amazing ZKM show on Centre for Media Study at SUNY Buffalo: Frampton, Conrad, Sharits, Blue, Steina, Vasulka, Weibel, O'Grady

From: zryd (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Feb 28 2007 - 19:15:56 PST

Hi Frameworkers,

There is an EXTRAORDINARY exhibition that you should see--or at least
know about: MindFrames: Media Study at Buffalo 1973-1990, at ZKM
(Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie/Centre for Art and Media) in
Karlsruhe Germany. It covers 7 artists (James Blue, Tony Conrad, Hollis
Frampton, Paul Sharits, Steina, Woody Vasulka, and Peter Weibel), and
the pioneering figure in media education who brought them all together,
Gerald O’Grady. This is by far the most interesting integration of film,
video, and other media in a museum/gallery setting I’ve ever seen,
comparable in quality to Chrissie Iles’s “Into the Light” show, and
rivaling it several times in scope. It’s ironic that an exhibition on
the Centre for Media Study at SUNY Buffalo should take place in Germany,
but the connection is Peter Weibel, who runs ZKM and was a faculty
member at SUNY Buffalo after Frampton’s death.

The exhibition is massive, encompassing installations, film, video,
music, documents, and, appropriately for a show on a Centre for Media
Study, a number of original research resources that especially appeal to
anyone with a scholarly interest in these artists and their context.

Installations (selected): Steina’s beautiful Allvision; and Mynd, 2 of
Woody Vasulka’s Brotherhood apparati; Sharits’s Epileptic Seizure
Comparison (digital version), 3rd Degree (on film), Razor Blades
(digital), and Apparent Motion (film); Conrad’s Articulation of Boolean
Algebra or Film Opticals (film loop); Weibel’s Dumb Show and
Kruzifiktion der Identitat. There are some other single channel
installations that screen works by the other artists. The installations
are very smartly presented, as the curators have been careful to isolate
some and to allow others to spill into the main space and ‘overlap’ in
interesting ways.

There are 4 rooms presenting time-based material by all of the artists
(and some of the documentary interviews that O’Grady created): a Film
Room, Video Room, Concert Room, and Document Room. The genius of the
show is that all of this material has been digitized (in generally
excellent transfers) and so can be presented in a schedule that is
clearly legible (screens outside the rooms show what's on and to come
for the next 4 hours, and other screens in the exhibition present a
master schedule of screenings). In this way, the exhibition has solved
the annoying problem of how to avoid presenting all time-based work as
video loops. Instead the spectator can plan a program of screenings, the
only frustration of which is the sheer bounty of material to see! The
Document Room is especially impressive, presenting (rare) video
interviews with all of the artists.$33

In addition, each of the 8 figures profiled in the exhibition has been
given a resource room that presents yet more material, both artistic and
contextual. Each figure is given a computer terminal which contains
Texts (usually writings but also reproduced production notes, drawings,
and ephemera), Images (still images that might be artworks or more
informally document the SUNY Buffalo scene), and Video (almost all of
the films and videos in the show can be viewed at the spectator’s
command, calling them up from the show’s central computer server). In
addition, there is a video jukebox in each room that allows you to
screen selected films and videos on a 2 metre high screen, everything
from Frampton’s Palindrome or his Q&A after a Zorns Lemma screening at
the New York Film Festival, to Conrad's activist cable access shows, to
interviews between O’Grady and Gunvor Nelson (and many others). Finally,
there are some unique computer “analysis” machines that have been
devised for the exhibit: frame analysis for Frampton; a single frame
sequence generator that allow you to make your own Sharits flicker film,
incorporating colour, text, and modulating frame rate; and signal
modification functions that allow one to tweak several pieces by Steina
and Woody Vesulka---all in keeping with the literally experimental
nature of the SUNY Buffalo "lab" context.

This show is a model for how to present a truly multi-media
museum/gallery show that not only respects the integrity of the
medium-specific artworks being presented but also explores how media
inter-relate productively. And it is all shown to us with historical
context that itself presents new research material on the artists and
period. The show raises important questions about film and media
history, the relation between creativity and ‘research’, and clearly
marks the Centre for Media Study, the first of its kind, as the
remarkable crucible that it was (and still is to some degree—Conrad
still teaches at SUNY Buffalo).

Karlsruhe is a long way to go for many people, but it is worth the trip
if you can afford it. It is an hour from Frankfurt and Baden Baden
airports (I’ve heard rumours of $1 Ryan Air flights from London). ZKM is
a 15min walk from the train station.

Finally, there is a second extraordinary show at ZKM, The Algorithmic
Revolution, which has everything from Fluxus to the video game Pong, and
shows us the future (for better or worse).

If you can, check it out. It closes 25 March 2007.

Michael Zryd
Associate Professor
Department of Film, CFT 223
York University
4700 Keele St.
Toronto, ON M3J 1P3, CANADA
tel: 416-736-5149
fax: 416-736-5710
email suppressed
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.