for Discussion - Jenny Holzer
work of Jenny Holzer has been shown worldwide in prominent institutions
such as the guggenheim Museum (New York), the American Pavilion at
the Venice Biennale (Venice, Italy), the Institute of Contemporary
Art London (London, England) or the Centre Pompidou (Paris, France).
the main focus of jenny holzer has been on the investigation of means
to disseminate her ideas within public space. since the late
seventies, she has been working in the street and in public buildings,
using media that would enable her work to blend in the landscape.
from lcd displays (e.g., in Times Square, New York) to posters and
(applied to such urban elements as telephone booths or parking meters),
the texts function as comments on that environment they fit into,
stimulating awareness of our social conditioning as conveyed by the
in which we may be confronted by them.
Act of Artistic Mediation
Truisms are "truths" that lie at the boundary of truth and our perception
of truths in the post-modern landscape. Holzer inserts her truisms into
public spaces, on T-shirts, and electronic billboards placed in museums and
galleries. As a fixture in public space, they are in jarring juxtaposition
to the commodified world around us of mass media, advertising, product marketing,
and all the various "non-truisms" that are fed to us everyday. In this sense,
the Truisms are an act of artistic mediation, in that Holzer inserts her
work and ideas into the real world where they activate critique and analysis
of surrounding cultural, economic and political conditions. The following
An installation on the Times Square Spectro Billboard
A projection from Holzer's anti-war
installation in Leipzig,
Installation at the Guggenheim Museum, NY
A Cel-phone display
installation, xenon projection
on the banks of the Arno, Florence
Steve KURTZ, Hope KURTZ, Dorian BURR, Steven BARNES, Beverly
Art Ensemble (CAE), founded in 1987, is a collective of five tactical
media artists of various specialization including computer art,
film, video, photography, text art, book art, and performance. CAE's
focus has been on the exploration of the relations and intersections
between art, critical theory, technology, and political activism. The collective
has performed and produced projects for an international audience, and
has written three books: The Electronic Disturbance, and its companion
text, Electronic Civil Disobedience and Other Unpopular Ideas, and Flesh
Machine: Cyborgs, Designer Babies, and New Eugenic Consciousness. Using
a combination of humor, critical theory, and the visual motifs of the
publicity machine of contemporary consumer culture, Critical Art Ensemble
have produced artists' books and pamphlets which work as media of strategic
intervention. Useless Technology, a newsprint sheet which parodies tabloid
advertising, circulates in the culture at large outside the world of
museums or galleries where its disruptive irreverence could be safely
contained by its "art" identity.
term 'tactical media' refers to a critical usage and theorization
of media practices that draw on all forms of old and new, both lucid
and sophisticated media, for achieving a variety of noncommercial
goals and pushing all kinds of potentially subversive political issues."
electronic body is the perfect body. The electronic body is a body
without organs. It is both self and mirrored self. The electronic body
does not decay; it does not need the plastic surgeon's scalpel, lip
o-suction, make-up or deodorant."
"... A new decentralized communication apparatus arose,
made possible by the ascendancy of computer and satellite technology,
that allows multinational power to retreat into absence, where it is
free from the theater of subversive operations because it can be everywhere
yet nowhere simultaneously ..."
"... Resistant forces no longer require violence nor destruction
to obtain their goals. All that is needed are courageous virtual activists
with the skills to slow the velocity of the system. This is the heart
of the tactics of electronic civil disobedience."
action solves some of the problems of navigating market-driven cultural
economy by allowing the individual to escape the
skewed power relationships between the individual and the institution.
More significantly, however, collective action also helps alleviate the
intensity of alienation born of an overly rationalized and instrumentalized
culture by recreating some of the positive points of friendship networks
within a productive environment. For this reason, CAE believes that artists’ research
into alternative forms of social organization is just as important as
the traditional research into materials, processes, and products."
Art Ensemble, “Recombinant Theater and Digital Resistance,” Digital
Resistance: Explorations in Tactical Media
and digitality are not so specialized. As we
shall see, they are the foundation of a new cosmology — a new way
of understanding, ordering, valuing, and performing in the world."
Art Ensemble operate in the tradition of 20th century avant-garde mixology,
cultural appropriation, plagiarism,
and sociopolitical critique.
"The first evidence of it appeared in 1870 when le Comte
Lautréamont wrote: “Plagiarism is necessary. Recombinant
Theater and Digital Resistance 77 Progress implies it. It embraces an
author’s phrase, makes use of his expressions, erases a false idea,
and replaces it with the right idea.” In three sentences Lautréamont
summed up the methods and means of digital aesthetics as a process of
copying—a process that offers dominant culture minimal material
for recuperation by recycling the same images, actions, and sounds into
radical discourse. Over the
past century, a long-standing tradition of digital cultural resistance
has emerged that has used recombinant methods in the various forms of
combines, sampling, pan gender performance, bricolage,
detournement, readymades, appropriation, plagiarism, theater of everyday
life, constellations, and so on."
approach digital technologies as a continuum of techniques of reproduction
and replication, as practiced
by such pre-digital artists as Marcel Duchamp in his Readymades
and Andy Warhol at the Factory. "If Henry Ford is the avatar of a digital
economy, then his contemporary Marcel Duchamp is the avatar of digital
culture. With his readymade series, Duchamp struck a mighty blow against
the value system of the analogic. Duchamp took manufactured objects,
signed and dated them, and placed them in a highculture context. Duchamp’s
argument was that any given object has no essential value and that
the semiotic network in which an object is placed defines its meaning,
and hence, its value. If a bottle rack is in a hardware store or next
to a sink in a kitchen, its value is defined by its function and its
appearance is mundane; however, when it is placed on a pedestal in
the legitimizing space of a gallery or museum (where the readymades
reside to this day) and when it carries the signature of a legitimized
artist, each object becomes a nonfunctional object d’art, and
therefore an object of high value."
Urinal - R. Mutt (Duchamp)
Bicycle Wheel- (Duchamp)
Warhol was emblematic of the many artists, musicians, and writers
who reintroduced the idea of the digital to a now-eager audience.
Warhol discovered that all the people of digital culture really
wanted was more of the same."
tension in contemporary society is one that comes from the relationship
between the uniqueness of the aesthetic (analogic)
to efficiency but sameness of reproducibility (digital). Starbucks
has hybridized the cafe to blend uniqueness and sameness, gourmet
and predictability. Marketing
lesson learned from this is that in the practical arena of the
commodity, precise replication is more desirable; however,
in the aesthetic realm of the commodity, the appearance of difference
is more desirable."
discovery of DNA in the 1940s led science to believe that the human
body is digital in our understanding of the basic building blocks
of life. The notion of replication in the context of the body has
led to what is called a "post-human" condition in which food, medicine
approached in a digital capacity. This has often been
referred to as cyborgian (Cyber organism).
Flesh Machine, Critical Art Ensemble (1997)
approach to presentation is in the form of totalizing theater that
spills over disciplinary boundaries: performance, pedagogy, visual,
theoretical, virtual, mass media. "The most common response
to the problem in the fine arts and humanities, both in the university
and in the culture industry, is a call for interdisciplinarity." Each
member of CAE has a complementary but different school: technology,
visual media, theory, performance, etc. As a collective they bring
together a formidable ability to tackle issues and develop projects
with amazing breadth and clarity.
presentations, mostly in the form of pedagogical workshops, are
performative in nature, utilizing techniques of information distribution,
computer interaction, visual display, on-line access to project
information. They derive their performative techniques and the
way they draw from Everyday Life to the happenings and situational
events of the 1950s - 60s. One of these foundational environments
is the theater of everyday life, which includes street theater
and (for lack of a better term) what Alan Kaprow called “happenings...
those performances that invent ephemeral, autonomous situations
from which temporary public relationships emerge that can make
possible critical dialogue on a given issue. Traditional examples
of this type of activity come from the Living Theater, the Theater
of the Oppressed, Guerrilla Art Action Group, Rebel Chicano Art
Front, and the Situationists...are the key components for further
recombination that come from the theater of everyday life."
International Campaign for Free Alcohol and Tobacco
for the unemployed,
Eyebeam, New York City, 2002