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<nettime-ann> MySpectacle, The Proliferation of Spectacles, Winter Exhib
micha cárdenas on Mon, 31 Jan 2011 22:37:38 +0100 (CET)

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<nettime-ann> MySpectacle, The Proliferation of Spectacles, Winter Exhibition at ARTifact Gallery


Contact: Micha Cárdenas, Associate Director of Art and Technology
Sixth College, University of California, San Diego
mcardenas a+ ucsd d0t edu

Where: Pepper Canyon Hall 257
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.

MySpectacle, the Proliferation of Spectacles

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 if 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.

Pieces Included in MySpectacle include:

Freakangels Time Curve

Jeremy Douglass with Lev Manovich


Digital print

Like print comics and manga, web comics may run for years with new
episodes added daily, weekly, or monthly. How does their visual style
change over the duration of publication? Are the temporal patterns
gradual or abrupt? How do these patterns relate to development of a

To create this visualization of 342 consecutive pages of the web comic
Freakangels that were published over 15 months, we used one of the
simplest visual features that can be automatically measured with
software – the average of all pixels’ grayscale values in an image.
These average values were used to position the pages vertically. The
horizontal placement of the pages corresponds to the order of
publication (left to right).

Despite the weekly intervals that separate the episodes of
Freakangels, our visualization shows that its visual form is
remarkably consist. For the larger part of the publication period, the
changes in brightness (the same applies to hue and saturation) follow
a smooth curve. Visualization reveals this unexpected pattern and
allows us to see the exact shape of the curve.


Lev Manovich and Jeremy Douglass


Digital print triptych

Visualizing 4535 Time covers reveals a number of historical periods
and patterns.

The image makes visible the pre-color printing era on the far left, a
cluster of brief early experiments in color printing (with left-margin
coloration), and then the gradual shift from black and white to full
color covers, with both types coexisting for a number of years. Taking
a step back, we can see that brightness and saturation follow a
cyclical pattern of rising and falling, with dramatic peaks and
valleys only becoming apparent over periods of a decade or more.
Standing apart from the overall curve are extreme exceptions: glowing
bright images and pale designs that float above or below the cloud of
covers typical of an era. Taking another step back, we can compare our
present decade to the entire 86 year magazine history. The drop in
saturation since the end of the 1990s (end of right panel) echoes a
somewhat similar period of unsaturated covers during the mid-1960s
(bottom of center panel).


Jay Mark Johnson

Archival Print, Paper, Aluminum

25” (H) X 53” (W) Framed

Edition 3 of 9

In “Swept Away” Johnson focuses on images created in Belgrade in
February 2008. The images were taken in freezing conditions with
overcast winter skies from roadsides, from scenic overlooks and within
a few local flea markets and junk markets, and depict sequences of
cars or trams as well as the lone figures of junk or scrap metal
collectors and the like. According to Johnson, the title of the show
was inspired by the socially critical film by Lina Wertmüller, which
examines the gradual reversal of the hierarchical positions between a
rich northern Italian lady and a simple southern Italian deck hand
when they are stranded on an uninhabited island. But the title is much
more multifaceted: it also refers to the obliterated landscapes behind
the vehicles and figures, an image maybe of the destruction of nature
by the relentless encroachment of industry, as well as to the desolate
social isolation of the depicted figures, who move on the fringes of
society and are commonly excluded from the collective awareness.
Lastly it can also be read, particularly in view of the inclusion of
the element of time in Johnson’s images, as a compelling visual
reflection on the nature of time itself as a destructive maelstrom
that washes away all that is but transient.


Elle Mehrmand



A performance where Mehrmand documented herself with a camera every
fifteen minutes for a period of three weeks. This simple parameter
created an experiment which allowed her to analyze, question and
change patterns in her quotidian. Mehrmand externalized the intimacies
of private and public space, which inherently extended her art
practice into the realms of the everyday.

Hidden in Plain Sight: La Jolla / UTC Annex, An-Edge City

Charles G. Miller

The five images included in MySpectacle have been selected from a
database of approximately 1500 of the urban geography immediately
adjacent to the UCSD campus--produced during a series of walks therein
disguised in corporate drag. The selected images exemplify the most
significant industrial anchors in the territory:
biotech/pharmaceuticals, defense, high tech and communications
technologies. Taken from municipal right-of-ways, i.e. public space,
the images gaze across a public/private threshold in order to develop
a typology of seemingly innocuous, or cognitively invisible
architectural space. The presumed pragmatism of this landscape would
eventually seem strategically poised to render the question of public
space null, and furthermore to conceal complicity with, as well as
globally displace, structural violence.


Rayyane Tabet


Inkjet Print on Vellum, 54" x 60"


Rayyane Tabet


Inkjet Print on Vellum, 54" x 60"


Artie Vierkant


HD video


The entirety of James Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar mapped onto the
surface of a slowly rotating sphere. Created in response to the
popularity and availability of a pirated copy of Avatar on bittorrent.
 Re-released on the video’s platform of origin- bit torrent file
sharing networks.

Daylight / Twilight

Artie Vierkant


HD video diptych

1 hr. 58 min. / 2 hr. 02 min.

The films Daylight (1996) and Twilight (2008) rearranged frame by
frame based on each frame’s brightness value.  Daylight runs brightest
to darkest while Twilight runs darkest to brightest.

Artist bios:

Jeremy Douglass is a postdoctoral researcher in Software Studies at
the University of California San Diego, in affiliation with Calit2,
the Center for Research in Computing and the Arts, and Visual Arts,
with support from the NEH and NSF. His research focuses on approaches
to software and code using the methodologies of the humanities and
social sciences, as well as approaches to culture using the techniques
of software engineering and data mining. One current emphasis is on
the art and science of information visualization and its applications
to visual culture. Douglass is active in the Software Studies and
Critical Code Studies research communities, and is a founding member
of Playpower, a MacArthur/HASTAC funded digital media and learning
initiative to use ultra-affordable 8-bit game systems as a global
education platform. His Ph.D. dissertation "Command Lines: Aesthetics
and Technique in Interactive Fiction and New Media" (UCSB 2007) is
freely available online.

Artist Jay Mark Johnson produces photographic images that challenge
the norms of perception. Throughout his career, in work spanning the
disciplines of drawing and painting, filmmaking, performance,
architecture, and photography, he has made visible the intersection of
human nature and society. At the end of 1991, Johnson returned to Los
Angeles, where he is now a cinema director with broad experience in
visual effects production, having supervised, directed or otherwise
contributed to the computer generated imagery for nearly a dozen major
studio films and television series, including The Matrix, Titanic,
Moulin Rouge, Tank Girl, Outbreak, White Oleander, and music videos
for Michael Jackson, Madonna, the Red Hot Chili Peppers and others.
Having discovered the many ways that a limited understanding of human
nature can hinder the advancement of progressive causes, he devoted
two years to graduate study in Linguistic Anthropology and Biological
Anthropology at UCLA.  Additional years of study focused on reading in
the cognitive sciences. His current SPACETIME photographic series
began with rudimentary experiments in 2005.  Over the course of this
project he increasingly applies the full range of his experiences,
from visual arts and cinema to studies in the anthropological and
cognitive sciences.  Work from this period is in the permanent
collections of the Frederick R. Weisman Art Founndation and the Langen
Foundation, Hombroich, Germany and Peter Klein, Museum Kunstwerk,
Eberdingen, Germany. The artist was born in 1955 in St. Petersburg,
Florida, USA. Since 1996 Johnson has resided intermittently in Europe,
in Paris, Antwerp, Rome and rural Italy. He currently lives and works
in Venice, California.

Lev Manovich is the author of Software Takes Command (released under
CC license, 2008), Soft Cinema: Navigating the Database (The MIT
Press, 2005), and The Language of New Media (The MIT Press, 2001)
which is described as “the most suggestive and broad ranging media
history since Marshall McLuhan.” Manovich is a Professor in Visual
Arts Department, University of California San Diego, a Director of the
Software Studies Initiative at California Institute for
Telecommunications and Information Technology (CALIT2), and a
Professor at European Graduate School (EGS). He is much in demand to
lecture around the world, having delivered 450 lectures, seminars and
workshops during the last 10 years.

Elle Mehrmand is a performance/new media artist and musician who uses
the body, electronics, video, sound and installation within her work.
She is the singer and trombone player of Assembly of Mazes, a music
collective who creates dark, electronic, middle eastern, rhythmic jazz
rock. Elle is currently an MFA candidate at UCSD, and received her BFA
in art photography with a minor in music at CSULB. She has received
grants from UCIRA, the Russell Foundation and Fine Arts Affiliates.
Elle is a researcher at CRCA at UCSD and is a member of the electronic
disturbance theatre 2.0/ b.a.n.g. lab. Her performances have been
shown in Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Durham,
Tijuana, Montreal, Dublin, Istanbul and Bogotá. Her work has been
discussed in Art21, the LA Times, Juxtapoz Magazine, Networked
Performance, Reno News and Review, the LA Weekly, the OC weekly, VICE,
and Furtherfield.org.

Charles G Miller is an artist and writer currently based in San Diego.
He received his BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art in 2004 and
his MFA from University of California, San Diego in 2010. His recent
project: Hidden In Plain Sight: La Jolla / UTC Annex, An-Edge City
includes a forthcoming film produced with a fellowship from the Center
for Global California Studies. A frequent collaborator, he is
currently a resident artist, researcher and program developer at the
Periscope Project: an arts and architecture cooperative and urban
think tank based in downtown San Diego.

Rayyane Tabet's work has been concerned with researching hidden
histories that are transformed and retold through objects and
installations. He received a Bachelor’s in Architecture (BArch) from
The Cooper Union and is currently pursuing a Masters in Fine Arts
(MFA) at the University of California, San Diego. His work has been
featured in NOISE, Sfeir-Semler Gallery (2010), Art Now In Lebanon,
Darat al Funun (2008) and has been included in the New Museum’s book
Younger than Jesus: The Artist Directory, published by Phaidon Press

Artie Vierkant is one of many possible Google Search results. His work
concerns the degree to which digital media constitute fully tangible
objects, actors which are both pliable and physical, structures to be
broken into pieces and reconceived.


Micha Cárdenas is an artist/theorist whose transreal work mixes
physical and networked spaces in order to explore emerging forms of
queer relationality, biopolitics and DIY horizontal knowledge
production. She is the Associate Director of Art and Technology for
UCSD’s Sixth College in the Culture, Art and Technology program. She
has been a lecturer in the Visual Arts department and Critical Gender
Studies program at UCSD. She is an artist/researcher with the UCSD
School of Medicine, CRCA and the b.a.n.g. lab at Calit2. Her recent
publications include “I am Transreal”, in Gender Outlaws: The Next
Generation from Seal Press, Trans Desire/Affective Cyborgs, with
Barbara Fornssler, from Atropos Press and “Becoming Dragon: A
Transversal Technology Study” in Code Drift from CTheory. She has
exhibited and performed in biennials, museums and galleries in cities
around the world including Los Angeles, San Diego, Tijuana, New York,
San Francisco, Montreal, Egypt, Ecuador, Spain, Switzerland, Ireland
and many other places. Her work has been written about in publications
including Art21, the Associated Press, the LA Times, CNN, BBC World,
Wired and Rolling Stone Italy.



micha cárdenas
Associate Director of Art and Technology
Culture, Art and Technology Program, Sixth College, UCSD

Co-Author, Trans Desire / Affective Cyborgs, Atropos, http://is.gd/daO00
Artist/Researcher, UCSD School of Medicine
Artist/Theorist, bang.lab, http://bang.calit2.net

blog: http://transreal.org

gpg: http://is.gd/ebWx9

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