– He’s had solo exhibitions at the Core Crane Gallery of Art in Washington, as well as Momenta in New York City in Brooklyn, and Lace in Los Angeles, which is the oldest alternative art space in the country, and the Queen Victoria Museum in Australia, as well as Diverse Works, which is a fantastic art center in Houston His work has been shown in many galleries, including Jack Shaman, Ronald Felman, and USMLO, all in New York City, and also other venues such as The National Center for Contemporary Arts in Moscow, Site Santa Fe, San Diego Museum of Art, and The Blanton Museum of Art, as well as the Decor of Art, a museum in Massachusetts All amazing exhibition spaces He’s a creative capital grantee He’s also received a NYFA grant as well New York Foundation for the Arts, both prestigious fellowships He’s the author of two books, “The Port Huron Project” and “New Media Art” And he’s written numerous articles In 1996 he founded Rhizome, which if you don’t already know, is an organization that supports the creation, presentation, preservation, and critique of emerging art, artistic practices that engage technology Now, he is also, I’m selfishly gonna say this, since he didn’t include this in his bio, that he is a contributor to my book, which is called “The Artist as Cultural Producer” and I’m just gonna read a section of his essay that will surely lead into what we see tonight So he says in the last paragraph of his essay, he said that he “started to draw again, “the first time in about 20 years, “tracing landscapes from eco disaster films “I’m interested in the idea of nature, “and what counts as wilderness in a time when everything, “even in the most remote places is changing “as a result of human activity “I recently recently began work on a new project “in which I’m using ultra high definition video to record, “and preserve rapidly changing landscapes “I see myself working on this for several years.” I’m very eager to see what he presents No pressure Let’s give a big round of applause for Mr. Mark Tribe (audience applauding) – This is a glitch Just sort of appeared on my screen I think I was opening this massive file in Photoshop, and my computer just choked, and I thought, how beautiful What a nice way to start my talk I want to dedicate my lecture this evening to Vito Acconci, who was born in 1940, and passed away this past April at the age of 77 I was very fortunate to meet him a few years ago, couple of times, and his work was always important to me I can’t say that, you know, my work had all that much in common with his, but he was nevertheless an inspiration His courage, his bravery, his willingness to make himself vulnerable in his work, to do things that were difficult, and controversial His really fearless experimentation made him a role model for me, and I miss him, even though I hardly knew him Right, so I’ve been making art pretty seriously for well, let’s see I finished graduate school in 1994 I really decided, or figured out that I was an artist, in I think 1986, so it’s been a while, and when I have the opportunity to give a talk like this, and by the way, it’s such a privilege to be able to speak with you this evening I just did five studio visits this afternoon, and I’m so blown away by your work, and so inspired So thank you for giving me the opportunity to share my work with you You’re amazing You, and my students, so looking back on this, you know, past 20 plus, 25, 30 years of making art, it can be difficult to construct a narrative, especially if you are like me, an artist who hasn’t just sort of, you know, stuck with the same thing all along My path has been rather peripatetic, and I thought this image might provide an apt metaphor

Have you ever had to cross a stream like this where there’s no bridge, and you have to hop from stone to stone, trying not to get your feet wet? So you know, you might, in this stream here, the beginning is really the most difficult part, because it’s kind of wide, and you really have to choose carefully, maybe make a little leap from here to here, and then maybe a big leap there, and then to there, and there, and there, and then it gets easier hop, to hop, to hop, until you’re across, and the reason why this is maybe a good similarly is for me really, one thing has led to another I didn’t have a clear map of the territory when I began, I didn’t really know how I was gonna get from point to point, and every time I land on a new rock, basically find myself finishing up a project, I kind of look around, and the next landing point presents itself to me I’ve tried in past lectures to provide an overarching theme, and I’m not sure there really is one, except for this kind of, you know, trusting the process, and allowing one thing to lead to another So just to go back to the beginning, I studied visual art at Brown back in the ’80s, finishing there in 1990, and while I was there I tried a lot of different stuff Pretty much everything that was on offer at Brown, and a lot of courses at Rhode Island School of Design except sculpture It was all two dimensional drawing, and painting, photography, printmaking, photo silkscreen actually, film and video, and then a lot of courses in the humanities that I think have been incredibly important to me Literature, Art History, Philosophy, Media Theory Field, sometimes known as Semiotics, the theory of signs and signification Courses at RISD, including things like Renaissance Painting Techniques, and Figure Drawing in the illustration department where they would actually take, the professor would take the chalk out of your hand, and correct your drawing, which was a really good experience, and then I decided to go to UC San Diego, getting in at the last minute off the wait list, largely because of this guy who taught there, Allan Kaprow, and a number of the other faculty whose work was really driven by ideas, and by this very democratic idea that art isn’t necessarily only something that exists in the high temples of culture, but can also be something that happens in public, that happens in everyday life, that is integrated into everyday life, that is both special, and ordinary at the same time Right, so while I’m in grad school, and learning to surf in San Diego, and doing all this, you know, art as social experiment, this other thing started to happen The internet basically became a public thing, starting with Mosaic, the first web browser, but you know, some of you are around my age, and probably remember very well the sense that, oh wow, everything’s about to change I don’t know if you felt that way, but I really had this sense that the world as we knew it was on the brink of this major transformation as we all got connected, and as somebody who is doing site-specific interventions in physical public space, which was in a certain sense retreading territory that had been walked by many great artists in the past, like Allan Kaprow for example I thought, wow, this is kind of like a new frontier What could we do here as artists? So with that question in mind I finished school, and moved to Berlin The story there is that I applied for a very competitive residency at the Kunstler House Battalion, which was a great deal You get a huge studio for a whole year You get a great exhibition with a catalog at the end, and I wasn’t accepted So I decided to move to Berlin anyway Shared a studio with a friend of mine, who had also got into UCSD, got a job writing HTML, one of the first web designers in Germany, and did my own residency, and just, you know, had a great time, and I was riding around the city on my bicycle with an Apple Quick Take, which was the first ever consumer digital camera, and was really interested in how the city was just full of construction sites

You know, the Berlin wall had fallen just a few years earlier Everywhere you turned there was a deep pit in the ground, or a tractor, or a crane, and everywhere you turned on the internet to at that time you saw these under construction signs So you had this kind of nascent, emergent online space that was under construction, and this re-emergence city being reborn in the sort of literally in the rubble of communism, Soviet communism, and I decided to try to map the one onto the other, and made this, I’m not gonna actually try to interact with it in the interest of time, but basically anywhere you clicked on this early image map, you would get a different, very low resolution Apple Quick Take image of one of the hundreds of construction sites around Berlin That was my first net art project in 1995, very early days of internet art In that year in Berlin, going to Berlin was a great experience for me, not only for all the sort of obvious reasons, but also because I was really out of my comfort zone I went from being in San Diego where I had, you know, I was there for three, and a half years I got very comfortable I had lots of friends I had thought about moving up to L.A And just sort of, you know, doing the art thing there, that seemed very comfortable, and people who went to UCSD, and stayed in San Diego very quickly became what we call a big fish in a small pond You guys familiar with that metaphor? And I decided to go to Berlin where I would just be like a little minnow in the big ocean, and there was all these big scary fish swimming around, and it really broadened my sense of possibility And while I was there, so I was by day working in this web design firm, by night making net art, and spending a lot of time in like techno clubs This was right around when jungle music, before it was called drum and bass was happening, and it was pretty interesting, and there’s a lot of overlap between the new media art scene, and the club scene in Berlin at the time Like artists would hang out together That’s kind of where things were happening, and I realized that there was a lot of people like me I went to a couple of media art festivals in Rotterdam, and in Austria, and there was artists all over the world from all different kinds of backgrounds, you know, painters, and conceptual artists, and activists, artists, and sculptors, and people were interested in public art, and we were all fascinated by the way that the internet might be able to allow us to connect, and share our work And a lot of us were actually trying to use the internet as a medium for art making, and it was just a very exciting time I felt we needed a way to connect, and to share ideas, and information online in real time, wherever we were, not just those of us who had the time, and the money to go to like Artist Electronica in Linz Austria for a few days, but everyone, and I had this vision that really sort of struck me to the core You know, I had the sense as I explained earlier that the world was on the brink of a massive transformation that was sort of following, and led by this very powerful new technology of everybody getting connected, and so I started first it was an email list, called Rhizome, with the idea that then we would build a website, and the website would contain the contents of the email conversation, and anybody could search it And anybody could participate, and I thought it would become like an internet startup company, and we would become like the world’s leading resource for this new field of new media art that was emerging, and I decided I couldn’t do that effectively in Berlin So I moved to New York, and I found a business partner, and partnered with a programmer, and we wrote a business plan, and we started raising money, and we were off to the races It was 1996 The first .com bubble was just starting to happen Netscape had just gone public It was the web browser that grew out of Mosaic, and it was the biggest IPO ever, and everybody was interested in it, and money started flowing in, and we started hiring people, and it was very exciting, and I found myself doing Rhizome like 12 hours a day, seven days a week, and eating, and sleeping, and breathing like net art, and new media art And during that time from 1996, when I started it, for the next seven, or eight years, Rhizome really was my whole life, and I came to realize over time that it was itself

kind of like a social sculpture It’s this term that Joseph Boyce used to describe a kind of artistic practice in which the boundaries between art, and everything else got completely blurred to the point where everyone was an artist, not meaning everybody learns how to paint, but literally together collectively we can sculpt, and transform social space through our ideas, and our words, and our actions I kind of felt like Rhizome, which had this whole very actively engaged community, like we were doing that in a way, kind of creating a parallel art world that was more democratic, more egalitarianism, more transparent, less exclusive, or anybody could make work, and share it, and communicate And it just started to snowball In the meantime, I did make one more art like project called Starry Night, which was an interface to the Rhizome archive of texts So by ’99, we had like a thousand texts, or so, and it, you know, you could search it by keyword, but it was hard to kind of visualize what was there So I had this idea that we could represent each text as a star So if you posted an article on Rhizome, it would basically create a pixel on this screen, this web page, and then if somebody read it, it would get a little bit brighter, and then over time it would get brighter, and larger So we started a little dim pixel, almost black, you couldn’t see it, and then so you get this over time you get this kind of brights, this sort of starry sky And if you clicked on one of the stars, it would bring up a list of keywords, and you clicked on one of those keywords, it would map a constellation So this is the resistance constellation If you clicked on any of the stars in that constellation, it would have the keyword resistance, and then if you clicked on the star again, it would actually bring up the text So as an example of kind of interface art, and I’m moving ahead now, did a little bit of other art on the side while I was running Rhizome This is the project that I did with my sister in a nightclub called The Tunnel, which at the time was the largest club in the world, and there was an art club within the club, and we created a VIP section within the club, within the club, and only actors who we had cast could come in It was a kind of social experiment Fast forward to Rhizome today So in 2003 I stepped down as director, because I really wanted to get back to making art more, and teaching, and just to quickly what it looks like in 2017, is a really thriving nonprofit organization that’s now more than 20 years old It’s affiliated with The New Museum of Contemporary Art, which means it’s kind of an organization in residence there It’s an online community It’s a blog where Rhizome commissions people, pays journalists, and arts writers to write about art, and technology We have the world’s largest archive of new media artworks, where we’re actually preserving works of new media art for the future We host and, and produce lectures, and conferences, including this one called 7 & 7, which is really cool where we pair seven artists with seven leading technologists, like, you know, the founder of Twitter, kind of like really high level people And they each have 24 hours to try to come up with a world changing idea, and then present it at the conference We do exhibitions, and we give grants to artists, and we are now developing technology So that’s pretty cool, and now I’m just on the board I go to four board meetings a year, and you know, go to a lot of events, and stuff like that, but so in 2003, I left Rhizome for any of you who are thinking of being cultural entrepreneurs, of being, you know, taking this model of the artist as catalyst, artists as cultural producer, it’s a great thing to do It’s also a great thing to stop doing A lot of people will start, like my good friend Eric Heist, who started Momenta Art in like almost 30 years ago, ran it for so long that it really couldn’t exist without him And that happens a lot of the time with artists who create organizations, and then run them for 20, or 30 years It’s really good to get it going, and get it independent, and then step away, and kind of let it be free If it can survive without you, then it’s much more likely to thrive in the longterm The only reason I think why Rhizome has been so successful for so long is that we keep bringing in every seven years, or so, a dynamic young new director, they tend to be around 30 years old to take it in a new direction, and keep it evolving So anyway, I stepped away largely for selfish reasons, because I wanted more time to make my own work, and I really wanted to teach I got a job at Columbia in The School of the Arts, running their digital media center, and teaching there,

which was a really great way to transition away from Rhizome I will say too, probably the main reason I got that job was Rhizome, and so there are ways in which doing something other than art as an artist can synergize with your professional life in all kinds of unexpected ways I certainly didn’t start Rhizome with the idea that it would help me get a teaching job later on So first years after Rhizome I continued to make net art This is a project that was commissioned, originally by Amnesty International, and then version 2.0 by Computer Fine Art Basically it was a parallel version of the CNN website where you could view it without all the texts, and all you would see are the photographs, and the background images So you’ve got these minimal compositions of photographs, and blocks of color, and then I had the opportunity to go back to Brown, this time as a member of the faculty, which was at first kind of confusing While I was there, and one of the great things about having a faculty position at a research university is, part of your job is to make art Like, you know, if you’re a particle physicists, part of your job is to do particle physics research And as an artist, your job is to make art That’s what you’re evaluated on for tenure, and stuff like that So then my first summer after my first year of teaching at Brown, I had the summer in front of me I was still getting paid I thought, wow, you know, what am I gonna do? And for the previous several years, I had been writing down ideas I had had all these ideas that I didn’t have time to realize, and one of them was kind of in response to what was going on in Iraq The war, we invaded Iraq in 2003, right? And by 2006, it was really bloody and deadly, and a lot of American soldiers were dying, and 10 times as many Iraqis were dying, and there had been protests in the US, big marches in all the cities, but they seem to incredibly ineffectual Like it just didn’t seem like anybody was noticing And so my idea was to stage reenactments of historic protest speeches from the 1960s from the era of the Vietnam War, and the Civil Rights Movement, and the War on Poverty, and the Women’s Rights Movement to try to compare, and contrast 2008 to this moment 40 years earlier, 1968, that had really cast a very long shadow over my entire life Like, Oh wow, back then, you know, when I was just a little kid, that’s when people really knew how to change history You know, the youth rose up in the streets, not just in the United States, but in Europe, and in Asia, and really changed in some ways the course of history Why couldn’t we do that today? So I staged over the course of three years, six reenactments of protest speeches by people like Angela Davis in Oakland, and Cesar Chavez in Los Angeles, Coretta Scott King in New York, Stokely Carmichael in New York, Paul Potter in Washington, DC, Howard Zinn in Boston Always hiring actors to basically give again, a speech that had been given about 40 years earlier on the same location, and I would invite an audience, and bring a lot of video cameras and document it, and perform it So here are some photographs of the Paul Potter speech in Washington, DC on The National Mall with the Washington Monument in the background I won’t show any video of this project tonight in the interest of time, but it’s all available online So this project had kind of multiple lives First were the reenactments themselves, which were similar in a way to car park, these site specific participatory interventions in public space But then I use the video that I shot of these reenactments in various gallery installations I did different versions of this one with two screens that were synchronized, and surround sound that really almost made you feel like you were there At The Park Avenue Armory, and at Site Santa Fe, and also at Lace in Los Angeles, requires a lot of space, because they’re rear projections Also got to show them courtesy of Creative Time in Times Square I should also mention that Creative Time produced the last three of the six reenactments,

and Creative Capital funded the project, and I made a bunch of posters for them That was one of the funnest parts for me was designing these posters So for, in this project, I’m thinking about how we perform politics in public, how we often think of politics as something that we do maybe when we write to our congressional representatives, or when we go to vote, but especially here in this country, we do politics with our feet, and with our bodies in the street, and with our words in public, because we have this this vaunted, and highly protected freedom to speak, and express ourselves, and to assemble, protected by the first amendment So we were able to perform politics We create and interact with a public sphere, not just, you know, by going to the ballot box, but actually by putting our bodies into public, by assembling to hear speakers So I was interested in that public performativity of politics, if you will, and one of my colleagues at Brown asked me once if I was at all interested in thinking about how politics were performed not just on the left, meaning the progressive end of the political spectrum, but also on the right And so that got me thinking, and I started collaborating with another artist, Chelsea Knight, who’s based here in New York, on a project that ended up being called Posse Comitatus We tried to contact a lot of right wing militia groups So here in the United States there are groups of people who get together, and organize, and train for some kind of event in the future that might require them to defend themselves Some kind of breakdown of civil society, breakdown of law and order, for which they want to be prepared, not only by storing up cans in their basement, and water, and stuff like that, but also by arming themselves heavily with automatic military style weapons, and go, and so they go out in the woods with their AR-15’s, and AK-47’s dressed up in camouflage, and shoot thousands of rounds of ammunition, and we found this one group that actually allowed us to come, and film one of their training exercises So that’s what we’re seeing here as a still from some video that we shot in the woods of upstate New York in 2012 And we then took the film, showed it to a choreographer, and working with a choreographer We translated the postures, and movements, and formations of this uniquely American kind of paramilitary training into the more abstract language of dance, and we first performed this dance in a park in St. Louis using dancers from the Washington university there, and again, I’m gonna forgo showing video There’s a lot, but just in the interest of time We also worked with another choreographer in Paris, and stage performances in the Palliative Tokyo, which was really exciting here The dancers began rehearsing about a week before the show opened, and they just continued rehearsing in the gallery on this platform in front of these two screens showing the film that we had recorded, and they just continued rehearsing throughout the duration of the show So it was rehearsal as performance, drawing a parallel, I think with militia training, which is this kind of constant rehearsal for a performance that seems never to happen Focusing then on the performativity itself of rehearsal, like actually when dancers are rehearsing in a certain sense they’re performing, and while the project began focused mostly on militia, and thinking about how this, you know, this grassroots movement of American right-wing gun freaks how, you know, focusing on that, and how they perform their politics As we began to work more, and more with choreographers, and dancers, it really became more like using militia, or became also about using militia as a metaphor for dance, and military training as a metaphor for the kind of ways in which choreographers discipline the bodies of dancers and the kind of a military hierarchy that exists in the dance world between the choreographer, who’s kind of like a drill sergeant in a way, and the dancers, whose bodies the choreographer must discipline

A series of prints emerged from this project in which using the right shutter speed, we’re able to take photographs of the performers in front of the screens, capturing just one of the three video colors So we did an addition, and so while I was out in the woods filming these militia training exercises, I found myself also turning my camera on the landscape when they weren’t around, and I found myself very drawn to the landscape So here, you know, I skipped from the stone of The Port Huron Project, right with those reenactments of public speeches to Posse Comitatus the militia training exercises, and now here are the stone skips again, in an unpredictable direction to landscape, to here, which became a body of work that were extensively landscape photographs In fact, screenshots, high resolution screen captures from first person shooter video games Really thinking about how the role that landscape might play in military fantasy in this, the way the militia groups needed to go out into nature to enter a kind of almost a state of nature from which they might be able to rewrite the rules of civil society Why did these video game publishers invest such tremendous resources in creating these vivid, naturalistic landscapes in which people basically run around in camouflage, and do a kind of virtual equivalent of militia training, shooting each other up? And why were the visual conventions of military video games drawn from 19th century landscape painting? Isn’t that interesting? Like this looks a whole lot like Hudson River School, or like French 19th century realism, like Fontainebleau This is how it looked at Momenta, just to give you a sense of the scale So on screen I never showed this work on screen, like it has to be, you know, printed out, and framed, and presented as photography So it affects that transformation from screen-based imagery back into the language of photography So they’re really read as photographs So around 2013, I got an email that I was really thrilled to receive from Phillip Brookman, who was the chief curator of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, which was a Washington DC art museum that shortly thereafter actually folded, and got folded into The National Gallery, but he invited me to come down to DC to look at their collection of American landscape paintings, which was amazing A lot of Hudson River School stuff by Frederick Church, and Asher B. Durand, and others, and to see if I could create a new body of work in some way in response to that, or in relation to that So that was pretty cool, and what I ended up making where these, large aerial landscape photographs, printed on the kind of aluminum plastic composite material called dye bond, using UV printing technology where you can print right on the surface of the metal, and again, here I’m exploring the aesthetics of contemporary landscape, and thinking about how, so if 19th century American landscape painters were in some way expressing the ideology of manifest destiny So those of you who grew up in the United States, and took American history in high school, or college have heard this term manifest destiny, but it’s an idea that describes the American attitude towards the continent of, you know, this part of North America that it’s our destiny to basically take it for our own use We as the United States expanded westward, we kept setting boundaries, and entering into treaties with Native Americans So you know, we would at a certain point, we, like in the mid 19th century, we drew a line, one of the longitudes I guess, and said,

we’re not gonna expand beyond this longitude, and then few years later we decided to just go back on the treaty, and take the rest of it, and we needed an ideology to justify that, and that was that basically, God gave us this continent to exploit, because we’re the ones who are really worthy of it You know, we’re the ones who knew how to make good use of it We can do agriculture, we can, you know, extend railroads We have international trade networks, and those previous inhabitants, well we’ll just, you know, round them up, and put them on reservations So that was half of the ideology The other half, which is a little bit less dark, is the idea that wilderness, that nature, that the Redwood Forests of California, and the Glades of the Catskills are a kind of natural cathedral, that we can connect with the divine through nature That was another very powerful idea, and so if that was the ideology that of which the say, 19th century American landscape painting, which we call the Hudson River School, if that ideology of manifest destiny was expressed through that kind of painting, what was the ideology of our contemporary way of looking at the land, which seems to be more than anything else in aerial view, a kind of drone’s eye view That’s how you know America was, is policing Afghanistan, and Yemen, and the tribal territories of Pakistan It’s using these robotic machining eyes in the sky to look down, and see what’s happening, and decide who’s a target, and who’s not, and who’s where, you know, that’s how we extend our power That’s the kind of, if there’s an ideology of contemporary American empire, like the United States as the global police you know, protecting democracy, and capitalism, and you know, free markets as it were, maybe the drone’s eye view is the symptom of that, or the sort of visual manifestation of that So that’s why, at least that’s why I told myself I made these images, which were again also about the blurring of the boundaries between the virtual, and the real, between technological simulation, and actuality, because these aren’t actually satellite photographs, but they’re, again, composited screen captures from a 3D simulation of the Earth So they looked, you know, highly naturalistic, but in fact their simulations of real places So the titles in this case, Mendocino refer to the counties, and the American West that they represent So I’ve shown these in a few places, first at the Corcoran Gallery, which commissioned them, and then at Shu Long gallery in Dallas, and again at the Queen’s Museum, at the Queen’s international, and couple of years ago, and a few other places They’re pretty big, and the scale was also important to me The shapes of these panels actually result from the compositing process So if you’ve ever used Photoshop to composite photographs together, you have a bunch of options, one of which is a kind of mosaic mode that doesn’t warp the images, but just allows for a jagged outline You see that a lot also in drone photography in satellite, or space telescope photography, like the Hubble space photographs often have these jagged edges I liked that artifact, and it also allowed me to make these dynamically shaped pictures that also, I think we’re in dialogue with the mid 20th century shaped canvases of artists like Kenneth Noland, and Frank Stella, and Ellsworth Kelly that were also in the Corporates Collection So I was trying to have like a two way conversation with landscape painters from the 19th century, and also mid 20th century American color field painters So this is what I’m working on now I’m going out into preserved wilderness areas with a cinematographer, and a digital cinema camera that records in 4K, and really good lenses, and all that stuff, and I’m scouting tons, and tons of locations, and then filming for 24 hours, from midnight to midnight on a full moon So creating a very long take, a 24 hour long shot with no camera movement, no editing, no zooms, or pans So it functions a little bit like a photograph,

but in real time So what we’re seeing on screen here, I think it was about three o’clock when this clip was shot, if you saw it in a gallery, you know, right now it’s 7:20 p.m So you would see it at 7:20 p.m. when I shot it It’s synchronize with the real time So it would be dark, the sun would have set The moon wouldn’t have come up yet So it’d be pitch black, and you just hear the sound And this was the project that when Sharon was introducing me that I said I would be working on for the foreseeable future It’s pretty difficult, and time consuming, and requires a lot of fundraising So far I’ve made one this one, which I shot last October, but I’m hoping to make, I don’t know how many, nine, a dozen, or so, maybe one a year for awhile So I feel pretty interested in it, and committed to it Why? Well as you guys know, I think a lot about why I’m doing this art thing What’s my purpose as an artist? Besides that I enjoy it Like what’s the point, and what good is it? And I recently turned 50, and I realized that you know, I don’t know how many decades left I have as a really engaged creative artists, but I feel a little bit like I felt in 1996 when I started Rhizome, or in 2003 when I started doing the Port Huron Project Like this is the most important thing I can be doing right now, because we’re living in a moment when with the climate changing, and all the other ways in which humans are impacting natural systems, and ecosystems, places like this just aren’t gonna look, and sound, and smell like this much longer Even the most carefully protected places are really ephemeral And, you know, I have kids, and by the time they have kids, you know, who knows what this place will be like I mean, I’m sure this will be preserved for the next hundred years At least, I assume it will, but even so, the stream may dry up, or it may flood, and the trees may change as some invasive beetle eats all the leaves, and then some other tree that used to grow down South starts growing here, who knows, in 150 years, or maybe palm trees, or it may be a desert, but we’re living in a moment that scholars are starting to refer to as the anthropo scene, the age of humans when we’re melting the glaciers, and raising the seas, and transforming forests into deserts, and vice versa And so like, what’s an artist to do? Right, and so I thought maybe I could at least preserve a very subjective aesthetic impression, or experience of what these places are like now Partly to convey this idea to contemporary audiences, like, wow, this is this incredibly precious thing, and we, and are presiding over its wholesale destruction, like our generation, and the generation after us, and a couple more It’s like, it’s happening like right now really fast, and the other reason is I hope, you know, since I started Rhizome I’ve thought a lot about preservation, and there’s a lot of video being made right now, but most of it will disappear, but some of it, particularly the art, particularly the art that’s collected by places like The National Gallery, or MoMA, or The Met, some of it may actually survive the coming cataclysm, so that, you know, my great, great grandkids, great, great grandkids, might be able to go to a museum, you know, when there’s only a billion people on Earth, and see what these places were like, you know, right before it all changed So that’s part of the idea there It’s partly also I don’t know, It’s a little bit about mindfulness Like I get to spend 24 hours sitting on a rock, listening, and looking at the land, and paying attention to it So it’s a very deep experience for me personally Structurally the 24 hours, I mean, one thing is it’s not an arbitrary amount of time It’s actually one, you know, cycle one rotation of the Earth, but also it’s unimaginably long in gallery time Right, so if you go to the Whitney Museum,

and there’s a video playing, or there’s a sculpture on the floor, or a drawing on the wall, you know, how long do you look at it? Probably three seconds to 30 seconds If you’re really invested, maybe three minutes, that’s actually a really pretty long time Some of you may have had the assignment to spend an hour looking at something That’s hard, right? 24 hours, no one will see this like, except for me, and the cinematographer, and the, you know, the poor guy who helped me color correct it Guards, you know, will get to know it pretty well Collectors who put it in their homes might get to know it pretty well over the years as they, you know, stumbled to the bathroom at 3:00 in the morning, and see what it’s like by the moonlight, but it’s a metaphorical duration for the impossibly long timescales of climate change, because we, you know, we evolved to respond to dangers that happen on the scale of like three minutes, 30 minutes You know, we’re pretty good at like running away when somebody is chasing us, you know, we’re not too bad when we get organized at like planning for a few weeks, or a few years ahead, but to plan for decades, and centuries seems to be beyond our abilities, you know, collectively in civilized societies, like, you know, we just pulled out of the Paris Climate Accord, and that itself is a pretty weak effort You know, that was like the last ditch effort to maybe, you know, maybe prevent like wholesale calamity I don’t mean to be a doomsayer, but so this impossible duration of 24 hours becomes kind of an allegory for the difficulty of seeing what’s happening in realtime around us in geological time I think I have another slide Yeah, so drawing in the meantime So this is a really slow process here, making these things that meant to be seen, like on really big 4K displays by the way, hanging on the wall, like a painting, or a photograph, not projected So like if I can only make like one of these year, I really want to also be actively making stuff in my studio, and I wanted to find other ways to engage with the subject matter So I’ve started tracing stills from films that feature themes of ecological disasters So this is still from the wonderful film, Soylent Green, which I highly recommend, and then most recently starting last summer, I have all these photographs I take when I’m scouting locations I mean, if you’re gonna shoot for 24 hours, you gotta, you know, you want to take like 100 or 1,000 shots before you really commit to one There’s no editing once you start rolling, right? So I have all these these photographs, and I’ve started doing this, painting them So this I made last summer, and I can’t wait to make the next one This is a location I was scouting in Indiana, and when I was at in undergrad, I took a course at Rhode Island School of Design in Renaissance painting techniques where we learn to do a gresia, a black and white underpainting, and then paint over it with these glazes of color to build up these really complex, luminous colors So what I’m doing here is printing out, I’d take a photograph, print it out in black and white, and then very carefully with teeny tiny brushes, over paint it with glazes to build up these rich, luminous colors, and kind of come up with a kind of a backdoor photo realism So I think that is all I have for you tonight Thank you so much (audience applauding) – [Audience Member] Why did you choose to do acrylic on paper instead of like oil or, I don’t know, like I’m just curious about your choice? – I used to paint in oil And it was partly practical I was, you know, it’s nontoxic, there’s no fumes I also like I hadn’t done any research on the effects of, you know, Walnut oil on paper, but I was pretty sure that this would be really durable Yeah, it works really well I’m using, now I’m spacing on the name, but the great New York based acrylic paint company based upstate You guys all use them? What’s that? No? Golden, yes, I use golden liquid acrylics High-Flow, recommend them highly, and the smallest brushes you can get – [Audience Member] What about the paper? – That is actually Epson enhanced matte we have it right upstairs

(audience laughing) Yes? Can you wait for the mic? – [Audience Member] Do you have any interests in like more urban landscapes in the way that they change? Because they’re changing very dramatically as well, and I don’t know, is that something that you have? – Really rapidly Not, not just yet – [Audience Member] Okay, and then also you deal with a lot of different people, but you don’t necessarily focus on people specifically Is there a reason for that? Like kind of going into like larger themes – In the Port Huron Project I focused on people specifically, – [Audience Member] Which one? – M The Port Huron Project, the reenactments – [Audience Member] Oh, that’s true – You know, like really got to know their biographies, and had to get permission – [Audience Member] But I was thinking with like the the military people – Oh yeah? – [Audience Member] I mean kind of going into like the whole doomsday prepper thing, and kind of like exploring that Like, I don’t know, is there a reason why you didn’t do that? – Their stories are so compelling, and they were so interesting I thought a lot about maybe making a documentary of some kind about them, but I just didn’t want to, it just, you know, documentary films are, I just thought I’d, I would be fascinated by the subject matter, but really bored by the process I want to, you know, it’s just not my kind of art – [Audience Member] You mentioned, sorry I have no voice, but you mentioned kind of the contemplative quality of spending so much time doing the videotaping, and I’m wondering if when you paint slowly, layer by layer, if you’re also experiencing something like that here, and is that a valuable part of the process to you? – And that I’ve never ever made work that required this kind of like patience, and meticulousness, and kind of being a bit of a perfectionist Like I’ve never done anything that required me to sit for hours, and hours, and just Except for, since I was in college, when I forced myself to learn to draw I mean, I know a lot of you do that all the time It was new to me, especially, you know, after doing things like running Rhizome, it was all highly interactive, or the Port Huron Project, which is sort of like being a producer, and doing budgets, and spreadsheets, and having meetings, and organizing events Yeah, like sitting, and painting was totally new to me I don’t think I could have maybe done it 10 years ago, but somehow I just thought, A: I love it, and I do find, and I’m sure many of you find that I’m thinking very much about what’s happening in my mind as I’m doing it I’m noticing, wow, I’m really doubting myself right now, and how does that come out? You know, is somebody gonna be able to tell when they see these leaves that this was where he was lacking confidence, you know, could you tell that in this cluster of leaves this is where I was really in the zone, and feeling like a genius? You know, and then like I noticed that I’m not breathing, and I go back to breathing I personally have a kind of meditation practice, and I found this very meditative, and I basically tried to apply the tools that I learned in insight meditation, and mindfulness to the painting process, and it gets so interesting, you know, because it’s like, it’s like watching that Michael Snow film, Wavelength, it becomes very much about, you know, watching myself painting – [Audience Member] How do you mix that wellness experience with your teaching? – Maybe it helps refresh me for it Haven’t yet though I haven’t – [Audience Member] You should – Interesting question Let’s go hiking – [Audience Member] So I noticed that your overarching theme of your work is a process of preservation And not just archival, but an idea of preservation and, and even now as into conservation – Conservation? – [Audience Member] Conservation So can you tell me more about your theory thought process on, sorry, conservation – Yeah – [Audience Member] and how you got to that space Did you begin there, or do you think that you had gotten there over time? – Thinking that way, thinking archivally you might call it It really started in 1999 when after doing Rhizome for three years,

I realized that a lot of the net art that we were, that people were talking about, not a lot, but some of it was starting to vanish One particular project by a Dutch artist named Aka Voganar, called Hiroshima, which is basically this very, very early net art project from 1995, about the bombing of Hiroshima, and they were on faculty at the K.H.M The Kunsthochschule für Medien in Cologne, Germany, and they then left to teach somewhere else, and the system’s administrator who ran the server that the work was on just deleted the account, and you have to sort of actively destroy a painting, but you can really inadvertently destroy net art with a click of a mouse, or so often, I mean, how many of you have had a hard drive crash, right? Artists are often not so good at preserving their own work, especially when it’s in digital form Also, we were aware that the technology was changing super quickly, and something that was made like that project, Traces of a Constructed City that I made in 1995, It was shown in it at the Montclair Museum a couple of years ago in a show like, a show about art of the ’90s, and when I went to check it, it had broken So I had to go back in, and fix the HTML, but there are other works that can’t be just fixed in that way, and that’s something that Rhizome is working on now, tools for, but so that’s why we started the Rhizome Art Base, which is the archive to preserve art, and technology So I started thinking about that then, and then it came back very strongly in 2006 when I started doing the reenactments, because I was thinking, wow, there’s this whole history here, and a lot of it is dormant Like, if you start researching political speeches, or just great speeches, you’ll find a lot of speeches by governors, and presidents, and you know, clergy like, you know, bishops, and people like that, Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Not a lot of those protest speeches are published, or even really remembered, but if you start digging through the archives like this left wing political network in California called Pacifica Radio, had digitized recordings of some of them, they’d never been transcribed Like that Angela Davis speech, Stokely Carmichael’s speech that he gave in 1968 in front of the United Nations, the text of it was in literally in a folder at the I’m sorry, I’m spacing on the name The something center up in, the set center for black culture that’s part of the New York public, the Schomburg up in Harlem So so I thought of it as a way to kind of reactivate parts of the archives selectively That’s a lot of what we do as artists Whenever we work with say, found images, or found objects, we’re drawing attention to something Recontextualizing it, in a way, rewriting history, or intervening in that process Yeah, so, and you know, and I very much think about where we are in history, you know, that’s like that whole thinking about landscape, and like, you know, 19th century landscape was to manifest destiny as you know video game landscapes are to contemporary American, or Western military fantasy as the drone’s eye view is to American empire as, and now, so this is, I didn’t really mention this, but so now I’m thinking what’s my ideology of nature, like how do I think about our relationship with the natural world, and how it’s changing in the fact that, you know, I and probably everyone in this room when we’re honest with ourselves, are very much aware that we’re living on borrowed time, and like, how do we deal with that? My ideology is like, wow, I wish we could preserve that Let’s enjoy it while we can Let’s really, you know, get out there, and really connect with it Maybe we can preserve, you know, some kind of document of it, and it’s so beautiful too, and you can’t really get a sense here, but I think this work I’m just gonna not say this for the camera, but I just, I’m really in love with it I think it’s so beautiful, and so powerful Like the actual experience is powerful, but you know, in 4K, it’s by moonlight, it’s just glorious, and that’s a powerful art experience, and that’s partly what I’m trying to do, is make these really rich, compelling aesthetic experiences that also talk about something, or create a space in which we can ask ourselves questions about something important, I guess, is how I think about my role – [Audience Member] I have kind of two questions if I may You talked about what is your goal as an artist? And we’ve talked about that as well So first question is, what is your goal as an artist? And the second question is kind of related to

your art I remember Nina Simone said, “how can you be an artist, and not reflect the times?” Do you think good art needs to be socially relevant, and have social impact? – For me, yes For you, that’s up to you I do believe that as Howard Zinn, the American historian, leftist said, “You can’t be neutral on a moving train.” We are all on a moving train called history, and you’re either part of the problem, or part of the solution, and as an artist I’d like to be part of the solution – [Audience Member] I’m gonna go back to you talking about a 4K How have you, it’s fairly technical Have you considered the VR, because it’s extremely immersive – Yes I get where you’re going I have totally thought about it Whether a simple photo bubble, or some other kind of technology, that technology is really unstable It’s changing really quickly It’s not well understood, and I’m concerned I think it could be really cool for the short term, but I’m concerned that it won’t have legs, meaning 150 years from now, VR will have evolved into something completely different, and I don’t think people will, A: it will be hard to simply play it right? Something that’s meant for an LG phone, or a Samsung phone that you put on a pair of goggles, or an Oculus Rift, that’s not gonna exist in even 30 years, right? And so over the last, we’ve been making pictures on walls for how many thousands of years, 60? We know we have this almost, it’s like in our cultural DNA to see an image on a flat surface, and understand its relation to something out there in the world We’ve been making re naturalistic landscape pictures for hundreds of years So I’m hopeful that I can leverage that history in a way to make something that will be comprehensible in the future Also by doing this, I’m in dialogue with painting, and photography in a way that, if I was doing VR, I wouldn’t be So it’s compelling I mean it’s attractive, it’s appealing, but you know, we all as artists have to constantly make decisions about what not to do, like what’s essential, and what’s not You know, and I’m definitely of the less is more school Like I pair down my idea to the very simplest thing, and then do it to the hilt – [Audience Member] One more question Is Howard Zinn in your Project Huron? – Yes I did a speech that he gave in 1972 on Boston, on Boston common at an antiwar rally – [Audience Member] Thank you – It’s online – [Audience Member] I wanted to go back to your kind of answer about preservation, and I was also thinking specifically about the hard drive crashing, and the, you know, continuous updates to technologies, because even thinking like, right at like you say 4K video, but aren’t there already like 5K displays, and stuff like that too? Right, so I was thinking is your addition of painting simultaneous with the video work? It’s that kind of almost like– – Hedging my bets? – [Audience Member] Yeah exactly Like that one will not necessarily stand the test of time next to the other Maybe both won’t, and kind of in the case of the anthropo scene, right? – Yeah, and it’s also nice that you don’t have to plug it in to look at it Yeah, so in thinking about that, I go with standards So UHD which is basically four times the resolution of HD is a widely adopted standard That’s why if you buy a 4K TV at Best Buy, that’s what it shows So this is really widely adopted I tried to do a fair amount of research so that the technology I’m using is robust, well understood, and likely to be one of the technologies that is available to be reproduced down the road – [Audience Member] Still supported right? – What’s that like? – [Audience Member] Still supported – Probably not supported, but there’ll be tools for bringing it back to life that don’t exist for obscure formats – [Audience Member] That you might not need like an adapter for that’s not available – Software adapter, yeah Well, you need an adapter, but an adapter needs to exist You don’t have to build it yourself, right? – [Audience Member] With your latest work, it seems, and you said this, it’s still dealing with social issues, but it’s also very self-aware Do you think your meditation practice has anything to do with that, or have you been practicing meditation, and mindfulness? – 11 years

So I don’t know I don’t know, but it definitely helps when you’re trying to just sit still for 24 hours, and be silent too Like me, and the cinematographer, like whispering in each other’s ears I’m trying to stay warm – [Audience Member] Thank you for sharing your personal art history I think it’s very inspiring for me, and my question is do you feel something changing along with the age, like 20, 30, 40, 50, but, and something not change? – So I think the question is how, like what is changing in me as an artist as I get older, and what stays the same? I feel more confident, and sure of myself I just have more experience so that when I make decisions there’s always like tons of difficult decisions, right? But I have all this experience to refer back to like in terms of titling, or you know, what to say when a curator wants to do something that you don’t want to do That kind of thing Practical stuff, I feel less ambivalent So when you’re ambivalent, you’re of two minds, you know, you feel conflicted I feel much less ambivalent about art in general Like there was a time when I was running Rhizome that I was just so fed up with the art world, and I kind of felt like this whole world of art, and technology was this great new thing, and for awhile I actually had a .com, like an internet startup, and I felt like that world was much more of a meritocracy where what counted was the quality of your work, and not your popularity That always really bothered me about the world, the commercial art world, that it seemed to overlap so much with popularity, and glamor, and wealth, and unearned privilege, and now I feel like I just accept that a lot more, and I just really believe, and also, you know, there’s a lot, I was having a studio visit with someone today who really wasn’t sure deeply if choosing art over other paths that were available to them was the right decision, because many of you in here could do other things very well, and doing art is hard It’s often thankless I feel much less ambivalent about that now You know, not only do I really love making art, and feel like it’s the most important thing I can do, but I also really just love being with artists I feel like you’re my people, and if I get to spend most of my life, you know, talking with, and working with you guys, how amazing is that? – [Audience Member] You know, as a 50 year old man with less than a half of your life left, and you’ve maybe things will, you know, advance scientifically, I hope Me as well who’s similar in age You’re gonna have to make decisions about the things that you document – Right – [Audience Member] Do you have some sense of the things, you know, big, beautiful planet that maybe teetering a little bit Do you have some sense of what it is, some urgency that these sorts of things that I’m gonna need to document? – See that I think just, I’m not, so, I don’t have like a list, a bucket list of places that I really want to shoot It depends so much on my resources Like that car park project, that was a response to the invitation, right? You know if I, you know, apply for a residency in Hawaii, and get to do one, you know, in a Hawaiian rainforest, or you know, I mean I did the catskills, because it’s two, and a half hours away, and I can rent cameras for three days instead of a week If I get a big grant, you know, that’ll really open up possibilities So I’m gonna just gonna really more respond to where the opportunities lie, I think – [Audience Member] Can you imagine farming that project out to other people in other parts of the world? – Wow, that’s a scary thought – [Audience Member] It’s a beautiful thought – Yeah it’s a beautiful thought, although I really love doing it myself, and I feel like, you know, just like there are some artists who want to paint their work themselves, and others who don’t mind having a lot of others do it At this point, I really want to make it myself

So I don’t know Yeah, hard as it is – [Audience Member] As someone who can’t make a compelling landscape to save her life, I thank you for making landscape work, because I think it’s really important that it exists, although you have made work about people as well, and so my question is about the presentation of these, and you said it’s durational, and that it’s in real time So would you imagine like a gallery will be open for 24 hours? So that people could go in the middle of the night, and experience this moonlight, is that what you kind of see it? – If I were so lucky, that would be great There a few examples like 24 hours Psycho by Douglas Gordon I think when that was shown at the Hirshhorn in DC, they did for like certain special events on weekends, they opened for 24 hours, and it became a really popular place to go after the bars closed Christian Marclay’s The Clock Paula Cooper you know, stayed open for 24 hours, not for the whole six weeks running the show I don’t think, maybe So I dunno, I can’t imagine it always being shown that way, but I would love for it to happen that way sometimes I also think that you know, for a collector that’s sort of the ultimate view where somebody who can live with it, and really get to know it, and then I have thought about other contexts, and it never occurred to me that I might want to have my work in hospitals But there’s this whole emerging field, a lot of opportunity there By the way, you guys have arts, and medicine Over half the hospitals in the United States have arts, and medicine programs where they buy art, and they commission performances I mean, mostly people playing, you know, folk music on guitar, and cheesy watercolors, but there’s no reason why it can’t be a place for us to do serious work My wife at one point spent five weeks in a hospital before, and after the birth of our second child, I spent a ton of time in that hospital, and if there had been a work like that, like one of these landscapes in the waiting room, that would have been wonderful, and there’s all this research that shows that if you have a room with a view of trees, your recovery time is faster So, I dunno, I think about different contexts that I never imagined for my work Not sure – [Audience Member] So you mentioned that you had a cinematographer with you up in the woods, but do you also said that you spent weeks, and hours, and the thousands of photographs sort of figuring out where, and what you were gonna do? So what did you need a cinematographer for? – Why do I need a cinematographer? – [Audience Member] Yeah, I mean you, it seemed like you’d pretty much knew what you were doing – It’s actually really hard to shoot for 24 hours straight To do it well, A: you need a camera that’s not just like a point, and shoot, and I can, you know, I can learn to operate, you know, an Airy or something like that, or a Red, but to then constantly be adjusting the aperture and the theater shutter speed, there’s a lot of media management involved, and because you can’t record 30 terabytes on a single card yet, and also, I mean I can only do it so well, and just 24 hours is really difficult Next time I also want to have a sound recordist, because I’m not a very good sound recordist In this project more than in other ones I’ve done in the past, fidelity, and quality are really important to me I want it to be as good as possible So you know, and forming a longterm collaboration with a cinematographer can really enrich a project This guy I’m working with, Sam Cotay is brilliant He’s also a really experienced outdoorsman, and it’s not really manageable for one person to do it well without a lot of breaks, and interruptions, and poorly exposed passages Even though the camera never moves, yeah Not constantly, but every half hour to hour You have to have a whole plan also for like how you’re adjusting the aperture so you don’t mess it up Anyway, long story short, definitely need the team Yup (audience applauding)

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