Pulse Glitter Awry

by Art Fag City on March 7, 2009 · 29 comments Events

Art Fag City, Pulse Fair
Pulse Art Fair, Photograph AFC

Here’s a rather bold, not to mention inaccurate claim gracing the front page of the Pulse art fair website: “The leading US art fair dedicated to solely to contemporary art”. Not to rain on the Pulse parade, but NADA, a fair similarly dedicated to contemporary art, blew them out of the water in Miami this year, and were it not for VOLTA’s unfortunate location in an office building, they’d do the same.   Alarmingly, the shabby looking booths, poor installs, and penchant for bling installation art, has the fair resembling previous incarnations of Scope.

I can’t say this isn’t a huge disappointment.  The difference between this year and last seems so extreme I’ve been losing sleep over giving them last year’s top fair rating.  Also rather depressing: A lot of the art I saw at the fair in Miami this year is also in New York.   I don’t know how much of it has sold this time around, but word of mouth has nothing good to report.   Despite a statement issued at the Pulse party last night regarding the surprise success of the New York fair, I’ve only spoken to one dealer reporting good sales.  Everyone else tells me they are enjoying a lot of “great conversations”.

Ken Goldberg, Art Fag City, Pulse
Ken Goldberg and Tiffany Shlain, Smashing, 2008, Video projection, headphones, step plate, custom electronics and software

Meanwhile, many galleries aren’t giving collectors reasons to buy.  The New Media spaces in this fair are particularly disappointing for example, Bitforms and Bryce Wolkowitz showing an even larger amount of empty conceptual art primarily about achieving an engineering feat than usual.  Probably the least interesting permutation of this kind of work however was presented by Ken Goldberg and Tiffany Shlain at Catherine Clark gallery.  Using a stepping plate to trigger a video projection with a musical score of a glass shattering, the viewer is invited to take a vow and step on the plate to change the music.   I still can’t figure out what’s supposed to be engaging about this piece.

A full photo essay detailing work worthy and unworthy of attention at Pulse will arrive shortly, but below I’m including a few highlights from the animated and glittery work on view.  Enjoy.

Adad Hannah, Art Fag City, Pulse
Adad Hannah, All is Vanity, detail, 2009 Pierre-François Ouelllette

A video recalling a 19th century painting of a woman looking in the mirror.  She blinks, and reflection is delayed in a nearby mirror. A shallow and distorted investigation of technology.


David Hevel, installation detail, Marx and Zavattero

There’s plenty more where this came from.


David Hevel, installation detail, Marx and Zavattero

Art Fag City, Pulse, David Hevel
David Hevel, installation detail, Marx and Zavattero

Art Fag City, Pulse, Vadis Turner
Vadis Turner, Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery


Kristian Kozul

Apparently I missed the tampon and birth control booth, though for some reason the glittering saddle seems close enough.  Anyone who knows the name of this artist, should forward it along so I can complete the captioning information.  I unfortunately managed to lose it.

  • http://nathanielstern.com nathaniel stern

    Admittedly, I often look at the images of work you put up from the fairs, and feel like I am missing out by not being there. This time around, not so much – I can see why you’re so disappointed.

  • http://nathanielstern.com nathaniel stern

    Admittedly, I often look at the images of work you put up from the fairs, and feel like I am missing out by not being there. This time around, not so much – I can see why you’re so disappointed.

  • http://nathanielstern.com nathaniel stern

    Admittedly, I often look at the images of work you put up from the fairs, and feel like I am missing out by not being there. This time around, not so much – I can see why you’re so disappointed.

  • Jenny Wilson

    The Glittering Saddle is by artist Kristian Kozul. http://www.anhava.com/?http://www.anhava.com/exhibitions/kozul/index.html

  • Jenny Wilson

    The Glittering Saddle is by artist Kristian Kozul. http://www.anhava.com/?http://www.anhava.com/exhibitions/kozul/index.html

  • Jenny Wilson

    The Glittering Saddle is by artist Kristian Kozul. http://www.anhava.com/?http://www.anhava.com/exhibitions/kozul/index.html

  • greg.org

    Was Kozul a PA on Cremaster 2, by chance?

  • greg.org

    Was Kozul a PA on Cremaster 2, by chance?

  • Leah Sandals

    Hey Paddy,

    Love the reports! So much stuff to sort through and you make it intelligible and funny too.

    The Adad Hannah work is actually two twins in real time, each positioned to look like a mirror reflection.

    Hannah, who lives in Montreal, debuted an installation of this work recently in Toronto, following up on a longstanding interest in twins.

    More here!
    On the work: http://www.adadhannah.com/projects/vanity/
    On twins: http://www.adadhannah.com/projects/twins/
    On TO debut: http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/story.html?id=1236270

  • Leah Sandals

    Hey Paddy,

    Love the reports! So much stuff to sort through and you make it intelligible and funny too.

    The Adad Hannah work is actually two twins in real time, each positioned to look like a mirror reflection.

    Hannah, who lives in Montreal, debuted an installation of this work recently in Toronto, following up on a longstanding interest in twins.

    More here!
    On the work: http://www.adadhannah.com/projects/vanity/
    On twins: http://www.adadhannah.com/projects/twins/
    On TO debut: http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/story.html?id=1236270

  • Leah Sandals

    Hey Paddy,

    Love the reports! So much stuff to sort through and you make it intelligible and funny too.

    The Adad Hannah work is actually two twins in real time, each positioned to look like a mirror reflection.

    Hannah, who lives in Montreal, debuted an installation of this work recently in Toronto, following up on a longstanding interest in twins.

    More here!
    On the work: http://www.adadhannah.com/projects/vanity/
    On twins: http://www.adadhannah.com/projects/twins/
    On TO debut: http://www.nationalpost.com/related/topics/story.html?id=1236270

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Hi Paddy!

    Its right and honest of you to admit you found the Goldberg/Shlain piece rather inaccessible, but why stop there? Why not present to your readers some of the questions the piece introduces, instead of simply stating you didn’t know how to answer them.

    Clearly the imagery is rather spartan, and its a shame that the Catherine Clark gallery didn’t provide the intimate installation that would’ve benefited the piece, but its a shame to skim over all that is going on here.

    For those who may not know, the breaking of a glass is the final step of the Jewish wedding ceremony. (Goldberg and Shlain’s prior collaborations have also dealt with Jewish imagery in contemporary America.) Viewers of teh piece are invited to “make a vow” before stomping the sensor. When I did, I heard the protesting folk rock lyrics of a certain Robert Zimmerman. So what’s the connection between this ancient Jewish wedding tradition and modern technology? See Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash (“first pornographic novel based on technology” … for a detailed treatment see Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation”.)

    Its interesting to note that shortly after breaking, the glass resets. What does this mean about the vow that was made? Its also interesting to imagine what vows other viewers might be making. Celibacy? Sobriety? Integrity in life or business? What about if famous New York Jew Bernie Madoff stopped by the fair? (He’s probably not shopping for art this year, but still.) Given our current socio-political climate, as various institutions are literally “crashing” down around us, I think the concept couldn’t be more relevant.

    anyway, i agree teh Cordy Ryman stuff was amazing. :)

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Hi Paddy!

    Its right and honest of you to admit you found the Goldberg/Shlain piece rather inaccessible, but why stop there? Why not present to your readers some of the questions the piece introduces, instead of simply stating you didn’t know how to answer them.

    Clearly the imagery is rather spartan, and its a shame that the Catherine Clark gallery didn’t provide the intimate installation that would’ve benefited the piece, but its a shame to skim over all that is going on here.

    For those who may not know, the breaking of a glass is the final step of the Jewish wedding ceremony. (Goldberg and Shlain’s prior collaborations have also dealt with Jewish imagery in contemporary America.) Viewers of teh piece are invited to “make a vow” before stomping the sensor. When I did, I heard the protesting folk rock lyrics of a certain Robert Zimmerman. So what’s the connection between this ancient Jewish wedding tradition and modern technology? See Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash (“first pornographic novel based on technology” … for a detailed treatment see Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation”.)

    Its interesting to note that shortly after breaking, the glass resets. What does this mean about the vow that was made? Its also interesting to imagine what vows other viewers might be making. Celibacy? Sobriety? Integrity in life or business? What about if famous New York Jew Bernie Madoff stopped by the fair? (He’s probably not shopping for art this year, but still.) Given our current socio-political climate, as various institutions are literally “crashing” down around us, I think the concept couldn’t be more relevant.

    anyway, i agree teh Cordy Ryman stuff was amazing. :)

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Hi Paddy!

    Its right and honest of you to admit you found the Goldberg/Shlain piece rather inaccessible, but why stop there? Why not present to your readers some of the questions the piece introduces, instead of simply stating you didn’t know how to answer them.

    Clearly the imagery is rather spartan, and its a shame that the Catherine Clark gallery didn’t provide the intimate installation that would’ve benefited the piece, but its a shame to skim over all that is going on here.

    For those who may not know, the breaking of a glass is the final step of the Jewish wedding ceremony. (Goldberg and Shlain’s prior collaborations have also dealt with Jewish imagery in contemporary America.) Viewers of teh piece are invited to “make a vow” before stomping the sensor. When I did, I heard the protesting folk rock lyrics of a certain Robert Zimmerman. So what’s the connection between this ancient Jewish wedding tradition and modern technology? See Ballard’s 1973 novel Crash (“first pornographic novel based on technology” … for a detailed treatment see Baudrillard’s “Simulacra and Simulation”.)

    Its interesting to note that shortly after breaking, the glass resets. What does this mean about the vow that was made? Its also interesting to imagine what vows other viewers might be making. Celibacy? Sobriety? Integrity in life or business? What about if famous New York Jew Bernie Madoff stopped by the fair? (He’s probably not shopping for art this year, but still.) Given our current socio-political climate, as various institutions are literally “crashing” down around us, I think the concept couldn’t be more relevant.

    anyway, i agree teh Cordy Ryman stuff was amazing. :)

  • Art Fag City

    Hey Rory,

    You’re right – the piece deserved a little more explanation than I gave it (apologies to the artist) – but I don’t think those concepts make the piece any more interesting. The problem for me has to do with the interactivity of the piece, in that it doesn’t encourage that. On a fairly base level the piece has give enough back to the viewer for them to reengage. A closed loop concept isn’t enough to do that.

  • Art Fag City

    Hey Rory,

    You’re right – the piece deserved a little more explanation than I gave it (apologies to the artist) – but I don’t think those concepts make the piece any more interesting. The problem for me has to do with the interactivity of the piece, in that it doesn’t encourage that. On a fairly base level the piece has give enough back to the viewer for them to reengage. A closed loop concept isn’t enough to do that.

  • Art Fag City

    Hey Rory,

    You’re right – the piece deserved a little more explanation than I gave it (apologies to the artist) – but I don’t think those concepts make the piece any more interesting. The problem for me has to do with the interactivity of the piece, in that it doesn’t encourage that. On a fairly base level the piece has give enough back to the viewer for them to reengage. A closed loop concept isn’t enough to do that.

  • Art Fag City

    Hey Rory,

    You’re right – the piece deserved a little more explanation than I gave it (apologies to the artist) – but I don’t think those concepts make the piece any more interesting. The problem for me has to do with the interactivity of the piece, in that it doesn’t encourage that. On a fairly base level the piece has give enough back to the viewer for them to reengage. A closed loop concept isn’t enough to do that.

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Brian Eno once said “Art is created by artists so that the viewer has the opportunity to create something.” Nowhere is that quote more applicable than with art that self-identifies as “interactive”. The slow motion crash of “Smashing” evokes Bill Viola, but gives the user the power (responsibility) to trigger the action. It is a simple gesture and as such, distills the notion of interactivity down to its simplest possible form (the viewer takes a step toward the artwork). Without the viewer’s active engagement, the piece (like a vow itself) is meaningless.

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Brian Eno once said “Art is created by artists so that the viewer has the opportunity to create something.” Nowhere is that quote more applicable than with art that self-identifies as “interactive”. The slow motion crash of “Smashing” evokes Bill Viola, but gives the user the power (responsibility) to trigger the action. It is a simple gesture and as such, distills the notion of interactivity down to its simplest possible form (the viewer takes a step toward the artwork). Without the viewer’s active engagement, the piece (like a vow itself) is meaningless.

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Brian Eno once said “Art is created by artists so that the viewer has the opportunity to create something.” Nowhere is that quote more applicable than with art that self-identifies as “interactive”. The slow motion crash of “Smashing” evokes Bill Viola, but gives the user the power (responsibility) to trigger the action. It is a simple gesture and as such, distills the notion of interactivity down to its simplest possible form (the viewer takes a step toward the artwork). Without the viewer’s active engagement, the piece (like a vow itself) is meaningless.

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon

    Brian Eno once said “Art is created by artists so that the viewer has the opportunity to create something.” Nowhere is that quote more applicable than with art that self-identifies as “interactive”. The slow motion crash of “Smashing” evokes Bill Viola, but gives the user the power (responsibility) to trigger the action. It is a simple gesture and as such, distills the notion of interactivity down to its simplest possible form (the viewer takes a step toward the artwork). Without the viewer’s active engagement, the piece (like a vow itself) is meaningless.

  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon
  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon
  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon
  • http://rorysolomon.com Rory Solomon
  • Art Fag City

    I’m not opposed to simple gestures, they just need to be interesting. Why bother engaging in a conversation in which you already know the answer?

  • Art Fag City

    I’m not opposed to simple gestures, they just need to be interesting. Why bother engaging in a conversation in which you already know the answer?

  • Art Fag City

    I’m not opposed to simple gestures, they just need to be interesting. Why bother engaging in a conversation in which you already know the answer?

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