The There Is Here: Currents 2011 (at Digital Dome)

On Friday night  you could hear a lot of people talking at El Museo Cultural about how incredible Currents 2011, the video show (organized annually since 2002 by Parallel Studios, shout-out to Frank Ragano and Mariannah Amster), is – good enough to travel, many said. To the point I even heard Museum of Modern Art mentioned as a possible venue – though this appeared like saying  to a short-film director that her indie’s good enough to take an Oscar. Good enough, yes. Oscar, likely not.  The there is, actually, here.

On Saturday I headed down with Leanne Goebel to the IAIA’s digital dome for an immersive video experience that included a 40-minute video loop of: James Brody, Orlando Leibovitz, and Andrew Elijah Edward’s Big Bang, Ethan Bach and Charles Veasey’s Collaborate, David Colagiovanni’s Charting Course for the Unknown, Bonnie Lane’s An Ordinary Grind, Daniel Weik and Moritz Degen’s 3910, Lea Weber-Schafer and Julia Wiesner’s No.217, Jonathan Strawn and Allison Hagerman’s Cathedral, Javier Felipe’s GrandPaw’s Song, Florian-Ayala Fauna’s Falling into a Dream, Mitchell Marti’s DataMiner, Ruben Olguin’s Mind Glitch, Louva Hartwell’s Mandala, Sydney Davis’ xyz, Leena Minifie’s Interconnectivity, and Bryan Akipa’s Ta-Hok-Mu.

I liked Charting Course for the Unknown.

And 3910 was brilliant – a work out of  a school of applied sciences in Potsdam, Germany, that is making “interface” a synonym for mapping solutions visually, or at least mapping problems visually – from which solutions might ensue – with the participation of international educational partners. Envision a social network for “visualizers” patterning such umbrella concepts as economy, environment, urbanism, health. And the work basically looks amazing – which might point to a query: If you don’t know what you’re seeing (or how what you’re seeing reflects to something you ought to be thinking about), well, what next?

Nonetheless, 3910 made something funny happen to me – it made Cathedral‘s awesome visuality seem sweet, but hackneyed. Whether this is “problematic” given what is widely reported as digital super-users’ disconnect from nature, I suppose remains to be seen. It is a provocative avenue, however, for art.

In other words, the work of animators for whom design is “applied science”  rather blows away the nature-effects aspect of video that has long been one of the medium’s tropes. Watch, be lulled by waves, stimulated by horn sounds, rendered more acutely sensate.

Maybe it was too big a question. Or of the sort that returned you inevitably to sixth grade, as when Leanne and I kept having giggles after about four viewers in their gravity-free chairs keeled over backwards. Clunk. Proof perhaps that all we really need to do is recognize this intriguing and edgy new international video event as grounds to interrogate a medium changing as fast as the meaning of “applications.”

From, How the New York Times Really Covers NY


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