June 25-August 20
The Electronic Gallery
Artists: Man Bartlett and KwanTaeck Park
June 25-August 20
Artists: Man Bartlett and Kwantaeck Park
Curated by Marisa Sage
The Video/Art/Video exhibition is a unique opportunity to feature emerging artists created or exhibited in unique spaces, an opportunity to exhibit works in a more "traditional" gallery space.
By utilizing digital technology (video, audio, text) these works are given a new context, underscoring a more 3rd person, or documentary view of these innovative and creative projects and artists, allowing them to reach a broader audience.
As culture and technology shifts and changes at a truly increasing rate, the work that is timely, becomes quickly the past, as artists continue to explore the landscape of media and technology, and respond to it.
I hope that you will enjoy the artists showcased this summer, and as always The Electronic Gallery strives to present the latest innovations in art and creativity. Please feel welcome to learn more about their artists, by way of visiting their websites, as there is a remarkable about of material and information which was condensed into these five minute presentations.
On behalf of the staff and faculty at Salisbury University, we would like to thank you for visiting, and welcome you to find out more online about our future and upcoming events.
Video/Art/Video: Curators notes and questions: Marisa Sage
Video/Art/Video is an exhibition featuring the work of Man Bartlett and Kwantaeck Park, two artists who've created videos that document original pieces utilizing mediums often viewed as difficult to exhibit in a normal gallery setting. Due to the nature of performance art (in Man Bartletts case) and time sensitive installation work (in Kwantaeck Parks case), the setting of a white cube gallery may not be the ideal atmosphere to experience these ephemeral works. We are instantaneously faced with the temporary nature of both works, Wheres my spring? and #140hBerlin. In Wheres my spring? we are swiftly aware through the use of sound and time-lapse video that ice is melting before our eyes, and in #140hBerlin we quickly realize that we are viewing a work that has already taken place and we have inadvertently become part of the aftermath. As the curator of this summer exhibition in the Electronic Gallery I was very interested in how and why these artists decided to document these memorable works. I also wondered how the documentation of these temporary works changes their effectiveness and how an audience then understands and Interacts with the work?
To answer that, I posed the following questions to the artists. I was hoping to better understand each artists connection to the documentation process, verses their connection to the work itself. I also asked each artist about their individual processes and thinking when creating these pieces:
Marisa Sage: Kwantaeck & Man, the original intention with Video/Art/Video was to show works which document pieces that are "difficult" to exhibit in traditional settings, performances and/or installations which might only exist for one moment; with that idea in mind: A. How does the documentation of your performance and/or installation effect, challenge, or change the work itself? B. Did using video and filming the process of the installation and/or performance change the outcome of the original work in anyway?
Kwantaeck Park: Well, maybe the documentation is one of the most common forms we can see other artists work if we are not able to see actual one. And I think sometimes its more preeminent as many artists get their website. Even though I like the form, which is ephemeral, the documentation is still secondary. That's why I feel some difficulties when I have to show people my work through documentation. Documentation is unavoidable procedure to me and still very tricky. Sometimes a single photo with good description works better than the real time video documentation. So far, in my work, nothing has been changed due to documentation but its true that sometimes I modify arrangements of installation when I document it for better composition.
Man Bartlett: Similar to Beuys, it shapes the narrative. It also does a better job of showing an assemblage of symbols. The "reality" was that for 6 days I was basically trying to figure out what the hell I was doing and why it was important to me. Like I mentioned before, a lot of this had to do with a sort of homelessness. In general I'm moving more towards wanting to completely delete "documentation" in favor of the fleeting, ephemeral. But that's always a tough balance. One solution I've come up with recently is to only keep the last two years of my practice and to destroy the rest. This way I'm not weighed down by my past yet projects can still have some life. Which other people seem to be quite concerned about. Which is funny considering the fantastically short shelf-life that anything has, humans or art and everything. I mean, even in an absolute best case masterpiece scenario a work lasts a few hundred years. The Universe is how old? I mean, no contest. Blinks of an eye. To continue that analogy, I suppose what I seek is a sort of infinite blink. I'm just usually too scaredy-pants to commit to it, hence documentation like video, archived tweet streams, etc.
Marisa: Kwantaeck, could you explain more about "Chevron's Green Campaign", why you choose their campaign, and how the campaign might relate to you personally?
Kwantaeck: Instead of revealing my personal relationship to Chevrons Green Campaign, I might have to talk more about my motivation and process of this piece. As you may guess through the title Wheres my spring?, the idea came out of my personal memory and experience. Not only this piece but also other most of my pieces followed similar sequences. When I get some ideas or something I feel it is problem, I start to investigate what made it happen or what caused it. And I don't hide this process. Rather, it becomes a big part of each of my pieces. I hope myself to be co-researcher with viewers rather than didactic experts. Maybe that's why I put more value on linking my personal experience to bigger structure: the environment or the society where I live.
Lets go back to Wheres my spring?. It starts from my realization that Spring, my favorite season in Korea gets shorter and shorter. Even recently its almost disappeared. There could be numerous reasons for loss of Spring. And I knew its too easy to target a single oil company and blame it for climate changes. Maybe its not even because of oil industries at all as many anti-environmental experts point that its the natural moment of climate change of Earth. So, it is almost impossible to find out a clear single cause.
While I was researching advertisement of oil companies, I found out our reflection. Many oil companies are doing so-called eco-friendly campaign and they are dealing with different methodologies Chevrons Green Campaign was one of them. But more than any other campaigns, Chevrons Green Campaign uses very family-looking photos. I looked at eyes of models in the images. They looked sad. I didn't know why. One thing I was able to be sure with was that the models in the photos are directed. The family-looking photos are not trustable. Maybe the models are actors who were hired for this campaign ad. But strangely I could see myself through their faces. They were our reflections. I felt even if some might argue that many corporations generate fake positive images and try to allure their customers to buy more and consume more in the consumerism era, somehow it could be me or you and us who may not be able to free from being blamed for current environment issues. Because we still use their products and consume their items.
So, Wheres my spring? is not the piece which just seeks a single cause for loss of Spring and condemn it. Rather, its questioning. How come I get clear cause and argue it with absolute truth? That might be what journalist and activists try to do. Chevrons Green Campaign is a kind of backdrop, there's no specific reason they need be more blamed than other oil companies but I believed that their ad images show the ambivalence and contradiction I wanted to talk about more explicitly.
Marisa: Kwantaeck, does the installation change each time you install it, and if so in what way?
Kwantaeck: Yeah, It will definitely change, what you saw is very prototype of my idea. I am hoping I can have a chance to have a single room I can fill it with more number of ice cubes and photos. And also its up to the venue, if I can use two different floors, I would focus on how to visualize rain dropping more effectively.
Marisa: Kwantaeck, how important is the sound element to the final piece?
Kwantaeck: Without sound, I would not work on this piece. I am not saying it is all but its definitely one of the biggest parts of the piece. I hope that viewer can sit or lie down on the floor listening the raindrop in the final piece.
Marisa: Kwantaeck, what other artists or works inspire you, and/or inspired this work?
Kwantaeck: I usually get more inspired by artists whose work came out of their personal experience but reached to others beyond self-portrait, resonated in viewers heart too. I like On Kawara, Janet Cardiff, James Turrell, Pedro Reyes, and Michael Rakowitz, etc.
Marisa: Man, what compelled you to retake/reinterpret "I Like America and America Likes Me"? Would you describe specific elements of the piece as an appropriation of Joseph Beuys original performance?
Man: I had just learned about that particular performance and was blown away by it. I was also a little suspect of it, and wanted to try flex it for "our time." In that regard I was initializing a bridge to a sort of social media shamanism, while maintaining a healthy dose of the absurd.
It was probably more substitution than appropriation. Which is maybe not giving it enough credit, but I literally remember thinking, ok, what's the craziest shit I can think of? Hence a stretch limo Hummer, turkey, etc. But then once I was embodying the performance, in front of a live stream with people all around the world watching, and myself hidden beneath the flag, I found myself pretty helpless, and homeless. The question for me then became, what does it mean to be "American?" To be a citizen. It sounds trite, but that's what was going through my head.
Marisa: Man, when you created #140hBerlin, did you also hope to incorporate Beuys ideas such as his social philosophies and/or ideas of the artist as shaman,into your work?
Man: To some degree, yes. Beuys definitely had a way of giving his work a very specific kind of Power. I was seeking a similar Power in my own way, while trying to share that with the public. I was also trying to stay as open as possible to allow new perspectives to shape the experience.
Marisa: Man, to further elaborate on the previous question: By performing on the streets of Berlin, rather than only in one specific room during your multipart performance, did your lack of isolation intend to speak to specific parts of American or German culture, just as Beuys intentional isolation had a very specific meaning?
Man: Here the editing is misleading, as the amount of time I spent on the street was literally a matter of minutes, compared to 6 full days inside the gallery. Sleeping there, not showering, etc. I was very much isolated from the outside world during those 6 days. The editing of this video followed the general arc of the original, although Beuys had assistants covering him up and taking him on the gurney into the gallery. Ironically I've been told by numerous sources that Beuys only spent a few hours in the gallery where he performed, and that he dined out, and actually saw New York. In other words, he crafted the narrative he wanted to craft. And that's kind of lame, but pretty par for the course with 20th Century mega-artists.
Marisa: Man, lastly, a lot of your work utilizes live streaming, can you explain why that is and why you think this might be important to the experience as a whole? When I ask this I am trying to understand if you are using live streaming as a vehicle for participation, or more as a method of creating a larger audience, or both?
Man: I think it's mostly a method to make the audience feel more comfortable to participate. Sometimes that participation is literally as passive as just watching. Other times I ask a little more of an audience. I'm constantly experimenting. Constantly seeking for different ways to engage people. But if there's one thing I've learned it's that there's no one formula for a successful project. Which is both maddening and welcoming.
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