Between Art and Science Episode 1: Chaos, Cosmos and Charlie Brown
Art critic and curator Annick Bureaud and curator and art historian Natalia Kolodzei discuss COSMOS and CHAOS in the context of their contributions to the February 2021 issue of Leonardo journal on Space Art, a special publication in English and Russian for the CYFEST-13 Media Art Festival. Jan Baetens reviews the new book Peanuts Minus Schultz by Ilan Manouach.
“It’s a Beautiful Name for a Satellite: Paradoxical Art Objects Somewhere between Politics and Poetics” by Annick Bureaud in Leonardo journal: www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/leon_a_01987.
“Cosmic Inspirations and Explorations by Soviet Nonconformist Artists by Natalia Kolodzei in Leonardo journal: www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1162/leon_a_01988.
This episode’s featured conversation is from a presentation of LASER St. Petersburg recorded in February 2021. Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) Talks are a program of international gatherings that bring artists, scientists, humanists and technologists together for informal presentations, performances and conversations with the wider public in more than 40 cities worldwide (and globally). See www.leonardo.info/laser-talks.
Leonardo Reviews is a scholarly review service published since 1968 by Leonardo/ISAST. It is the work of a dedicated team of editors led by editor-in-chief Michael Punt. Reviews are posted monthly at www.leonardo.info/reviews.
Find all episodes of Between Art and Science at www.leonardo.info/podcast.
Annick Bureaud is an independent French Paris-based art critic and curator. She is the director of Leonardo/Olats (www.olats.org) and the organizer of the Leonardo Space Art and Science Workshops in Paris. www.annickbureaud.net
Natalia Kolodzei, an honorary member of the Russian Academy of Arts, is a curator and art historian specializing in the art of Russia and Eastern Europe. She is an author and editor of multiple publications. www.kolodzeiart.org
Jan Baetens is professor of cultural studies at the University of Leuven. https://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Baetens He is also a published poet and codirector of the bilingual journal PLACE: www.place-plateforme.com
Theme music: Wyatt Keusch is a musician living in British Columbia, Canada. His work can be explored in detail at jazz.fish.
Erica Hruby 00:06
You've found the space between art and science. I'm your host Erica Hruby. Today's episode features French Paris based art critic and curator Annick Bureaud, and curator and art historian Natalia Kolodzei ina discussion on cosmos and chaos. They speak in the context of their contributions to the February 2021 issue of Leonardo journal on space art, a special publication in English and Russian for the CYFEST-13 media art festival. Later, Jan Baetens reviews the new book Peanuts Minus Schultz by Ilan Manouach. Annick Bureaud wrote it's a beautiful name for a satellite, paradoxical art object somewhere between politics and poetics. Natalia Kolodzei wrote cosmic inspirations and explorations by Soviet nonconformist artists. This episode's featured discussion was produced for LASER St. Petersburg, the Leonardo art science evening rendezvous hosted by Cyland media art lab. Annick Bureaud begins.
Annick Bureaud 01:09
Thank you, Erica, and we have tried to structure our conversation with with Natalia. So my first question for Natalia is we're going from Cosmos to chaos in this journey. So in the United States of America, the main metaphor to space exploration was the notion of frontier, the final frontier of Star Trek. And in the suit in the Soviet Union, cosmos and its notion of perfection and order, was the key concept. And no, it was very strongly related to communism, as the goal for a future perfect, perfect society somewhere else outside the earth. So my question to Natalia is how has the nonconformist Soviet art that she's presented but you're presenting Natalia, in analyzing your article emerged in this context? And where does it situate itself?
Natalia Kolodzei 02:17
Thank you so much for your question. Late 50s were turbulent, but exciting times. It was a spiritual awakening. It was the traces of utopian hope, was denunciation of Stalin return of political prisoners and easing of aesthetic restraints. All of it, created an evironment for encouraging artistic creativity. Also, it is important to know that nonconformist artist does not do not share any particular platform, or I stated purpose, but we're united by friendship, and the struggle for their rights as individuals, men and conformist artists were inspired to escape the confines of the Soviet Soviet system not by confronting it directly, but by exploring the spiritual dimension within the self, as they were leaving in the void, for some formalism, was the escape from the ideological reality of the everyday Soviet life. At the same time, it was the means of the protest against the pressure of the Soviet ideological system, the easing of eyes theoretical strains, in combination with the interest in the heritage of the Russian avant garde and cybernetics and exploration of space, of course, the Sputnik in 1957 and you regarding the first person to fly in space in 61. All of it contributed to flourishing in interest in geometrical abstraction, and kinetic art in Soviet nonconformist art circles, if for the Soviet government, launch of Sputnik command, emergent of the Soviet government of the Soviet Union as a military superpower in promotion of the new political, military, technological and scientific development and also it marked the US Russia, space raised nonconformist artist took a different approach, approach of peaceful celebration and exploration of infinite possibility the cosmos may offer as well as the infinity of the universe, which is likely to To an architect by training, he combined any interest in engineering, science, technology, outer space, and art. In order to develop and propagate kinetic art, culture was always interested in process of form building, overcoming, overcoming the limits of materials and existence of form in space. For example, He created the idea of self mountain, he created them the outer space radio telescope in 67, as well as he entertained the idea of self mounted CT in the out of space. However, the artist will not welcomed in the, in the top secret government project in the Soviet Union as well as it would forfeit any potential to travel outside of the Soviet Union as well as the continuation of the artistic process. So many projects remained as models, Francisco Infante is another artist who created several architectural projects in titled architecture of artificial systems autonomy in outer space in 1971. For a very brief moment and his artistic career, he was considering the idea of art, becoming a technology and the such is destined to be created. Now the space is objects of architecture. But overall, the cosmos offered multiple, limitless possibilities for imagination and fantasy. It's deprived from earthly time and biological clocks. So it may offer a new realm for creativity and inventions. Annick and how do you see relationship between the artistic satellite and your notion of Cosmos?
Annick Bureaud 07:13
Actually, what you said about friendship connection and the fact that there is not one single aesthetics can apply also to the artists that have proposed a project of artistic satellite. I want here to explain the difference I make between artistic satellite and satellite art. Now, artistic satellite is not using satellite or satellite data's to create artworks, but it's to create a satellite that is the artwork and vice versa to create an artwork that turns out to be a satellite orbiting the Earth. And as an inaugural gesture of course de facto Sputnik as expanded that public space, but we inhabit and artistic satellite or public art are already in public space. So I think it was pretty much like what you said the the human presence in space has been built in a context of tensions between the two blocks. But simultaneously, there was hope for a better future for a peaceful, common space for a place where peace could happen for a new culture to emerge. And several of those artists etc. express this hope and maybe wish to counterbalance for the competition over to blogs and for instance, just to name free the hours or biting a unification ring satellite, which is a project by Arthur Woods would have been the service a range in the night skies to celebrate Millenium and to celebrate peace. I'm not going to develop all the projects just to mention if you and I would like to say that none of them have been launched actually. But also with Jean-Marc Philippe wanted to create a satellite collecting precious symbolic elements from the earth, including soil, and the voice of the contemporary humans all over the world as a representative theory for the future. Humans 50,000 years from now. And so it was all this project had some peaceful, a global approach uniting humans really and it was to celebrate peaceful events and also it was to To to symbolize the fact that we are the only one on this earth that now when we heard that we had witnessed that the Earth was small, without borders, unique and for joy. And I think it was really it's where the call this idea of a Cosmos happens. There. And of course, we were facing some difficulties and this is a question that I would like to you to develop it will be to debate about the nonconformist Soviet on his work could you go more into the difficulties that they encountered and how they relate to the what I call the official shots Soviet bass voice because it was really it was a quite a, you know, strong aesthetics in this Soviet space voice.
Natalia Kolodzei 10:54
Thank you so much for your question. Now we're coming from the ideas of Cosmos to chaos. So miners exhibition and the censorship renewal in 1962. And of course replacement of crucial Berlin, brave, brave new brought us to mention seven chairs. And when the artist was seeking to make the world aware of the Soviet censorship and harassment and of course, the break through exhibition in 1974 were two artists I discussed in my essay, Vitaly Komar and Alexander Melamid participated in an exhibition. It's all kind of brought back some hope, but it was dissolved completely by the new Attack of the ideology by the government. And this renewed censorship and harassment also included Of course, deportation of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, and imprisonment of physicist Alexander, I mean Andrei, Andrei Sakharov. And also it's precipitated the immigration of many artists including Komar and Melamid socket to the west. And this unexpected crack down kind of lattice through stippling period of stagnation and feeling of eternity of the Soviet system. And, for example, for artists like Belenok, who was born in Caracas, but not far from Chernobyl. And it was this village was abandoned after after 1986 disaster. Like for him the main theme was like a linear alienation of the individual confronted by the same measurable forces, and he built a mock transcribes the Soviet reality, by working sense of conflict and complicated human interactions. He limits his palette to black and white is opposing forces of nature between like real and imagined world worlds. And of course, conservatism and politics, and this feeling of eternity, but at the same time in the standing that sort of that you have the system. This duplicity influenced conceptual artists like Ilya Kabakov. And his decision to treat his art his arena for working with the social, political, and historical Soviet discourse, or while he was in Moscow, in 1985. He created his installation the man who flew into space from his apartment, and it was way a fictional character. Lonely dreamer develops like an impossible project to fly alone and cosmic space. Kabakov used space travel. And the idea, of cosmos as well for, for for freedom, where a person could escape ideological confines by just flying to space. Kabakov upon his arrival to New York, acaba co presented his installation at his first exhibition, one a one man one month so in the Ronald Feldman gallery in New York in 1988, and later showcase this installation in 2005, at the Russian exhibition at the Guggenheim, and later presented again, this installation in the shows Ilya and Emilia kabakov. Not everyone will be taken to the future the Tate had a massage, and it's called gallery and this work now in collection in your hometown in Centre Pompidou. And yes, and so coming back to your essay, Annick, you write that many projects from the 1980s include a light component
Annick Bureaud 15:00
Which makes them visible from Earth? And then you continue by asking, do we have the right to put objects in other people's skies, even for peaceful and cultural purposes? Without asking them first? And to whom does the sky belong? And can you please elaborate? How does? How do ethical questions and the position from the scientists from the science community from astronomers change or evolved the nature of the works, and that is the process. And it's where chaos really enter into play who we've saddled with light and orbit pollution coming from satellite and actually, we are not artistic satellites. Currently, actually, the the impact the achievement or not of the art project and their evolution did not come from from the position of scientists to line pollution. I would say that money raising the money to be able to satellites and technological issues were more were more important in in this in this idea in this evolution of project bread. As I said, space, the cosmos and especially the Earth orbit is a public space. And how you put art in a public space is never neutral, and it's often related to some kind of power. And the change in the night sky has been an ethical question which was raised with the work of Jean-Marc Philippe and also have James Pridgeon both wanted to put in the sky. satellites were that were bright that were visible from the earth with a lot of light and Jean-Marc Philippe wanted to create your rank of following to rink you would have been appeared as your ring around the earth. And it was truly criticised by that not only by astronomers but by people in in Africa and elsewhere that were saying but what are you to put to change my night sky What are you to put this those objects into into mine sky any address that any do any dress he addressed it through for UNESCO also trying to write to propose also that there would be some kind of committee preventing people to put anything lighting you know, anywhere as we would like needless to say that he didn't go work for There is however issue beyond light pollution, which is the orbital debris pollution which is getting more and more critical. And Richard Clar created an artwork called collision that should lead showed all the de breeze that are monitored currently and that are really clogging the Earth orbit. And what I think is really interesting is nothing has really changed in the chin ugly, those people trying I mean, Richard Clar, Jean-Marc Phillipe tried to address the issue of Okay, well, as an artist, what is my responsibility to, to do and putting and satellite into orbit that is visible from Earth, and adding to the pollution. And today we can see that when Trevor Paglen decided to do to create his multifunctional satellite, which was basically a super bright, brilliant balloon, it did not seem to care that much about both light pollution and orbit pollution. And we're not going to say anything about Elon Musk is launching 1000s of satellites every every month. And with this, you know, line that you can see in the sky is the bright line. All these trains have satellites. And we have for sure entered chaos in this respect. And if I have two minutes to to add the space world, cosmic world is a very much man world with very much integrated competition and ego projection. And I have to say that there are very, very, very few women that did artistic satellite project. And now we have everybody shares in, in Brazil, who is working with a CubeSat. And that's the real shift was with a CubeSat. Cube Sats are very small 10 by 10 centimeter satellites, they are much easier to create to produce to launch. And it's more on the DIY approach. And today we can really juxtapose ethical political and decolonization questions and discourse about space and it is not through art and sometimes through those artistic satellites.
Erica Hruby 20:58
Annick Bureaud is an independent French Paris based art critic and curator. She's the director of Leonardo Olats and the organizer of the Leonardo space art and science workshops in Paris. Natalia Kolodzei is a curator and art historian specializing in the art of Russia and Eastern Europe. She is executive director of the Kolodzei art foundation and co owner of the Kolodzei collection of Russian and Eastern European art. You can read Annick Bureaud's and Natalia Kolodzei's contributions to the special Leonardo issue on chaos and cosmos. This bilingual issue in Russian and English was produced with Cyland media art lab and can be read through MIT Press journals, Project Muse and various institutional subscriptions. For Leonardo Reviews, here is Jan Baetens.
Jan Baetens 21:56
Peanuts Minus Schultz, distributed labor as a compositional practice, a book by Ilan Manouach published by the Paris based avant garde publisher JBE aka Jean Boite editions as in your the field of cultural production, comics is a medium that has been dramatically transformed by digital culture. Virtually all aspects of the making, publishing, marketing distributing and increasingly reading of comics have now become digital. When more and more new forms of comics can be set digital born and not just transferred to a digital format, that not always in the forms predicted in the 1990s when ecommerce started. At the same time, however, there exists a strong resistance to digitalization in comics, mainly due to two reasons. First, there is the very conservative approach of digitalization in the traditional comics industry that merely considers digitalization a useful instrument of cost efficiency, and maximization of profit, and missing all creative opportunities offered by the new digital environment, confusing its consumers with online copies of originals and paper that simply don't work on screen. Newer economics have discovered that the best solution was to afford complex layouts. And to go for a kind of slideshow presentation, one can scroll to. Second is the exceptional attachment of the graphic novel movement, which caters to a different allegedly more sophisticated and differently welfare audience to the magic of ink and paper. That is the touch and feel and smell of works in print and the graphic novel. Classic publishing formats are not only preserved and cared for, they also remain commercially successful. quite some cases, the graphic novel comes even close to the coffee table book circuit. And just like comics as well. You have now entered the galleries and museums, where they may soon be competing with the old times classics such as Superman, and Tintin vintage material. Whatever one thinks of these changes, none of them radically changes the old fashioned pillars of comics as art, such as an artist, the creative genius of the individual artists, the commercial value of original and copyrighted material, or the autonomy of the artistic sphere in regard to the publishing industry. These are exactly the elements that have been shattered by the digital revolution, where its emphasis on mechanical copying and distribution anonymous subcontracted labor by new masses of cottage industry workers and ubiquity of technical operations, such as web scraping, tagging, archiving, crowdsourcing, or reviewing which have proved vital to the business, but which are rarely seen as a substantial part of the creative dimension of the cultural, cultural or creative industries. Peanuts Minus Schults is a book published in the Uncreative Writing series, collection of conceptual creative works, and this works relying on a strong programmatic claim within a global framework of remix and appropriation. Like the other volumes of the series, it explores the new directions of book are not after that light off, and thanks to the digital turn, the author, comics artist and theoretician Ilan Manouach, born 1980 is one of the most innovative and politically committed authors in the sphere of both digital comics. Practice based researcher manoosh questions the fundamental issues of originality, innovation, ownership, participatory culture, or scaling and scaling that form an artist as well as economic perspective of his project. Actually, both dimensions artistic and economic, can ever be distinguished in his work. The new type of conceptual comics or CoCos as he calls it, that he has launched Manouach both creates and get us comics that dymatize these issues in the era of playbor, a portmanteau word that conflicts play and labor, and refers to the new forms of economic organization, blurring the boundaries between labor and play. This abolishing all kinds of distances, and time and space. Playbor represents post industrial alienation, alienation, everybody must work all the time and in all places, yet without ever seeing the result of her or his labor. And of course without receiving serious payment, well being seen as fun even by some workers, at least in certain circumstances. Self exploitation is looming large the workers fund economy. conceptual comics, peanuts minor shoots is a project based on the practice of the online labor markets. AMT, or Amazon Mechanical Turk is the best known example of such an online service, where an exchange of a small feat mainly precarious participants from all over the world, except to perform at home with no further management control, small outsource tasks for a minimal payment, not a salary or an hourly wage per task payments. Manouach's book is the result of a specific permission for an unauthorized remake of Schulz's Peanuts on such an online platform, Peanuts Minus Schultz. The book is the edited result of this commission. And the initial list of instructions given at the end of the book on page 662. The 700 pages horizontal publication, with new Peanuts strips freely profit, transformed, invented or reinvented by microbes from all over the global village. That's what one finds in this publication. The materials submitted are amazing, to say the least, some of them looking more real than the real stuff. Or the strangely divined It is impossible to know whether the distance with your original should be explained by the lack of a skill, or on the contrary by a training parity. That after having read the nearly 1000 scripts, this beautifully printed book, our vision of shoots his work is no longer just saying this is not peanuts, as it is shaped by the hands of its mate. It is Peanuts as it becomes in the hands of its readers who actually do better shows comics, or the merchandising has done with it. And the different and differently, less interesting way. Being its man shoots does therefore not only disclose what actually happens in the world of microbial if not the world out there, a strange mix of plagiarism and originality or producing huge quantities and in almost no time. It took four months for instance during residency to collect and edit all the submissions to book also contains a powerful criticism for children himself, and company or estate behind this work have always categorically denied, namely, the progressive incorporation of a work of art, builds comics, and economics superstructure, peanuts to merchandising that eventually has taken over power. In the short suniverse the comic work has been downgraded to a tiny detail of the larger merchandising Empire unbutton the shift it gets all kinds of freedom and innovation, the illegal or unauthorized copies and variations showcase on almost every page. His objectives and outcomes are light years away from what is generally discussed in the context of digital comics. It is the tremendous merit of Ilan Manouach to help focus on the real stakes of the digital terrain in comics, and art in general, which are not technological, but cultural, that is artistic, social economic.
Erica Hruby 31:41
Jan Baetens is professor of Cultural Studies at the University of Leuven, Leonardo Reviews has provided scholarly reviews of books, exhibitions, videos, websites and conferences since 1968. Reviews are published monthly at Leonardo dot info slash reviews.
Tinatswe Mhaka 32:06
Between art and science is a production of Leonardo, the International Society for the art Sciences and Technology. Our editorial director is Erica Hruby. This episode's feature discussion is produced for LASER St. Petersburg, Leonardo art science evening rendezvous hosted by Cyland media artlab. Leonardo reviews is led by Editor in Chief Michael Punt. Production assistanca by Tinatswe Mhaka. Our theme music was composed by Wyatt Keusch, find out more about Leonardo all publications and our programs at www dot Leonardo dot info
Transcript by otter.ai