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Monthly Archives: March 2014

 

I am happy to be part of this upcoming exhibition BOUNDARIES – Curated by Becky Campbell.

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Curator and artist Becky Campbell and the newly established cultural spaces Artscape Athens and Snehta Residency invite you to the opening of the exhibition, Boundaries.

We are continually crossing and encountering boundaries in our daily lives, sometimes aware and sometimes oblivious. We cross over districts of a city; through doors; we shift between being awake (vertical) and asleep (horizontal); between hungry and full.

Boundaries presents the works of 32 creators: 28 artists, two writers, an actor and a musician. The two spaces (Artscape Athens and Snehta) are filled with videos, photographs, paintings, drawings, collages, sculptures, structures and installations as well as performances and interventions in the five-minutes’ walk between.

Each work explores a particular angle related to boundaries – the uncanny, the shadow, liminality, non-spaces, being segregated from a home country, the impossibility of fully comprehending the thoughts of another being, political change, geographical shifts and many others. By bringing such a variety of approaches and mediums into dialogue within and across the two hosting locations similarities and connections of these encounters become prevalent.

21-30 March 2014 Opening 20 March 8-10 pm

Artscape Athens | Moschonision 5, Plateia Amerikis, Athens 112 52

Snehta | Aghias Zonis 1, Kypseli, Athens 113 61

Monday-Friday 5-9 pm

Saturday | Sunday: 12-9 pm

Curated by Becky Campbell

Participants:

Alexandros Laios | Andrew Mason | Christos Vagiatas | Christos Papamichael | Despina Flessa | Despoina Sevasti | Dickie Webb | Dimitris Papoutsakis | Dimitris Patsaros | Elliott Burns | Elli Paxinou | Foteini Palpana | Giannis Amanatidis | Giannis Cheimonakis | Giannis Sinioroglou | Irini Bachlitzanaki | Ivan Masteropoulos | Jack Burton | Konstantinos Kotsis | Kosmas Nikolaou | Kostas Tzimoulis | Maro Fasouli | Matina Charalambi | Panos Mattheou | Panos Profitis | Pantelis Yiannakis | Rachael Cloughton | Rilène Markopoulou | Stephanie Mann | Vasilis Gerodimos | Vassilis Noulas | Zoe Hatziyannaki

The exhibition is being hosted by Artscape Athens and Snehta Residency:

Artscape Athens – An Open Cultural Landscape. Artscape Athens is located at Moschonision 5 Street, in between the borders of Kypseli and Amerikis Square. Since the beginning of 2014 it constitutes the space for cultural expression and artistic creation of the non-profit organisation, Hellenic Museum of Fairytales. Artscape Athens aims to support every act of artistic making and promote local creative ideas. The participatory aspect of its actions constitutes an ongoing motive; therefore it is open in receiving applications for projects and exhibitions from those interested in introducing their work to the broader public.

Snehta Residency is a small private organization that was formed in 2012 in Athens with the purpose to bring international artists in contact with the Athenian art scene. The artists are selected to live and work in Athens for two months in the Kypseli apartment. Snehta – (Athens in reverse) is a metaphorical name suggesting a deeper reading of the city. Snehta aims to expand artistic activity and research in the City, whilst supporting practices focusing on contemporary issues through an experimental and ingenuous approach. Snehta fosters new relationships and collaborations internally and beyond the confines of Athens, Greece.

Becky Campbell is a Scottish artist and curator living in Athens. Previously she has worked for The Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh and DESTE Foundation in Athens. She is part of the team running Snehta Residency in Kypseli, Athens, as well as an organiser of independent projects. Curated projects includeVirtual Materiality for ekthesis-online.com, a at The Demarco Archive, Edinburgh and The WOT Gallery, Edinburgh. She has exhibited internationally in exhibitions including: Gaesahud, Konseptheimilid Sigmar, Reykjavik, Iceland; YELLOW, 2025 Kunst und Kultur e.V., Hamburg, Germany; Short-lived Settlements, Snehta, Athens; Come Ye Hither, Crofter’s Lodge, Loch Eport, North Uist, Scotland; three thousand seven hundred and two, JDM Foundation, Chicago, Illinois, USA.

For further information contact: Becky Campbell & Snehta Residency: becky@snehtaresidency.org Artscape Athens: info@artscapeathens.gr | τηλ. 211 1829117

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Morton Subotnick’s Silver Apples of the Moon: ‘It blew my mind!’

Fifty years ago, Morton Subotnick inadvertently invented techno with his ‘electronic music box’, the Buchla synthesiser. Now, he’s revisiting the piece for the Adelaide festival.
Milton Subotnick

‘I wasn’t on drugs when I make it’ … Morton Subotnick with a re-creation of the Buckla synth.

In 1967, the American composer Morton Subotnick released a record called Silver Apples of the Moon. It was the first electronic album ever to be commissioned by a classical record label, and it is still revered among synth gurus for containing the seeds – or possibly the pips – of techno.

Now 80 years old, though looking at least 20 years younger, Subotnick has flown halfway round the world, from his home in New York to Australia, to perform Silver Apples of the Moon in its entirety at theAdelaide festival. But what he’s really excited about is a new app he has created that enables kids to create their own electronic compositions on an iPad.

The app – called Pitch Painter – could be seen as the fulfilment of Subotnick’s prophecy, made in the 1960s, that one day every living room would contain a synthesiser. Having downloaded the app, I’m eager to play him the jaunty little electro-nursery rhyme I’ve come up with. “That’s very good,” he says. “A three-year-old could have done it,” I reply.

“That’s exactly the point. It’s a way of enabling kids to create music intuitively, without standard notation getting in the way. You wouldn’t prevent children from expressing themselves in paint before they’ve learned to draw, so why shouldn’t they be able to compose without reading music?”

Subotnick himself studied music at Mills College in Oakland, California, where his fellow students included future minimalists Terry Riley andSteve Reich. He was all set for a career as a clarinettist, but his interest in electro-acoustic music led to the establishment of the San Francisco Tape Music Centre in 1961, with fellow musician Ramon Sender. The two men dreamed of creating compositions with sounds no conventional acoustic instrument could produce. So, with a $500 grant from the Rockefeller Foundation, Subotnick commissioned electronics wizard Don Buchla to build an “electronic music box”.

For his performance of Silver Apples of the Moon, Subotnick will be using a modern re-creation of the first Buchla synthesiser (the original is now in the Library of Congress). It looks more like a miniature telephone exchange than an instrument, which may explain why it never really caught on. Shortly after it appeared, Robert Moog debuted an alternative that was adopted by the likes of Pete Townshend, Micky Dolenz and Wendy Carlos, whose Switched-On Bach, recorded on a Moog, became one of the biggest-selling classical releases of all time. Not that Subotnick was impressed. “I could never see the point in playing old music on a new invention,” he says. “If I’m going to play Bach, I’d rather use a harpsichord.”

The Buchla might not have caught on, but that didn’t stop Subotnick making full use of it. Almost 50 years on, Silver Apples of the Moon still sounds arrestingly contemporary. The piece is in two parts: the first is slower, moodier and full of profound, synthetic sighs, like a robot in despair; then in the second half, something extraordinary happens – the music suddenly develops a pulse and climaxes in the frenzied hammering of proto-club rhythms.

This had simply never been heard before. Early electronic compositions were mostly about sine waves, oscillations, timbre – all devoid of rhythm, by and large. Yet, says Subotnick, his discovery of beats happened almost by accident. “In the early days, it took a long, long time – sometimes even days – to programme a sequence. Quite unintentionally, I found I had created this pulsating rhythm. I started grooving with it – and it blew my mind.”

And quite a lot of other minds, too. Silver Apples swiftly became an essential psychedelic soundtrack. “I certainly wasn’t on drugs when I made it,” he says. “I was working too hard. But I’d been staging multimedia performances with dance companies using projections and coloured oils since the early 60s, which was several years before psychedelia is supposed to have started.”

Even the album’s trippy title is perhaps a little less trippy than it appears: Subotnick took it from Yeats’s poem The Song of Wandering Aengus: “The silver apples of the moon, the golden apples of the sun.” As Subotnick says, “It doesn’t really mean anything. I just liked the sound of it.”

More innovations followed. Subotnick’s 1994 work All My Hummingbirds Have Alibis was the first interactive concert to be conceived for CD-Rom. And in 1995, he produced the first of his children’s works, Making Music, which might be described as the young person’s guide to the sequencer.

But it’s Silver Apples he will always be most closely associated with – and that suits him fine. “It’s not a bad little piece,” he says. “It’s like a jazz composition. I’ll start out with some of the familiar riffs, then just improvise. It keeps on changing whenever I perform it.”

• Silver Apples of the Moon is at the Adelaide festival on Friday, 7 March. The festival runs until 16 March (adelaidefestival.com.au). Alfred Hickling’s flights were provided by Emirates.

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It seems like an age since last updating my blog.  For what has been a time without internet it is refreshing to come back to it.  One of the first exhibitions that I will only just miss when I fly home from Japan is Alex Dordoy: Persistencebeatsresistance at Inverleith House in Edinburgh.  For those that are around it will be on till the 23rd of March.  Here is the press release:

Alex Dordoy: Persistencebeatsresistance
Inverleith Gallery, Edinburgh
19 January – 23 March 2014
Review by Catherine Spencer

Although Alex Dordoy’s work explicitly engages with the continual development and concomitant obsolescence of digital and information technologies, his current exhibition at Inverleith House in Edinburgh’s Royal Botanical Gardens also attests to the strongly sculptural element of his practice. Across the gallery’s two floors, Dordoy has arranged a combination of plinth works and wall-reliefs, which address the legacies of minimalism and abstraction, while investigating the mutations established sculptural and painterly forms might take within the pixelated image-overload of online culture.

The plinth works, which Dordoy has christened ‘Congsumers’, consist of rectangular blocks covered with patterns and images, some of which Dordoy has lifted from a jadeite pattern found on Chinese graves, while others are reminiscent of circuit-board imagery and hastily grabbed screen-shots. Embedded at their summits, like discarded fetish objects from an abandoned civilization, Dordy has implanted found items including a defunct MacBook and Converse Hi-Top trainers. These pieces feel deliberately glitchy and overblown, infused with the self-reflexive hyper-awareness of contemporary signs and symbols – and the rapidity with which they are embraced and then cast off – that informs thousands of social media profiles and YouTube videos.

The spectre of outmoded technologies also shadows Dordoy’s ‘Dialta Cuts’, silicone casts made from old photocopiers whose rubbery epidermises hang from the walls. Through the casting process, hard materials are transmuted into yielding ones, while the negative space around the redundant machines takes haunting form. The intricacy of these pieces is very beautiful, but their bodily inferences have the same disconcerting effect as Claes Oldenburg’s soft sculptures, and the latex excrescences of Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse. Dordoy mobilizes this blurring between body and object to reflect on the longstanding convergence and tension between the human hand and the technologies it has invented.

In this respect, Dordoy’s exploration of computing and scanning technologies reflects another lineage within abstraction, represented by the work of pioneering computer artists like Manfred Mohr, Georg Nees, and James Faure-Walker. This is particularly apparent in ‘Folded, unfolded, sunk and scanned No. 50’ (2014), part of a series that take their star-like relief-forms from the paper folds required to make a paper plane, which Dordoy then builds up using jesmonite and fiberglass. Dordoy overlays this shape, which comes gently forward from the wall, with abstracted, fractal-like patterns through toner transfer to convey a process of deterioration and breakdown. This work, together with ‘Westerhope’ (2014) and ‘King Pitta’ (2014), which combine oil paint and watercolour with toner transfer, posit that abstraction, far from being the sole prerogative of modernist painting, can also be understood as a post-medium condition that has always accompanied computer and information technologies.

Equally, Dordoy’s installations of ridged sheets of polycarbonate, often used in the construction of greenhouses, underline minimalism’s technological and design affinities. Combined with fluorescent bulbs, these works are the coldest in the exhibition, blending perfectly with the bleached light which floods into Inverleith House during the winter, when the branches of the Botanical Gardens are bare. This isn’t to suggest, however, that Dordoy is without a sense of humour: in the downstairs gallery, looking out over the elegant park and the equally elegant Edinburgh skyline, sits a white totem-pole created from stacked busts of Karl Marx. The original bust was carved many years ago by Dordoy’s father, so that the work feels on the one hand like a personal tribute, laced with a touch of more general nostalgia for the passing of political convictions. On the other, who better than Marx to preside over an exhibition attuned to the precarious place of materiality within digital culture, whereby ‘all that is solid melts into air’?

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