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Aileen June Wang

(b San Leandro, CA, Feb 3, 1972).

American performance and video artist of Chinese ancestry. Chang earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California, San Diego in 1994. She showed her first solo exhibition at Jack Tilton Gallery, New York, in 1999. Her body of work focused on how people can be deceived, either through sight—what one sees is not necessarily true—or through mainstream assumptions about such topics as Asia, sexuality, and socially accepted behavior. Chang attributed her past stint in a cybersex company as the catalyst for exploring illusion as a theme. She realized that video flattened three-dimensional, live performances into a stream of two-dimensional images, enabling her to engage in visual deception.

Most of Chang’s early works investigated problems of gender and sexuality, using her own body and elements suggesting violence or transgression. The photograph Fountain (1999) depicted her inside a cubicle of a public lavatory, with a urinal visible on the far wall. Wearing a business suit, she knelt on hands and knees, seemingly kissing herself but actually slurping water off a mirror on the floor. The accompanying video focused on Chang’s face and her passionate interaction with her own reflection. While the photograph suggested female humiliation in a male world, the video complicated matters by implying that the act was motivated by narcissism....

Article

Tom Williams

(b San Francisco, CA, 1960).

American multimedia artist. He earned a BFA from San Jose University in 1984 and an MFA from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1989. He is best known for repurposing everyday materials in inventive sculptural constructions that often feature aural, kinetic and interactive elements. Many of his works feature radically unconventional self-portraits that have been physically transformed or technologically mediated. His work has been the subject of a number of exhibitions at prominent institutions, including the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC (2001) and the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York (2004).

Some of his most inventive and celebrated works have included a small bird skeleton made of his own nail clippings and a series of clocks made by motorizing parts of ordinary objects such as strands of hair caught in the bristles of a hairbrush and the tab on a soda can. Through such works, he memorialized the passing of time and, as many critics have pointed out, transformed ordinary objects into ...

Article

American library in Saint John’s University, Collegeville, MN, founded in 1965. The Hill Museum & Manuscript Library (HMML; formerly the Hill Monastic Manuscript Library) contains over 115,000 microfilm and digital images of medieval, Renaissance, early modern and Eastern Christian manuscripts. To fulfil its mission of preserving endangered manuscripts and making them more accessible to scholars, HMML photographs entire manuscript libraries that lack the resources to preserve their own collections, are inaccessible to researchers, or are in immediate danger of destruction. Until 2003, HMML photographed entire manuscripts on black and white microfilm and shot selected illuminations in colour. When the Library switched to digital photography in 2003, it shot entire volumes in colour and recorded codicological information.

The vast majority of HMML’s holdings reproduce texts predating 1600. Nearly half of HMML’s Western manuscripts derive from libraries in Austria and Germany, but HMML also houses significant collections from Spain, Portugal, Switzerland, and England. The Maltese collections are particularly important and include the Archives of the Knights of Malta. HMML has photographed collections of Eastern Christian manuscripts since the 1970s, and its collections of Armenian, Syriac, and Christian Arabic manuscripts are becoming the most significant resource for the study of Eastern Christian manuscripts in the world. HMML has by far the world’s largest collection of Ethiopian manuscripts preserved on microfilm and in digital form....

Article

Julia Robinson

(b Monaco, Nov 13, 1927; d Berkleley Heights, NJ, Jan 11, 2004).

Swedish–American engineer. Klüver was known for his important collaborations with artists at the dawn of media art. Having grown up in Sweden, he came to the USA in 1954, and pursued a PhD in electrical engineering at the University of California, Berkeley. After relocating to the East Coast, he worked as a staff scientist at Bell Telephone Laboratories (1958–68). In 1960, Klüver’s compatriot, the renowned museum director H. K. G. Pontus Húlten, introduced him to the artist Jean Tinguely, to help the latter with his landmark, self-destroying, kinetic sculpture, Homage to New York (a 27-minute event staged in the Garden of New York’s Museum of Modern Art). This led to numerous collaborations, initiated by Klüver, in which he (and other engineers) would work with artists, dancers, and composers (e.g. Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Whitman (b 1935), Andy Warhol, Nam June Paik, Yvonne Rainer, and John Cage), culminating in ...

Article

Midori Yoshimoto

(b New York, NY, 1933).

American printmaker, sound artist and performance artist. She was one of the founding members of Fluxus, the international avant-garde collective formed in 1962. Transferring from Middlebury College to Pratt Institute in New York, Knowles studied painting and drawing with Adolph Gottlieb and Richard Lindner and graduated in 1956. By the late 1950s she had lost interest in painting and burnt all her early paintings in a bonfire. It was then that she befriended artists Dick Higgins (1938–98), George Brecht and composer John Cage whose meditation on everyday life and music of indeterminacy inspired her to pursue a new artistic path.

After marrying in 1960, Knowles and Higgins were invited by George Maciunas to perform in the Fluxus inaugural concert series in Europe. There Knowles started to write her “Propositions,” radical reinterpretation of Cagean text scores, which transferred the artistic agency to the audience. Among her early events, Make a Salad...

Article

Margo Machida

(b Guangzhou, China, Sept 15, 1948).

Chinese multimedia artist. Raised in Hong Kong and Macau, Lee immigrated to the United States in 1973 to attend the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio (BFA 1977), followed by graduate studies at Syracuse University (1977–9). Moving to New York City in 1979, he became actively involved with the burgeoning downtown Manhattan arts community, where he created Graffiti and poster art, as well as outdoor slide theater works. Beginning in the 1980s, Lee co-founded three New York-based arts collectives: Epoxy Art Group (1981–7), Godzilla: Asian American Art Network (1990–2001) and Tomato Grey (2009). The first, Epoxy Art Group, involved project-oriented collaborations with artists from mainland China, Canada and Hong Kong that reflected their intersecting standpoints as Chinese living in the West. Godzilla: Asian American Art Network was a pan-Asian, intergenerational art group. Most recently, with Tomato Grey, Lee became involved with a new cohort of contemporary immigrant artists who endeavor to foster cultural exchange between arts practitioners in Hong Kong and New York City. Lee was a faculty member at the School of Visual Arts in New York (...

Article

Michelle Yun

(b Bronx, NY, April 20, 1960).

African American multimedia artist. His work deals with issues surrounding sexuality, race, identity, language and representation. Ligon attended the Rhode Island School of Design in 1980 but ultimately received a BA in 1982 from Wesleyan University in Middleton, CT. He subsequently participated in the Whitney Independent Studies program in 1985.

Ligon’s work primarily focuses on the experience of the individual in relation to the collective through the construction of black identity in America. His use of language as a visual device was first introduced in the Dreambook series from 1988 to 1990. This period served as a transition from his early abstract compositions to conceptually based, monochromatic, text based work. Paintings, such as Untitled (I Feel Most Colored When I Am Thrown Against a Sharp White Background) (1990–91), were exclusively constructed by the repetition of a phrase by authors including Zora Neal Hurston and Ralph Ellison, as well as risqué jokes using stereotypes about African American sexuality by Richard Pryor. Ligon applied each line by hand with plastic stencils and black oil stick on a white ground. As the rows progressed downwards, the wet oil stick smudged the surface until the words became unreadable....

Article

H. Alexander Rich

(b Honolulu, HI, 1966).

American video artist and sculptor. Pfeiffer exploited the latest in computer and video technology to examine the overwhelming power of mass media. He received his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in printmaking from the San Francisco Art Institute (1987) and his Master of Fine Arts from Hunter College in New York (1994). He participated in the Whitney Museum of American Art Independent Study Program (1997–8) and, among his many prizes and fellowships, was awarded the Whitney Museum’s Bucksbaum Award (2000).

Pfeiffer was born in Honolulu and grew up primarily in the Philippines but moved to the continental United States to pursue a career as an artist. Although he began producing his art in New York City in 1990, it was not until his breakthrough showing at the 2000 Whitney Museum Biennial that Pfeiffer was officially “discovered” by the art world. Even in his earliest works, he demonstrated a keen eye for the contradictions inherent in a world both dominated by celebrity culture and in which images define the ways people look at and interact with each other. Although photography, video and computers ostensibly connect people and transmit information as directly as possible, Pfeiffer dedicated his art to upturning these faulty assumptions about the veracity of what we see. Again and again, His work reveals his fascination with the ways in which the human image can be conveyed, distorted and fetishized through the mass media....