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Archive for May 2012

In 1999, the artists Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno bought a manga character from “K” works, a Japanese firm that develops Manga figures. Huyghe and Parreno decided to ‘free the image from the animation market’, named ‘her’ Annlee, made their own initial works and invited other artists to use Annlee for new art projects, free of charge. Annlee was given a voice, history and an identity and she popped up in animation videos, paintings, objects, installations, posters and a magazine, soundworks and a book.

I saw parts of their Annlee project in the Van Abbe Museum in Eindhoven some years ago. In the end 28 “Annlee works” were produced by 18 different artists. The project was finalized in 2002 with the artists definitively killing her off and liberating her from the realm of representation -as they described it- by signing over the copyrights of the image to Annlee herself. But is this really the end? Is Annlee dead, truly free, or both?

A decade after the Annlee project came to an end, artists are invited to respond to the Annlee project ‘unofficially’ hoping to open up the character to new art pieces. As Philippe Parreno suggested: “the project doesn’t stop in the absence of Annlee, it can always produce more authors.” We look forward to your input, ideas and brand new artworks! Art can be uploaded freely onto a blog provided by NIMK dedicated to this ‘Annlee Blog project’.

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I will visit the Dutch Electronic Art Festival 2012 in Rotterdam this weekend, mainly the exhibition part. DEAF 2012 has official and “off site” exhibitions, both starting on May, 17.

According to the DEAF 2012 web site “the DEAF 2012 thematic exhibition will explore The Power of Things with numerous high-impact artworks from artists and designers from around the world. The DEAF 2012 exhibition features art works that are ‘relationally’ designed and works in which interaction, in whatever form, serves as the starting point for bringing art into being. The pieces are sometimes biological in nature, sometimes technological, and often a mix of the two”.

By this “Power of Things” mentioned above is meant:

In our daily lives, nonliving matter plays a crucial role in nearly everything we do, often beyond our immediate control. For example, the food we eat influences our mood and behavior; the technologies we use shape our social interactions; and climate impacts on our daily rhythms. On a more global level, modern material science, recent natural disasters and the current state of the global environment also indicate that the causal power of nonliving matter can no longer be denied. Acknowledging this ‘Power of Things’ not only provides new insights into many phenomena, but also changes the way we relate to the world, as we step away from our contemporary, arguably hazardous, human centered worldview. With The Power of Things as its theme, this edition of the Dutch Electronic Art Festival explores a radically different worldview: one that breaks down the categorical distinction between the living and the nonliving and attributes a vital force to both.

The theory that there is a vital force within nonliving matter has appeared at various points in history, but the idea that matter has causality and agency seems to be becoming more widespread than ever at present. “Vitalist” philosophies and materialist approaches are flourishing in philosophy and science. But art is the field where material causality exerts its strongest force. As every artist knows, the outcome of an artistic process is largely determined by the materials used. While scientific experimentation predominantly aims for a better understanding of what matter is, art explores what matter does. Knowing what matter does contributes to a greater knowledge of how things – whether foodstuffs, commodities or something else – act and what their particular propensities or tendencies are. Recognizing the power of things could even reveal how seemingly passive things have crucial impacts on social issues, political affairs and environmental problems. By embodying it in tangible works, art helps us to acknowledge this power.

It sounds promising. As usual WORM is also involved too, this year by providing a live DEAF 2012 hackspace. Check it out if you are interested in ground breaking electronic media art.


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