Last month, Queen Mary University London student John Wild presented his Digital Duchamp commission, Status Suit. An LCD screen embedded in the back of a jacket, Status Suit brought Duchamp’s ‘readymade’ notion of art into the digital age, responding to the new ways we interact and communicate with one another in the face of social networks.
Wearing the Status Suit around London and Berlin, broadcasting tweets to Twitter and the jacket’s screen, what was private is now public and how we ‘make art’ is challenged as Duchamp’s ideas met the 21st century world.
Our final Digital Duchamp commission has been created by Liam Donovan, entitled Readymade for eBay. The piece is the third in a series of artworks produced by PhD students from the Media and Arts Technology Programme at Queen Mary, University of London, inspired by Marcel Duchamp’s work and influence.
We spoke to artist Liam Donovan about his idea:
“Through a Duchampian-style random process, objects are bought online from eBay. Then, using a relatively novel technique, they are scanned and converted into purely digital three-dimensional representations of themselves, and exhibited in a digital gallery, allowing the viewer to examine and inspect them in a way which would be impossible with physical objects in a physical gallery. As the models are rotated in the digital space the viewer hears the sounds made by the physical objects as they are handled in physical space, as recorded by sound artist Chris Jack, also a PhD student at Queen Mary.”
xname’s Dusty Mariee, is our second Digital Duchamp commission with Queen Mary, University of London, a work that injects Duchamp’s groundbreaking ‘readymade’ approach to creating art to the council estates of East London and the Brutalist architecture of the Balfron Tower with a live stream from the nineteenth floor.
Watch ‘Dusty Mariee’ at xname.cc/dusty_mariee.
We spoke to Eleonora Oreggia about her ideas behind the piece:
“The stream represents the large glass that separates my personal space from the external world, that is to say: private and public life. The camera focuses on the dust stratifying on the surface of the glass, while London and the artist inhabiting the flat appear as projections, phantom shadows over the much more stable, yet ever-changing, image of the dust. Contact microphones on the surface of the window transform the glass into a very powerful long distance zoom: at random, the construction captures and reproduces the sounds that the city of London emits through the internet, transforming the glass into a gigantic microphone.”
How is Dusty Mariee inspired by Duchamp?
“This piece is a ready-made - a window becomes the subject of artistic inspection. The image that the camera reproduces is intrinsically different when focussing on the dust stratifying over the glass, as the picture of the city becomes bleared, surreal, pictorial, as if coming from another world or a different time and dimension. When the night comes, or the lights are turned on in the room, the dust becomes more visible, and the reflection of the internal space of the house overlays and mixes with that of London, offering a glimpse of Duchamp’s strongest obsession, the fourth dimension, the projection of a three dimensional reality over another three dimensional space, as seen in Duchamp’s Large Glass.”
Dusty Mariee is part of Digital Duchamp, a collaboration with PhD students on the Media and Arts Technology Programme at Queen Mary, University of London as part of our Dancing around Duchamp season. Find out more about the artist, Eleonora Oreggia on her website: http://xname.cc
Photos: Valentina Schivardi
We introduce you to the many faces of the Barbican, from curating to marketing, press to programming, gardening to gift shop, as we meet the people that bring the Barbican Centre to life every day.
First in the hot seat – Neil Anderson the Barbican’s Head Craftsperson, the man responsible for managing and maintaining the second largest Conservatory in London and our hidden tropical oasis in the City.
• How long have you been working at the Barbican?
Too long! I have almost completed a life sentence at 29 years.
• Talk us through your average working day.
I arrive around 6.15am and though not fully awake, I take a quick look around for anything untoward whilst heading for the sanctuary of our “mess room” and the kettle. Check my emails over tea and toast and mentally map out the day’s schedule and venturing into our “own little world”. First stop is feeding the fish, checking the birds and terrapins as I head around to activate the irrigation equipment whilst arguing with Marta about who is going to water what (who says men can’t multi-task?). Once we have completed the internal watering, we check the external areas and trail a few hoses around before most of the public are about then head back to the mess room for a hard earned break. Quick check for any new emails and reply if necessary, then it could be any number of things from general maintenance (sweeping, tidying beds and cleaning pond filters) to more technical tasks such as deciding on what to have for lunch or even some pruning, re-potting, propagation, implementing the biological pest control or such like.
• What is the best part of your job?
It’s difficult to pin down to a single aspect, but our working environment and variety of work must be favourites. A quiet sunny morning broken only by the sound of water and birdsong - can you better that?
The Barbican / Guildhall Creative Learning team work closely with young people across East London on many creative projects ranging from drumming with Drum Works to poetry, filmmaking to creating their own music in Future Band.
In addition to these projects, we have established close associations with youth ensembles from Boy Blue Entertainment, Da Bratz and Da Bluez. With so much creativity at our disposal, we wanted to create an opportunity to showcase and celebrate the hard work of our young performers and in November 2012, such an ambitious theatre project came to life in the Barbican Theatre as Unleashed.
Our ambition was to collaborate with these talented young people to create a show – not individual showcases, but a cohesive, devised performance. It was immensely important that the creative process was led and owned by the young people.
The regular rehearsal sessions were complemented with ‘laboratory’ workshops and specially commissioned cross-arts groups with artist leaders and a professional theatre team, who provoked and shaped the process and provided continuous support.
The young people made everything in the final show: the song lyrics, choreography, spoken word, film, beats, grooves and soundscapes. Our professional video artist for the show, Louis Price, captured the process from rehearsals to the final performance and created this short documentary to give a flavor of how Unleashed emerged from an ambition to the high velocity performance we saw on stage:
Unleashed took place on 23 & 24 November 2012.
Find out more about Barbican / Guildhall Creative Learning projects on barbican.org.uk/education
In the second of our Digital Duchamp commissions, bringing the work of Marcel Duchamp into the digital age, we present Dusty Mariee by Eleonora Oreggia.
‘ …a brutalist kiss between the Barbican and Balfron with all the dust and air and
magnetism crushed between them… ‘
Dusty Mariee is a live, continuous, audio-video stream broadcasting to the Internet from the nineteenth floor of the Balfron Tower in East London. Designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1963, the tower is an iconic example of Brutalist architecture, not too dissimilar to the harsh but beautiful concrete surroundings of the Barbican Estate itself.
But who – or what – is Dusty Mariee? This short film, realised in collaboration with film-maker Jen Fearnley introduces the unique piece, offering a surprisingly beautiful view of East London from above.
Dusty Mariee is streaming live from the ninetheenth floor of the Balfron Tower until 9 June on http://xname.cc/dusty_mariee
About Eleonora Oreggia
Eleonora Oreggia (also known as xname) is a new media artist and developer born in Milan and based in London. She received an MA Hons in Visual Arts from the University of Bologna (DAMS, Drama, Art and Music Studies), with a thesis in Semiotics of Art. Her work focuses on audiovisual pieces, software art, interactive installations. http://xname.cc
About Digital Duchamp
As part of our Dancing around Duchamp season, celebrating the lasting influence of Duchamp on the art world, Digital Duchamp sees the Barbican work in collaboration with PhD students on the Media and Arts Technology Programme at Queen Mary, University of London to create digital works of art directly inspired by the themes of the multi-disciplinary season including change, provocative humour and real life over art.
To celebrate our Dancing around Duchamp season (February – June 2013) and the lasting influence of Duchamp on the art world in all its guises, the Barbican are collaborating with Queen Mary, University of London to commission three pieces of work from PhD students on the Media and Arts Technology Programme.
These commissions each feature the use of digital technology, and are directly inspired by the themes running through our multidisciplinary Duchamp season including: the use of chance; provocative humour; real life over art.
We are pleased to announce that the first of the three commissions is ‘Status Suit’ by John Wild, with the subsequent two to be announced later in May.
Mirroring online profiles and our constant social interactions with the world, ‘Status Suit’ is a suit with an embedded LCD screen, broadcasting the wearer’s status updates simultaneously on the jacket and to Twitter. Personal thoughts are no longer private, opening up the possibility of unmediated comments, interactions, discussions and conflict.
We spoke to artist John Wild about his idea:
“Our social interactions have been transformed by the emergence of virtual social spaces. Social networking sites, like Facebook and Twitter, incorporate a multitude of mediated platforms where individuals can communicate, share their thoughts and feelings, and work together with other individuals or groups. As a response to these new ways of communicating, we have devised new ways of defining ourselves within the virtual social landscape – compressing complex emotions, feelings and pretentions into 140 character status updates. The flip side of the unprecedented ease of sharing information, ideas and cooperating has been the loss of privacy and the increased possibility of surveillance, from marketing companies and employers to state agencies or the police.”