There Is No Cow Level -Hyungjo Moon

Press Release

Hyungjo Moon

There Is No Cow Level

April 27 – 29, 2017

Opening Reception: Thursday, April 27th, 6–9pm

Hyungjo Moon’s solo exhibition entitled There Is No Cow Level, is an installation of photographs and video challenging the form and function of banal stock images in order to construct the artist’s own representation of reality. By composing objects against solid color fields in the language of commercial photography, Moon thwarts everyday objects through intentionally presenting bad compositions and unpalatable colors. Other of his photographs takes on quotidian subject matter, usually redeemed through photographic form, but here displaced as unfortunate design elements.

The exhibition juxtaposes various works Moon has made of objects and landscapes.  The authority of their subjecthood comes into question through non-presence. Here actual landscape is redirected into a video game terrain and the object is packaging materials designed to hold an potential thing.

Hyungjo Moon (b. 1989, South Korea) is a current student at ICP-Bard MFA program. He received his BFA from Chung-Ang University in South Korea in photography. His work has been exhibited at Gallery Illum, Seoul, South Korea; TAMK, Tampare, Finland; Ghangzhou Acadamy of Fine Arts, Ghangzhou, China; Osaka University of Arts, Osaka, Japan; Gyeonggi Art Center, Suwon, South Korea; AT CMU ART CENTER, Chiang Mai, Thailand; International Center of Photography, NY

 

A conversation with Emile Rubino

I spent some time with Emile Rubino while he was installing his show other things at the ICP- Bard MFA studios in Long Island city. His show will be up from Thursday the 20th to Sunday the 23rd at the studios (24-20 Jackson Ave Long Island City.) Opening reception Thursday April 20th from 6-9pm.

DV: Do you consider yourself a photographer?
ER: Yes, I consider myself a photographer in the same way painters call themselves painters. I am an artist and my medium is photography. As unfashionable as it may seem these days, I do work in a medium specific way and make photographic pictures so I am a photographer. I think there is something important in that but it is also a very personal choice, and I have nothing against more heterogeneous and multidisciplinary approaches.
Photography always occupies an ambiguous position where it has to negotiate its relationship to its vernacular existence outside of art. It’s something that other mediums of depiction like painting don’t really have to do in the same way. We don’t really question whether a painter is also a sign painter or a house painter, he’s just a painter. But as a photographer you always have to negotiate your designation in different ways depending on the social context. Throughout my time in art school, I felt like I always had to carve out my space between telling certain people from the photo side of things to be more open-mind and a bit less “geeky,” meanwhile telling many of my friends who are painters, sculptors, performance or installation artists etc: “please take me seriously, I’m not just pressing a button.”
If you look at the history of photography I think there is a way to consider this difficulty to actually be one of the most important driving force for the medium — a kind of engine that keeps it moving. First, people tried to set strict rules to try to make photography look like a serious and independent medium, it had to be black and white, 11×14” etc, then you’ve got people like Jeff Wall who try to emphasize photography’s kinship and relationships to other art forms like cinema, sculpture and painting especially, instead of trying to show how different it is from these other art forms. More recently there has been a focus on questions around materiality which were a very direct repercussion of the many questions brought about by the Internet and its “great flow/stream of images”. These practices have taken various forms and have been more or less interesting. I think that they have remained more interesting when they’ve managed to address photographic materiality and objecthood without abandoning more fundamental questions of representation.
These different waves tend to focus on one aspect of the medium in order to try to show that photography should be taken seriously and that it is a complex art form…, but each time it is also a bit limited because of that. Those are things that I think a lot about in my work and that I have been trying to negotiate.
Back when I was in undergrad I was always making photographs in a documentary mode, and on the other side I started to reflect on the “current issues” in photography and I was influenced by all the things I was reading and looking at, which addressed these issues around the place of pictures today…, so I began to make another type of work that was not so photographic but was very much about photography. I was doing these two things at the same time and it felt really schizophrenic to me. Since then, I have spent a lot of time trying to bridge these two things together and merge them into something more coherent so that I would feel a bit more aligned with myself. I’m still making pictures in a documentary mode of picture-making, but I also consider the pictures I make as objects and that’s where things like making my own frames or certain kinds of printing have come into play recently.

DV: So you made the frames yourself? ER: Yes.

DV: That’s obviously really important to you. Did you do it out of cost concerns?
ER: There are a few things to it. A part of it is linked to me starting to work at a rather modest scale. This is something that I could talk about a lot and I have written extensively about it my thesis book but generally it comes from my love and attraction for a lot of paintings that are rather small. Many of these paintings often have really simple wooden frames. So part of it was simply “why can’t I do the same thing for my photographs?”. In undergrad I was making my own prints, they were large silver gelatin prints and then I spent my whole scholarship money on the framing. Then I felt like those objects had became really precious. They had museum glass and I was afraid to handle the edges of the frame, they didn’t really feel like they were mine anymore. I didn’t like the distant physical relationship that I had to them. Ideally, I would like to have a relationship to the pictures that I make that is a little closer to a painter handling his or her canvases.
Finally, I like the really simple frames because for the most part, they simply do their job at framing the picture without looking like they are trying too hard to “figure out the sculptural question” on the edges of the frame the way that quite a few artists have attempted to lately.

DV: So did you make the prints yourself?
ER: I’m working with a printer to make the prints but I’m making my own frames. I switched the whole thing around for the moment at least. The frames are a little rougher so I’m not really scared to handle them, they feel like they are more my objects. Part of it is the cost but the way I see it is not as a default way, I like the idea that the work I make physically reflects my own material conditions, it’s always one of the most interesting thing to observe when looking at art I think.

DV: Do you think you have resolved what you were struggling with or what you were trying to work against in this show?
ER: If it was resolved I would stop! I don’t think anything is ever resolved, but I think that it’s reached a point where things feel better to me and where new avenues have opened up… It does feel like I am a little less running after myself, I feel more unified and it brings new possibilities to the work. It was really my goal by the end of the MFA to have a few pictures that constituted a good starting point for the next thing.

DV: Are you satisfied with the amount of pictures in the show?
ER:Yes! I always work towards reduction, I make a lot of pictures, I shoot hundreds and hundreds of photos but editing is extremely important, I think editing is more than half the work. Ambitious art doesn’t mean “big” art or “art” in large numbers… Someone like Albert York who made twelve paintings a year at the peak of his career was extremely ambitious I think. He wanted his small paintings to do so much, and had such high standards for them (Manet, Corot…) that it was hard to make more than that. It may seem a bit pretentious in a way, but I don’t think you choose to work that way, it’s just one big struggle with oneself really.

It would be really hard to justify making a one picture show, that is one of the privileges that cinema has in a weird way we could say. In photography or painting it’s really hard to have just one picture and call it a show so they do need to have some kind of relationship. But at the same time my goal is really to produce self-contained and autonomous pictures that could be moved later on to be put next to other pictures, or seen in another context. I try to make small tableau/ pictures and try to get them to act in an autonomous way, which is something that isn’t the most natural thing to do for a photograph. When you make a photograph it is more prone to going on the page and used as a tool of communication, or to exist in a sequence/series with other images. So I try to make autonomous pictures (as opposed to images). Putting them far away from each other in the first part of the show helps them to gain this autonomy obviously and that’s why I also hung some of them closer to one another in the bigger room to try to challenge them to preserve this autonomy even with less space between them.

DV: Is painting your primary inspiration?
ER: I guess so, I mean I love photography to the same extant but it is my medium so perhaps I tend to be more critical of it and less accepting towards certain things. I do think that there is more great paintings than there is truly great photography for sure and my greatest art experiences are mostly related to painting.

DV: So why be a photographer and not a painter?
ER: I think that’s the reason why I pursue photography in a “straight”, “documentary” mode instead of pursuing it by other means. Although many of the contemporary photographers that I admire the most have found ways to turn the medium on its head to make it into a more additive process, I can’t see myself being so invested in these approaches.
I stick to photography instead of painting not just cause I am bad painter but because it keeps me away from the anxiety that I’ve always had with beginnings and ends. In an additive process like painting you need to slowly build up the depiction that you’re creating and the questions of where to begin and when to end are primordial. Pursued in this way, photography is perhaps a bit like a punk rock song — the beginning and the end are left out. You have to make more or less spontaneous decisions at first, which in turn brings a new set of problems to the table. Then there is only a certain point to which you can push things if you want them to remain photographic.
In a few instances, when a picture I make seem to offer itself up to some kind of subtle manipulation that would further enhance what I think this picture should do, or the way that I think it should behave, then I take the liberty to do that as well. That is the case for the ghost picture, the cat picture and the microwaves pictures. I like to leave myself free to make pictures in slightly different ways, which can involve photoshop or flatbed scanners while trying to keep these photos within a kind of documentary realm. Different starting points are necessary. The goal is to keep things interesting for myself.

Nechama Winston in Conversation with Lauren Taubenfeld

Nechama Winston’s solo show: Static Test at the ICP-Bard MFA Studios in Long Island City, on view from April 13 to 16. Opening Reception 6pm-9pm April 13.

portrait of g

 

Lauren Taubenfeld: How did you come up with the idea to make these five videos? What connects them to each other?

Nechama Winston: There was a script I was working on in the fall – it was a project I wanted to finish in time for the solo thesis show but because of the timing, I turned the project into an installation of five smaller videos. I also made this decision because I felt like I wanted to try to work more with installation. Fragments of the original narrative remain, but in a different form, through the space, and not within a continuous text visualized and projected in one location onto one flat surface. In this case, now, I am trying to not rely so much on the use of text to carry out a story, and attempt in some places in the installation to subvert the weight, role and meaning that text tends to have over image.

 

I still intend to finish making the film I started, but I would like to have more time to develop my ideas and work on the script.

 

LT: So would you consider the videos exclusively interconnected?

 

NW: They are not dependent on each other, but they are connected. They tell multiple stories, simultaneously in a non-linear way. There is no correct beginning place to enter the story, but there is a story carried out between the individual components.

 

LT: I intentionally haven’t read your press release yet, if you had to explain your work to someone who doesn’t come from an art background, how would you explain it to them?

 

NW:  I would like this to be a show where you can walk in without needing to read anything prior to looking at the work. The press release basically just gives you a visual description of what you are going to see in the show, which is a montage of footage I shot and found footage collected over the past two years. I am trying to break down the way we see and experience, and understand images and I’m trying to break down this notion of having the urge to make sense of things.

 

LT: What is your sentiment about your transitions between video and photography?

 

NW: I reached a point last year where I stopped trusting images, even my images – for images not being able to completely tell the truth. What does “truth” even mean? Reading narrative through images became difficult for me to trust because of all the concentrated “construction” and effort that went into producing one or several images. I found video and installation to be a way for me to make work when I was having problems with still photography, and as a way to expand on the theme of distortion, deception and misinterpretation. My process always begins with making still photos. I use them to think through ideas. However, when I go out and shoot I think like a filmmaker. Everything is continuous. When I take my camera my intention is not to just try to make or find that one image.

 

Coming from a science background and as someone who is used to a more literal way of thinking and working with research, data and information…it was not a comfortable thing for me to do at first – take one thing and then make it something else out of its original context.

 

LT: Could you tell me a little bit more about your background in science and how it influences your work.

 

NW: I was an undergraduate psychology major with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience and double majored with art history. I am interested in memory storage and recall, together with image processing, perception and formation. I think neuroscience and art overlap in many ways in exploring this.

 

LT: I could sense in your videos that you’re attracted to the notion that they be somewhat anxiety provoking and that there is also a very strong connection to science and the human brain. It’s very evident. Do you have any other influences besides psychology and neuroscience?

 

NW: I spent most of undergrad intending to go into medicine and wanted to focus either on neurology or psychology. I am fascinated with the biological and psychological processes that play a role in memory and perception. Growing up, I felt I was surrounded by a reality that could be perceived in so many different ways and was amazed at how this could affect the way you document things and tell stories, and what that documentation may look like or how it may be interpreted later on. I relate this biological way of seeing and perceiving to the mechanical process of photography and image making in general. I mainly am interested in the notion of the perceptions and the multiplicities that exist between realities, and exploring the nature and experience of feeling the clash or conflict that exists between our subjective understandings of things. Everything that we believe to be truth is an illusion. I work in a non-linear form as a way to question the notion of a “true reality.”

 

LT: What are other interests of yours that may or may not feed into your work?

 

NW: I look at a lot of art, especially drawing, sculpture, animation and film (Chris Marker and Agnes Varda have been my favorite throughout most of the program…). I usually turn to books and essays for direct inspiration. I am more inspired by words and their syntaxes. They’re so beautiful. I like to think of my work very much as a research oriented practice but I don’t want to make sense of this research necessarily through my work. I don’t want any one idea to be contained. I am interested to find and create new meaning or ideas with disparate things I associate together.

 

LT: But I thought you wanted your work to be very non-linear and not make too much sense I guess in that way you or the viewer are walking a very fine line perhaps?

 

NW: Yes, but at the same time I don’t want the viewer to be lost. You have to give some form to the raw data. I think of this installation as a test for a way I want to start working. It doesn’t have to be totally resolved either since I am still working out some ideas and new ways of working with space. I do want my work to become more specific and not have my work live in this general pool of content.

 

LT: Speaking of the installation aspect of the work, (this was leading to my next question) you specifically said earlier that you are projecting your work onto different materials and that these are not sculptural installations. Could you elaborate a little bit more on that?

 

NW: First I realized that projecting, instead of using a monitor, for example, has been an interesting thing for me to play with in itself. It’s interesting to see the difference in what it means to project an image, something that’s not really there, but is there. I wanted to experiment working with other materials as well so that the projection wouldn’t exist as a flat image on a wall. I wanted to use materials in a physical space that would elongate, break and distort the images. The Plexiglas in the installation, for example, reflects and diffracts the images being projected. The process of fragmentation is something I have found myself very interested in, in a literal way with the space, to complement the fragmentation I am doing with image splicing in my video editing and with the sources I pull from for content.

 

Materiality of film is also something that I think about to work through ideas of fracturing. Last year when I would scan my film, I would start to scan incorrectly, distorting and breaking the frame. This idea of distortion felt more real and freeing to me and spoke more to some of the experiences I was having while I was out with my camera. Incorrect scanning helped me to think about not keeping an image precious – one that would ultimately fail to communicate the experience I had at the time when I took the photo.

 

NW: I also want to add that now I think I found a way to work with my interests between psychology, art and neuroscience all together instead of keeping these things compartmentalized in my life. In some ways, my process is about learning how to mix and combine my interests in a more fluid way.

 

I am using content, but I’m not necessarily using it for what it was intended for. I can abstract it in the most horrendous way.

 

LT: Why do you say it’s horrendous?

 

NW: Well, because it is. I am purposely taking things out of context and it makes me a little uncomfortable because it fights with my nature and tendency to stay true to documentation. But, this is one example I use to reveal that no documentation is objective truth to begin with. With this project, I am dealing with an extreme case using data obtained from a lab, for example.

 

LT: Is there a reason why you are doing that or is it just for purely aesthetic reasons?

 

NW: It’s not purely for aesthetic reasons. The science-based footage in some of the pieces has all been specifically chosen. They are selected from neurological research studies relating to sensory perception and memory. I chose specific ones that study the mechanical process of receptors on your skin.

 

LT: There is a lot of different kind of layering in your videos. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that?

 

NW: I layer to further distort what you are looking at and also to expand ideas. I mostly wanted to do that with my own footage. I didn’t want the images to look too obvious. Maybe they seem too obvious to me because I’m too close to the work. In terms of layering, I wanted to get you away from what you were actually looking at as much as possible but also didn’t want the work to be completely devoid of meaning in this process.

I work intuitively as well so I am allowing the work to help me make the next decisions in where to go as I edit.

what is scene at night

LT: I’m really interested in this idea of sensation that you speak about, for example, the video with the spiders especially gives you a very certain kind of sensation where as you feel a totally different kind of sensation when you hear and see the sounds of the beach and the waves crashing in your videos. Could you tell me more about this concept of sensation?

 

NW I do have an affinity for the water and even last year I noticed I kept returning to water and recording water, but I’m not really sure why. The sea is something I’ve always been drawn to and I’ve never really thought about questioning it before. Last summer I was living by the beach so that’s where a lot of my still and moving images of the water come from.

 

LT: Was there a specific intention when you made the decision of using sourced material, your own footage as well as family archival footage?

 

NW: A lot of the material I use was collected and sorted during the time I spent writing the script for the original film. In general, I’m researching all the time and reading one thing always leads me to reading another thing, and I end up accumulating a lot of information that reflects what I’m interested in at the moment. I’m like a hoarder of information.

 

LT: What is the subjective self in your terms? (because this is something you mention in your videos.)

 

NW: Well, I think in the piece where I mention this term there is a connection that I am trying to infer between the individual and the collective and how the experiences of both can intertwine. How do they connect and how do they differ from each other?

 

LT: Lastly, why did you title the installation ‘Static Test’?

 

NM: I was thinking about the word stasis, thinking about being stuck, things having a fixed meaning or category, formed and perpetuated by objects, photographs, and ideas, and kind of really wanting to break the system of how we see and think about and perceive things. I think of the gallery space and turning it into somewhat of a laboratory test of notions and beliefs. There are so many different kinds of static; static electricity, static noise, etc. I wanted to also address the possibility of static existing as “noise” in the installation, while at the same time thinking about it as “information” to decipher. What are the moments we choose to ignore or pay attention to? How do we decide what is important to consider and what isn’t?

 

Bio:

Nechama Winston (b. 1989, New York) is an artist who works with photography, video, and installation. She received her BA from CUNY Hunter College with a double major in art history and psychology with a concentration in behavioral neuroscience. Winston challenges the ways images appear to provide a linear form with which to measure narrative and reality. She distorts and de-contextualizes visual records she finds, makes, and archives. Through the process of rearranging and re-envisioning information in images, she addresses a person’s personal experience in time that either parallels or collides with the history, usage, and production of spaces, and the socio-psychological situations within them.

 

 

 

montañera: MFA Solo Show by CRISTINA VELÁSQUEZ

 

April 6-8, 2017
 from 6-9 pm at ICP Bard MFA Studio in LIC

“Art is the means by which I can break through the gates of my own history to perceive my culture in a different way. I would like to undertake this task, particularly today, when the demand to reflect on the present, as we gaze at the possibility of a different future, also requires that we revise the construction of our past”.

Over the last two years, Cristina Velásquez has developed a body of work that stems from observations of everyday life in Colombia. In her first solo exhibition, montañera, the artist studies different ways of experiencing a place where the absurd viscerally presents itself everyday and reality is exaggerated through contradictions that evade the artist who tries to describe them. Through examinations of the Colombian culture, history and geography, Velásquez reinterprets reality, using elements of fiction and artifice to undermine assumptions and confound the sensation of truth.

Through photography, weaving and text, Velasquez’s work explores the power —and limitations— of representation and translation, between individuals and cultures of resistance. It attends to the ways in which shared notions of value are shaped—and governed—by images, social conventions, and political relationships between different cultures. The artist uses her own experience as a Colombian artist and her transition into the US, as a point of reference to investigate notions of civilization, beauty and race, in relationship to other culture’s. In particular, many of Velásquez’s pieces consider how Colombian history and national identity have been constructed against a backdrop of colonialism and political dependence.

BIO

Cristina Velásquez (b. 1985 – Colombia) is a visual artist working mainly with photography and two-dimensional objects on paper. She holds a B.A. in Industrial Design from Universidad de Los Andes, Colombia, and is currently enrolled in the ICP-Bard MFA Program, in Advanced Photography Studies at New York City, U.S. where she was awarded the ICP Director’s Scholarship (Colombia 2016-2017). Cristina was part of the School of Visual Arts Photo Residency in 2014 and has been part of several group exhibitions in New York City since 2012. Her artist-books -Rear Door, /100 and One way of letting go- are part of the permanent collection of the ICP Library.