Precog Criticism - The Minority Report

Below is a positive prereview of an upcoming installation work by Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, written by's resident psychics.

When artist and curator Hilla Rebay hung Vasily Kandinsky’s paintings at the Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which she convinced her lover Solomon R. Guggenheim to open in the late 1920s, she created a sensual environment for them with colored walls, faint music, and perfumed air. It was an approximate construction of an inner, spiritual harmony unencumbered by reminders of nature, in keeping with the ideas of Kandinsky’s influential tract "Concerning the Spiritual in Art." While multimedia updates of art from an older period risk becoming mere bells and whistles on a body of work that stands on its own merits, Kandinsky’s intense interest in synaesthesia—and his exhibition history with Guggenheim’s collection—make it seem like he might be sympathetic to opportunities for multiple sensory stimulation afforded by today’s data processing technologies. Perhaps that’s why Works & Process at the Guggenheim Museum commissioned an immersive light-and-sound piece from Rafael Lozano-Hemmer to mark the opening of the museum’s major Kandinsky retrospective, the first for the artist in more than twenty years. Levels of Nothingness, which Lozano-Hemmer developed in collaboration with philosopher Brian Massumi, takes its inspiration from Kandinsky’s 1912 essay "Yellow Sound." The installation generates visuals from phonetic data produced by reading philosophical texts by Kandinsky and others. (At the performance, Isabella Rosselini will kick off the readings, and audience members will be encouraged to continue). Rather than translating one kind of information into another to spell out a neatly servable (sic) metaphor—as Lozano-Hemmer did, for example, with Pulse Park, which presented Madison Square Park as a living organism by animating it with lights activated by the heart rates of passers-by—Levels of Nothingness promises to be more meditative and fuzzy, suggesting the connection between thought and feeling, or objectivity and subjectivity that the writers it featured tried to put in words. When visualization is so commonly used as a tool to clear things up, it’s encouraging to see artists using it as a way to hint at the murky and unknowable. (emphasis added)

It's not clear who has the greater foreknowledge here: the writer of the review or Kandinsky himself, speaking from beyond the grave. In any case, hearing about a light show triggered by a movie star reading a painter's writings makes it seem like a situation where we might be unsympathetic to the opportunities for enjoyment it affords. (See also - "Avant Garde Establishment.")

Updated: Edited to be more in line with a series-in-progress on predictive criticism.

"Pretty Killbots"

"Pretty Killbots" [mp3 removed]

Continuing series where live analog synth passages are augmented with more "scripted" rhythms and/or melodies. As the title suggests the idea here was to wed the heavenly and the obnoxious. The tune from "Miasmatic Wave Crunch," played here with an e-piano and a video-gamy sampled Sidstation patch, is layered over some doomy analog grunts and complaints. The melody got boring after a few repetitions so I was forced to write some variations and counterpoint--darn, that's hard--so the song now has a narrative arc.

"Analog_Sketch_a6 (beats)"

"Analog_Sketch_a6_beats" [mp3 removed]

Continuing series where live analog synth passages are augmented with non-real-time beats and/or tunes. Here's another one where sampler-played drums were retro-fitted to some filtered burbles triggered by an LFO "clock."


The writing on Curbed consistently cracks me up:

Coney Island Stocking Up on Cold-Blooded Killers

Thursday, September 17, 2009, by Joey

We don't get to run aquarium renderings that often here at Curbed HQ, and when that opportunity presents itself, you bet your dorsal fin we're taking it. Coney Island's New York Aquarium has announced a $100 million "Sea Change" plan that will turn its single shark tank filled with 90,000 gallons of water and eight sharks into two tanks filled with 600,000 gallons of water and 30 sharks! There will also be other refurbished areas and new exhibits and blah blah blah. Sharks!!! Just over $40 million has been earmarked for the project by the city, and additional fundraising is about to kick off. Mayor Bloomberg sees this as another part of the ambitious Coney Island redevelopment plan (revised estimated completion: 2326), with the bonus being that he doesn't have to pay off a greedy land speculator to get this step accomplished.