recentpopularlog in

robertogreco : eastofborneo   2

The Journey West (East of Borneo)
"Coming from New York we found all this both exhilarating and baffling; Los Angeles seemed to be a city hiding in plain sight. There was plenty to see, interesting people to talk to, all easily accessible by the sporadically flowing freeway. But that veneer of easy connectivity masked a deeper, and more troubling, sense that nothing was easily available, a misleading perception of nothing going on. This was a city of outposts and easily missed landmarks connected by a sprawling, historical disposition not to connect; a deeply unsociable city – not unfriendly, just unsociable, the opposite of places like New York or Paris with their gabby rush to embrace and discard. When we left Los Angeles we had some ideas for future articles, but we didn’t have a satisfying grasp on the place.

REALLIFE Magazine was very much the project of a walk-around city. We had an editorial point of view, which was that we wanted to provide a forum for younger artists who saw themselves operating in a post-conceptual landscape, with an interest in connecting to issues of everyday life. That is to say we were still working in the shadow of a well-known history, a narrative of progress and upset that we tended to accept as more or less given. The wrinkle in that acceptance was an ever-present conviction that the somatic experiments of Surrealism held out a lot more promise than our more academic peers allowed. Our editorial process had a trajectory, but it was one easily, and willingly, sent off track by an interesting chance encounter. We sought openness within a structure framed by opinion, and sought that through the old-fashioned networking of the street. Los Angeles proved fatal to this method, and the magazine came to an end shortly after the two of us moved here in the early ’90s.

In 2002, after a ten-year break from the business side of art magazines, I joined the editorial team of Afterall, a self-described “journal of art, context and enquiry” that had begun as a counterweight to the market-driven art talk prevalent in London in the ’90s, and that maintained a purposefully old-school attitude to the idea of the art journal as something deliberately out of time. The founders, an artist and a curator, designed an editorial process that took the form of a twice-yearly seminar to discover the most interesting artists to discuss. When they invited me to join them, the idea was to expand this method; investigating international art from two separate but simultaneous perspectives, that of London and Los Angeles. For several years this proved to be a rich, intense, and very productive experiment. And then an intellectual exhaustion set in and the project drifted into an ill-defined state of ennui. Paradoxically the root of this exhaustion was our lack of rootedness; in a fundamental way the journal had no point of view, only a premise. Unmoored in the jet stream, our two bases separated, buffeted by argument without end.

In the 21st century the ramifications of this rootlessness and the practical challenges facing publishing began to require ever more radical responses. The small bookstores that had once supported small magazines were closing at an increasing rate. Museums were turning their bookstores into gift shops. Fluctuations in the currency markets made it increasingly difficult to budget production costs in an international context, and then the huge economic crash made everything impossible. But the biggest challenge of all was the Internet, which manages to make everything simultaneously local and international. When Susan and I were publishing REALLIFE Magazine we had a substantial subscriber base, a much larger figure across the United States than Afterall ever achieved, despite significant institutional backing. But of course before the Internet, people had to subscribe to little magazines if they wanted to keep up-to-date, whereas now we inhabit the complex world of websites, blogs, aggregators and Twitter feeds, and can keep informed by the instant.

What this all suggested to me was that what an art publication could be now was something both more participatory and more traditionally edited. I still believe that people may actually like some editorial guidance – the most successful blogs seem to be the most opinionated. But these blogs tend to a linear, one-thing-after-the-other format that runs counter to the open horizontality of communication offered up by the hyperlink. Discussions flare, and can become engrossing, but they tend to be one-dimensional, focused on one issue at a time. I found I was hungering for a more complex participation. As a writer I have become accustomed to working in a way that allows skipping back and forth as a text builds, checking references, finding new evidence as a result of lateral moves across the Internet. A few online publications allow readers a similarly multifaceted experience, although most quarantine reader participation in the shadow zone reserved for comments. Until now no art publication has offered this kind of experience.

As you navigate the site today you will discover that East of Borneo incorporates the benefits of online media not only for timely art-related content, but also for lively dialogues and the sharing and distribution of research and archival material. Our articles incorporate and offer the materials—video, audio, links and texts—that the author drew from. Users can upload their own relevant contributions, creating a growing archive of associated content. Topics will develop depth over time as material accrues, becoming substantial repositories of information and interpretation.

What we imagined was an intricately interwoven site that would allow us to build an archive of Los Angeles, past and present, using the power of a networked collectivity to create depth and complexity. To some Web 2.0 is old news, but established magazines are only slowly awakening to its challenges and possibilities. East of Borneo’s genesis has been long and deliberative: several years of thinking past the delights and constraints of the printed page, and one very intense year of thinking through the actual possibilities of current online publication.

I am tremendously proud and excited about all this, and hope you will share my enthusiasm. Visit us often to watch the site grow in both content and interactivity as we roll out further features. Visit us often to upload that telling image, indispensible text, incredible link. Join us on this journey."
eastofborneo  losangeles  thomaslawson  art  history  2010  artjournalism  journalism  1980  publishing  online  linear  onlinemedia  epublishing  bookstores  cities  urbanism  nyc  urban  accretion  interpretation  internet  howwework  archives  networks  networkedcollectivity  collectivity  depth  complexity  howwewrite  howwethink  linearity 
august 2014 by robertogreco
ICA’s Excursus: Interview with Alex Klein and Mark Owens — The Gradient — Walker Art Center
"Emmet Byrne: What is Excursus and how did it come about?

Alex Klein and Mark Owens: Excursus was a two-year, four-part initiative at the Institute of Contemporary Art, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia positioned at the intersection of art and design, programs and exhibitions, and the archive and the museum. It took the form of a rotating installation on the ICA mezzanine, a curated series of intimate events, and an online residency on the Excursus website, which also acted as a form of real-time documentation. Each of the four invited participants— Reference Library, East of Borneo, Ooga Booga, and Primary Information—work in a space between artistic domains that don’t always have a comfortable place within a traditional gallery setting, such as publication, distribution, archival research, and programming.

Alex was hired in 2011 as ICA’s newly-created program curator, and Excursus was a way to explore and activate the “discursive space” of the museum as it approached it’s 50th anniversary and to challenge the notion of how a program could function and how we might gauge its success. ICA is a non-collecting institution with a long history of ground-breaking exhibitions—Andy Warhol, Paul Thek, and Martin Kippenberger each had their first U.S. solo museum shows at ICA, for example—and thus ICA’s extensive archive is in a very real sense its collection. Each of the participants was thus invited to delve into the ICA archive and to make connections both with their own concerns and the exhibitions currently on view in the main galleries.

An “excursus” is a literary term describing a digression or supplement to a primary text, and the project was conceived very much in that spirit, with every element, from the installation to the programming, emerging from these conceptual and material connections. The aim was to provide a platform that could be responsive and flexible–both in terms of form and authorship–and that could could bridge the gap between extra-institutional and institutional activities while still maintaining a strong framework and a grounding in the physical space of the ICA.

EB: The project has a very strong design sensibility, from the participants selected, to the design of the space, to the design of the ephemera, and of course the catalogue. Was there a philosophy at work behind the design of the whole program?

AK & MO: Certain binaries seemed to anchor each season of the project: East Coast vs. West Coast, black-and-white vs. color, social vs. contemplative, etc. Although each iteration of the project revolved around a kind of kit of parts–a flexible space for discussion, a display system for the event broadsides, a set of flat file drawers to display archival material, an auratic object of some kind, and a projection in the lobby–each of the invited participants contributed a strong visual aesthetic that was linked to the thematic of each of their installations. Thus, the form of each installation, from the materials used to the seating and furniture, reflected a distinct sensibility that changed radically from project to project and sat apart from the rest of the museum identity and the exhibitions in the main galleries. For example, Reference Library’s Andy Beach used custom-designed furniture in unpainted wood in combination with Martino Gamper’s bright plastic Arnold Circus stools in shades of blue and a Wharton Esherick Hammer Handle Chair on loan from the Hedgerow Theater in nearby Rose Valley. This then gave way to East of Borneo‘s exploration of California arts pedagogy circa 1970 with seminar tables, vintage David Rowland 40/4 chairs in period colors, and an actual Metamorphokit table, designed by Peter de Bretteville and Toby Cowan, shipped directly from the CalArts library. For her installation Ooga Booga’s Wendy Yao recreated the unmistakable look and feel of her two Los Angeles stores, complete with a hammock, bookshelves, and a custom table and benches designed by Manuel Raeder, which are now installed at her Mission Road space. Finally, Primary Information drew inspiration from ICA’s seminal 1975 Video Art exhibition with a more spare, conceptualist, black-and-white aesthetic, punctuated by Sarah Crowner’s dramatic Vidas Perfectas curtain (2011), originally produced for a Robert Ashley performance, which created a literal backdrop for the activities that ensued. In this way, the design of the projects themselves marked out a distinct physical space that was at once rich with material and metaphor, but also flexible and open."
alexklein  markowens  oogabooga  referencelibrary  andybeach  walkerartcenter  2014  excursus  ica  design  publishing  books  art  artbooks  artistsbooks  curation  interviews  primaryinformation  eastofborneo  commonpress  othermeans  museums  events  residencies  onlineresidencies  discursivespace  authorship 
august 2014 by robertogreco

Copy this bookmark:





to read