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Article

Laser  

Frank Popper

Device used to amplify light to an intense beam of a very pure single colour by stimulated emission of radiation. The theoretical basis for the technique of the laser was calculated by Albert Einstein in 1917, but it was not until 1960 that Theodore H. Maiman created the first active laser, using a synthetic ruby crystal. For practical and economic reasons the pulse ruby lasers were largely replaced by continuous wave gas lasers in their helium-neon, argon ion or krypton argon ion versions. The artistic applications of the laser appeared from 1965 in three main areas: in combined visual and aural productions, in long-distance environmental plastic displays and in holography (see Hologram).

Large-scale productions such as Video/Laser I, II, III, which took place in Oakland, CA (1969), Osaka, Japan (1970), and in several European towns in 1971–2, were the collective work of the sculptor and physicist ...

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

Courtney Gerber

(b Norfolk, VA, Oct 11, 1957).

American multimedia conceptual artist. Due to her father’s position in the United States Marines, Lemieux spent the first years of her childhood moving from one southern military base to the next; however, she mostly spent the early 1960s growing up in Torrington, CT. Lemieux received her BFA in painting from Hartford Art School, University of Hartford, CT (1980), after which she promptly moved to New York. In 1983 she was severely injured after being hit by a van and temporarily lost the coordination and mobility necessary to continue producing the large geometric paintings that had occupied her energies since leaving Hartford. Lemieux’s mind, however, was still active and she found that by approaching art-making from a conceptual standpoint she was free to explore new ways of physically realizing her artistic intent. In 1984 the painter David Salle, Lemieux’s former teacher for whom she also worked as a studio assistant, selected her for the exhibition ...

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

Morgan Falconer

(b Halifax, Yorks, 1964).

English video artist. She studied Fine Art at Newcastle upon Tyne Polytechnic (1984–7). Lloyd is most recognized for video art which blends the performative, the theatrical and the documentary, yet in her earliest work she brought these qualities to other media. She first worked with photo-collage, and in 1993 produced a purely text-based piece for the mail art project Imprint 93, entitled E1, which documented a series of random encounters she had had with strangers. Following this she began to produce the real-time video pieces for which she is best known. Picture This (1993) is typical of the ways in which the early video pieces documented bodily activity: here the focus is the torso of a woman dancing to a record. Her work in the late 1990s elaborated on this form, using non-actors to perform sometimes banal, sometimes theatrical activities for a static camera. Maddy and Kate...

Article

Daniel E. Mader

(b New York, Jan 7, 1953).

American painter, draughtsman, sculptor, video artist, and performance artist. He received his BFA (1975) from the State University College in Buffalo, NY, with a professed ambition to reach the largest possible audience. Living this prophetic statement throughout his more than 30-year career, Longo first achieved fame in the 1980s with a series of large-scale drawings in charcoal and graphite entitled Men in the Cities (New York, Metro Pictures). These images were life-size human figures in isolation or in groups, wherein the power struggles created a menacing atmosphere.

During the late 1980s he was increasingly involved with film, directing Arena Brains (30 minutes, 1988) and later Johnny Mnemonic with Keanu Reeves (98 minutes, 1995). A regular international exhibitor, often using both controversial and intimidating scale, he exhibited a 1993 drawing series Bodyhammers: The Cult of the Gun (New York, Metro Pictures; Salzburg, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac). He exhibited in the Venice Biennale (...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium utilizing oxidized metal particles carried on a flexible substrate, in order to record an electronic signal, most commonly in the form of audiotape or videotape. Magnetic tape is also used in computers for the storage of data, but this usage is unlikely to be encountered in an art conservation context.

Magnetic recording tape generally is made up of a plastic film base (most tapes, including all videotapes, have a base of polyester terephthalate (PET)), coated on one side with a binder system containing oxidized metal particles. Often, recording tape will also have what is known as a backcoating on the reverse side, which reduces friction, dissipates the buildup of static electricity, and allows for the tape to be more evenly wound. Some early audiotapes had paper backing, while others may also have a backing of acetate plastic, which is subject to the same deterioration factors as acetate photographic film, including so-called ‘vinegar syndrome’. The binder layer, the most critical component of the recording tape, usually consists of metal particles suspended in a binder of polyester and polyurethane, although it can contain numerous other chemicals. Different manufacturers have used different binder formulations, and changed them frequently over time. For this reason, some tapes may be more subject to deterioration than others of similar age and format. In the 1980s, manufacturers began to produce tapes with no binder polymer, but instead a very thin layer of metal alloy evaporated onto the tape base, known as ‘metal evaporated’ or ME tapes. The binder system may also contain lubricants designed to minimize friction as the tape passes through a recording or playback device....

Article

Robin Adèle Greeley

(b Culiacán, Sinaloa, 1963).

Mexican multimedia and installation artist. A key figure in the generation of Mexican artists that emerged in the 1990s, Margolles studied forensic medicine and communication sciences at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City, and was a founding member of the death metal band and performance collective, Semefo (1990–1999), before commencing her independent artistic career. Margolles’s aesthetics consistently focus on the social violence revealed by death, using her experiences as a forensic technician in Mexico City’s morgue to probe the brutality structurally inherent in contemporary urban society.

Margolles’s trajectory can be roughly divided into three periods: her membership in Semefo; her solo work using the city morgue as her studio; and, subsequently, her aesthetic responses to the unfettered violence induced by Mexico’s drug wars.

In Semefo (which took its name from the acronym for Servicio Médico Forense [“Forensic Medical Service”: the city morgue]), Margolles and her colleagues staged macabre art-action performances filled with blood, excrement, entrails, and dead animals, aimed at transgressing the boundaries of the body. These grotesque manifestations sought to explore the transformations experienced by bodies after death, or what Semefo called the “life of the corpse” (...

Article

Dennis Raverty

(b Birmingham, AL, Oct 17, 1955).

African American painter, writer, film production designer, and multimedia installation artist. Marshall’s works portray idealized subjects derived from African American experience in large-scale, multiple-figure paintings and installations that share many characteristics with European history painting in the “grand manner” of Peter Paul Rubens, Benjamin West, Jacques-Louis David, and the 19th-century academic tradition. This “high culture” Euro-American tradition is juxtaposed with elements of African American vernacular culture in order to reinsert African American subjects and aesthetics into the larger mainstream of America’s artistic and cultural history—a history from which, the artist believes, blacks have been largely excluded.

Marshall was born in Birmingham, AL, one of the most segregated cities in the United States at that time, and the site of civil rights demonstrations in the early 1960s. He moved with his parents in 1963 to Nickerson Gardens public housing project in Watts, CA, just a few years before the riots there. Consequently, the struggles of the civil rights movement profoundly affected him and are a major theme in his mature work....

Article

Rodrigo Moura

(b São Paulo, 1974).

Brazilian multimedia and installation artist. Matheus graduated from the Escola de Comunicações e Artes of the Universidad de São Paulo, where he was a student of Ana Maria Tavares (b 1958), in 2011. This training gave him an analytical approach in relation to the art object and its place in the art system and society, and in the interest he shared with Tavares for display strategies, the use of unorthodox artistic materials, and the scrutiny of Modernist architecture. Among his first major projects was an intervention in the commercial gallery of the Copan building, an important architectural complex designed by Oscar Niemeyer and built in the city center of São Paulo between 1951 and 1966. In collaboration with fellow artists Ana Luiza Dias Batista (b 1978) and Eurico Lopes (b 1968), the project Plano Copan (2002) created a fictionalized presentation of commercial businesses in the fields of stationery, games, medical devices, and real estate consulting, occupying retail space and the building foyer with signs, vitrines, furniture, and items on display for sale. From this experience, Matheus developed other projects with fictional business identities, for example Engeoplan, a design company responsible for the creation of a smoking room that occupied the interior of the gallery in his solo exhibition at Paço das Artes (São Paulo, ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b London, Oct 9, 1969).

English film maker and video artist. McQueen became interested in film while a student at Goldsmiths’ College, London. On graduating in 1993 he spent a year studying film at the Tisch School of the Arts in New York, but was disenchanted by the lack of experimentation that it promoted. From his first major film, Bear (1993; see 1999 ICA exh. cat., p. 13), exhibited at the Royal College of Art in 1994, McQueen achieved swift success on an international stage with a body of formally very distinctive work. His black-and-white silent films, in which he often appears, are characterized by their visual economy and by the highly controlled environment in which they are projected. This minimalist and anti-narrative approach has been seen as an alienation technique, underlining McQueen’s exploration of formal film language as well as popular cinematic convention. He cites, among others, the influence of the French New Wave, as well as the films of Andy Warhol and the contemporary American film maker Sadie Benning. In ...

Article

Denise Carvalho

(b Rio de Janeiro, 1948).

Brazilian interventionist, multimedia, installation and conceptual artist, considered the most influential contemporary artist of his country. While international critics have compared his work with North American Minimalism and Conceptual art, Meireles insisted that art should be seductive. He studied at the National School of Fine Arts and at the Museum of Modern Art in Rio de Janeiro. Coming of age at a time of the military dictatorship in Brazil (1964–85), he circumvented strict state censorship with a series of interventionist works, adding politically charged texts and reinserting the works back into circulation.

Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Coca-Cola Project (1970) included Coca-Cola bottles with the added text ‘Yankees. Go Home!’ In Insertions into Ideological Circuits: Cédula Project (1970), the same message was printed on one dollar bills, and on the current Brazilian currency, the Cruzeiro. Some bills also queried ‘Who killed Herzog?’ referring to a Brazilian journalist who died while in police custody. Meireles’ series utilizes a mechanistic process of capitalistic insertion and circulation, adding phrases that question the methods and policies of the dictatorship. ...

Article

Susan S. Weininger

(b Havana, Nov 18, 1948; d New York, Sept 8, 1985).

American sculptor, performance artist, video artist, and painter of Cuban birth. From the age of 13, when she was sent to the USA from Cuba by her parents, she lived in orphanages and foster homes in Iowa. Her sense of exile and the separation from her family proved strong motivating forces on her later work. After completing an MA in painting at the University of Iowa in 1972, she entered the university’s new Multimedia and Video Art programme, in which she was free to experiment and develop a unique formal language, gaining an MFA in 1977.

In the 1970s Mendieta began to create ‘earth-body sculptures’ outdoors in Iowa, using the primal materials of blood, earth, fire, and water, having first executed performances that she documented in photographs or black-and-white films. In the Silueta series she traced or sculpted the image of her body on the ground, using ignited gunpowder, leaves, grass, mud, stones, other natural elements, or cloth; ...

Article

Britta Erickson

(b Beijing, Jan 9, 1966).

Chinese installation artist, painter and computer artist. He completed middle school in 1985 at the Beijing School of Arts and Crafts, and received his BA in 1991 from the printmaking department of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing. He is considered China’s first and most important computer artist. He is a guest teacher at the Central Academy’s Photography and Digital Media Studio.

Beginning in 1983 or 1984, Feng became fascinated by computer gaming. He made use of the look and techniques of computer games and explored the implications of computer gaming through his work. Several early 1990s painting series reproduce the look of computer games of the time, with two-dimensional fighting depicted in front of simple backgrounds rendered in flat colours. Game Over: Long March (1994; set of 42 paintings), for example, deploys such popular culture heroes as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in battle along with Tyrannosaurus rexes, People’s Liberation Army soldiers and Mao Zedong. As a result of these painting series, Feng was considered a Political Pop artist, Political Pop being a late 1980s–early 1990s painting trend that defused Cultural Revolution (...

Article

Vanina Costa

revised by Jean Robertson

(b Berck, Nov 30, 1943).

French multi-media artist. Messager studied at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs in Paris (1962–6). Her wide-ranging, idiosyncratic works resist categorization. From the beginning of her career, she employed numerous materials and methods (including painting, sewing and knitting, photography, writing, taxidermy, and installation). She freely mixed high and low forms, objects, and references from visual culture with her own sewn, drawn, and painted images, objects, and texts. Her content is a mixture of the real and fictional. Since her first one-person exhibition at the Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus in Munich (1973), Messager was a sought after artist in Europe and globally. She participated in numerous influential exhibitions, art fairs, biennials, and one-person exhibitions over decades, including representing France at the 51st Venice Biennale (2005), where her mechanized installation Casino (2005) won the Lion d’Or.

Inspiration in Messager’s early career came from, among other sources, ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Tokyo, Jan 16, 1957).

Japanese sculptor and installation artist. He finished undergraduate and postgraduate studies at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1986 and came to prominence in the late 1980s with installations of digital counters in the form of light-emitting diodes. He made his first counter in 1988 and subsequently retained this form as his basic building block: a large, two-digit red display, it continually counts from 1 to 99, never reaching 100 or registering zero. Often he wired together several counters together so that they triggered each other at various points; he called these groups ‘Regions’ and saw them as representing a symbolic universe. In the first half of the 1990s he produced work as part of his 133651 series: ranging from small groupings of counters to large, complex installations, each work consisted of a row of ten two-digit counters with up to five wired together. Such a unit allows a total of 133,651 combinations to appear, hence the title. The project ...

Article

Karen Kurczynski

(b Saugerties, NY, Jan 18, 1942).

American performance and video artist and spiritual practitioner. Montano was raised a Roman Catholic and briefly entered a convent as a teenager in 1960–62. She went on to practice a mixture of Catholicism, yoga and Zen Buddhism in direct relationship to her artistic works, which explore breaking down the boundary between art and everyday life through ritual. She earned an MA in sculpture from Villa Schifanoia, Florence, in 1966 and an MFA at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 1969.

Montano is known for her endurance performances. Her early performances in the 1970s involved blindfolding herself for weeks at a time, handcuffing herself to other people, and performing as her alter-ego “Chicken Woman.” She began making video art as an extension of her performances. The video Mitchell’s Death (1977) was based on a performance, with live music by the composer Pauline Oliveros and musician Al Rossi, in which she relates the story of the sudden death of her husband, Mitchell Payne. The video features an extreme close-up of Montano chanting while she inserts acupuncture needles into her face. The ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant

revised by Jennifer Way

(b Tokyo, Feb 21, 1967).

Japanese photographer, video artist, performance artist, sculptor, installation artist and painter. Mori studied fashion at the Bunka Fashion Institute in Tokyo from 1986 to 1988 and worked part-time as a model before moving to London to study at the Shaw School of Art (1988–9) and the Chelsea College of Art (1989–92), where she earned a BFA. In New York she participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art (1992–3). In 1994 Mori returned to Tokyo and began making large digital photographs and videos in which she appears as a ‘shaman, mermaid, cyber-geisha and visitor from the future’ (Johnson, p. 56). Subsequently, she assembled teams of stylists, photographers, computer imagists, sound technicians and fabricators along with musicians and scientists to create immersive multimedia installations consisting of digital photography, music, video, cinematic spatial effects, abstract biomorphic sculptural forms, paintings and scent, engaging users and responding to data and environmental stimuli. She exhibited her art in biennale exhibitions throughout the world, for example, in Singapore, Venice, Shanghai, Sydney, Kwangju, Istanbul and Lyon. From ...

Article

Sheila S. Blair and Jonathan M. Bloom

(b. Shiraz, 1963).

Iranian artist. Moshiri graduated from the California Institute of Arts in 1984 and experimented with installations, video art and painting before returning to Tehran in 1991. He became known for a series of large oil paintings on canvas showing monumental jars and bowls with richly textured surfaces and flowing calligraphy that he began in 2001. The form and cracked and weathered surface of the jars reflects his fascination with archaeology, and the texts on them contain poems in nasta‛līq script. In some cases, his paintings contain only letters or numbers. Inspired by calligraphic practice sheets, known as siyāh-mashq, and by the alphanumeric system (abjad), he plays with the shape rather than the meaning of words. His more conceptual pieces include a vitrine of gilded objects (2003), Rogue gun installation (2004), and Ultimate Toy–Legold (2004). He has held a number of solo exhibitions, including one at Leighton House, London (...

Article

Jeffrey Martin

Medium on which a series of photographic images are recorded on a flexible plastic base in order to produce the illusion of movement when reproduced by projection through a lens or other means. Although ‘film’ has been used by the general public as a catch-all term for any moving image medium, it actually refers specifically to photochemical reproduction.

Three different types of film base have been used in motion picture production. The first, cellulose nitrate, was used from the time it was introduced by Eastman Kodak in 1889, through the early 1950s. Cellulose nitrate was durable, withstood repeated projection, and provided a high-quality image. It was also extremely flammable, requiring careful handling in shipping and storage, and the construction of special fireproof projection booths in theatres. It is always identified by the words ‘Nitrate film’ along one edge. Cellulose acetate film was first made available commercially in 1909, but was inferior in strength to nitrate film, and was not widely adopted for theatrical use. It was, however, used exclusively in smaller-gauge film for home and amateur use by the 1920s. In ...