Franklin Furnace Archive
In The Flow:
By special arrangement, our Twentieth Anniversary Final Exhibition in the Franklin Street Gallery, In the Flow: Alternate Authoring Strategies, will remain open to the public through Feb. 1, 1997 instead of the originally announced closing date of Dec. 21, 1996.
- Additional Information -
On the occasion of our twentieth anniversary season, we examine, in this show, the changing nature of artistic authorship in the age of information. The issues of the exhibition coincide with a new direction for Franklin Furnace as a virtual space and as an alternative media space=producing network quality performance art media programming.
In the Flow: Alternate Authoring Strategies, brings together a selection of work which already treats content as flowing information rather than as property. The exhibition includes work of Group Material, The Thing, The X Art Foundation, The Guerrilla Girls, Frank Gillette and teleconferees, Beattie & Davidson, Sylvia Benitez and students of PS 217, Mail Art from a controversial 1984 Franklin Furnace exhibition, Ben Kinmont and participants, Sol LeWitt with John Hosford and Kathleen McShane, Louise Lawler, Gabriel Martinez and Interactors, Laura Parnes with GoGo bar patrons and dancers, Robbin Silverberg and Secret Providers, and the Unknown Artist.
Daniel O. Georges is curator of the show.
Throughout the last fifty years, the power of originality in art to give authority within our culture has been eroded by a flood of advertising, fashion and entertainment images. More recently, personal style and individual observation have been transformed by the new technologies into packets of information that are immediately knocked-off, sampled, reprocessed, pasted= and=7F cross-referenced. The separation of genres such as writing, visual arts and music is becoming blurred as all the media are transcribed into the same digital language. Text, visuals, and sound are no longer assumed to have a single authoritative source, for they can be altered or collaged quickly and appear in a variety of formats automatically in order to be viewed on different sized TV monitors, printed by out-put devices, accessed by links or heard from sound generators. Creating content of any kind has become a single activity dubbed "authoring" by software developers.
In order to cope, artists have explored roles as collaborators and facilitators displacing the proprietary assumptions we normally associate with authorship. As artists develop strategies which abandon the equation of an essentially personal vision with their artistic identity, the unity of the eye of the beholder is challenged as well. The artist and the viewer/interactor become nodes in a flow of information rather than an origin or final destination. With or without intending to, artists, by their steady accumulation and proliferation of alternate authoring strategies head toward a crisis of the centralized self as a model of identity for themselves, and by extension for the beholder as well.
In the 1960s and 70s, Sol LeWitt positioned engagement with the ideas of an art work as the source of value. The "art" was the information. In LeWitt's wall drawings, interest in the execution of the work is restored, but this is achieved by clearly assigning the task of making the image to others. The passage of the concept from artist to drafters and on into viewers' perception is incorporated with the art idea even as the traditional importance of the artist's personal hand is subverted. For In the Flow, LeWitt and drafters have produced a new wall drawing in the=gallery.
In the 1980's, Group Material treated the installation of art for viewing as a medium for communicating social and political information. The unity of the conception of the work and its dissemination to an audience removed the distinction between artists and curators. As the interface of subject matter and society, the presentation space became the focus of their attention. Bringing together found artifacts, researched texts, and recognized art objects, Group Material has made the cultural connectedness of art explicit. A public bus poster and AIDs Timeline magazine project are displayed.
Less visible to the general public, Sylvia Benitez, since the mid 1980's has worked primarily with students in their communities to design and create permanent art works. Through her experience she provides a structure that allows her collaborators to claim a genuine sense of authorship from their participation in the creative process. A Sites mural program in public school 217 is on view. "titok" was made specifically for In the Flow by handmade book and paper maker, Robbin Silverberg with the intention of including material from the participants of the exhibition among others. It is a collaboration with 20 artists, writers & one musician, where each was asked via letter to send, inform, or instruct her about a secret. As the secretist, she worked with= their responses to create this multi-dimensional bookwork.
In their working process, Drew Beattie and Daniel Davidson seek to develop new metaphors of the self in their painted, drawn and collaged imagery. Exhibited here are works on paper relayed back and forth to one another through the mail. For Beattie & Davidson the mail acts as a method to reduce their self-consciousness and preconceptions about a developing piece of art. Collaborating releases them and their audience from expectations of a single unified vision.
The mail is also used, but with a different emphasis by practitioners of the Mail Art movement who sent works from around the world to an exhibition at Franklin Furnace in 1984. "The medium is the message" applies here; beyond the visual or emotional impact of the mailed drawings, stamps, Xeroxes, or objects--the artist-to-artist network through which the art passed asserts its opposition to conventional market, publishing and museum distribution=systems.
Examining art objects as they are stored, exhibited, or sold, Louise Lawler, in her photographs, shifts attention from the creation of a new original image to the initiation in the viewer of a greater sense of how meaning is affected by the specific contexts in which information is received and interpreted. As an early practitioner of "appropriation" her work examines the structures of authoring and originality as it pursues the mutability of meaning in art as an alternate authoring strategy itself.=7F
The Unknown Artist appropriates the history of art by altering well-known photographs of famous artists to include himself. The irony of this intervention is his continued missing identity, "the viewer is prodded to find and search for the unknown artist rather than doing the more familiar chore of recognizing the famous ones." For In the Flow he has encouraged visitors to enter into the real fiction of artists' milieu by making a cybercafe installation to host the photographs.
Responding to specific events or conditions in the art world and beyond, the Guerrilla Girls collaboratively produce leaflets, poster campaigns, or public demonstrations in their trademark Gorilla Masks. Not satisfied with the powers that be as a reliable source of information, they take the means of distribution into their own hands and bring their message directly to the streets using their hidden identities to both attract attention and highlight the information.
In his performances and photographic projects, Gabriel Martinez seeks to question the relations of property and identity imposed by the culture of images. By finding interactive ways to give away flattering and unflattering images of himself, Martinez exposes internalized forms of desirability, sexuality and idealized beauty. At the opening of In the Flow he was photographed by his entourage with each visitor, a laminated button with the resulting picture was swiftly made and the buttons were given to the individuals to take home. His work in the exhibition offers interactors personal/impersonal images from which to register a selection.
In a situation in 1992 somewhere between performance and intervention, Laura Parnes visited a topless GoGo bar to interact with the patrons and dancers. On doilies, table cloths and ink blots she provided, we can now see difficult social and psychological relations given automatic expression in the scrawled thoughts and drawings which she encouraged them to create.
Several projects included in the exhibition employ networked computers to create architectures for artistic action and interaction. Moving art toward the model of "social sculpture" proposed by Joseph Beuys, these works promote constantly changing artistic information and meaning rather than a= fixed notion of content.
Authoring possibilities of on-line communications was given early attention by Frank Gillette, Brendan O'Regan and others in a group of teleconferences (1979-1981) on the precursor to the Internet known as arpanet. Exploring "dialogue woven into participants" lives not as with the hated telephone intruding into consciousness" (David Ross) they generated a collaborative text reflecting on artistic possibilities of the network medium. The text (edited by Roy Skodnick) has been entered as a resource in the In the Flow web site (http://www.franklkinfurnace.org/flow) with original participants and others conferring again to expand the text through an on-line web-board.
Ben Kinmont's, "we both belong," (1996) was begun in virtual space on web pages he posted at Ada-web (http://www.adaweb.com/home.shtml) with an invitation to collaborate with the artist in making unique artworks. The project continued in the participants' private homes by each providing images of themselves washing dishes in their kitchens. Kinmont then joined these images in a single frame with an image of his own hand scrubbing plates and put them on view in a public exhibition space. After the exhibition, the works were given to the participants. From all of these activities, Kinmont complied a documentary archive which is on view in the gallery and on-line.
The X Art Foundation explores hypertextual-space as a medium for artistic collaboration. Currently they are engaged in a year-long project, Blast 5: Drama. For In the Flow they have created a region of their "theatre of operations" called the "Phantasmagorium" which appears on-line in the X-Art web site (http://www.users.interport.net/~xaf/theatre.html) and in the basement of the Franklin Furnace as an interactive sound and light installation utilizing sounds from past performances in the Franklin Furnace basement. Franklin Furnace's Martha Wilson is Curator of a series of live Wednesday evening performances occurring in the Blast 5 installation at Sandra Gering gallery (476 Broome Street, 2nd Floor, NY, NY 10012) the 4th, 11th and 18th of December at 6:00 PM. Performers will include Tanya Barfield; Anita Chao; Deborah Edmeades; Penelope Tuesdae and Murray Hill; Alexander Komlosi (aka Walter T. Komslowli); and Prima Murthy/Diane Ludin. These performances may be viewed archivally at http://www.cat.nyu.edu/parkbench. This series is produced by Nina Sobell and Emily Hartzel, artists-in-residence at NYU's Center for Advanced Technology.
Begun as an art-oriented network and bulletin board, the Thing (http://www.thing.net/thingnyc/) has developed into an Internet art web site with reviews, archives, web-boards, and web service provider. Five interactive on-line artist projects have been specially presented on the Thing for In the Flow: "uniCity" by Susan Goldman, "happier.days" by Christopher Roth and Franz Stauffenberg, "Three Voices and One Melody" by Zhang Ga, Order a Theft, by Christine Meierhofer, "Net bikini" by Eva Grubinger. In addition, Ursula Endlicher plans a series of on-line impersonations called "You'll see me, but it will be you." The Thing has also facilitated the on-line resources for In the Flow.
Instead of a catalogue of the exhibition, an ambitious web site (http://www.franklkinfurnace.org/flow) has been created with essays,= interviews, documentation, flow-charts, web-board and links to the art sites of In the Flow participants. The web site may be accessed through computers in the gallery or from any computer via the Internet.
Independent curator and sculptor, Daniel O. Georges has organized the Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition National Outdoor Sculpture Annual at Empire Fulton Ferry State Park at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge since 1993. He received a BA in Art History from Columbia and an MFA in Sculpture from School of Visual Arts. He was a contributing editor to Museum On-line Resource Review, on-line magazine and directory.
In The Flow: Alternate Authoring Strategies has received the generous support or the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency; The Greenwall Foundation; and the New York State Council on the Arts, Visual Arts Program curatorial initiative.