As the highway rapidly connected people in new ways, it became a metaphor for modernity, progress and enlightenment. Less acknowledged was the highway’s negative impacts; it divided people from their downtowns, riversides, amenities, and one other. Highways Connect and Divide considers how artists – including Cory Arcangel, Tauba Auerbach, Bureau of Inverse Technology, I/O/D, JODI, Nam June Paik, Sterling Ruby, and Kerry Tribe – map the systems that impact upon us. Embracing errors and the irrational or redeploying technology, some artists directly abstract from cityscapes, some employ planetary metaphors, while others use abstract forms to figure how systems succeed and fail.
NAM JUNE PAIK coined the term “electronic super highway” in 1974 to conjure the communications technology landscape of the future. His early video Beatles Electroniques (1966-72) demonstrates his manipulations of a TV broadcast of the Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night (1964) where he used a magnet to disrupt the televised image, creating semi-abstract and completely abstract images that seem to make visible the electronic connections behind the sound and images of the mass media.
CORY ARCANGEL wittily confounds the relationship between technology and culture. Arcangel’s Timeless Standards / Real Taste installation comprises a series of scans of a Mondrian-like sports-shirt design, and a modular, Coke Zero-filled humidifier. With the prints we experience a transformative journey from the city that Mondrian originally drew inspiration from, to his abstracted paintings, to the appropriated commercial designs, and then finally to Arcangel's semi-abstractions; while Real Taste, irrationally repurposes the hi-tech drink as fuel for a contemporary machine whose design concept seems to be a re-imagined 1950s modernity.
TAUBA AUERBACH explores randomness and precision in the details of systems of patterning and typography. Her Shatter series mixes chance – the shattering effect of broken glass to determine the structure of the image – with a purposefully ordered application of black and white paint. The results appear as clusters of radials, like a display of the nodes of an organic network, or a view of suburbia from the air.
BUREAU OF INVERSE TECHNOLOGY (BIT) is a group that playfully intervenes with new technologies in order to reveal the fact and fiction of corporate innovation. Their BIT Plane video (1997) poetically documents the journey of a mini-spy plane as it flies above the headquarters of the biggest computer and technology companies in Silicon Valley - “into the glittering heartland of the Information Age.”
I/O/D were pioneers of Internet art in the 1990s. Their I/O/D 4: The Webstalker (1997) uses nascent web crawler technology to map connections across the Internet in real-time, creating constellations of links within a radical browser application that acts as a kind of electron telescope of the hidden data of outlying cyberspace.
JODI are provocateurs who make art from the modification and disruption of software and operating systems, and the glitches within video-games. In the spirit of Paik’s early TV experiments, their Geo Goo (2008-2011, ongoing) revels in error by radically disrupting Google maps. The platform seems to go mad with flowing icons, sharp zooms in and out, wild pans, and disorienting multiple perspectives in Street View.
STERLING RUBY explores technologies of control – within psychology, biology, art and architecture - and mechanisms devised to counter them. He often designs formal systems in order to expose the psychic structures that underlie social phenomena. His collage Existentialists 2 (2010) presents an arrangement of skulls around a circular shape that resembles a primordial mapping of the planetary system. The formation seems to have been long abandoned: it is covered in the graffiti and tagging common to highway underpasses and public parks.
KERRY TRIBE’s films, videos and installations explore memory, imagination, and subjectivity. Her North is West / South is East (2001) is a unique account of a metropolis: random people at LA airport – some who had just flown there for the first time - were asked to draw their map of the city. The drawings are then placed in a clustered configuration on the gallery wall. As Tribe has said, “Taken together these chance encounters begin to describe a place at once real and imagined.”
CORY ARCANGEL (1978, Buffalo, NY) lives and works in New York. He holds a Bachelor of Music from Oberlin Conservatory, Oberlin, OH. Selected exhibitions include: The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (solo); Albright Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, NY; Barbican Centre, London (solo)(all upcoming 2011); Hamburger Bahnhof Museum fur Gegenwart, Berlin (solo); Smithsonian, Washington, DC; The Zabludowicz Collection, London; Austrian Cultural Forum New York (all 2010); Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami (solo); University of Michigan Museum of Art, Ann Arbor (solo); New Museum, New York; Kunsthaus Graz, Austria; Nam June Paik Art Center, GyeonGi, Korea; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (all 2009); and the Migros Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Zurich, Switzerland (solo)(2005).
TAUBA AUERBACH (San Francisco, CA, 1981) lives and works in New York and San Francisco. She holds a BA in Visual Art from Stanford University, CA. Selected exhibitions include: Quarry at the Whitney Museum Construction Site, New York (solo); Castello di Rivoli Museum of Contemporary Art, Turin, Italy; New Museum, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; MoMA PS1, Long Island City, NY; Western Bridge, Seattle (solo)(all 2010); Wattis Institute for Contemporary Art, San Francisco, CA (solo); Deitch Projects, New York (solo); Macro Museo d’Arte, Rome; The Drawing Center, New York; SFMoMA, San Francisco, CA (all 2009); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien, Vienna, Austria; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, MI; and Kunsthalle Andratx, Mallorca, Spain (all 2007).
BUREAU OF INVERSE TECHNOLOGY (1991) was formed in Melbourne, Australia by engineer and theorist Natalie Jeremijenko, radio journalist Kate Rich, and artist Daniela Tigani. BIT was incorporated in the Cayman Islands in 1992. BIT was originally constructed as an anonymous group, a guerilla technical intervention into some of the emergent techniques and technologies of the Information Age. Exhibitions include: Whitney Biennial of American Art, New York (2006); ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2001); Postmasters, New York (solo)(1999); and the Whitney Biennial of American Art, New York (1997).
I/O/D (Matthew Fuller, Colin Green, Simon Pope) worked between 1994-1999, producing initially an interactive 'zine with guest writers, musicians and artists that was distributed by floppy disc, usenet and bbs systems. Their work then took on the qualities of software with I/O/D 3, and by I/O/D 4: The Webstalker, arriving at a fully-fledged application for using the world wide web. Selected exhibitions include: New Museum, New York (2005); Hartware MedienKunstVerein, Dortmund, Germany (2002); Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2001); Walker Art Centre, Minneapolis, MN (1998); ICA, London (1994). All I/O/D's work is available for download from: http://www.bak.spc.org/iod/
JODI (1994) comprises Joan Heemskerk (Kaatsheue, The Netherlands, 1968) and Dirk Paesmans (Brussels, Belgium, 1965) who live and work in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. They attended Silicon Valley's electronic arts laboratory CADRE at San Jose State University, CA. Paesmans studied with Nam June Paik at the Kunstakademie, Dusseldorf. Selected exhibitions include: Centre George Pompidou, Paris (2010, upcoming); Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (2008); Museo Tamayo, Mexico City (solo)(2005); FACT, Liverpool, UK (solo); SFMOMA, San Francisco, CA (both 2004); Guggenheim, New York (2003); ZKM, Karlsruhe, Germany (2000); and Documenta X, Kassel (1997).
NAM JUNE PAIK (Seoul, Korea, 1932 – Miami, FL, 2006) studied at the Universities of Tokyo, Munich and Cologne; and the Conservatory of Music, Freiburg, Germany. From 1958-63 he worked with Karlheinz Stockhausen at the WDR Studio fur elektronsiche Musik, Cologne. His first solo exhibition was Exposition of Electronic Music — Electronic Television in Wuppertal, Germany (1963). In 1982, the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York organized a retrospective of videotapes, video sculptures, installations and performances, which traveled to the MCA, Chicago. He exhibited with Hans Haacke in the German Pavilion at the 1993 Venice Biennale. The Worlds of Nam June Paik retrospective opened at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2000) and traveled to Bilbao, Spain and Seoul, South Korea.
STERLING RUBY (1972) lives and works in Los Angeles. He holds a BFA from The Art Institute of Chicago and an MFA from the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena CA. Exhibitions include: De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, Miami; Galleria Civica d'Arte, Moderna e Contemporanea, Turin; Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, CA; San Antonio Museum of Art, Texas (all 2010); MoMA, New York; ICA, Philadelphia (both 2009); GAMeC, Bergamo, Italy (solo)(2008-09); Bergen Kunsthall, Norway; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (solo); Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; The Drawing Center, New York (solo)(all 2008); The Moscow Biennale for Contemporary Art (2007); The California Biennial, Newport Beach (2006); The Renaissance Society, Chicago; The Turin Triennial (both 2005-06); and Aspen Art Museum (2005).
KERRY TRIBE (Boston, MA, 1973) lives and works in Los Angeles. She holds a BA from Brown University, Providence, RI; and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles. Selected exhibitions include: Camden Arts Center, London (solo); Modern Art Oxford, Oxford, UK (solo)(both 2011); 2010: Whitney Biennial of American Art, New York; Arnolfini, Bristol, UK (solo)(both 2010); Musée d'Art Moderne et Contemporain de Strasbourg, France (2009); Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC (2008); Generali Foundation, Vienna (2007); 4th Berlin Biennial for Contemporary Art, Berlin (2006); Kunst Werke, Berlin (2005); and New Museum, New York (2004).
The exhibition developed out of an exchange of ideas about art and technology with representatives from the Leonardo Education and Art Forum (LEAF), assembled for the upcoming College Art Association conference (CAA.) The February 10 reception and performance is a CAA listed event.
Many thanks to Ellen Levy from LEAF for her invaluable assistance and to the following organizations for their help: 1301PE Gallery, Los Angeles; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Electronic Arts Intermix, New York; Jack Hanley Gallery, New York; Mondriaan Foundation, Amsterdam; Nam June Paik Studios, New York; Team Gallery, New York; and Video Data Bank, Chicago.