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Exhibitions

Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona have published the images of the opening of Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves exhibition. You can check them out here:

The opening was on Friday 14 October 2011, and marked the start of the show’s six month run.
More than a linear, historical narration of the evolution of spectrum technologies, Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves can best be understood as an “observatory”, which enables visitors to perceive the radio spectrum. It sets out the spectrum as a physical space, invisible but present, a terrain that can be studied, mapped, surveyed and explored. It is an environment made of signals and waves from nature, and from us. Its topography is formed of waves of different scales, from tiny emissions given off by domestic objects to vast emissions made by distant astronomical phenomena. It’s made up of signals that are very familiar, such as television and radio, and signals which are esoteric and enigmatic. It is an ecology that has public spaces – wireless internet and amateur radio – and secret spaces – coded military transmissions and clandestine signals.

Visit the exhibition webpage here.

"Immaterials: Light Painting WiFi" by Timo Arnall (with Jørn Knutsen & Einar Sneve Martinussen). To be exhibited in Invisible Fields.

If you’re going to be in Barcelona, at any point over the next six months, please do drop by Arts Santa Mònica on the Ramblas to see the Invisible Fields exhibition I’ve curated with José Luis de Vicente.

Full details below:

Invisible Fields: Geographies of Radio Waves,  14 October 2011 – 4 March 2012, Barcelona

Invisible Fields is a major new international exhibition at Arts Santa Mònica in Barcelona Spain, co-produced by Lighthouse. It brings together over a dozen internationally known artists, designers and scientists to explore the radio spectrum – the invisible environment that underpins contemporary technology. Co-curated by José Luis de Vicente and me, the show includes significant works by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Trevor Paglen, Timo Arnall, Joyce Hinterding and many more. The show is presented in the Laboratory space of Arts Santa Mònica, directed by Josep Perelló.

Invisible Fields explores how our understanding of our world and our cosmos has been transformed by the study of radio waves. With the invention of telecommunication technology at the end of the 19th century, the radio spectrum became a tool for rethinking the world we live in. Radio collapsed geographical distance, crossed borders and cultures, became a powerful catalyst for commerce and enabled scientists to study the cosmos in entirely new ways. Yet whilst the radio spectrum is the invisible infrastructure that enables the technologies of information and communication, most people are unaware of the way it works, how it is managed, and how it is has shaped our understanding of our lived environment. Invisible Fields aims to shine a light on this enigmatic landscape.

The exhibition differs from past explorations of these topics, in that it is conceived as an interdisciplinary blend of social-cultural analysis, science communication, and artistic practice.  It includes: Timo Arnall (BERG), Thomas Ashcraft, Matthew Biederman, Anthony DeVincenzi (MIT Media Lab), Diego Diaz and Clara Boj, Joyce Hinterding, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Trevor Paglen, Job Ramos, Semiconductor, Luthiers Drapaires, and Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits (RIXC).

A catalogue in Spanish, Catalan and English editions is being published and will be available in November. It features essays by Douglas Kahn, Adam Greenfield, Martin Howse, Josep Perelló and others.

DATE/ TIME / VENUE

Dates: 14 October 2011 – 4 March 2012

Times: 1100 – 2100, Tuesday – Sunday

Venue: Arts Santa Mónica

La Rambla, 7

Barcelona, Spain

CREDITS

Organized by Arts Santa Mònica

Produced by Arts Santa Mònica, in association with Lighthouse.

Curated by: José Luis de Vicente and Honor Harger. Assisted by: Irma Vilà

Invisible Fields
An exhibition curated for Arts Santa Monica in Barcelona, Spain
14 October 2011 – 4 March 2014
http://www.lighthouse.org.uk/programme/invisible-fields

One of my favourite people to work with on projects is my fellow curator, José Luis de Vicente. In 2011, we had the opportunity to collaborate on an exhibition and book that was very dear to our hearts.

Invisible Fields was a major international exhibition that took place in 2011-12 at Arts Santa Monica in Spain. The show brought together over a dozen internationally known artists, designers and scientists to explore the radio spectrum – the invisible environment that underpins contemporary technology. The show included Timo Arnall (pictured above), Thomas Ashcraft, Matthew Biederman, Anthony De Vincenzi, Diego Diaz & Clara Boj, Joyce Hinterding, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Trevor Paglen, Job Ramos, Luthiers Drapaires, Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits and a new commission by Semiconductor. It was presented in the Laboratory space of Arts Santa Mònica directed by Josep Perelló.

Invisible Fields explored how our understanding of our world and our cosmos has been transformed by the study of radio waves. With the invention of telecommunication technology at the end of the 19th century, the radio spectrum became a tool for rethinking the world we live in. Radio collapsed geographical distance, crossed borders and cultures, became a powerful catalyst for commerce and enabled scientists to study the cosmos in entirely new ways. Yet whilst the radio spectrum is the invisible infrastructure that enables the technologies of information and communication, most people are unaware of the way it works, how it is managed, and how it is has shaped our understanding of our lived environment. Invisible Fields aimed to shine a light on this enigmatic landscape. The exhibition differed from past explorations of these topics, in that it was conceived as an interdisciplinary blend of social-cultural analysis, science communication, and artistic practice.

– Works in the Show

Drone Vision by Trevor Paglen
Frequency & Volume by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer (pictured above)
Harnessing Wild Electricities From Outer Space by Thomas Ashcraft
Immaterials by Timo Arnall
Invisible Forces by Anthony DeVincenzi (MIT Media Lab)
Loops and Fields: Induction Drawings Series 4 by Joyce Hinterding (pictured below)
Magnetic Movie by Semiconductor
20Hz (new commission) by Semiconductor
Radio Liberty (new commission) by Job Ramos
Observatorio by Clara Boj and Diego Diaz
Office of Spectral Ecology by Matthew Biederman (pictured below)
Skrunda Signal by Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits (RIXC)
The Conet Project by Irdial Records
And:
A community WIFI workshop and infomation space by Guifi.net
A satellite observation workshop and ground-station by Plataforma Cero LABoral
An antenna-building workshop and antenna collection by Luthiers Drapaires
A micro-FM building workshop by Arts Santa Monica

– An Insight into Invisible Fields

More than a linear, historical narration of the evolution of spectrum technologies, Invisible Fields could best be understood as an “observatory”, which enabled visitors to perceive the radio spectrum. It set out the spectrum as a physical space, invisible but present, a terrain that can be studied, mapped, surveyed and explored. It is an environment made of signals and waves from nature, and from us. Its topography is formed of waves of different scales, from tiny emissions given off by domestic objects to vast emissions made by distant astronomical phenomena. It is made up of signals that are very familiar, such as television and radio, and signals which are esoteric and enigmatic. It is an ecology that has public spaces – wireless internet and amateur radio – and secret spaces – coded military transmissions and clandestine signals.

Following on from pioneers such as John Cage, Alvin Lucier and Pauline Oliveros, contemporary artists such as Thomas Ashcraft, Semiconductor and Joyce Hinterding create powerful works that allow us to understand the radio spectrum as an extension of the natural world.  Sitting alongside their almost Emersonian understanding of radio as nature, was recent work in the field of architecture, design and urbanism, which expands the notion of urban space into the invisible realm of the spectrum. “Hertzian space”, a term coined by designers, Anthony Dunne & Fiona Raby, is defined by our transmissions of radio, television, wireless internet, GPS data and mobile phone signals. It is a space interrogated by artists and designers such as Timo Arnall from the BERG group in London, and Clara Boj & Diego Diaz who create clever visualisations of the presence of waves in our daily life. Elsewhere in the show, artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s monumental tribute to the radio dial, enabled visitors to physically move through radio transmissions, giving them a visceral encounter with our ethereal cultural surroundings. Experimental geographer and artist, Trevor Paglen, and artist-activists, Rasa Smite & Raitis Smits, shed light on the dark zones of the spectral landscape.

Invisible Fields was not only concerned with the topology of the radio landscape, but rather the socio-political activities that take place within it. Alongside the artworks in the show were workshops, which reminded us that our position with the architecture of the spectrum is far from being that of a passive observer. As such, the exhibition space hosted intensive activity for a wide variety of audiences, with workshops on Sunday mornings, and a complete education programme offered to schools.

Taken together the works in Invisible Fields made the intangible materiality of the electromagnetic spectrum visible and audible. They opened up the Hertzian space around us, and above us, to our senses. The visions of artists, the solutions of designers, and the experiments of scientists give us the tools we need to create our own mental maps of this profoundly influential terrain.

Solar Systems by Semiconductor
An exhibition curated Lighthouse for Brighton Digital Festival 2011, UK
3 September – 15 October 2011
http://www.lighthouse.org.uk/programme/semiconductor-solar-systems

Some artists are just a dream to work with and Brighton-based digital artists and filmmakers, Semiconductor are just that. I have worked with Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt) on multiple occasions, including commissioning new work for exhibitions in Spain and years later in Singapore.

Solar Systems was an exhibition I co-curated for the inaugural Brighton Digital Festival, which I was a co-founder of.  Solar Systems drew together three recent installations by Semiconductor that explore our relationship with our nearest star, the Sun.

Heliocentric is a stunning single channel digital video installation made from time-lapse photography and astronomical tracking of the Sun’s trajectory across a series of landscapes.
The highly acclaimed Black Rain (pictured above) uses images collected by the solar satellite STEREO, which studies the solar wind and the Sun’s coronal mass ejections, as they head towards Earth.
The rarely seen Out of the Light (pictured below) is a time-based sculpture which shows how celestial events, such as a solar eclipse or the transit of Venus, can reveal themselves through the play of light and shadow.

These works are emblematic of the Semiconductor’s ongoing investigation of the natural world, which has resulted in major works on astronomy (Brilliant Noise, 2006), and geology (Worlds in the Making, 2011). Their unique approach has won them fellowships and residencies in significant scientific locations such as NASA’s Space Sciences Lab, the Galapagos Islands and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. Their work is part of several international public collections and has been exhibited globally including Venice Biennale, The Royal Academy, Hirshhorn Museum, BBC, ICA and the Exploratorium.

Evolution of Fearlessness by Lynette Wallworth
An exhibition curated Lighthouse for Brighton Festival 2011, UK
7 May – 9 June 2011
http://www.lighthouse.org.uk/programme/lynette-wallworth-evolution-of-fearlessness

As a curator, I have had the pleasure of working with the remarkable Australian artist, Lynette Wallworth on several occasions. This was one of the most significant.

The I organisation I directed from 2010-2014, Lighthouse was delighted to be part of Brighton Festival 2011, guest directed by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. We partnered with the festival on the presentation of two major exhibitions by contemporary artists, Kutluğ Ataman (Turkey) and Lynette Wallworth.

Lynette showed two installations at the University of Brighton’s galleries: Evolution of Fearlessness (pictured above) and Damavand Mountain (pictured below).

Evolution of Fearlessness was an intimate, interactive installation dealing with loss, survival and strength. The work incorporated filmed portraits of several women, originating from countries such as Afghanistan‚ Sudan‚ Iraq and El Salvador. They have lived through wars‚ or survived concentration camps or extreme acts of violence and are brought directly to the audience, through this intimate installation, to share their stories. Built around the importance of gesture‚ and responsive to touch, Evolution of Fearlessness provided a tactile gateway to the women contained in the piece. Whilst cinematic techniques are at the heart of Evolution of Fearlessness, the work went beyond cinema in its immersive and interactive form, revealing the strength of the human spirit.

Damavand Mountain was an elegant work made from footage obtained by Lynette during a residency in a small Iranian mountain village. A series of images track the cycle of a short lived poppy flower, a woman and a snow covered mountain. The movements of the flowers petals, the woman’s chador and the clouds suggest the impact of invisible forces that shape them daily. Their adjustments to the changing environment evoke a sense of endurance in human nature and nature itself. Through this series of visual metaphors Damavand Mountain presented a poetic and unobtrusive exploration of the global and governmental forces that shape the lives of those in Iran and around the world.

These works resonated strongly with the themes running through Brighton Festival 2011, which was inspired by the courage of its guest curator, Aung San Suu Kyi.

These exhibitions, and the presentation of Kutluğ Ataman’s installation Mesopotamian Dramaturgies, marked a new phase of Lighthouse’s work, where we took our programmes beyond our own venue.


Mesopotamian Dramaturgies by Kutluğ Ataman
An exhibition for Brighton Festival 2011, UK
7 May – 29 May 2011
http://www.lighthouse.org.uk/programme/kutlug-ataman-mesopotamian-dramaturgies

The I organisation I directed from 2010-2014, Lighthouse was delighted to be part of Brighton Festival 2011 guest directed by Nobel Peace laureate Aung San Suu Kyi. We partnered with the festival on the presentation of two major exhibitions by contemporary artists, Kutluğ Ataman (Turkey) and Lynette Wallworth (Australia).

Animating the atmospheric disused space of the Old Municipal Market in Brighton, Kutluğ’s site-specific exhibition brought together two works which used the theme of water to meditate on political change. The centrepiece was the world premiere of Mayhem. This new multi-screen film installation, co-commissioned by Brighton Festival, used water is to subtly symbolise the transformational energy of revolution. It was presented with Su, a video installation shown in the UK for the first time.

The festival celebrated themes of freedom of expression, liberty, and the power of the individual voice in society, inspired by its guest curator, Aung San Suu Kyi. Mayhem by Kutluğ Ataman strongly resonated with these themes, at a time where revolutionary change was sweeping through Kutluğ’s own region. Kutluğ passionately believes in the need for democracy and freedom of expression in his native Turkey, and in the wider region.

In Mayhem, Kutluğ transported us to another Mesopotamia – “la Mesopotamia” in Argentina, itself located between the Paraná and Uruguay rivers. Here, in what Ataman describes as an “alternative promised land”, we were confronted by the spectacular and chaotic energy of the Iguazu Falls. In what he referred to as a direct response to the uprisings taking place in his own region, Kutluğ cast water as both a cleansing and destructive force. Just as water shapes and transforms nature, the Arab Spring is sweeping aside old structures and allowing new ones to evolve.

Showing alongside Mayhem was Su. This work takes its name from the Turkish word for water. It was filmed over a year, and illustrates the different moods of the Bosphorus strait, the narrow strip of water that separates Europe from Asia.

Suspending Disbelief
Lighthouse, Brighton, UK
28 August – 5 September 2010
http://www.lighthouse.org.uk/programme/suspending-disbelief

For four years, I directed Lighthouse an arts agency in Brighton in the UK. Suspending Disbelief was one of the first exhibitions I curated there, during my first year in post.

Suspending Disbelief presented the work of Julian Oliver (pictured above), Caleb Larsen, Andrew Friend (pictured below) and Becca Gill & Jay Kerry. It drew together works of contemporary art and design which exist in the interstices between the real and the fictional. The artists participating in the exhibition materialise speculative ideas, near-futures or illusory realities.

It brought together works of contemporary art and design which exist in the interstices between the real and the fictional. The artists who participated in the exhibition materialise speculative ideas, near-futures, or illusory realities, in a series of verisimilar devices, sculptures, interactive objects, photographic scenarios and installations which challenge our perception of what is plausible. All the works shown inSuspending Disbelief were being shown in Brighton for the first time.

The exhibition was part of Brighton’s major digital design conference, dConstruct produced by Clearleft, which each year brought leading names in design and user interaction to the UK.

The works inSuspending Disbelief went beyond being mere puzzles: they were reality hacks, conceptual conundrums and physicalised thought-experiments which call into question everyday logic and its interaction rules and rituals.

They included a physical sculpture made by American artist, Caleb Larsen, that is perpetually attempting to auction itself on eBay; a series of uncannily real yet seemingly impossible devices created by London-based designer, Andrew Friend; a 3D spatial memory game made by Berlin-based artist Julian Oliver, that takes the form of a digital Echeresque-world; and an installation by Bristol artists, Becca Gill & Jay Kerry where the trickery and illusion of 19th century magic is materialised through pervasive media.

Suspending Disbelief was a pilot project, developed in partnership with Arts Council England and Clearleft, which grew into what became Brighton Digital Festival.