Taking over three floors of the complex and spread over five central halls, a metro level mezzanine and a public outdoor park, the exhibition encompasses over 80,000 square feet of Istanbul’s newly constructed Sishane Otopark, an import urban planning project and rare example of the city embracing the use of public space.
The exhibition will embed itself “within the fabric of the city and public circulation” and will include close to 50 different artists and collectives presenting the fruits of their three-month residencies, which brought together 35 international artists and 11 local Istanbul-based ones for a period of “intensive research, production, and public engagement”. Some of the names featured include, among others, Hito Steyerl, Ilja Karilampi, Jon Rafman, Amalia Ulman, Hannah Perry, and Harm van den Dorpel.
Evelyn Yard will be hosting the latest installation from Amalia Ulman, titled The Destruction Of Experience and running at the London space from October 19 to November 13.
As the press release offers, “The Destruction Of Experience is a show about time, body clocks and stretch marks”. The Buenos Aires-born artist is working with sound, scent and sculpture as well as standard wall-based works in her first immersive London installation to “explore the status of the human body as a perishable asset”.
The human body, of course, is that of a woman. With primarily first-person voiced pieces, Ulman’s work intentionally blurs the line between object and artist, using the iconography of femininity to explore the concept of ‘prettiness’.
Ulman’s exhibition will also features parallel works by Japanese artist, Hajime Sorayama, whose detailed illustrations of female cyborgs are “‘enhanced’ with inorganic, machine-like connections and protrusions to create further perfected visions of female form for erotic consumption”.
“(ò_óˇ)” marks an appropriate end to the strain of excess that (networked) EVERY WHISPER IS A CRASH ON MY EARS embodies. Stamped on the empty last page of the anthology published by London’s Arcadia Missa and featuring contributions by 45 artists from around the (digitised) world, it tracks a six-month exhibition programme of the same name and a surplus of extra material. Press releases, installation photos, film stills, essays, artist interviews, prose, poetry, emails; these are scattered across 300+ pages of information that eschews a single-channel stream of content in favour of the more realistic overload of its stated ‘networked’ culture. Snubbing any conventional compulsion towards a straight narrative, the publication opts to map the web of collective thought from a creative cluster bound by book and fibre optics.
Sometimes it feels like there’s too much. Presenting a complexity of ideas that crash and collide with, as much as they support and strengthen each other, (networked) performs its introductory challenge to “ideology’s racket on words” in anticipating, even encouraging a total collapse of any distinction between content and form. This is, after all, a print publication littered with hyperlinks –a Soundcloud for Megan Rooney’s ‘Feeling European’ (2013), a YouTube embed for Holly White’s ‘I’m on my bike because I’m looking for you’ (2013) –that a cursor can’t click on; orginally coloured video screenshots are framed and reprinted on paper in grayscale.
“This is the end of Publishing and books are dead and boring”, announces global trade book publisher Boyd (‘B’)’s daughter Alysa (‘A’), in Bunny Rogers and Jasper Spicero’s ‘Random House’. All grown up and confronting her dad-as-Old Establishment, ‘A’ illustrates the potential for a shift in power through a text that is almost but not quite a script, in a publication that is almost, but not quite, a book.
“# – scenes where there is an alternative” says the symbol legend of ‘Random House’ as ‘A’ contradicts herself in “#The End of Small Sanctuary” sub-heading: “What you’ve got to understand is you’ve got to open your eyes to my values, I think it’s unbelievable that you’re actually listening to us”. It’s a similar sense of bewilderment that Rózsa Farkasand Harry Burke share in a conversation –also called ‘The End of Small Sanctuary’ –that actively confuses any notion of individual authorship, while revealing the irony of an internet where “interactivity doesn’t empower the user, but instead traps them in plot”.
It’s a trap of windowless metal walls and marble as ‘B’ is harangued by an attorney (‘AT’) who insists on a “more effective response to change” in a new world order where “objects are fossils from the pre-history of the attention economy”, according to Maja Cule. Because while Eleanor Ivory Weber maintains “a clean corporate office is the image of unquestionable success” in ‘A Story for Corporate Cleaners’, William Kherbek’s nameless banker in ‘The Counterparties’ bares witness to failure as he watches his “chair with its coffee stains and miserable back wheel” being carried off with a dissolving financial sector.
“The future as realistically capitalist is no longer so convincing”, announces Farkas in an extract from ‘Immanence After Networks’ for Post Media Lab, as Amalia Ulman observes the gradual disintegration of the “technical middle class” in an interview with Cadence Kinsey. Guillermo Ruiz de Loizaga instead opts to embroider “never forget class struggle” in a pillow in his poem for the ETHIRA® gallery show and iPhone app commission. It’s a symbolic gesture as inconsequential as what Ulman calls the “obvious class war” of a “rye bread with seeds” urban middle.
So go the “possible rap lyrics” of Stephen Michael McDowell’s ‘poetry ebook titled ‘tao lin’’ contribution to the Random House exhibition’s publishing-house.me online initiative. It explores the “relation between narrative and affect” as Gabby Bess’s intimate one-sided exchange asks of the art hanging in the Gagosian, “why not put our poems there?”
Why not indeed, as the effectiveness of the word as both utilitarian and artistic communicative force used in oppression as well as disruption folds back on itself as Burke and Farkas at once point out its importance in the enforcement of ideology as “non-negotiable”, while “language, when used well, can always evade its own meaning.” Because when Dora Budor says the virtuosic artist can “creatively adapt to multiple situations”, she’s suggesting that although we do “operate within, not against” (according to Elvia Wilk) a dominant online culture, it’s in hacking her father’s Comment is Free account that Huw Lemmey’s schoolgirl protagonist in ‘#nodads’ seeks to slowly destroy him –from the inside. Sure, “dad had an opinion” but in the case of Lemmey’s novella excerpt, it doesn’t count as much as the “wave of powerful butt-focussed instant sex release” that turns the mob against the London authorities in anti-capitalist, anti-patriarchal revolution.
.rtfs, spreadsheets, and spam; Facebook, Twitter and iMingle; Macbooks, PCs and iPhones. These are all formats, tools and devices, elements of Jill Magid’s “mechanical weapon” to be used against an entire generation raised within an unjust organisational structure. Except that these are the artists, the queer interlocutors who’ve come to understand these constructions better than the people who constructed them. It’s here that (networked) EVERY WHISPER IS A CRASH ON MY EARS finds hope, in refusing authority, hijacking power and using it for their own illicit ends. “(I’m an optimist, gross)”. **
Amalia Ulman’s latest project ETHIRA® presents art’s future counter-culture as ephemeral and anonymous, yet powerful. With beta testing from a host of artists that play with poetry, such as Bunny Rogers and Matt Luther, it takes the form of a downloadable application built collaboratively with developer Daniel Levitt and Arcadia Missa, in-tandem with a physical exhibition at the latter’s gallery space.
ETHIRA® presents a clean greyscale interface. It is available from iTunes store under the category of “Social Networking”. However its purpose, to share authorless 140 word posts that disappear once displayed on its recipients’ devices, does not follow mainstream marketing principles. Here, no Facebook thumbs up or Twitter retweet equivalent is programmed in, only the possibility to read a stream of prose, coupled only to a geographical location from where the thought was born, at its author’s discretion.
ETHIRA® facilitates freedom of expression with the death of the author, it places value on the word and extends the arena for that short SMS fiction that is so popular with Japanese commuters. How anyone who uses the app understands the work will depend on where they are, who they are and, if included, how they contextualise the location from where the post came. That also works the other way, its authors are liberated of a back catalogue, a need to relate to an audience or fear of criticism. All of which, of course, can also lead to unexpected results.
As with all technology, ETHIRA® is at the mercy of its users. Couplets, teen angst or abuse could become the flavour of what is read on an application whose anonymity is a selling point for those who revel in trolling. The posts’ momentary existence make it the perfect medium for quick, unedited thoughts, automatically deleted without care.
Contrastingly, Arcadia Missa’s gallery space sandstone tablets sit with tools of brush and water, inspired by the Buddhist tradition of writing with water onto hot stones and point to a simple form of meditative writing. Sentences could disappear once written, allowing the author to observe their own thoughts, graphically illustrated and beyond their mind’s eye, before letting the text go and arranging their thoughts. It’s a philosophy undoubtedly closer to what Ulman seeks to advocate, where ownership over content is abandoned and its validity is never subject to user approval.
In that way ETHIRA® is the opposite of a social network site but not actually ‘antisocial’, such as apps like Hell Is Other People, which warns you of your ‘friends’ close proximity. It is far more restricted than Snapchat, which allows users to share multimedia timed to self-destruct, but in being solely text-based encourages its own belief in anonymity. It’s an application that channels the values of post-hippie-era electronics ideals on free software and free expression, while predominant net counter-culture focuses on spam, denial of service and hoaxes. Ultimately, though, its success rests on who joins and how that shapes its future.
ETHIRA® is running at Arcadia Missa June 28 to July July 27, 2013.