In a dark and smoky basement, a traveling-musician-clown character who has been looping Mongolian throat singing suddenly shouts from the stage “Thanks to Edmar for putting this on!” A phone rings and a 30-something man with longish brown hair and a Western-style shirt flashes across the front of the stage, the light of a phone pressed to his ear illuminating the side of his face, “And there he goes, always business.” Meet Ed Marszewski; Bridgeport arts and community kingpin, known to many as Edmar. Co-Director of Co-Prosperity Sphere, Editor of the important and iconic Lumpen Magazine, and now, bar owner—Edmar wears a lot of hats. This past weekend, he played host to the 9th annual Select Media Festival’s exhibition, “INFOPORN II”.
Dedicated to slick graphics and interesting apparitions of data, “INFOPORN” provided much of what is promised by the name, a seductive smorgasbord of visual lechery. Desire for knowledge made incarnate and accessible, much of the work in this show acted as the elusive temptress who promises the world, but yields just a hint of its essence. Data visualization often operates in a like manner. Given statistics that suggest a condition, these numbers are represented with corresponding labels to suggest the real, seducing the viewer into a condition of understanding and transference of knowledge.
(Image: Francesco Franchi. Analisi Grafica, 2010)
Taking this as a base condition of data representation therefore limits the actual value of the visualization, allowing aesthetics to play a larger role in the valuation of these images both in artistic and pragmatic contexts. The work on display ultimately fell into a wide contextual spectrum. On the pragmatic end, came works from Column Five Media and Francesco Franchi. Both hail from a world of professional infographic design, and depict the aesthetic means towards better data transference. Column Five’s work retains its pragmatic roots through the titles of the pieces, all done in the appropriate .ai format. Franchi’s work portrays a methodical elegance that any illustrator can appreciate.
Newspaper graphics and data were represented by the NewcityReader.net, a “newspaper of public space.” The project is part of an exhibition running at the New Museum in New York until next month.
Opposed to these more pragmatic representations was Luke Williams’ Hip-Hop Anonymous. Aestheticizing typeface through its reordering in the graphic plane allowed for a more playful novelty in the transmission of information.
(Image: Tom Burtonwood)
Following a tradition of QR code artwork (see Fabrice de Nola) comes Tom Burtonwood’s large and medium format QR code paintings that emphasize the spatial dimensionality these “tags” are meant to denote. QR codes, or “quick response” codes were first created in 1994 by a subsidiary of Toyota and have different permutations of black squares that contain data. This open-source form of simple data transmission has over the last decade and a half become the format for mobile tagging. A business that Microsoft hopes to move in on with their neo-tribal hipsterfied version called, simply, Microsoft Tag. Just imagine, soon you can get a shirt that links to your website!
We live currently in the Information Age. Not a very groundbreaking statement, but we’ve only really begun to consider the alteration of our environmental space through the addition of a fourth dimension, that of information. The space of information is an ultimately vacuous space, perhaps, but a space that is calling to us with a siren’s song, a promise, of something complete but always just beyond reach.
-Joel Kuennen, ArtSlant Staff Writer
(All images courtesy of Tom Burtonwood)