Curatorial Statement, Jo-Anne Green
“Hypermediacy offers a heterogenous space in which representation is conceived of not as a window on to the world, but rather “windowed” itself – with windows that open onto other representations or other media.”
“All mediation remediates the real.” — Jay David Bolter and Richard Grusin
Arrested Time explores the juxtaposition of old and new media and illuminates the possibilities and limitations of both. The works hover between stasis and motion, texture and light, line and pixel, past and present, paper and screen, surface and depth, one artist and another: paying homage to Felix Gonzalez-Torres (Given Time) and – in the Distill Life series – Kiyonaga gwa (Floating Worlds); Utagawa Hiroshige (The Multiple); Katsushika Hokusai (The Great Wave); and Hiroshige, Claude Monet, and others (At Sea).
All representations are preceded by actions. Whereas discrete actions make possible immersion, unapologetic, willful actions assert the artists’ presence. The “flatness” and “stillness” of prints – woodcuts, engravings, etchings – often betray their processes, which include gouging deep channels and shallow grooves with sharp tools, and burning lines and dots into wood or metal plates. Often, the only impression left visible is the outline of the plate, one window pressed into another. Digital screens render such physical processes moot. Videos present encapsulated motion; arrested time, replayed endlessly to evoke timelessness.
In Distill Life, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger mount translucent prints and drawings directly on top of video screens, creating moving images on paper. In Hokusai’s woodblock print The Great Wave, an upsurge of water towers before Mt. Fuji, Japan (iconic nature). Stern and Meuninck-Ganger’s re-enactment substitutes The Hillbrow Tower, Johannesburg, South Africa (iconic architecture) for Mt. Fuji: the burning reds and hot yellows of a Joburg sunset joust with the cool blues and icy whites of a frenetic ocean. In their underlying video, waves lap the shores of a synthetic beach behind a large crest bearing down on fragile boats.
The Multiple, a diptych, wrestles itself back to unity as birds circle between its two halves. Floating Worlds dialogues between its “dead” and “live” jellyfish, both captured in a bulging plastic bag.
At Sea confuses the eye, as static objects drawn directly onto the screens are jiggled into motion by ocean swells. A series of “Monovids,” they combine the non-editionable notion of the Monoprint with that of the endlessly reproducible medium of video to create one-offs. Suspended in the gallery’s windows, they read as “paused” drawings by day but switch to “played” videos at night.
For the series, Stern often captures video (machinima) in Second Life, an online, synthetic 3-D environment through which people can interact in real-time by means of a virtual self (avatar). He further exploits the placelessness of Second Life in Given Time.
Given Time simultaneously activates and performs two permanently logged-in Second Life avatars, each forever and only seen by and through the other. A mixed reality installation, it cites Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ Untitled (Perfect Lovers) in which two identical clocks signify synchronized lives: “The idea of pieces being endless happened … because I was losing someone very important” (Gonzalez-Torres). Given Time evokes a liminal space – between somewhere and nowhere – and a constant, intimate moment shared between two lovers. Stern’s avatars defy their medium; rather than assemble them with the “paper doll” readymades of Second Life’s wardrobe, Stern has deftly introduced hand-drawn figures into the stylized textures of the virtual world. Suspended above a marsh, the two virtual figures breathe into our physical space, drawing us into a private bubble that has no address. They are at once beside us and unreachable.
Water, liquidity, and flow thread through Arrested Time; rolling waves and clouds; floating boats, jellyfish, swans, and lilies; suspended birds and bodies. Yet, the opposite of transparency is achieved. The windows within windows do not facilitate “seeing through,” where the representational space and the viewer’s space merge. Rather, their multiplicity asserts a hyperawareness of both mediation and surface; time arrested, time looped, time suspended, time represented.
Jo-Anne Green is Co-Director of New Radio and Performing Arts, Inc., a small, not-for-profit experimental arts organization whose current projects include Turbulence.org, Networked_Performance, Networked_Music_Review, Networked: a (networked_book) about (networked_art) and Upgrade! Boston. She also teaches part-time at Emerson College. Green grew up in Johannesburg, South Africa. After graduating from the University of the Witwatersrand with a BFA Honors in Printmaking and Art History, she emigrated to the United States in 1983. While studying for her MFA at UMASS Dartmouth, she volunteered for a Fund for a Free South Africa (1985-1992). Green founded the artist-in-residence program at the University of New Mexico’s High Performance Computing Center (1999); she subsequently managed the Art Technology Center (ATC) until June 2001. Upon returning to Boston, Green completed her MS in Art Administration at Lesley University (2003). She has exhibited her paintings, one-of-a-kind artist’s books, and installations in South Africa, Boston and New York.