Saturday, October 20, 2012

Dumbo Arts Center in conversation with Caryn Coleman


Dumbo Arts Center:

Each piece varies not only in subject matter, but in its level of audacity in presentation. How does the boldness of Cliteracy or the unassuming nature of ...i wanna go home... relate to the way we would typically consider the topics they discuss?

Caryn Coleman: 
In terms of those two specific works, Sophia Wallace and John Lee address the language of the law in a textual and personal way with each work encapsulating how "laws" present themselves in our daily lives; always present, sometimes foreboding, sometimes barely noticeable. Where they differ the greatest is the manner in which the viewer is interacts or "reads" the pieces: Wallace's wall of laws in Cliteracy is intended to be a presence that commands attention whereas the diminutive nature of Lee's ...i wanna go home... demands a more intimate reading. Make no mistake though, regardless of size, each artwork is powerful in its language and nature. Though Lee's ...i wanna go home... may be smaller, it still has a ton of bite. And while Wallace's Cliteracy make be larger, it embodies a heartfelt, personal message.

DAC:
There seems to be a sense of expansiveness through much of the work, whether represented through the length of video in Magic Acid Video Crash Feet or the mass of paper and stone in The Size of a Will. Would it be fair to say the expansiveness of each piece represents the complexity of each issue? And, at what point were you confident in what you chose to exclude from the artwork, to still reflect that complexity?

CC:
As the curator I wasn't involved in the decision to exclude any element in the artists' work however I can say that, in regards to these two particular artworks, the choice in which Alex Snukal and Diana Shpungin made to represent their individual explorations in terms of "expansiveness" was appropriate to their aims. Snukal's artistic practice continuously deals with the durational and the context of the surrounding space. So that Magic Acid Video Crash Feet deals with the notion of subcultural cycles and reproduction in music production as a performance, its eight-hour length seems to embody this idea of life/trends being constantly manipulated, changing, enduring. The Size of a Will tackles a more sensitive notion of a life cycle by representing the seemingly unending amount of paperwork (the legalities) people must deal with when a family member or friend passes away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Monster Drawing Rally Fundraiser 2012

Calling all artists:

The Monster Drawing Rally Fundraiser is back!


DAC is pleased to announce the return of the long-anticipated Monster Drawing Rally Fundraiser to be held September 29-30. For our new artists, I would love to have you involved! For those of you who don't already know The Monster Drawing Rally is a live drawing event.  You draw for one hour, then we sell your completed drawing. All funds go to producing DAC's programs. We provide all of the drawing materials - pencils, pens, paper, but you can bring more. Drawings will be sold for $35-$50. The event concept was originally developed by Southern Exposure in San Francisco. 


This fundraiser is such a fun event. I would be delighted to have you be a part of it.  DAC couldn’t exist without artists like you. Thanks for reading and for your support of the arts!  Hope to see you in September!
If you are an artist interested in joining, please RSVP by clicking this link://www.surveymonkey.com/s/G5Q5GSG


Post by : Tom Anesta

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

2012 INTERVIEW / TORSTEN ZENAS BURNS

DEMOFORMANCES:YELLOW(MOBILERS)
Ressurectables (DAC Propkit), 2012

1. Your sculpture uses found objects: where do you get them?
I’M GOING TO ANSWER THESE QUESTIONS IN
(DEMOFORMANCE MODE) USING OR PROJECTING
BANKS GOTHIC FONT IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS & ITALICIZED.
FOR THE DUMBO ARTS CENTER DEMOFORMANCE
YELLOW(MOBILERS) CONFIGURATION I USED ABOUT THIRTY
INORGANIC READY-SPRAYEDS (PULLED FROM A COLLECTION
OF A HUNDRED OR MORE PERSONAL SPECIMANS) – THE
PIECES CAN BE RECONFIGURED AND CHUNKED TOGETHER IN
DIFFERENT VARIABLE COMBINATIONS DEPENDING ON THE
STATIC OR MOBILE SET-UP SITE.
THE SATURATED “MOBILERS” INCLUDE A VARIETY OF
DEFUNCT TECHNOLOGICAL PRODUCTS REPURPOSED
(INCLUDING) MY 1ST 1989 VHS MINOLTA CAMCORDER, MY 1ST
1991 TRIPOD SECURED IN PHILADELPHIA, SOUTH KOREAN
MOTORCYCLE HELMETS, APPLE KEYBOARDS, A CHINESE
REMOTE CONTROLLED TOY VEHICLE, SONY HI8
CAMCORDERS, SUPER 8 CAMERAS, VERIZON CELL PHONES,
SCHOOL CHAIRS, A 1970’S SONY VIDICON TUBE STUDIO
CAMERA, 12” GIJOE NUDE ACTION FIGURES, A BRICK FROM
HOLYOKE, MA, MY DANISH AUNT KIRSTEN LARSEN’S
PHOTOGRAPHIC STILL CAMERA, DRIED CORN COBS, AND A
RUBBER FACE PREVIOUSLY USED FOR CPR TRAINING ETC.
IN THIS PARTICULAR SET-UP THE SCULPTURAL ITEMS ARE
CHUNKED TOGETHER IN A CARAVAN AND JOINED BY LOOPED
VIDEO, FRAMED PHOTOGRAPHS, THE IMMERSION MAN, AND
FICTIONAL VIGNETTES RELATING TO A RE-IMAGINED SPACE
TRAINING WORKSHOP. WE SEE BODYBANKS CHARACTERS
EXPLORING RELATIONSHIPS WITH AMBIGUOUS
ARCHITECTURE, ANIMATED LAND, VEHICLE DELIVERY
SYSTEMS, AND CUSTOM PRESSURE SUITS.
OTHER RELATED FICTIONS MIGHT INVOLVE THE DEMO OF
NEW KINDS OF “SPECTRALOGRAPHIC” CAPTURING DEVICES.
IN ANOTHER VERSION I HAVE THE (MOBILERS) RE-NAMED
“RESSURECTABLES” RELATING MORE TOWARDS A STORY OF
AMBIGUOUS REPLICATION...WE SEE REPRODUCING
CONSTRUCTION YELLOW AND CANDY GLOSS PINK
DISCARDED AND BROKEN (VARIETIES) CREATE A NEW LIFE OF
THEIR OWN – A KIND OF SPREADING (NANO) TECHNOLOGY
BLOWN UP IN A LIFE SIZE HUMANOID SCALE.
2. You are clearly very integral to your own art. Do you believe that
there is a separation between art and artist?
SINCE ENGAGING VIDEO ART EXPERIMENTS IN1988
AT THE SCHOOL OF ART & DESIGN AT ALFRED UNIVERSITY, I
HAVE BEEN INTERESTED IN CREATING A RE-IMAGINED LIFE
LONG SPECULATIVE SELF PORTRAIT PROJECT. OVER THE
YEARS I HAVE MANAGED TO CREATE RETCONNED
MYTHOLOGIES FUSED WITH MANIFESTED (BODYBANKS)
CHARACTERS.
CONCURRENTLY WITH MY EXPLORATION OF CHOREOGRAPHY
AND SCIENCE-FRICTION THEMES I ALSO HAVE ENGAGED IN
SOME POTENT LONGTERM COLLABORATIONS.
……SO NOT ONLY IS IT IMPOSSIBLE TO SEPARATE BETWEEN
ART AND ARTIST IT IS IMPOSSIBLE…TO SEPARATE BETWEEN
ART AND ARTIST AND COLLABORATOR. I LIVE FOR THE MESSY
FUSIONS. ITS ALSO A WAY OF EXTENDING YOUR LIFE IN A
STRANGE WAY…YOU CAN NOW BREAK YOUR OWN 4TH WALL.
A TRIP TO HOME DEPOT TO SECURE PROPS FOR A VIDEO
PROJECT IS DIFFERENT FOR EVERY COLLABORATION. THE
SAME ITEM IS NOW RECAST AND CHARGED WITH NEW
MEANING EVERY TIME. THERE IS A (TORSTEN) ACTIVATING
GESTURE ALONE ON EARTH A, EARTH B HAS (T.O.R.S.T.E.N.
AND DARRIN EXPLORING THE MASHED-UP FLESH OF OUR
TIMES), EARTH C HAS THE (HALFLIFERS) ENGAGING IN
AFTERLIFE & RESCUE BASED SPLATSTICK.
3.In the "Demoformances: Yellow (Mobilers)" video you change
locations a few times: how important is location to your art? How
do you choose a location?

RESIDENCY PROGRAMS, EDU ADJUNCT CONTRACTS, AND
COLLABORATIONS ARE CRUCIAL TO MY ONGOING VIDEO,
PHOTOGRAPHIC, BOOK, AND INSTALLATION PROJECTS.
I HAVE BEEN FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO ENGAGE SOME
REALLY DYNAMIC RESIDENCY PROGRAMS, EACH WITH THEIR
OWN UNIQUE GEOGRAPHIC SIGNATURE BE IT LOCATED NEAR
OCEAN / FORREST / PLAINS OR INSERTED IN A TWIN
TOWERED MEGA-BUILDING. I HAVE SHOT HOURS AND HOURS
OF VIDEO AT EACH MOBILE LOCATION, BUILDING DIVERSE
CHOREAGRAPHIC AND COSTUMED RESPONCES TO THE
ENVIRONMENT AT HAND. FURTHER MEANINGFUL LOCATIONS
FOR PROJECTS ARE BASED ON MY ONGOING TEACHING
EXPERIENCES BOTH IN DOMESTIC AND INTERNATIONAL
SETTINGS. I VIEW MY EDU TEACHING AND CURATION
EXPERIMENTS AS AN EXTENTION OF MY ART MAKING
PRACTICE.
MY NEXT PROJECT CALLED “KOREANAUTICA” WAS SHOT
PRIMARILY IN SOUTH KOREA THANKS TO A WONDERFUL
OPPORTUNITY I HAD AT KYUNGSUNG UNIVERSITY’S
DEPARTMENT OF DIGITAL DESIGN IN PUSAN.
FINALLY THIS DEMOFORMANCES PROJECT CREATED FOR
THE DUMBO ARTS CENTER WOULD NOT BE POSSIBLE
WITHOUT THE GENEROUS SUPPORT OF TWO INSPIRING
ARTISTS (MICHAEL O’MALLEY & CHRIS NELSON) WHO OVER
THE YEARS HAVE LET ME COLLABOTRONICALLY ENGAGE WITH
THEIR OWN DYNAMIC SCULPTURES AND INSTALLATION SITES.
Ressurectables (DAC Propkit), 2012

4. How does repetition--of actions, prop use, visual motifs, etc.,...--
factor into your art?

FOR THIS EXCHANGE I WILL MENTION ONLY ONE.
OVER THE YEARS THE ONE INSPIRING PROP OR COSTUME
ELEMENT THAT I HAVE USED OVER AND OVER AGAIN IN MY
OWN SOLO VIDEO PROJECTS AS WELL AS MADE SIGNIFICANT
GUEST APPEARANCES IN SEVERAL ONGOING
COLLABORATIONS INCLUDING (HALFLIFERS: PIONEER
SERIES) IS “THE IMMERSION SUIT”. THE IST RED FLOTATION
SUIT WAS SENT TO ME IN 1995 BY JENNIFER & KEVIN MCCOY.
I HAVE BEEN USING THE ORIGINAL AND OTHER VERSIONS OF
THE FORM EVER SINCE.
FOR ME IT’S A GESTURAL TRIGGER DELIVERY SYSTEM / A
SCULPTURAL MOBILE DOUBLE / AN IMAGINATION AUGMENT /
A SECOND SKIN / A PERSONALIZED PRESSURE (EARTH) SUIT.
5.Why the use of rewind in your video? Are the actions in the video
meant to be seen exclusively in reverse?

(BACKWORDS / FOR-WWARDS / S.I.D.E.=WAYS)
AT THIS POINT ITS HARD FOR ME TO SEE THINGS IN A LINEAR
WAY. THE INTEREST I HAVE HAD SINCE MY FIRST EXPOSURE
TO VIDEO CAMERAS, EDITING SYSTEMS, AND MEDIA
PROCESSING TOOLS HAS BEEN ONE OF TEXTURE AND
PHYSICALITY OF THE VIDEO SIGNAL FUSED WITH AN
IMPROVISATIONAL AND TEMPORALLY ACTIVATED FLESH
BODY. LIKE WELDING HOT METAL OR SCARRING ZINC PLATES
WITH AN ACID BATH FOR AN ETCHING PRINT, THE ANALOG
VIDEO’S REAL TIME RESIDUE REALLY EXCITES ME. EACH
PIECE OF EQUIPMENT’S JOG SHUTTLE MIXED WITH LIVE
RESCANNING BACKWARDS AND FORWARDS CREATING
UNIQUE CONVULSIVE TEARING QUALITIES THAT FIT THE
EARLY THEMES AND DELIVERY SYSTEM OF A GESTURAL
STORY BODY. FOR (DEMOFORMANCES) THE TEMPORAL
DIGITAL FICTIONS REVOLVE AROUND A SET OF SPECIAL
“CAPTURE” CAMERAS THAT PICK UP ON SPECTRAL
ENERGIES. WE SEE THIS IN THE FORM OF GESTURAL
COLORED SMOKE OR PLASMIC DISCHARGES THAT
SEEMINGLY COME OUT OF NOW WHERE AND ARE
RE-INGESTED BY THE SCULPTURAL FORMS FOR SOME
UNKNOWN OR KNOWN PURPOSE. EACH WORKSHOP
VIGNETTE FOCUSES ON THESE ONGOING TULPOIDAL
MAN-INGESTATIONS……

Friday, July 20, 2012

Interview questions for Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin "What-If? In the Days When the Tiger Smoked?


What-if? In the Days When the Tiger Smoked, 2010

1. What helped inspire the creation of these characters or the assembly of this
specific cast of characters for "What-If"?

What helped inspire the re-creation of these characters is our mutual love of art
as discovered through comics and science fiction. Our first conversations about
the characters that fueled What If? were about fusing adult content and
sensibilities onto some of the more obscure superheroes that we were both
drawn to in childhood. Scarlet Witch pushed the concept of the probability to its
limit as she has the mutant power to change the outcome of any possible
situation. The Vision pushes the boundaries between man and machine as he is
a synthezoid with a human soul. While the real-life art characters Stelarc and
Orlan are not necessarily their equivalence there are some parallels in the way
these artists address physical human limitations through their art.

2. Much of your imagery or installations rely on collage. Could you elaborate the
process you take to create composite images or sculptures?

Our prior works relied more heavily on collage in a sense that we used a lot of
appropriated video material to contextualize our performative activities within a
historical context. However, for the What If? works we abandoned video
appropriation to investigate appropriation of characters engaged in the act of cos
play or costume play. In our images and sculpture we allowed ourselves the
liberty to collage elements of our production shoots to create references to more
elaborate fictions that are referred to but whose existence is not evident in the
video works directly. In some ways, this opens up the implied narrative to further
interpretations from the viewer. For example, our long collage works we like to
consider a kind of manifest hieroglyphics. It is another way to explore the
threads of ambiguous narratives as characters are repeated throughout the
length of the collage and are moved through different settings. Throughout all of
our video projects, we have sought out different tools to explore as part of our
process. In the photo-stands and print works of What If? we elaborated on this
practice by finding liberties using one of the most basic image production tool,
Photoshop. The process is often an individual one where either one of us comes
up with a framework that they are interested in working with but keeps to the
imagery generated by the production of the video material and/or implied
narrative. We bounce the ideas off of each other for constructive input or as a
way to push the idea further beyond the indexical relationship that straight
photography often provides.
Plastinoids, 2010

3. Could you talk about how technology has influenced "What-If?" ? whether in its
construction or depiction?

Throughout our collaborations together we have consistently sought after
opportunities to explore new image processing tools via shared artist residencies
or through the school╩╝s we teach at. One of the key technological components to
What If? is the use of Dance Forms, a 3D program initially constructed for
choreographers, that was donated to the lab at UC Davis in correlation with
interdisciplinary projects inspired by Merce Cunnignham╩╝s visit to the Davis
campus. Dance Forms allowed us to build our characters in various avatar forms,
and we enjoyed some of the quirks of the program, like the hollowness of bodies
and the way characters could move inside of one another. We commingled prescripted
dance sequences with our own choreography extending the date
sequences imagining our characters as globetrotting entities meeting in the
space of the virtual.


4. How does your collaboration play into the diversity of mediums (computer
renderings, photography, sculpture, performance, video etc.) you incorporate for
a single exhibition?

In the past we have primarily worked on single channel video works though there
have been opportunities that have arisen that have allowed us to explore
installation and print. In our solo practices we both work in a variety of media
and for What If? we were invited to exhibit the work in a gallery space in Oakland
called Krowswork. We were eager to expand on the world we created primarily
in video through computer renderings and improvisational role-playing
workshops. As mentioned above the prints allowed us to extend the implied but
open narratives through a series of productions stills and scrolled collages.
There are certain characters that we discussed having in our works but they did
not make it into the final cut so they find a new life in some of the prints. The
photo stands extend the ways in which we incorporate others into the space of
role playing by allowing the audience to participate even if just for a photo op.
While there is a lot of work in the exhibition, we really consider What If? an entire
universe. Each opportunity to exhibit also challenged us with another opportunity
to edit what was being shown but also to bring in some new life to the works by
using our image and character base to create another piece.
Jeju-do Cluster Ball, Carnalove Workshop, Connecticut River Date, South Korean Trans-Vehicles, 2010

5. How would you define the role or promotion of fantasy into your artworks'
engagement with viewers?

Improvisation has always been an important part of our work on every level and
to some degree improvisation opens up a realm of fantasy as there is no script.
However, as mentioned above, there are a cast of characters and mythologies
that we are incorporating whether those be derived from reality based artist or
comic book fictions. How an audience might engage with these characters and
vignettes is unpredictable but by abandoning the script, which can often be so
limiting regarding how images are read, we hope to allow viewers to engage their
own connective narratives and fantasies. What areas of access we leave open
to a viewer in order to do that is sometimes unpredictable. Recently, a viewer
came to What If? when we exhibited it in Holyoke, MA and commented that the
thing that brought her into the world we created was the movement. She was a
dancer and was intrigued by our use of Dance Forms and the movements
incorporated into the improvisations between various characters. Some may
recognize the concept of Stelarc with his emblematic third arm used as a
reimagined prop for our role-playing participants as an entry in. Others may
immediately identify with the notion of superhero whether they know the
characters or not. To some degree, we hope to have cast a wide net to allow an
entry for viewers to insert themselves and engage.

Posted by: Tom Anesta

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Taejongdae Multiverse (Busan) and Burial Mount Multiverse (Gyeongju)











Taejongdae Multiverse (Busan)
Burial Mount Multiverse (Gyeongju)
Torsten Burns and Darrin Martin’s composite images "Taejongdae Multiverse (Busan)" and "Burial Mound Multiverse (Gyeongju)" take on a similar form to panoramic photos, and much like them the spatial relations are distorted. It is the subsequent disorientation that keeps me searching back and forth across these images to try and grasp how they are layered and supposed to be perceived.  The mixture of real landscapes help ground the images in some familiar reality, but ultimately the further laying of images forced me to give up on attributing them to any worldly scenario and accept these characters in their quasi-computer realm (that doesn’t adhere to depth perception). This piece works well to shed any preconceived notions and helps support my own ideas of fantasy throughout the exhibition. 

Posted by: Tom Anesta 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Plastinoids

 PLASTINOIDS

Plastinoids, 2010 Burns and Martin
Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin's sculptures I found to be some of the most engaging in the exhibit. The use of action figures utilized imagery hardwired into my childhood. From across the gallery they look like they’ve come straight out of the blister pack, on closer inspection they are meticulously hand painted. Seeing the cast of characters of “What-If?” as action figures defines them among avatars and super heroes. They are fantastic if not borderline ridiculous, yet purposely so. What superhero isn’t? Their whimsical nature however need not alter their conviction and the reality of the love story narrative of “What-If?”

 Posted by: Tom Anesta, Gallery Intern

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Forget The Love-Triangle! This One's A Square...


B.O.V.A., 2012  Burns and Martin

Torsten Zenas Burns and Darrin Martin’s “What If…? In The Days When The Tiger Smoked” is a twisting, elaborate, convoluted love-story of a cast of characters caught in an ever-morphing reality.  What would your reaction be when confronted with a costumed comic-book character horse head blowing balloons while singing in a Korean(ish) karaoke bar?  Or how about a half-dressed duo gently waving arms taped with cybernetic extensions, plastic figurines, and other go-go gagetry?  This collaborative work provokes reactions ranging from quizzical brows, stupefied stares, or (best of all) slightly bemused chuckles.  Yet underneath the playfulness, this work draws on a myriad of pop-culture references and heroes to expose and challenge the boundaries between machine, flesh, culture, gender, animal, human, love, object, avatar, and sexuality.  The title draws from two sources: a Marvel comic book series extrapolating alternate realities in the possibilities of “What if…?” and a Korean saying for “Once upon a time…”  In this gallery’s parallel universe, space takes on a mystical quality, as if it really is a land far, far away.   

Carnalove Workshop, 2010  Burns and Martin

I thought it would be fun to introduce this zany cast as the ambassadors for all of the cyborg-soulfull-android-B.O.V.A.organic-machanistic-telekenetic-plastinoid-spacesuitery-gorilliaish-hybrid-lyrapoetical-dancers who have ever loved or ever pined for anyone (or anything).

Plastinoids, 2010 Burns and Martin

Meet the Characters:

The Vision
A Marvel Comic creation, this “synthezoid” is an android that houses a soul.  Created by the villainous Ultron to fight against the Avengers, he is quickly persuaded to join the team to fight against his vindictive creator.  He continually battles for control of his mind and throughout his evolution, loses and gains different versions of synthetic skin.  He marries the Scarlet Witch (as Ultron intended) and ends up fathering twins.   The Vision is a paragon for the soulless robot, friendless Frankenstein, or the Tin Man who only wants a heart.

The Scarlet Witch
An X-Men character, the Scarlet Witch possesses both mutant and magical powers.  Hidden from her father, Magneto, her foster mother, Lady Bova, a highly evolved animal who lives on Mount Wundagore, places her in the care of human foster parents, but not before she was endowed with the mountain god’s power, giving her the ability to manipulate chaos, probability and reality itself.  The Scarlet Witch stands for all those who ever took a chance­– on love, on plastic pool toys, on the cyborg-next-door! 

Connecticut River Date, 2010  Burns and Martin

ORLAN
A real world artist, ORLAN is known for her unique visual medium–her own body, treating her skin as a canvas.  Although her work spans across sculpture, installations, video, and bio-art, ORLAN remarkably underwent a series of plastic surgeries to challenge the tropes of female representation across visual fields, reimagining portraiture through the possibilities of technology.  All the avatars in the world (blue or otherwise), this one’s for you!

Stelarc
Artist Stelarc goes to incredible lengths to render his body obsolete­–from transplanting a digitally capable ear into his arm to hanging from suspension wires embedded into his flesh.  He has also engineered a human-like, pneumatically powered walking machine as a six-legged bodily extension, attempting to expand the body’s function by incorporating cybernetic exoskeleton.   In love with your liver who doesn’t seem to want to stay put?  Are your rebellious ears running away from your head?  Or feet walking without a leg?  Attachment is such a drag.  Stelarc is your man.
 
Q.U.A.D. (Augmenting-Capturing Cluster), 2012 Burns and Martin
Posted by: Jenai Talkington, Gallery Intern

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Interviews with Robby Herbst by DAC Interns

Untitled (New Pyramids for the Capitalist System 1), watercolor and gauche with pencil on paper; 59.5x54"
 


 Here at Dumbo Arts Center, we strive to make sure everyone has access to the artists we work with and has a voice. Our current high School Interns Danielle and Jimmy were curious about Robby Herbst’s recently concluded exhibition New Pyramids for the Capitalist System and had a few questions for the artist.

Jimmy A. Interviews Robby Herbst

Jimmy:  What’s the deal with the chairs? I don't understand why they're there. Does the type of chair have to do with where its placed?

Robby: Yes, the placement is thought out. Try sitting on the top chair, then you'll figure it out.

Jimmy: Looks kind of scary.

Robby: Yeah, right.

Jimmy: Did any of your art reflect on your grandfather’s opinions on capitalism?

Robby: My grandfather died before I was born. I don't know his opinions on capitalism? What are yours?

Jimmy: Capitalism is violent but it gives people freedom, I guess.

Robby: Freedom ain’t necessarily liberty.

Jimmy: What were the ethos of the models in your drawings?

Robby: What do you think they are?

Jimmy: I don't know. They all look like happy people who've been given instructions. Can't really say much about their character because I wasn't there!

Jimmy: Can you do acrobatic stunts? Were there certain structure/rules the performers had to follow? Did they have to be trained?  Did they come up with any of the positions?

Robby: I worked with a former cheerleading captain from a highly competitive program in Oklahoma. She was also crowned Belly Dancer of the Universe (no shit). She helped me work with these acrobats for two rehearsals. We came up with what we did as a group - though I decided on what I wanted things to look like ideally.

Jimmy: Yeah, that is cool and all but can YOU do any of that stuff?

Robby: I can do some of the stunts.

Jimmy:  Why didn't you use more color in your art? Most of the art is just black and white or simple reds and blues. Why?

Robby: Black and white tells no lies. Otherwise my dad is a color-field painter and I inherited his belief in the power of a restrained palette.


Danielle J. Interviews Robby Herbst
"If you felt like throwing yourselves on the wheels of economic injustice in any way shape or form, that would be swell."

Danielle: To me, this all means that the people in the paintings and drawings are showing the effects of capitalism, and how people struggle to make ends meet. The poor are at the bottom, the wealthy are second to last, the soldiers are in the middle, the religious people close to the king, and the person with all of the power is the richest of them all. What is the message in the pencil drawings?

Robby: There is no "message" in the drawings; the overall message is in the show, I guess. The drawings are representational - the work is transparent - they are what they are. One of the drawings is of a person dressed as a cop standing on the back of a person dressed as some kind of manager. The other two are of people costumed as workers holding up people costumed as managers. In all three drawings, I was interested in the body language of the actors and the expressions on their faces.

Danielle: How does this effect us now?

Robby: Honestly this work is not conceptualized to have an immediate effect. It's meant to have an affect - that is to stick in your mind and effect your attitude, or thoughts, or reflections in the medium-to-long term. In the first iteration of this work, when I was doing the pyramid performances in Downtown LA's occupation at City Hall - it was designed to have an immediate effect - that is to get folks down to the occupation and to work through roles of being a "worker," "manager," "police officer," "clergy," or "capitalist." Through this process of organizing amateur acrobats and an audience down at LA's occupation I was interested in the immediate goal of supporting the presence of individuals at the occupation for economic justice.

The goal of the art show in Dumbo is different. It is representational and works in the way that a book works - it is a "cooler" form of art (as in Marshall McLuhan's conceptualization of hot and cold media). It is reflective and asks you to consider, not act. If you consider and then want to act, then that is ideal. If you felt like throwing yourselves on the wheels of economic injustice in any way shape or form, that would be swell. If you think about the work, that's swell too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Interview with Robby Herbst by Rose Lou (DAC Intern): "New Pyramids for the Capitalist System"


Artist Robby Herbst

Upon the installation of his show, "New Pyramids for the Capitalist System" I had the chance to interview artist Robby Herbst about his projects, grandfather, and socialist endeavors...

Rose Lou: Since capitalism is clearly depicted as a corrupt system in this exhibition, what form of a social/political system would you like/hope to see applied instead? What is your main issue with Capitalism?

Robby Herbst: I’m into sharing with people, long hikes, growing and making things, a good sandwich, comic books and non-fiction writing – so naming social or political system is nothing I'm so interested in. I guess when we see that system we like I’ll let you know- perhaps then you can name it. Till then let’s keep playing and demanding. OK?

My beef with capitalism is mainly extinction and poverty.

RL: Where are you on the Capitalist Pyramid? Would you consider yourself a socialist like your grandfather and his troupe of acrobats?

RH: As a teacher and an artist in the developed world I’m second rung as will everyone who reads this interview I imagine- a member of bourgeoisie (petite or otherwise). Sometimes I feel like I’m the shit bottom, but then I leave the situation in some manner.

I like socialism, yes. It seems fair.

RL: Why did you chose the medium of graphic drawings/watercolor,  photographs and amateur acrobats? How do these modes of representation  best represent your working method and message to be conveyed? 

Robby Herbst, New Pyramids for the Capitalist System, 2012

RH: With visual art I work on two levels: action and interpretation of action. I am interested in this because at heart I am interested in the schemas of interpretation; how some one comes to understand something internalizes it and re-presents that concept to the world. These chains of mediation are involved in the publishing that I do (currently the Llano Del Rio Collective, previously with the Journal of Aesthetics & Protest); making themselves known all the way through the writing process, the editing process, the process of distributing text, and then the process of hearing or seeing a public form around a text and respond to it.

Working with people in my artwork- I am generally interested in the ways individuals work through physical, emotional, ideological, and intellectual demands placed upon their bodies. Generally I’m not satisfied just displaying photographic documents of performance because I am not solely interested in the fact that an event took place. Within the fact of an event physical, emotional, ideological, and intellectual transferences between subjects occur. I am interested in furthering that transference through a second (third?) act of transference; where these physical, emotional, ideological, and intellectual events are reinterpreted through a language other than verisimilitude.

If radicalism is a message that passes like a virus between people- lets say from reading or acting upon Marx or an Occupation- than I am interested in exploring how virus move between people. The chain of developing a score, asking someone to perform it, them interpreting and then performing it for me, documenting the performance, reinterpreting the evidence, then displaying those documents as artworks to a public to interpret and perhaps re-perform; this is interesting to me.

RL: Do you feel a closer connection to your grandfather after carrying  out this particular project? Is he a prevalent figure amongst most of  your work?

RH: Yes.

This is the first time I’ve ever worked directly with my grandfather. I guess though that he’s a part of how I came to be me. So in that sense he’s always a figure in what I do. This is a chain isn’t it?

The artist's grandfather, Martin Weiss, bottom of the three-person stack. Courtest of the Herbst Family Archive

More information about Robby and his projects can be found here: 


Celebrating 3,000 Twitter Followers MST3K Style...





Sunday, February 12, 2012

WORKSHOP: Introduction to Ikebana: The Art of Japanese Flower Arrangement




Sunday, February 26, 10 AM-1PM

Course Fee: $85 | $80 for DAC Members
(includes $40 materials fee)

**Please register in advance by calling 718-694-0831 or by visiting http://www.dumboartscenter.org/Ikebana.html

Workshop takes place at 111 Front Street, Ste. 212, Brooklyn, NY

Chase away the winter grays and learn the basics of Ikebana from artists Lily Pu and E. Maye Smith-Beauchamp in this 2.5 hour workshop. Ikebana is the Japanese art of flower arrangement. In Ikebana, the whole of the flower is considered (blooms, leaves and stems) in union with the environment. Emphasizing line, shape and form, Ikebana is a minimal, asymmetrical style of flower arrangement.This class is presented in conjunction with Aeron Bergman and Alejandra Salinas' exhibition at DAC. Lily Pu created a live Ikebana performance as part of the opening reception


WORKSHOP: Songwriting for Artists with Eric Lindley






Wednesday, February 29, 7 PM-10PM.
Course Fee: $15 | $12 for DAC Members

**Please register in advance here or by calling 718-694-0831
or by visiting: http://www.dumboartscenter.org/SongWriting.html

Workshop takes place at 111 Front Street, Ste. 212, Brooklyn, NY

This workshop will explore songwriting through an artistic lens for people with a broad range of musical background, from people who have never picked up an instrument, to those who have been playing for years. Basic and essential ideas such as melody, harmony, rhythm, lyrics and song structure will be discussed in terms as they relate to the bigger ideas in songs, and how they fit in to larger musical landscapes.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Sneak Peak at art from Robby Herbst's upcoming show

Robby Herbst, Untitled (New Pyramid), Gouache and Water Color on paper, detail, 2011

Opening on Feb 10, 6 PM: Robby Herbst: New Pyramids for the Capitalist System

Friday, January 13, 2012

Michelle Vaughan Interview "100 Tweets"

On the occasion of her show “100 Tweets” at Dumbo Arts Center, I had the opportunity to interview Michelle Vaughan about her project, twitter, language and copyright.


Karl Erickson: Twitter is of course, tied into celebrity culture. In ways, it is a way for the hoi polloi to get closer to the stars, the culturati. In "100 Tweets" there are a few celebrities that you re-present, both mainstream (Sarah Silverman, Anthony Bourdain) and art world (Jerry Saltz, Paddy Johnson). Is there anything about “100 Tweets” that was intended to get you closer, or more in touch with these figures?

Michelle Vaughan: I was hyper-aware, and no, getting "closer" would be weird. I am very sensitive about celebrity culture; it scares the bejesus out of me that people can be such insane narcissists. Yet wanting attention is a human emotion, and I think that is a big undercurrent throughout the entire Twittersphere. I've had exchanges with a lot of people I don't know; some are famous, most aren't. Batting snark around or exchanging information can be thrilling; it's a bunch of conversations happening at light speed. But at the end of the day, this project is not about the authors; it's my own narcissistic, moody and unapologetic project, which says a lot more who I am than who they are.

KE: For you, and/or your twitter community, is the platform more about broadcasting or conversation?

MV: Well it's both, but people use it for different reasons. I follow a lot of people who share links, this is where I get my news!