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Patrick Holbrook

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Patrick Holbrook lives and works in Chicago. His work examines the spaces and movements of commodities and people, the intersections of power structures, ideological expression in engineered and cultural forms, cultural memory, and speculative possibilities of alternative ways of living. Based in video and digital media, but including other materials and objects, it has been shown at spaces such as The Atlanta Contemporary Art Center, The Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Antena in Chicago, and in solo exhibitions at Eyedrum and the Saltworks Gallery Project Room in Atlanta, A\V Space in Rochester NY, and Washington State University Tri-Cities. He is an Adjunct Professor at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College, was a visiting artist at Rhode Island School of Design, Scripps College, and The University of Memphis, and was an Assistant Professor at the Georgia College & State University Art Department from 2002 to 2007, where he started the digital media area. He also curates exhibitions at Eel Space. He grew up in New Hampshire and received an M.F.A. from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst, a B.A. from Hampshire College, and plays music with The Wood Knots.

Patrick Holbrook

A Record of Consumption
HDV, 2 Minutes and 23 seconds


HD DVD (2 minutes), 2008.


HDV, 2 Minutes 40 Seconds, 2008.



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January 22, 2010 at 9:55 am

Shane Mecklenburger

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Shane Mecklenburger

Artist statement

My work investigates post-industrial culture through the common uses and origins of modeling, gaming and information technologies. In my projects 3D models represent a quixotic attempt to make sense of things. To me games draw attention to the rules we (un)knowingly agree upon from one situation to another. I also use games and models for their association with childhood, which I see as an endless condition.

Lately I’ve become interested in shooter games and how they construct and conflate entertainment, childhood, war and masculinity. The video “Halcyon Atmosphere” and the sculpture it generated, “Semi-Automatic”, both use the sublime transformation of fearsome or horrific subjects into objects of contemplation and beauty, approximating of the kind of sublime experience of becoming immersed in a shooter game.

In shooter games, the gun quickly replaces the body as the primary site of agency, status and control. So in “Friendly Fire” we stripped a shooter game of all its other elements, including gravity. Only guns are left, floating in an infinitely empty expanse. “Friendly Fire” explores basic questions of personal agency within a set of rules and a field of “play” that appear to be familiar, but are in fact all inverted. The more the player shoots, the more guns appear and the less control the player has.

This sort of inversion is similarly illustrated in “on_The Ball”. A cue ball, which, like the shooter’s gun, is another presumptive “actor” or site of agency and control, has been fixed to the center of the video image. The table bounces around the ball, an inversion which calls attention to the limits of the playing field. The table becomes a metaphor for the unspoken rules we agree upon from game to game, from moment to moment. Who has more agency, the player or the agreed-upon boundaries of the game?

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January 22, 2010 at 9:46 am

Alberto Aguilar

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As a teenager I would look at past pictures of my childhood and family and start to cry. While in art school I was fascinated in work created by artists in their old age or near death. As a young adult I have moved away from working in isolation within a studio setting and using a specialized medium.

My work is autobiographical with a universal end. We all live, we are all moved, we all die. Through it I capture moments of inspiration that occur at any given time, under any given circumstances. I strive to retain a sense of youthfulness and play in my work, in an effort to slow down my own fleeing youth.

There is an amateur quality that may pervade the work I create using technology that I prefer to view as a human touch. I use digital media to document and record ideas, discoveries and acts in the making, realizing and passing. My work is highly intuitive and although I use chance as a guiding force I believe that it is purposely guided. I put together elements with no apparent relationship and then create meaning through their proximity. It is made directly and clearly without hesitation or questioning its validity as my work.

Through my collaboration with others the art making process becomes a communal endeavor and in turn makes it more meaningful for me. Rather than thinking of my family or students as obstacles for making art or spending time in the studio I incorporate them into my working process.
Although primarily working in sound, video and digital photography I welcome other mediums as well as research veins, which will take my work to new and unexpected terrains.








1) 68’Welch’Subway08’, 2008, 1:48
This piece is a recreation of two television commercials, one from 1968
and the other from 2008. I used my daughter for the main characters in
both recreations as well as the voice of my wife, a student and myself.
I chose the Welch’s commercial for its sentimental and psychological
edge while the Subway commercial was the only one that my daughter knew
by heart in watching Saturday morning cartoons.

2) Failing Memory or Intelligence, 2008, 5:44
In this piece I used excerpts from an article written in 1968 of what
life would be like in 2008. I juxtaposed these with interesting
lesser-known facts of 1968 and arranged them randomly in alternating

3) 12906088, 2008 2:38
In this piece I sang the words nineteen sixty eight to Otis Redding’s
Sitting at the Dock of the Bay because it was the only song of the top
ten of 68’ that I was able to match to tune. Afterwards I asked my
daughter, who is a drummer to fill in the gaps with the beat of her
choice using the words Two thousand and eight.

Check out Alberto Aguilar’s myspace page:

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January 21, 2010 at 10:52 am

Noelle Mason

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In my trans-disciplinary practice I conceptually employ electronics, video, sculpture, installation, painting, photography, and craft to investigate the subtle seductiveness of power facilitated by systems of visual control. I am primarily interested in the artificial means by which we extend our ability to see and the mediating object’s affect on the transmission of images to affirm social and political hierarchies.

Mise-en-Scene appropriates the language of the gallery, video games, scientific experiment, and surveillance to examine how mediation functions both to facilitate acts of violence and to uphold the assertion of boundaries between cultural and political institutions of power. In Mise-en-Scene the viewer is presented with a sealed 8-foot room. Inside the room a woman stands in darkness, surveilled by four closed circuit night vision cameras that feed her real-time infrared image to corresponding monitors imbedded in each of the room’s outer walls. Under each monitor is a large red video game button. When a viewer presses one of the buttons an electric shock is administered to one of the performer’s limbs causing her muscles to seize from the jolt until the button is released. Mise-en-Scene explores the effect of a “social relationship mediated by images” as the desire to see is transformed into a means of painful control over another’s body. The seductive quality of surveillance synthesized with gallery mores and interface transparency makes viewer, institution, and artist equal participants in the creation of the scene.

In LAN Party or “National Take Your Daughter to Work Day” I graft autobiographical narrative onto appropriated images, objects, and contexts in an attempt to negotiate the complexities of power, which reverberate between the interpersonal and institutional. The resulting installation, or local area network (LAN,) implicates the viewer in an act of violence and uses the gallery as a medium to examine the historical precedence that affirms the authority of viewership. In LAN Party a Remington M700 police sniper rifle is poised atop a domestic looking table. A stool and headphone set invite the viewer to position herself behind the rifle, aimed at a small ornately framed monitor across the room. The monitor which, can only be seen and heard when standing in close proximity, shows found footage taken through the lens of an American helicopter sniper as he targets and kills Iraqis on the ground. The video is accompanied by a telephone recording of my father’s voice coolly describing the formal qualities of his own experience with the Remington M700 (weight, material, kickback.) Outfitted with headphones and enabled by the magnifying powers of the rifle’s scope, the viewer across the room receives the sniper footage in concert with the original soundtrack—the voices of gunmen and the booming sound of shots being fired.

Currently my work is informed by the unique socio-political climate of the Southern California border with Mexico and the imaging technologies used to uphold it. Ground Control is a wool Gobelin rug made in Guadalajara, Mexico by José Antonio Flores and Jonathan Samaniego in exchange for the amount of money it would cost a family of four to illegally immigrate to the United States. Ground Control reconstructs an image of the US/Mexico border at Mexicali/Calexico taken by the Terra satellite’s Advanced Spaceborne Thermal Emission and Reflection Radiometer (ASTER.) ASTER is made possible by collateral exertions of energy, economy, research and labor between NASA, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade, and Industry (METI) and Japan’s Earth Remote Sensing Data Analysis Center (ERSDAC). Ground Control is an exercise in free monetary/commodity exchange across the U.S./Mexico border in contradistinction to the growing restrictions on human migration. The trans-national means of image collection and production of the work displaces the distinctions of national margins the ASTER photograph depicts, while the electromagnetic abstraction of the border obscures the image’s coded political content.

Check out more on Noelle Mason:

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January 21, 2010 at 10:45 am

Huong Ngo

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The Nest of All Possible Worlds: Huong Ngo
January – February 2008 – China Arts
By Bert Stabler

The appeal of “virtual reality” was supposedly the “virtual” part—after all, the unfathomable obstacles of everyday reality aren’t too hard to come by. But we are born into the idea of an immersive, alternate universe, fecund with bliss-yielding possibilities, free of commonplace consequence. Paradoxically, this border between imaginary and symbolic space, the foundation of childhood group play and communal religious faith, is exactly what is continually offered and denied to us in our over-mediated environment.  Disbelief cannot be suspended for long in a democracy of competing illusions.

Huong Ngo’s work offers a glimpse into shared fantasy, operating in numerous registers. Forsaking the alienating commercial and academic solipsism that turns so many art galleries into tombs of stale deja-vu, Ngo and her collaborators create temporary nests where viewers can wear fabric landscapes or vestigial water-wings, climb into unique Tyvek Hazmat pods, watch lighthearted corporate safety training videos, listen to recorded dreams in defunct phone booths, or peer into a fully-furnished inflatable studio sitting on the sidewalk.

Ngo’s latest installation, Kosmolet (Radio Receiver No. 1) at the cozy Chicago technology-art nook Deadtech, exemplifies her approach, combining de-virtualized technology and elegant modernist handicraft with poignant historical moments. The entire gallery has been transformed into a shortwave radio, with antenna wiring crisscrossing the space and coalescing on the wall into delicate rectilinear spirals around flower-like frequency tuners made from cardboard and aluminum foil. More foil on the floor helps ground the signal, which is gathered by Mylar helium balloons floating out the window and then focused by induction coils made from wire-wrapped cardboard tubes, eventually ending up as an intimate whisper into the conch-shell rumble of tin can speakers.

The installation is augmented by a black-and-white stop-motion animation that Ngo constructed from tiny mechanical parts that also double as miniature buildings. Inverting the transformation of the entire gallery space into an interactive appliance, the video features the elements of appliances converted into interactive architectural spaces.  Like little space colonies, the cityscapes proliferate in gumball-machine plastic bubbles across a table situated below the projection screen.

The Soviet techno-utopia ethos suggested by the Constructivist sci-fi aesthetic throughout the installation is explained by unpacking the title: the press release states that “Kosmolet is a celebastardization of the Russian word ‘Komsomolet,’ or ‘little comrade,’ the name given to crystal radiokits for little boys during the Stalinist era.” Far from revering totalitarianism, the sense of hope for a nurturing society in the early days of Lenin’s rule (and stop-motion cinema) makes sense with the modestly optimistic tone of Ngo’s work. She tames and rationalizes the nihilism of the avant-gardes, shushing the snide irony of Tom Friedman and the junk-shop intertextuality of Thomas Hirschorn.


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January 21, 2010 at 8:25 am

Amelia Winger Bearskin

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by Lynn Boland

“Shhhp, shhhp.” “Baaaaaa, that’ll be the day/Ohhh.” “Ahh ahh.” These quotations might seem unfamiliar and even a bit strange, but you have heard them before. They are repeated every day on oldies stations across the nation, but we are more familiar with their lyrical counterparts: “Cupid draw back your bow,” “Well that’ll be the day/When you say goodbye,” and “There’s nothing I can do to keep from crying when he calls your name, Jolene.”[1]

In Backup, videos of Amelia Winger-Bearskin sing the alto voices from three popular songs in order to reveal the hidden support system of our society’s cult-of-celebrity. We know the names Sam Cooke, Dolly Parton, and Buddy Holly. They are the artists on the album covers, the ones we search for on iTunes. Maybe you’ve also heard of The Crickets, but can you name them? I can’t. Eight people are credited with backing vocals on the 1957 recording of “That’ll Be the Day.”[2] Songwriting credits go to Buddy Holly, drummer and vocalist Jerry Allison, and producer Norman Petty. More specific information as to who sang or wrote what is not readily available; there is no general demand for it since backups rarely enter our cultural consciousness.

Winger Bearskin’s self-imposed framework of using songs found on oldies stations also draws in other compelling, if unintended, issues simply because of the nature of such formats. She initially selected and recorded eight songs for the series, arranged in sets of three. The sets are determined by the songs’ pacing. Here, the visual arrangement of the three songs puts Rock-n-Roll between Rhythm & Blues and Country & Western. The traditional formula for the development of Rock is R&B + C&W = R-n-R.[3] In recent decades, this simple equation has been radically complicated, thus additional issues of underappreciated contributions to popular culture are brought to bear in the work.[4]

Winger-Bearskin’s three performances for Backup were each single takes. The intense expression on her face as she struggles to pick out the alto voices contributes to a kind of deadpan humor that gives the viewer immediate entry into the work. Such access is especially useful given the eerie, dissonant nature of the music that is created through the artist’s semi-aleatory process. The toe-tapping rhythms and melodic hooks are gone. The alto (literally “high”) voice is most often in the middle, a somewhat awkward tonal position, and the three songs’ battling keys further the work’s tonal complexity.[5] All three songs conform to the pop standard length of under three minutes. Two are in 4/4 time, and one in the equally divisible 2/4; yet despite these metric similarities, each has a different tempo. Had the whole of the songs been reproduced the result would have been cacophonous, but Winger-Bearskin’s process creates music that is atonal and ametric, notions unknown to Western music until the twentieth-century and still considered “difficult” in both pop and art music.[6]

Our selective idolization of popular entertainers is central to the musical and visual elements of Winger-Bearskin’s videos, from her choice of songs to her performance against a green chroma screen. Beyond the convenience of her own operatic vocal training, the artist performs in all of her work herself to avoid any illusion of objectivity; she is interested solely in subjective truth.[7] Like Brecht, she wants to use “lies” to show “truth.”[8]

** see video here” :
** see more of Amelia’s work:

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January 21, 2010 at 12:45 am