Category:satelloons

June 17, 2014

Roman Balls

garbatella_balls_of_rome.JPG

I was looking up something else entirely when I came across this post at the travel blog, Rome the Second Time, an architecture professor explaining how giant balls are a "very fascist" architectural element, which were popular starting in the 1920s.

The photo above is of a fascist-era housing complex in Garbatella, for example, and there are several more great examples.

http://greg.org/archive/struth_pantheon.jpg

Which, on the one hand, good to know, because seven years ago, when I first mapped out the world for places that could accommodate showing a 100-foot-diameter satelloon as an art object, the Pantheon in Rome was one of only a handful of possibilities. In concept, in fact, it seems like it'd be the perfect choice. [Eventually the Grand Palais in Paris joined the list, too.] But if spheres read to Romans as fascistic artifacts, you'd need to take that into account.

richter_sphere_iii_12769.jpg

The perfection the fascists loved also made Gerhard Richter very skeptical of spheres. He complained that with spheres it's "impossible to get any closer to perfection," and so you stop. Except when you don't; 16 years after he said this Richter created his own shiny steel sphere editions.

The Balls of Rome [romethesecondtime]

previously:
If I Were A Sculptor, But Then Again...
Les Sateloons du Grand Palais
Shiny Balls by Gerhard Richter

Oh, nothing, just my Q&A with Aperture editor Brian Sholis hanging there online next to THOMAS RUFF. Brian and I went back and forth, discussing the photographs in Exhibition Space and how they relate to art historical developments like conceptual photography and Minimalism.

Meanwhile, Michael Famighetti interviewed Ruff for Aperture's upcoming Summer issue, and the photographer talked about the beginnings of his Sterne series, the giant photos made using imagery from the European Southern Observatory's Southern Sky Survey. Ruff's work was one of the triggers for my own interest in the Palomar Observatory Sky Survey, which was the ESO's Northern predecessor. Anyway, I think this is the first he's discussed the series' origins in English:

MF: Could you talk about the role of research in your work? Where does a project begin?

TR: If I see an image that attracts, upsets, or astonishes me--one that stays in my mind for a long time--I begin working. This is the starting point of the research: 
I try to find out how the image was created and in what context--historical, political, or social--the image belongs. After clarifying these questions I begin to create "my own" image, the image I have in my mind, the image that was triggered by the image I saw. Sometimes it can be done in a straightforward way, with
 a camera, but sometimes you need to reflect on how you can manage to make this technically. For example, when I had the idea of photographing the night sky, I realized that with my small telescope, I had no chance of getting high-quality images of stars, so I looked for an observatory with a big telescope where 
I could take the photographs myself. 
But they wouldn't let me in. So I had to give up the idea of being the author of the photograph, and worked with large-format negatives from the observatory's archive.

Yes, authorship.

And speaking of authorship [and much more], in his talk with Jörg Colberg for Conscientious, Ruff mentioned authorship and his new show at David Zwirner:

JC: I was going to ask you about that, the idea of landscape photography. Scientific photographs, say the Mars rover images, in principle are landscape photographs along the lines of early survey landscape photography in the American West.

TR: That's where it continues. On top of that, it's also about automated photography, photographs made by robots. That's all part of it, the surrender of authorship... Ma.r.s. contains a bit more authorship than Stars where all I did was to select the area and to do the cropping.

All I did? After all this time, do we find out is Ruff a traditionalist?

Thomas Ruff: Photograms for the new age [aperture.org]
Interview with Greg Allen [aperture.org]
Previously: Thomas Ruff's Sterne

Thumbnail image for exhib_space_install_05.jpg

The new Frieze begins its series of artists talking about curating and being curated [sub req] with Daniel Buren's classic 1972/1992 statement in Harald Szeeman's Documenta 5, "Exhibitions of an Exhibition."

I never registered it before, but Buren uses the term "organizer" for curator. Which is ironic, because at apexart several years ago, at the thin wedge of the emerging trend/abuse, they moved away from using the term "curator"--in favor of "organizer." And the sense I've gotten while working on Exhibition Space is that they were seeking to get away from exactly the curator-as-artist/exhibition-as-art pretensions or associations that Buren was kvetching about in 1972.

In any case, now that I'm an organizer, and apparently the worst of Buren's fears realized, here are some excerpts from his 1992 English translation of "Exhibitions of an Exhibition":

Exhibitions of an exhibition

More and more, the subject of an exhibition tends not be the display of artworks, but the exhibition of the exhibition as a work of art....

The works presented are carefully chosen touches of color in the tableau that composes each section (room) as a whole.

There is even an order to these colors, these being defined and arranged according to the drawn design of the section (selection) in which they are spread out/presented.

These sections (castrations), themselves carefully chosen "touches of color" in the tableau that makes up the exhibition as a whole and in its very principle, only appear by placing themselves under the wing of the organizer, who reunifies art by rendering it equivalent everywhere in the case/screen that he prepares for it.

The organizer assumes the contradictions; it is he who safeguards them.

It is true, then, that the exhibition establishes itself as its own subject, and its own subject as a work of art. The exhibition is the "valorizing receptacle" in which art is played out and founders, because even if the artwork was formerly revealed thanks to the museum, it now serves as nothing more than a decorative gimmick for the survival of the museum as tableau, a tableau whose author is none other than the exhibition organizer.

Which, in 2003, prefaced his response to the idea, proposed by e-flux and Jens Hoffman, that "The Next Documenta Should Be Curated By an Artist.":
Could a large-scale exhibition like Documenta be entrusted to an artist? If the tendency remarked upon here continues to hold, my response would undoubtedly be "yes." For the artist-organizer would erase the faults inherent in the organizer-artist. For example, it would be worth betting that the announcement of an artist-organizer, whoever he or she might be, would cause an immense outcry of lamentations from the choir of the majority of all the other panic-stricken and destabilized artists.

This will be a varied and serious song. Its reasons for being will be intelligent, stupid, and revealing at the same time. They will be founded on jealousy, on the one hand, and fear of the artist-organizer's positions, on the other. Artists, exacerbated individualists if ever they existed, would show that their corporatist spirit is not as remote as it may seem. One would notice, then, that the critiques suddenly raised by the announcement of the name of an artist-organizer had never been raised by the announcement of any organizer-artist. This a priori predictable reaction already bears within itself the fruits of extremely positive debates, for they reveal a state of fact that has been occulted for over thirty years.

exhib_spc_pano_poss1.jpg
Installation view: panorama of 96 photographic plates from the National Geographic Socety-Palmar Observatory Sky Survey (1949-58); the other 1,700+ plates are in the cabinet.

First off, thanks to everyone at apexart for the really amazing work on the show. "Exhibition Space" looks great, and it's installed beautifully. Thanks, too, to the folks who have stopped by to see it, whether at the opening or since, and those who have sent along kind comments. I know Massimiliano curates three shows 10x this size each day before breakfast, but it's still a BFD for me, and after writing and thinking about the objects and photos in the show for so long online, it really is a completely different thing to see them in person.

exhbspc_poss_det.jpg
detail of a photographic plate from NGS-POSS

I'll get some more systematic documentation shots of the show and the pieces in it soon, but in the mean time, here are some pictures I snapped last week. If you circulate them, I really hope you'll check back and update them when I get some slicker versions.

indiana_jones_echo.jpg

Dude. I can't believe it's really happening. But it is. "Exhibition Space" is opening tomorrow night at apexart in Tribeca. There's a reception from 6-8pm, and the show will be open to the public from Thursday the 21st through May 8.

What started out as completely separate ideas, spawned, obviously, here on the blog, has turned out to have all these amazing and direct interconnections, both among the objects in the show, but also into the art of the time.

As the new banner image suggests--which I love, btw, just so awesome, like it was shot just for me--there will be some extended posting about the stuff in the show here on greg.org. So please visit often.

image above inspired by Whitney's suggestion at AFC that I'm on some kind of Indiana Jones-like satelloon quest, which, well.

"Exhibition Space," photographs, objects, and perception at the dawn of the Space Race, 21 Mar - 8 May 2013 at apexart [apexart.org]

Previously:
2007: The Sateloons of Project Echo, must. find. satelloons.
2008: On The Sky Atlas and the NGS-Palomar Observatory Sky Survey

March 6, 2013

Chaneling Satelloons

chanel_grandpalais_nyt.jpg

I'd like to announce that my satelloon show "Exhibition Space" will travel from the Grand Palais to New York, where it will open at apexart on March 20th.

I'd like to, but it---eh, you know what, it's close enough.

satelloon_grandpalais_pixel.jpg

image: Chanel demands a closer look [nyt]
previously, like 2008 previously: Les Sateloons du Grand Palais

August 28, 2012

The Photographic Archive

In response to Olia Lialina's post last week about screwy reproductions of her c.1996 lo-res digital imagery, Ben Fino-Radin writes about how Rhizome deals with archiving and documenting digital art in its native formats, platforms and resolutions: by photographing it.

This very issue of how low-resolution digital images gum up the hi-res assumptions our visual systems are built on is was one of the unexpectedly central discoveries of making Untitled (300 x 404) project. Though initially, at least, the losses and distortions of moving a thumbnail-sized jpg through the media channels were for me evidence or symbolic of the information that's lost through ridiculous copyright restrictions, and not so concerned with archiving or perpetuation.

But that's not important right now. Because just a few days before reading about Fino-Radin's archival challenges, I stumbled across another data-driven use of old-school photography, on Project Echo.

I just received a rare print copy of the 1961 Bell Systems Technical Journal devoted to Project Echo, which has a dozen papers reporting Bell Labs' findings and processes of tracking and operating an inflatable, reflective communications satellite. What's extraordinary about the papers is what's always fascinated me about the Echo satelloons in the first place: they were analog experiments done largely by hand, and before computers were practical tools for real-time tasks.

echo_data_recording_bstj.jpg

And so, for example, in order to record all the satellite tracking data and readouts at the Holmdel, NJ receiving and transmission station, they took pictures of the control panel. Here's the description from Bell Labs project engineer Dr. William C. Jakes' paper [available from dtic.mil as a pdf]:

In order to have a record of the positions of the various moving elements of the system during a satellite pass, each element was provided with synchro read-outs which were periodically photographed. Pictures were taken at one-second intervals of a panel carrying the two-speed azimuth and elevation position dials for the DAC, M-33 (optics), 60-foot dish, and horn antenna. A Greenwich Mean Time clock also appeared in the photographs. Position angles could be read to +/- 0.01 degrees, and time to 0.5 second. An enlargement of one frame of such a record is shown. [above]
But wait, there was more:
The 60-foot dish and horn antennas were each equipped with a bore-sight camera [!] that could be started at will whenever the satellite was visible. Pictures were taken at four frames per second, and included a reticle for indicating angular offsets to an accuracy of +/-0.01 deg. and a time-coded counter.
I have contacted archivists for Bell Labs, and unfortunately, no such operational film records have survived. In the company's possession, anyway. But I am still looking.

It's not that I feel a need to apologize for breaking some imaginary overall narrative flow, but I just need to put these here for current and future reference.

First, the SS Leviathan, as seized from Germany and as outfitted in WWI-era Dazzle Camo livery:

Leviathan in camouflage

[boston public library's flickr via proscriptus]

hale-d_hangar.jpg

And then there's the Lockheed Martin HALE-D, a next-generation military communications airship that obviously traces its design DNA back to the glorious Echo and PAGEOS satelloons of yesteryear. Unfortunately, like those ships, the HALE-D, and many of the inflatable, unmanned surveillance airships the Pentagon has burned $1 billion developing the last four years, have turned out to be an evolutionary dead end; the HALE-D crashed on its initial test flight, and the program is now on the chopping block.

Ray Bradbury reading a poem, "If only we had taller been," at JPL in 1971, just as Mariner 1 was about to go into orbit around Mars. Here's the text, which was published in a collection of Bradbury's poems, When Elephants Last in the Dooryard Bloomed, in 1973. [via boingboing]

UPDATE: A reader, Sara, noticed differences between the version of the poem Bradbury read in 1971, and the one he published in 1974. Sure enough, there are a few additional lines, and a tweaked word or two. Interesting.

John Powers has been on me for months to read ">Nicholas de Monchaux's Fashioning Apollo, the incredible and unlikely history of the development of the Apollo spacesuits.

And I have been meaning to, I swear, but this insane photo may be just the thing to push me over the edge. Because in his otherwise heady interview with de Monchaux, Geoff Manaugh only captions the images as being from the book.

Which I will have to buy, to find out what this three-story dolly was doing in this massive, origami-ended space lined with sound-deadening foam pyramids. Because seriously, holy smokes.

Spacesuit Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux [bldgblog]

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Since 2001 here at greg.org, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting greg.org that time.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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Category: satelloons

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Standard Operating Procedure
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CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
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"Exhibition Space"
Mar 20 - May 8 @apexart, NYC


HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.


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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

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Canal Zone Richard
Prince YES RASTA:
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
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