Editors' Notes

Maria Damon and Michelle Greenblatt
Jim Leftwich and Michelle Greenblatt
Sheila E. Murphy and Michelle Greenblatt

A Visual Conversation on Michelle Greenblatt's ASHES AND SEEDS with Stephen Harrison, Monika Mori | MOO, Jonathan Penton and Michelle Greenblatt

Letters for Michelle: with work by Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, Jeffrey Side, Larry Goodell, mark hartenbach, Charles J. Butler, Alexandria Bryan and Brian Kovich

Visual Poetry by Reed Altemus
Poetry by Glen Armstrong
Poetry by Lana Bella
A Eulogic Poem by John M. Bennett
Elegic Poetry by John M. Bennett
Poetry by Wendy Taylor Carlisle
A Eulogy by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Vincent A. Cellucci
Poetry by Joel Chace
A Spoken Word Poem and Visual Art by K.R. Copeland
A Eulogy by Alan Fyfe
Poetry by Win Harms
Poetry by Carolyn Hembree
Poetry by Cindy Hochman
A Eulogy by Steffen Horstmann
A Eulogic Poem by Dylan Krieger
An Elegic Poem by Dylan Krieger
Visual Art by Donna Kuhn
Poetry by Louise Landes Levi
Poetry by Jim Lineberger
Poetry by Dennis Mahagin
Poetry by Peter Marra
A Eulogy by Frankie Metro
A Song by Alexis Moon and Jonathan Penton
Poetry by Jay Passer
A Eulogy by Jonathan Penton
Visual Poetry by Anne Elezabeth Pluto and Bryson Dean-Gauthier
Visual Art by Marthe Reed
A Eulogy by Gabriel Ricard
Poetry by Alison Ross
A Short Movie by Bernd Sauermann
Poetry by Christopher Shipman
A Spoken Word Poem by Larissa Shmailo
A Eulogic Poem by Jay Sizemore
Elegic Poetry by Jay Sizemore
Poetry by Felino A. Soriano
Visual Art by Jamie Stoneman
Poetry by Ray Succre
Poetry by Yuriy Tarnawsky
A Song by Marc Vincenz

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An Interview with John Craig Freeman and Will Pappenheimer
by Jeremy Hight

John Craig Freeman: Our project Hans RichtAR was designed to blur the line between the physical space of the Los Angeles County Museum of Modern Art, the objects and films in the Hans Richter: Encounters exhibition and the virtual space that occupies the same location, by filling that space with an alternative virtual exhibition. This can only be seen with the use of an iPad, using augmented reality technology.

The project was installed in a part of the exhibition which Timothy Benson, the curator, dedicated to the representation of the Film und Foto, or FIFO exhibition which took place in Stuttgart in 1929, and for which Hans Richter served as film curator. Our work re-imagines this groundbreaking exhibition in response to the emergent technology of our time. Designed by El Lissitzky and his wife, Sophie Lissitzky-Küppers, FIFO was intended to put into practice the ideas of expanded cinema space that Richter and his contemporaries were experimenting with at the time. They were trying to break with the use of theater as an interface metaphor for film, the emerging technology of their time. Richter and other avant-garde artists of Europe and Russia were committed not only to the idea that that a new visual language needed to be invented, but that cinema should shed its reliance on the narrative forms of the past. Early film was most often made by setting up actors in front of a camera, as if to make a play. The film was then displayed on a screen in front of an audience, as if the screen was a stage, replicating the classic proscenium arch.

Although many of the principles of 20th Century avant-garde relating to the need to invent a new visual language stuck, and in fact, form the basis for the construction of meaning in contemporary cinema. A case in point is the invention of montage by artists such as Sergei Eisenstein in Battleship Potemkin. Here, meaning is made by the poetic juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated film shots, many filmed at different times in different places. Montage is so commonplace now, it mostly goes unnoticed, but in 1929 it was quite literally revolutionary. However, the notions of expanded cinema space, a space that envelops and immerses the audience, has gone largely unrealized, but will perhaps find its expression in virtual and augmented reality.

The Hans RichtAR installation includes a bank of three iPads running an augmented reality browser. This allows visitors to view the both the physical and the virtual exhibition through the lens of the device. People are asked to hold the iPad up and move in any direction to see the full 360-degree scene.

Will Pappenheimer: Adding to what Craig has said here, I would say we got interested in the notion of "Cinematic Space-Time" discussed in an article written by the exhibition curator, Tim Benson. The notion was developed by Hans Richter and many of his very well-known contemporaries and included strategies for unfolding cinema into three-dimensional space as well as creating exhibitions designed to destabilize the relationship between the viewer and the artwork viewed. This was particularly an interest of El Lissitzky for the FIFO exhibition. The exhibition also combined many different media and installation such that it became one of the earliest multimedia installations. Marcel Duchamp's "Anemic Cinema" and his Rotoreliefs also had this directive of turning two-dimensional space into three-dimensional space and accomplishing this within the viewer's eye or psychological state. For many of the artists of this time, the representations and effects of the mechanized or industrial world transformed experience both socially and the very forms and practices that constitute the artwork. The willingness of these artists to see their work and the very the category of art expanding into every medium, even into the record of everyday life which is captured in some of their first "documentary" approaches to film. The range of meaning addressed in this group is quite huge covering everything from the nonsense of Dada to political commentary and even propaganda.

Naturally, we see many parallels to this moment of the computer-Internet expansion, sometimes called the "Internet of things," and how it begins to infuse into the physical or the site, particularly in augmented reality. In fact the very notions of what constitutes the real in this relationship are shifting, not that reality hasn't been in question long before the moment. AR is for us perhaps another step in expanded Cinema, coming this time from computer-Internet space and leaking out into the landscape. The narrative montage, the illogical juxtaposition of Dada, telling a story or confounding a story, are the foundations of intervening with AR. In this sense, we are interested in this new medium not just because it is a seductive new technology, but because it creates a combined space that can be both playful as well as critical.

Jeremy Hight: Can you describe how your works at LACMA engaged archive as well as the possibilities of AR in terms of engaging context and physical space?

JCF: In addition to a virtual reconstruction of El Lissitzky scaffolding structure, the work includes still images and short clips from many of the films that are on display in the larger exhibition including, Dziga Vertov, Kino Eye, 1924, Sergei Eisenstein, Battleship Potemkin, 1925; Sergei Eisenstein and Grigori Aleksandrov, October: Ten Days That Shook the World, 1927; Dziga Vertov, Man with a Movie Camera, 1929; and Alexander Dovzhenko, Arsenal, 1929, as well as virtual objects inspired by Marcel Duchamp's Rotoreliefs and other objects which respond to and give form to Richter's notions of expanded cinema space.

We hope to extend the line of inquiry that Richter and others began in the early 20th Century. Just as Richter invented the language of abstract film from his interest in the sequential image in painting, we hope to participate in the invention of a new language for place-based virtual reality. The questions they raised in response to the emerging technology of their time are questions that will never be fully answered and must continue to be asked in the 21st Century.

When I was four or five years old, my mother took me to see the old Camera Obscura in Santa Monica's Palisades Park. Originally built as a seaside tourist attraction in the 19th century on the boardwalk near the original Santa Monica Pier, the device was moved to the Senior Recreation Center just up the bluff in 1955, where it is largely forgotten today. It includes a darkened room-sized chamber with a lens turret atop the building, a circular tabletop projection surface, and a steering wheel mechanism that allows visitors to turn the lens turret in order to observe the bustling beachfront outside. Although it is free, most tourists simply don't bother. Perhaps the setting makes people feel like they are intruding on the games of gin and chess, but if you ask, you can leave your driver's license and the attendant will give you the key.

This experience left an indelible impression on me, one that undoubtedly catalyzed a life-long interest in virtual, immersive and interactive art. The camera obscura is central not only to the exhibition and our contribution, but to the theory that drives it. I had expected the Encounters exhibition to be good and important, but once the films were all turned on for final testing the day before the opening, a certain synergy form in my mind around the idea of a common contiguous experiment in emergent technology, invention of visual language and the construction of meaning through representation, one that can trace its origins to the camera obscura.

All lens based images, (for that matter most paintings, since painting came off the wall and onto canvas in the renaissance), are simultaneously an image—contained within a frame and a point of view, represented literally by the aperture and figuratively by the eye of the artist. Not unlike Richter's perceived need to break from theater as a model for new forms of cinema, augmented reality is creating an opportunity to experiment with breaking with the most basic tenants of the camera obscura, the aperture and the frame. Hans RichtAR is still an image, it is still representation, but one that the viewer enters and is immersed within. It is still framed by the iPad, at least until the technology can be projected directly onto the retina, or into the brain, but the image exists in all dimensions. Further the point of view is handed over from the artist to the viewer as she moves through the space. A testament to Benson's brilliance, I now think that Encounters is one of the most important exhibitions of late. It sheds light on one of the most influential, yet under represented eras in art history.

WP: The Hans RichtAR installation was a particularly new challenge for us to create a room-based installation that fits within a large room, rather than creating works for the outdoors, as has been most of our practice. The open lattice work AR structure of the work created a U-shape, matching the walls of the room and left many areas of see-through such that all the artwork on the walls would be seen through the structure. Therefore installation was integrated into the room. At times various animated parts of the artwork spun out of the installation area across and into the adjacent rooms in the exhibition. This further accentuated the idea of the works locus and leakage into the exhibition as a whole. It is quite likely that this project represents the beginning of our explorations into AR within interior space, particularly that might work in a museum or gallery.

JH: How does your work with AR engage place and create commentary?

JCF: Meaning is constructed in AR much like the juxtaposition of film shots in montage filmmaking. Rather than the juxtaposition of images, AR juxtaposes the real and virtual. Further, as you look through the virtual installation to the broader exhibition beyond, it disrupts the sense of what is real and what is virtual.

WP: Craig states concisely here the basic principle that creates what I see as the "critical space" potential of this moment of AR. The coincidence of physical and virtual objects in space generates a resonance or discord that forms a commentary or an inter-narrative. The potent encounter between these worlds, the artist and viewer, echo's Duchamp's notion of the artistic encounter or the title theme of the show, "Encounters," as the locus of Hans Richter's work.

JH: What led to the formation of Manifest AR? How has the collaborative aspect been fed by the different previous trajectories of each of you as well as the dynamics of collaborative engagement with projects, space and information?

JCF: It is now the artist, not the curator, who decides which artworks can be placed where. Art world power structures, the nature of art exhibitions and discourse, are all called into question, even the border between art and life itself. Moreover, public space is now truly open, as artworks can be placed anywhere in the world, without prior permission from government or private authorities. ManifestAR formed after the groundbreaking uninvited augmented reality intervention at the Museum of Modern Art in the fall of 2010.

WP: "We AR in MoMA," 2010, an uninvited exhibition placed by GPS into the 7 + 1 floors of the museum was the context that brought many of us together with the common interest in intervention. Shortly afterward, in January of 2011, a few of us wrote an AR manifesto and came up with the title of the group, Manifest.AR. Though there is an international core group that is most active, there are many other loosely affiliated members. We have collaborated both on the understanding of the technology as well as being inspired by each other's work. Many exhibitions have centered around the group as it takes on the diverse interests of its members focused on a particular location or theme.

Most of us were quite familiar with collaboration, particularly using Internet communications, but not necessarily working together in the expanded group. Working with this many different perspectives and personalities is never easy are smooth, but it often generates a great electricity and ambitious projects.

JH: What first struck you about AR, that seemed the most intriguing and / or open to work with?

JCF: For the past eight years, I have worked on the corner of Tremont and Boylston Streets overlooking the historic Boston Common, the first public park in the United States. I walk across the park every morning. As I do, I often contemplate the role that the town square plays in shaping of political discourse and national identity formation. As the location of the public sphere, the town square is where we air grievances, display solidarity, express our difference, celebrate our similarities, remember and mourn. Public hangings took place at the Old Elm Tree on the Common until 1817, an example of the public reinforcement of the shared values of right and wrong, no matter how misguided. The Common still maintains a tradition of soapbox oratory and we even have a town crier, who exchanges weather forecast and sport scores for spare change. This is why monuments and memorials are located in town squares.

As Greg Ulmer points out in his book Electronic Monuments, monuments are an expression and acknowledgment of sacrifice on behalf of shared values.

Since the dawn of literacy, the public square has been the geographical anchor for the public political discourse. As Benedict Anderson argued in Imagined Communities, the nation state was made possible, in part, by the printing press, including the invention of associated forms and practices such as the novel, contributing to the creation of national identity. Newspapers and the rise of a mass reading public within industrialization are part of this history. In the early 1990s, we witnessed the migration of the public sphere from the physical realm, the town square and its print augmentation, to the virtual realm, the Internet. In effect, the location of public discourse and the site of national identity formation have been extended into the virtual world. This threat/promise is a context for experiments in virtual and augmented reality, which allows us to overlay this virtual public sphere onto our experience of the physical, cultural world. It is important to keep in mind that the practices of the virtual public sphere have to be invented, just as the equipment is invented.

WP: AR caught my sense of constitutional magic, when I saw the work of Mark Skwarek's called "A Leak in My Hometown" which instantiated a plume of underwater oil from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010. This very strange shape appearing in the room through the cell phone camera gave it a kind of tangible uncanny existence that appealed instantly to the psyche. A few months later when Mark and his Dutch friend, Sander Veenhof staged the "We AR in MoMA" I realized the potential for limitless uninvited institutional intervention. My interest is in challenging meaning, whether it be in objects, imagery or space leaped into the medium.

JH: What elements have been brought into your more recent work from work done before engaging AR?

JCF: I am a public artist with over 20 years of experience using emergent technologies to produce large-scale public work at sites where the forces of globalization are impacting the lives of individuals in local communities. My work seeks to expand the notion of public by exploring how digital-networked technology is transforming our sense of place.

My interest in using emergent technology to invent new forms of interventionist public art dates back to 1990 when I created Operation Greenrun II near the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant, where the plutonium detonation devices were manufactured for the nation's nuclear arsenal though the cold war. The project consisted of eleven 10' X 40' billboard faces, which were made of over 2,000 individual 8 1/2" x 11" bitmap images printed on a simple office laser printer and reassembled to form 400 square foot images. Over the course of about a mile, the billboards read "Today," "We Made," "A 250,000 Year," "Commitment." The half-life of plutonium is a quarter of a million years.

Think of the media as a kind of virtual reality, which it is, that can be intervened in. The decision to shut down Rocky Flats for good was made in 1991, during the media firestorm that this project created, proving that art does have a role to play in tangible political change.

The reason I am returning to this project after over two decades is that it demonstrates an early interest in emergent technology as art practice and public art as Intervention, intervention in both institutions of high culture and intervention in government policy and the institutions of the nation state.

WP: My take and the interest in AR stems from my interest in the alteration of the meaning of things, and its extension as institutional or spatial intervention. I am not so interested in how the medium constitutes the image-object or whether it is immersive, as Craig mentions in the lineage of the camera obscura above, but rather the magic or paradox of assuming that what is constituted is real, existentially or psychologically. My works usually take a given situation or object and alter its use or context to make it function in a different mode. The results are meant to create a resonance, sometimes additive and sometimes disjunctive, with the initial context. There is, in many cases of my work, a humorous quality together with a double-edged suggestion of criticality. Making objects for public space, and particularly sculpture connected to the Internet as collective or social space, what we might call a new form of public art, has also been a continuing thread in my works. All these proclivities seem to come into play in augmented reality space.

JH: Who are some of your influences?

JCF: My work derives inspiration from public monuments and memorials such as Maya Lin's Vietnam Veterans Memorial, (1982). In the Identity episode of the PBS program Art 21 (2001), Lin's memorials were described as "tactile experiences of sight, sound, and touch. They activate a full-bodied response on the part of the viewer, connecting us with the material aspects of their construction as well as with the private memories and thoughts that transform past events into awakenings in the present." The Vietnam Veterans Memorial helps to shape national identity on an individual level with the intimate, one-on-one encounter embodied in the touch of a single name, and on a collective level in the act of being there. It is my hope that people might experience a similar intimate one-on-one encounter as the calaca appears on the screen of their mobile devices. In a sense, they hold a memory of that individual in the palms of their hands.

Additionally, the work draws on a rich tradition of large-scale public art in the form of the earthwork and land art of the twentieth century, including Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty" (1970), James Turrell's "Roden Crater" (begun in 1979), Walter De Maria's "Lightning Field" (1977), Michael Heizer's "Double Negative" (1969), and other seminal artworks of the American desert southwest. The experience of these works constitutes a contemporary form of secular pilgrimage, which I also seek to engage. One must travel, often to very remote locations, to experience such work firsthand. Further, both these earthwork examples my work in geo-located augmented reality have ties to conceptual art. Most people will never have a firsthand encounter with either, but just knowing that it is out there, that they exist, makes them significant.

WP: My influences are quite diverse but I'll name a few which form some of the interests recurring throughout my work:

Check out a selection of images from RichtAR in this issue of Unlikely Stories: Episode IV!

Jeremy Hight is the Art Director at Unlikely Stories: Episode IV. You can learn more about him at his bio page.

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