants
> Gheorghe Sabau (RO), Horea Avram (RO/CA), Sarah Montross (US), Wes
> Watters (US), Michael Maizels (US),  Ana Peraica (HR), Diana Marincu
> (RO), Susan B. Barnes (US)
> Week 1 (July 7 to 12): Horea Avram (RO/CA) & Gheorghe Sabau (RO)
> Week 2 (July 13 to 19): Sarah Montross (US) & Wes Watters (US)
> Week 3 (July 20 to 26): Ana Peraica (HR) & Michael Maizels (US)
> Week 4 (July 27 to 31): Susan B. Barnes (US) & Diana Marincu (RO)
> Dear all,
> Calin and I are currently working on an exhibition foregrounded on the
> vital, yet often overlooked, significance of sleep. For most of us
> sleep is an invisible process, a solitary experience, a remote
> “territory” where we go to disconnect, and from where we plunge into
> the depths of the self. However we may chose to interpret sleep, we
> spend about a third of our lives asleep, yet become most aware of it
> in its absence. Furthermore, as science has shown, while our bodies
> may be at rest, the brain continues its activity during sleep,
> intensifying during REM episodes – an apparent contradiction that
> sleep experts call “active sleep” or alternatively “paradoxical
> sleep.” (Fascinating to note here is Dr. Carlos H. Schenck’s research
> into RBD, or REM sleep behavior disorders; errors in regular sleep
> patters and programing that have shed light onto the very mechanisms
> that direct and regulate sleep.)
> A series of questions, some of which we believe to be equally relevant
> to this group of discussants, have emerged: if we were to think of
> sleep as an extreme of subjectivity, what would be a fitting
> counterpart, a metaphor for extreme inter-connectedness? The genome?
> Genetic memory? The Internet? The GPS? Massive Data Repositories? And
> what if we were to expand that very notion (as parameter) up to the
> edge of the observable universe? Are we looking at an exchange of
> particles? Waves? Which indeed is the ultimate field of contact? On a
> planetary scale, population-wise, we are greater than the Internet – a
> networked multitude that remains however, in directly sensorial,
> physical terms, largely out-of-touch, untouchable so to speak.
> Originating in worlds previously (or rather, “not so long ago”) held
> apart, the scholars, artists and curators we have invited to
> participate in this month’s discussion have contemplated the uncanny
> intimacy of aesthetic zones of contact, areas where contractions and
> contradictions collide, and occasionally merge.
> During the Cold War, the isolation experienced by those living behind
> the Iron Curtain was exacerbated by punitively enforced containment
> (parallels can be found in numerous other regional contexts, whether
> contemporary or historic). Across generations, we witnessed the
> limitation of our intersubjectivity by the political. Sleep, became a
> commonly employed metaphor through all that, a verbal equivalent to
> the somatic oppression experienced by the many – a soft horizontal, a
> potentially restorative state now rendered violent, never-endingly
> against nature. There were thaws, and surges, and escalations, as many
> consciousness thresholds were crossed or withdrawn. As sleep studies
> and investigations have demonstrated, nothing is ever entirely asleep.
> Processes, marked by intermediary states, such as (the scrumptiously
> termed) hypnagogia and hypnopompia, i.e. going in and out of sleep,
> might perhaps more accurately characterize the types of exchanges
> realized through the inter-related subjectivities we seek to engage
> and explore here. While the tone of this introduction was kept
> deliberately abstract, discussants are certainly encouraged to dive
> into history and personal experience in order to illustrate their own
> perceptions of our remotely shared past, and of our collectively
> projected futures. We are looking for gestures – not exclusively in
> the realm of new media art practice – as mundane as they may be, that
> may demonstrate how intimate connections have pushed through,
> countering extreme isolation, and despite the highest risks. As we
> move along with discussion, we would like to keep as a frame of
> reference our most immediate context. For instance: how does the
> awareness of intersubjectivity, particularly in relation to the Cold
> War, impact the perception of our current freedoms or the lack
> thereof? How much of our privacy are we willing to sacrifice for the
> sake of closeness and intimacy on a large scale, now?
> We look forward to this month's discussion!
> ileana& calin
> <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> http://lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au/pipermail/empyre/
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> Biographies:
> Moderators:
> Ileana L. Selejan is the Linda Wyatt Gruber ’66 Curatorial Fellow in
> Photography, at The Davis Museum at Wellesley College. She received
> her PhD in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, New York
> University. Her work focuses on war and documentary practices, and the
> intersection of esthetics, ethics, and protest in photography and art;
> she was the recipient of the 2012–13 Joan and Stanford Alexander Award
> for her dissertation research in Nicaragua. She previously taught in
> the Photography and Imaging Department at Tisch School of the Arts,
> and in the Art History Department at New York University, at Parsons
> The New School For Design, and in the Fine Arts Department at West
> University, Timisoara, Romania. Ileana also writes independently, and
> is a contributing member of kinema ikon.
> Calin Man. Born in 1961, lives in Arad, Romania. B.A. in literature,
> Timisoara University, Romania; chief-editor and designer of Intermedia
> magazine; member of Kinema Ikon group. Works on cd-rom, net-art,
> hypermedia installation. Participates on many international digital
> art exhibitions and festivals all over the world.
> Weekly Guests:
> George Sabau, multimedia theorist, born in 1937 in Arad (Ro.).
> University BA in Aesthetics. Researcher at the Art Museum of Arad and
> professor at the Highschool for Fine Arts. Founder (1970) and animator
> of the atelier kinema ikon. Author of experimental films, video-art
> and co-author of hypermedia works on cd-roms, which participated at
> international exhibition of digital art. Theoretical texts on cinema,
> video and multimedia published in anthologies, catalogues, and various
> art magazines, including Intermedia, issued by kinema ikon. AICA
> membership. A promoter of the theoretical fiction with application in
> multimedia installation. (2015)
> Horea Avram is Lecturer at the Department of Cinematography and Media,
> Faculty of Theatre and Television, Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj,
> Romania. Doctoral studies in Art History and Communication Studies at
> McGill University, Montreal. He researches and writes about new media
> art, representation theory, technology and visual culture. His most
> recent publications include “Augmented Reality”, Encyclopedia of
> Aesthetics, Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2014; “The
> Visual Regime of Augmented Space”, in Theorizing Visual Studies:
> Writing Through the Discipline, James Elkins (ed.), New York:
> Routledge, 2013. He publishes essays in: M/C Media and Culture
> Journal, International Journal of Arts and Technology, Kinephanos,
> Ekphrasis, Idea. Art + Society, Arta, etc. Independent curator since
> 1996. He has curated most notably for Venice Biennale in 1999.
> Sarah Montross is Associate Curator at deCordova Sculpture Park and
> Museum in Lincoln, MA. From 2012-2015, she was the Andrew W. Mellon
> Post-doctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art
> where she organized numerous exhibitions including Past Futures:
> Science Fiction, Space Travel, and Postwar Art of the Americas (exh.
> cat. MIT Press, 2015) and Breakthrough: Work by Contemporary Chinese
> Women Artists (2013). She earned her Ph.D. from the Institute of Fine
> Arts, New York University with a dissertation on the work of Chilean
> Juan Downey and Argentine Jaime Davidovich, two new media and
> performance artists from Latin America who lived and worked in NYC
> from the 1960s onward.
> Wes Watters teaches astronomy and planetary science at Wellesley
> College. He was a member of NASA's Mars Exploration Rover science team
> for eight years. His research focuses on impacts: the most ubiquitous
> and fundamental geophysical process in the universe. He uses a wide
> range of tools, models, and data to study the effect of impacts on the
> evolution of planet surfaces and interiors. Outside his formal
> academic work, he has a long-standing interest in the science of
> sleep, sleep disorders, and dreams. Occasionally and informally, he
> collaborates with curators and artists as a scientific advisor, and
> works on his own projects in computational art and music.
> Michael Maizels. After studying photography and philosophy of mind at
> the University of Southern California, Mike received his MA from the
> University of Chicago and his PhD in art history from the University
> of Virginia. His first book, forthcoming from the University of
> Minnesota press, focuses on the artist Barry Le Va, who in the late
> 1960s, began to execute scattered sculptures composed of scattered
> ball bearings, shattered glass, streams of sifted flour, and sharpened
> meat cleavers. His second book will examine the intersection of
> experimental art and music in the 1960s. More recently, his research
> on the radical artistic ferment of the 1960s has lead into a larger
> interest in newer forms of "variable media," including electronic and
> digital art. He is currently the Mellon New Media Curator/Lecturer at
> the Davis Museum at Wellesley College. He is currently preparing an
> exhibition of the games of Jason Rohrer, which will be the first solo
> museum exhibition given to a videogame maker.
> Ana Peraica holds a Ph. D. in aesthetics of photography. After
> graduating from University of Zagreb, in fields of art history and
> philosophy, she became a researcher in art theory at the Jan Van Eyck
> Akademie, Maastricht, where awarded UNESCO-IFPC, In parallel she
> undertook three year doctorate course in cultural analysis, theory and
> interpretation at ASCA, University of Amsterdam and defended her
> thesis entitled Photography as the Evidence at University of Rijeka.
> She is an editor of the reader "Smuggling Anthologies"
> (Rijeka-Trieste-Idrija, 2015), Victims Symptom – PTSD and Culture
> (Institute for Networked Cultures, Amsterdam, 2009), "Zena na
> raskrizju ideologija" (Split, HULU / Governmental Office for the
> Equality of Rights Split, 2007) and author of Sub/versions (Revolver
> Publishing, 2009). She currently works on the book Culture of the
> Selfie. Her essays in domains of visual studies and media theory
> are/were published by journals, such as Leonardo Journal, Afterimage
> Journal, Institute of Physics Conference Series, and magazinse such as
> Springerin, Art&Education Papers, Documenta Magazine, Pavilion, Flash
> Art etc.
> Diana Marincu (b. 1986) is a Ph.D. candidate at the National
> University of Art in Bucharest, Art History and Theory Department,
> with a research focusing on the curatorial discourses built in
> relation with political and geographical criteria in the last twenty
> years of exhibition making. She writes art reviews in Arta, IDEA
> arts+society, Poesis International, and other publications.
> Dr. Susan B. Barnes is a communication professor, medium, and Spirit
> Artist. She is an award winning professor who has been trained in
> mediumship at the Arthur Findlay College and The International
> Spiritualist Federation. She is a member of the National Spiritualist
> Union. Her work has been featured in the Psychic Observer and in
> several television programs. In addition to mediumship, she has
> conducted Spirit Art circles in and around Lily Dale. Moreover, she is
> the author of five books including: Visual Communication: From Cave
> Art to Second Life
> On Tue, Jul 7, 2015 at 10:00 PM,
> <empyre-request at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au> wrote:
> >
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> > ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> >
> > Today's Topics:
> >
> >    1. WELCOME TO JULY ON EMPYRE: Ileana Selejan and Calin Man
> >       (Renate Terese Ferro)
> >
> >
> > ----------------------------------------------------------------------
> >
> > Message: 1
> > Date: Tue, 7 Jul 2015 19:50:03 +0000
> > From: Renate Terese Ferro <rferro at cornell.edu>
> > To: soft_skinned_space <empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au>
> > Subject: [-empyre-] WELCOME TO JULY ON EMPYRE: Ileana Selejan and
> >         Calin Man
> > Message-ID: <D1C1A5A9.215A3%rtf9 at cornell.edu>
> > Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
> >
> >
> > Dear -empyreans,
> > Welcome to July. We are getting started just a bit later in July because
> > of travels and the US holiday.  We hope all is well with you.  We are
> > thrilled to introduce Ileana Selejan (RO/US) and Calin Man (RO) who will
> > be moderating our July topic: Intersubjectivity: New Media, Aesthetics,
> > Networks, and Upended Cartographies.  We are really looking forward to
> > their provocative title which revolves around an exhibition they are
> > co-curating on sleep. They will formally introduce their topic, post
> their
> > own biographies and those of their upcoming monthly guests.
> >
> > We met Ileana this past year on a jaunt that Tim Murray and I made to
> > Wellesley College?s Davis Museum of Art.
> > https://www.wellesley.edu/davismuseum/
> > For those of you that don?t know Wellesley, one of the original seven all
> > women?s colleges in the US, is situated a short distance from Boston,
> > Mass.  The college?s Davis Museum holds an evolving collection that we
> > enjoyed visiting.
> >
> > Tim curated Calin?s work in one of the first CD Rom Exhibitions, Contact
> > Zones: The Art of the CD Rom.
> > https://contactzones.cit.cornell.edu/
> > We have followed Calin's work for quite some time and welcome him as
> > moderator with Ileana and the line up of guests they have organized for
> > us.  We are hoping you will all follow closely and respond to posts
> > throughout the next few weeks.
> >
> > Just a note that at the end of July we will be shutting down for the
> month
> > of August to relax and re-group but will see you all again in September.
> >
> > Renate
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Renate Ferro
> > Visiting Associate Professor of Art
> > Cornell University
> > Department of Art
> > Tjaden Hall, Office 306
> > Ithaca, NY  14853
> > Email: rferro at cornell.edu
> > URL:  http://www.renateferro.net
> >           http://www.privatesecretspubliclies.net
> > Lab:   http://www.tinkerfactory.net
> >
> > Managing Moderator of -empyre- soft skinned space
> > http://empyre.library.cornell.edu/
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > ------------------------------
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre mailing list
> > empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> > http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
> >
> >
> > End of empyre Digest, Vol 127, Issue 3
> > **************************************
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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