MARC NEYS IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA: THE SWOON INTERVIEWS

MARC NEYS IN FRONT OF THE CAMERA: THE SWOON INTERVIEWS
OCTOBER 11, 2014
by Dave Bonta

I visited Marc Neys this past July mostly for a social visit. We’d really hit it off the year before at the Filmpoem Festival in Dunbar, Scotland. Also, I’m a big fan of strange beers and Medieval history, and Belgium has plenty of both. (See my photo essay at Via Negativa, “Embodied Belgium.”)

But I certainly didn’t want to let the week go by without filming the filmmaker and getting Marc to talk about how he makes his videopoems. After all, he’s one of the most productive poetry filmmakers in the world right now; his work as Swoon is inescapable at international poetry film festivals, not to mention at Moving Poems.

Fortunately, Marc was game. I originally thought I would make a single, twenty-minute video — I’d shoot a couple hours’ worth of footage, then edit and condense the hell out of it. The problem is that Marc really had a lot of interesting things to say, and what I’ve ended up with instead is a 42-minute documentary split into four, semi-independent sections. These can be watched in any order, I think. I’ve put them all into an album on Vimeo for easy linking and sharing.

I’ve also added closed captioning to each of the four videos, as I do with all Moving Poems productions these days, to make them as accessible as possible — but also to facilitate translating. If anyone would like to translate the videos into other languages, please get in touch. Vimeo will host and serve as many subtitle files as we want to upload.

Swoon on Sound


Marc explains how he creates the soundscapes he uses in his videopoems and other projects, despite not being a musician. He then takes us up into the bell tower of the cathedral in Mechelen, Belgium, famed for its massive carillon.

Swoon at Home


Where the handle Swoon comes from, and why Marc’s home and city double as a film set for many of his videopoems.

Swoon’s Secrets to Filming No-Budget Videopoems


If you only have time to watch one of these, watch this one. Marc lays out his basic DIY approach to making art, talking about the usefulness of water footage and other home-made filter effects, filming to music, cheap editing software, and more.

Swoon on finding a new angle in videopoetry composition


Marc talks about a new direction he’s recently taken: composing videopoems with the poem in text on the screen rather than in the soundtrack. Along the way, he talks about the influence of theater and classic film, and why he never follows scripts and works mostly by instinct.

Walid Raad / The Atlas Group

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Notebook volume 38: Already been in a lake of fire

Document title: Notebook volume 38: Already been in a lake of fire
Category_File_Type_Volume_Plates: [cat. A]_Fakhouri_Notebooks_38_055-071
Media: Color photographs
Plate dimensions: 30 x 40 cm
Date: 1991
Attributed to: Dr. Fadl Fakhouri
Plate 55:
Nissan
4WD
White
May 23, 1985
14:00
Beirut
55 killed
174 injured
300 kg. of TNT
Hexogen
500 meter perimeter
35 cars burned
Plate 56:
BMW
2002
Grey
June 14, 1985
19:55
Beirut
7 killed
39 injured
30 kg. or 200 kg. of TNT
2_120mm shells or Hexogen

The Atlas Group – Walid Raad
The project of the artist from Lebanon exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.

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Exhibition view, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin

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Let’s be honest, the weather helped.

Document title: Let’s be honest, the weather helped.
Category_File_Type_Plates: [cat. A]_Raad_Photographs_001 – 007
Media: Color photographs
Dimension: 46 х 72 cm
Date: 1998
Attributed to: Walid Raad

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Sweet talk: The Hilwé commissions (1992-2004)

The Atlas Group (1989-2004). A Project by Walid Raad
The project of the artist from Lebanon exhibited at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin.
By Kassandra Nakas | Sep 2006

Existing since 1999, The Atlas Group participated in major international exhibitions like the Documenta 11 and the Whitney Biennial 2002, which has made some of its works known to a broader public. In shifting constellations within the Atlas Group collective, Walid Raad (born in 1967 in Chbanieh, Lebanon), who founded the project, has created a complex of works with an abstracting/reducing aesthetic that raises many-layered questions about themes like experience and memory, authenticity and authorship, and how history can be depicted.

The exhibition “The Atlas Group (1989-2004). A Project by Walid Raad” in the Nationalgalerie im Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin is showing the most extensive overview yet on this project.[1] The years given in the exhibition title signal a temporal closure that, like most factual information in the context of The Atlas Group, should not be understood literally, but rather put in doubt. The Atlas Group set itself the goal of documenting and researching the present and history of Lebanon, in particular the years of the Lebanese Civil War (1975-1990/91), so its theme is also always the continuing effect of all the individual and collective experience that constitutes history in the first place.[2] The archive set up by The Atlas Group brings together not only found, but also intentionally invented photographic, audiovisual, and written “documents” of everyday life in Lebanon.[3]

continue reading on http://u-in-u.com

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Notebook volume 72: Missing Lebanese wars

Document title: Notebook volume 72: Missing Lebanese wars
Category_File_Type_Volume_Plates: [cat.A] _Fakhouri_Notebooks_72_131_149
Media: Color photographs
Plates dimensions: 32 x 25 cm
Date: 1989
Attributed to: Dr. Fadl Fakhouri

Max de Esteban: Binary Code

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ZZ. What led you to appropriation and remix and how are they significant in your work?

M. Appropriation and remix have a long artistic tradition, beginning with Picasso’s collages. As early as the 1920s, Hannah Hoch and the Dadaists used this mode of expression to create major photographic works. In music, for example, from today’s DJs and Pop to Glenn Gould and Miles Davis, the practice of remix, collage and appropriation has been an essential part of their production. What I mean is that as an artistic concept, appropriation and remix are pretty standard and not particularly groundbreaking.

The interesting question is why their aesthetic power has been reasserted in photography precisely now. And I think one possible answer would be the combination of the formal exhaustion of the linear perspective as a photographic representation of the world and the huge impact digitization is having on every aspect of our lives. I would answer your question by turning it around and saying I find it hard to think of a truly relevant form of photography for the world we live in that continues to respect the Eurocentric, reactionary structure of the dark room.

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ZZ. What do you mean by Eurocentric and reactionary?

M. The linear perspective, the visual structure resulting from the dark room, is a very particular and ideological way of visualizing the world. Panofsky has a text about it he wrote in 1927, a real classic, that is a pleasure to read.

But what is really remarkable is that it is an exception in art history. In 10,000 years of history, the linear perspective spans only 500 years and is located exclusively in the West. It has never been of interest to Asian, or pre-Columbian or African art … it is a European way of seeing in a period beginning in the Renaissance and ending in the 19th century.

And this is no coincidence because its ideological content is well known. The linear perspective arranges the world from the point of view of an autonomous individual whose individuality is the world’s principle of meaning. It is pure Descartes. And we all remember Descartes’ Fifth Meditation, which states that since the essence of matter is its extension, geometry is an essential instrument for understanding nature. Modernity can be defined as the advance of abstraction and the prevalence of the quantitative over the qualitative in which the mathematical-scientific order is regarded as the only source of valid knowledge. There is so much contemporary thought that debunks this narrative that I won’t repeat it here.

Thus, surprisingly, my earlier comment is still valid. Why should digital photography continue giving priority to a functionally and ideologically devalued visual structure?

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ZZ. Why do you think digital photography changes the way we understand appropriation and remix?

M. Digital technologies are leading us towards the radical transformation of our world. By replacing the industrial economy with a bio-cybernetic system, digitization is modifying our environment, our subjectivity and soon, our bodies. This is the technological phenomenon that will define our era and therefore our culture.

Unlike an analog file, a digital file is invisible. It is a code whose visual expression is a translation highly mediated by default algorithms, whose most prominent feature is precisely its immateriality.

This technical structure fits our current era of abstraction and non-referentiality and the digital financialization of the economy. How do we see the world today? We have the answer on our computer and Smartphone screens. What is the essential aspect of the financial economy? The recombination of existing information units to create new information, in other words, “constructive compositing”. Digitization has definitively invalidated linear narrative, the monocular perspective and the author’s “authority”.

continue reading on zonezero.com

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Richard Prince

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Instagram, an artist and the $100,000 selfies – appropriation in the digital age
Richard Prince has turned borrowing online images into high art – and hard cash. But is the artist’s work anything other than genius trolling?
Hannah Jane Parkinson, Saturday 18 July 2015 05.00 EDT

It’s a question as old as art itself: “Yeah, but is it art?”

Type it into Google and get 1.26 billion results. It lends itself to book titles, television series and conversations between white walls, whetted by prosecco.

It’s a question asked of a shark in formaldehyde; an unmade bed; a sleeping footballer; two humans meeting in silence across a table, and before those of John Cage; Mondrian; Pollock.

This question, the distant cousin of “my kid could have done that”, has quietly endured.

The decibel levels rise, however, when it comes to appropriation. Appropriation is the practice of artists taking already existing objects and using them, with little alteration, in their own works. The objects could be functional, everyday objects, or elements of other art pieces; commercial advertising material, newspaper cuttings or street debris. Anything, really.

It’s interesting, though, that some appropriation in art is seen as acceptable in the public consciousness, some not. Warhol: of course. Sampling at the birth of hip-hop – well, sure. Found object art like Duchamp’s Fountain? Hmm.

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Richard Prince and the art of ‘rephotographing’
Richard Prince is a New York-based artist famous for appropriation. His work relies heavily on the work of others. Not all of his pieces or projects are appropriated, but his most famous pieces owe their existence to the technique.

Take, for instance, Prince’s “rephotographing” of Marlboro cigarette advertisements, specifically those featuring the Marlboro Man (originally shot by Sam Abell). The series, entitled – and some might say, appropriately – Cowboys, began in the 1980s. A more recent piece from the series (2000) sold for more than $3m (£1.9m) at a 2014 Sotheby’s auction.

There’s a rather brilliant PDN interview, in 2008, with Abell, who speaks about Prince’s appropriation of his photographs. At the beginning of the interview, Abell states: “I’m not angry, of course”. He then speaks for three minutes, getting angrier and angrier.

I’m not particularly amused … it’s obviously plagiarism, and I was taught by my parents the sin of that … it seems to be breaking the golden rule … he has to live with that.”

Abell’s Marlboro photographs are not the only pictures to be repurposed by Prince. In 2014, Prince settled a three-year-long copyright case with the photographer Patrick Cariou after the former used Cariou’s Yes, Rasta, a book on the rastafarian community, as part of his Canal Zone series. He’s also been known to hand out copies of A Catcher in the Rye with his own name on the cover.

Now, Prince is back in the spotlight. His current exhibition – New Portraits – opened in June at the Gagosian gallery in London, having debuted in New York in 2014.

The portraits, however, are not new to everyone – and certainly not new to their subjects.

This is because Prince’s New Portraits series comprises entirely of the Instagram photos of others. The only element of alteration comes in the form of bizarre, esoteric, lewd, emoji-annotated comments made beneath the pictures by Prince.

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Prince’s pieces sold for up to $100,000 (£63,700) at New York’s Frieze art fair, according to CNN. This might not sound a lot, given the prices fetched for oher artists’ works at the Sotheby’s and Christie’s auctions in London this month – including $32.1m (£20.9m) for a Warhol painting of a $1 bill – but it is what mothers around the world would call “better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick”.

As collaborations go, if Jay-Z and Beyonce duetting represents a bringing together of the best of hip-hop and R&B, and Scorsese, Nicholson and DiCaprio a filmmaking supergroup, then Richard Prince and the internet are an appropriation dream team.

So it is that one of the oldest questions (“but is it art?”) collides with one of the most pressing, current global debates: that of online privacy and ownership in the digital age.

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continue reading on www.theguardian.com

Sherrie Levine: After Walker Evans

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Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 4, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 12.8 x 9.8 cm (5 1/16 x 3 7/8 in.)

In the late 1970s and early 1980s, a group of artists including Cindy Sherman, Richard Prince, and Sherrie Levine—at the time dubbed the “Pictures” generation—began using photography to examine the strategies and codes of representation. In reshooting Marlboro advertisements, B-movie stills, and even classics of Modernist photography, these artists adopted dual roles as director and spectator. In their manipulated appropriations, these artists were not only exposing and dissembling mass-media fictions, but enacting more complicated scenarios of desire, identification, and loss.

In 1981, Levine photographed reproductions of Depression-era photographs by Walker Evans, such as this famous portrait of Allie Mae Burroughs, the wife of an Alabama sharecropper. The series, entitled After Walker Evans, became a landmark of postmodernism, both praised and attacked as a feminist hijacking of patriarchal authority, a critique of the commodification of art, and an elegy on the death of modernism. Far from a high-concept cheap shot, Levine’s works from this series tell the story of our perpetually dashed hopes to create meaning, the inability to recapture the past, and our own lost illusions.

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Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 1, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 8.6 x 12.9 cm. (3 3/8 x 5 1/16 in.)

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Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 10, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 9.6 x 12.7 cm. (3 3/4 x 5 in.)

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Sherrie Levine (American, born 1947)
After Walker Evans: 11, 1981
Gelatin silver print, 12.9 x 10.2 cm. (5 1/16 x 4 in.)

http://www.metmuseum.org

••••••••••••••

screen-shot-2017-01-02-at-6-56-23-pm

In 1936 Walker Evans photographed the Burroughs, a family of sharecroppers in Depression era Alabama. In 1979 in Sherrie Levine rephotographed Walker Evans’ photographs from the exhibition catalog “First and Last.” In 2001 Michael Mandiberg scanned these same photographs, and created AfterWalkerEvans.com and AfterSherrieLevine.com to facilitate their dissemination as a comment on how we come to know information in this burgeoning digital age.

Here on AfterSherrieLevine.com you will find a browsable selection of these images. Links to the high-resolution exhibition-quality images to download and print out. Along with a certificate of authenticity for each image, which you print out and sign yourself, as well as directions on how to frame the image so that it will fulfill the requirements of the certificate.

By building the image’s URL into the title – the image to the left is “Untitled (AfterSherrieLevine.com/2.jpg)” – the images are locatable and downloadable by anyone who sees or reads about the image. By distributing the images online with certificates of authenticity, the images are accessible by anyone. Unlike the work of the late Felix Gonzalez-Torres ‹ known for his spills of candy and stacks of paper from which the viewer can take a piece of, though the sculpture stays complete because the owner possesses the certificate of authenticity, the right to reproduce ‹ the certificates here are used to insure that each satellite image be considered with equal authenticity, not the opposite. This is an explicit strategy to create a physical object with cultural value, but little or no economic value.

www.aftersherrielevine.com

Barbara Kruger

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Barbara Kruger
Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989
photographic silkscreen on vinyl
112 x 112 in. (284.48 x 284.48 cm), The Broad

Barbara Kruger addresses media and politics in their native tongue: tabloid, sensational, authoritative, and direct. Kruger’s words and images merge the commercial and art worlds; their critical resonance eviscerates cultural hierarchies — everyone and everything is for sale. The year 1989 was marked by numerous demonstrations protesting a new wave of antiabortion laws chipping away at the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. Untitled (Your body is a battleground) was produced by Kruger for the Women’s March on Washington in support of reproductive freedom. The woman’s face, disembodied, split in positive and negative exposures, and obscured by text, marks a stark divide. This image is simultaneously art and protest. Though its origin is tied to a specific moment, the power of the work lies in the timelessness of its declaration.

About Barbara Kruger
The large, bold artworks of Barbara Kruger assimilate words and images from the deluge of contemporary mass media. Employing media effects and strategies, Kruger creates her own sexual, social, and political messages, challenging the stereotypical ways mass media influences society’s notions about gender roles, social relationships, and political issues.

Untitled (Your body is a battleground), 1989, exemplifies Kruger’s interest in addressing and interpreting heated political issues of the moment. Using a silkscreened frontal photograph of a model’s face, the artist gives the image additional meaning by dividing the large canvas it occupies into sections; from left to right, the bisected image reverses from positive to negative, and from top to bottom, the face is divided by the emblazoned slogan “Your body is a battleground.” Kruger critiques the objectified standard of symmetry that is applied to feminine beauty and perpetuated by media and advertising. The composition originally included more text and was designed as a poster for the massive pro-choice rally that took place on April 9, 1989, in Washington, D.C.

Untitled (If you’re so successful, why do you feel like a fake?), 1987, is a direct interrogation of the motivations of contemporary society—career building, money, and the appearance of success and good living. Kruger’s assertive display demands an answer from viewers. Unlike in advertising, which may ask a question to compel a purchase, Kruger’s work uses the same techniques to compel ethical change and reflection.

http://www.thebroad.org

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Genpei Akasegawa’s 1000 Yen Note Incident

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One of the most famous chapters of post-war Japanese art is Genpei Akasegawa’s 1000-yen Note Incident.

In 1963, the young han-geijutsu (‘Anti-Art’) artist had printed several hundred single-sided monochrome 1000-yen note semblances, mailing them in the post office’s cash envelopes as invitations to his exhibition of collage works in Tokyo. In the following months he made several thousand reproductions of the image, burning some of them in a performance and using others to wrap objects, like the bag pictured below. Nobody took much notice outside his own circle of artist friends.

The following year, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police launched a criminal investigation on Akasegawa, referring to an old, vaguely termed law prohibiting manufacture of objects with an exterior that “may be confused with currency.” This led to a highly publicised and drawn-out trial at Tokyo District Court which raised more provocative questions and reached more people than Akasegawa’s art works could ever have managed to do without the state intervention.

The case (which has been recounted in recent years by Reiko Tomii and William Marotti) necessitated a close consideration of the boundaries of legality and of art. Backed by a group of like-minded artists and critics, Akasegawa stressed the blatant unusability of his notes, arguing that they weren’t counterfeit because they weren’t pretending to be real or true – they only referred to real and true money (albeit aiming thereby to disrupt its imagined reality and truth). The uselessness of the notes gave them their status as art objects, but the court’s response was that what he did may well have been ‘art’, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t criminal. After two appeals, the supreme court upheld the lower court’s indictment in 1970, activating the artist’s sentence of three months incarceration and one year probation.

An ironic side effect of the incident was that it cemented the otherwise barely noticed work in the public consciousness, and in art history. The event is remembered as a forensic interrogation of the nature of representation, replication, imitation and simulation – which, it turns out, are all quite different things. Akasegawa named his notes ‘models’ – they weren’t intended as currency but as images of currency, money abstracted from monetary value.

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The aforementioned Ming Dynasty bank notes were printed with warnings that forgery was punishable by death. This serves today as a reminder that due to the huge gulf between the low material value of a piece of paper and the high promised value of the state-issued symbol, the risk of counterfeit has been a concomitant part of every paper currency. One of Akasegawa’s responses to the trial was to create the Greater Japan Zero-yen Note (1967) (above), which was ‘money’ that made explicitly clear the fact that it had no monetary value. People were invited to exchange three hundred real yen with him for an ‘original’ zero-yen note, his ambitious idea being that once he swapped it all, there would be no ‘real’ money issued by the state left in circulation.

A member of the avant-garde art collectives Neo Dada (initially Neo Dadaism Organisers) and Hi Red Centre, Akasegawa was associated with the radical han-geijutsu or ‘Anti-Art’ movement of the 1950s and 60s. In later years he would develop a theory of cho-geijutsu or ‘Hyper-Art’, which was less overtly political but would continue to seek intersections of the spaces of art and daily life, and interrogate notions of individual authorship and originality.

He also went on to be a prolific author under the pen name Katsuhiko Otsuji, and wrote the screenplay for the 1989 film Rikyū (by Hiroshi Teshigahara of Woman in the Dunes fame), which chronicles the life of the sixteenth century master of the Japanese tea ceremony. At one point in the film, Sen no Rikyū looks upon a statue made in his image and says, “I now see that I am little more than an effigy myself.” Here, the copy doe not reinforce the originality of the original – in Baudrillard’s terms, the copy suffices to “render both artificial.” This harks back to the institutionalised fear that abounds around semblances of money; mechanical reproductions of mechanical reproductions, they threaten to destabilise the consensual authority of money, and the precarious apparatus of faith required for homogenised symbolic value to function.

http://keithwhittle.org