Magazine article Artforum International

Julius Popp and Mark Lombardi: Galerie Fur Zeitgennossische Kunst

Magazine article Artforum International

Julius Popp and Mark Lombardi: Galerie Fur Zeitgennossische Kunst

Article excerpt

Media artists aren't having the easiest time of it these days: Back in the mid-1990s, Julia Scher was still able to shock us by mounting security cameras on all four of her bedposts and filming everything that happened at night between the sheets. Who would even blink an eye at these intimate surveillance fantasies now, given the party diaries posted constantly on Facebook and the home videos on YouPorn? The speed with which commercial technologies are being developed goes far beyond the material imaginations of artists.

Leipzig artist Julius Popp has found a way out of this dilemma: He constructs his own machines that process information and react to their surroundings like any one-celled organism, human being, or self-respecting bot--thus choosing as his very subject the colonization of the body by gadgetry, as evidenced by the broad consumer use of motion sensors in the iPhone or Nintendo Wii. For example, bit.fall, 2001-2005, is an artificial waterfall that takes up the overpowering of the individual in the face of information overload. Falling drops of water are forced through valves and divided into tiny bits so that they form ephemeral words in the air. BANK, CRISIS, OBAMA, MCCAIN--all these words are briefly visible in space until the drops are caught in a tub below. These key words are generated by an algorithm that uses various Internet news sites to determine the most often used (and, therefore, presumably the most influential) concepts worldwide as of late 2008. From close up, you can't see the words, just the speed of the falling water pixels; but from across the room you can see them gleaming. Here, Popp has succeeded in melding aesthetic form and media content into a consistent whole. Another piece, bit.flow, 2003-2008, processes information less smoothly: Red and clear liquids flow in alternation through a tangle of hoses in a way that might remind one of swarming ants at one moment or cars on a cloverleaf the next. …

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