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Monthly Archives: December 2012

FantasyPeak2.JPG: Toward a Digital Geology

By Daniel J Glendening

 

Drain just announced the release of the newest issue, “Black,” which features my essay, “FantasyPeak2.JPG: Towards a Digital Geology.”

“Drain is a refereed on-line journal published biannually. The journal seeks to promote lively and well-informed debate around theory and praxis. Each issue of Drain will have a specific concept that it explores. We are especially keen to publish pieces that connect the conceptual framework of each issue to themes such as globalization, gender, ethnicity, sexuality, capitalism and new technologies, as well as ethical and aesthetic concerns. As such, we welcome creative responses to contemporary culture, as well as written work by practitioners in the field of culture. Our primary mission is to provide an environment where a variety of creative activities can be explored with a combination of sensitivity and rigor.”

Here’s a brief excerpt of my piece:

Suddenly, this digital geography moving over and through our physical world is something greater than the sum of its parts: it is the outset of something of a hive mind, a force of creative will and vision in which one individual voice is consumed and carried forward by the will of a collective. One can, according to Ascott, see, hear, and even think across geological boundaries and borders. This digi-geology is a space of open-ness, a space without latitude or longitude, a space, in fact, without grids, without edges, and without spatio-temporal hurdles between minds, thoughts, and ideas.

Even considering Ascott’s collapse of individual authorship, there’s something to note in this proliferation of geologic imagery of Andrews’ and Elliott’s images. While their work may, in fact, be a case of the interface or technology exerting its will over that of the human hand holding the tool, a software developer or collective team of developers designed the software. Someone, somewhere, imagined the tool known as Bryce, and released it into the digital sphere for the express purpose of generating digi-geological landscapes for traversal in image-generation or animation programs. Bryce, and the images it produces, points to some desire to capture, or even replicate, those forms found in the physical, geological world. The landscapes rendered often lean toward the stereotypically “sublime” of nature: vast and distant vistas, soaring mountain peaks, and jutting cliff faces. It is, in some sense, an attempt at fusing the seemingly infinite vastness of an uncharted, and un-chartable, digi-geology with that which traditionally inspires awe in the physical world.

If, indeed, that digi-geology is a space without edges, borders, grids and spatio-temporal limitation or partition, it can be described as an example of Deleuze and Guattari’s definition of a “smooth” space, as opposed to a “striated” space. Deleuze and Guattari describe a smooth space as that space occupied by the nomad, the wanderer: the one who walks over a territory not according to an enforced geometry or external system, but who traverses according to qualities inherent in said territory itself: currents, slopes, seasons, waterways, migratory or wind patterns. The smooth space is this space that defies or denies the map, the space that has been unmapped, or simply mapped into the bodies of its occupiers. “The sea is a smooth space par excellence, and yet was the first to encounter the demands of increasingly strict striation.”[16] The sea, a smooth space, navigable pre-striation by currents and winds, has been striated into a grid coordinates and bearings, first designated by precise readings of star and other astrological movements, and eventually by its complete mapping and gridding through the mechanism of latitude and longitude, this striation made all the more complete through the tools of GPS and satellite imaging.

You can read the rest of it here, and take a look at the rest of the contributions as well.

Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, Window Smokers

Recess Gallery

 

By Rebecca Steele

 

All I could do was to break the whole thing down and show that it is no longer possible.  -Gerhard Richter

 

Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, "Window Smokers." Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, “Window Smokers.” Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

An evolving methodology in contemporary art might be the trend of using one medium to critique the failure or relevance of another. When sculpture relies on photography for its language or successes, then we can conclude a failure of the singularity of media. This also serves as critique of the set of circumstances that allowed for certain types of work to exist as singularities. This new methodology could be called one of alignments, such that neon lights frame a photograph only to obscure it. In the exhibition, Window Smokers, the artists, Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, fabricate the evidences of a panoramic view of terrain and possible altercations of landscape by insinuating the punctuation of one medium by another. This strategy could be described as contrapuntal and adheres to certain ideas invoked by the artist Gerhard Richter, who approached the act of painting a landscape as not an act of representation but as looking at what is to be represented through a glass darkly. It is arguable that this has become in and of itself a strategy. To lift the lid of the scanner in the moment of scan in order to create a photograph by act and action, and then to speak about the form within this photograph as being related in some way to a melting iceberg, is both contrapuntal and darkly meditative. Rather than speaking about the ability of light, through gestural manipulation, to create an angular form that slowly leaks its cause, the act is used to create a representation of the act.

Window Smokers often suggests light and its physical traces, capable of interruption and usurpation. Five framed digital prints are titled according to the actions that created them: “Held Steady,” “Slight Rise,” “Continuous Rise and Fall,” “Rise and Fall, Rise and Fall,” and “Held Steady, Then Lifted.” These images are high contrast abstract compositions that are punctuated by bits of color and graded lines. “Haug and Dierdorff search for nature and representation where the unenclosed can be depicted in its disappearance.” The digital prints made by lifting the lid of a scanner create abstract “photographs” that use light in its burn and retreat as a set of tight compositional constraints. The Photograph is used elsewhere as a representative of or dummy landscape as in “Organizing Principles” or “Late Season Tactics.”

"Transfer," from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, "Window Smokers."

“Transfer,” from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, “Window Smokers.” Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

There are times when works of art seem to conspire against the viewer through tense aesthetics and closure. In Window Smokers the artist’s aesthetic language is dexterous and full of material alignments. The works “Transfer” and “Merger” are photograms, evidencing an image created through the trace or positional affectation of a natural element on to a two dimensional surface. “Merger” was created by ice melting and moving food coloring across a sheet of paper—in its rusty streaks it is possible to find the remnants of a thing’s end: winter, ice, light. In the case of “Transfer” fake leaves sit in front of construction paper faded in the area not blocked by the leaves. This is also the case with a series of works in the main gallery space: “Red Heat Tremors 1-7,” “No Mercy Traveling North 1-5,” “Summer Nights Land of Doom 1-3,” and “Vertical Limit Under the Volcano.” These works are landscapes made on light-faded construction paper and though simple create a feeling of the elegiac beauty found in faded photographs of evening landscapes, of night vision palette, paper cut collage, or Luc Tuymans Allo Social Housing. The ambiguity and dexterity of these works is disorienting and, though small in scale, suggest the degrading effects of light and sight—or possibly that the landscape itself is the source of degradation, not of culture or moralities but of being and representation.

"Late Season Tactics," from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, "Window Smokers." Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

“Late Season Tactics,” from Jared Haug and Brooks Dierdorff, “Window Smokers.” Photograph by Rebecca Steele.

In “Twitch” and “Organizing Principles” traction, implied opening, interruption, and the kill are physical maneuvers in time and space where the integrity of one physical body is interrupted by the integrity of another physical body. A block of ballistics gel sits on top of a pedestal and holds a photograph against the wall in “Organizing Principles,” and presents a formally satisfying arrangement. Sculpturally, “Organizing Principles” employs the dynamics and materials of hunting. The ballistics gel that holds the hide (photograph) to the wall looks slightly oily and resembles cast acrylic; the photograph seems to be of animal hair that looks blond, sharp, and damp. The video “Twitch” depicts a deer that has been shot and lies barely twitching in a field of grass. The projector and a thick slab of acrylic, serving as projection screen, lie on the floor and cast a greenish glow in the space. The video is very still, and viewed through the thickness of the acrylic is blurry, suggestive rather than intelligible. The strategies of these two works find their fullest realization in “Late Season Tactics,” in which a large piece of smoked acrylic pierces and folds a digital image of an organ (possibly a heart or liver?) laying on the grass. There is something simple, elegant, and intriguing about this situation. “Late Season Tactics” suggests a forever of open possibilities born of contradictions, and two flat surfaces that provoke a narrative through interruption.

Gerhard Richter has made the claim that to degrade something is to get at its truth, and so contradictions of material and media can be their own narrative and solution. In Window Smokers, the landscape is subjected to and created by physical change. It is this interruption or alteration—in the form of an organ on the grass, of ice or light on paper—that demonstrates the human temporal and the natural as unresolving change.