3_ante_ING:Layout 1            30-12-2010          14:46       Pagina 1    From the series "A Vernacular of File Formats" ...
3_ante_ING:Layout 1        30-12-2010       14:46       Pagina 2    Life and Death of an Image    Domenico Quaranta    1. ...
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Order and Progress


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I am happy to announce my new solo show at the Fabio Paris Art Gallery in Brescia, Italy, curated by Domenico Quaranta. It is a small but very nice gallery that also hosts artists like UBERMORGEN.COM, Eva e Franco Mattes aka 0100101110101101.ORG and my friends Nullsleep and Tonylight - so I am in realy good company.
This is the Catalogue written by Domenico Quaranta.

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Order and Progress

  1. 1. 3_ante_ING:Layout 1 30-12-2010 14:46 Pagina 1 From the series "A Vernacular of File Formats" (2010): Downsampled Joint Photographic Experts Group (.JPG) Baseline optimized. (irreversible databend) Graphics Interchange Format (.gif), interlaced, animated 256 colors, restricted pattern (with dither) (irreversible databend) Joint Photographic Experts Group committee in 2000; low res (.JPEG 2000) (irreversible databend) 7. Yet, if it was just that, it wouldn’t be that blocks, gets grainy, duplicates, disappears [1] Oliver Laric, Versions, 2009 – 2010. Online at www.oliverlaric.com interesting. Rosa Menkman’s work and, more beyond a coloured camouflage, then [2] Trond Aslaksby, “The Weathered Paintings of Edvard broadly, Glitch Art and the best contemporary reappears, violently slashed. Munch. Artist’s intention, conservation, display – a computer-based art is not just an attempt to The same oxymoron – an apparently cold, triangle of conflicts”, 1998. liberate a medium and its own languages – it geeky theory expressed in a warm, emotional Online at www.munch.museum.no/40/6/aslaksby.pdf is also an attempt to use them to say way - can be found in her video works, [3] Sylvere Lotringer, Paul Virilio, The Accident of Art, Semiotext(e), New York 2005, p. 63. something that could never be said otherwise. especially Dear Mr Compression (2009) and [4] James Der Derian, “Is the Author Dead? An Interview Let’s look back to the early examples of the Collapse of PAL (2010). In the first work, with Paul Virilio”, 1997. Online at use of deterioration and accidents in art. Rosa – impersonating Benjamin’s Angel of http://asrudiancenter.wordpress.com/2008/11/26/intervi Edvard Munch “matured” his paintings History – writes a poem to Mr Compression. ew-with-paul-virilio/. [5] «A glitch is a short-lived fault in a system. It is often used because conventional painting techniques did The dialogue appears to take place in a chat to describe a transient fault that corrects itself, and is not allow him to express the existential drama room, and the Angel of History expresses her therefore difficult to troubleshoot. The term is particularly he wanted to convey. The Surrealists adopted feelings while a silent Mr Compression turns common in the computing and electronics industries». automatic techniques such as frottage and her attempt at communication into an In Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glitch grattage as a means to access the increasingly corrupted signal. In the latter, the [6] Rosa Menkman, “Glitch Studies Manifesto”, 2009 – 2010. Online at http://rosa- unconscious. The original shooting of the Angel of History reflects on the PAL signal, its menkman.blogspot.com/2010/02/glitch-studies- Vernacular of File Formats would never have termination, and its survival “as a trace” manifesto.html succeeded in saying what its seventeen iterations do say. However interesting as an in newer technologies. How poetry can be composed about such a technical issue is [7] In Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Photography [8] Nicolas Bourriaud, The Radicant, Sternberg Press, New Rosa Menkman image, it is the result of a medium under something we should ask Lucretius or York 2009, p. 138. [9] Rosa Menkman, “Glitch Studies Manifesto”, op. cit. Order and Progress control. It is just a nice, black and white Raymond Roussel. PAL was the analogue [10] Boris Groys, “From Image to Image File – and Back: Art picture file where a heavily made-up television encoding system used in Europe, in the Age of Digitalization”, in B. Groys, Art Power, The Menkman is seen combing her hair (an explicit South Asia and other countries. Whole MIT Press, Cambridge – London 2008, p. 84. reference to Marina Abramovic’s Art Must Be generations grew up with it, and got used to [11] Email to the author, December 16, 2010. Beautiful, 1975). It is like AnnLee before she its specific characteristics and glitches. was bought and shared by Philippe Parreno performed) in a given context. Introducing a And Mr Compression is the personification of and Pierre Huyghe back in 1999: a ghost glitch between the image file and the digital a computer process. Do they deserve a image waiting to be rescued from an industry image, Menkman liberates the latter from its poem? According to the Angel of History, that had condemned her to death. Similarly, status of copy of an invisible original. they do. But Dear Mr Compression is also the flow of data it consists of has been The same image is now different every time it the story of a woman talking to a man that Rosa Menkman condemned to be always visualized in the is performed. From its birth to its death, it has makes her suffer; and the live TV Order and Progress same way. In his essay “Art in the Age of many possible lives. It is no longer a copy: it is performance that originated Collapse of PAL Curated by Domenico Quaranta Digitalization” [10], Boris Groys claims that the source of many possible originals. was also, according to Menkman [11], a last January 15 _ February 25 2011 every digital image is a mere copy of an In the Vernacular of File Formats, this story – attempt to deliver a message to somebody invisible original – the image file. The image file actually an illustrated theory – is told with an getting the PAL signal. Is this medium- fabioparisartgallery VIA Alessandro Monti 13 is an invisible string of digital data; the digital extraordinary level of pathos. The woman specificity? According to the Angel of History, I -25121 BRESCIA _ Italy image is the way that file is visualized (that is, portrayed in the picture fades into pixel it isn’t. www.fabioparisartgallery.com
  2. 2. 3_ante_ING:Layout 1 30-12-2010 14:46 Pagina 2 Life and Death of an Image Domenico Quaranta 1. Deterioration has always been part of the in leaving his paintings in the open, exposed Zen For Film, 1964); to invent video is to Frame from medium towards the point where it becomes Dear mr Compression life of an image. Any image we can think of, to rain, snow, high and low temperatures, invent white noise and signal distortions; and something new; utilize glitches to bring any (2010), 03’:40” from prehistoric cave paintings to the latest sunlight and humidity, dust and mould, to to invent files is to invent glitches [5]. Research medium to a critical state of hypertrophy, to Hollywood movie, can be described in terms make them physically “mature” – or die [2]. on technology has been always guided, as (subsequently) criticize its inherent politics.» [9] of its level of deterioration. Deterioration can Rosa Menkman puts it, by a «dominant, They do this with the acute awareness that start straight away or come later; it can be 2. While deterioration has usually been continuing search for a noiseless channel.» [6] their time is short, because what they are almost invisible, or have a huge impact on the considered something bad, as a creative Artists, on the other side, have always been doing will, sooner or later, become a style, a current perception of a given image. In a stimulus the accident has a long tradition in much more interested in noise, errors, failures, fashion, and a filter in the “tools” bar of some recent video essay [1], artist Oliver Laric shows art: from Leonardo, who looked into the stains glitches. But why? commercial software. This can be seen very how, paradoxically, iconoclasm made true on walls, ashes, clouds and mud, to the well in Rosa Menkman’s work, particularly in “icons” of images that would probably have Surrealists’ automatic techniques, the 4. New media – from photography to her crazy jumping from one experiment to the been of little interest for the modern tourist if accident – accidental revelations, incidents computers – are not neutral tools, like a other. She never uses the same glitch twice. they were not damaged; and if we think about and mistakes – has often heralded epiphany. pencil. They have been designed to get a She doesn’t like effects that are reproducible. Romantic painting as dark and contrasted, it Rosa Menkman often quotes Paul Virilio: certain result, and they have been perfected in the more working outside of operating This is the dead end that much criticism She always looks for the unexpected, the is mainly thanks to the widespread use of «The accident doesn’t equal failure, but order to make the process smoother and the templates becomes interesting. That is why regarding the current artistic use of unpredictable, the uncanny. She is a true bituminous colours, that darken over time. instead erects a new significant state, which result better. Let’s take photography. hacking computers – and any computerized technology comes up against. Today, many “nomad of noise artifacts”. Let’s take the That said, deterioration is usually perceived as would otherwise not have been possible to Technically, it is a process that consists in medium, including digital photo and video artists are interested in noise and glitches, low Vernacular of File Formats (2010), a negative. The general view is that a damaged perceive and that can “reveal something «creating still pictures by recording radiation cameras – is definitely more interesting than resolution aesthetics, poor images, old media, collection of 7 videos and 10 file formats piece needs restoration. But what if absolutely necessary to knowledge”.» [3] on a radiation-sensitive medium.» [7] hacking any pre-digital medium. dirty styles, but also, paradoxically, in an images where, as she wrote, she actively deterioration is adopted as an artistic strategy, Yet it has been always viewed as a way to unprofessional, amateurish use of defaults demystifies the most popular glitch effects. integrated into the creative process? Before 3. Virilio’s interest in accident is strongly represent reality, and any technical 5. And that is why exploiting the medium at its and presets. Is their work formalist, in the The Vernacular is, at the same time, an essay, the age of mechanical reproduction, Edvard related to the zeitgeist of the 20th century. advancement was made with this target in best has become a prerogative of mainstream sense codified by Greenberg? Definitely not, a tutorial for wannabe glitch artists, and a Munch was the only artist to address this. His Today, images are not made to last; they mind. This is the ideology of the medium. If culture, while art prefers, in Nicholas Bourriaud’s for two main reasons. collection of experiments that should not be infamous “hestekur” (a Norwegian term that deteriorate at an incredible rate. Furthermore, you use it properly, there is no way to act words, to focus on “the indeterminacy of its repeated, but that will be inevitably be repeated can be translated into “horse cure”) consisted in the age of electronic – and, later, digital outside of this ideology. The only way to do it source code”: «today, one must struggle, not 6. It is, first and foremost, a political act of until their aesthetic potential is exhausted. media – errors in communication and is to hack the medium. Produce noise. Trigger – as Greenberg did – for the preservation of an liberation and resistance against control. visualization occur on a daily basis. mistakes. Exploit failures. avant-garde that is self sufficient and focused They focus on the medium because they are Transmission goes wrong, storage media get Of course, a lot of good art has been on the specificities of its means, but rather for combating the medium’s “order and progress” obsolete, file formats disappear, reading produced without questioning the ideology of the indeterminacy of art’s source code, its ideology – the ideology brings us to the softwares are updated. If «to invent the train is a given medium. Yet, the more that medium dispersion and dissemination, so that it “hyperformatting that distinguishes kitsch”. to invent derailment» [4] and «to invent the ship becomes a mirror of power, the more noise remains impossible to pin down – in In order to do so, in Menkman’s terms, they is to invent the shipwreck», then to invent film becomes an interesting artistic strategy. opposition to the hyperformatting that, «find catharsis in disintegration, ruptures and is to invent scratches (as in Nam June Paik’s This is why hacking video is more interesting paradoxically, distinguishes kitsch.» [8] cracks; manipulate, bend and break any than hacking photography. Furthermore, the This quote might seem out of place here. more a given medium attempts to turn any Bourriaud is arguing against medium Frame from Dear mr Compression creative option into a convention, a filter, an specificity, and what could be more medium- Frame from Collapse of PAL (2010), 03’:40” option in a menu – inevitably normalizing it – specific than exploiting a medium’s shortfalls? (2010), 17’:00”