Steven Ball – Boundary Cyclone Transaction

22nd October 2013 by michael
arts | conceptual | experimental | formalism | network | new media art | process/systems | text | video

Boundary Cyclone Transaction (2013, 233 MB, 6:46 min)

There’s an odd mixture, in varying quantities, of bone dry wit and
a strain of almost ecstatic lyricism in the work of Steven Ball.
This is combined with an interest in formal governing devices
(how much they actually govern and how much it is part of the
expressive character of the works that they should appear
to so do I don’t know)
Steven, I’m delighted to say, made this piece especially to
be unveiled here on DVblog and it was something worth waiting for.
I append some of his notes to the piece.


“Lists remind us that no matter how fluidly a system may operate,
its members nevertheless remain utterly isolated, mutual aliens.
Ontographical cataloging hones a virtue: the abandonment of
anthropocentric narrative coherence in favor of worldly detail.”

“…ontography is a practice of increasing the number and density
[of things], one that sometimes opposes the minimalism of contemporary
art. Instead of removing elements to achieve the elegance of simplicity,
ontography adds (or simply leaves) elements to accomplish the realism
of multitude. It is a practice of exploding the innards of things.”
- Ian Bogost, Alien Phenomonology

Imagine this as a premiss:

the world as it appears is only as it appears to you
and perhaps
the world
appears in arbitrary order

Boundary Cyclone Transaction takes Ian Bogost’s characterisation
of the ontographic list and uses it as a process by which to
auto-construct a picture of a non-human, which is perhaps to
say alien, world, or at least one such as can be constructured
using material found on or through the internet. As such it
also presents a fragment of what might be considered as th
e consciousness of the internet as manifested in image, sound and text.

The video consists of collections of image sequences, written words,
spoken words and sounds. The order in which each of those elements
presents themselves to the viewer has been determined randomly,
therefore any juxtaposition of the elements is entirely arbitrary.
The words used are nouns, i.e. they are things, objects, they
were selected using a random word generator. The sounds consist
mostly of recording of environmental phenomena, such as weather
or recordings of cosmic energies, generally speaking non-human
sounds. The image sequences are all found online and consist of
landscapes, insects, animals, images of microscopic organisms
and viruses, astronomical image, in other words also largely
non-human. Both sounds and images were found through using
keyword searches. It was important in the making of the work
for the elements to be as removed from what I might customarily
intentionally select, for them to be as far away from the
familiarity of the (my) everyday, as possible.

Alienation is a state arising from objects in the world, as they
present themselves inevitably arbitrarily and without a coherent
narrative. In this video the use of random processes aims to
make coherence impossible, or as difficult as possible, while
still, due to the linear and temporal nature of its reception,
will still self-organise into a kind of self-coherent ecosystem.
The longer term aim is for this video to be realised in performance,
to perform itself, using software to randomly order the playback
sequence of the discrete elements and media objects (images,
words, sounds) for every iteration.

Happy New Year/Everything Changes

1st January 2013 by admin
archive | arts | collaboration | community | film | network | new media art | video

Gilgamesh, Part #1 (2012, 214MB, 5:03 min)

Beyond Spectacle (2012, 214MB, 5:03 min)

About DVblog -

Doron started DVblog in summer 2005 and Michael started posting about a month after.
A number of people have contributed hugely along the way – notably Mica Scalin, Brittany
Shoot and Brian Gibson.
We’ve been vandalised a couple of times (hence postings now dating back only to late 2006,
although the vast majority of what was ever posted is back up now) but we’ve also had some really
delightful feedback from people who’ve felt what we’ve done is worthwhile.

Early on we decided that anything we posted would actually live on our server and this means we have assembled an extraordinary and unique archive of the birth and infancy of art video specifically created for or focussed upon the network.

One day we will donate this to an institution that will preserve it and continue to make it available for both joy and study.

When we started Quicktime was the only serious way for anyone to post moving image work to the net. Although it remains the backbone of virtually all digital moving image activity, as a mode of delivery it has now been almost completely superseded by streaming video. This has two implications – one being that the casual viewer has become less patient and is much more likely to go to YouTube or similar, where there’s no significant wait and where quality has improved immeasurably. The other is that fewer and fewer artists are posting their work in QuickTime format – so our old methodology of accepting submitted work but also scouring the net for interesting stuff is at least 50% outmoded.

Finally we want to say – it has been hard work and for no material reward. Indeed, not only have we never made a dime out of DVblog, it has cost us both cash and a great deal of time to sustain. Not that we are complaining – we hope we provided a service to people and certainly we learned a great deal and derived a great deal of pleasure from everything we posted. We made some good and lasting friendships too.

For the reasons listed above we are going to stop posting regularly from today. We finish with pieces from two artists who, in very different ways, have given us a great deal of pleasure – Annie Abrahams and Edward Picot.
Annie, with a record of a networked performance in November of 2012 and Edward with a splendidly mad take on the tale of Gilgamesh, featuring characters from his Dr Hairy series.

We’re not proposing to shut up shop entirely – we will continue post such work in QuickTime format which is submitted to us and which we like. We still think there is something special about the amount of control over quality posting an actual QT file gives and we’re very interested in continuing to write short, but we hope thoughtful and helpful, texts about these. Please, therefore, don’t be shy abuot sending us stuff!

We’d like to thank all who have contributed work over the past seven and a half years and, of course, those who have taken an interest both in the work and what we’ve had to say about it.

Finally we wish readers and contributors alike a happy, productive and thoughtful 2013.

Michael Szpakowski & Doron Golan, 1st Jan 2013.

Ruth Catlow & Marc Garrett -Festival of Money

11th January 2012 by michael
activism | arts | collaboration | conceptual | humor | network | new media art | performance | satire | video

festival of money
Festival of Money (2012, 111MB, 8:06 min)

Amusing & depressing both, because it is so spot on, a lovely bit of
satire from Marc Garrett and Ruth Catlow of Furtherfield fame.
Most artists, of course, are from the 99%…this is a timely reminder of
where our interests lie and don’t lie…

Annie Abrahams -Training for a Better World

4th November 2011 by michael
arts | audio | collaboration | community | conceptual | exhibition | experimental | network | new media art | performance | portraiture | technology | video

angry women left
Angry Women (Left Panel/Clip) (2011, 188MB, 6:23 min)

angry women left
Angry Women (Right Panel/Clip) (2011, 142MB, 6:33 min)

Here are a couple of extracts by Annie Abrahams, whose work we love here at DVblog, from her show Training For a Better World which is currently running at the Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain, Languedoc-Roussillon in Sète until the first of January 2012.
I’d seriously suggest that anyone physically able to do so should visit it – I travelled down from London in a day, stayed a night and then trekked back, all by train. Very pleasant it was too.

Abraham’s exhibition runs in tandem with another, of the works of French artist Catherine Gfeller; Gfeller on the ground floor and Abrahams on the first, and the formal similarities (though I think these are largely superficial, for reasons I’ll enlarge upon soon) – the use of both moving and still images, text, an intervention at some level in the mechanics , the whys and wherefores, of how one presents these as art in a gallery setting – make it a stimulating pairing.

Abraham’s selection includes four pieces which are essentially (with some qualifications) video. They are constructed out of the telematics performance territory that she has so signally staked out in the last few years but, she insists, are not documentations of those performances. I think she’s right to emphasise this distinction – although in one sense the pieces clearly do document things that happened in performance they are ultimately video pieces made performatively .

The show doesn’t consist of moving image work only. There are some prints, drawings and a minimalist installation consisting of a single photograph of a pair of married fire-fighters and a sound track of them reading (in an extraordinarily graceful and musical edit [and this is where in this piece any surface similarities to, say, Nauman find their limit. Grace. Grace and elegance throughout.]) a collaborative text on fear.

The moving image and the other pieces occupy different ends of what is mostly a long thin exhibition space and are connected –“tied” together by a “ribbon”- a very long, three or four inch high, strip, of black highlighted, collaboratively generated white text –on the theme of madness – running at floor level for some considerable distance.

It’s important to both acknowledge this distinctly bi-partite character and then to immediately forget about it, so intimate is the connection between the two halves.
Despite the disparate and apparently laissez-faire methodologies used in the generation of all the work and the huge level of trust in the participants evinced by Abrahams, one’s main impression is of a body of work which forms a tight unity both stylistically and in its preoccupations. (And I’d argue that the principal pre-occupation is the question of what it means, physically, socially, psychically, to be a human being. And, further, that this high seriousness –allied to a playfulness which veers from the childishly innocent to the Rabelaisian – is what ultimately gives this work its huge authority and significance and distinguishes it in kind from the technically well executed and often engaging work on the floor below.)

The jewel in the crown of the show is the video installation ‘Angry Women’, created by Abrahams and 22 other women of many nationalities (3 more , in fact, in total, 2 “backstage” assistants, and a performer who opted for silence throughout) speaking about, acting out, demonstrating, reflecting upon, their anger and its causes and triggers, on webcams at their different individual locations and in their native tongues, with the images being sent to a 3X4 grid, in a format that Abrahams has made her own. Because of the limits of even current streaming technology it was necessary to conduct two distinct performances, separated, in fact, by an interval of two months. The length of each was determined by a protocol where a minute’s silence by all participants signalled the end. This resulted in pieces of differing lengths the lack of synchronisation of which adds another layer of fragile grace to the final projections, projected large on adjacent walls around their common corner, with sound from the left image grid fed to the right speaker and vice versa.

The piece occupies most of a large rectangular space at the CRAC (with the video ‘Double Blind (love)’, a collaboration with Curt Cloninger we’ve savoured here before, in its performance incarnation, in the opposite corner and in its full and majestic 264 minute duration).

The impact is visceral – we face what feels like a wave of humanity, not so much in numbers, although 23 women is impressive, at least to this man, but in the infinite malleability of face and hand, of gesture and expression and of how these things might occupy a frame. Sometimes that frame will resemble a Giacometti portrait, with the subject appearing to recede into what seems to be endlessly deep space. At others red lips or an open mouth, sensual and terrifying by turns, occupy the whole of the space – and furthermore each cell is constantly in flux (because these are living, breathing, unpredictable, human beings). There’s something both of portraiture and of the dance at work here, and a kind of found poetry too (which the moving image work has in common with the collaborative texts at the other end of the exhibition). The combination of iron control, planning, foresight (the grid, the protocols) with the letting go and trust evident elsewhere – the phased lengths, the blank space for the person who didn’t turn up, the open performative structure – makes for something of great richness.
Additionally it’s clear that those performers who had previous experience of the format were consciously playing with and against their fellows – gestures are mirrored, sounds echoed, the fiction of looking elsewhere – to the side, or above – of making contact in and across the grid itself, is impressively sustained.

The angry women turn out to be at one and the same time very particular – unique – women and women in general too; the women in general turn out to be human beings in general (and general en masse because each so particular) and the human beings in general turn out to live here, or there, now, in this, one, our only, very particular, world – that mysterious, frightening and wonderful place.

Book your train/plane ticket now!


Voici quelques extraits par Annie Abrahams, dont nous aimons le travail ici à DVblog, de son exposition Training For a Better World qui se déroule actuellement au Centre Régional d’Art Contemporain, Languedoc-Roussillon à Sète jusqu’au premier janvier 2012.
Je suggère sérieusement de la visiter à quiconque qui est effectivement en mesure d’y aller – j’ai voyagé depuis Londres en une seule journée, je suis resté une nuit et j’ai fait le retour le lendemain, le tout par train. C’était très agréable.

L’exposition d’Abrahams fonctionne en tandem avec une autre, des œuvres de l’artiste française Catherine Gfeller; Gfeller au rez de chaussée et Abrahams au premier étage, et les similitudes formelles (bien que je pense qu’elles soient essentiellement superficiels, pour des raisons sur lesquelles je vais m’étendre bientôt) – l’utilisation à la fois de l’image fixe et de l’image en mouvement, du texte, l’intervention à un certain niveau dans la mécanique, les tenants et aboutissants, de la façon dont on présente celles ci en tant que de l’art dans le contexte d’une galerie – en font un jumelage stimulant.

La sélection d’Abrahams comprend quatre pièces qui sont essentiellement (avec certaines réserves) vidéo. Elles sont construites à partir du territoire de la performance télématique qu’elle a jalonné si singulièrement les dernières années, mais, elle insiste, ce ne sont pas des documentations de ces performances. Je pense qu’elle a raison de souligner cette distinction – bien que dans un sens les pièces documentent bel et bien ce qui est arrivé dans la performance, elles sont finalement des pièces vidéo réalisées performativement.

L’exposition ne consiste pas seulement d’images en mouvement. Il y a quelques imprimées, des dessins et une installation minimaliste composé d’une seule photo d’un couple de pompiers mariés et une piste sonore d’eux lisant (dans un montage extrêmement gracieuse et musicale [et c'est là que dans cette pièce toute similitude de surface à, disons, Nauman trouve son limite. Grace. Grâce et de l'élégance tout au long.]) un texte collaborative sur la peur.

L’image en mouvement et les autres pièces occupent des extrémités différents de ce qui est surtout un espace d’exposition longue et mince et sont reliés – “liées” par un “ruban” – une très longue, trois ou quatre pouces de haut, bande, de texte blanc, généré en collaboration, souligné en noir – sur le thème de la folie – se déroulant au niveau du sol sur une distance considérable.

Il est important de reconnaître ce caractère nettement bi-partite et ensuite de l’oublier immédiatement, tellement intime est la connexion entre les deux moitiés.
Malgré les méthodologies disparates et apparemment laissez-faire utilisées dans la production de tout le travail et l’énorme niveau de confiance aux participants manifesté par Abrahams, la principale impression est celle d’un corps de travail qui forme une unité serrée à la fois stylistique et dans ses préoccupations. (Et je dirais que la principale préoccupation est la question de ce qu’il signifie, physiquement, socialement, psychologiquement, d’être un être humain. Et, puis, que cette haute degré de sérieux, allié à un enjouement qui vire de l’innocence enfantine au rabelaisien – est, ce qui donne finalement ce travail son énorme autorité et importance et le distingue de sa nature du travail techniquement bien exécuté et souvent engageant de l’étage en dessous).

Le joyau de la couronne de l’exposition est l’installation vidéo «Angry Women», créé par Abrahams et 22 autres femmes de plusieurs nationalités, (en fait, 3 de plus au total, 2 assistantes de “secours”, et une performeuse qui a choisi de rester silencieuse jusqu’à la fin), parlant, actant, démontrant, réfléchissant à, leur colère et ses causes et déclencheurs, devant des webcams dans leurs locations individuellement différentes et dans leur langue maternelle, avec les images envoyées à une grille de 3X4, dans un format que Abrahams a fait le sien. En raison des limites des technologies de streaming, mêmes actuelles, il était nécessaire d’effectuer deux performances distinctes, en fait séparées par une période de deux mois. La longueur de chaque performance a été déterminé par un protocole où une minute de silence par toutes les participantes marquait la fin. Il en résulte des pièces de longueurs différentes dont le manque de synchronisation ajoute une autre couche de grâce fragile aux projections finales, projetées en grand sur des murs adjacents autour de leur coin commun, avec le son de l’ image grillée de gauche envoyé au haut-parleur droit et vice versa.

La pièce occupe la majeure partie d’un grand espace rectangulaire au CRAC (avec la vidéo «Double Blind (love)», une collaboration avec Curt Cloninger que nous avons savouré ici avant dans son incarnation performative, dans le coin opposé, dans sa durée totale et majestueuse de 264 minutes).

L’effet est viscérale – nous faisons face à ce qui ressemble à une vague de humanité, non pas tant en nombre, bien que 23 femmes est impressionnant, au moins à cet homme, mais dans l’incessante malléabilité du visage et des mains, du geste et de l’expression et de la façon dont ces choses peuvent occuper un cadre. Parfois, ce cadre ressemble à un portrait de Giacometti, avec le sujet apparaissant reculer dans ce qui semble être un espace profond infini. À d’autres moments, des lèvres rouges ou une bouche ouverte, sensuel et terrifiant à tour de rôle, occupent la totalité de l’espace – et en plus chaque cellule est constamment en mouvement (parce que ce sont des êtres humains vivantes, respirantes, imprévisibles). Il y a quelque chose à la fois du portrait et de la danse à l’œuvre ici, et aussi une sorte de poésie trouvée (ce que le travail d’image en mouvement a en commun avec les textes collaboratives à l’autre bout de l’exposition). La combinaison du contrôle de fer, de la planification, de la prévision (la grille, les protocoles) avec le laisser-aller et la confiance manifeste ailleurs – les longueurs phasées, l’espace noir pour la personne qui ne se présente pas, la structure performative ouverte – produit quelque chose d’une grande richesse.
En outre, il est clair que ces artistes qui ont eu une expérience antérieure du format ont joué sciemment avec et contre leurs partenaires – les gestes sont mises en miroir, des sons font écho, la fiction de regarder ailleurs – sur le côté ou au-dessus – la prise de contact dans et à travers la grille lui-même, est impressionnant et soutenue.

Les femmes en colère se révèlent être tout à la fois des femmes très particulier – unique – et des femmes en général aussi ; les femmes en général se révèlent être des êtres humains en général (et en général en masse parce que chacune si particulière) et les êtres humains en général s’avèrent vivre ici, ou là, maintenant, dans ce, un, notre seul, très particulier monde – cet endroit mystérieux, effrayant et merveilleux.

Réservez votre train / avion billet dès maintenant!

Jimmy Wales – Wikipedia:Technologies of Cooperation

25th May 2011 by doron
activism | archive | collaboration | community | documentary | education | network | participatory | politics | technology | video

Wikipedia:Technologies of Cooperation (2005, 70 MB, 1:30 hr.)

Lecture at Stanford University on Wikipedia by founder Jimmy Wales.

Drake Music Commission – Distant Interiors

24th May 2011 by michael
arts | collaboration | conceptual | experimental | music | network | new media art | video

Distant Interiors (2011, 87MB, 2:16 min)

Drake Music is an organisation initiating and enabling a whole spectrum
of activity around disability and the arts (particularly music
but other artforms too).
This could be worthy, condescending and dull. It is none of these.
In recent years, under the inspired leadership of Carien Meijer,
DM has ensured it is situated primarily as a very forward looking
arts organisation which happens to work closely with disabled artists
to enable new and fresh work to emerge.
It has encouraged collaborations between disabled and non-disabled artists
and, in a sense, works towards its own future disappearance not only
by using technology to level the playing field but also by aspiring not
to pity or the sideshow but to serious, top level, work.

This is their first online commission, a remote collaboration between
video artist Melanie Clifford, composer Ailís Ní Ríain and artist Rebecca Key.

I like the fact that it is so confident in its austere and beautiful
language and aims, not to charm us, but to engage us.
The spiky and beautiful music is particularly exhilarating.

Estella Cumberford – Friendsource14

19th May 2011 by michael
animation | arts | audio | community | conceptual | experimental | identity | network | new media art | photography | process/systems

Friendsource14 (2011, 21MB, 1:18 min)

This piece, by Estella Cumberford, is great on a whole number of fronts.
Firstly it’s really nicely made.
The images walk that difficult line between
telling us too much and too little, and the audio
(processed, apparently, in GarageBand) is well judged,
well executed and more than a little engaging.
You wouldn’t guess from the piece’s surface simplicity
(first impressions only of course, anyway. Examine it closely
and see how hand-made and un-algorithmic it is)
the layers of structuring and processing that went into
it but I can’t help feeling these do manifest in the sense of
its coherence, richness and general success as a work of art.
The text was sourced & assembled from status updates on F******* of
14 of the artist’s friends. This then read by her & processed as noted.
The images were then grown (organic metaphors seem somehow
particularly apposite) out of this text and rendered by a kind of
shadow screen technique.
It’s an exquisite piece of work.
Transparency dictates I tell you that I teach Estella
at Writtle. (I use the word teach loosely -as with most of
the students we have an absorbing and on-going dialogue.)
It’s work like this that makes that part of my life so rewarding.

Talking About DVblog

17th May 2011 by michael
archive | arts | collaboration | community | compilation | documentary arts | event | exhibition | network | new media art | screening | video

Electronic Village Galleries Talk 6th May 2011 (2011, 164MB, 32:14 min)

Gosh -where to start?
Awhile back we were approached to assemble a selection of
work from DVblog for screening at a gallery in the UK.
This reel then took on a bit of a life of its own, showing
at the museum of club culture in Hull, UK and at the Buffalo Literary Center, New York.
(of course ‘a life of its own’ is completely unfair – it got shown because real
human beings -Kerry Baldry and Martha Deed respectively – put work into making it happen.)
Then Kate Southworth, who is running a brilliant pilot project
involving showing digital work in village halls in Cornwall, in the extreme
south-west of the UK, asked if I’d be interested in curating something
and the reel immediately sprang to mind..

To cut a long story short it was shown at the second EVG event at
Zennor village hall on 7th May and I went down to talk (at some
I notice with a certain degree of horror)
about digital video on the net, DVblog in particular and about the
artists involved in this selection.
Here, for better or for worse, is my talk, filmed, heroically, given my
restless delivery style, by Delpha Hudson.
If you’d like to reconstruct the programme for yourself it’s below, with links to
the original DVblog posts.

And if you’d be interested in screening it, please get in touch!
(We also have a reel of silent work which has been screened with
musical accompaniment and is available for more such outings.)

JimPunk, 2010: T

Annie Abrahams

13th January 2011 by michael
arts | collaboration | conceptual | event | experimental | installation | network | new media art | performance | poetry | realtime | technology | video

Mutant #2 (2010, 64MB, 4:04 min)

Annie Abrahams is a singular and compelling voice, her singularity
ironically copper-bottomed by her willingness to embrace the network
& collaboration thereon fearlessly, inquisitively and to always
striking effect. This piece is described as a video arising out of
the second session of a
“Telematic Performance / Experiment investigating communication and
relational dynamics in a dispersed group.”

and it’s bewitching.
The pages documenting it bear the motto
“Communication is never clean, smooth and transparent”
True – and to turn that truth into crystalline & affecting art is a little miracle.

Ethernet Orchestra – Distant Presences

27th October 2010 by michael
arts | audio | collaboration | experimental | music | network | new media art | performance | realtime | technology

Ethernet Orchestra -Distant Presences (2010, 43MB, 6:42 min)

Delicate but nonetheless ravishing beauty from the improvisation-across-the-net,
(Brazil/Sydney/Germany on this occasion) outfit Ethernet Orchestra
That our hats come off in the face of their technical achievement should go almost
without mention -this cannot have been easy to do; but to make something so devoid of
gimmickry and so entrancing too…well, I’m lost for wo