:: Friday, September 03, 2004 ::

Report on Periferico, Mexico City: third installment in a series of five.

Periferico happened at Laboratorio Arte Alameda on August 20, 2004. This was the second event in a series of three, organized around the
Centro + Media
Exhibition, which ran from August 19-22 at Centro De Diseno Cine y Televisión, Mexico City. For an account of the opening event, please read the article written on Monday, August 30, 2004. The third event called CentroAmedia happened at the Rufino Tamayo Museum On Saturday, August 21, 2004. The three events featured local and international Latin American artists active in the new media field.

Laboratorio Arte Alameda is a cultural center dedicated to the arts in new media and its crossover to more established practices. The building used to be a church and its acoustics and large walls make it a great space to enjoy new media performances. The set-up adopted for the performance was refreshing; it presented the artists in front of a large projection on the wall. People sat on two large sofas and on the floor, right behind the performers; in this way they were able to see everything the artists did on their computers. There was also freedom to walk around, so audience members could sit very close to the artists to better understand what they were doing.

Periferico was an improvisational session bringing together artists who mixed music and visuals. Some of the performers had never played together. Some were locals while others flew from different parts of Latin America. The performers included Mauricio Montero(no website), Gillermo Amato(no website), Mario de Vega (no website), Antonio Mendoza, Jorge Castro, Ricardo Rendon, Israel M, Ivan Abreau, Brian Mackern, Laura Carmona, Santiago Ortiz and Christian Oyarzun, Arthur Henry Fork and Arcangel Constantini.

The evening started with Mauricio Montero and Guillermo Amato. The sound was loud and the melody was a bit on the mellow side strategically using noise in part to create ambient patterns. The images were mainly abstract with a repetitive juxtaposition of a close-up of a child’s face and the silhouette of a man against a white background; which were also complemented with abstractions deriving from the grid.

Then Antonio Mendoza and Jorge Castro improvised visuals to the sound of Mario de Vega. Antonio recycled images from movies and news footage, which were filtered with rich reds, greens and blues. His images included planes, a hand pouring beer into a thin glass, multicolored dinasours fighting, an atomic bomb and other explosions, and the flag of the United States. Mario created sound patterns by moving the knobs on his mixer back and forth resembling the sound of surfing for a radio station in an analog radio. The sound was jarring and felt destructive to the ear. It consisted of tones without a specific beat.

Jorge Castro mixed a set of abstractions. But his most interesting material came when he performed alone. At one point he presented a video of a dancer whose moves turned into geometrical patterns, which shifted in support of the smallest changes in the sound. At times the dancer became a complete abstraction--and then she would once again appear moving in sync with the music. The same woman also appeared under water in another video, which was really slow in its development; here, she occasionally came up for water.

Ricardo Rendon and Mario De Vega performed together. Rendon presented abstract visuals consisting of white and gray squares against a black background, while Mario played an instrumental composition completely devoid of an obvious rhythm. This was one of the longest performances of the night, as it lasted over forty minutes. It was quite demanding of the audience as, both, the rhythm and image changed very slowly, and one could daze out and daydream losing track of the audio-visual development, especially because there was no obvious progression and loops were brought back by both performers. Then Ricardo also performed a sound piece on his own.

Ivan Abreu (center of picture) played a sound piece resembling his previous improvisation at Centro + Media, which consisted of a beat somewhat allegorical of electronic dub. Abreu abstracted the traditional guaguanco pattern, an Afro-Cuban rhythm. Rendon complemented his performance with more abstract graphics which were, again, deriving from grid patterns.

Brian Mackern performed two sets. He manipulated sound and image simultaneously. Mackern used an interface that made his graphics sensitive to his manipulation of sound. Here, again, his material aesthetically resembled his previous performance; that is, slow melodies, which at the push of a button swiftly switched graphics and composition. At times the graphics were as simple as a horizontal line in the middle of a black screen and at others it was a collage of loops covering the entire wall.

Arthur Henry Fork and Laura Carmona performed together. They appeared to know each other’s material well before coming into the performance. There were formal similarities; for instance, Laura’s graphics had a steady pace, much like walking. Her images, which consisted mainly of patterns with the occasional human figure and landscape, always filled the wall projection with pastel colors. The overall look was grainy. Fork’s sound was very steady, with no obvious beat, but the sound and image allowed the audience to find a rhythm that crossed over from the aural to the spatial. Much like Laura’s visuals, Fork’s sound was always full, and kept a consistent tone that shifted slowly, carefully matching Laura’s graphics.

Arcangel Constantini (on the right) performed his online project "Nicenoice." He mixed figurative and abstract images to a mid/slow-tempo sound composition. Here again the sound’s formal qualities matched the aesthetic of the visuals, as the aural patterns corresponded with the visual fade-ins and outs. The graphics shifted from geometric abstractions to porn images, which had been adjusted by color filters to match the overall palette.

Santiago Ortiz, Christian Oyarzun and Israel M (from left to right) were the last to perform. Ortiz and Israel M collaborated on the sound while Oyarzun mixed graphics. Ortiz also showed his visual interface used to create the sound. Oyarzun presented graphic variations of a circle not too dissimilar from his installation at Centro + Media. Many of the previous performances stayed away from a concrete rhythm (except for Mackern), but this last performance actually presented very specific patterns that problematized their own paradigms. There was a “back and forth” resembling Mario De Vega’s previous performance, but here there was no "real life" knob, just a virtual one created in a Flash interface.

The overall aesthetic was very consistent, regardless of the fact that some of these artists had never played together. They created abstract sound and image that were slow to change while constantly relying on short visual and aural loops. The result was material open-ended for interpretation, overtly denying a specific meaning other than experiencing the process of creating the composition through improvisational collaborations. The performers then could claim autonomy--a momentary space outside "politics," as their interests lied in the creation of image and sound that challenged the immediate perception of the viewer. It appears that phenomenology is comfortably finding its way back into the arts through the emerging fields of the “ruidistas” (noise-makers). Politics, obviously, do not disappear in these images, even when the propositions by the performances may implicitly claim to do so. But this is a subject for my last segment in this series of texts.

The evening ended over drinks at the top of Hotel Habita, where all of the artists from abroad stayed. Here some of the performers relaxed over drinks while watching a large projection on the wall of an adjacent building of Ana Guevara, the track & field Mexican star, qualifying for the Olympic semi-finals.
:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
:: Thursday, September 02, 2004 ::
Selected News

Napster on the go, the go.

Bankruptcy not a favorite level: Gamers are losing the economic battle.

SPAMMERS jump through SPF quite easily.

La Mac--how thin can you go!

And then there were three: in the spirit of globalization, Malaysia joins China and India as outsourcing havens.

Japan, Wi-Fi and taxes.

And then Microsoft took on i-tunes...
:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
:: Wednesday, September 01, 2004 ::
In the past, the Banff Centre has held several conferences and panels on the general topic of collaboration. Hence, it is no surprise that at the end of September, a new summit is coming up, on what everyone is talking about - social networks. However, probably only Banff and a few other institutions are legitimate to venture into the organization of such a summit, with a focus that is particularly interesting to new media artists and curators: participatory design and social networks. This is, after all, the time when the "peer-to-peer revolution" is leading to forms of collaboration such as blogging and "social software" and when wireless is leading to emerging technologies such as locative software.

Some of the questions that will be addressed are, according to the information online:

"What are participatory design methods? Can participatory design ensure a market for products? What economies and rights models work in collaborative creation? Can we link peer-to-peer systems to more traditional forms of organization or media? "

Participate/Collaborate: Reciprocity, Design and Social Networks
Banff New Media Institute summit - Alberta, Canada
Program dates: September 30, 2004 - October 03, 2004
Tuition: 300$

Ana Boa-Ventura

:: ana boa-ventura [+] ::
:: Monday, August 30, 2004 ::
Report on Centro + Media, Mexico City: second installment in a series of five.

Centro+Media was a special event organized to inaugurate Centro, a brand new art and design center in Mexico City, focusing on Design, TV and film. The curators of the event were Arcangel Constantini and Ivan Abreu. The exhibition was up for August 19 - 22. It included online and offline installations, graphic prints presented on elegant lightboxes throughout three floors of the building, experimental videos that were screened continually on eight LCD screens, live sound performances, and an online webpage battle. For a full list of artists, please look at the first installment published on Tuesday, August 24, 2004, as I will not be able to comment on much of the material, this way at least you will learn who participated in the exhibition.

The opening of the event happened on Thursday the 19th. The Press covered the opening of the Design school really well. On Wednesday (the day before) there was a press conference where journalists had the oportunity to ask specific questions to the curators and administrators. The journalists also looked at the installations that were already up, and asked the artists a few questions about their art projects. During the opening on Thursday, there were TV cameras going around filming art projects and interviewing the organizers and artists; and on Saturday there was a review in the Universal, one of the major newspapers in Mexico City. There were two other events that happened in conjunction with the Centro+Media exhibition, one at Centro de Arte Alameda and the other at the Rufino Tamayo Museum. I will write about these events in the days to come. This time I will focus on the opening event.

Some of the online and offline installations included works by Santiago Ortiz, Ricardo Rendon, Christian Oyarzun, Gustavo Romano, Brian Mackern, Tlaolli Arguello and me (Eduardo Navas).

Ortiz presented Cropofalia, an installation of a virtual stomach which digested texts typed by the audience. These were also combined with literary works considered important in Latin America. The stomach expanded as it consumed more and more words and eventually it would shrink to start all over. Rendon presented Espacio Critico, a flash interface of the world map. The user could create hyperlinks reminscing airline routes. Once the user finalized her set of travel, the interface took over providing a quick overview of the top pages in google that were related to the cities of travel. The pages loaded and unloaded very fast in a set of random frames, leaving the user with an overall visual idea of how one could travel the web at high speed from country to country. Oyarzun projected CRC/CW a graphic that was dependent on sensors placed inside and outside the gallery space to create an abstract animation, consisting of an RGB color wheel rotating rapidly or slowly according to the number of visitors. Gustavo Romano presented Cyberzoo, along with a photo installation consisting of the ground of a public street installed at the entrance of the building. Cyberzoo is a website where it is safe to play with viruses. Here the users can learn about computer viruses and also "create" one themselves without worrying about contaminating their own computers. Brian Mackern presented Cultiviuum, an installation where users can create their own combinations of virtual cells that can be recombined by other users on an ongoing basis. Mackern also exhibited his online project Net Art Latino.Taolli Aguello presented IO AMO MI CI U _DA, a game interface to be played when sitting in a sports car seat. One is able to navigate or "drive" through a map and parking lot as well as other metaphorical interventions on gaming. And I presented Net Art World 1.0 which is an online project combining flags and maps of the world along with images related to globalization and online projects by net artists.

The performance during the opening at Centro consisted of sound/visual performances and an Infomera duel between Subculture and Muserna. The audio-visual artists included VJs and noise/sound performers, who are called "Ruidistas" (noise-makers). Some of the performers I saw were Ricardo Rendon, Antonio Dominguez, Ivan Abreu, Brian Mackern, and Jorge Castro. There were other performers that unfortunately I missed (including Constantini) because I also had to oversee my own installation (Net Art World 1.0).

The sounds and visuals by Rendon and Dominguez and their partners were abstract, delivered through layers of beats and graphic interfaces that did not always follow a consistent pattern--sometimes an actual beat was absent, and "melodic noise" became the closest way of describing the sound. The graphics also followed this aesthetic. (Rendon and Dominguez did not perform together; the comment is on their overall performance).

In General, the sound compositions were dependent on loops so complex in their patterns that the audience was pushed to listen carefully and create relationships with the visual material, which for the most part was abstract, or if figurative, very open-ended for interpretation. It was more like digital noise, although the performances by Ivan Abreau and Brian Mackern referenced electronic dub and post-trip-hop sounds respectively. Abreu's performance was the most transparent of all because he showed his Max interface as he improvised his rhythms. The audience saw his real-time manipulation of sound. Mackern played a few short pieces that were quite soothing for the eyes and ears while strategically relying on noise to disrupt what at times could have been considered straight ahead ambient image and sound. Jorge Castro closed the evening with a short set of minimal compositions that were carefully complemented with visual material. He controlled sound and image simultaneously, and unlike much of the work throughout the night, which was mainly improvisational sessions between two or more performers, Castro presented music and visuals that had a predetermined relationship, yet he was able to improvise and flow with the reaction of the crowd. Unfortunately his set was too short, and the audience was left craving for more. No worries on this as he would have a chance to present his work once more at Laboratorio Arte Alameda, the evening after.

The “Mano a Mano” between Subculture and Muserna took place in a special room, where they battled inside a boxing ring especially built for the event. There were three screens, the two on the sides presented subculture and Muserna's personal websites while the one in the middle showed the updates made to the Infomera website. Here, the heavy-weights in web art went at it for over four hours; both uploading to the Infomera website. Every few minutes a new page was uploaded in reaction to the previous one, often appropriating the visuals and/or aesthetics of the opponent. The performance started out with playful comments that towards the end turned into bold statements of grandiosity and supremacy of web art by both parties, while also keeping great respect toward the opponent. Both Muserna and Subculture seemed to have enjoyed the process of making ephemeral webpages, which the online community could also enjoy by visiting the Infomera site. To this day, people who saw the event are debating who won, and Subculture playfully claims that he won! Following the spirits of an actual boxing match.

The creative juices ran high during the opening. The artists were very happy at the end of the night, which ended at a really great casual restaurant called the Kaliman. This energy would once again find its way to two more important events at Centro de Arte Alameda and Rufino Tamayo Museum.
:: Eduardo Navas [+] ::
This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?