Translated by Tom Skipp
Presentation Carlos Mª Martínez Martínez Managing Director of Obra Social Caja Madrid
It seems like only yesterday when we launched a new competition aimed at funding young people aspiring to be part of a group known as curators, a group whose professional objective is to bring society closer to the undercurrents and trends of contemporary art. Six years have passed since then. And over these years we have seen the work of 25 young curators who, individually or in groups, have presented 15 exhibitions that have explored various aspects of current art, of the concerns and motivations of today’s artists. They have presented artworks and projects spanning a wide range of subjects; for which they have put to use the most traditional techniques combined with state-of-the-art technology, according to the needs of each exhibition. In this sixth edition we present three new projects devised by five curators who are grouped together as two duo teams and one individual team. As in previous years, a jury designated and composed of well-known art professionals has endorsed the projects. This year the members of the jury were María de Corral, Tonia Raquejo, Mariano Navarro, Víctor Fernández-Zarza and José Guirao. The selected projects are: Ruidos, Silencios y la Transgresión Mordaz. De Fluxus al Techno-Noise (Noise, Silence and Daring Transgression. From Fluxus to Techno-Noise), a proposal by Alberto Flores. His project analyses interconnections between the Fluxus movement and several musical trends that surfaced at the end of the 20th century. His exhibition proposes a dialogue between works by contemporary musicians and artists, and the photographs and recordings of Fluxus “events” that (in all likelihood) inspired them.
have brought together with the help of a select group of collaborators, numerous examples of work done by groups at risk of being socially excluded or “integrated”. The singularity of the project resides in the emphasis it puts on creativity per se, above and beyond the social condition of the participants. I would like to congratulate the curators and extend my thanks to all those who, together with them, make possible the exhibitions we inaugurate. Three New Proposals for This Years Inéditos Víctor Zarza
Over the last few lustrums, in keeping with the fact that the work of art has materialized its rejection to be interpreted in a single manner –instead considering itself as a key, sign or symptom of the creative process, open to multiple possible readings– we are witnessing a rising curatorial practice which in part fills this lack of hermeneutics 1. The part that was played in the age of the avant-garde by notorious manifestos –metadiscourses aimed at explaining the artistic proposals of those works that partook of the poetics of a specific group– was subsequently, in the middle of the last century, passed on to critics. And now, the responsibility to evaluate, in theoretical terms, some of the art trends that appeared one after the other at the end of the Second World War (Rosenberg, Tapié…), is to be played by exhibition organizers and curators 2, although for the most part their work no longer entails acting as discursive accompaniments –with a greater or lesser degree of prominence– to any kind of artistic enterprise.
Mundo Urbano, Laboratorio de Hiperrealidad (UrbanWorld, Hyperreality Laboratory) a research project by Izaskun Etxebarría and Javier Martínez Luque. The curators have created a platform for artistic exhibition, creativity and thought, revolving around online interactivity and participatory creativity; a dynamic terrain that seeks the generation of a virtual community for artists, groups and, in general, for anyone interested in this type of art.
Furthermore, for some time now works of art –whatever their period or style– have ceased to be understood as entities possessing a universally valid, atemporal and incontrovertible legibility that could be interpreted unequivocally by all and sundry –without taking into account their condition, their aptitudes– and in any kind of circumstances whatsoever –overlooking the place and the time in which their reception occured. In tune with this new approach, today the emphasis is on seeking to present artworks in a dialectical manner, contextualizing them in such a way that there arises between them a series of dialogical relationships that fosters a more critical and reflexive appreciation 3.
Habitance is an exhibition that displays the results of a variety of workshops made with people completely unconnected to the “professionalized” world of art. Its curators, Laura de Miguel Álvarez and Esther Carmona,
Engaged in certain responsibilities that are the domain of critics and historians –by implicitly making value judgements that require a grounding in a specific cultural environment– the job of the curator begins 155
with the construction of an original thesis which will presumably contribute a new point of view about an artistic phenomenon. The particularity, in this case, is that the curators arguments go beyond mere written words to acquire the form of an exhibition, which means he must consider a series of aspects that are wholly in the terrain of museology. His responsibilities range from selecting the works to be displayed in the exhibition to the design of the catalogue, not to mention creating an installation the measure of his ideas, without overlooking any detail (technical, administrative, institutional relations, etc.) involved in the organization. The curator not only needs to know how to persuasively defend his conceptual proposals, he must also know how to show them.
reality. Undoubtedly, those factors that may be identified most clearly when it comes to attempting to offer a definition of the nature of artistic activity of our age are to be found among the various conditions in which this transaction takes place. If we regard said transaction as a question of contexts, of ontologically differentiated realms, we immediately realize that its margins are in a position –notice the paradox– of permanent re-writing. This permeability, encouraged by a contaminating process, is produced partly as an outcome of the renewed interest of many artists to critically (we should also say politically in the broad sense of the word, as opposed to party politics) connect their work with real situations and partly also due to their steadfast determination to expand the frontiers of artistic experience.
Nowadays, amongst all those activities competing to promote a work of art, exhibitions are the main event. In addition to publicly displaying the work being done by artists, exhibitions are a fundamental terrain that gives rise to a large part of contemporary artistic discourse, whether directly, as a result of what is shown in them, or indirectly, thanks to the comments and criticisms caused by them. Gone are the times when an exhibition was conceived as a simple collection of more or less homogenous pieces linked to one another for a precise reason (retrospective or generational perspectives, art movements, etc.), whose sole criterion consisted of setting up the best conditions for the works to be viewed; the idea of the White Cube –a neutral container par excellence– proposed by Mies van der Rohe, represents the highest form of architectural/perceptual model of this kind. Even the artists themselves, are often not content to just show their most recent works, but take care to set up an explicit discourse at their solo exhibitions; a discourse reflecting the meaning emanating from each show and similarly affected by the interaction set in motion thanks to its group arrangement.
We can observe both these aspects, though formulated differently, in two of the three projects selected for this years Inéditos. Both Habitance and MundoUrbano lead us to contemplate a reality that lies outside the museum, the exhibition venue and even, as we shall see, the artists studio. The former of these projects, presented by Laura de Miguel Álvarez and Esther Carmona Pastor, recreates a vernacular habitat, an imaginary house the design of which places us directly, as spectators, in a predisposed setting that seeks to mould our perception. This translation, this architectural and homely allusion, involves staging the everyday as a base on which to present within the realm of exhibition –a sanctioning place, one that defines artistic qualities– drawings and other kinds of art made by people entirely unconnected to the art world and whose work is simply the result of an exercise of personal expression. A wrapper, then (the house), inside another wrapper (the exhibition venue), that we can read as a metaphor for the categories we commonly employ to judge that which is shown us and aims to project a new dimension for artistic fruition, behind which one can discern a social related concern, clearly due to the work being done by both curators in the field of art therapy.
Exhibition installation therefore has gone from being understood as an inert, silent and transparent activity arranged in accordance to supposedly objective museological criteria, to being openly employed as an additional dialectical factor that may strongly influence the reception of the group of works on show 4, considerably activating and enriching our appreciation of the artistic act by proposing not only a variety of interpretative levels 5, but also new guidelines for carrying out an effective, pertinent approach with arguments that inform both current art practice and theory. A large amount of contemporary artistic output has a close relationship with what we continue to refer to –though with increasing uncertainty and caution– as 156
This kind of committed project –the outcome, as we pointed out previously, of spontaneous efforts undertaken by individuals with no formal artistic training– may be placed in this alternative trend which, parallel to the official history of art, has been devoted to studying and valuing these manifestations, above and beyond their strictly therapeutic function; a task that has involved both psychiatrists and artists, of whom it is worth mentioning the pioneer Hans Prinzorn or Jean Dubuffet, to whom we owe the term art brut 6, which is related to the more recent term outsider art. Javier Martínez Luque and Izaskun Etxebarría, for their part, have centred their
project on the current power of the Internet to generate new artistic behaviour. It is a trend that, as the curators have remarked, transcends the purely instrumental since the amount of conditions that arise from its operation are defining, to a large degree, an assortment of strategic readjustments involving practically every single human activity being carried out at present 7. MundoUrbano. Laboratorio de Hiperrealidad focuses on the fundamental states of artistic creation (production, distribution and reception), taking the concept of interactivity –the Internet users prerogative par excellence– as their major operative principle, with repercussions of a moral and political nature. Furthermore, they seek to make a structural comparison with the vertiginous flows occurring at various levels (people, goods, information…) in large cities; as was already the case at the dawn of modernity, once again the city is becoming paradigmatic of creation: our surroundings determine the coordinates of our future 8 and we extract from them, as is the case here, the consequences in order to rethink the terms in which a contemporary work of art may become manifest. The installation designed by the curators of MundoUrbano converts the exhibition room (a closed space by definition) into a contact point, a kind of interface connected to other places that are virtually outside it: places of creation (as is the media of the artworks presented, since they are projects hosted online) and places represented (the city spaces portrayed in the works). A exhibition proposal that makes one wonder whether the implicit virtual invisibility it upholds must at the same time be overcome –temporally speaking– since its real realization could be located at several points separated from the place where we contemplate it. The exhibitions curators have good reasons for wanting the show to end up being made into a web site that will serve as a platform to further the interactive development and promotion of what is known today as net art. Lastly, the third of the exhibitions selected for Inéditos this year, Ruidos, Silencios y la transgresión Mordaz. De Fluxus al Techno-Noise, is the one that most adheres to conventional parameters, though this does not render it any less interesting than the others. The exhibition sets out to review the influence that, it is assumed, may be observed between the sound works made by some of the members of the Fluxus movement and recent musical manifestations of an experimental nature. Alberto Flores, the exhibitions curator, aims to illustrate this connection thanks to documents, to an installation, which makes it easier to perceive these similarities, and to a wide range of materials he has brought together for the occasion.
Above and beyond the formal or stylistic aspects relating to contemporary musical issues that we may glean from this comparative operation, Ruidos… poses, once again, questions about the limits of the artistic experience, about the apparent consumption and dematerialization of the processes it is based on, since the type of approaches shown here –ones that instrumentalize randomness and chaos– clearly verge on being destructive. Owing to its subject, this exhibition must try to find an approach to successfully install pieces requiring adequate acoustic conditions to be listened to, a problem which contemporary museology has resolved most unsatisfactorily. It proves no easy task to find a word that, in some way or another, encompasses the three projects whose only common denominator is to have been chosen to take part in the same event. However, asides from mentioning the high standard of each of them –which is moot given the circumstances– I would like to point out that the quality which the members of the selection panel felt they all shared lies in the passionate interest that is inspired today by the subjects they have chosen to deal with, a quality which we hope will assure them a degree of resonance at the heart of contemporary artistic debate. 1 This semantic fuzziness provokes in spectators a sense of perplexity (a quality inalienably associated with contemporary artistic practice), especially on those occasions when the nature of the piece offers them no certainty they are beholding a work of art: “Modern art, dubitative and unrestrained, is not a quality in itself, it does not and cannot exist, it cannot be made real in a tangible and specific manner. To the contrary, it breaks apart and dissolves into a multiplicity of fatally different, opposing and contradictory forms”. Ramón Mayrata, Perplejidades del arte moderno, in Francisco Calvo Serraller (ed.) Los espectáculos del arte. Instituciones y funciones del arte contemporáneo. Barcelona, Tusquets, 1993. p. 114. 2 Anna María Guasch, Los manifiestos del arte posmoderno. Madrid, Akal, 2000. p. 5. 3 Manuel J. Borja-Villel defends “creating a nondevotional atmosphere, from which to question the artistic phenomenon in all its aspects”. Els límits del Museo, Barcelona, Fundació Antoni Tápies, 1995. p. 212. 4 “Exhibitions have come to form part of the conscience of our age; but new artistic approaches, with a greater concern for the contextualization of the work of art than for formal aspects, have also transformed exhibitions into didactic situations in which the works and their inherent discourses seek to induce or provoke a desired response from the public, a response that, in turn, is transformed into an integral part of the exhibition”. Anna María Guasch, op. cit. pp. 5-6. 5 “The exhibition has been transformed today into a new genre that does not hide being ideologicallyloaded. It no longer tries to cover up the fact that
it translates a single discourse from many other possible ones.” Isabel Tejeda Martín, El montaje expositivo como traducción. Fidelidades, traiciones y hallazgos en el arte contemporáneo desde los años 70; Madrid, Trama editorial / Fundación Arte y Derecho, 2006. p. 20. 6 “I consider the art made by professional experts uninteresting. What I find interesting is the artistic output that comes from people estranged from specialist media and made independently from any external influence, in a totally spontaneous and immediate way” Jean Dubuffet, Honor a los valores salvajes (conference dictated by the artist in 1951), in Escritos sobre arte, Barcelona, Barral editores, 1975. p. 96. 7 Recent statistics show a total of more than a thousand million users across the world. 8 “Nature which had been the fundament and horizon of artistic production was substituted by a New Nature which imposes the instant and the crowd as forms of time and space. The modernist artist can only imitate this object because he is intrinsically the product of it (…) The modernist artist is a consenting-anonymous citizen who gives form to the trivialities of the unpresentable. These forms are eminently massive, demanded and directed by the masses at breakneck speed” Félix de Azúa, Baudelaire y el artista de la vida moderna, Pamplona, Editorial Pamiela, 1991. p. 165.
Noise, Silence and Daring Transgression. From Fluxus to Techno-Noise. Alberto Flores Acknowledgments: Archivo Happening Vostell, Museo Vostell Malpartida, Mercedes Guardado Olivenza Vostell, Philip Corner, José Iges, Dont Rhine and Robert Sember (Ultra-red), James Kirby and Andy MacGregor (V/Vm Test Records), Mike Woods, Digby Pearson, Earache Records, Digital Hardcore Recordings, Repulsion Records, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, Cripple Bastards and Koldo Mitxelena Kulturunea.
While there is unarguably a link between Fluxus and sound, the groups influence on the noisy, combative music being made in the last 30 years of the 20th century is a territory still waiting to be fully explored. The exhibition for which this text has been written sets up an analogy between the qualities usually taken to define Fluxus and the essential aspects of a series of recent musical trends which share its fascination for noise and silence and whose foremost hallmark is the negation of traditional musical models. Let us place ourselves, firstly, in the right timeframe, recalling the origins of Fluxus and the early points of contact that arose between music and contemporary art. The trail of combined art and experimental music leads us to Surrealism and Dadaism. Since, in effect, Fillipo Marinetti and Kurt Schwitters were the first artists to be interested in using early 20th century tech158
nology with the aim of preserving and promoting their sonic creations. Just as the first avant-gardes unquestionably constituted a precedent in action art, they may also be regarded as the source of sound art. And as we enter the field explored by this exhibition –in short, the place where anti-art and highly inaccessible music meet– a first surprise awaits us. Against all odds, we observe something that Diedrich Diederichsen has pointed out, that present day musical experimenters have more in common with the historical avant-gardes than with todays pop music 1. What situates Fluxus at an equal distance between the historical avant-gardes and contemporary cutting edge electronic music are the concepts of the “abolishment of the performer” and the “death of the author”. The disappearance of the actor had been proposed by Italian Futurism fifty years before techno backed the idea of music without musicians, without concerts or tours, without proper stars or t-shirts with their pictures on them 2 and radicalized this phenomenon by inviting musicians to abandon the stage and disappear from album covers. Similarly, in the terrain of Fluxus, happenings, which were simultaneously developed by Wolf Vostell in Europe and by Allan Kaprow in the United States, went back to the path that had originally been cleared by the Futurists –who appealed to spectators to participate in their seratas– and which now openly engaged the public to play an active collaborative role. While the Furturist soirées were simpler and allowed spectators to keep a degree of distance from an event progressing on stage, happenings completely engaged the public, making spectators coauthors of the piece and in this fashion led to a much more complete rejection of the individualizing power of the artist and its consequent mythification. In the light of this fact, it should come as no surprise that we may discern approaches in present day electronic music that could be observed for the first time in a variety of Fluxus events. A good example of this may be found in the way Ben Pattersons “Piece Paper” action has been employed by the Matthew Herbert Big Band at numerous live concerts. Whilst the Fluxus artist prescribed the employment of a variety of different pieces of paper which the orchestra should play (by rubbing, crumpling, tearing…) obeying a strict order decided by the composer and following the conductors indications 3, the big band led by British disc-jockey and producer uses tabloids and balloons as musical instruments. Nevertheless, there are substantial differences between the two, because Herberts political designs not only transcend Ben Pattersons original objectives, but they are also the theoretical mainstay of some of his earlier works, in particular the renowned “The Mechanics of Destruction” (Accidental, 2002). In an attempt
to condemn globalization, the idea here is to make danceable music solely by using sound sources consisting of copies of The Sun newspaper, McDonald’s hamburgers, Nestlé chocolates and cans of Pepsi and Coca-Cola, as well as sports clothing made by well-known brand names. Leaving political aspects to one side and focussing exclusively on the formal quality of these works, the Fluxus artist Philip Corner had already proposed a similar approach in his “Ear Papers” suite, featuring a number of sculptures which allow visitors to make a variety of different textured paper sounds with the purpose of obtaining music. Along similar lines, but shifting our attention now to Ben Vautier, one may also see a parallelism between his artwork “33 r.p.m.” –in which he suggested that users become performers by listening to a vinyl 45 record played at 33 revolutions per minute 4– and some pieces by current electronic musicians, of which it is worth mentioning the device called “Time Machine” built by DJ Spooky, which consists of a bicycle whose wheels have been replaced with turntables which spin by pedalling 5. This terrain is also explored by V/Vms work. This English group, originally featuring James Kirby and Andy MacGregor (the latter now works alone, under the pseudonyms Jansky Noise and Animal), has based its entire musical career on collecting grimy old vinyl singles from market stalls and secondhand shops and then, subjecting them to digital remastering during which speed alterations, a cruel range of filters and over-saturated levels are applied to the reproduction 6. There are actually more similarities between Fluxus and V/Vm than may first meet the eye, since playfulness and simplicity have been an essential part of both from the outset. While Fluxus artists brought out this concept in jokes, games and gags 7, V/Vms most recognizable hallmark is its humour and openly aggressive attitude towards the avant-grade musical profession 8. The British duo have released some discs that have the same cover and title but different contents, and they have also published alleged compilations of tracks by other artists, but which in fact are performed entirely by the duo hidden behind clever and irreverent pseudonyms. So while Notorious B.I.G. and Lionel Richie (aptly reworked into Notorious P.I.G. and Lion-el Glitchie) were the first victims in linguistic terms, Joy Division, Frankie Goes to Hollywood and Aphex Twin have been paid somewhat equivocal tributes, in which their best known songs have been remixed in such a way it is (almost) impossible to recognize any trace of the original composition. Magazines such as The Wire have not been spared their scorn –in the group CD “El Formato is the Challenge” (Alku, 2000) V/Vm scanned one of the pages of the magazine and converted it into an audio
Wolf Vostell, Archivo Happening Vostell, Malpartida de Cáceres. Photo © J.F. Melzian, Berlín.
signal “to see if the end result was as pretentious as the article”– and classical composers like Dimitri Shostakovich have suffered a similar fate. They devoted a whole CD to the latter called “The Missing Symphony” (V/Vm Test, 2003), the content of which was the outcome of the following idea: Dimitri Shostakovichs fifteen symphonies were digitally downloaded to a portable computer. The length of each was manipulated to last 2,842 seconds. Depending on its original length, each symphony was either lengthened or compressed to fit said duration. Subsequently, the symphonies were layered on top of each other 9. In this fashion, V/Vm created the first symphony in history which cannot be re-interpreted by classical musicians 10. In this regard they approached, possibly unknowingly, the ideas of John Cage, who wanted to listen to all the music; not played successively, but rather all together at the same time 11. We are also indebted to James Kirby for the launching of V/Vm Test Records, a record label established in 1996 that boasts a selection offering “the best of the worst and the worst of the best” and has provided a home for daring and entertaining projects. In the context of this exhibition, we regard some of the groups recording for this label as direct successors of the irreverent nature of Fluxus. Consequently, in addition to James Kirbys solo project, we present Bob Geldofff (a Swedish group who take their name from the Irish political activist and instigator of Live Aid and Live 8), Animal (a splinter group of Jansky Noise which specialize in ruining songs by Stevie Wonder, The Smiths and Steppenwolf) and Rank Sinatra, who proudly and mercilessly murders the greatest hits of the twin brother he never had. Special mention should be made of approaches that exploit the destruction and recomposition of vinyl records as a way of creating artistic discourse. In this regard, one can identify an immediate precedent 159
for the turntablism of Philip Jeck, DJ Q-Bert and Christian Marclay in the “Broken Music” suite by the Czech Fluxus artist Milan Knízák. This sound and vision suite consisted of altering the media of the music, applying scratches, burns, breaks, glue and adhesive tape to the vinyl. Knízák has also broken discs only to recompose them afterwards in an effort to obtain the greatest possible variety of sounds and he has modified the quality of music and made new compositions by forcing microgroove records to play too fast or too slow. A more poetic approach was used at the Fluxus concert performed by Robert Watts in 1966 at the Fluxstore, Canal Street. The audience had to put a variety of records, previously coloured by the artist with spray paint, onto a gramophone player in such a fashion that the music contained on each of the records would emerge naturally as the paint dried. But in all likelihood, the aforementioned Christian Marclay is the contemporary artist who best represents the idea of “broken music” expressed decades before by Milan Knízák. The hallmarks of the work of this New Yorker are destruction, abuse and manipulation of microgroove records, and a good example of this are his live performances with “prepared records” to which he has added a second central hole or has made into vinyl collages by cutting and pasting together pieces from several records previously purchased at secondhand shops that when subsequently played demonstrate an extraordinary range of sounds. Christian Marclay also considers that noise can be fun, he embraces the possibilities of speed alteration and is happy to blur the borders between live musical performance and visual arts, that is, between two worlds that seemed irreconcilable until Fluxus arrived on the scene. Consequently, the artist has forged a peculiar career for himself revolving around ideas about the visible and the audible. His piece “Record Without a Cover” (Recycled, 1985), for example, is both a processual suite that may be categorized as being both visual art and a phonographic recording. The latter –sold without a cover, as its title indicates– applies the musical idea expressed by John Cage in his celebrated “4’33’’” to musical media: whilst on side A of the disc we may listen to a studio session recorded by the musician, side B presents written instructions requesting the owner of the disc not to keep it in a protective sleeve. In this manner, dirt and the passing of time will mean that each copy of the disc will become a unique object. This is also the basis of Christian Marclays video work called “Guitar Drag” (2000), in which an electric guitar is tied to the back of a van and dragged along the dusty roads of Texas, while two speakers turned up loud emit the resulting cacophony of the instrument being destroyed. 160
On the subject of the aggression towards musical instruments, one may find the origin of the contemporary practice of destroying guitars and drum kits at the end of rock concerts in the abuse Fluxus artists aimed at pianos, double basses and violins. Daniel Alba Sáinz-Rozas has pointed out in his text “Vostell, Fluxus and Punk. A Brief History of Noise” the many affinities between the cover of the album “London Calling” (CBS, 1979) by The Clash –which depicts Paul Simonon destroying an electric bass– and pictures of Fluxus artists doing the same to classical instruments. One need only think of Philip Corner violently breaking up a piano with the help of bars, saws and hammers, George Maciunas playing classical music on the violin, and then scraping it on the floor every time a pause occurred 12, or Wolf Vostell torturing a piano with cement and electric saws. The aforementioned author also draws a curious comparison between Vostellian iconography and the mise-en-scène of the American punk group The Plasmatics. Asides from being the inventors of the genre known as crossover punk, the band led by Wendy O’Williams is famous for the destructive pyrotechnics that were characteristic of their concerts, when the band members would smash musical instruments as well as radios and television sets. Vostell used a similar approach to visualize destruction 13 taking a car as his object. The Plasmatics attracted the medias attention in 1979, after blowing up a car at a concert in New Yorks emblematic Palladium venue 14. Subsequently, this act came to be treated as an icon, and not long afterwards was prominently featured on the cover of their next album –“New Hope for the Wretched” (Stiff, 1980)– which portrayed the band members in a white Cadillac half-sunk in a swimming-pool. In the foreground, Wendy O’Williams posed half-naked, while in the background, the rest of the group smashed televisions with sledgehammers and set fire to electronic devices 15. Similarly, in strictly musical terms, the song “Butcher Baby” features the sound of an electric guitar being cut into pieces with a mechanical saw, an act reminiscent of Wolf Vostells concert called “Fandango” (1975), in which the SpanishGerman artists helpers sawed pieces off a door in real time. Brutality against pianos has long been one of the favourite activities of Fluxus, who firmly believed one could squeeze different, and quite singular, sounds out of this timeanchored instrument as it was destroyed 16. In addition to Philip Corners “Piano Activities” and the pianos put out of order by Vostell referred to previously, we should mention a whole range of projects seeking the end result of silencing musical instruments. Accordingly, in his “Kompo” action Genpei Akasewaga decided that the conductor of the orchestra should wrap-up his baton and
the performers should do likewise with their instruments, and the central action of the “Division of the Cross” concert –performed out jointly by Joseph Beuys, Charlotte Moorman and Nam June Paik– consisted of pushing a grand piano, wrapped in felt, through the entrance door to the centre of the space 17. A direct consequence of this action are Beuys “Infiltration - Homogen für Cello” and “Infiltration - Homogen für Piano” pieces, in which a cello and a piano are rendered unusable by being completely wrapped up in felt. In this manner, a hypothetical player is prevented from touching the strings, the keyboard and the pedals; and the piano is enclosed and condemned to silence. Along similar lines, are the visual piece “Please Play, or the Mother, the Father or the Family” (1989) by John Cage –a piano turned upside-down the top of which rests on a number of felt carpets 18– and Wolf Vostells “Béton-Klavier” (1984) and “Grand Piano in Concrete” (1990) sculptures, in which the keys and strings of both pianos are covered in cement. A whole chapter could be set aside for those pieces that take John Cages famous four minutes and thirtythree seconds of silence as their starting point. In the context of Fluxus, the influence this work is noticeable in artworks employing many different stylistic approaches. One of them particularly worth mentioning is the radio piece “Snowstorm is Broadcast” (1963) by Milan Knízák in which wind was the only audible aspect 19, another is Yoko Onos “Stone Piece” (1963), which proposes the sound emitted by a stone as it grows old. Similarly, two pieces by Mieko Shiomi known as “Music for two Players” (1963) feature silent musical performances; and George Brechts “String Quartet” invites four musicians to carry their instruments on stage, to sit down with every intention of playing, then stand up, shake each others hands and exit the stage. We should also mention here the eight minute long projection of a blank video tape made by Nam June Paik entitled “Zen for Film” (1964) and the phonographic version of the same piece made two years later by Ken Friedman and aptly titled “Zen for Record”. Turning our attention now to the realm of contemporary experimental music, the Argentinian group Reynols has used the aforementioned pieces by Nam June Paik and Ken Friedman as a starting point on which to base their piece called “Blank Tapes” (Trente Oiseaux, 2000), built entirely from a range of noises made by different types of blank cassettes. Having collecting blank tapes from 1978 to 1999, the group managed to obtain a wide variety of brands and qualities, which offers them an extensive sound palette to work with 20. Just as it was possible to hear the noise made by the projector in the precedent set by “Zen for Film”, “Blank Tapes” includes resonances and sounds arranged with the idea of com-
posing music. This was not the case, however, of “Gordura Vegetal Hidrogenada” (1995), the Argentinian groups debut album which is historys first ever dematerialized CD, meaning it does not exist, or at least not physically 21. This disc consists of an empty box, and is actually a present day adaptation of a recording released a decade ago. The forerunner of “Gordura Vegetal Hidrogenada”, first released as a cassette and titled “No Tape” (Psychodrama, 1984), contained just a protective plastic shell and two miniature spools. In this manner, since there is actually no magnetic tape whatsoever, Reynols released a product that would surely have delighted John Cage, who when interviewed in 1984 by Richard Kostelanetz remarked: I guess about 50% of cars on the road have radios and tune in to music, albeit to third or fourth class music. I dont think that music does anything worthwhile for the people inside those cars and vehicles; they would do better to simply listen to the wind whistling 22. In a similar vein, the sound piece “Dylan in Between” (Erratum, 2001), by Spanish intermedia composer and artist José Iges, takes the gaps between tracks on Bob Dylans vinyl albums as its raw material. In fact, one can almost hear in the exactly four minutes and thirty-three seconds the composition lasts the sounds hidden in the space that is meant to be an acoustic void. While drawing the listeners attention to the clicks inherent to the microgroove format –which nobody seemed to pay much attention to until compact discs emerged– Iges piece also reflects on the obsession with stars that drives pop fans to analyse any object that might have some bearing on their current idols. Lastly, the recorded work by Ultra-red “An Archive of Silence” (Ultra-red Public Record, 2006) is a more radically engaged sound art take on Cages silent piece. Once again the exact length of many of the CDs tracks is four minutes and thirty-three seconds, the ultimate aim of which is to criticize the silence that generally shrouds AIDS. The voice of the composer, which can be heard in the last stretch of the recording saying this is the kind of music anybody can make. All you have to do is listen 23, is taken out of its original context and given a radical and socially conscientized treatment. The exhibition also presents an installation version of the piece by Ultra-red originally conceived as a performance, and which bears the eloquent title of “SILENT|LISTEN”. Having reached this point, it is worth pointing out that the extraordinary use Fluxus was able to make out of the silence is quite compatible with its fascination for noise. One could go so far as to state that the gap separating noise and silence is hard to discern on this occasion. Furthermore, this lack of a clear distinction between both concepts can also be observed in artists whose work explores similar territories to 161
Fluxus, a good example of which can be seen in the “etcéteras”, or concerts, carried out by the ZAJ group. These were, to borrow the words of Carlos Villasol, as if the music had been stripped of the sounds that usually go with it, and the gaps left by them had been filled with movements, gestures, everyday objects and the noise produced by all of them 24. Of particular significance is the “etcétera” by Juan Hidalgo titled “Silencio Ensordecedor” (“Deafening Silence”, 1979), which consisted of remaining silent while imagining as many kinds of sounds and images possible. With regard to Fluxus, music stripped of sounds loses ground to cacophony and dissonant noise. It is apt in this sense to mention the Wolf Vostells conviction that the noise of a planes engine during a four-hour flight is much more beautiful and relevant for the man of the second half of the 20th century than an opera by Wagner 25. The Spanish-German artist decided to put this idea into practice by transforming the military airport of Leipheim into an unusual concert hall, in which the participants of the happening “In Ulm, inside Ulm, and around Ulm” (1964) were made to listen to the deafening noise emitted by the engines of three jet fighters. This is, to quote José Antonio Agúndez, music on the threshold of pain 26. Indeed, given the anti-artistic nature of Fluxus, it would not be implausible to see a connection here with certain extreme musical styles which have also given noise a leading role. In effect, the combination of a non-conformist attitude and an interest in noise –understood additionally as being that which is rejected by serious music– is a common denominator both of Fluxus and of a range of different genres such as grindcore, digital hardcore and glitchcore. However one could go even further to say that, asides from sharing a desire to recover the spirit that led to the birth of punk, the only thing these and other openly noisecentred musical styles (which may be grouped together into two irreconcilable trends depending on their nearness to technology) have in common is their probable indebtedness to the lessons learnt from Fluxus. These trends are noisy-style electronic music and some particularly loud styles that arose from the ashes of punk. But we will come to them later. A concern in Fluxus for interactivity, telecommunication and the simultaneous use of a range of media not only predates new media art, it also stands as a unavoidable reference point for all of todays artists and musicians who have explored the computer as a medium 27. Therefore, one could situate Fluxus halfway between the intonarumori (intonednoises) of the Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo and the techno music movement which has made electronically generated noise its most recognizable hallmark. Some of the latter techno offerings, whose merits 162
alone make them stand out, are the sound terrorism of Alec Empire and Atari Teenage Riot (and all the other noisy releases published by Digital Hardcore Recordings), the glitchcore produced by Oval and Kid606, and the prolific Japanese scene led by Merzbow (note the explicit homage to the Dadaist Kurt Schwitters) and featuring groups and solo artists such as MSBR, Killer Bug, Yukiko, Otomo Yoshihide and Xome 28. Lastly, Fluxus inherited a number of traits from Dada that it shares with punk music. These include, among others, a rejection of so-called high culture, a strong anti-commercial and anti-artistic leaning, the predomination of simplicity above complexity, and opting for a do it yourself style and for alternative methods of distributions. We should also bear in mind that the exploration of self-published and crafted reproductions already existed in the early days of Fluxus. Hence, one may regard its many manifestos and the emblematic magazine “An Anthology” as an intermediate step between Dadaistic publications –such as “Cabaret Voltaire”, “391” and “New York Dada” – and the zines centred on punk and other styles derived from the genre, such as “Flipside” or “Maximumrocknroll”, to mention just two significant examples. One could also say the same about mail art, which combines qualities to be found in both Fluxus and punk. In fact, mail art not only employs notions about universality and collaboration, it also uses to great advantage the artists (generally scanty) resources. In that last aspect, one can see a direct analogy in purely musical terms, since both punk songs and Fluxus actions and environments convey their doctrines in an immediate and concise manner. It is here that brevity is a common denominator. Whilst many of the actions carried out by Fluxus artists might last just a few seconds, genres such as grindcore and noisecore have made “microsongs” into one of their most distinguishing traits. When the American crossover group D.R.I. (whose initials stand for Dirty Rotten Imbeciles) managed to put twenty-two songs together on an eighteen minute long debut single –”Dirty Rotten EP” (Dirty Rotten, 1982)– they earned the dubious honour of being responsible for the fastest and most aggressive album ever recorded. This achievement however would become old news when the British band Napalm Death released “Scum” (Earache, 1987), an album that features a track currently considered the shortest song in the history of music. Clocking in at under a second, and despite being materially impossible to contain the entire song lyrics in that short length 29, at the time of writing this article track twelve of the album features proudly in the “Guinness Book of Records”. A year later, another British band called Sore Throat crammed 101 songs onto their album “Disgrace to the Corpse of Sid” (Earache,
1988), putting ninety of them on the twenty minutes of Side A and titling the first of the remaining eleven songs, which were of a conventional length according to the grindcore standards of the time, as “Different Sides... of the Same Coin”. From this moment onwards, the bands playing this genre of music –as well as its multiple variants (noisegrind, noisecore, goregrind, deathgrind, etc.)– took this notion about extreme concision as an example to follow. Hence the New York band Brutal Truth would also manage to get their name in print in the Guinness Book (on this occasion thanks to the two-and-a-half seconds which their video “Collateral Damage” lasted) and a large amount of groups would become engaged in an ongoing struggle to see who was able to collect most tracks in the shortest time. We can only mention a few representative examples of grindcores “microsongs” here, as a complete list would take more pages than available to this text. These are the Italian group Cripple Bastards, who squeezed ninety-four songs onto their quarter-of-an-hour long demo “Flashback di Massacro”, Agoraphobic Nosebleed, whose twenty minute album “Altered States of America” (Relapse, 2003) features a hundred tracks, and similarly, Anal Cunt, who titled one of their singles “the single of 5643 songs” –5643 Song EP (Earache, 1989)– and 7 Minutes of Nausea who dosed out 274 and 278 songs, between side A and side B of their single “Your Father was a Poser” (TNT, 1990). In short, and taking into account the bridges between noise and silence, one could say that the less-than-asecond song written by Napalm Death and the silent composition by John Cage have a lot in common. In effect, both have proved extraordinarily influential and have given rise to rivers of ink being written about them despite their apparent insignificance (or perhaps precisely because of it). Above and beyond the fact that both movements regard amateurism in a positive light, Fluxus and punk are characterised by a rejection of the artistic and musical conventions immediately preceding them. Whilst Fluxus sought the elimination of bourgeois art, punk opposed the hippie movement and its ideals of “peace and love”, glam rock, disco, and bands like The Rolling Stones and The Who, that had gone from being icons of rebelliousness in the sixties to settling down reasonably comfortably in the seventies. At the same time, an attack is launched against the music industry and the art market. There is a famous photograph of Henry Flynt and Jack Smith walking in front of the MoMA in New York carrying placards encouraging the destruction of serious culture and art museums, and to an extent this image is comparable to the dissidence proposed by punk. Punk groups (and the hardcore and grindcore bands that have succeeded them) supported a subversion of prevailing values.
Some very apt examples of this are the now habitual custom of musicians spitting at their audiences and vice-versa (possibly the most radical way of criticising the exaltation of rock stars) and the phenomenon known as stage diving, in other words, when a few members of the audience had the idea to go up on stage only to dive off the edge directly into the publics waiting arms. Curiously, the latter example involves the idea of breaking down the barriers between spectators and performers which John Cage and La Monte Young had pursued decades earlier when they intentionally mixed audience and musicians 30, and at the same time confers an active role to fans the origin of which may be traced right back to the Futurists soirées. If we return once again to the reaction against the predominant norms, this is particularly noticeable in the field of the underground press. The first ‘zines and punk fanzines consciously ignored the political style of the alternative press, so profuse in the previous decade, finding their stylistic inspiration instead in Dadas self-published magazines 31, which in this respect bears an uncanny similarity to the previously mentioned circumstance of experimental electronic musicians who had sought their inspiration in the artistic avant-garde and not in pop or rock. The most important traits the punkzines inherited from Dadaism included, among others, handcrafted collages, the use of slogans, the ironic appropriation of mainstream cultures iconography and a tone for writing articles which is as irate as it is enraged. Similarly, when mass market magazines such as New Musical Express and Melody Maker finally began to talk about the punk phenomenon –invariably highlighting the wrapping as opposed to the content– there was an extraordinary upsurge of new independent magazines. This unexpected growth provided a response to the official press and, at the same time, was a legitimate statement of principles: anyone can make music or set up their own zine. When Jello Biafra (former leader of the Dead Kennedys) titled one of his spoken word albums “Become the Media” (Alternative Tentacles, 2000) and encouraged listeners to move on from “hating the media” to “become the media”, the distance separating the ideas expressed here from Joseph Beuys conviction that everybody is an artist 32 is reduced to almost nothing. In effect, one of the main objectives of this exhibition is to compare Fluxus and present day musical genres which, on paper at least, have nothing or very little to do with art. Occasionally, however, the connection between Fluxus and punk arises quite naturally, as is the case of the collection of videos by Nam June Paik “Rare Performance Documents 1961-1994 Volume 2”, especially the images showing the Korean artist sharing stage with the hardcore band Bad Brains. 163
This association is certainly a revealing one, but so is pioneering nature of the two: while Nam June Paik is considered one of the inventors of video-art and a precursor of new media art, the American band disputes the title of being the first to invent hardcore-punk with their fellow countrymen Minor Threat and the Canadians D.O.A. Lastly, we would like to borrow the words of Ken Friedman to remind ourselves that playfulness has been part of Fluxus since the beginning 33. Despite all that has been written about V/Vm, a sense of humour is also an element of some punk and hardcore proposals. Rather than being an onstage attribute, this scathing humour tends to be shown in the names of the bands and two good examples of this may be seen in Margaret Thrasher (the impossible combination of thrash metal and the iron lady) and Pansy Division (The Panzer Division from a queercore perspective). Nevertheless, two bands known for mocking their stage companions are Sore Throat and Anal Cunt. The former band make fun mainly of musicians who, in their opinion, have sold out to the record industry –the most notorious example of which is their album “Never Mind the Napalm... Here’s Sore Throat” (Manic Ears, 1989), in which The Sex Pistols and Napalm Death are presented as the traitors of punk and grindcore– whereas the latter group has even gone so far as to invite Kyle Severn (drummer of Incantation) to take part in recording a song ridiculing his own group. This is, of course, not the only way to make a noisy cover version of classic pop songs. For example, Cory Arcangels aptly named piece “666” (2004) consists of compressing the well-known song by Iron Maiden “The Number of the Beast” in mp3 format none other than six hundred and sixty-six times. Naturally, every time the emblematic heavy metal anthem is compressed it loses quality. The artist uses another approach altogether in his videos “Beach Boys/Geto Boys” (2004) and “All the Parts from Simon and Garfunkels 1984 Central Park Performance where Garfunkel Sings with his Hands in his Pockets” (2004). The first of these consists of juxtaposing a song performed live by the Beach Boys against a video of the gansta rap band Geto Boys which results in a cacophony, whereas the second shows exactly what the title describes: the American artist has created a new work in which he presents only those parts of a Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel concert in which the latter sings with his hands in his pockets. Broadly speaking, Cory Arcangel and Fluxus are both concerned about the immediacy and brevity of the popular culture of their day and about satirizing it. However, one should also point out that the New York artists extraordinary range has also embraced noisy musical genres. A pertinent example is his video work called “Message my Brother Justin Left me 164
on my Cell from the Slayer Concert Last Week” (2004), an intense and fugitive piece whose content is provided solely by a message left on the artists cell phone by his brother, who called Cory in the middle of a concert he was watching by the speed metal band Slayer. In conclusion, the influence of Fluxus amply transcends the field of visual arts. Moreover, its specific influence on punk and electronic music goes far beyond the points of contact known to the public at large. Although this influence is beyond doubt, attention has centred on accessory aspects and consequently no significant information has been gleaned. Furthermore, Fluxus development at the end of the fifties, combined with its musical connections, means the movement works as a nexus between the most radical side of early avant-garde art and todays musical genres that seek the destruction of the ruling culture. And all this is happening at a time when the youngest generation of music fans has been weaned on rave culture –in other words brought up under its slogan you can’t beat the system, go with the flow 34– and has seen that neither emocore or the stereotyped in-store poshpunk 35 offer any rebellion whatsoever against the world order. Notes 1
DIEDERICHSEN, Diedrich: “Música Electrónica Digital. Entre el Pop y la Pura Medialidad”, in: exhibition catalogue Proceso Sónico. Una Nueva Geografía de los Sonidos, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 2002, p.34. 2 DURING, Elie: “Apropiaciones: Las Muestres del Autor en las Músicas Electrónicas”, in: exhibition catalogue Proceso Sónico. Una Nueva Geografía de los Sonidos, Museu d’Art Contemporani de Barcelona, 2002, p. 41. 3 IGES, José: “Fluxus y la Música: un Vasto Territorio por Explorar”, in: Fluxus y Fluxfilms 1962-2002, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2002, p. 237. 4 Ibid., p. 238. 5 LLES, Luis: Dance Music, Celeste Ediciones, Madrid, 1998, p. 118. 6 Anon.: “V/Vm. El Insulto Final”, in: Hz Revista de Músicas Periféricas no. 2, Anti-©, Barcelona, 2001, p. 20. 7 FRIEDMAN, Ken: “Cuarenta Años de Fluxus”, in: Fluxus y Fluxfilms 1962-2002, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2002, p. 69. 8 Anon.: “V/Vm. El Insulto Final”, in: Hz Revista de Músicas Periféricas nº 2, Anti-©, Barcelona, 2001, p. 21. 9 ROSSELL, Oriol: “Música Contemporánea vs. Música Electrónica”, in: Dance de Lux 2004, Ediciones RDL Rockdelux, Barcelona, 2004, p. 74. 10 Ibid. 11 CAGE, John: Para los Pájaros, Editorial Monte Ávila, Caracas, 1981, p. 302. 12 FRIEDMANN, Ken / SMITH, Owen / SAWCHYN, Lauren (2002) (eds.), “Fluxus Performance Workbook”. Digital supplement of the magazine Performance Research Vol. 7 no. 3 “On Fluxus”,
Routledge, London, September 2002, p. 80. 13 LOZANO BARTOLOZZI, María del Mar: Wolf Vostell, Editorial Nerea, Hondarribia (Guipúzcoa), 2000, p. 41. 14 RAHA, Maria: Cinderellas Big Score. Women of the Punk and the Indie Underground, Seal Press, Avalon Publishing Group, Emeryville, California, 2005, p. 129. 15 ALBA SÁINZ-ROZAS, Daniel: “Vostell, Fluxus y el Punk. Breve Historia del Ruido”, in: minutes of the symposium Happening, Fluxus y otros Comportamientos Artísticos de la Segunda Mitad del Siglo XX, Editora Regional de Extremadura, Mérida (Badajoz), 2001, p. 122. 16 CANO, Javier: “Música para Martillo y Piano”, in: exhibition catalogue Pianofortissimo, Museo Vostell Malpartida, Editora Regional de Extremadura y Consorcio Museo Vostell Malpartida, Mérida (Badajoz) / Malpartida de Cáceres (Cáceres), 2006, p. 30. 17 KRAMER, Mario: “Joseph Beuys, EsculturaObjetos-Plástica”, in: exhibition catalogue Joseph Beuys, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1994, p. 74. 18 RUSSOMANNO, Stefano: “El Discreto Encanto de lo Conceptual”, in ABC de las Artes y las Letras no. 768, Madrid, October 2006, p.56. 19 IGES, José: “Fluxus y la Música: un Vasto Territorio por Explorar”, in: Fluxus y Fluxfilms 1962-2002, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2002, p. 239. 20 PEREIRA, Rogelio: “Reynols. Mundo Dadá”, in: Hz Revista de Músicas Periféricas no. 2, Anti-©, Barcelona, 2001, p. 35. 21 Ibid., p. 37. 22 KOSTELANETZ, Richard: John Cage en Radio y Cinta, Ediciones Radio Fontana Mix, Laboratorio de Sonido y Arte Radiofónico, Facultad de Bellas Artes, Cuenca, 1993. 23 http://www.ultrared.org/publicrecord/archive/204/2-04-002/2-04-002.html 24 VILLASOL, Carlos: “Cinco Apuntes sobre Juan Hidalgo”, in: exhibition catalogue Juan Hidalgo. En Medio del Volcán, Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Dirección General de Relaciones Culturales y Científicas, SEACEX, Madrid, 2004, p, 74. 25 AGÚNDEZ GARCÍA: José Antonio: “Vostell, Happening y Fluxus”, in: Fluxus y Fluxfilms 19622002, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2002, p. 290. 26 Ibid., p. 293. 27 GERE, Charlie: “When New Media was New: A History of the Use of New Technologies in Art in the Post-War Era”, in: New Media Art. Practice and Context in the UK (1994-2004), Arts Council of England, London, 2004, p. 51. 28 ROSSELL, Oriol: “Techno Ruido”, in: Dance de Lux 2001, Ediciones RDL Rockdelux, Barcelona, 2001, p. 72. 29 The lyrics of Napalm Deaths song “You Suffer” are quoted in the CD booklet as “you suffer... but why?” However, the piece consists of a stark blast of sound accompanied by an almost unintelligible scream that corresponds to the words “but why?” 30 GODFREY, Tony: Conceptual Art, Phaidon Press Limited, London, 1998, p. 101 31 SPENCER, Amy: DIY: The Rise of Lo-Fi Culture, Marion Boyars Publishers, London, 2005, p. 188.
32 COSTA, José Manuel: “Beuys, el Brujo, Diez años más tarde, in: ABC Cultural no. 220, Madrid, 1996, p. 38. 33 FRIEDMAN, Ken: “Cuarenta Años de Fluxus”, in: Fluxus y Fluxfilms 1962-2002, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid, 2002, p. 69. 34 REYNOLDS, Simon: “Cultura Rave, Psicodelia y Género”, in: Dance de Lux 1999, Ediciones RDL Rockdelux, Barcelona, 1999, p. 27. 35 LLES, Luis: Dance Music, Celeste Ediciones, Madrid, 1998, p. 10. Note: “Although Slayer are often mentioned as the band that pioneered death metal –variations of the term “death” occur no less than 56 times in its brief 28-minute song album “Reign in Blood”– the Californian band should be included within speed metal. OGG, Alex: The Men behind Def Jam. The Radical Rise of Russell Simmons and Rick Rubin, Omnibus Press, London, 2002, pp. 109-110.
Curator biographie Alberto Flores has developed his professional career in the fields of world music and contemporary art. In the former, he has worked with DD & Company (which has produced all the WOMAD festivals held in Spain and Portugal, among others), and he contributes articles to Planeta Ritmo (Spanish version of the American Rhythm Magazine) and he presents and directs the radio programme “Makandé”, part of “La Espiral Canaria”, directed by Rubén Alemán on Radio Guiniguada (Las Palmas de Gran Canaria). With regard to visual arts and similar disciplines, he collaborates with the Museo Vostell Malpartida. At this museum in Extremadura he is currently directing a season about Sound Art and he has also carried out several other activities at the museum including curating a temporary exhibition “Naturalezas del Presente” (Natures of the Present), which displayed works by artists from the museum such as Rufino Tamayo, Luis Gordillo, Wolf Vostell and Fernando Aguiar. Along the same lines, he has worked as a visual arts curators assistant at the Project Arts Centre (Dublin) and he has collaborated with the Bluecoat Arts Centre (Liverpool). Lastly, Alberto Flores has taken part in the group exhibition of Visual Poetry “El Horizonte es la Única Frontera” (The Horizon is the Only Frontier) at the Museum of Cáceres, 2003, he is author of the doctoral thesis “Intervenciones, Instalaciones Visuales e Instalaciones Sonoras de Concha Jerez” (Interventions, Visual Installations and Sound Installations by Concha Jerez, University of Extremadura, 2006) and has published numerous texts in books, art magazines and exhibition catalogues.
UrbanWorld, Hyperreality Laboratory Javier Martínez Luque Izaskun Etxebarria Madinabeitia Acknowledgments: To the artists for allowing us to make this exhibition possible with their works, and to Obra Social Caja Madrid and Intervento for their support, attention and professionality. 165
MundoUrbano. Laboratorio de Hiperrealidad seeks to provoke thought about communication amongst communities inhabiting the urban world. A communication affected, as are so many other aspects of urban and technological life, by the dichotomy between two currently prevailing kinds of logics: on the one hand, the logic of the space of flows, and on the other, the logic of the space of place. Cities transform into flows and in this breaking down into movement we may establish degrees of permanence and memory according the processes of realization and virtualization. We could define the process of realization as the materialization of desires and expectations invariably based on acts, whilst the process of virtualization refers to interpersonal and reflexive articulations within symbolic, communicative frameworks. We have focussed on the techno-cultural city and on cyberspace as two key contexts on which to form a living vision of todays society and interpersonal communication. We present six artistic projects, that employ the Internet and reflect upon the city and its inhabitants in a virtual space of representation, one in which the human body as a basic factor for communication is insubstantial. The exhibition as a consumer product, as an immaterial or information product, entails the atomization of the work of art and the re-organization of its data or content in a physical environment (a place) that is limited, but also expandable to new channels of transmission, whether physical or virtual spaces, such as the net. This artistic practice based on the atomization of the objectual work of art, according to an electronic and digital art experience, and its subsequent installation by means of reintegrating the artwork in the space, implies a substantial transformation of the original creative process. Our aim, by installing a virtual space in an exhibition venue, is to build bridges linking the real and the virtual: bridges of light, or interfaces, that mediate between the physical space of the exhibition venue and the virtual space of the show on the Internet. In this manner, by starting out with the virtual reflection of the real space and by concentrating on the concept of inhabiting, we are able to take a step forwards in the spiral of time to create a real reflection of a virtual space. The work of Stanza, Jody Zellen, David Crawford, Dr. Hugo Heyrman and Nadine Hilbert & Gast Bouschet revolves around these concepts. The key to this exhibition, that explores the structures of the online 166
society and its working mechanisms, may be found in their artworks. Networks. Inhabiting the city, living in technology
onto the scattered segmented places, ever more dissociated from one another, and less able to share cultural codes.” (Castells, 1996) ***
Since the second half of last century, society has been characterized by an increasing production and use of complex technological objects, employed to assist and substitute people in their tasks. The proliferation of electronic communications media and, more recently, of digital encoding of multiple types of content, has become an accepted method of interrelationship and an indispensable part of the social framework. With the emergence of the information age, as a historical process, prevailing functions and processes are increasingly based around network structures. Networks constitute the new structure of our societies and their logic is founded upon information technology, which transversally penetrates the entire social structure. In this manner, the workings and the results of the processes of production, experience, power and culture, are modified (Castells, 1996). The information society expands the potential of communication and interaction, but it also replaces methods of physical interaction and breaks down primitive forms of human communication. Today, human beings rely greatly upon technological media to relate to their surroundings. Consequently, we can envisage a new individual incapable of realizing his or her full potential unless immersed in a digital-technological framework, one that paradoxically virtualizes the individual, but also, simultaneously, provides the means to develop cognitive and communicative skills. In the layout of social organization of networks the oblique angle of its logic alters the significance and structure place quite profoundly. The sociologist Manuel Castells compares two spatial logics that have emerged from the “network society” and which increasingly threaten to become dissociated: the Space of Place and the Space of Flows. “People still live in places. But due to the fact the workings and power of our society are organized in spaces of flows, the structural domination of its logic fundamentally alters the meaning and the structure of places. Experience, being related to places, becomes abstracted from power and meaning is increasingly separated from knowledge. A structural schizophrenia, torn between two spatial logics, that threatens to break societys communication channels, the uppermost trend leads towards a horizon of history-less, interconnected spaces of flows directed towards imposing their logic
The metaphor of the city as an enormous, inexorably advancing, network can be reverted. The network can be analysed as an ubiquitous city that contains all cities and is scored by flows of every kind interconnecting it. When we look at this network, we do not see its arteries, we do not recognize the places it interconnects and even less the individuals. So what do we see? How is the structure of the urban world where we live submerged presented to us? An urban tapestry, which thinks us globalized and discovers us divided. Our metaphorical city is really just a poetic representation of a large urban network that is reproduced in many different latitudes around the globe. It is, therefore, a city composed of many cities, it is a mosaic of the urban world, where it is predicted some 60% of the population will live by the year 2030. We wish to focus our attention, within cities and their spaces, on public areas, that is, on where communities are built, find expression and are made visible. On many occasions, public areas are no longer places where the community “body” lives and they have been transformed into spaces of flows of commerce and transit. This has led to community “bodies” becoming fragmented. The individual body, in this network layout, disappears into the flows of the system where it is destined to simply wander like a shadow. This state of affairs obliges us to review our notions about what constitutes public space and the public domain. Traditionally, the public domain has been understood as a common pool of ideas and memories built from the physical manifestations that give rise to them. The old Late Germanic word for to build, buan, also means to inhabit. Hence, it means to remain, to reside. Current sociological research explores the impersonal and a-communitarian nature of public spaces in western urban centres, whilst new community models related to virtual spaces are springing up. The steady, though quite rapid, disappearance of the physical spaces of the public domain has been accompanied by a series of transformations to the mechanisms of interpersonal communication and by extension, to the community structure. Virtual
David Crawford, “StopMotionStudies 13”, imágenes de la web.
communities are viewed as the outcome of some of the aforementioned transformations, as they translate interpersonal communication from a matter-based, corporeal realm to a virtual environment. On the Internet, that paradigmatic example of virtual space, one may observe how the “public domain” is built upon a multitude of virtual places where interrelating individuals reach accord. The dissenters seek out their own public domains, and, in this fashion, new community identities are elected. The possibilities arising from an exponentially growing network system are unlimited, especially when the system has great diversity and development. In relation to the network of networks, Pierre Lévy introduces the idea of Collective Intelligence. Lévy believes our knowledge is produced in living communities by a real, or imagined, multiple dialogue based on a variety of instruments. It is acceptable to attribute art with this instrumental quality, at the same time as being an object of re-signification. The World Wide Web is a weavable web the meaning of which is woven by millions of people and which invariably goes back to being weavable again (Lévy, 1999). To put it another way, it is “where the action is” in the sense that everything in our culture is being rearranged around virtual eddies, information and technology flows, and the organizational interaction of images, sounds and symbols. Consequently, the virtual domain appears increasingly prominent as an irreversible trend affecting the terrain of social construction. Our starting point, therefore, is an analysis of two concepts and their relationship to human interaction in these habitable contexts. On the one hand, the concept of networks as spatial structures: biological patterns for urban, social and economic frameworks. And, on the other hand, flows as temporary structures, as movement167
events generated by the development of human habitation in these mixed hyperrealities. *** When we turn to look at public space, we observe bodies immersed in the flow of urban life, merely travelling through and rarely experiencing the place. The body communicates and, in brief episodes, we can recognize the irrepressible need for human communication. Human beings are immersed in a contradictory struggle between telecommunication and communication; that which generates community. In addition, todays individual is the inhabitant of a “techno-cultural city” which permeates the symbolic aspect of knowledge and is sometimes incapable of generating any residue whatsoever in the frenetic progress of the metropolis. This individual is, however, an infinitely expandable being whose potential, derived from his or her mass-information and mass-connection, threatens to overwhelm the faculty for decision-making. But this kind of phenomenon gives rise to an interesting distortion: the imbalance of one time, chronos, and another time, kairos, and of reality, hyperreality and telepresence. “My body, in the wider context of the material world, is an image that works like any other image, receiving and returning movement, though perhaps with just one difference, which is that my body seems to choose, to some degree, the way it returns what it receives. My body, an object destined to move objects, is, therefore, a centre of action and unable to furnish a representation. The objects surrounding my body reflect its potential action on them.” (Bergson, 1900) Western human beings are straying from the path of purely biological evolution to explore a new evolutive process subjected to artificial technological factors. The development of biogenetics, cybernetics and artificial intelligence all play an essential part in closing the divide separating human beings and machines. A cybernetic point of view regards todays humans as biological elements connected and dependent on technological elements. Consequently, the development of digital communication seems to lead towards a panorama of human beings whose bodies have been invaded by technology, penetrated by connective media. The emergence of the Internet introduced a new type of virtual space separated from the body by a technological interface. The body, being a matter-based entity, cannot cross the barrier of the interface, and con168
sequentneeds to be reviewed. One could say that in cyberspace the metaphorical utopia of the bodys disembodiment –as a rejection of the limitations and necessities imposed by our biological nature– is made real. In particular, new problems emerge regarding the nature of communication and the presence of identities engaged in communication in a virtual space. The mere fact of moving a corporeal identity into the virtual environment entails its redefinition according to new relationship parameters. In cyberspace, presence is converted into data, into physical absence, and identity is defined by means of the codification imposed by the actual interface. *** Perception is a completely speculative concern; it is pure knowledge. The entire debate hinges on the correct rank to assign this knowledge, at loggerheads with scientific knowledge. This timely perception appears at the very moment when the shake-up endured by matter does not prolong into a necessary reaction. Whatever this reaction may be, and whatever the intimate nature of the perception, one can state that the amplitude of perception measures exactly the indetermination of the ensuing act, thus affirming the following law: the space available to perception is in exact proportion to the time available to act. (Bergson, 1900) Art does not work with the objective reality we experience, but with the “objectively subjective” lying deep in the fantasy reality that the individual can never admit to. Cyberspace, taking simulacra as a starting point, and with the potential to exteriorize our most hidden fantasies and all their inconsistencies, provides a unique vehicle for artistic experimentation, for staging our “real” selves, the phantasmagorical medium of our existence that can never be subjectivized (_i_ek, 2004) For Heidegger the work of art is making a work from the truth of being. The theories derived from his thinking are “aesthetics of truth”, which at first sight seem to oppose Baudrillard or Nietzsches “aesthetics of appearance”. However, fortunately we may follow a three-way discursive route, to which we can always add a new element to encourage and spur thought on: “the aesthetics of reception” and, subsequently, “the aesthetics of participation”. (Marchán Fiz, 2005) The work of art is a medium through which the artist speaks. But a newspaper article is also a message transmitted by a journalist with the aim of communicating something to a third party. What is it that makes something art today? Firstly, the work, whatever it may be, must arise from a life reflection of this nature: that the activity
aiming to communicate is connected to the experience of an individual inside a world he or she strives to understand and inhabit. How? By decoding it through the re-signification of its elements and the reinterpretation of its parts. As Bourriaud has pointed out, culture itself is converted into the source of cultural production: the fusion is based on elements fused by an inherently natural process of geometric acceleration. The artistic milieu generates new languages, reinvents the world and rebuilds reality out of the reelaboration of its signifying elements. The materiality of the works is relegated to the background: the atomization of the real is confronted so as to become subject solely to experience. We believe art is about potentiality and, therefore, about possiblilty, understanding the possible as what might be and not what is. In consideration of the innumerable dissertations concerning the definition of this slippery term, we should point out right away that the phenomenon is not as common as it seems. Art endures because it manages to mutate and reinvent reality: like a living organism, like a virus which is medium and message at the same time. *** Urban Generation. Divided World (2002-2005) http://www.stanza.co.uk/urban_tapestry/wor ld/index.html Stanza Urban Generation is a living artwork, of which various versions exist, that uses the Internet as a medium to obtain images recorded in real time by CCTV security cameras located in cities. The piece exists in both online and offline versions. The Internet version we have chosen to display here was made for the first time in 2002 and subsequently redesigned in 2005. The piece invites us to be voyeurs of a digitalized world, spectators of a simultaneous reality, of distant places, the images of which have been multiplied, layered and mutated in a constant flow. At this historical juncture, when the fear of global terrorism has led to abuses in video surveillance and to the invasion of privacy, Stanza obliges us to think about the private use of public space. Divided World, included in Urban Generation, features two versions. The first is mural-like which, in the manner of a contemporary pictorial composition, transcends form to explore the question of representation at a conceptual level. This particular representation can be extended to proffer an image of the urban world by using the most advanced technology designed for the purpose. By
means of an artistic materialization of McLuhans global village, this artwork appears as the unified representation of a variety of realities separated in space by a nominal time gap. Twelve perspectives on an emerging global experience, the images of which are in constant flux and never return to their original state. The second contains moving images taken from video-surveillance cameras, shown at full screen size, that react interactively to the movement of the mouse. *** The Central City, (1997-2001) www.thecentralcity.co.uk Stanza The Central City is an online art project designed specifically for the Internet. Building commenced on the project in 1997. The artist went on to add new spaces, some 30 areas within the central city, for the version completed in 2001. Each area proposed by Stanza includes hundreds of elements that combine together as we interact with them while exploring the website. In total, one can explore more than two hundred movie files some of which only appear after clicking on every possible point. The Central City has been awarded on numerous occasions. It won first prize at the following festivals: Links, Porto 2001; Videobrasil, Sao Paulo, 2001; Cynet art, 2000, to mention just a few. It has also been awarded the Wolfsen 25 Painting prize. The idea behind The Central City is represent the citys visions and experiences by setting up analogies between structures shaping the city and others that are organic in nature. The Central City represents the global city as an invisible city in which fragments that may be accessed from multiple nodes build a broken narrative. It is composed from a variety of graphic, sonic and textual patterns that blend and alter according to the actions carried out by the user. Stanza uses juxtaposed urban sights and sounds reminiscent of architectural designs to transform the city over and over again into an organic network. In this manner, the artist explores the similarities between human and organic networks and information technology networks. The problem with cities is that they seem to be a law unto themselves. My artistic intervention tries to look at fragments of our experience of cities, that make up the whole city. The Central City, is a place which appears out of control, but which we try to control through design. The city as grids, and repetition, can appear sublime or it can confuse and appear prison like. In western art the grid is for painting, the grid is for the city, the grid is the structure 169
of western art. This grid is spreading to cover the entire surface, inexorably growing and advancing towards the edges. *** Ghost City (1997-2007) http://www.ghostcity.com/ Jody Zellen The piece Ghost City was begun in 1997. Jody Zellen has continued since then to create new spaces inside her ghost city. At first glance, however, the structure of the website seems unchanged. But on further exploration, one invariably discovers new passageways in this growing labyrinth. The style of the site reflects the years it has been on the Internet and the tools used to create the stories, based mainly on hypertext and employing omnipresent links. This artwork has won numerous international awards. In 2004, for example, it won awards at the International Digital Art Awards and at the Indian Documentary of Electronic Arts. In 2000, it was included in the Net_Condition exhibition held by the ZKM. Ghost City is a compilation of images gathered together in a single space, which could be from the past or future of an imaginary city. In its labyrinthine nooks and crannies and in its texts –which revolve around concepts themes of emptiness and transit– the ghost city reveals itself through the manifold routes available to the spectator who can become entrapped by pages from which there is no return. In Ghost City, one can travel without leaving any traces behind because the presences of the inhabitants only materialize while in transit. The city spaces pictured, however, seem to stay immobile against the constant flow. Zellen shows us an assortment of images of the way the mass media depicts the contemporary city. It is a fragmented city, where time no longer exists and the memory of urban experience is built into every corner of this ghost city. Texts that accompany the artwork A moment of recognition. A man stares at a map of a city –his city– but for the longest time can not orient himself to the lines on the page. Where do these crossed lines lie in real space? Is the color significant? And, most importantly, where is he in this picture? The map suddenly says something. The lines cohere. They do not simply refer, they speak. You have found your place. The map reaches out to the city around you and there is a moment of clarity, correspondence, reciprocity. The world pictures itself. The map becomes a mirror. Your face reflected in the mirror finds its ground in the cradling city. (From the novel Amnesia by Douglas Cooper). 170
*** StopmotionStudies (2003-2005) Series 7 and 13 http://www.stopmotionstudies.net/ David Crawford Imagine the underground as a metaphor for the information highways of the Internet network. People travel along these tunnels crossing our cities below ground. This piece deals with networks. Human and technological networks: inseparable at this imaginary level. The piece depicts bodies virtualized inside these networks in moving space, where only the gestures of the characters can reveal their humanity. The gestures shown portray the unconscious habits that arise in city environments; furtive glances in our direction as network spectators, cultural animals and now indissolubly technological ones too. The various parts of StopMotionStudies consist of short video clips filmed in the underground systems of several countries (Paris, Boston, NYC, London and Tokyo). Crawford opts for two different approaches in each series when it comes to picturing the lack of communication suffered by the protagonists in their corresponding contexts. In the manner of an anthropological study, people are portrayed in a summary, neutral way inside their environment. The individuals who have been thus recorded are presented to us on computer screens. As viewers we are drawn closer to these travellers because we can relate to the things experienced by them. We identify with them because, despite the ethnic and cultural differences, the mechanisms of the city are the same for all. Series 13 consists of short videos filmed in the Tokyo underground in 2004, which explore the same idea as the original version as edited in Series 7. Series 13 employs aspects of the traditional audio-visual language of moving image editing and undertakes to develop a lineal storyline with overlaid fades of video footage taken from several similar scenes. Series 7, in contrast, explored the interactive potential of the Internet. Hence, visitors to the artwork had to compose their own spatial edit of four quadrants in which we can visually connect video clips from four cities and their inhabitants. The fragmented narrative, intrinsic to the recorded material, heightens the complete discontinuity proposed by the latter piece. Thus, the characters are alienated from their personal stories and enclosed in a double media-technological world which proves highly evocative: a daily trip on the underground, a daily trip on the net, a
digital, urban, social, interpersonal, intercultural net. The language of gestures is one of the main tools for human communication. According to David Crawford, 90% of human communication is based on body language. Thus, we wonder, how much of this language can be filtered through the informational flows based on new technologies? As regards ourselves, however, we need not worry that our bodies are about to disintegrate into the flow of the city. StopMotionStudies allows us to rediscover a reactive body. Each clip in the artwork frames a bodily message being broadcast. Even when inside a typically urban and alienating type of transport such as the underground, human communication with gestures perseveres amongst us as we travel through metropolitan areas. *** Body Language Sequences (2003-2007) What human beings tell with their bodies http://www.doctorhugo.org/ Dr. Hugo Heyrman Dr. Hugo presents the phenomenon of gestural communication in short video clips of people living in the city of Antwerp (Holland). Prominence is given to gestural communication above other kinds of communication. This primitive level of communication practiced by the people in the videos allows viewers to understand, imagine and reconstruct their personal stories. Body Language Sequences is an artwork composed of several series of short video clips featuring a very economic expression of human gestures. Dr. Hugo began this work with a first series of video in 2003, and he has added a new one every year since. He has remarked that the series came about while he was documenting the diversity of changes affecting life styles in society. Dr. Hugo uses the Internet to reach an audience and to share with them his curiosity and interest about the involuntary gestures we perform constantly. The artists simply designed website appeals to our inquisitiveness to explore each clip and to share the experience of looking voyeuristically at private moments hosted publicly. In Body Language Sequences we are confronted by the reflection of those unconscious acts where there is nowhere to hide our real feelings and thoughts. In this kind of interpersonal interaction, Dr. Hugo perceives behavioural models imposed by power structures and social hierarchies. As the artist points out, “Our bodies are the most public signs of our identities, and private reminders of who we are.”
Artists comments I became aware that I was also documenting the diversity of changes in life style as an emerging element in society. The reentered world became transposed, intensified, electrified. It was my intention to study the human character by exploring the micro-motions of human acts, extracted from the flux of life, and to convey a message which brings an articulation of visual thinking into play. *** The TrustFiles (2001-2007) http://www.gast-bouschet.com/ Gast Bouschet & Nadine Hilbert The TrustFiles is a collaborative piece by Nadine Hilbert and Gast Bouschet. The work is the outcome of a project that began at the end of 2001. It is an ongoing process, updated periodically with new content, on which various artists have collaborated. Gast Bouschet produces the photographs and videos, and Nadine Hilbert creates the sound; the text fragments are compiled from the Internet. Before launching their website in April 2003, The Trust project was awarded the 2002 Sr-Medienkunstpreis. The TrustFiles presents a reduced platform that provides a way of accessing groups of works that analyse different aspects of contemporary society using a variety of artistic approaches. For the most part, the works are audiovisual, however we also find photography, sound, recordings of interventions in the manner of slideshows and animated pictures in ASCII code. In The TrustFiles the artists record the results of an exploration in search of languages suitable for the task of rendering a variety of different thought processes related to a single general topic. In a section of photographs accompanied by audio, we explore a compilation of different images dealing with the same subject: religious fervour from the perspective of imperialistic power structures. A wealth of allusions to religious symbols and beliefs –crosses, prayers, and biblical messages printed on tshirts, placards, billboards or walls– are mixed together with commercial catchphrases and religious sermons. Along similar lines, the recording in photographs of an intervention at the airport of Brussels confounds us with diagrams of power structures, hierarchies and logical sequences, such as the depiction of multiple types of relationships (flows) amongst social agents. In another section, a collection of expressions of prejudice recorded from radio programmes holds up a dark mirror to the mass media. The section reveals how power mechanisms wield strategies of suggestion in order to dominate the masses. 171
The phrase “Trust is the give in the structure of power”, which appears in one of the many parts of this immense work, succinctly sums up the driving force running through the piece. Curators biographies Javier Martínez Luque. Cordoba, Argentina. 1973 Engineer, poet, audiovisual artist. In 1989 he took part in setting up the FM del Cerro radio station and for three years he produced and directed radio programmes. In 1992 he joined the permanent staff of the University Blas Pascal Theatre Company. In 1995, he became a member of the independent theatre group “Theatre of Images” and took part in numerous performances in public spaces in the city of Cordoba. He moved to Barcelona in 2000 and until 2002 he studied Film Direction at the International Academy of Cinema of Barcelona and at the European Film Centre. He has directed various short films, documentaries and has worked in a variety of roles on other films (editing, screenwriting, photography, etc.). In 2005 he created the net.art curatorial project MundoUrbano (www.mundourbano.dontexist.org) together with Izaskun Etxebarria, as part of the Master in Curatorial and Cultural Practices in New Media (MECAD). At the end of 2006, he joined the artistic association liminalB to promote art exchanges between different territories. The same concerns that attracted him to art practices led him to the world of technology and, consequently, his career has developed in both fields. As a telecommunications engineer (University Blas Pascal, Cordoba, Argentina; 1997) he specialized in services and technology for cell phone networks. Izaskun Etxebarria Madinabeitia. Eibar (Gipuzkoa), Spain. 1977. Artist, researcher and freelance curator. She has a degree in Fine Arts from the University of the Basque Country (EHU/UPV, 2000). From 2001 to 2003 she worked as an official tour guide in the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao while attending the Doctoral Programme Theory and Practice of Painting. Painting Dept., UPV/EHU. In 2002 she was resident artist at BilbaoArte Centre of Art Production. From 2002 to 2004 she worked on the exhibition management of the V/Decanato de Extensión Universitaria at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Leioa (EHU/UPV). In 2004 she developed her research work as part of the Doctoral Programme Thought and Praxis in Current Art (Audiovisual Dept.). In October 2004 she obtained the category of Researcher (DEA) with her paper Digital Tools as a Means for Artistic Discourse. Construction and Representation of the Technological Object. In January 2005 she moved to Barcelona to study her Master in Curatorial and Cultural Practices in New Media at the MECAD where she worked with Javier on the net.art curatorial projects MundoUrbano and Hipercube, Living Hyperreality Laboratory. 172
For four months in 2006 she collaborated with the Metropolitana Gallery of Barcelona on developing the project BarcelonaWorkBox, a new venue for Art and Technology in Barcelona. In June that same year, she joined the association LiminalB, founded by Federica Matelli with headquarters in Barcelona, which aims to develop curatorial projects with interconnected conceptual approaches: www.liminalb.org This year she joined EspacioAbisal and has contributed to the management and programming of events in 2007: www.espacioabisal.org
Nadine Hilbert & Gast Bouschet www.gast-bouschet.com Gast Bouschet (1958) and Nadine Hilbert (1961) were born in Luxembourg and live in Brussels, as well as in several other places. Bouschet, who shoots the photographs and videos which have been shown around the World since the 80s, is particularly fascinating by the power of the recorded to reflect or comment on the socio-economic signs in the transformation of visible systems, amidst the morphology of the urban layout and its borders.
to write on a blank sheet of paper. The silhouette of my shadow drawn on the sand is the only witness of the present moment. In that instant neither my body nor my mind are aware of what is happening. Similar sensations fill the daily lives of people who search their surroundings for stimuli for the senses, for perception, for something that will take them out of themselves for a moment and fuse them with the time-place where they may discover themselves again, like latent photography waiting to be exposed.
Biographies Habitance Stanza www.stanza.co.uk Stanza is a London based British artist who specializes in net art, networked spaces, installations and performances. His award winning online projects have been invited for exhibition in digital festivals around the world, and Stanza also travels extensively to present his net art, lecturing and giving performances of his audiovisual interactions. His works explore artistic and technical opportunities to enable new aesthetic perspectives, experiences and perceptions within the context of architecture, data spaces and online environments.
Jody Zellen www.jodyzellen.com Jody Zellen is an artist living in Los Angeles, California. She works in many media simultaneously making photographs, installations, net art, public art, as well as artists books that explore the subject of the urban environment. She employs media-generated representations of contemporary and historic cities as raw material for aesthetic and social investigations.
David Crawford www.stopmotionstudies.net David Crawford studied film, video, and new media at the Massachusetts College of Art and received a BFA in 1997. In 2000, his Light of Speed project was a finalist for the SFMOMA Webby Prize for Excellence in Online Art. In 2003, Crawfords Stop Motion Studies project received an Artport Gate Page Commission from the Whitney Museum of American Art and an Award of Distinction in the Net Vision category at the Prix Ars Electronica. In 2004, he received an MSc from Chalmers University of Technology and became an Assistant Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Dr. Hugo Heyrman www.doctorhugo.org Belgian painter and new media researcher. Born in Antwerp, where he lives and works. From his earliest work, Dr. Hugo Heyrman developed a transformative vision, a cultural questioning of the nature of perception, memory and images — “My works are ways of seeing, forms of visual thinking, they make the virtual and mental space of an image real”. His art practice includes painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, video, film and digital media. Online since 1995, Dr. Hugo Heyrman became one of the pioneers in Net.art In his online project Museums of the Mind he continues his research, theory and experiments on the telematic future of art, the senses & synesthesia.
Laura de Miguel Álvarez Esther Carmona Pastor Acknowledgments: to Margarita Prieto Bermejo, the teachers and boys and girls at the Leonardo Da Vinci de Parque Coímbra School (Móstoles), Patricia de Miguel and her girls at the Fundación Cal Pau (Pozuelo), the PRECO group of painters at the Universidad Popular de Alcorcón, Ana Mampaso and her students in the specialty of hearing and language at the Faculty of Education and Teacher Training of the UAM, the C.E.I.P organization: Cervantes (Fuenlabrada) and especially Nieves Pastor, Play Art gallery, Nuria Gamo and the APANID association and the kids there, Inmaculada Reboul and the senior citizens at the Centro de Mensajeros de la Paz in Latina, Laura Rico, and the patients on the pediatric oncology and transplants ward of the the capital’s University Hospital in Madrid, Carmen Fajardo and the senior citizens at the Fundación AFA in Arganda. To our friends and counsellors: Dr. Carmen Alcaide, Dr. Ana Mampaso, Dr. Marian L. Fernandez-Cao, Dr. Noemí Martínez, Dr. Virtudes Martínez and Dr. Pilar Pérez Camarero. To Rocío, Ana, Mari, Víctor, David, Andrés, Oliva, Patri, Luna, Javi, Mario, Ana (mum), Lauri, Rosi, Cristina and Virtudes wherever she is. We are grateful to all those people who have collaborated with us on the preparation of the project, from the original idea to the final installation in the exhibition venue. Thank you for everything you have taught us. Dedicated to our parents and grandparents, to what we are thanks to them.
Nothing more meant Laura de Miguel Álvarez Esther Carmona Pastor A person walks along the jetty of the Cariño harbour (a small fishing town located at the mouth of the Ortigueira river in A Coruña, Galicia), without realizing the curious gaze of a woman seeking inspiration for some verses is watching. The silhouette disappears off left leaving a trail of diagonals described by tired legs –one chasing the other with the likely uncertainty of not knowing where they are heading. In its wake four lines are scrawled over and over again to fix the moment, so important then, at which someone began
How many kinds of time are there? - Work time - Relax time - Love time - Angry time - Pain time - Pleasure time - Stress time - Eating time - Losing time - Wanting time - Feeling time - Living time -… The list goes on forever, but each of them is different, or at least passes differently. On occasions it goes slowly or quickly, on others it just passes. The thing is it never leaves us content; just like a work of art we contemplate in an exhibition in the capital on a Thursday afternoon one summers day... 1 LDM PRE On many occasions, when it comes to creating we are unable to find the right predisposition. We have the disposition when we start, but the pre is often lost somewhere in our intellect, held hostage by our insecurity and our fear of making fools of ourselves often provoked by the opinions of “connoisseurs” 2, who feel at liberty to judge us. Despite this we should not blame people who due to social and/or cultural reasons adopt a specific role in which the freedom of action that arises from acts such as, for example, eating with ones hands or smudging ones face with paint, transform some of our primitive instincts of self-exploration and interaction with our surroundings into aberrant or absurd acts which, in the majority of cases, are totally out of place. The beginning of the end, of the end of our lack of security, of our lack of pre, could come about, for example, by changing our way of viewing a work of art. When we try to see beyond the work in question we may possibly recognize in it a way of expressing, of communicating something 173
that would often be difficult to achieve otherwise. Words do not always mean what one wants to say. What do I want feet for, When I have wings to fly. FK Said Frida Kalho as she sat in her wheelchair, and stared amazed, unable to walk herself, at those around her who could. That did not mean she had to portray her feet hanging abandoned from a coat-hanger. That period of pain and anguish engendered a need to talk to herself by means of her metaphorical, yet crudely realistic, paintings. Frida was one of the lucky ones, because her talent and her artistic quality were recognized and her work acclaimed. But what if Kahlo had drawn and painted as much as she did without the outward graphic-artistic flare? Would her work be less important? I paint my own reality 4 FK A reality of tears, blood and pain. The reality of Frida Kalho, different for each of us, seen and lived by different eyes and bodies. Present moments rapidly turn into the past. An immutable past like our fingerprints, distinct for each of us, but with outward similarities. It is the slight and subtle variations in our fingerprints crests and furrows, as in lifes events and circumstances, that makes us into heterogeneous beings, with parallel or crossing lives, that makes us akin. It is thought that by encouraging mentally ill patients to paint, write or play, they are forced to be present at the moment of creation, which provides them with a degree of relief 5, therefore we, being present in the living moment, should create. Like Frida, but creating our own reality from our personal circumstances and in our own language. What is left for us When photography appeared it was assumed that it would be the death of painting 6. However, this was not the case. In fact painting, like many other techniques, was released from the subordination of serving always to depict reality in the most truthful manner possible (as beforehand there had been no other way of depicting it). Set free from its yoke and placed in hands and bodies people eager to find different ways of expressing what they felt or thought and who on many occasions were unable to create by any other method. Fauvists, Expressionists, Dadaists, etc; took advantage of the ignorance of an audience, which was largely incapable of seeing beyond what appeared in the paintings, to 174
scream mutely at a spectator who sometimes could not, or did not want, to hear. The breakthrough caused by the publication of the first pinhole photograph, led to the need and the incessant quest to transcend the limits of the already known. New depicted forms, new styles, new techniques and approaches, until we reach the present juncture, a day on which looking back and forward (at the present) we ask ourselves the following question: What is there left to do in Art? The wisest among us think there is nothing left, that everything has been done already. Without entering into the debate, it could be that we did not try to modify what we already have, in the material sense, since that might lead us –and it sometimes does– to become weighed down by the anguished thought that gnaws at us: to create something new; that which drives us to want to be original, searching for the “happy idea” all the time 7. That idea will be responsible for transforming us into creators of a new movement, that will appear in History of Art books as a movement arising at the beginning of the 21st century, thus making way for a new breed of contemporary artist geniuses. We should not make the mistake of thinking, however, that contemporary artists are geniuses or that they are notable for their technical mastery. They are creators. Just as we are all potential creators. Nonetheless, it is true that those of us who want to be part of this group go to great lengths to try to stand out and be different often overlooking what is really important: The truly creative spirit is defined by a sense of personal wellbeing, by a sense of purity and by an individuals personality. It defines us as people. Consequently, the following question must be posed in our relentless search for the Pre: If everything has already been done, why keep searching for answers in personal creation and approaches instead of in experimentation and in other fields of exploration that focus solely on the artistic experience? The person whose circumstances have led them to experience the sensation produced by artistic creativity can share it with others who have not yet been exposed, or at least not freely exposed, to the feelings and emotions caused by said experience. By experimentation we refer to the individual dialogue set in motion when an individual simply enters into contact with his or her innate creative capacity. It is quite an enigmatic phenomenon because, though it is impossible to pinpoint what drives people to create, they do so from birth.
Art facilitator I bought her a notebook and asked her to write down in it all those things she had told me since she was a girl. Today, five years after that heart attack, my grandmother has finished the notebook I bought her and has started a second. It is certainly, both graphically and substantially, a real work of art. Written in her handwriting it stands as a manuscript of popular wisdom. She did not just write it for the person who asked her to, but for the future too. For those generations to come who will proudly treasure this legacy. LDM The art facilitator 8 is an individual who possesses skills acquired through practical experience, through important life events occurring previously that in one way or another have led him or her to specialize in specific artistic fields and to want to share their knowledge with others. LDM Being a facilitator is about conveying what one knows, the product of ones intellect and knowledge, and most importantly, about conveying ones nature; stimulated by the enthusiasm, joy and satisfaction of sharing time with people who have affinities with each other in terms of a given artistic proposal. A facilitator is not a teacher 9, professor 10, instructor 11 nor a trainer 12, but simply a facilitator as the name indicates. A person who facilitates by offering others his or her own experience and insight, comparable to a certain degree to the wisdom conveyed by those village “relics” of flesh and blood (grandmothers and grandfathers – in other words individuals whose accumulated knowledge and experience, having lived lives full of joy and sorrow not dissimilar to ours at the present time, ranks them as wise elders, despite being often ignored by people incapable of seeing beyond their decrepit and decaying outward appearance), although in this aspect age is of no importance. Feeling = experience One of the best moments of each day was the walk from the metro to the faculty. A lonely path populated solely by plane trees. It was a good time for pricking up ones senses. Carpets of lurid leaves or blue shadows were what I might find on any given day. ECP Learn to perceive the small everyday things, enjoy the uniqueness of each moment and avoid turning them into routines. The fact is that seeing is not the same thing as looking; hearing is not the same as listening, touching is not the same as
Facilitator: Lara de Miguel Álvarez “Taller: Tengo cuerpo, luego existimos”, VI Semana de la Ciencia. UAM (Madrid).
caressing and tasting is not the same as savouring. Our senses connect us to this world and we have the choice of running through on tiptoe or feeling each step of the way as we walk barefoot. This is what we were referring to when we talked about experience and a way of life. The work being done is based on the way we perceive the events in our daily lives. To feel the things surrounding us intensely, grants us a greater awareness of life, which, in turn, helps us attain a comprehension of the dimension of our identity. Artistic experience sets in motion our perception, the limits of our bodies and our memories, skills that are lost in the frenetic rhythm of modern life. Perhaps one of the clues to understanding the art on display here is to understand just how important it is for both facilitators and participants to be implicitly portrayed or not in that which is being made. The person should not be separated from the object produced. This reminds us of something that happened when Manuel Narváez Patiño, professor of drawing at the Faculty of Fine Arts, came over to the facilitator Laura DM (who was wearing bright clothes and had red hair at the time) and looking her up and down –she thought he was about to correct her exercise in making an abstract representation of the female nude, full of colourful, voluptuous and exaggerated forms– but instead he remarked: The only way I can have an opinion about your work is by first looking at the person who made it. After a silence: I realize now that what you are drawing is a reflection of yourself, and from this angle we can begin to correct. If one had to describe the class of experiences presented in Habitance it would be as follows: 175
To make a way of life or philosophy noticeable in the small things around us, and to strive to live everyday acts more intensely. To analyse the quotidian by means of artistic experience and to re-contextualize objects thereby encouraging the configuration of identity and the sensorial and perceptive experiences which explore our inherent corporeal limits. It is a quest to discover who we are by means of what we feel. OUR ESSENCE. One may find balance and happiness in the encounter with lifes experiences. I need my joy and my sadness, My doubts and my affections to become paintings. Painting is my lifes passion. 13 MNP Habitance Fully: living it from inside, Inhabiting the pinpoint of each instant, On each pinpoint instant: and inhabiting in it, All that inhabiting grants the inhabitant. HABITAR EL TIEMPO Joao Cabral de Melo Neto Is formed from the verb to inhabit = live or dwell For a few moments spectators occupy a space within the prepared surroundings, which proves to be as welcoming, familiar and accessible a place as the works it contains. The exhibition presented by this project does not centre on the artists 14 (if we take that word to mean a person who studies art), but rather on groups in todays society that live among us, just like the rest of us have done, do, and will do in the future. This is based on the notion that art inhabits each individual and is simply waiting to be uncovered by a mind, which playing the role of facilitator grants the opportunity to more than one to speak and sing by means of their creations without having to be there. The term Outsider, coined in 1972 by Roger Cardinal, gathers together all the artistic trends that emerged from “art brut” 15. Outsider refers to any form of creative expression that lies outside institutionalized cultural standards of the historical-artistic tradition of “Fine Arts”. Centres such as the “Creative Growth Art Center” 16 in Oakland, believe creativity to be an innate individual quality. For this reason, the centre allows artists, who best know how to make art happen and have made it into their way of life, to introduce art to others. This type of approach is quite unlike therapy, since it is not regarded as treatment for illness or for medical conditions. Though one may be forgiven for jumping to this conclusion, given the groups the centre chooses to work exclusively with people with some kind of disability. 176
The fairness of these terms is they embrace the work of any individual without any previous art training who would like to explore artistic creativity with no other goal than that of personal satisfaction. Its not that anything has value, but rather that everyone has value. ECP In this manner, the Habitance exhibition aspires to bring a fresh contribution to this field. It also aims to open the field, and consequently, the artworks on show are pieces not solely by people suffering illnesses or those who do not conform to contemporary social conventions, but also by individuals who have embarked upon an official course of education alongside others who could be considered non-official. The scope of Habitance is limited to showing the results obtained thanks to the efforts of people, free individuals whose creations are produced in harmony with their essence as human beings. People that have not sought “happy ideas”, or financial rewards for owning their work. They do not ask, nor expect, anything more than the moment of action they have lived. The results are preserved, like shadows testifying to their presence at that moment-place when though time did pass, it did so according to the rhythm they set it. There is an almost sacred respect for personal rhythm and a similar regard for non-inclusion in ones own work. The facilitator adopts the role of orienteer until the time is ripe to act, at which point each individual, with assistance or not, becomes the absolute master of his or her creation. Let art inhabit you This phrase defines the feeling we hope viewers will experience when they visit the exhibition. The exhibition is designed to draw visitors into a welcoming space and envelope them in the essence of the works on display as they wander through. Visitors easily relate to this everyday setting, which makes them aware of who they are and of their own importance. It does not attempt, as is usually the case with exhibition spaces, to be neutral. The chosen setting is a house, and in each of its rooms visitors may contemplate works by a different group or collective. The words spoken by a man in the film, What have you got under your hat? 17, are of great value when it comes to understanding the purpose of this exhibition, …We complicate life too much. Most of us are so intoxicated by ourselves that we cannot see the nature of our intoxication under all the useless layers of
adoration and veneration we apply to it, never realizing that it is the seed that is truly important, and the rest is just trivial adornment. When they touch on our own existence, on our lives, we overrate the raw materials from which the interest and the readiness to work arise. The exhibition strives to experience the process of action, to feel the moment of artistic creation. We should focus more on knowledge gained through vital experience than on knowledge gained from books, with no disrespect to the importance of the latter. The two should rank equally as sources for nourishment, due to which the events of daily life may or may not be routine. LDM Exhibition project The spaces we inhabit on a daily basis are often designed as transit places, and the idea of stopping and looking around has not been taken into consideration. In fact, this is reflected in the materials, such as metal, glass and marble, used to build them. These hard, cold and shiny surfaces transform them into unwelcoming places of transit and do nothing to invite one to spend time there. For this reason, when an individual visits a place to contemplate objects produced by the emotions and conceptions of people like him or her, coldness seems entirely out of place. Our inner selves and the way we present ourselves to others is a question of determination, something that only each individual can know, comparable to the privacy of ones home. A lived-in space, in which each sub-space is designed for the function it must serve. Of course, for the most part if it was up to us, we would not put a bath in the living room or a dining table in the bedroom. Similarly, each small space of the total exhibition, for which we conceived a specific part of the show, is equipped to bolster the meaning of the end results, based on the proposal made by the facilitator at the beginning with his or her work group. The space must be in tune with what it possesses so that content and container blend into a single thing. The works are part of a welcoming place, which is familiar to visitors and invites them to enjoy their stay. Experiences Hall and lounge Facilitator: Carmen Fajardo Curiel Emptiness, forgetfulness, hollow spaces. Repetition, a gathering of de-structured
words, about a troubling and persistent idea. My mind… Leaves that fall haphazardly, whimsically. Leaves the wind lets down softly on the paths cold ground, leaving emptiness, forgetfulness, gaps and a gathering. Gnawing fear. Carmen Fajardo ALZHEIMER This work was guided by Carmen Fajardo, an art therapist and Fine Arts graduate at the UCM, and the pieces were produced by Alzheimer patients who attend the AFA Day Centre in Arganda. At these Art Therapy Workshops the pieces produced are often very spontaneous and easy to make. Primarily they reflect the emotional side of people who are suffering from Alzheimer. Particular care is taken to foster self-esteem and social relationships amongst the members of the group by means of teamwork. The abilities retained by the group are used to full advantage and contact with reality is encouraged. The goal of preserving memory and identity for as long as possible is of vital importance for each of the participants. Sitting room Facilitator: Inmaculada Reboul Langa …an illusory dawn. What a plethora of things! Files, thresholds, atlases, cups, nails, serving us like tacit slaves, Blind and strangely mute! They will endure beyond our memories; They will never realize we have gone. Jorge Luis Borges The worm that burrows into memory Time and progressive deterioration gradually deprive patients of experience, the opposite of children, losing in the process all their defence mechanisms and devices. All they have left in the end is intuition and their feelings; because even the expression of emotions and perceptions will eventually abandon them. By the end they will have lost their entire lifes luggage and they will end by dying as they were born, in the foetal position. Inmaculada Reboul Langa The Art Therapy Workshop that produced the results on show here was held for senior citizens suffering from Alheimer type dementia. It was guided by Inmaculada Reboul who is a Fine Arts graduate and Art Therapist at the UCM and was assisted by Sonia Heinsius also an Art Therapist at the UCM. Research in this field has been carried out since 2005 at the “Edad Dorado” Day Centre, which is run by Mensajeros de la Paz in Latina. The research project attempts to find an answer to the question of whether Art 177
Therapy can contribute to help elderly people with Alzheimer type dementia. The work is based on the following theory: When verbal language is not enough to make communication possible, Art Therapy can help to preserve and foster capabilities and skills, employing tools and stimuli aimed at extending for as long as possible elderly Alzheimer patients means of expression and their grasp on life. Kitchen Facilitator: Nuria Gamo Hernández “Photography is a transient and fragile thing (…), a desperate and ingenious attempt to stop time in the middle of a look, a light, a special moment that will never happen again.” Jeanloup Sieff On show are the results of an activity called “Getafe bajo mis ojos” (Getafe in my eyes). The activity has been designed by Nuria Gamo, who has a degree in Psychology and is currently studying for a PHD in “Art applied to social integration” at the UCMs Education Faculty. The workshop is aimed at partially to moderately mentally disabled participants from 36 to 53 years old (APANID, Getafe), and it asks them to show the rest of the world, in photographs, the city they live in and the places where some of them grew up. The idea is for the participants to portray something about themselves by depicting a personal belonging chosen for its special meaning. The main objective is to increment the quality of life of people with intellectual disabilities. Corridor Facilitator: Esther Carmona Pastor Walker, your footprints, and nothing else, are the trail; Walker, there is no path. The path is made by walking. By walking the path is made and when you look behind you you see the trail you never need step on again... Antonio Machado The exhibition features work produced in the “Paint our paths with colours” workshop, guided by Esther Carmona, who graduated in Fine Arts and is currently preparing her doctoral thesis in the “Art applied to social integration: art, therapy and education for diversity” programme (UCM). The workshop was attended by pupils from the infant class of the C.E.I.P. Cervantes school (Fuenlabrada) and from Play Art Gallery, an art centre for childrens creativity in Boadilla del Monte. 178
The objective is to make an analogy between the career of a visual artist and the lives of the pupils, to show how our own decisions and the people close to us can affect the paths we choose to follow and to discuss individual and group identity. The workshop involves making a carpet by joining together the separate pieces painted by the participants. Corridor Facilitator: Laura Rico Caballo In every crowd there are people who do not stand out, But who are the bearers Though they do not know it Of prodigious messages.” A. de Saint-Exupéry. The project, “En aula y cama a cama” (In the classroom and from bed to bed) is carried out by Doctor Laura Rico Caballo, clinical psychologist and art therapist. The project has been implemented at a large hospital in the capital, on the pediatric ward of oncology and transplants, as a trial programme to explore what art therapy has to offer in a hospital context. The trials performed (such as “Mandalas”, mural-making and activities related to contemporary artists such as Pollock and Rothko) use artistic expression as a means to reduce patients stress and anxiety, develop their ability to cope, increase their control of situations, reduce emotional maladjustment, improve communication, reduce pain, positively re-frame their illness and help them to find personal meaning for their condition in an adaptive manner. MANDALAS I am nobody Ill never be anything I cannot want to be nothing Asides from that, I have all the dreams of the world inside me. Fernando Pessoa FROM PIGMALION TO DR. FRANKENSTEIN Illness is the night-side of life, a more onerous citizenship. Everyone who is born holds dual citizenship, in the kingdom of the well and in the kingdom of the sick. Although we all prefer to use only the good passport, sooner or later each of us is obliged, at least for a spell, to identify ourselves as citizens of that other place. 19 Susan Sontag X-RAYS Science and art are not opposites. They are both paths that, if we tread them fearlessly and with depth, commitment and thirst for adventure, will lead us to the same mystery. Dr. Enrique Pichón Rivière. 20
ON ROTHKO Im not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. Im interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions… the people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when painting them. 21 Mural: SNAIL, AIL, AIL We designed a work session using the nursery rhyme “Snail, ail, ail… show the sun your horns …” as a starting point. Each child who wants to take part is given a piece of paper, approximately 1 x 1.5 metres large, which is hung on the corridor side of their ward doors. In this way all of the children are together painting in the corridor. Walk-in wardrobe Facilitator: Laura de Miguel Álvarez Dont walk in front of me, because I wouldnt be able to follow you. Dont walk behind me, because I might lose you. Dont walk beneath me, because I might step on you. Dont walk over me, because I might feel your weight. Walk beside me because we are equals. Jorge Bucay, 1999 These activities are directed by Laura de Miguel Álvarez, who is currently studying for her doctoral thesis in the “Art applied to social integration: art, therapy and education for diversity” programme (UCM), and are performed with a wide range of groups: infant school pupils, primary school pupils, amateur painters, women with psychological deficiencies and severe behavioural disorders, university students, teachers, art therapists, dancers… The essence of the various activities performed is that they cater to different parts of society by means of Individual and group activities that focus on our most basic instincts, our first contact with matter, like our ancestors in caves, and even on body language as an artistic tool for expression. In this manner, by savouring the moment of artistic creativity and entering in contact, for a few seconds, with our own bodies and the bodies of others, we are able to attain simplicity and equality as existing and coexisting beings. Consequently, we are longer bound by the methods of presenting ourselves to others, and can interact in an equal manner with our peers, thus fostering sincere communication.
3 ROOMS: 1. Living room, 2. Bedroom, 3. Bathroom Facilitators: Laura de Miguel Álvarez and Esther Carmona Pastor Video is an audiovisual aid which Has a wide range of applications For fostering alternative and de-centralized communication, And also for encouraging artistic expression in the fields of Social and community development… Ana Mampaso Martínez, 2001 This display presents three audiovisual pieces produced by Laura de Miguel and Esther Carmona Pastor. The main characters of each of the pieces, people who are close to the authors and with whom they share their lives, were ready and willing to play an active part despite having no professional training or connection with the arts. In each room the video camera is given a different role to play in relation to the people who appear in the image and the recorded moments. 1. The audiovisual piece “café, té y algo que mojar…” 2005, located in room number one, is shown on a television placed in the living room of a house, a typical everyday setting for people at the heart of their homes. In this sense, the camera portrays the days moments merely by acting as a recording instrument. Family, domestic tasks and fear about what other people will say, etc; especially in our grandparents day, led women to be thought of as part of the home furnishings. We are women, therefore we are human beings who for a long time have been repressed and judged as objects that could be completely possessed. Men were, or are (depending on each individual case) the only ones with the right to make a place for themselves in public. This fact led to women to meet up together in their neighbours homes to let off steam and relax from the routine which normally pervaded their lives. 2. Located in room number two is “Un día”, 2005. The stories of the lives of the main characters from the time they get up –and begin to interact with a digital instrument that observes them throughout the whole day of their unsatisfactory lives– to the time they go back to bed. The colours green and red, moreover, are used to symbolize, on the one hand, the experience and serenity of a long life filled with personal experiences that has granted Oliva wisdom and commonsense, and on the other, the modern day life of vitality and passion lived by Patricia. 179
We no longer think loving or not loving is a question of humanity. P Those are very tough things, child, things one does not forget. O 3. The camera starts by playing the main role in the plot of “Acción transfer”, 2005. Witnessing the importance of considering how it affects the way other people look, especially when looking at the opposite sex. Mario and Javi let their imaginations roam freely when the reflection of a woman is set before them, and she becomes defined by their powers of creativity and transformation. In this fashion, I allow myself to be identified in this action Under the gaze of another person with the power to completely modify not only my features, but also my identity; if the outline of my face is changed it can provide more or less different information about the rest of my appearance, clothes, style, etc. The other person gives me this gift, and without any effort or spending on my part, without new clothes or makeup, I can see myself anew thanks to the creativity of someone elses eyes, belonging to a man, identifying me. LDM I cant take my eyes off you… An essential aspect of our identity is affected by the way others look at us. There are many kinds, but the look that most affects us is that of the opposite sex. Today I am lending myself to be painted, to be made into another person, but on this occasion it will be just a game. ECP Notes 1 In regard to art, whatever discipline one looks at, nobody can explain exactly what the creator of the thing on display wished to express, apart from the creator. This leaves us open to be affected by the Stendhal Syndrome (a psychosomatic illness causing increased heart rate, dizziness, confusion and even hallucinations occurring when the individual is exposed to an overdose of artistic beauty, paintings and artistic masterpieces). 2 This refers to those people who judge a work of art according merely to aesthetic predilections, based upon what is popularly known as being artistically good or bad. According to such, “connoisseurs” would consider the drawings at the beginning of this text to be bad, thinking them four lines that anyone could have drawn. 3 From the film Frida. 2002. 4 Enfermedad y creación. Cómo influye la enfermedad en la literatura, la pintura y la música. 1995, p. 16 5 Ibid. 6 Paul Delaroche. 1839. 7 A term used by the teachers of Analysis of Architectural Forms (Daniel Ruiz, Antonio Matres, Carlos Ripoll, Miranda Kiuri and Carlos Bustos) in
Arquitectura para Profesionales, INNCA, UCJC, to refer to students pursuit of a “magical” visualization which will instantly come to mind, thus saving them the effort of going through the necessary stages in any subject they may be studying: the analysis and synthesis of any problem. 8 A word used in the USA to describe lecturers who have a firm grounding and experience in the subject being dealt with. The author uses the word to refer to the person who guides the artistic activity into the works exhibited. 9 A person who teaches. Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española. 10 A person who practices or teaches an art or science. Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española. 11 A person who instructs. Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española. 12 A person who trains or instructs. Diccionario de la Real Academia de la Lengua Española. 13 Manuel Narváez Patiño. 1945-2001. Narváez Patiño. Pub. UCM. Faculty of Fine Arts, p. 8. 14 According to the dictionary of the Real Academia de la Lengua: used to refer to someone studying art. 15 Drawings, paintings, art of every type that poured out from dark individuals and maniacs, produced by spontaneous urges and even by fantasy or madness to transit the strange and trite paths of catalogued art. Jean Dubuffett, Letter to Charles Ladame, Paris, 9th of August, 1945. (Art Brut Collection Archive, Lausanne). 16 The Creative Growth Art Center serves physically, mentally and developmentally disabled adult artists, providing a stimulating environment for artistic instruction, gallery promotion and personal expression. http://www.creativegrowth.org/ 17 What have you got under your hat? deals with the isolation that can be caused by disability, and with how art can help to re-establish communication. Written and directed by: Lola Barrera and Iñaqui Peñafiel. Produced by: Julio Medem, Lola Barrera and Iñaqui Peñafiel. 18 SONTAG, Susan. “Illness As Metaphor”, preface (1978). Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1977. 19 ZITO LEMA, V.: (1989) Conversaciones con Enrique Pichón Rivière. Sobre el arte y la locura. Buenos Aires, Ediciones Cinco, p. 36, 1st edition, 1976. 20 ROTHKO, Mark. “La realidad del artista”. Síntesis. Madrid. 2004
mujer and the Education Faculty of the UCM, as part of the Plan Nacional de Investigación Científica, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica 2004-2007, “Analysis of the Construction of Gender Identity in Boys and Girls from 3 to 12 Years Old by Means of Graphic Representation. Plan for Change and Improvement”. Professor at the UCJC (University of Camilo José Cela) and at the UPA (Popular University of Alcorcón). Ballet and jazz dance teacher (2000-2005). She has collaborated with numerous universities: in the VI Semana de la Ciencia and the Semana Cultural at the UAM, and in the III Jornadas de Ecuación Artística at the Faculty of Fine Arts, UCM. Professor/instructor and facilitator of painting and creativity in a variety of societal areas: physical and mental disabilities, amateur painters, drug users, minors awaiting trial or serving reclusion sentences, etc. Director of Nature Classes (20022005), an integration plan organized by the Ministry of Education for physically and mentally disabled people and for low-income families, at Centres in Viérnoles (Cantabria) and Soria. She is an active artist with her own studio. Esther Carmona Pastor. Obtained a degree in Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid. The subject of her Doctoral Research Thesis is “Artistic Expression and Social Inclusion: The Danger of the Everyday”. She has collaborated on the project organized by the Instituto de la mujer and the Education Faculty of the UCM, as part of the Plan Nacional de Investigación Científica, Desarrollo e Innovación Tecnológica 2004-2007, “Analysis of the Construction of Gender Identity in Boys and Girls from 3 to 12 Years Old by Means of Graphic Representation. Plan for Change and Improvement”. Art therapist in the Psychiatric Unit of the Hospital Universitario Ramón y Cajal. She is also an Art and Creativity teacher at Play Art, Boadilla del Monte, and Director of Nature Classes (2002-2005), an integration plan organized by the Ministry of Education for physically and mentally disabled people and for low-income families at centres in Los Urrutias, Murcia and Plasencia (Cáceres).
Facilitators Carmen Fajardo Curiel, Inmaculada Reboul Langa, Nuria Gamo Hernández, Laura Rico Caballo, Esther Carmona Pastor y Laura de Miguel Álvarez.
(page 106) Illustration: The “Frafradas” –small, cuddly, finger dolls to help children sleep– were made by elderly Alzheimer patients at one of the sessions.
Curators biographies Laura de Miguel Álvarez. Obtained a degree in Fine Arts at the Complutense University of Madrid. The subjects of study for her Doctoral research project are “The Artistic Potential of Body Imprints as an Aid for Individual and Collective Awareness” and “A Body Suffering Steinert’s Myotonic Muscular Dystrophy Compared to a Body Without the Disease”. She has collaborated on the project organized by the Instituto de la 181