Marvin Heiferman/Hot Topics
Marvin Heiferman spoke at the Art and Culture Center of Hollywood in the second of a five part “Hot Topics” series of lectures by leading figures in the contemporary visual arts. Last Saturday’s talk took place the day after the opening of the exhibition and book release event of “Artist Unknown / The free world” by artists John D. Monteith & Oliver Wasow on view at the Arts and Culture Center through January 29th, 2012. This collaborative exhibition displays 800 photographs and 16,000 digital images culled and categorized by the artists, from social networking and archiving sites as well as chat rooms and web cam stills. Jane Hart, John D. Monteith, Oliver Wasow, Marvin Heiferman Heiferman is a photographic curator, author and writer on visual culture for multiple arts publications. Well known for his web-based projects Heifereman contributed text to the exhibitions accompanying book alongside text contributed by art critic Jerry Saltz and the art center’s curator of exhibitions Jane Hart. Heiferman’s talk was enlightening as he spoke about the exhibition on view in context of the history of photographic archiving and contemporary artists exploring platforms of social media networks and communication. He shared with the audience the shifting medium of photography from personal memorabilia and anthropological trope to advertising and documentary clip art, materializing into art object and more recently art subject. With over 10 billion images on the internet to date, it was inevitable that artists would use this as a major source for material. “Artist Unknown/The free world” is one of many exhibitions today examining the cumulative effects of image resourcing and social media on the internet. For his part in the exhibition, Wasow chose 800 images from the thousands that he collected over the years. Most of the images appear to have been taken pre digital camera requiring them to have been scanned and uploaded to the internet either by the original owner or by the artist himself. Wasow took into consideration images that he felt were planned in the sense of composition, subject and lighting. He then began categorizing by common subject matter such as, kids with guns, men in uniforms, couples, couples kissing, animals, people with animals, bouffant hairdos, cross dressers, people with nooses around their necks, people with knives, the uncanny and so on. As one walks along the walls reviewing the catalog of compactly hung images, the photographs begin to radiate a certain aura and we become lost in ourselves, buried in our own poignant memories. Monteith on the other hand chose images of current trends in digital media, capturing people video chatting in on line forums or posing for their built in computer camera. In 30 video monitors mounted on the back wall you watch 16,000 changing images of people as they chat, work, play or explore their own bodies like you would explore your tongue in the bathroom mirror. He chooses his images as a painter would choose elements for his next portrait. “I am a painter” he states “I look at the images as a painter”. “Artist Unknown/The free world” is an exhibition that emphasize the cumulative effect of the billions of images available on the web today and how artists and un-artists alike may become the parisian wanderer of Baudelaire, with the click of a mouse we are digital flâneurs able to observe the labyrinth of the world wide web and still remain incognito, or so we think!