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Article

Frazer Ward

(Hannibal)

(b New York, Jan 24, 1940).

American poet, performance, video, and installation artist, and urban designer. Acconci worked for an MFA degree at the University of Iowa from 1962 to 1964. He initially devoted himself to poetry and writing that emphasized the physicality of the page and then began to produce visual work in real space in 1969. He worked as a performance artist from 1969 until 1974. His performance work addressed the social construction of subjectivity. A central work, Seedbed (1972; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), saw Acconci masturbate for six hours a day, hidden under a sloping gallery floor, involving visitors in the public expression of private fantasy. Between 1974 and 1979 he made a series of installations often using video and especially sound, mainly in gallery spaces, examining relations between subjectivity and public space. For Where We Are Now (Who Are We Anyway) (1976; New York, Sonnabend Gal.), a long table in the gallery and recorded voices suggested a realm of public or communal debate, but the table extended out of the window over the street like a diving board, countering idealism with the realities of city life. In the 1980s Acconci made sculptures and installations, many viewer-activated, invoking basic architectural units and domestic space. ...

Article

Christiane Paul

(b Buffalo, NY, May 25, 1978).

American computer artist, performance artist, video artist, installation artist, composer, sculptor, and printmaker. He graduated in 2000 from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, where he originally studied classical guitar but later switched to the technology of music. At Oberlin he also met Paul B. Davis with whom he formed the Beige Programming Ensemble in 2000, and released a record of 8-bit music entitled The 8-Bit Construction Set. In 2010 he co-founded, with Howie Chen and Alan Licht, the band Title TK.

Arcangel’s body of work has consistently addressed a series of themes, such as the manner in which we express ourselves through technological tools and platforms (from Photoshop to YouTube) in funny, original, creative, and awkward ways. His projects often explore our fascination with technology by playfully undermining our expectations of it and limiting viewers’ control. Another theme that frequently surfaces is the speed of technological obsolescence and the absurdity of a given technology’s lifecycle, which often moves from the cutting-edge of design to an insult of good taste (see Siegel, pp. 81–2). Arcangel connects these themes to the history of art, drawing parallels between pop-cultural vernacular and approaches in the fine art world and combining high tech and do-it-yourself (DIY) approaches. Among his best-known works are his hacks and modifications of Nintendo game cartridges and obsolete computer systems from the 1970s and 1980s (...

Article

Frazer Ward

(b San Francisco, CA, 1967).

American sculptor, installation artist, filmmaker, and video artist. Barney emerged in the early 1990s to considerable fanfare, based on the reputation of works made while still an undergraduate at Yale University (he graduated with a BA in 1989), and early exhibitions in New York galleries. Exhibitions such as Field Dressing (1989; New Haven, CT, Yale, U., Payne Whitney Athletic Complex), and early works in the series Drawing Restraint (begun in 1987), established characteristics of Barney’s work: striking imagery drawn from an idiosyncratic range of sources (sport-oriented in the earliest works), sculptural objects in signature materials (e.g. petroleum jelly, ‘self-lubricating plastic’), and athletic performances by the artist, in the service of arcane personal mythology (see fig.). These characteristics are most fully expressed in the Cremaster cycle of five films (1994–2003, released out of order, beginning with Cremaster 4 (1992)). Elaborate and expensive productions featuring lush imagery, drawing on both marginal and mainstream histories (performance art and Hollywood cinema), Celtic and Masonic lore, popular cultural references (Harry Houdini, Gary Gilmore), and anatomical metaphors (the Cremaster is the muscle by which the testicles are raised and lowered), the ...

Article

Morgan Falconer

(b Columbus, OH, 1949).

American installation artist and video artist. She graduated from the University of Florida in 1972, having studied finance, architecture and art; in 1986 she received an MA in Communication Arts from New York Institute of Technology. Barry’s work was consistently guided by an interest in the ways in which lived social relations are translated into built form in architecture and public space. Casual Shopper (1980–81; see 1988 exh. cat., p. 14) is typical of her early video pieces in examining these issues through a narrative about a couple in a Californian shopping mall; in it, Barry shows how the realms of private fantasy blend into the fantastical confections of the mall’s architecture. The slide and film installation In the Shadow of the City...Vamp r y... (1982–5) points to her related interests in subject formation, states of mind, and the way in which power is exercised through the gaze: bringing together a series of domestic and urban spaces, the images show a number of figures looking out of a window and a woman watching a man sleep. ...

Article

Carol Magee

(b Johannesburg, 1972).

South African multi-media artist, active in the USA. She received a BA in fine arts (University of Witwatersrand, 1993), an MA in art history (University of Chicago, 1995), and an MPhil in art history (Columbia University, New York, 1997). She was a fellow of the Whitney Independent Studio Program, New York (1996–7). Her work has been regularly included in biennials (including among others Johannesburg 1995, São Paulo 1998 and Venice (2005)), has been shown extensively in international solo and group exhibitions, and is owned by museums and private collectors throughout the world. In 2007 she was awarded the Prix International d’Art Contemporain by the Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco. In photography, video, and installation, Breitz turns an insightful, playful, and critical eye towards issues of representation, identity, media, global capital, consumerism, celebrity, fandom, and language. Her work stretches from the problem of the cult of the individual to the question of how cultural and other forms of identity are established and maintained. In ...

Article

Monica McTighe

(b St Louis, MO, 1948).

American photographer and multimedia artist. Using newly developed computer technologies in the 1970s, Burson designed ways to manipulate photographs digitally. She relied on this technique to produce images of people at an older age, fantastical composites of humans and animals, as well as composites of celebrities and politicians. She has also worked in the media of painting, drawing, and printmaking.

Burson began her career as a painter, studying for two years in the mid-1960s at Colorado Women’s College in Denver, CO. In 1968 she moved to New York City where she saw the Museum of Modern Art exhibition titled The Machine as Seen at the End of the Mechanical Age, which focused on the connections between art and technology. This exhibition helped inspire her development of ‘The Age Machine’, an interactive device that allowed viewers to see images of their aged faces. For help with this project, she approached Experiments in Art and Technology...

Article

Naomi Beckwith

(b Fulton, MO, Feb 4, 1959).

American sculptor and multimedia artist working in fibre, installation, video, and performance. The youngest of seven sons born into a central Missouri family, Cave demonstrated an early acumen with hand-made objects and throughout his career has created works out of texturally rich materials imbued with cultural meaning. Cave received his BFA (1982) from the Kansas City Art Institute, developing an interest in textiles and, after some graduate-level work at North Texas State University, received his MFA (1989) from the Cranbrook Academy of Art, renowned for their textile, fibre art, and design programmes. While working toward his art degrees, Cave simultaneously studied with the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater, a company known for introducing African American folk traditions into the modern dance vocabulary. Cave moved to Chicago where he became chair of the Department of Fashion Design at the School of the Art Institute in 1980.

Working across the disciplines of sculpture, textile, dance, and cultural performance, Cave’s oeuvre is based on the human figure; he has produced wearable art as sculptures, arrangements of human and animal figurines as installations, and performance works. Cave’s signature works, the multi-sensory ‘...

Article

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

Mary M. Tinti

(b Houston, TX, 1951).

American sculptor, installation and conceptual artist. His multimedia works investigate the pathology of contemporary culture. Mel Chin was born and raised in Houston, Texas to parents of Chinese birth and received his BA in 1975 from the Peabody College in Nashville, Tennessee. The works in Chin’s oeuvre are diverse in both medium and subject, but a consistent undercurrent of social, political, and environmental responsibility runs throughout. Whether a sculpture, film, video game, installation, public project or earthwork, Chin’s artworks consistently targeted a broad spectrum of pressing cultural and ecological interests and spread their message in subtle, if not viral ways.

In the 1980s, Chin produced a number of sculptures that set the stage for his ever-evocative artistic journey. The Extraction of Plenty from What Remains: 1823 (1988–9) is a frequently referenced piece from this period. It is a symbolic encapsulation of the effects of the Monroe Doctrine, referencing the complicated dealings between the US (represented by truncated replicas of White House columns) and Central America (represented by a cornucopia of mahogany branches, woven banana-tree fiber, and a surface layer of hardened blood, mud, and coffee grinds). From the 1990s, however, Chin moved away from strictly gallery-based installations and began creating works that directly engaged contemporary culture in a variety of physical and theoretical landscapes....

Article

Anne Blecksmith

Term used to describe pictorial representations of objects and data using a computer. The term also implies the creation of and subsequent manipulation and analysis of computer-generated imagery and graphics. Computer-generated imagery was developed shortly after the introduction of the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer (ENIAC) in 1946. In 1950, a mathematician and artist from Iowa named Ben Laposky produced computer-generated graphic images using an electronic oscilloscope and photographed the results using high-speed film. The first interactive man-machine graphics program was Sketchpad, invented by Ivan Sutherland, a graduate student at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Developed for the TX-2 computer, Sketchpad allowed one to draw on the computer screen using a light pen and processed image manipulation functions through a series of toggle switches.

In 1965, scientists from the USA and Germany organized concurrent computer art exhibitions entitled Computer-Generated Pictures at the Howard Wise Gallery in New York and the Galerie Niedlich in Stuttgart. The American scientists, Bela Julesz and A. Michael Noll worked at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, NJ, a center of computer graphic development and in ...

Article

Konjit Seyoum

(b 1947).

Ethiopian painter and computer artist, active in the USA. He trained at the School of Fine Arts under Gebre Krestos Desta in 1967. He received a scholarship to Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, in Nigeria, where he earned a BA (1972). He then moved to the United States to be curator of the art gallery at Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD. He actively promoted Ethiopian art, curating two 1973 exhibitions that featured Ethiopian artists working in the USA. He was awarded an MFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art, Baltimore. His paintings from this period are figurative. He went on to receive a PhD in computer art from The Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, and became a professor of art and director of the Computing Center for the Arts at North Carolina Central University, Durham, NC. His works from the 1990s are cibachrome prints of computer-manipulated imagery that range from complex compositions to simple figural depictions....

Article

Susan Kart

(b Nairobi, 1958).

Kenyan photographer, multimedia and performance artist, and teacher of Indian descent, active in the USA. DeSouza was born in Kenya to Indian parents. Raised in London from the age of 7, he called his background that of a ‘double colonial history’. DeSouza attended Goldsmiths College in London and the Bath Academy of Art, and although he has worked primarily in photography and as a writer on contemporary art, he has also branched out into performance art, digital painting, and textual and mixed media arts. He moved to the USA in 1992 and in 2012 became of Head of Photography at the University of California, Berkeley.

The primary themes in deSouza’s work are those of colonial encounter, seen in Indigena/Assimilado (1998), a photographic series of migrant workers in Los Angeles; migration, as explored in Threshold (1996–8), his early photographic series of airports empty of people; exile, which he explored in ...

Article

Christopher Finch

(b Chicago, IL, Dec 5, 1901; d Burbank, CA, Dec 15, 1966).

American film maker, animator, and entrepreneur. Much of his childhood was spent in rural Missouri, but during his adolescence the family moved to Kansas City, where he formed an interest in drawing and in Vaudeville theatre. He received little formal training, but by the age of 18 he was earning his living as a cartoonist, first in print and then in the fledgling field of animation. While still in Kansas City, Disney began, with his most important early associate Ubbe (‘Ub’) Iwerks (1901–71), to produce animated shorts including Alice’s Wonderland (1923), in which a young girl, filmed in live action, cavorted with cartoon characters. In 1923 Disney moved to Los Angeles, where Iwerks and other members of the Kansas City team joined him. They continued to produce similar comedies until 1927, when these were superseded by a fully animated series starring Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. By this time Disney himself had given up animation to concentrate on a supervisory role, but his ability to provide cartoon stories with dramatic structures and his flair for squeezing humour from visual jokes helped make Oswald a success. Disney lost the rights to the character to an unscrupulous distributor, however, precipitating the crisis that led to his greatest triumph. Urgently needing a new character, Disney created a mouse named Mickey (reputedly the name was chosen by Disney’s wife after many others, such as Mortimer, had been considered). The prototype Mickey, based on circles for ease of animation, was drawn by ...

Article

John-Paul Stonard

(b Washington, AR, July 10, 1940).

Native American Cherokee sculptor, performance artist, and video artist. In 1968 he moved to Geneva, where he attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1972. After his return to the USA he lived on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota and played an active part in the American Indian Movement; he also served from 1975 to 1979 as the executive director of the International Indian Treaty Council in New York. He left both organizations in 1980. Durham’s sculptures and installations can be seen against a background of activism, in which he records the plight of Native Americans in the face of Western colonial culture. His sculptures, bricolages of found objects, often take the form of vivid anthropomorphic constructions, appearing as ironic fetishes in an ethnographic display. Durham often includes words that provide witty if inconclusive suggestions of the type of protest that he is staging, as in the wall-mounted work ...

Article

Aaris Sherin

American digital type foundry and producer of printed material and graphic design software, which also produces the magazine Emigre. Founded in Sacramento, CA by Zuzana Licko (b Bratislava, 1961) and Rudy VanderLans (b The Hague, 1955), the company was responsible for some of the most recognizable and widely mimicked design and typography of the 1980s and 1990s. Emigre magazine was published and art directed by VanderLans with fonts designed by Licko. It continually challenged common conceptions of design while acting as a staging ground for the founders’ unconventional vision. The work of Licko and VanderLans has come to epitomize both the controversy and success associated with the digital revolution that occurred when Macintosh computers introduced designers to new ways of producing layouts and fonts.

Licko’s family moved to San Francisco from Czechoslovakia. She designed her first font for her father, a bio-mathematician who used the Greek alphabet for personal use. Licko studied visual communication at the University of California, Berkeley (...

Article

Donna Stein

(b New York, May 29, 1940; d New York, Nov 21, 1998).

American multimedia artist, video artist, teacher and writer. She studied painting at Cornell University (BA 1961) and New York University (MA 1967). She married architect James Ingo Freed in 1967. By the late 1960s she possessed a Portapak, one of the earliest Sony portable video recorders, and was among the first generation of artists to create and define video art. At first, she used video to produce a series of artist portraits, interviewing James Rosenquist, Lee Krasner, Adolph Gottlieb, Robert Morris, Roy Lichtenstein, and Joyce Kozloff, among others. Later she investigated personal, social and political issues relating to gender and sexuality. In 1972, her work was featured in the groundbreaking exhibition Circuit: A Video Invitational curated by David Ross at the Everson Museum of Art in Syracuse, NY.

Her best-known videotape, Art Herstory (22 minutes long and in color), was made in 1974 while she was an artist-in-residence at the Television Lab at the media company WNET. Brilliantly witty and feminist, Freed inserted herself into famous paintings from the 12th to the 20th century by artists such as Raphael, Chardin, Ingres, Manet and van Gogh. She critiqued male-dominated Western art history by portraying a contemporary woman at odds with her depiction in the past....

Article

Donna Stein

(b Essen, June 23, 1930; d New York, Dec 15, 2005).

American architect, educator and critic of German birth. He married writer, multimedia and video artist Hermine Freed in 1967. In 1939 Freed and his 4-year-old sister escaped Nazi Germany via France and Switzerland with an American uncle. In Chicago he was placed in the care of another uncle until his parents immigrated. Freed attended classes at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, decided to become an architect and enrolled at the Illinois Institute of Technology (BArch 1953). There he learned the tectonics of architecture and was influenced by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe.

After one year working in New York with Mies van der Rohe and Philip Johnson on the Seagram Building, I(eoh) M(ing) Pei hired him in 1956. Freed’s earliest projects for the Pei office were award-winning high-rise residential and office buildings (Kips Bay Plaza housing complex, 1963; University Plaza towers, 1967; 88 Pine Street, 1973...

Article

Canadian partnership of conceptual artists working as performance artists, video artists, photographers and sculptors. It was formed in 1968 by A. A. Bronson [pseud. of Michael Tims] (b Vancouver, 1946), Felix Partz [pseud. of Ron Gabe] (b Winnipeg, 1945) and Jorge Zontal [pseud. of Jorge Saia] (b Parma, Italy, 1944; d Feb 1994). Influenced by semiotics and working in various media, they sought to examine and subvert social structures, taking particular interest in the products of mass culture. Their existence as a group, each with an assumed name, itself undermined the traditional notion of the solitary artist of genius. In 1972 they began publishing a quarterly journal, File, to publicize their current interests and work. In the 1970s they concentrated on beauty parades, starting in 1970 with the 1970 Miss General Idea Pageant, a performance at the Festival of Underground Theatre in Toronto that mocked the clichés surrounding the beauty parade, resulting in the nomination of Miss General Idea ...

Article

Revised and updated by Margaret Barlow

(b Urbana, IL, March 31, 1942).

American performance artist, video artist, and writer. Graham founded the Daniels Gallery in New York and was its director from 1964 to 1965; there he came into contact with Minimalist artists such as Carl Andre, Sol LeWitt, and Donald Judd. This led him to question the gallery structure and the art displayed and to experiment with conceptual art. From 1965 to 1969 he produced a series of works published in magazines, such as Schema (1966; Brussels, Daled priv. col., see 1988 exh. cat., p. 9). This series consisted merely of a descriptive list of its own contents, including the number of words, and so referred to nothing beyond itself, unlike Minimalist art that he believed referred to the surrounding display space. Furthermore, the magazine was, unlike a gallery, clearly related to time and change through its regular appearance and topicality.

From 1969 to 1978 Graham was primarily involved with performance, film, and video. His first performance took place at the Loeb Student Center at New York University in ...

Article

Catherine M. Grant and Margaret Rose Vendryes

(b Cleveland, OH, 1959).

American printmaker, film maker, installation and conceptual artist and writer.

Green, of African descent, has worked primarily with film-based media, and has published criticism and designed installations that reveal her commitment to ongoing feminist and black empowerment movements. She earned her BA from Wesleyan University in 1981 and also spent some time at the School of Visual Arts in New York in 1980, returning in the late 1980s to study in the Whitney Independent Study Program, graduating in 1990. At the age of 24 she began exhibiting her comparative compositions containing found objects, images, and texts that question recorded history.

Green’s work deals with issues of anthropology and travel. By undertaking projects via the methodology of the 19th-century explorer, she exposed the arbitrary and prejudiced nature of classification, as in Bequest (1991; see 1993 exh. cat.), an installation she made at the invitation of the Worcester Museum of Art to commemorate their 50th anniversary. Using the museum as a ready-made stage set, she installed works of art alongside 19th-century texts explaining stereotypes of whiteness and blackness. Green characteristically intervened in the history of her chosen site to produce a fiction that included her own responses as an African American woman to her findings. In ...