• Ruthanne Harrison

Digital Performance/Remediation



In this series of readings, my interest leaned much more to types of performance other than dance. What really caught me was the section in Paul's book on data visualization, and reading in Hope and Ryan about the history of performance art, with it's beginnings in the Dada movement.


I was struck first by the concept of remediation (Hope and Ryan, p.81). Remediation is a constant for artists in their individual work: a composition becomes a painting, which is photographed, then altered in Photoshop, then presented digitally, perhaps sampled in some way by another artist, giving rise to new forms within the artist’s own body of work. Sculpture is remediated by digital 3D modeling, and then by 3D printing. It’s an exciting theory, because as artists we have a wealth of history and technology to work with.


Tying remediation to the origins of conceptual/performance/interactive art going back to the Dada movement, I think about the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, (1943-1978), how he was influenced by Dada, and perhaps remediated architecture with his interest in residual space and deconstruction. His work, such as Day’s End (1975) , or Conical Intersect (1975) were ephemeral works captured on film, about the performance and process, having a product or art commodity. James Attlee wrote about Matta-Clark's work in Towards Anarchitecture: Gordon Matta-Clark and Le Corbusier. Attlee writes, “Matta-Clark himself was more interested, as he put it in his notebooks, in converting a building into a state of mind. This involved liberating structures from the straightjacket of their maker’s intentions and recycling them as consciousness-altering artworks...‘using the by-products of the land and the people’.” While this work was made before the age of digital performance, vital components of the work included conceptual art, performance, collaboration, interaction with participants, the use of light, documentation with video, photographs and drawings.

Hope and Ryan describe the concept of Dada as such: “The artist selects material for aesthetic consideration, rather than forming something from traditional raw materials of art...and to see real life as art (p.83) This is what Matta-Clark did. His connection to Dada went even beyond his appropriation of existing building structure as art: his godmother was Teeny Duchamp, Marcel Duchamp’s wife (guggenheim.org).


Conical Intersect, Gordon Matta-Clark, 1975 Image:"4137_MG_8965.tif" by ivtoran is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

While Matta-Clark was not part of our reading, he is an artist that has inspired me, and I see a clear line from what he was doing in the 1970's to where performance art is now. I think if he were alive and working now, digital media would be one of his tools. However, there were other artists and projects that I learned about directly through the readings. Being interested in space and how we occupy it (or not), I was intrigued by the memory palace concept of The Apartment by Wattenberg and Walczak. (Paul, p. 175). This concept could illustrate a way to move and connect architecture students from the literal and verbal thought process, to the visual and spatial process.As a teacher in a technical school, I look for ways to integrate literacy and art with the technical, and this could inspire an approach to that.


I also became aware of the work of John Maeda (Paul, p. 192). I watched his TEDtalk How Art, Technology and Design Inform Creative Leaders (2012), and was especially delighted by a clip he showed from his performance piece The Human Powered Computer, in which humans become the working components of a computer. Maeda talks about how he was trained at MIT, and how math was considered important in his family, but after he went to art school, he said, “I began to think about the computer as more of a spiritual space of thinking.” He created some of the early work that integrated art, design and technology, and also had a playful aspect to it.


Finally, I decided to circle around to look a bit more at digital dance. The work of A Dandypunk combines projection mapping with dance. A Dandypunk is a performer with Cirque de Soliel, who is also a solo performance artist. In his performance The Alchemy of Light, A Dandypunk draws with light, then interacts with the continually changing images he has created. He is sometimes dancing on the light and images, juggling light, and using his body as part of the projection mapping surface. I am not sure what the technology behind his light drawing is, but it is something I will investigate further.


References:

Hope and Ryan, 2014, Digital Arts, London, Bloomsbury


Paul, C., 2015, Digital Art, London, Thames & Hudson


Attlee, J., ‘Towards Anarchitecture: Gordon Matta-Clark and Le Corbusier’, in Tate Papers, no.7, Spring 2007, Retrieved from: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/07/towards-anarchitecture-gordon-matta-clark-and-le-corbusier, accessed 28 September 2019.


Guggenheim Collection Online, 2019

Retrieved from: https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/gordon-matta-clark, accessed 27 September 2019.


Data Dynamics: Wattenberg/Walczak, 2002

Retrieved from https://artport.whitney.org/exhibitions/datadynamics/walczak.shtml, accessed 28 September 2019.


Maeda, J., TEDGlobal, 2012, How Art, Technology, and Design Inform Creative Leaders. Retrieved from: https://www.ted.com/talks/john_maeda_how_art_technology_and_design_inform_creative_leaders?language=en#t-99714, accessed 28 September 2019.


A Dandypunk, The Alchemy of Light, Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UG2Xn_qDT0s accessed 26 September 2019

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