bironic: Neil Perry gazing out a window at night (Default)
[personal profile] bironic
I previewed some pix on Twitter, but posting about Friday's visit to the opening of the Vancouver Art Gallery's giant multimedia exhibition on 20th-21st century mashups felt daunting until I realized I don't actually have to write an essay on that history and the place of vidding within it, nor an analysis of the objects the curators chose for inclusion and the way they organized the collection. Because I am interested in and have thoughts about those things, but don't currently have the wherewithal to explicate.

Suffice to say that it was satisfying to see the curators acknowledge fan vidding as a notable form of remixing with artistic merit worthy of being placed alongside household names like Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol and Brian Eno. Fanfiction and especially the annual Remix Redux would have had a home as well. Starting on the fourth floor and working down provided a more or less chronological tour through the many ways people have appropriated existing media materials and subverted, built on or otherwise transformed them into something new and wonderful. I nodded at familiar examples of fan practice's cousins (e.g. Jamaican dub, William S. Burroughs' cut-ups, T.S. Eliot's dense intertextuality, Quentin Tarantino's metacommentary on film history) and ancestors (e.g. Victorian photo collage, by women, fittingly*) and learned a lot about other fascinating members of the family tree both close and distant. I was particularly entranced by a sound poem written and recited by Kurt Schwitters presented alongside a song version composed by Brian Eno, Kurt's Rejoinder. Little change through time of the kinds of critique, censorship, copyright battles and celebration their -- our -- works have engendered.

*I'd been worried about how male-centric the exhibit would be, based on the promo materials and early exhibit descriptions, so I was glad to see that it pays homage to the critical contributions of women from the very beginning. The introductory curator's card on the top floor begins with Georges Braque and Picasso, but then in the second paragraph, there are the women collage-makers. Cuttin' up ur magazines, shakin' up ur art. "These collages were often enclosed in personal albums, made more for the amusement of small social circles than for wider public exhibition and appreciation" -- sound familiar? While gender wasn't balanced overall, many women were nevertheless featured on each floor. [ETA: More on that from] Heavy on Western work, though.

And now I will switch over to glee at seeing Starships! and six other vids by five other vidders on the walls of the museum! My original announcement here if you have no idea what I'm talking about. Also a more recent one from [personal profile] heresluck.

My experience

I went to the "VIP" reception the day before the exhibit opened to the public. Swanky! Let us not discuss how long it took to figure out what to wear.

I confess I was sad and a bit nervous to be the only vidder there amongst strangers with their arty outfits and/or deep pockets. But it turned out just fine.

While everyone was still corralled in the entry room, I found a random staffer and asked if any of the curators were there. She introduced me to one of the three, Daina, who brought over the assistant curator, Stephanie, who I think was more closely involved in our section and who was a joy to talk to, and then later they grabbed my elbow as I was passing by and introduced me to the last curator, Bruce. They all seemed happy to have me there and wanted to talk about Francesca Coppa (our section curator) and whether any of the other vidders would be coming at some point.

Daina made me talk to a New York art dealer in a scarf, which really completed the experience, heh, even if he preferred the tactile nature of mid-century collage and did not have much interest in digital work.

An unexpected thing then happened during the opening speeches: among other things, Bruce named the half dozen artists or so who had come to the opening and included me at the end! People seemed familiar with the names that had come before (UJINO, Liz Magor, I forget who else), based on applause, so maybe that's why he prefaced mine with "And somebody you probably don't know, but should" -- !! -- only he then said, at least to my anxious ears, "bee*mumble*," so I guess I lost my chance at fame. Heh. Anyway, I raised my hand and people clapped politely, and it all felt very surreal.

After the speeches, they let us loose on the exhibit. Naturally, I ran up to snap some pictures of our section first.

The vidding exhibit

The vidding subcollection is situated in a darkened corner on the third floor of the exhibit, past Warhol's Marilyns and a Frank Gehry building frame, and adjacent to a Jamaican dub sound studio, which I thought was perfect, thematically. (Related sections on hip hop and on the Black and Latino LGBT community drag balls in NYC depicted in magazines and the movie Paris Is Burning are on the next floor down.)

The layout of the vidding section is unfortunate in that four of the seven vid monitors are in a narrow hallway, so people have to stand close to the screen if they want to put on the single pair of headphones mounted beneath each so others can pass through behind them, or else stand against the opposite wall and watch without sound. I saw visitors doing both. The other three vids, though, which are the earliest, Kandy Fong's and Shadow Songs', are in the larger vestibule-type corner where it is easier to congregate/linger. That's also where the curatorial text on vidding as a whole is located.

04 our hallway, with the test.jpg
Our hallway

05 lim, for example.jpg 06 lim, for example.jpg
Lim's "Flow"

Starships, toward the alcove

Or, in video format:

OMG it's meee, how is this real

I'm not sure if this part of the exhibit is always going to be so dim, allowing, I imagine, the vids themselves to look vibrant, or if it was lit that way for the opening reception. A few people did lean forward to squint at the curators' cards. Anyway, that's why my pix are kind of crappy.

I haunted the vidding area for probably 45-60 minutes on and off over the course of the evening to see how people behaved when they came over. Reactions seemed to run the gamut: some kept walking, some glanced at a screen or two and continued on, some read the vidding description with interest, some watched whole or parts of vids without audio, some put on the headphones and did the same, some shared or tried to share the headphones with whomever they were with (some partners accepted and others refused), a few went from screen to screen and watched at least part of each in turn. I wish we as a community could have stationed someone besides the docent in the room with a button that said "Ask me about vidding!" or something. For example, to explain how to do it "right." But then, in the midst of an exhibit about remix, appropriation and subverting authorial intentions, who's to say what "right" is?

10 watching kandy's and ss's.jpg
Visitors watching Kandy's vids and "Data's Dream"

11 watching lightning strike.jpg
Visitor watching obsessive24's "The Lightning Strike"

For some reason my pictures imply the viewership was largely female, but that wasn't true. Here are some dudes.

Visitor bobbing her head to Starships, eee

After about three hours, when I couldn't stand up any longer and had to go, more than 500 people had attended -- and the line to get in went down the block. There were so many attendees still pouring in, in fact, that I couldn't even see all the installations on the ground floor because it was too crowded for me. Well, I had museum brain by that point as well. So many interesting things to see and watch and listen to and interact with. I haven't included photos of the other 99% of the exhibits here but they are easy to Google and are getting all the press anyway.

It's hard to see, but there are a lot of people on that sidewalk

It wasn't until the next day that I realized I'd only been seeing the back and side of the museum and not the front. The front is hung with three giant banners advertising the exhibition and a few dozen of the 150+ artists included. I took some pictures -- and then did a double-take because somehow my name got on there. I assume because it's short and fit well at the end of a line. Nevertheless: !!


(Fourth line, right side)

It would have been nice to have a friend along, but I'm still glad I was able to see it in person and can share some of what the experience was like. Hopefully those of you for whom visiting is an option will be able to go at some point.

Next on the list is to page through this textbook-sized exhibit catalog, which includes an essay by Ces on vidding.




More about the rest of the trip at some point. So much good fish, two excellent plays, contagious vowels, and a lot of beautiful First Nations art.

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 02:53 am (UTC)
kouredios: (TV)
From: [personal profile] kouredios
This is so amazing, and makes me so happy. Congrats!!!

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 03:02 am (UTC)
zulu: Karen Gillam from Dr. Who, wearing a saucy top hat (Default)
From: [personal profile] zulu
Wow, that's super-cool! I'm so glad you got to go and see it in person.

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 03:19 am (UTC)
longwhitecoats: Data looking quizzical (Data)
From: [personal profile] longwhitecoats
This is super cool!! And since one rarely has this chance to ask the artist: do you agree with the placard for your work? (Were you, for example, consciously referencing Data's Dream)?

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 03:53 am (UTC)
laurashapiro: a woman sits at a kitchen table reading a book, cup of tea in hand. Table has a sliced apple and teapot. A cat looks on. (Default)
From: [personal profile] laurashapiro
Eeeeee, thanks so much for writing this up! I'm so happy for you -- for all of us. (:

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 03:59 am (UTC)
jjhunter: multiple watercolor butterflies flying (butterfly flock)
From: [personal profile] jjhunter
Eeeeeeeeee—! So pleased for you, and glad you could go be Artist & Vidder extraordinaire in person at the opening.

Wow. <3

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 04:14 am (UTC)
cathexys: dark sphinx (default icon) (Default)
From: [personal profile] cathexys
That is so totally and utterly awesome!!! Thank you so much for the images and video and detailed descriptions!

How cool are you??? :):):)

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 06:15 am (UTC)
jetpack_monkey: (Default)
From: [personal profile] jetpack_monkey
Dude. Just. WOW!

So freakin' COOL.

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 06:43 am (UTC)
roga: coffee mug with chocolate cubes (Default)
From: [personal profile] roga
This entire post is so thrilling, I just want to pump my fist and go. FUCK YEAH. This is so, so cool and you are awesome, and the exhibition sounds amazing. I'm so happy it exists.

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 06:53 am (UTC)
serrico: (dwwaves)
From: [personal profile] serrico
SO AWESOME. The exhibit, the talent on display, and the fact that you were able to go and see it all in person. :)

Thank you for the writeup and pics!

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 10:15 am (UTC)
sasha_feather: Retro-style poster of skier on pluto.   (Default)
From: [personal profile] sasha_feather

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 12:09 pm (UTC)
deelaundry: (Default)
From: [personal profile] deelaundry
So proud of you!!!

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 12:30 pm (UTC)
kass: white cat; "kass" (Default)
From: [personal profile] kass
OMFG this is SO COOL, I cannot even.

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 05:32 pm (UTC)
cinco: Hearthands against a blue sky (misc: hearthands)
From: [personal profile] cinco
This was an absolute joy to read. I'm so delighted by the exhibit and so pleased you had a good time! <333

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 06:21 pm (UTC)
bradcpu: (Default)
From: [personal profile] bradcpu
I'm so happy for you! :) I would love to see an exhibit like that. We need more of these. Though, reading your post really made me feel like I was there.

I laughed so hard at bee*mumble*.

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 07:12 pm (UTC)
nightdog_barks: (Nancy D.)
From: [personal profile] nightdog_barks
I am so proud of you, bb. SO PROUD.

:D ♥ ♥ ♥

Date: Feb. 25th, 2016 07:44 pm (UTC)
talitha78: (Default)
From: [personal profile] talitha78
Thank you for sharing this experience!

Date: Feb. 26th, 2016 09:24 pm (UTC)
futuransky: socialist-realist style mural of Glasgow labor movement (Default)
From: [personal profile] futuransky
This is so completely amazing! And makes me think that making something like this happen on the east coast would be a good project to somehow work towards...

Date: Feb. 27th, 2016 08:18 pm (UTC)
such_heights: amy and rory looking at a pile of post (Default)
From: [personal profile] such_heights
THIS IS SO GREAT. I'm so pleased! :D

Date: Mar. 3rd, 2016 08:27 pm (UTC)
bingeling: photo of Aesop Rock, aka the most genius person to walk this earth (Default)
From: [personal profile] bingeling
BRILLIANT! I'm so happy you got to go and experience it in person and watch people watch your vid! Thank you for the writeup, what a cool and awesome thing to happen!


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