If you haven’t checked out New York Close Up lately, you really should.
Two recent films, Liz Magic Laser Talks To The Hand and David Brooks Is In His Element, are just two more examples of how the series can make strong interdisciplinary connections. Both offer viewers the chance to see contemporary artists as researchers, analyzing information learned in order to inform their work. Liz Magic Laser examines hand gestures in contemporary presidential State of the Union addresses as she builds a multi-sensory performance piece. David Brooks, on the other hand, uses his experience as a volunteer with conservation biologists in the Amazon basin region of South America to allow for more opportunities to be “in the field” (literally) and for hands on experience with the wildly diverse ecosystems of the this region—to “witness evolution itself.”
Early in Liz Magic Laser’s piece, just shortly after you find yourself hypnotized by the rhythmic clicking of the camera shutter, the artist describes thinking about “the choreography that is being used to persuade the public.” This intense interest in and examination of gesture, particularly through presidential addresses, becomes a driving force in the collaboration with two Merce Cunningham-trained dancers for her work The Digital Face. Viewers find themselves winding through a systematic and complex investigation into the kinds of things gesture can communicate, which certainly has implications for how students create arguments, art works and even public presentations.
The most recent David Brooks film is likewise a layered glimpse into the “front end” of his art. For Brooks, his work with conservation biologists utilizing a consistent multi-disciplinary approach serves as a model for his own artistic practice. An intriguing part of the film involves the fact that you don’t see one of the sculptures influenced by his volunteer work until the very end, and even then you are left wondering a bit more about what it looks like and what it would be like to walk among the fishes.
Teaching with Liz Magic Laser and David Brooks can include a comparison of how each artist approaches their research differently and how they interact with their collaborators in distinct ways. It can also include a frank discussion about the possibilities when it comes to how contemporary artists approach the creative process.
Our latest New York Close Up is now live! Click to watch “Liz Magic Laser Talks to the Hand” on Art21′s NYCU website!
Can you tell what politicians mean by what they say or how they move? In this film, artist Liz Magic Laser develops The Digital Face (2012)—a new performance staged at Derek Eller Gallery in Chelsea and at MoMA PS1 in Long Island City—that examines hand gestures in contemporary presidential State of the Union addresses. Struck by the virtuosity of Barack Obama’s movement in his 2012 address, Laser examined past speeches to discover that George H. W. Bush was the first president to use gestures in the televised era. The artist choreographs the presidents’ wordless movements with two Merce Cunningham-trained dancers—Cori Kresge as Obama, and Alan Good as Bush—into a performative dialogue that reveals how gestures have been embraced and codified by politicians and their handlers over the past two decades. Throughout the rehearsal process, Laser employs stop-action photography to isolate and tweak individual gestures; she later amplifies the sound of the camera shutter’s incessant clicking for the performance’s soundtrack. Tracing the origin of many of these oratorical techniques to the 19th century theoretician François Delsarte, Laser is concerned with how contemporary political figures are adopting theatrical tools to persuade the public, masking the content of their speeches with movements designed to induce empathy through well-rehearsed and often subliminal cues. “We are living in strange days,” says Laser, “where performance itself has become the dominant instrument of power.”
Liz Magic Laser (b. 1981, New York City, NY, USA) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough. Cinematography: Don Edler, Amanda Long, Wesley Miller, Rafael Moreno Salazar & Ava Wiland. Sound: Amanda Long & Wesley Miller. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long. Design & Graphics: Open. Artwork: Liz Magic Laser. Music: Tristan Shepherd. Additional Video: George Bush Presidential Library & Museum, The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, & The White House. Thanks: Derek Eller, Alan Good, Cori Kresge, Ken Laser, Isaac Lyles, MoMA PS1, Jocelyn Miller, Wendy Osserman, Jenny Schlenzka. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2012. All rights reserved.
In this week’s roundup, William Kentridge films to be shown at the New Museum, Gabriel Orozco talks at the Guggenheim, a Fred Wilson magazine feature and lecture, Laurie Simmons is honored, Ai Weiwei covers “Gangnam Style” and much more.
- William Kentridge‘s animated films will be shown at the New Museum (NYC). Felix in Exile (1994), Ubu Tells the Truth (1997), and Shadow Procession (1999), were all included in the exhibition William Kentridge, the artist’s first career survey in the United States. This special Get Weird program pairs Kentridge with Alexis Gideon, an emerging animator and songwriter. The event takes place November 2, 7pm.
- Gabriel Orozco will talk at the Guggenheim Museum (NYC). For Conversations with Contemporary Artists: Gabriel Orozco with Benjamin Buchloh the artist will talk about his practice and his work in Gabriel Orozco: Asterisms, on view from November 9, 2012–January 13, 2013. The artist talk will take place on November 13 at 6:30pm.
- Laurie Simmons was honored by the Aurora Picture Show (Houston, TX). The Aurora Award is an honor given to an artist who has exhibited extraordinary originality in the fields of media and multimedia art. The event took place on October 16.