Monday, April 14, 2008

April 18th Colloquium Event

Please join us for Friday's Colloquium in Conceptual Studies event to be held in conjunction with Milwaukee's gallery night and the Peck School of the Arts Kenilworth Square East open house. The event will consist of an installation by odor artist Sissel Tolaas, entitled Fear 9 in KSE 463 (also on display on Saturday, April 19th), and a conversation between Tolaas and MIT-based art scholar Caroline Jones at 6 PM in KSE 412.

Sissel Tolaas (b. Norway, 1961) is a Berlin-based artist who has been working, researching and experimenting intensively with the topic of smell since 1990. She has developed revolutionary projects with smells and fragrances based upon her own knowledge of chemical science, mathematics, linguistics and languages, and visual art. Her installations have exhibited all over the world, and she has consulted with companies and institutions such as Cartier, Louis Vuitton, COMME des GARCONS, Estee Lauder, Chrysler Future, The Boston Consulting Group, ZH/Berlin, Bayers-Schering Inc., and the San Francisco Neurosciences Institute. In January of 2004, she established the research lab, IFF re_searchLab Berlin, on smell & communication, which is supported by IFF (International Flavors & Fragrances) Inc., New York. The Lab conducts research on the topic of smell/olfactory and smell-communication for the purpose of trying to change the existing approach to "our noses and smells and the process of smelling."

Caroline A. Jones studies modern and contemporary art, with a particular focus on its technological modes of production, distribution, and reception. Professor of art history and director of the History, Theory, Criticism Program in the Department of Architecture at MIT, she has also worked as an essayist and curator, most recently with MIT’s List Visual Art Center on Video Trajectories. She held positions at The Museum of Modern Art in New York (1977-83) and the Harvard University Art Museums (1983-85) prior to completing her PhD at Stanford University in 1992. Her exhibitions and/or films have been shown at MoMA and Harvard as well as the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, and the Hara Museum Tokyo, among other venues; her publications include Sensorium (as editor, 2006), Eyesight Alone (2005), Machine in the Studio (1996/98), and the co-edited volume Picturing Science, Producing Art (1998). A frequent contributor to Artforum, Jones’s current research into globalism informs her next book on contemporary art, the world picture, and what she calls “biennial culture.”

Monday, November 26, 2007

if only i lived in london

If I lived in London, not only would I be Kate Moss's BFF, but also I would attend Katie Paterson's show at ROOM gallery. Beginning on January 24 of 2008, ROOM will be exhibiting Paterson's lovely and inspiring langjökull, snæfellsjökull, solheimajökull. Picture this: three records, made of ice, playing on three turntables. Each record documents the sound of a melting glacier in Iceland. As the records play, they melt, altering the sound of the original recording. This performance was captured to create three films, which will be shown at ROOM early next year.

As the gallery website describes it (and most beautifully, I might add),
"These ‘ice records’ were then played on three turntables, playing the sounds of the melting glaciers from whence the water/ice had come, until they had completely melted over nearly two hours. Miniature landscapes were formed as the needle traced over the ice as it was worn down. The sound is embedded, locked, inscribed into the material itself. Playing out the dissolving landscape. Nothing remained."

Of course, something DID remain--the still and moving images that document the ephemeral event (including the above still, from ROOM's website). How does the presence of a document alter the way we think about live performance and material dissolution? Maybe it's the snowfall we had last week (the first snow I've seen in 19 years), but this piece has really affected me. Lest I get too sappy, I've included a picture of Kate Moss.

Check out ROOM's website ( and Paterson's website ( for more information.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Fall 2007 Colloquium Events!

Kenilworth Square East
1925 E. Kenilworth Pl.,
4th Floor

The Colloquia in Conceptual Studies are intended as a forum in which to interrogate and initiate new models of media theory, history, and practice. This year, in focusing on intersensory perception, we will present some of the leading media artists, scholars, and critics shaping the forms and discourse of contemporary culture today. Presenters will explore avenues not only between the senses, but also between cinema and the other arts, between academic disciplines, and, most importantly, between theory, practice, and embodied experience. Appropriate to the topic, the colloquia will feature a number of presentations that explicitly engage an active dialogue between an artist and media theorist/historian.

Dr. Vivian Sobchack
Professor of Critical Studies and Associate Dean, Retired,
Department of Film, Television, and Digital Media
University of California, Los Angeles

The Dream (Ol)Factory: On Making Scents of Cinema

Tom Recchion
Experimental artist/composer/art director
Jonathon Rosen
Department of Illustration, School of Visual Arts

Radio Nurse: live audio-visual contamination and disintegration

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Zombie Attack

Hey, take a look at this.
Second Front is an avatar performance art group on the virtual world Second Life. Its members come from all over the "real" (or, should I say, tangible?) world--the US, Italy, Canada, etc. The video you see here is a Machinima document of one of their recent live performance pieces, ZOMBIE ATTACK: 28 AVATARS LATER (horror film fans, you'll see hints of George Romero). If you're interested, you can read this interview of Second Front on

In the interview, Second Front member Great Escape says that "Second Life offers a unique space for performance. Without the normal constraints of the body ― the usual center of performance -and without a traditional audience, we can try and do things that have been previously thought to be impossible."

This is fascinating to me. Second Life allows the members of Second Front to be in two places at once, to be in Milan or Vancouver and simultaneously perform in a virtual meeting place. However, I would like to think more about the ways in which Second Life DOES constrain the body. Are we ever really free of our bodies? Can we ever really leave our "usual center[s]"?

I've recently started playing Second Life and was both physically and emotionally affected by an abusive run-in with another player. A male avatar shoved and--for lack of a better phrase--sexually assaulted my avatar. I was too new to the game to know how to report this behavior.

Of course, this was not "real" and can't be compared to an assault that occurs in our tangible world. And yet, I was quite frightened by the whole thing, making my avatar run away as fast as she (or I) could. How can we account for the physicality of immaterial bodies?

Monday, September 17, 2007

Stone Age/Cinema

Hello, all! I'm new to the blog, so I thought I'd introduce myself: I'm Dr. Warren-Crow, a new assistant professor in the Conceptual Studies program.

Check this out: The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis is currently exhibiting Catherine Sullivan's Triangle of Need, a multichannel video installation that gloriously brings together a rich industrialist, a Chicago tenement, and the last 2 Neanderthals in the world. I haven't seen it yet, but I can't wait. On the right you'll see the artist and her collaborators installing the piece. For more information, see:
and this interesting interview of choreographer Dylan Skybrook:

I like what he says about Sullivan's mind "being kind of like a 3-D grid, where various vectors freely and unexpectedly converge and intersect."

Friday, July 13, 2007

Time Travels, Part Two

The recent Live Earth concert certainly presented us with the opportunity to mull over the by now well-quoted Gil Scott-Heron song, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. On one level all the day’s global warming insights were framed by relentless iPhone and e-harmony advertisements, plus ongoing encouragement for us to text message in our support (using our new Apple merchandise presumably) and turn down our thermostats in winter (and strangely few if any admonitions on comparable summer adjustments). That said, what was irrefutable was that sonic resistance was everywhere and much less easier to frame. While everyone has their own particular musical tastes, anything that gets us to move in mind, body, and spirit – whether it is sung, slung, blasted, pounded, or whispered – and to do this collectively is an important event.

I have been thinking quite a bit about music and soundscapes of late due to my latest time travels. I was fortunate enough to make the trek to San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see the North American premiere of Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings an image/sound installation piece that undergoes subtle visual and audio transformations for the duration of the event (in this case, 6 hours!!!). For more on Eno’s work, see:
The installation was presented in conjunction with the Long Now foundation – an organization dedicated to rethinking our culture’s assumption that faster/cheaper is necessarily better and asks us to consider a deep time and larger worldview perspective. You can find out more about this group’s interesting projects/work at the following link:

My trip to Bay Area though had a couple of other major highlights. A daylong excursion up to Bodega Bay was mainly a cinephile’s indulgence (Bodega Bay being the setting of course for still one of the best films ever – Hitchcock’s The Birds). You can see at the top of the blog post the Bay that Tippi had to navigate in that very, very tiny boat and then not far from there are some really spectacular views of the Pacific coastline – my photo from the blustery, kite-flying friendly day is below.

Lastly, I have to admit that my favorite place visited on this trip was in the Fillmore area of San Francisco and the St. John Coltrane Church. I attended the Sunday service, which was three hours of the most amazing live music I have experienced in quite some time. Uplifting and joyous in every sense of the words – the service at St. John Coltrane Church is something truly enlightening and transformative. I wish you all have the opportunity to hear these extraordinary messengers and musicians – everyone is truly and warmly welcomed in their house of devotion. Archbishop Franzo King and Reverend Mother Marina King founded their church in 1971! Here’s a link for more information:

All best for your own travels across time/space this summer and, as always, big sky mind wishes to you all!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Time Travels

Greetings to all! I hope everyone is having a peaceful and productive summer. I am in the first month of a year long sabbatical so thought I would keep in contact with the CS blog by reporting in now and then from my assorted excursions. I am traveling a bit and last week was fortunate to connect with my friend in Los Angles, Marilyn Slater, who is author of the amazing website on the silent film star, Mabel Normand, For our evening adventure, we visited the still vibrant LA institution, Silent Movie Theatre (, which has new owners committed to showing silent film once a week with live accompaniment. It was a great evening with three beautiful prints (including the King Vidor feature, The Crowd), some wonderful music, and even the family of King Vidor in attendance, who shared some info on the film and director. A big shout out to those doing their part to keeping this important part of our media culture alive. It reminded me how much cinema has always been a transmedia or intermedia enterprise and how the idea of live performance was once very much a part of the cinema experience (and is using this element again today in various experimental venues -- as seen in Toni Dove's colloquia talk on interactive cinema in May). These intersections of the live and recorded enhance the cinema's inherent properties of presence and absence -- a doubling of its uncanny spell!

I will be checking back with further reports in time travels -- in the meantime, please check out our links to assorted folks/places of interest. Erik Loyer, one of last year's colloquia speakers, has a brand new website with lots of cool stuff...check it out!
Until next time, my wishes for big sky mind adventures for all of you! I am off to update my music selections! Lots of Coltrane (John and Alice) these days!