When working on the public intervention project, we had to make decisions about filming and the best way to document our performance. Below is a clip from the movie Pina, a retrospective and tribute to the choreographer of the Tanztheater Wuppertal, Pina Bausch. I think it provides a great example of how to document performance, specifically dance. Also, I really recommend watching the whole movie!
This is a work by Tomas Saraceno, one of my favorite artists. One of his recent installations consists of spiders and their webs in suspended glass boxes. Part of the goal of his project is to create a “sound installation which renders spiderwebs into musical instruments through the use of ultra low frequencies in order to probe.” Conceptually this reminds me a lot of the work of Maximilian Lawrence (visiting artist), whose work with bees also related to display and sound. Below is a link to the work, a video that includes the translated sounds, and an interview with Saraceno.
Hans Haacke, one of the most influential artists who works in the public realm, was invited in 1999 to install a sculpture in the German Parliament building.
The work consists of the words “Der Bevölkerung,” surrounded by soil and plants brought to the installation by the parliament members from their respective constituency in Germany.
The image can be seen here: http://www.spatiul-public.ro/eng/Hans%20Haacke/-Der.html
I think it is a great work, both aesthetically and due to the fact that it draws from German history and its physical surroundings in a way that stirred a lot of controversy:
“Public Interventions: The Shifting Meaning of the Urban Condition,” written by the sociologist Saskia Sassen, has implications for public interventions and public art in cities.
One of the important conclusions is that spaces in cities (like Philadelphia), are “a far more concrete space for politics than that of the nation,” meaning that interventions are worthwhile and can be effective. One of her primary examples, in fact, is the Occupy Movement, which briefly existed in Dilworth Plaza outside of City Hall.
Additionally, she draws attention to interstitial spaces, those marginalized and not considered essential to capital, left out of the focus of those who design and control the spaces of the city. In the context of our project (if you haven’t chosen a space yet), these are great locations for public art. If you are interested, Sassen also explores some great examples of public art later in the essay.
The work of Eduardo Kac, a “bioartist” from Brazil, deals with concepts in bioengineering and translating between different languages. In our projects we have used code to produce visual art in Processing, what Kac does translates through techniques such as manipulating sequences of DNA to create modified life forms that are viewed as artwork.
Below is the link to a piece called Genesis, an installation in which Kac translates a sentence from the Bible from English to Morse Code to a genetic sequence, which in turn influences and and manipulates real bacteria:
For more details on this translation process:
“The Uncertainty of Documentarism,” written by the German filmmaker Hito Steyerl, provides a great framework with which to think about the affective aspects of visual media. Her thesis is that new forms of mass media, such as the documentary forms that are ubiquitous today on the news, are “expressive” as opposed to “representative.”
This media, which gains its power through conscious decisions about its construction, is made up of abstract and low resolution images that “bear no similarity to reality.” In turn they are intended to stir excitement and can lead to “false intimacy and even false presence.” This is in contrast to what we expect of the news, which is to be a close representation of the truth of a situation.
In the context of our animation project, this may be useful for considering the affective components of the work and how to achieve our goals without being too literal in our translation of our chosen texts. It is an incredibly interesting perspective on modern documentary practices.
For those interested, she has also written on the effects of image resolution, which I find particularly relevant to the work we are doing: