bitstreams

bitstreams

(As seen at the Whitney Museum)

After some optimistic hope that the Whitney could pick up the ball and show some innovative stuff, I have found myself disappointed with their offering in the digital exhibit bitstreams. Nothing grabbed me.

What I took away from the show was, “Wow, that sure was a lot of fancy, expensive computer equipment they hoisted up on the wall there”.

Not one image managed to gel with my brain over the long haul (edit- obviously untrue down the line). The curators voices which read via the accompanying wall text were eager to point out cross references to some of the pieces: “Just like El Greco!” (uh ,no.),” Just like Paul Klee!”.
I imagine as to justify to themselves what the heck this stuff was doing in the Whitney.

Unfortunately, like all multimedia shows,this one had you subjected to a lot of those “little dark room” installations, which unfortunately make me claustrophobic.

I hate going from the bright white light of one part of an exhibition, groping your way into a small, black side room with 20 silhouettes squished up against the wall, that you gradually start to decipher as you simultaneously try to decide if you want to give this piece your five seconds or not.

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Unfortunately another diatribe I can express involves a piece that the Whitney had on display maybe a year ago of Janine Antoni’s “installation”. This piece had you walking mazelike into utter and total darkness- only to be confronted with an image of yourself (surprise-a mirror),which I basically smashed into and screamed loud expletives,something that I am generally not up for shouting in public spaces.
Just fucking hilarious. I hate that kind of crap. I hadn’t come there to be on the Flight To Mars.

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At any rate my crankiness should be taken with a grain of salt, considering I have a thing about my personal space being trotted upon in public situations. So(back to bitstreams) of course a lot of pieces in the exhibit where shown like this.

There was also a bank of audio pieces that you had to stand in line for and when I put the head phones on, I got some asshole’s idea of an art piece- total feedback.
Glenn Branca none withstanding, I didn’t see the merit in that.

So do I have any thing constructive to bring to this?

1. First of all, I think the Whitney was burdened by being a high profile art institution shouldered with the responsibility, shall we say, of convincing people this is art. I think the blandness (for my taste) of the show reflects that fact.

2. My first thought after stepping away from the exhibit was, “this is a curatorial problem”.

3. My other thought was, “the technology is still young and awkward- that must be the problem”.

4. My last thought was – “it’s me, I am stupid for coming here on a Friday night because I am too cheap to pay full admission so I am stuck with the hordes of other Pay-As-You-Wish attendees,which didn’t allow any breathing space”.

One other thing I chewed on was I don’t know if some of the pieces were really justified being blown up to a size for mass (crowd) consumption. Perhaps I am used to being alone at my desk, peacefully grazing.

Lest it appears that I have some vendetta going against digital art,I hope that is not true. I have twice seen the downstairs digital lounge at the New Museum and really enjoyed what I saw. They have presented their works in a more, shall we call it “casual environment” though. I guess there was just something about the presentation at¬†bitstreams that rubbed me the wrong way that night. Who knows.

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That same evening I proceeded to go up one more floor and immensely enjoy a quiet, intimate retrospective survey of Kenneth Josephson’s photography. Hardly anyone was on the floor.