This winter, thanks to the generosity of the Etkin family, the AAM unveils a new media presentation program. The first program is a double feature of two compelling artist’s projects, each of which utilized contemporary technology at the time of its creation. The evening will start with Michael Smith’s The USA FreeStyle Disco Championships (1979/2003, 3 min. 36 sec.) and will be followed by Frances Stark’s My Best Thing (2011, 99 min.).
Frances Stark is a Los Angeles–based artist known for her explorations of the intersection between writing, drawing, and collage. Initially presented at the 54th Venice Biennale, My Best Thing is a feature-length digital animation in the form of a serialized soap opera constructed from her interactions with two twenty-something Italian men on Internet video chat sites. Stark used Xtranormal, a freely available 3D animation software, to translate her online encounters into conversations between digital avatars. As these interactions evolve from standard online flirtatiousness to discussions of art, literature, film, and politics, My Best Thing humorously and often poignantly reflects on our contemporary world, a place where technological mediation enables both greater intimacy and greater anonymity in our relationships.
Both hilarious and touching, Michael Smith’s classic 1979 slide piece The USA FreeStyle Disco Championships documents Smith’s ever-hopeful everyman alter ego “Mike” as he competes in the eponymous dance competition at New York’s Copacabana nightclub.