Falling Without Fear
“Ground Control to Major Tom”
– David Bowie
"Untested Territory" could be an alternative title for this exhibition. While artists, aerospace experts, engineers, scientists, visionaries and entrepreneurs are exploring utopian and apocalyptic implications of space, as noted in this June 2012 ARTnews article, the Harwood Museum of Art is testing her capacity for new media.
Many of the artists in the Harwood's series of exhibitions celebrating the theme ISEA 2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness (In Zero Gravity) create using new media. The pieces in Falling without Fear focus on work experienced through digital means. Looped videos will give the viewer the opportunity to experience the creative and technical work being done in digital media by regional, national and international artists:
Jeff T. Alu Jeff T. Alu has produced 3D graphics and animation for clients ranging from Nasa/JPL to Hasbro. Though a freelancer for over twenty years, he has also held a number of full-time positions along the way working with companies such as R/GA, Blitz Agency and Powerwave Technologies. He is also a photographer, having had his photographs exhibited in museums and galleries around the world. Alu is also an accomplished composer who studied at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY. He completed his degree at Chapman University in Orange, California in 1994 while working at JPL/Palomar Observatory, where he discovered several near earth asteroids and four comets. He is currently assistant director at the Orange County Center for Contemporary Art in Santa Ana, CA, and will have his first photography book published through Zero+ Publishing in December, 2012.
Kitsou Dubois is a choreographer, a dance researcher, and the artistic director of Ki Productions. In 1989 she received the prestigious "Villa Médicis hors-les-murs" grant from the French government, which took her to the NASA Center in Houston, Texas (USA). In 1990 Dubois participated in a parabolic flight with the CNES (Centre National des Études Spatiales), which gave her her first experience in weightlessness. In 1999 Dubois received her doctorate in Esthetic, Sciences and Technologies of Arts from the University of Paris 8, France . After that she was awarded a residency in London for two years (1999/2000) with the agency Arts Catalyst for an art and science project at Biodynamic group at Imperial College, during which time she made a parabolic flight with the Russian Space Research Agency at the ‘City of Stars’ in Moscou. Kitsou Dubois has so far participated in at least 20 parabolic flights, in particular, with the Space Observatory of the CNES. Over the years, she has been able to include on these flights about 15 dancers and acrobats working with her on her choreographic creations. After this life changing experience of parabolic flights, she developed an approach to training the body confronted by altered states of gravity. She uses the phenomenon of weightlessness to explore movement, perception of the environment, the sensation of time, the relationship to matter, the relationship to others, and the poetry of an environment where all familiar references seem to have been transformed. Thus, she works with dancers in environments where the sensation of gravity has been altered: in water (swimming pools), in parabolic flights, in virtual reality set ups (with sound and sensorial sensors). Dubois works closely with researchers in science and technology. Due to the uniqueness of her research, she is often invited to speak at conferences on art, science and technology. Starting with the notion of microgravity, certain necessities became evident in Dubois' artistic work, such as the fundamental place of image (a witness and the body’s memory of weightlessness).
The music of Paul Elwood often incorporates Elwood's background as a folk musician and an experimentalist on the five-string banjo with that of his voice as a composer who loves the processes and syntax of contemporary writing. Elwood has held residencies at the American Academy in Rome as Southern Regional Visiting Composer, the Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico, the Frank Waters Foundation, the Harwood Museum of Art, the MacDowell Colony, Djerassi Artists Residence Program, Ucross Foundation, Camargo Foundation (France), and Fundacion Valparaiso (Spain). Paul Elwood is currently associate professor of composition at the University of Northern Colorado. In this video presentation Elwood presents a performance of Edgard Varèse in the Gobi Desert - a Velcro-tap dancing concerto in three movements (all titles are from The Air- Conditioned Nightmare by Henry Miller). Velcro tap-dancing is the brain-child of Werts, a guitarist/fiddler from Kansas City who, while meditating one day in 1981, posed himself the koan-type question: what is the reverse of tap-dancing? He reasoned that the sound would be made when lifting the feet from the floor, rather than striking the floor. The feat would be possible in weightlessness or- zero gravity. This train of logic led eventually to the idea that Velcro, attached to the soles of a pair of shoes, would create a sound when lifted from a surface such as indoor-outdoor carpet. As noted by Paul Griffiths in The New Yorker, "Edgard Varèse in the Gobi Desert is a piece that manages to be at once funny, touching, and atmospheric. The Velcro tap dancer makes his steps while wearing Velcro-soled shoes and stationed on a few square feet of carpet: with amplification, the virtuoso is able, through executing hectic stomps and slow turns in T’ai Chi style, to create vicious tears and exquisitely protracted squeezings. In Mr. Elwood's composition, these were accompanied by a sextet of piano and percussion, the latter doubling as chanters, clappers, and bird-whistlers, in what was a surprisingly fitting homage to the composer mentioned in the title."
Raphaël Frydman La Mission Priviet was filmed in Kazakhstan in January 2003. The state of the Russian space program is discussed after the failure of a mysterious space launch of Soyuz, the Priviet Mission. The filmmaker tries to discover the truth of this mission: information or propaganda? Raphaël Frydman was 23 years old when he released Bye Bye Babylon (with Isild Le Besco and Emmanuel Faventines), an initiatory road movie shot in Brazil, Mexico and the United States. He was spotted by Manu Chao, who asked him to accompany him on tour for six months. Raphaël Frydman then filmed a documentary about Manu Chao, Babylon's Fever, that introduced his approach around music. He then worked with many artists for video clips (Rumor, Rocca Rohff, Arthur H, Art Mengo, J-Five, Ayo, Asa, Sigur Ros,Têtes Raides), directed several award-winning short films on the theme of music (The Legion Etrange with Arthur H, Priviet Mission with The Eternals). He shoots in Brazil, Argentina, Khazakstan, South Africa. In 2005, he directed for MK2, Africa Shrine, an explosive documentary and an intimate portrait of Femi Kuti shot in Nigeria, released in theaters and on DVD. Raphaël Frydman integrated Partizan Midi-Minuit in 2005, where he directs music videos and advertisements. In 2012, he shot his second feature film at Why Not Productions. Raphaël Frydman has been awarded The Legion Etrange - Canal + Award Clermond Ferrand International Short Film Festival 2004; Live at the Shrine-Audience Award International Documentary Festival of Madrid 2004; Bye Bye Babylon - Special jury award Aubagne Film Festival Intertional 2002, Future award of the first International Festival of Film 2002 Saint Jean de Luz; Mission Priviet ; Best historical Documentary Barcelona Film Festival 2004 . You can read more about Mr. Frydman on his web site http://www.raphaelfrydman.com/.
Scott Moore believes that "The Rio Pueblo de Taos Canyon and river call out for a community-wide response that educates people about the impacts of environmental degradation, and that engages the positive energies of local youth and the community-at-large in a communal creative act honoring both human culture and wilderness. The problems we face are not just a matter of the loss of biota, they are about the loss of imagination in the face of overwhelming environmental degradation, and the effects of that degradation. Artists have the potential to bring creative energy to issues and redefine public space in ways that stymie the scientist and change the matter- of-fact. Land-based art now has the capacity to address social issues and the ability to inspire a public that is alienated and/or in denial. People who are eager to find constructive channels for acting on behalf of local wild and semi-wild places will find within this realm a vehicle of stewardship and impact."
Frank Pietronigro is an interdisciplinary artist, educator and author. He is the first American painter to create “drift paintings,” where his body floated within a three-dimensional painting that he created in zero gravity aboard NASA’s KC135 turbojet. This piece was featured in Space News in a feature entitled “Artists Hope to Create New Science Fiction with Zero-G Flights” in the New York Times, Fortune Magazine, the San Francisco Art Institute Magazine, Hot Wired and Leonardo Magazine. He is Co-Founder and Project Director of the Zero Gravity Arts Consortium and served the space art community as one of the coordinators for Yuri’s Night Bay Area 2007-08 held at NASA Ames Research Center. In 2006, he was Co-Chair of the Space Art Track of the 25th International Space Development Conference, co-sponsored by the National Space Society and the Planetary Society. Pietronigro’s work has been exhibited at museums and institutions including the Tate In Space, Tate Museum, London; the Maison Europeenne de la Photographie, Paris; Smart Project Space, Amsterdam; Museum für Gestaltung, Zurich; Galeria Ze Dos Bois, Lisbon; Castle Gallery, College of New Rochelle, NY; Southern Exposure Gallery, San Francisco; Blohard Gallery at Vox Populi, Philadelphia; the Mill Valley Film Festival and the Atlanta Contemporary Arts Center.
Christina Sporrong is a performance artist and metal sculptor based out of Taos, New Mexico. Born in Sweden and raised all over the world, Sporrong evidenced a fierce artistic drive from an early age. She abandoned city life to live in the inspiring high mountain desert, where she established Spitfire Forge - her own commercial blacksmithing and fabrication shop. Sporrong teaches national welding and blacksmithing workshops to women as a means to empower and de-mystify the medium. Somewhere along the way she found the circus, and she now uses aerial dance, fire arts and a range of self-made props and constructions to create unique and thought- provoking performances. She has choreographed and performed several pieces including Amortec, a dance between a woman on stilts and a robot. The sculptural and performative process intersect on many levels for Sporrong. Two most recent examples of this fusion of interests are The Heron Project- a 30ft tall kinetic performance playground for aerialists, and Caged Pulse Jets- a large scale instrument where audience members create a cacophonous symphony by playing jet engines. Sporrong spends a good part of the year traveling around the country and the world participating in various shows and festivals, showcasing her large scale sculpture projects. She continues to merge the mediums of performance art and steel sculpture with provocative and exciting results. She is currently working on the completion of Caged Pulse Jets Rev2 as an honoraria for the 2011 Burning Man festival.
MILIEU All I have is my distance (single channel HD video version and 5 channel HD video / 8 channel surround sound installation). In his recent project MILIEU, the German conceptual and video artist Jorg Staeger focuses on the philosophical dimension of the term “Milieu.” In 1837, Zum Ritornell, philosopher Gilles Deleuze and psychoanalyst Félix Guattari defined “Milieu” as a block of space and time formed through periodic repetition of these components. The common interspace within the incessant oscillation between chaos and order became especially important to Staeger’s artistic approach. The work consists of black and white graphic forms and structures generated by computer according to pre-programmed rules. The patterns are transformed into a constant pulsating and transforming flow of moving images. The generating of images is controlled by the composition Materie IV by German composer Markus Muench, consisting of rearranged fragmented microtonal sounds recorded in the field. The sound (music) serves to affect the sequences of moving images and in turn merges into an experienceable principle. What becomes visible in rituals as a habitual routine, is here a rhythmic event before its territorialization; i.e., an ephemeral state of absolute release. Environments ("Milieu") are changing constantly, merge into each other and are open for chaos. It seems that the only remedy is rhythm, which in turn shares an area with chaos: the transition between the states, that is to say the space between two environments, where the reciprocative encoding takes place. “What belongs to me is first and foremost my distance. All I have is my distance.” (Deleuze/Guattari) This space in the balance of order and chaos as a principle, sets the scene for the project Milieu. These happen almost without any material or symbolic bond and completely without any linguistic help, which in any case is not the first choice to represent a complex system. And when it is about rhythmic events, audiovisual capabilities are far superior to the language. Particularly when rhythm and order are seen as a principle of the distances. ".......and the forces to take in are now no forces of the earth anymore, which yet constitute a major expressive form, but are today forces of an energetic, formless and immaterial cosmos. […] The post-romantic change consisted of, that the essentials was not in the form, materials or themes, but in forces, density and intensity" (Deleuze/Guattari)
The only sculptor in this exhibition, Steve Storz' Saw Screams adds the one post-apocalyptic element in this exhibition. Storz, originally from the industrial Gulf town of Texas City, moved to Taos in 1996 and lived there until 2010 (15 years). Currently Storz lives near downtown Gallup with his girlfriend Erika. According to Steve, “The creativity of the locals is raw and direct in many cases, and I have new inspirations by being immersed among the Navajo Nation and the rail-town environment here. I record the trains (more than 100 per day) that come through and modify the sounds digitally for use in some of my sculpture installations. My drawings have been influenced by these elements and have flourished into a blend of calligraphic notation and collaged elements that resemble aged ephemera." Storz recalls his first awakenings as an artist when he picked up a rusted spring from the alleyway behinds his parents' home. The spring started a collection in a junk drawer in his, normally, immaculate room. By the time Storz had entered early adulthood, his first electro-mechanical sculptures, monster heads with moving mouths and lights in their entrails, had been shown in the first science fiction convention in Eugene, Oregon, where most of his ordinary schooling occurred. During the 1980s and '90s he maintained a cavernous studio in a San Jose cannery left over from the 1930s. The nearby Silicon Valley became a mountainous supply of electronics and cast-off industrial materials that became reshaped and combined into mechanical and electronic sculptures inspired by mad scientist oddness. His work included large scale installations for haunted houses, night clubs, film and performance-art companies, electronic and steel sculptures, avant-garde music, the World's Largest Top Hat and drawings. Storz currently concentrates on the steel and electronic sculptures, constructions resembling ancient-futuristic architecture, while also creating "Grunge Machines" made of mechanical VCR and answering machine scraps. Storz refers to these pieces as “the teeth of darkness melted down to a waxy smear”. Drawings in graphite, ink and oil pastel continue to be a basis for much of Steve's work, and bronze sculptures are being cast of his mixed media materials resulting in permanent forms of haunting strangeness and detailed textures.
Cosmic Dancer is a video of a sculpture that Arthur Woods designed for installation in the MIR Space Station. This beautiful video shows the cosmonauts "dancing" and playing with the sculpture. Early in his art career, Arthur Woods turned to science for a contemporary description of reality. Becoming fascinated by particle physics and the structures of the micro-cosmos, he developed a painting style and technique that used points and dabs of color as a metaphor for the sub-atomic universe. Over the years he applied this "pointillistic" painting technique to a variety of artistic expressions that included abstract and hyper-realistic works as well as three-dimensional sculptural works. In the mid-eighties he began to integrate the concept of the macro-cosmos into his art, which led to a series of art-in-space projects that were designed to be realized in the environment of outer space. Arthur Woods was born in Talaquah, Oklahoma, USA on March 26, 1948. His involvement with space began at the early age of eleven, when he personally witnessed the beginnings of the U.S. space effort from 1959-1970 while living in Merritt Island, Florida near Cape Canaveral and the Kennedy Space Center. While a university student, Woods held jobs at the space center during the Apollo program in the summers of 1967 and 1968. He studied art and psychology at Mercer University in Macon, Georgia. After graduation in 1970 and completing U.S. military service in 1972, he began his art career in California before moving to Switzerland in 1974k, where he now lives and works. As a contemporary artist, Arthur Woods has created a variety of artistic expressions inspired by a description of the cosmos found in contemporary physics. Using this scientific information as a "point of departure" for his art, he developed a unique pointillistic painting technique which has served both his abstract and figurative artistic explorations. These works include his abstract "Voyager Series" of shape and color and his "Earth Energies Series" - hyper-realistic paintings of the home planet seen from the perspective of space. His most innovative and publicized art activities have been the actual introduction of art into Earth orbit. Beginning in the mid-1980s Woods initiated and developed a number of art-in-space projects. The early projects, such as the "Orbiting Unification Ring Satellite" and the "OUR-Space Peace Sculpture", were developed extensively and resulted in agreements signed with the former Soviet Union and the construction of a full size model of an inflatable space sculpture by NPO Energia in 1990. Recently, in collaboration with Leonardo/Olats, Arthur Woods is co-organizer of the "Spacearts Database" project which could become the most comprehensive reference on the subject of space art to date. He is also the designer of the "Space & Society" website, a part of a project aimed at world leaders co-sponsored by the International Academy of Astronautics and the European Space Agency. Arthur Woods was elected to the International Academy of Astronautics in 1995 and has since served as chairman of the former Sub-Committee on the Arts and Literature and co-chair of its annual session in the Space and Society symposium. He is also a Fellow of the International Association of Astronomical Artists. Woods has published more than twenty papers on cultural aspects of space activities. His "space art" work has been included in several museum exhibitions and has graced the cover of several international art magazines. In addition to his various space projects, Woods runs swissart GmbH, a company he founded in 1996 which is a provider of Internet services to the arts community in Switzerland.
This exhibition is presented in collaboration with ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness