|Kaiju Noodles, part of Manhua Wonderlands|
Kim Machan, MAAP Artistic Director
How does MAAP in 2006 relate to previous events?
This MAAP is shaped differently and draws on a small, tight group of artists and is focused more on the internet. The artists in Out of the internet have leveraged the internet in their work in some serious ways. They all have a long history with MAAP and I wanted to have an opportunity to develop a refined curatorial approach.
The first premise is how we might bring the work from the ethereal nature of the internet into a physical space. I wanted artists to consider the physicality of their online work. This idea comes from considering how internet art is treated in museums and galleries. I’d like to have the artists’ work acknowledged for its artistic authority by processing it into or through significant venues to enhance its ‘cultural capital.’ The curatorial architecture twists and grounds internet art simultaneously and self-consciously into place and context. There are partner venues including international museums and galleries and libraries, additional online projects, a symposium and lots happening here in Brisbane.
How do the terms ‘multimedia’ and ‘new media’ operate in MAAP?
MAAP started way back in the golden days of the dot.coms. In 1997 there was an almost hysterical desire to have artists explore the new hard toys and software entering the general market. Those were the days when there was a different catchphrase for each year. In 1996 the buzz word was multimedia, 1997 interactivity, 1998 content is king, 1999 user is content. Well, it was something like that!
Those were heady days and somewhere back in 1997 there was a proactively guided collision (or collusion) of corporate, government, education and arts sectors to start up a media arts festival. Call it a coincidence, or an alignment of planets, there was a lot going on. From that initial support MAAP was able to organize and assert its own identity before the dot.com bubble burst in 2001.
As for new media and multimedia, everyone seems to get very concerned with definitions and changing meanings. I admit that I have had to tediously define and redefine these terms but, really, just let me say that the multimedia in MAAP was settled upon as the language likely to get us more cash sponsorship at the time. More importantly, it is a steadfast word that has a history in the visual arts. Our committee felt confident that if the IT handle wore out, the visual art meaning would pervade.
What were some of the strands of inspiration this year?
It started with the question of the next city in which to base MAAP. After MAAP in Singapore (2004) there was no obvious location. I had a core group of artists I wanted to work with and consulted them—each had a different preferred city. I changed my position: why did MAAP have to be in one city? Why not use the opportunity to try to get artists into their preferred situation? It became an enormous challenge, one that also worked into ideas I was formulating about the digital networks within Asia.
What’s the curatorial logic behind the fragmentation of the sites of MAAP?
The premise was inspired by Seth Siegelaub’s seminal exhibition July, August, September 1969 where he arranged 11 artists to show in 11 different locations around the world. [Siegelaub is an American curator and theorist who was closely engaged with conceptual art in the 1960s and 70s.] In transcripts from an interview [Alberro and Norvell, Recording Conceptual Art, 2001] he describes the useless nature of the museum space and challenges the New York-centric nature of the art world. He’s very excited about the speed of communication and expresses an interest in Jack Burnham’s theories of switching from an object-oriented to a systems-oriented society [US sculptor and theorist Burnham was writing about art and technology in the 60s and 70s, eg in Beyond Modern Sculpture, 1968]. In some respects I am putting to test the notion of working in reverse.
The artists in MAAP 2006 are working in the world through the internet already. I am shepherding the work back into taking a material form in the museum context, to achieve authority, blending the different fields in which they operate, and joining another official art history context. Making a representation of all the works in the State Library of Queensland adds another dimension—or escape route—out of the closed museum context.
Out of the internet then grafts onto the established library network through links on library home pages all over the world. It is a gigantic challenge and the project has many aspects that will have different levels of success. It is an elaborate sculptural curatorial form which is elaborated further with the Manhua Wonderlands project that heads into another direction with a series of street contexts.
The works in the exhibition Out of the internet (and into the night) have varying approaches to the internet: some are dependent on the physical form to create internet visualization (Charles Lim). Other works reconfigure the internet cinematically (Candy Factory, YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES). GPS technology is employed in another work (Feng Mengbo) to create the writing of Chinese characters through city streets. Stories and voices are uploaded and downloaded (Iain Mott)—the form is both an online and physically presented space.
Are the locations finalised yet?
In conjunction with Out of the Internet, New York's Museum of Modern Art will host a Candy Factory presentation in their MediaScope series; Iain Mott will exhibit in the Zendai Museum of Modern Art, Shanghai and Charles Lim in The Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane; Feng Mengbo will create work in Singapore; and Out of the Internet coincides with a YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES' commission with Tate London. The process has been very involved. The idea was to secure a placement of each artist in a museum, thereby sharing a large exhibition load. However, museums have strict conventions that are difficult to subvert and I often felt like a curatorial contortionist, though it’s been a fascinating process to work through.
What have been some of the highlights of your long involvement in MAAP?
Highlights are usually artist-based moments—achieving something that helps an artist to realise something special. To see YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES become such an important artistic contributor to contemporary art after her initial artist residency with MAAP in 1999. To see Candy Factory achieve a project with MoMA. Working on MAAP in Beijing in 2002, was an amazing highlight and perhaps one of the most challenging, but perhaps Out of the internet might be my toughest to achieve, in the form I imagine it to work.
Thea Bauman: Curator, Manhua Wonderlands
Manhua Wonderlands curator Thea Baumann explains that the project “was developed to provide cross-cultural media arts education initiatives and exhibition opportunities for young people in urban, suburban, regional, and remote areas of Queensland. It also aims to create new audiences for media arts practice by exploring alternative spaces and models for exhibiting new media art forms”. These include:
Chromophonozone (see Dan MacKinlay on SOOB) is “a series of one night gatherings at the Don’t Tell Mama karaoke club in Brisbane’s Chinatown district. Artist Jemima Wyman transforms a room in the karaoke lounge into a stage for karaoke revellers who stumble into the space, don sequinned balaclavas and let loose in a series of uninhibited, semi-anonymous, anarchic, krumping-and-karaoke battles. The ‘happenings’ are documented and then fed back in situ into the club onto a 16-monitor wall creating instant karaoke film clips.”
Kaiju Noodles: “A cross-cultural collaborative hip hop video between video artist Sean Healy, Japanese MC Potato Master, musician Alan Nguyen and costume designer Madeleine King. The hip hop film clip is a kaiju monster battle and is filmed in urban spaces and in online simulations of urban spaces—at costume play and anime conventions; on and under bridges; construction sites; on trains; and in video game arcades, but also online, at Google Earth—all subtitled in Japanese and English.”
Karaoke Bedlam: “A fleeting, one-night-only event at the Don’t Tell Mama club in which invited artists take over a room in the club to explore karaoke pop culture as channelled through the lens of hallucination/augmented reality, mania and madness. Karaoke Bedlam incorporates site specific installations, projections, performances and uses the infrastructure already existing in the space [screenings on the monitors, sound works on the karaoke system] in the presentation of media art works”.
Van Sowerwine: Artist, Purikura Infestation
Purikura Infestation: Baumann describes this installation as an “Aliens-meets-Hello Kitty site-specific, collaborative installation of monstrous, tumorous creatures invading a sticker booth, and a stop-motion animation installed in a vinyl pod, exhibited in a sticker booth stall in Brisbane’s commercial shopping hub, Elizabeth Arcade.”
Purikura artist Van Sowerwine says she “got involved about a year ago...the project started off as part community development, and I liked the idea of running new media workshops for young people. Early this year I ran workshops with young women from Asian backgrounds on stop motion and drawn animation, focusing on ideas of virtual pets and Purikura (sticker booths). Through a partnership with the State Library of Queensland I also ran similar workshops for teachers in Brisbane and young artists and students in Cairns and Townsville. I found the workshops really rewarding, particularly the first set in Brisbane where I was able to open up a new set of skills to young artists already working in other media.
“Thea was also keen for me to develop new work, inspired by the workshops, to exhibit as part of Manhua Wonderlands at MAAP, and suggested I collaborate with another Brisbane artist, Alice Lang, to create a work exploring Purikura. It’s been great to have the opportunity to work with Alice. I moved here from Melbourne 18 months ago and this is the first collaboration I’ve done with a another Brisbane-based artist. It’s made me remember how much I enjoy collaboration—it can be so much more productive and rewarding than slogging along on your own!
“We’re creating a work that will be installed in the sticker booth shop in the Elizabeth St Arcade. It will be a mini-sticker booth, but quite strange and covered with bulbous forms. Inside is a strange character I made, watching an animation of itself on screen. The work is quite different aesthetically from Alice’s and my work, which is quite refreshing. It’s quite garish, with lots of bright colours that neither of us use in our work. We’ve worked on most of it together so I feel like it’s been quite a successful collaboration in that we’ve produced a single work together rather than simply putting 2 disparate practices side by side.”
Kim Machan is a founding member and artistic director of MAAP; Thea Baumann is a curator, new media artist and producer; Van Sowerwine is a filmmaker and installation artist.
MAAP: Out of the internet, artistic director Kim Machan, artists YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES (Seoul), Feng Mengbo (Beijing), Iain Mott (Australia), Candy Factory (Fukuoka, Japan), Charles Lim (Singapore); Manhua Wonderlands, curator Thea Baumann, artists Jemima Wyman, Van Sowerwine, Alice Lang, Luke Ilett, Sean Healy; State Library of Queensland and international partner venues, Nov 30 2006 - Jan 25 2007, www.maap.org.au
RealTime issue #75 Oct-Nov 2006 pg. 2
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