My essay “Ways of Seeing After the Internet” appears in the spring 2018 issue of Millennium Film Journal. It offers a close examination of Ways of Something (2014-15), a multi-author video essay organized and compiled by web artist Lorna Mills, which pays homage to John Berger’s 1972 television documentary Ways of Seeing. The issue also includes an article by Seth Watter on Lorna Mills, and the cover illustration features an array of Mills’ GIFs.
On February 27th at 7:00PM, I will participate in “The Shape of Space: Anthony McCall’s Solid Light Works,” a panel moderated by art historian Branden Joseph (Columbia University) and featuring artist Anthony McCall, scholar Melissa Ragona (Carnegie Mellon University), and critic and curator Ed Halter (Director, Light Industry). This public conversation is organized in conjunction with McCall’s exhibition Solid Light Worksat Pioneer Works in Brooklyn. Needless to say, it will be a huge honor and pleasure to converse with these brilliant minds against the backdrop of Anthony’s exhibition, which will be on view through March 11. The event is apparently sold out, but tickets may become available closer to the date.
In May and June I delivered two versions of a talk stemming from the first chapter of my book on Ray Johnson: I gave an initial, longer version as my final presentation as a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Dept. of Art History & Archaeology at Columbia, and then an alternate, condensed version at the Performance Studies International conference in Hamburg, Germany, on a panel entitled, “Overdoing It: Towards a Micropolitics of Hyperbole,” chaired by Anna Watkins Fisher and featuring Fisher and Alex Pittman.
In spring 2017 I will teach a newly-designed travel seminar in the Department of Art History & Archaeology at Columbia University. The title of the seminar is “Sunshine/Noir: Minor Histories of California Art,” and it will feature a week-long trip to the Bay Area where students will meet with artists and curators and visit sites and institutions of art historical and cultural significance.
What would the history of American art look like if we turned west instead of east, and focused on artists living in Los Angeles and San Francisco instead of in New York? This seminar asks students to examine art since WWII as it developed under the Southern California sun and the Northern California fog. Moving away from a traditional auteur-driven narrative focused on individual artists, curators, critics, or works, this seminar will also focus attention on pivotal exhibitions, events, performances, and catalytic encounters that happened on the peripheries of, and often, in opposition to, traditional institutional contexts like the gallery and museum.
Questions shaping our discussion will include: How have California artists responded to their environmental surroundings and cultural geography—for instance, the influence of automobile and surf culture, or close proximity to the desert, ocean, and to Mexico? How did major West Coast industries—such as Hollywood cinema, popular music and television broadcasting, military and aerospace engineering, and Silicon Valley—impact artistic production? How did West Coast artistic engagement with counter- and sub-cultures—from the Beats and hippie psychedelia in the 1950s and 1960s, to punk and hip-hop in the late 1970s—differ from its East Coast counterparts? How have artists associated with historically marginalized identities—African American, Latinx, Asian American, immigrant, queer and female-identified—taken advantage of California’s marginal position within the art world as an opportunity to chart new directions?
Utilizing the immense archive assembled by the Getty’s Pacific Standard Timeinitiative as both a foundation and a point of departure, this seminar aims to evaluate and question the relevance of established taxonomies, categories, and criteria emerging from New York-centric narratives—for instance, the modernist preoccupation with medium-specificity—for the study of West Coast art. Topics covered will include: Bay Area figurative painting, California assemblage; craft hierarchies in fine arts production; Finish Fetish and Light and Space; art & technology; art & political activism; the role of art schools and collectives; experimental film, video and music; and the emergence of post-studio practice.
My paper “American Sky” was accepted to a panel on “The Meteorological Impulse in Art,” co-chaired by Ellen Tani and John Tyson, at the February 2017 College Art Association Conference in New York City.
Cloud Music (1974-79), installation at Smithsonian American Art Museum
Abstract: American Sky
Cloud Music (1974-1979) is an interactive audiovisual installation by Fluxus artist Robert Watts, engineer Bob Diamond, and composer David Behrman. By analyzing the clouds’ movements and converting this data into a real-time musical composition, Cloud Music is an early instance of artistic data sonification. However, in its recent installation at the Smithsonian American Art Museum (SAAM), the camera was aimed at the airspace above the U.S. Capitol, an iconic scene of national identity that has acquired an aura of threat and anxiety in the wake of 9/11.
This paper uses the SAAM installation an opportunity to examine how its aesthetic condensation of cloud-watching and paranoia, atmospheric and political surveillance, meteorology and ideology, gives shape not only to the formless vicissitudes of the weather, but also to the seemingly unrepresentable contours of 21st century control society. First situating the work within an abbreviated history of cloud watching in modern visual media—from abstract painting (Dove) to classical cinema (Fellini, Riefenstahl) to new media (Arcangel, Bridle), I demonstrate how Cloud Music anticipates contemporary practices that adopt surveillance as subject, medium, and/or logic. By reversing, dispersing, even vaporizing the panoptic eye-of-power into an enveloping cloud of sound, I argue, Cloud Music stages the historical shift from a disciplinary model of surveillance towards a more nebulous, but nonetheless totalizing network of control. In doing so, Cloud Music also raises difficult questions regarding the political viability of aesthetic responses to analog information (clouds) in our digital present (the Cloud).
On January 9th, the Henry screened a program of short films produced by experimental filmmaker and artist, Pat O’Neill. The program featured a number of key early works, including 7362 (1967), Runs Good (1970), Easy Out (1971), Last of the Persimmons (1972), and Down Wind (1973). I organized the screening, introduced the films and lead a post-screening Q&A.
Pat O’Neill is an artist and experimental filmmaker based in Los Angeles. An influential professor at CalArts and a pioneer of optical effects, he will have an upcoming solo exhibition at the Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
A PANEL ON RAY JOHNSON’S MAIL ART AND PERFORMANCE
At Printed Matter, 231 11th Ave., between 25th and 26th
November 17th, 2015 at 6PM
Moderator: Johanna Gosse
Speakers: Brian Fuata, Chuck Welch, Elizabeth Zuba
Printed Matter, Performa, and The Ray Johnson Estate invite you to join us for an interactive public panel on Ray Johnson’s Mail Art and Performance, presented as part of Performa 15 in conjunction with the exhibition Please Add To and Return To: Mail Art Homage to Ray Johnson. A panel of artists, writers, and scholars will discuss Johnson’s practice–including his “Nothings” and “The New York Correspondence School”– in relation to performance art, dance, Happenings, and more recent understandings of the “social network” and participatory art.
In this public exchange, art historians Francis Halsall (National College of Art and Design, Dublin), Kris Cohen (Reed College) and Johanna Gosse (Columbia University) will discuss the art world in terms of systems. They take as their starting point three recent books on the state of the contemporary art world: Pamela Lee’s Forgetting the Art World (2012), David Joselit’s After Art (2012), and Lane Relyea’s Your Everyday Art World (2013).
After brief introductions of each text, the speakers will embark on a conversation tackling issues such as the art world’s embeddedness in a networked, global system and shifting conceptions of the artistic medium, from specific materiality to technical support to platform.
Questions they consider will include: what specific forms of knowledge does art continue to offer as its historical definitions, categories, and criteria have transformed, and often, faded into obsolescence, much like the technologies it would critique? To what extent should art and art discourse, as resources for getting our bearings in the present, mesh with and respond to technological change? How are the interconnections between art and technology inevitable within networked life, part of the very structure of destablizing change; and if they are inevitable, and if art and technology are not opposed but forced together in the medium of history, where does critique begin and what shapes should it take?
Friday, November 6th, 5:30 PM
Smith Hall 102
The University of Washington, Seattle
This event is sponsored by the Simpson Center for the Humanities, and hosted by the Center for Digital Arts and Experimental Media (DXARTS) at the University of Washington.