Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Ray Johnson | 8 Man Show 5 at Willenpecker Gallery

Ray Johnson
8 Man Show 5 at Willenpecker Gallery 
New York City, USA: Self-published, 1968
Set of 5 Cards
Edition size unknown

Five cards (of diminishing size) advertising an 8-man show, each of which features only four artists, and no information regarding location, dates or times. Additionally, Johnson's name is misspelled on three of the the cards. The painter Robert Benson is also misspelled as Benton, possibly alluding to the Oscar winner film director of Kramer vs Kramer, who - at the time - was the art director of Esquire magazine. George Brecht becomes Mrs Brecht in the third iteration.

The cards pictured above were mailed to the critic Lawrence Alloway and to then-MoMA librarian Clive Phillpot, whose name is also incorrectly spelled.

The first two exhibitions take place at the Robin Gallery, the second two at the Woodpecker Gallery, and the final at the Willenpecker Gallery. All three are the invention of the artist. Robin Gallery is possibly a play on Anita Reuben's Reuben Gallery, a space that became synonymous with the Happenings of Allan Kaprow (who Johnson would sometimes mock with his own 'Nothings'). Willenpecker Gallery might have been an allusion to the painter John Willenbecher.

The rear-endpaper (an accidental pun he might approve) of Johnson's Something Else Press artist book The Paper Snake also includes a reference to the fictitious 8 Man Show, as does a small advertisement he placed in the Village Voice newspaper on July 30th, 1964 (below). Both feature the image of a snake, suggesting that the 8 in 8-man might also refer to a snake or infinity symbol.

A set of four of these cards are available from Printed Matter, here, for $200 US.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Brian Eno | Reflection app

Reflection, the twenty-sixth solo studio album by Brian Eno, was released on the first day of 2017 by Warp Records, as a vinyl LP and compact disk. It is also available as a downloadable app, at a considerably higher price.

The app represents the realization of something that Eno had first hoped to do over forty years ago, with the release of Discreet Music. The title track of this 1975 record can be viewed as a thirty minute excerpt from an infinite algorithmic, generative composition: the longest available half-side of a vinyl LP (without having to cut the grooves so close that it results in a serious loss of fidelity).

Discreet Music is one of Eno's first forays into ambient music (predating the watershed Music for Airports by three years) and the first solo record to bear his full name. It is easily one of favourite records of all time, and art works. But Eno viewed it as a compromise, the limitation of the medium.

With the introduction of the compact disk, he was able to issue a single track of music at almost twice the length of Discreet Music, a decade later, with the release of Thursday Afternoon.

Thirty-two years later, Reflection is 54 minutes in length, on the CD and vinyl version. But the app offers an ever-changing infinitely long piece of generative music. And one which changes depending of the day.

"Reflection is the most recent of my Ambient experiments and represents the most sophisticated of them so far," he writes in the liner notes. "My original intention with Ambient music was to make endless music, music that would be there as long as you wanted it to be. I wanted also that this music would unfold differently all the time – ‘like sitting by a river’: it’s always the same river, but it’s always changing. But recordings – whether vinyl, cassette or CD – are limited in length, and replay identically each time you listen to them. So in the past I was limited to making the systems which make the music, but then recording 30 minutes or an hour and releasing that. Reflection in its album form – on vinyl or CD – is like this. But the app by which Reflection is produced is not restricted: it creates an endless and endlessly changing version of the piece of music."

The Reflection app is different from Eno's previous ventures into digital apps in that it is pointedly not responsive, not interactive.

"There are two statements," he told Philip Sherburne, in an interview with Pitchfork last week, "One is the price and the other is that it isn’t interactive. That was quite important to me, to try to keep it free of anything you could do with it. I just did not want people sort of fiddling. I was trying to say, “This is something to listen to.” Think of it like a finished piece of music. It happens to be a finished piece of music that will never repeat, but it is a finished piece. Some people were a little bit annoyed there was nothing they could do to it. My response is: You don’t expect to be able to do anything to a CD, do you? You just put it on and turn it up.

The point about the price was that if you make a vinyl, it costs 22 pounds in England, a CD is 16. Both of those are reduced versions of the app, in the sense that they are a tiny fraction, infinitesimal, of the lifetime piece. I really want to make the point that this is an endless piece of music. And one of the ways I can make that point is to price it higher. So in England, the app went to 30 pounds. A lot of work went into it, as well. It was only the two of us, Peter and I, and it took about a year to make the app."

Purchase the app for $39.99, here.
Read the full interview at Pitchfork, here.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Laurie Anderson | Hearring

Laurie Anderson
Zurich, Switzerland: Parkett Editions, 1997
10.2 x 4.5 x 2 cm.
Edition of 150 signed and numbered copies

Produced for Parkett issue #49 (which featured Anderson, Jeff Wall and Douglas Gordon), this single earring consists of a brass, copper, circuit board, loudspeaker, lithium battery, Plexiglas and wires. It features a playable sound message of approximately twenty seconds.

Released in 1997 for $440, the edition remains available from the publisher, though the price has now more than tripled. In 2008, it was raised to $600 US and to $900 US by 2012.  A copy sold in September of 2013 at a Christies auction for 750 GBP ($1205 US) and the Parkett site now lists the work at € 1,400.00.

The jewelry is by Josiah Dearborn, and the 'engineering design' is by Bob Bielecki, who previously collaborated with Anderson on works such as her signature magnetic tape violin.

Available here, from the publisher.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Ugo Rondinone | Placemats

Ugo Rondinone
New York City, USA: Self-published, 2015
14.5" diameter
Edition of 100 signed and numbered sets

Conceived by the artist as a variation on his target paintings, the twelve unique designs were produced as double-sided polypropylene-laminated placements, with a black & white target on the verso of each. First featured and sold at Public Art Fund's 2015 Spring Benefit, the placemats were created to support the organization's mission to bring "dynamic contemporary art to broad audiences in New York City."

Friday, February 17, 2017

Jannis Kounelli, RIP

The Greek-Italian artist Jannis Kounellis, one of the founders of Arte Povera, died yesterday at the age of 80, in his hometown of Rome. Read obituaries in the Guardian, The Art Newspaper and Artnet, below.


Thursday, February 16, 2017

Stanley Brouwn | One Step 1X-100X

Stanley Brouwn
One Step 1X-100X
Brussels, Belgium: Gallery MTL, 1971
[unpaginated], 15 x 16 cm., softcover
Edition size uknown

From the Fondazione Bonotto collection, here.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Miranda July | Margie Ruskie Stops Time

Miranda July w/ The Need
Margie Ruskie Stops Time
Portland, USA: Kill Rock Stars, 1996
7" 45 rpm single
Edition size unknown

The debut release for both Miranda July, and for backing band The Need (who went on to record for Kill Rock Stars, Outpunk and Chainsaw Records). July would later revisit the subject of stopping time in her second feature-length film, The Future.

"...it’s funny at another interview thing someone brought an old 7-inch of mine that’s called Margie Ruskie Stops Time, and I was like, “Oh, right! I forgot I already had this idea. Thankfully, you’re kind of the only person who has this 7-inch, I think!” But I’m a real sucker for anything to do with time or time travel. I could have gotten way nerdier there, but I tried to keep it emotional."
- Miranda July, interviewed by Christopher Frizzelle

The disc is available here, for between five and ten dollars (depending on condition). It is also available as a $2 download from Bandcamp, here.

July turns 43 today.