Where: Pepper Canyon Hall 257, UCSD
Online exhibition at http://cat.ucsd.edu
When: February 2nd – March 18th, 2011
Opening reception and conversation with the artists, Wednesday February 1st, 2011, 2-3pm, light refreshments will be served.
The Culture, Art and Technology (CAT) program at the Sixth College of UCSD is proud to present the new ARTifact gallery exhibition for the Winter 2010 quarter, MySpectacle, curated by Micha Cárdenas, Associate Director of Art and Technology for Sixth College. The ARTifact gallery exists as a physical gallery in the CAT core offices as well as an online exhibition space at the CAT website, cat.ucsd.edu. The gallery acts as an integrated learning laboratory, transforming the working environment of CAT students, staff and faculty into a hybrid space in which contemporary art can be part of the dialog of interdisciplinary undergraduate learning curriculum in Sixth College.
The shift from analog to digital media opens up new opportunities for artistic intervention and analysis, as well as new systems of social control and image manipulation. The works in MySpectacle directly engage with questions of the changing nature of representation, spectatorship and participation in an age of proliferating digital representations. The show serves as a conversation piece and a concrete example of the concepts being discussed in the CAT core curriculum this quarter.
By looking at the shift in media distribution of major historical events, we can understand the shift from a monolithic spectacle to the proliferation of representations resulting in a broad set of changes to politics, law and entertainment. In the CAT program this quarter, Kelly Gates’ CAT 2 course “Capturing the Visual World” considers the shift from analog to digital photography and the ramifications across a broad set of domains. The Software Studies Initiative’s images in this show create new tools for cultural analytical practices by utilizing massive databases of images, in this case all the covers of Time magazine from 1923-2009. By allowing the viewer to see such a large number of images simultaneously, a number of historical patterns emerge. Another image from Software Studies looks at the Freakangels manga, sorting the panels horizontally in publication order and vertically according to brightness. The visualization allows viewers to reconsider how comics are read and how illustrated representations can be understood. This work speaks directly to the students of CAT 2 with Emily Roxworthy, whose class “Animation, Simulation and Performance” explores war documentary comics and their ability to create empathy.
War imagery is a significant portion of media spectacle today and such imagery lies directly at the intersections of politics, technology and art. Considering the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, Seymour Hersh covered the execution of large numbers of civilians by U.S. troops and broadcast worldwide by CBS News with a resulting political response that many say helped end the Vietnam war. Today, when images depicting torture of prisoners in the Abu Ghraib prison were released, people saw them not only on CBS news by Hersh again, but also on innumerable websites, through emails viewed on iPhones, shared and debated on Facebook and culture jammed in the iRaq ipod ads by artists Forkscrew Graphics. The next step in this proliferation of war spectacles was the cell phone video of Saddam Hussein, which was leaked not by a journalist, but by a prison guard with a cell phone. The multitude of representations mirrors the complexity of the social and artistic movements responding to these images. The resulting institutional response is just one example of the desire for total information management and perfectly groomed corporate identities in the face of expanding networks of media distribution. Charles G. Miller’s work in this show explores the nature of these corporate facades, and the embedded, implicit violence in the local suburban landscape. While the explicit image of these corporations such as General Atomics is one of a clean, spotless high tech corporation, the reality of their scientists’ involvement with projects such as the Manhattan Project, resulting in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, is an implicit level of Miller’s imagery and a topic of Roxworthy’s course. In addition, Jay Mark Johnson’s piece in the show, “Swept Away #2” gives a personal, human scale view of Belgrade, a city which has seen so much war, but manipulates the representation of the landscape so as to refer to any number of possible points in history.
Most recently Wikileaks has been making headlines for releasing data about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, but one can understand this shift more broadly than just news. One can see it in the representation of violence shifting from broadcast videos of actual war violence to the commodified violence of first person shooter games, where each player has their own personalized simulation of war violence. Today these games are used as a finely crafted communications tool to train and recruit new soldiers, such as America’s Army. Looking to entertainment, one can see the mutation of the spectacle from monolithic films viewed only in theaters, to today’s situation where they are seen on DVD, or Bittorrent downloaded to laptops and smart phones. Artie Vierkant’s piece “Avatar in 3D” explores the rhetorics of file sharing communities and the ability of artists to use downloaded media as the raw material for their own reinterpretations. Similarly, “Daylight/Twilight”, included in the online exhibition uses techniques from cultural analytics to reconfigure these two Hollywood films. Liz Losh’s CAT class this quarter provides students with a deep understanding of the specific rhetorics of digital culture. Also, Charles Thorpe’s CAT 2 course “Society of the Spectacle” this quarter is looking closely at the changing nature of capitalist spectacle and it’s presence in the San Diego environment.
Today we see a move away from the production of spectacle as Hollywood stars give some ground to reality television stars and ultimately to each person producing their own spectacles on YouTube, a MySpectacle for each of us. Elle Mehrmand’s project “w3eks.” takes the underlying drive of such sites to its logical conclusions, taking a photo of herself every 15 minutes for 3 weeks and creating her own database of lived experience. Gerald Doppelt’s class “Technology, Medicine, Ethics” engages with Facebook this quarter as a site of ethical debate, and Mehrmand’s use of this format prefigures these debates. The grid format the images are presented in again reference both the large scale nature of such databases, impossible to grasp in a single viewing as well as the ability of sites like Google and Flickr to create grids of images which have become a daily viewing experience for many.
Another common feature of the new networked daily life is Google Maps. Mark Hineline’s CAT 2 course “Climate, Technology and Culture” helps students develop critical thinking skills that use maps as tools of analysis to understand large scale human made effects on the environment. The works in this show by Rayyane Tabet and Charles G. Miller both engage with these issues, in Tabet’s case looking at a map of Beirut used as a basis for the game commonly known as beer pong, but also known as Beirut due to it’s creation during the bombing of the marines barracks in Beirut. Tabet’s work opens up the reading of a map to multiple readings including maps as war tools, the militarism of the overhead perspective and the black humor of war.
More information at cat.ucsd.edu