1. Turbulence.org Commission: "event" by Michael Takeo Magruder (2004)

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    Screen-capture from http://archive.turbulence.org/works/magruder (OS 10.6, Firefox 38, 1280 X 800) Michael Takeo Magruder’s "event," in which headline news articles have been parsed from http://news.bbc.co.uk/ between December 29 and February 1, is concerned with the individual’s relationship with finite moments in recent history. As with his earlier works, Magruder grapples with media saturation and its subsequent devaluation of information; copyright — who actually owns the information, the event that triggered it, the history it becomes?; is it the ‘truth’? "event" re-presents 31 news items, compelling the user to “reflect upon the minute isolated occurrences of which history in an empirical sense is composed.” Magruder does this by extracting, slowing down, and meticulously crafting samples of audio, image, text, and video information. Rather than disguise or remove distortions, Magruder deliberately incorporates the artifacts of data compression into the piece. Events that usually stream towards us in a rapid, undifferentiated flow become moments of quiet contemplation that can be viewed and re-viewed in one’s own time. The user can apply an array of colored filters, like gels used on theater sets—one can, in fact, choose to view events “through rose-tinted glasses.” Depending on the color, the moving image either partially obscures or reveals the ‘truth’, i.e. word. One can choose to literally tone down the rhetoric, or inflame the masses. One filter filters out the others. Multicolored, Magruder’s default, represents ambiguity, multiple viewpoints, the many. With the motion slowed, and much of the detail removed from the images, one can begin to see what news actually ‘looks’ like. We see the outlines and the spaces in-between. We study the news as we would study a painting. Magruder’s "event" is his most powerful and beautiful yet. - Jo-Anne Green Review: "Stormy Weather": You've heard of 'sex haze' this is 'media haze', a kind of fog created by the constant barrage of sound, image, and text that surrounds and defines current events. For his new project, , American artist Michael Takeo Magruder has parsed recent BBC broadcasts and layered the audio, video and text related to each news item. Multiple perspectives should provide clarity - instead they obscure, producing a cloud of media static. We pick up only the most basic buzz words, the outlines of shadowy forms. Magruder's project is not fun to look at; he excels at creating just that feeling of helplessness in the face of too much information. This feels more like a primitive IQ test than a new media project - if so, we are all failing miserably." - Elizabeth Bard, Net Art News, Rhizome.org

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    • Turbulence.org Commission: "Monolith[s]" by Michael Takeo Magruder (2008)

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      Screen capture from http://archive.turbulence.org/works/monoliths Monolith[s] juxtaposes two icons of British culture: stone circles (Stonehenge, for instance) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Formulated according to motifs and proportions of ancient architecture, infused with fundamental mathematics of modern digital communication systems, each genesis of the artwork's geometry is unique. Variables such as the time of day, the viewer's location on the Earth, and the position of the Earth around the sun are incorporated into the artwork, thus instilling into the realm functions of a rudimentary clock, global positioning system, and solar calendar. Review by Jo-Anne Green: "Monolith[s]" juxtaposes two icons of British culture: stone circles (Stonehenge in particular) and the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). "We are in a gravitational pull of past and future."(1) Lacking declarative evidence of its original purpose, Stonehenge is a site of contested meaning. "It suffers from polysemia, in that it signifies a range of meanings, discursively contested through image and text."(2) Visitors are kept at a distance, no longer permitted to walk among the stones and physically experience their immense scale. In "Monolith[s]," Magruder has appropriated the perspective that many images of the monument give: that of the majestic site at a distance, the glow of the sunset or moonrise radiating from the horizon, its backdrop. But Magruder's virtual world IS approachable—indeed, the user may immerse herself in it or fly above it. As she does, the temporal and spatial dimensions of her own immediate environment are absorbed and rearranged into a constantly evolving virtual realm in which the history of the Information Age materializes. Formulated according to motifs and proportions of ancient architecture, infused with fundamental mathematics of modern digital communication systems, each genesis of the artwork's geometry is unique. Variables such as the time of day, the viewer's location on the Earth, and the position of the Earth around the sun are incorporated into the artwork, thus instilling into the realm functions of a rudimentary clock, global positioning system, and solar calendar."* *References: (1) Jeanette Winterson, "Weight" (2) Andy Letcher, Jenny Blain, & Robert J. Wallis, "Re-viewing the Past: Discourse and Power in Images of Prehistory."

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      • Given Time: a permanent, networked installation by Nathaniel Stern

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        Given Time simultaneously activates and performs two permanently logged-in Second Life avatars, each forever and only seen by and through the other. They hover in mid-air, almost completely still, gazing into one another’s interface. Viewers encounter this networked partnership as a diptych of large-scale and facing video projections in a real world gallery, both exhibiting a live view of one avatar, as perceived by the other. To create a visceral aesthetic, these custom-designed and life-sized "bodies" are hand-drawn in subtly animated charcoal, graphite and pastel. The audience is invited to physically walk between them; they’re able to hear and see them breathing, witness their hair blowing in the wind, pick up faint sounds such as rushing water or birds crying out from the surrounding simulated environment. Here, an intimate exchange between dual, virtual bodies is transformed into a public meditation on human relationships, bodily mortality, and time’s inevitable flow.

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