Eija-Liisa Ahtila ME/WE, OKAY, GRAY
Denis Beaubois, In the event of Amnesia the city will recall, 1996
In the event of Amnesia the city will recall explores the relationship between the individual and the metropolis. These works are not structured events for a traditional audience, they are questions proposed to the site. Open actions which rely on the surrounding dynamics to embellish them. The city as audience, collaborator and performer is emphasised in this piece.
Twelve sites were selected around the city of Sydney where surveillance cameras are prominently placed. The locations were mapped out and the stage for “in the event of Amnesia ...” was created. A pilgrimage was made to the sites daily for a period of three days. Upon arrival the performer attempted to engage with the electronic eye. The performers actions were directed to the camera which adopted the role of audience. No permission was sought for the use of these sites. The performer arrived unannounced and carried out his actions. Within this urban context there exists an interplay between what I have termed as the “primary and secondary audience”. The primary audience is a targeted audience, a person or congregation who is willing to observe and assess. For the “Amnesia” piece the primary audience was the surveillance camera (or those who monitor them). Their willingness to observe is not based upon the longing for entertainment. It is “order driven” and stems from a necessity to asses and monitor designated terrain. Imbued with a watchdog consciousness, the primary audience scans the field for suspects, clues and leads. Like many audiences it assesses the scene and attempts to pre-empt the plot. However this audience is extremely discerning, and ultimately by assessing and reacting to the event it also adopts the role of performer.
When both parties (self & surveillance camera) become locked in performance the notion of audience is further expanded. The secondary audience exists because of the location of the action. The sites chosen were courtyards, walkways and thoroughfares. Locations of travel and transience. The secondary audience is a possible audience, a transient audience and an audience of chance. It is an autonomous audience who is self directed in its choice wether to stop and pay attention, or wether to ignore the event. It is also an audience entrenched in the glance as opposed to that of the gaze, quickly flying through the scene and capturing a “frame or snapshot” of the event.
Within this metropolis the walls do not have ears but are equipped with eyes. The city must understand the movements of those who dwell within its domain. To successfully achieve this it must be capable of reading its inhabitants.What can be read can be controlled in theory. Yet the city’s eyes are not content following the narrative provided by its inhabitants. The city weaves its own text within the surface narrative. A paranoid fiction based on foresight.
Using the vehicle of suspicion to create a captive audience
The Surveillance camera as primary audience is selective in what it responds to. It is a preemptive technology relying on observation before the fact. To police the space a directive must be given, the model of the offender suggested, a profile created. In his book “the simulation of surveillance”, Bogard speaks of the constructed image of the potential offender as a self fulfilling prophecy. It is only a question of time before the suspect appears. He suggests that one could even argue that the suspect already exists before the crime. Largely based on records of past arrests, antisocial activity and criminological simulations, profiles function as preliminaries to surveillance. If one’s race, sex, clothes, movements matches the profile you are the target. This ideology provides ripe ground for the cultivation of an audience. Adopt the basis of their visual code, become a suspect and create a stage with a captive audience.
The profile does not fail or succeed, it guarantees an offender/ performer for the observer. This arrangement is reciprocal, and if viewed from the “model deviants” perspective, this dynamic provides an ever watchful eye in the guise of a highly critical audience. To willingly confess to the camera is to disempower it. For the camera is no longer in the position of inquisitor. Its discoveries are rendered impotent as they are no longer exclusive and thus powerful. For the camera exclusive knowledge is power. However when knowledge becomes public and open its uses as a tool of power are greatly diminished. The action of willingly giving the self to the system, by virtue of its simplicity, raises questions of a hidden agenda . The surface disappears, rendering the action enigmatic, illegible and therefore potentially subversive. A tactical ploy where simulated innocence points to a model deviant. By complying with the system one defies it.
In the event of Amnesia the city will recall... (Cleveland USA) is a continuation of the Amnesia project. This work explores the performative nature of observation. The act of doing and watching are interchangeable within this project, the theme of the witness as culprit is ever present enforcing the idea where the viewer cannot escape the status of accomplice. An exploration into the structure where the crowd confront itself. in the inescapable role of performer .
Ai Wei Wei
Study of Perspective is a photographic series produced by Ai Weiwei, taking place between 1995 and 2017. Throughout the series, viewers see Ai’s left arm extended forward with the middle finger raised to famous and significant landmarks and backdrops from around the world. These pictures mimic tourist’s photos. His images demand that viewers challenge their own unquestioning acceptance and adherence towards the establishment, institutions, authority, and governments. This series speaks out about Ai’s beliefs regarding freedom of speech, empowerment of the people, and democratic values, and showcases his activist side in true colors.
The first in this series was shot in Tiananmen Square in 1995, where during the 1989 democracy movement protests hundreds to thousands of unarmed protesters were killed. In Study of Perspective – Tiananmen Square, the photo first appears to be a classic tourist photo in which Ai sticks his middle finger up at Tiananmen Square Gate. This offensive gesture reveals Ai’s disdain for the Communist China rulers and what they stood for. Other landmarks featured in Ai’s series include the White House in Capitol Hill, Washington D.C., the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and The Reichstag in Berlin. The gesture is the focal point of the photo, as the objects that are closer to the eye appear larger, thus his statement is the key point in the photo.
The series achieved worldwide recognition following Ai posting the images on his blog (2005-2009). Due to its popularity, Ai was detained and question at length in 2011 by the Chinese police, with all the questions, pointed towards the Tiananmen photo. Following Ai’s detention, other people began to post similar images of themselves on the internet as a signal of solidarity. His work has not only brought attention to a number of social issues but has garnered support and inspired other activities. Of course, the Tiananmen photo is totally banned from appearing any Chinese media.
early German practitioner of experimental film
An imprecise term which has sometimes been applied to art that is concerned with exploring new ideas and/or technology. It is sometimes used virtually synonymously with *‘avant‐garde’, but ‘experimental’ usually suggests a more explicit desire to extend the boundaries of the art in terms of materials or techniques, whereas ‘avant‐garde’ can include novel and provocative ideas expressed through traditional techniques. Most writers today would prefer more precise terms such as Kinetic or installation art for such activities.
The term implies a link with science. In 1923 Picasso said ‘I can hardly understand the importance given to the word research in connection with modern painting. In my opinion to search means nothing in painting. To find, is the thing’ (A. H. Barr Picasso: Fifty Years of his Art, 1946). These magisterial words are hardly an end to the matter. In practice the scientific notion of experiment or research has, legitimately or not, frequently been invoked by avant‐garde artists. Picasso himself spoke of a period in 1912 when ‘the studio became a laboratory’ (J. Richardson, Braque, 1959). In its early days the Surrealist movement conducted what it called a ‘Bureau of Surrealist Research’ and its first journal, La Révolution surréaliste, was modelled on a scientific journal.
Stephen Bann's 1970 book Experimental Painting uses the idea to cover a very wide range of art. It begins with Constable and Monet (because of their ‘scientific’ approach to nature) and goes through to Constructivists and abstract artists with a methodical or technological bent such as Vasarely. Then he takes in some figurative artists such as Giacometti and Auerbach, whom he sees as having an approach in common with the ‘auto‐destructive’ art of Gustav Metzger.
John A. Walker (Glossary of Art, Architecture and Design Since 1945, 1973, 3rd edn, 1992) writes of ‘experimental’: ‘It is a word with both positive and negative connotations: it is used to praise and condemn. Those writers for whom it is a term of praise often mean by it an empirical practice in which the artist plays with his materials and adopts chance procedures in the expectation that something of value will result…Those writers for whom “experimental” is a pejorative description mean by it “a trial run”, “not the finished work”, “something transitional”.’ Walker points out that in E. H. Gombrich's celebrated book The Story of Art, first published in 1950, the whole of 20th‐century art was originally embraced in a chapter called ‘Experimental Art’. Paradoxically it was Gombrich, in Art and Illusion (1960), who made one of the most thoroughly worked‐out attempts to relate the artistic process to that of scientific experiment. He was concerned here, not with strictly technical experimentation, but to argue for an analogy between the processes of representation as a series of experiments and that of the scientific ‘testing’ of a theory. Artists, in this model, test their theories (representations) against experience. As in science, therefore, there can be a kind of ‘progress’ as mistakes in the ‘theory’ are gradually corrected. There is no contradiction whatsoever between this notion of ‘experiment’ and Gombrich's generally conservative view of 20th‐century developments (see abstract art).
He says, “my work has no object, no image and no focus, what are you looking at? You are looking at you looking. What is important to me is to create an experience of wordless thought”
Melting man Nele Azevedo
Chinese artist MuXin
Projects of Tolaas
The smell archive
The smell archive is an archive in process since 1990. The archive today consists of 6763 distinctive smells from all over the world. Each smell emits from ‘something’. This ‘something’ is collected, hermetically preserved and canned in aluminum-boxes. The boxes all have the same shape and size.
Two devices have been developed to preserve the smells in the archive. The first has been developed to remove all oxygen from the can to isolate the smell. By doing this, only the pure smell remains and this lasts much longer. The second device was developed to allow the smells to be sampled at any time, while they remain contained in the boxes. It has a pump as well as a ventilator and can be put on top of one of the boxes to allow access to the smell inside. To do so, the device first pumps the smell into a separate chamber inside the box and then blows it out by means of the ventilator. A filter in-between the box and the device prevents the smell from disappearing.
The archive is an attempt to learn the ‘alphabet’ of smell and smelling, or in other words. Generally, we categorise smells with the subjective connotations ‘like it’ or ‘do not like it’. The smell archive tries to approach the immensely rich world of smells objectively. In this objective approach to smell, the labelling of the boxes in the archive is crucial. The labels carry information about the where, how, when, what, why, etc. of the smell-content inside the respective box. Besides this information, each box has a distinct number that refers to a story related to the smell kept inside a database on a computer. Literally every smell in the archive has a story to tell.
Besides the fact that the archive functions as a bank of information on smells, the organisation of archived smells into categories has formed the basis for a new fictional 'smell language'. Since the archive's categories are based on the objective information on the labels and inside the database, there is no need to use subjective terms such as bad and good for the categories. While experimenting with various categorization systems, names and terminologies for each of the categories gradually developed, ranging from substantives and adjectives to verbs. In this way a fictional language slowly emerged, named NASALO. This language has been growing and developing ever since.
"Each day, we breathe about 23,040 times and move around 438 cubic feet of air. It takes us about five seconds to breathe--two seconds to inhale and three seconds to exhale--and, that time, molecules of odor flood through our systems. Inhaling and exhaling, we smell odors. Smells coat us, swirl around us, enter our bodies, emanate from us. We live in a constant wash of them. Still, when we try to describe a smell, words fail us like the fabrications they are." (Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses (NY: Vintage Books, 1991), p.6-7)
Humans Can Sense 'Smell Of Fear' In Sweat, Psychologist Says
Sissel Tolaas is an artist and researcher known for her work with smells.
Tolaas is working actively on diverse aspects of the topic of scents. She began to concentrate on this in 1990, researching its importance in different sciences, fields of art /design and other disciplines. At that time she developed a "smell archive" in over 7000 airtight jars.In January 2004 Tolaas established the SMELL RE_searchLab Berlin, for smell & communication / language, supported by IFF International Flavours and Fragrances. Her research has won recognition through numerous national and international scholarships, honours, and prizes including the 2014 CEW, New York award for chemistry & innovation; 2009 Rouse Foundation Award from Harvard University GSD; an Honorary Mention at the 2010 ArsElectronica in Linz, Austria; and the 2010-2011-2012-2014 Synthetic Biology / Synthetic Aesthetics Award from Stanford and Edinburgh Universities including a residency at Harvard Medical School. Tolaas founded the Institute of Functional Smells in 2010 (i.e. health, education, well-being) and in 2016 became a founding member of FUTURE OF EDUCATION, a collaboration with the Nanyang Technical University Singapore and The Future Education Platform, Berlin.
Tolaas has completed 52 City SmellScape research projects since 1998, of, for and with major cities all over the world such as Paris, Stockholm, Kansas City, Kansas, & Kansas City, Missouri, Berlin, Oslo, London, Cape Town, Kochi, Istanbul, Shanghai, Singapore, Tokyo, Amman, New York Central Park and Seoul.
In 2018 Tolaas is working on an archive of the world's oceans and a project on the morbidity and decay of Detroit. Since 2014 Tolaas has been active in several start-ups in the field of the senses. In 2016 Tolaas launched the world's first Smell Memory Kit; several other devices and sense tools are in the pipeline.
The Re_Search Lab continues to support interdisciplinary projects and research involving smell, odor, and fragrance. It establishes communication among experts in different fields dealing with olfaction
Her project SWEAT FEAR | FEAR SWEAT from 2005 examines the body odors of twenty men, all of whom have a severe phobia of other bodies. Their smells were collected and chemically reproduced. The simulated sweat molecules were painted onto the gallery walls using a micro-encapsulation process, where they became activated by touch.
From her artist's statement about the installation the FEAR of smell — the smell of FEAR at the 2005 Tirana Biennale, Tolaas explains:
"In the modern West, we tend to think of smell in purely aesthetic terms, pleasant or unpleasant. In many other cultures however, smells have provided and still provide a basic means of defining the and interacting with the world. This is particularly the case in so far as odours are closely associated with personal and group identity. The study of the history, anthropology, and sociology of smells is, in a very real sense, an investigation into the ‘essence’ of human culture itself."
1969 150 cm x 200 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 231-1
Oil on canvas
1969 150 cm x 200 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 231-2
Oil on canvas
1969 100 cm x 80 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 242-1
Oil and graphite on canva
1968 50 cm x 50 cm Catalogue Raisonné: 194-11
Oil on canvas
The fifteen paintings that compose October 18, 1977 are based on photographs of moments in the lives and deaths of four members of the Red Army Faction (RAF), a German left-wing terrorist group that perpetrated a number of kidnappings and killings throughout the 1970s. Like On Kawara’s date paintings, these paintings have a single date as their title. On this date the bodies of three principal RAF members were found in the cells of the German prison where they were incarcerated. Although the deaths were officially deemed suicides, there was widespread suspicion that the prisoners had been murdered by the German state police. Richter based his paintings on newspaper and police photographs; his reworking of these documentary sources is dark, blurred, and diffuse. Richter hopes that, "by way of reporting," these paintings will "contribute to an appreciation of [our time], to see it as it is."
Wolfgang Tillmans, Chaos Cup, 2004