Lesson: An Exploration of Places and Spaces Part II

  • Grade Level: High School (9-12 grade)
  • Subject Area: Visual Arts, New Media
  • Dave McKenzie, still from Postcards From, 2008. Single-channel video with sound. Courtesy the artist.Dave McKenzie, still from Postcards From, 2008. Single-channel video with sound. Courtesy the artist.
  • detail of "Line-up," 2008.detail of "Line-up," 2008.
  • installation detail of "Line-up," 2008.installation detail of "Line-up," 2008.
  • Still from "C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience)," 2007.Still from "C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience)," 2007.

Introduction

Written by G:Class Educator Dina Weiss.

Students will discuss the role of location. How do you connect with familiar and unfamiliar locations? What is your role in your environment as a viewer, tourist, student, or inhabitant?

“In ‘Museum as Hub: Six Degrees’ artists use the real estate of the New Museum as organizing principle, departure point, vista, and classroom to imagine the changing relevance of the Museum and its environs. Expanding the concept of an exhibition, “Six Degrees” refers to the angle of the Bowery off New York City’s grid.” The program will focus in particular on two of the artists: Lisa Sigal Line-up and Dave McKenzie’s projects I’ll be there, Postcards, and On Location. These artists address and question the role that each of us plays in our community, as well as how do neighborhoods and cities link together?

This project will be in collaboration with Rhizome. It will draw connections from the Museum as Hub artists with some projects from Rhizome artbase. For example, You Are Not Here – A Dislocative Tourism Agency, “You Are Not Here (.org) is a platform for urban tourism mash-ups. It invites participants to become meta-tourists on simultaneous excursions through multiple cities. Passers-by stumble across the curious You Are Not Here signs in the street. The YANH street-signs provide the telephone number for the Tourist Hotline, a portal for audio-guided tours of one place on the streets of another.”

Students will also look at eRuv by Elliott Malkin: “eRuv is a digital graffiti project installed along the route of the former Third Avenue elevated train line in lower Manhattan.”

Objectives

  • Students will explore the importance of a location.
  • Students will examine how architecture and landscape alter our movements.
  • Students will review how video, dance/movement, and music synthesize together.
  • Students will evaluate if and how it relates directly the pop culture music videos.
  • Students will review their own relationship to space and place.
  • Students will collaborate to create a performance, an online project and/or a music video.

Vocabulary

Symbiotic refers to the living together in more or less intimate association or close union of two dissimilar organisms; a cooperative relationship
Intervention is to occur, fall, or come between points of time or events; to come in or between by way of hindrance or modification
Location is a position or site occupied or available for occupancy or marked by some distinguishing feature

Materials

Drawing supplies: paper, pen, pencils
a computer lab
digital cameras
Dave McKenzie’s images from the Digital Archives
Lisa Sigal’s images from the Digital Archives
C.L.U.E. images from the Digital Archives

Lesson Strategy

Questions
Why and how do specific locations shift your experience? Contrast and compare a variety of known locations. What is your role in your neighborhood? How does an experience change when space is virtual? Does your experience shift with an online environment? If so, how?

Project
Learn about new media art practices and technologies
Brainstorm ideas for online projects
Learn needed technology and develop project
Present projects with live Web addresses

A.L. Steiner + robbinschilds C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience)
C.L.U.E. (color location ultimate experience) is a collaboration between artists A.L. Steiner and robbinschilds (Layla Childs and Sonya Robbins), AJ Blandford, and Kinski. Like a living organism, C.L.U.E. adapts to the space it temporarily occupies. In this manifestation at the New Museum, it takes the form of site-specific performance, multichannel video installation, and video projection. The flexible nature of this project embraces multiple arrangements of its parts, allowing the environment to inform its presentation. Shifting shape while generating new elements is essential for C.L.U.E. and enables it to continually evolve, remaining a work permanently in progress.
In the process of making their work, the artists visit locales ranging from desolate desert landscapes to darkened parking lots, responding to the environment and capturing the results of these interactions. The subsequent videos are choreographed patterns, crafted through the use of carefully timed jump cuts that divide the piece into discrete, color-coded sections. In C.L.U.E., robbinschilds is costumed in rainbow hues as they perform a series of choreographed duets to an instrumental rock score by the Seattle-based band Kinski. The symbiotic relationship between Steiner, robbinschilds, AJ Blandford, and Kinski propels the narrative of the video and encourages the viewer to accompany them on their journey.

Lisa Sigal Line-up began as a proposal to “paint” a gesture into the surroundings of the New Museum. Looking out the glass front of the fifth-floor Resource Center, Sigal chose a color in the landscape to amplify and exaggerate: the seafoam green bicycle lane on Prince Street. A metaphor for the effects of the New Museum on its new neighborhood, Sigal imagines the line continuing into the horizon and beyond. In the realization of this project in New York, Sigal worked with individuals and organizations, depending upon their cooperation, counsel, and support to shape the final project. Inspired by the Museum as Hub project, Sigal also worked with artists Essam Abdallah, Erwin van Doorn, Paulina Lasa, and Sangdon Kim—each involved with Museum as Hub partner projects in Cairo, Eindhoven, Mexico City, and Seoul, respectively—to find ways to continue the line around the world. Photographs document each artist’s interpretation of Sigal’s request in the context of his or her surroundings, the angle of the line alluding to the next appearance of Sigal’s line in its global circumnavigation.

Dave McKenzie
I’ll Be There, 2008-09 / Dave McKenzie has described working as an artist as a way to meet people. In I’ll Be There, McKenzie proposes meetings at locations around the Lower East Side over the course of the exhibition. The locations vary, the only constant, McKenzie’s pledge to show up. These proposed encounters, a series of open-ended acts, speak to the potential in an encounter: an anticipated conversation, a random happenstance, or even that the artist’s proposal is unmet. McKenzie contemplates the potential he holds as an individual in an encounter to bring about change, encourage dialogue, and forge new meaning. By situating his meetings in the Lower East Side, the artist activates the neighborhood with this potential. To publicize the meetings to the New Museum audience, McKenzie has created a calendar with the times and locations of his six proposed meetings in this publication.

Postcards From, 2008/ Walking around the neighborhood in the months prior to the exhibition, a modern flaneur, Dave McKenzie photographed locations including building exteriors, street corners, and urban architecture, both the noteworthy and mundane. Through his city photography, often a tourist’s pastime, the artist tries to see the Lower East Side anew, though he is neither tourist nor resident. In the video, McKenzie flips through these images, trying to recall the place, an interaction, or details about the location. Attempting to name each image, McKenzie explores the gap between specificity of place and the disassociation that can come through image making, along with the mind’s tendency to abstract and forget. The difficult memory game highlights how McKenzie remembers and contextualizes location through a moment, feeling, or visual detail about the place, and forgets the specifics of many others. In replicating the tourist’s action, the artist tries to note the neighborhood’s distinction, conflating his attempt at seeing with his difficulty in remembering.

In On Location, the artist scouts locations around the Lower East Side as sites for a movie that will never be made. As location scout, McKenzie explores the neighborhood, and instead of imposing a narrative, is inspired by those who inhabit the spaces in daily life: a couple on a bench on the corner of Ludlow and Stanton may inspire a love story. Referencing notices announcing filming in a neighborhood, often an inconvenience to residents, McKenzie places his own “Dear Neighbor” letters on signposts, businesses, and residences. Hoping to cause no infringement upon the local community in a neighborhood where he is neither resident nor complete outsider, McKenzie uses his letter to justify his presence and assure the anonymous reader of the sincerity of his work as an artist. Framing his view of the neighborhood in this context and inspired by what he sees, McKenzie overlays stories and situations to craft a never-told narrative through observation.

You Are Not Here – A Dislocative Tourism Agency, “You Are Not Here (.org) is a platform for urban tourism mash-ups. It invites participants to become meta-tourists on simultaneous excursions through multiple cities. Passers-by stumble across the curious You Are Not Here signs in the street. TheYANH street-signs provide the telephone number for the Tourist Hotline, a portal for audio-guided tours of one place on the streets of another…” Through investigation of these points and with or without the aid of a downloadable map, local pedestrians are transformed into tourists of foreign places. Current walking tours include Baghdad through the streets of New York City and Gaza City through the streets of Tel-Aviv.”
Web link:
http://rhizome.org/object.php?48176

eRuv by Elliott Malkin: “_eRuvis a digital graffiti project installed along the route of the former Third Avenue elevated train line in lower Manhattan. The train line, dismantled in 1955, was more than just a means of transport; it was part of an important religious boundary — an eruv — for a Hasidic community on the old Lower East Side. Using semacodes, the former boundary is reconstructed and mapped back onto the space of the city. Pedestrians with camera phones can then access location-specific historical content linked through the semacodes.”
Web Links:
http://www.dziga.com/eruv/index.php
http://rhizome.org/object.php?34783

The Folk Songs Project
Folk Songs for the Five Points is a celebration of cultural diversity and change, using “folk songs” as a metaphor to explore immigration and the formation of identity in New York’s Lower East Side. The project isn’t about absolute answers or clear definitions. We are celebrating the unexpected richness that confronts you at every turn – from the many languages of Canal St to the endless complexity contained in words like “immigrant” and “folk song”.
Web Links:
http://rhizome.org/art/?tag=tenementmuseum
http://www.tenement.org/folksongs/

Assessment

Evaluate student participation in discussion and project execution.

Extending the Lesson

Have students locate a potential site for a public intervention in their own neighborhoods and discuss how it addresses issues around identity and location.

Additional Resources

New Museum Web site
Museum as Hub Web site