May 20, 2017
An Immiscible Swirl: Greg Lindquist at Central Booking
by Henry Chapman
Greg Lindquist: Smoke and Water/Dispatches at The Library at Central Booking
In Greg Lindquist’s paintings and wall mural, a mixture of coal ash and water—pictured as an immiscible swirl—serves as an avatar for a 2014 coal ash spill that contaminated drinking water in North Carolina and Virginia. Lindquist has addressed this particular spill previously, in exhibitions at the North Carolina Museum of Art and again at The Southeastern Center for Community Change. Those two venues reflect strains of his thought (fine art, social action) that his installations attempt to conjoin.
The Library (curated by Diana Wege) is a subsection of Central Booking, an amalgam venue that is part-bookstore, part-gallery. Lindquist is doing a lot within it. He has placed his oil paintings on two walls of a large, acrylic mural; the color-separated layers of its “swirl” image give it a graphic, digital effect. On the floor, Plexiglass vitrines of evidential coal ash follow the edge of the wall. An extensive booklet contextualizes the exhibition with interviews, essays by Lindquist and others, documentation of earlier exhibitions, a family history. Be warned, this is an exhibition with a lengthy backstory.
And yet, his paintings are not props by any means. Lindquist paints from projected photographs of the Dan River and Sutton Lake, two sites exposed to arsenic, cadmium, selenium and other pollutants. He’s attentive to the enlarged source images’ pixilation, which he renders here in Monet-like dabs. The colors look blown out and at times inverted, Fauvist for the end-days. According to Lindquist, the greenish color that underlies both mural and oil paintings is a Benjamin Moore finish, “Fresh Cut Grass.” “Toxic” is how previous viewers have described it, he tells me, and I can see why. It gives the paintings a hazy, eerie light. But he is thoughtful, troubled by the premise. “Part of the problem is that we don’t always know what toxic looks like. What is toxic?”
When I meet him, Lindquist is bussing a used tub of paint out to his car, saying he’d just completed the final touches the night before. These late decisions are idiosyncratic—including the low height of the exhibition’s smallest painting; the paper mâché covering a doorknob in the middle of his mural— that make the exhibition feel personal, inhabited. The coal ash vitrines along the floor reference Smithson’s “nonsite,” nature dislocated into the gallery. There is a corrective aspect to this gesture: dislocation is not simply a function of “aesthetic decisions,” as he writes of Land Art in a letter to Smithson in the exhibition booklet, but also political.
“Installation Art” is a short hand way of describing the method by which Lindquist brings his art into contact with environmental politics. I thought of the artist Sharon Hayes, who bends formats of protest, of assembly, toward a poetic- political art. I thought of Thomas Hirschhorn; an earlier iteration of “Smoke and Water” recalls Hirschhorn’s “Gramsci Monument,” inviting community participation. When I bring this up, Lindquist makes a distinction between paid workers and volunteer contributors. That Hirschhorn paid participants in the making of “Gramsci Monument” makes him uncomfortable (although “volunteer” is a fine line from “unpaid laborer,” hardly more ethical than paid labor).
Another, crucial difference is that Hirschhorn lives within the (Kurt Schwitters) Merzbau, collage-logic being the way much installation art has reconciled the conjunction of difficult parts. Lindquist has little merz to him. Nor does he share Hirschhorn’s ra-ra-ra mantra of “energy yes, quality no.” His work errs the other way: one is called in for meditation, or a quiet chat on a serious subject. “Smoke and Water” is admirably un-sensational, which may have less to do with artistic precedent than with Lindquist’s commitment to his subject and a refreshingly sincere conviction in art’s ability to affect social change.
Whether this is compatible with painting is an open question. It’s a premise of his work and a dare. Other disciplines than painting, particularly photography, sculpture, drawing, and video, have adapted with greater success to the Installation format. Painting does not play nicely with others; is not easily assimilated. When it’s simply a sign, it withers. But Lindquist’s paintings are adamantly complex. The most delicate is a small 8” x 10” painting of a coal ash “swirl” made with oil and glass bead. Look for it within the mural–its subtle placement took me close to ten minutes to notice it. The larger paintings are more challenging than beautiful, but full of the kinds of labored decisions that make his use of the space specific. He is a painter who leaves open the possibility of a discovery in paint, a chance encounter. The promise and challenge of Lindquist’s exhibition is the mixture of difficult, maybe impossible parts.
January 5, 2016
THE DOG’S NOTES
Inspired by observing dogs, artist Poren Huang borrowed the figures of human being’s best friend to use in his sculptures to present human behaviors, emotions and characteristics.
Now, a series of his works titled “dog’s notes” is on display at OffLINE at CENTRAL BOOKING.
Sinovision Journal reporter Jane Stone went to the exhibition and brings you the story.
Twisting Art and MathJohn Haber
in New York City
A noted architect and theorist of early Renaissance Italy described beauty as concinnitas, a “skillful joining.” Could he have had in mind the intersection of science, mathematics, and art?Probably not, but he did provide an account of linear perspective that a mathematician would envy. And now an exhibition adopts his term for art or science as not a record of things seen, but rather the equations that make things possible. Meantime, if your own associations with math are more formidable and clinical, that, too may say something about art and science. In a digital age, both may be collecting images and information on you that you would hesitate to share. “Twisted Data” finds its own beauty in a process that has been around longer than you may care to think. ForSarah Meyohas, the data and the beauty can derive even from Wall Street.
A skillful joining
Concinnitas began as a chance conversation between strangers, a publisher and a mathematician. Robert Feldman of Parasol Press and Daniel Rockmore of Dartmouth discovered a shared interest in art and knowledge of Minimalism. Their project grew to include ten of the greatest living mathematicians and physicists. Each selected an equation close to his heart and central to his work, and each rendered it in his own hand in what became a print. Leon Battista Alberti, writing in Renaissance Florence, did indeed plead for art as a skillful joining. How fitting, then, that the series is a collaboration many times over.
If the collaboration seems to lack for an artist, pay no mind. Depending on one’s philosophy of mathematics, its true artist and architect might be logic or nature itself. Each contributor also submitted a text on the chosen formula’s meaning and beauty, which could well boil down to the same thing. Simon Donaldson accompanies Ampère’s law of electricity and magnetism with a picture, because “they stimulate different ways of thought,” the pictorialand the symbolic—but again as “different descriptions of the same thing.” Another contributor, Freeman Dyson, would surely have shared the Nobel Prize with Richard Feynman and others, but the prize can go to no more than three in a given year. Such is the power of mathematics.
Rockmore and Feldman made their choices, too, in search of significance and beauty. When the first approached the subject of art and science, he imagined pictures of objects in nature—perhaps not unlike pencil drawings of leaves and undergrowth by Bill Richards, in the gallery’s front room. Their intricacy and precision approach all-over abstraction. In the back room, Richard Purdy derives his pleasantly out-of-control grids from an algorithm, like Sol LeWitt as a professor of computer science. Feldman, though, had in mind the math alone as artistic enough. The resulting aquatints look like chalk on a blackboard.
Be grateful that they, like indeed most artists, still prefer chalk to whiteboards and PowerPoint. Be grateful, too, that the contributors speak personally, from experience. Steven Weinberg, who won the Nobel Prize for uniting electricity and magnetism with the weak force that governs radioactivity, still marvels at his own discovery. “Just change a minus sign to a plus sign and the whole thing would be incoherent.” Most choose to illustrate their own work, although a few, like Donaldson, look back to its inspiration. The law governing an ordinary electromagnet led him to the “topology of four-dimensional spaces.” Stephen Smale looks all the way back to Sir Isaac Newton’s method for approximating the solution to otherwise insoluble equations.
Some texts accompanying the prints are difficult, but then so often is art. Murray Gell-Mann, who won the Nobel Prize for his theory of nature’s elementary particles, named their constituents quarks, after a line in James Joyce. Had, I once got to ask, he actually readFinnegans Wake? As much as anyone, he replied. Weinberg put his discovery in the form of another difficult quantity, a Lagrangian. To work with it, a physicist would minimize it—further testimony to the economy of art and nature.
All offer a take on beauty and its seductions. As Gell-Mann puts it, the work just felt good. Yet that, too, can be misleading—in his case, leading him to omit a term in a more complete theory. Symmetry “kept us from venturing into territory . . . not yet fully explored.” For David Mumford, the math “still feels . . . like a strange joke the creator is playing on us.” One might say the same about many a work of art.
Old fears and new twists
Perhaps the most unnerving thing about Haunted Files is how easily it is haunted. That abandoned desk shoved so casually against the wall belongs, a subtitle insists, to the Eugenics Record Office. The clutter of office supplies and papers, spilling onto the floor, may hold information on me or you. Yet it seems ill designed for ready access to much of anything, much less high-tech secrets of the soul. And that for Noah Fuller and John Kuo Wei Tchen is half the point. People are haunted so easily, because fears may arise from almost nothing, but also because the threat may yet be real.
In a show called “Twisted Data,” one has every right to expect a new twist, but there, too, do not overlook what was there all along. If Haunted Files seems way too low tech for today, when it takes so little to map or to hack the human genome, an actual Eugenics Record Office opened more than a century ago at Cold Spring Harbor on Long Island, where James D. Watson (a discoverer of the structure of DNA) later served as director, as fodder for laws to bar immigrants and to sterilize “inferior races” or the disabled. Fuller and Tchen claim to serve only as curators of its archives, much like Walid Raad in picturing death in the Middle East. Others rely on seriously dated and dangerous theories, like phrenology for Jeffrey Allen Price and Barbara Rosenthal or Nazi propaganda for Todd Herman. Still others rely on older media, such as archival prints, calligraphy, and even an Erector set. A gallery dedicated largely to artist books makes use of their delicacy and interiority as well.
The gallery devotes this room to group shows, often focused on art and science or natural histories. (In the interest of full disclosure, I have a stake in it, although I offer no advice on what goes into it.) And science and art have much in common, starting with their twin commitments to beauty and experience, but including their authority in western culture as well. Still, that can sound a little too optimistic, especially if one does not look closely enough at the sources of authority. Science has its dark and twisted side, too, in the flawed hands of humankind, while art practically depends on having it. If you prefer cheerful new twists on old dogs, you had better stick to Jeff Koons.
The word twisted also evokes the double helix, the secondary coiling of human chromosomes, and the mystery of what it means to be human. As for Fuller and Tchen, it raises questions about the denial of humanity to others, too. Rosary Solimanto’s construction of steel, glass, a surgical gown, and human hair calls itself Rise of the Cyborg. On video, she squeezes herself into something between a fetus and a human guinea pig. Melissa Stern’sUndesirables vary between headless clay and cut-off heads, but with glass “raccoon eyes.” The Erector set serves Sarah Stengle, along with bullets and bones, as a Reliquary for a Dead Dove.
Often as not, as in politics today, a denial of humanity latches onto the “otherness” of race.Haunted Files exhibited one year ago at New York University’s Asian/Pacific/American Institute. A silken accordion book for Geraldine Ondrizek comes in Shades of White. Yet race to a scientist is a fiction, and so to the rest of us is art. Patricia Olynyk borrows from medical imaging, but for what is first and foremost an image. Rosenthal and Herman adopt video and x-ray technology for a haunting beauty in frightening experiments. Charlie Friedman appropriates images from Joan Miró for an entire gross anatomy.
Art has at least one advantage over science: it is palpable, even when one cannot touch. Price fashions his phrenology experiments from used sponges, as Dirty Mind. Art also has the advantage of a long view. Bradstifter pairs pages from old medical texts with their mirror images upside-down, while Bram Harris turns to calligraphy for his Japanese Genetic Code. One could write off ghosts like racism as safely past, but check in with me again after Donald Trump becomes president.
________________________________________________________SECRET HISTORIES | TWISTED DATA
An exhibition that quickly draws you in, sweeping you off the street and taking you into another world.
December 8, 2015
Noah Fuller, Eugenics Record Office
Founded by artist/curator Maddy Rosenberg, Central Booking sits at the south end of Ludlow Street in New York; dedicated to a dialogue where art and science meet, Rosenberg takes on the subject of eugenics for her new exhibition, “Twisted Data,” now on view through January 24, 2016.
Eugenics first captured the imagination of Philadelphia gynecologist William Goodell, who advocated for the castration and spaying of the insane in the mid-nineteenth century. But it was Sir Francis Galton, Charles Darwin’s half cousin who brought eugenics to the forefront of the British intelligentsia , coining the very term itself in 1883, promoting the belief that science could establish a system of practices designed to improve the genetic quality of the human population.
Noah Fuller, Eugenics Record
Germinating in Victorian England during what the height of it’s purity campaigns, eugenics has come to stand for the very essence of white pathology itself, revealing the widespread embrace within the highest levels of political, medical, and scientific communities. By the turn of the century, eugenics was in full vogue, capturing the attention of everyone from Winston Churchill and Margaret Sanger to Adolf Hitler by appealing to the radical extremist ideals of a white populace in search of racial purification. After World War II, some countries abandoned eugenics practices while others continued in earnest, with forced sterilization occurring in several countries.
With the creation of “Twisted Data,” Rosenberg spotlights the dark side of Anglo Saxon Eurocentric thinking that is so pervasive in our culture today. Rosenberg observes, “You always need a scapegoat. They offer an easy solution and give you someone to blame. The emotional hysteria surrounding tragedy becomes incorporated into policy, and the rhetoric being used to day is exactly the same rhetoric they were using in the past, whether it’s the first Gulf War, Vietnam, or World War II. But when you stop the hysteria to examine the fact, you find out it doesn’t stand up to examination.”
Courtesy of the American Philosophical Society
Featuring works by Brandstifter, Charley Friedman, Noah Fuller and John Kuo Wei Tchen, Bram Harris, Todd Herman, Patricia Olynyk, Geraldine Ondrizek, Jeffrey Allen Price, Barbara Rosenthal, Rosary Solimanto, Sarah Stengle, and Melissa Stern, “Twisted Data” gives us a quiet and powerful way of considering the “science” of criminology and its implications. Who is profiting off the system—and what price is being paid to maintain it?
We cannot ever know the full impact of the scope of a fraud perpetrated upon the American people in the form of the Eugenics Record Office (ERO). Established in 1910 by Mrs. E.H. Harriman in Cold Spring Harbor, NY. Mrs. Harriman, the widow of a railroad baron, donated $10,000 to establish the ERO, amassing hundreds of thousands of family pedigrees, case studies, and indexed records. The ERO sponsored summer courses to train aspiring eugenics caseworkers and actively lobbied for the passage of state sterilization and national immigration restriction. During the 1920s-30s, evidence of misuse of the data and serious flaws were discovered and the office was officially closed in 1939.
Barbara Rosenthal, Evidence Of Personality, Phrenology, Palmistry
For “Twisted Data”, artist Noah Fuller has recreated a section of the ERO, providing us with an eerie look of true banality of evil in one of its most immoral and deceptive forms. Recreating the 1920s office with an oak table, forms, and reports, Fuller easily engages our curiosity by revealing the obsessive-compulsive nature of eugenics. By rendering it as an installation, Fuller reaffirms the fact of the EOR’s very existence, reminding us that the tools of racial oppression have always been hidden in plain sight in the United States.
As Rosenberg observes, “The dissemination of misinformation laid the groundwork both for a justification for such ‘cleansing’ on a grand scale and for continued wrongheaded discourse and policies in the Western world. It pervaded the laws and the culture— and created myths of immigrants that remain difficult to dispel to this day. People have corrupted the dialogue and put lies in its place. You put something out there enough times and people begin to believe that it is true.”
“Twisted Data” is on view at Central Booking now through January 24, 2016.
Miss Rosen is a New York-based writer, curator, and brand strategist. There is nothing she adores so much as photography and books. A small part of her wishes she had a proper library, like in the game of Clue. Then she could blaze and write soliloquies to her in and out of print loves.
Something Old, Something New: An Exhibition Weds Technologies of Yesterday and Today
October 26, 2015
Walking into Central Booking on Ludlow Street is a little like entering a full-sizedwunderkabinett. Owner and curator Maddy Rosenberg consistently fills the space with unusual artist-made objects, books, prints, and ephemera. While the front room of the gallery is an ever-changing array designed to challenge and delight the senses, the back rooms serve as showroom and event spaces. It’s truly a beehive of activity.
The dedicated gallery, called Haber Space, is currently hosting an exhibition curated by Rosenberg entitled old Tech new Tech, a group show comprised of artists who work in both old and new media. The theme is a near-perfect synthesis of Rosenberg’s own interests, as evidenced by the various components of Central Booking. The notion of marrying traditional fabrication with new media is not only intriguing but also quite au courant, given the rise of the “artisanal” food movement and the reemergence of craft techniques in the mainstream art world in an otherwise digital age.
There are several standout works in the show, pieces that cross over media lines in fresh and interesting ways. Take the pieces by Marianne R. Petit. Petit lived in Shanghai for two years on a professional assignment, during which time she began to have respiratory problems, as many in China do; the air is notoriously polluted. So she parlayed her medical condition into a series of artworks that perfectly showcase the theme of this show. Her first piece is an articulated cardboard cutout of a woman’s body, topped with her own face. The first layer of the cutout is an image of Petit’s skin; as you unfold the layers, you go visually deeper into her body’s systems, in the manner of a Victorian anatomical toy. For the second iteration of the project, Petit isolated an image of human lungs and reproduced it painstakingly in a precise paper cutout, a technique traditional in both Chinese and Western art. The stark contrast of black-and-white paper and the lace-like delicacy of the cutout work belies the grim nature of the subject matter. The final piece is a colorful, almost decorative digital animation of lung function, an endless loop of breath and blood and heart laboring to keep a body alive. The exploration of a finite theme through a series of different media makes for a very arresting and successful project.
Catherin Clover, a British-born artist currently living in Australia, produced a delightfully simple and lovely series of digital prints entitled “Birds of New York” (2014) Utilizing the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Merlin app of birdsongs, which uses the eBird citizen-science database, she transcribed the songs of wild birds common to New York, using the phonetic words attributed to the songs from Jonathan Alderfer’s Field Guide to Birds of New Yorkfrom National Geographic (2006). The result is a series of verbal poems that are literally nonsensical but musically lilting in their repetition and rhythm of words.
The creative team of Deborah and Glenn Doering, known as “DOE projekts,” are interested in the 19th-century biological term “hybridity,” which is based on a theoretical construct: the tendency for biological traits to blend into new forms in nature. The artists admit to not fully understanding this dense biological theory, but taking the idea as their starting point, they created an engaging interactive work that depends upon the viewer to bring it to life. “Gestures of Hybridity” (2015) consists of two 72-inch abstracted drawings made with colored pencil and graphite that hang unframed on a wall. The graphite conducts electricity, as does the brass stylus that hang next to the drawings. When the brass touches the graphite, it completes the electrical circuit. Using Arduinio technology, they are connected to .wav files on a laptop, so by moving the stylus in any direction around the drawing, you can play music. I expected sounds that were “computerized” or “techno” sounding; instead the pieces produce an array of lovely, impressively “natural” music. Two people can even play the drawings in tandem, creating a delightful and lyrical interactive experience. In this way, old and new tech blend in a “hybridity” of art.
Not all the pieces in the show marry different forms of technology so seamlessly, but even the ones that don’t are admirable in their ambition. Old Tech new Tech seeks to reinforce the value of the artist’s hand in contemporary art while at the same time embracing the possibilities new media technologies allow. The show succeeds in its mission, both on an intellectual plane and as pure entertainment.
Old Tech new Techcontinues at Central Booking (21 Ludlow Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan) through November 1.
Printing and Process: A Report from the NY Art Book Fair Conference
October 2, 2014
by Lynn Maliszewski
The New York Art Book Fair’s seventh annual conference, a two-day event full of dialogues concerning the art book, is a distinguished gathering of bibliophiles looking to dissect each inch of paper at their disposal. Tell them hunks of paper are worthless — they’ll prove you wrong! I attended the second day of the conference, eager to hear scholars discuss several of my favorite topics: livres d’artistes, photo books, analytical criticism of books, and the procedural musings that artists and writers encounter in the creation of said books. Below are my condensed and edited notes, breaking down the seven hours of intellectual overload as efficiently as possible.
* * *
The Re-Materialization of the Art Book: Contemporary Livres d’Artistes
Participants: Sheelagh Bevan (Morgan Library), Jenni Quilter (NYU), Maddy Rosenberg (Central Booking)
Background: Technically the livre d’artiste is a collaboration between a writer and an artist, often sold at high prices due to small, or even single, editions and traditional, laborious printing modes such as letterpress.
The Gist: The general consensus from this panel was that the components of an artist’s book should allow the mind to create associations. Time is money, and livres d’artistesoften take an excruciating amount of time to create because of traditional (moveable type) printing and/or one-of-a-kind artwork. An understanding of process is helpful.
Highlights: Quilter linked reading children’s picture books to the thrill of artist’s books: one submits to “glancing, not reading,” moving at a rhythm that may differ each time and “invites the small revolution.” Quilter mentioned that these books often become “self-righteously precious,” but they can also consider controversial issues with an ambiguity or conceptualism that allows one to think outside the box. She discussed Kiki Smith and Leslie Scalapino’s collaboration The Animal Is in the World Like Water in Water, a handmade edition that draws attention to violence and the universality of primal urges. Smith contributed graphite drawings of a woman being gnawed and mangled by a beast that’s oddly self-aware, and Scalapino wrote propositional phrases of maddening repetition.
With high production values, a livre d’artiste can be a kind of magnum opus. Bevan spoke extensively about Poesie de mots inconnus, published between 1949 and 1951 in fewer than 200 editions by Iliazd, a Georgian artist, writer, and publisher. He was associated with the Russian Futurists and focused on altering text (both on paper and through performance) by publishing authors ofzaum, a poetic language of grunts and sounds that fill the space between words. Iliazd moved to Paris in 1920, but when the Surrealists and Dadaists accused him of butchering language, he knew he had arrived to the scene too late. French Lettrism arrived in the 1940s, toying with many of his same ideas, and sparked a fire in Iliazd that rallied him to publish Poesie de mots inconnus.Featuring writing from by poets such as Arp, Artaud, and Schwitters and imagery from modern renegades including Giacometti, Chagall, Braque, and Matisse, this book was the ultimate flex. The hand-printed volume was a chrestomathy, meant to teach others the way of zaum and shut his protestors up. Each edition was transcribed by hand.
Rosenberg spoke about a recent exhibition she curated at the Center for Book Arts entitledLivre d’Artiste d’Aujourd’hui: Interdisciplinary Collaborations, which included transformations of the book form that take the shape of a ruler of micro-poetry and a wearable narrative, among others. A reminder that perhaps the most important characteristic of this genre is thinking outside the box.
The 2014 New York Art Book Fair Conference took place September 26–27 at MoMA PS1 (22-25 Jackson Ave, Long Island City, Queens).
Central Booking, Gallery for Art Books and Prints, Comes to 21 Ludlow St.
21 Ludlow St.
A new gallery is coming to the Lower East Side, but this one is a bit different than many of the other art-focused businesses that have snapped up storefronts in the neighborhood the past few years. Central Booking, which specializes in books and prints, has leased a space at 21 Ludlow St., and is in the midst of renovations.
The DUMBO-based gallery was created by Maddy Rosenberg in 2009. According to the organization’s web site, Central Booking:
…is a new kind of art gallery with a welcoming atmosphere, New York’s own space focusing on the art of the book. We exhibit the breadth of the various approaches to the form, since the artist’s book can be anything from a pamphlet done inexpensively on a copy machine to a letterpress codex bound book integrating words and images to a sculptural piece that is an object itself.
The 2700 square foot space is located on the west side of Ludlow just above Canal Street. There are lots of photos on the gallery’s Facebook page documenting the renovation progress.
‘The Robot Book’ by Thomas Jackson
If I had kids I’d probably read them really weird books. Not like, scary stuff, but things about architecture and art, less Curious George and the such. Another good example that’s not necessarily for kids but is still awesome is The Robot Book by Thomas Jackson. While Thomas describes the book as “a narrative series of photographs depicting a robot living a sort of post-apocolyptic nightmare in the woods of upstate New York” I think he’s done an amazing job of creating this huge battle in a beautiful, DIY way. The book itself comes in a limited edition of 11, each one being made of “sheet metal, old wood salvaged from a fallen-down chicken coop and a few electronic components.”
If you’re in the New York area you can stop by Central Booking in DUMBO to see his photos and books up close and personal. Also be sure to watch his video walkthrough of the book, it’s pretty dang nice looking.
A couple Thursdays ago, I saw the documentary Between the Folds at an art gallery in Dumbo. It’s about people who make origami, arguably the world’s mathiest craft, so I was expecting it to be interesting, but probably super dry – like a convention of Sol LeWitt fans. I was wrong.
What I loved most about the film was watching the artists talk about their work – like the sense of play that comes through loud and clear just from watching Paul Jackson’s hands move:
And the fun continues – MIT origami theorist Erik Demaine, his scientist-and-artist dad-and-collaborator Martin Demaine, geometric sculptor George Hart, and math-y visual artist Susan Happersett will be speaking at Central Booking in NYC next Thursday night.
If you’re a fan of what I’m up to, or of other math-tinted knitters like Norah Gaughan or Woolly Thoughts or FuzzyJay, or of fiber-tinted mathematicians like Daina Taimina or sarah-marie belcastro or Catherine Yackel, you’ll probably love it.
On Reinventing the Art of the Book
By Kelcey Parker
In 1984, Prince and the Revolution released the album Purple Rain. One of its mega-hits—“I Would Die 4 U”—reads today like an early version of a text message. Prescient Prince also called on us to “party like it’s 1999,” evoking our millennial obsession with apocalypse.
Humans have always loved a dramatic ending, especially we literary types who proclaim the deaths of novels and rhyming poetry and the author—and now, it seems, print itself.
After all, it’s nearly impossible to analyze an unfinished manuscript, an incomplete story. We need to get to the end so that we can look back and assess the doomed trajectory. We need the carcass on the table so we can perform an autopsy and discern the actual cause of death.
So should we call for print’s priest? Is it time for last rites? Shall we carve a symbol on its tombstone and refer to it as The Art Form Formerly Known As Print?
Not so fast.
Print is undergoing a revolution. Such change can often look like The End, especially to those of us who view a narrative turning point, or climax, as the herald of the denouement. But a revolution is not an end; it’s a metamorphosis, a transformation, and often a new beginning. (Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” begins with the transformation.)
As a result, we have never been more self-consciously aware of the artistic potential and even the technology of the book than we are today.
With so many alternatives to print for the communication of ideas, print’s possibilities and limitations are more evident than ever. The book is a full sensory experience, and that is its great strength as an art form. It is a feast for the eyes as we read, a delight (ink, paper, dust) for the nose, a physical demand on the hands that hold it.
Think of Mark Danielewski’s House of Leaves, which requires readers to turn the book sideways and upside down, which uses fonts based more on typographic history than on appearance, and which is itself a “house” made of “leaves.”
Or Toni Morrison’s Jazz and the narrator whose body, it would seem, is the book itself:
“If I were able I’d say it. Say make me, remake me. You are free to do it and I am free to let you because look, look. Look where your hands are. Now.”
These final sentences celebrate the tactile intimacy between book and reader; the reader holds the narrator’s body in her hands.
Such heightened appreciation of a book’s pleasures is not merely part of a farewell eulogy as the book goes gently into that good night. Even as the large publishing houses panic about the demise of the print publishing industry, the rest of the literary world is having a renaissance.
The DIY spirit of indie publishers is leading to a renewed appreciation of printing technologies and typography, an explosion of broadsides, handmade books and chapbooks, and books whose very structure and aesthetic have been reimagined. (See the box at the end of this piece for a few links to such innovations.)
Meanwhile, the digital revolution has brought technologies to the masses that were once available only to professional designers. Even Microsoft Word offers dozens of fonts and advanced design capabilities that allow self-publishers to create printed materials to share ideas and publicize events.
The same digital technology boom that seems to threaten print has created greener, cheaper, and more efficient printing capabilities. In his book Digital Printing Pocket Primer (Windsor, 2000), Frank Romano traces the history of digital printing, from the early printers of the 1970s to the 1978 debut of the Xerox 9790—“a $400,000 120-page-per-minute, sheet-fed, 300-DPI laser printer”—to the affordable home laser printer that “could do it all.”
“The world,” Romano concludes, “would never be the same again.”* As he notes, short runs of books used to be a major deterrent to self-publishers. The initial setup costs involved were hefty. But digital printing technologies now allow publishers to print runs of 50,000 or 3,000 copies—or far less—without these setup costs.That means printed books—even books written by you and me—are now available on demand. How can we resist? We can turn our own poems and stories and recipes and photo albums into actual books, printing one or one thousand copies at a variety of POD sites such as lulu.com, blurb.com, and createspace.com.
In my university courses, students edit, design, and self-publish their own books, something that would have been impossible just a decade ago. This is akin to hanging a young artist’s work on a museum wall or recording a budding musician’s composition on a DVD.
The aspiring writer not only experiences her work in a professional, published context, she pushes the boundaries of traditional publishing (and traditional narrative) by including images and strategic page layouts for no additional cost. What could be more inspiring or empowering to a young writer?
I’d like to inconclusively conclude that print may die eventually, and if it does, we’ll certainly look back to this moment as the beginning of the end. But for now, like any good pop star, it’s reinventing itself with lower costs, higher quality, better environmental ratings, enhanced possibilities, and greater accessibility.
We fans keep cheering.
The Robot Book by Thomas Jackson
Firstly I found the film, as seen below, which gives us a nice flick through of the photography and also gives us a guide of what the book is made out of. The beeping red light and antenna really do give it that extra bit of jazz.
You can purchase this book, or art piece, at Central Booking. That is if you have $750 USD to spare.
Central Booking at Codex Book Fair, 2011
Fine Press Book Association
Maddy Rosenberg of Central Booking gallery of Brooklyn, New York specializes in artist books and prints. She is a bookmaker herself, as well as lithographer, painter and international curator.
Click on the link below recorded at the Codex Book Fair to hear Rosenberg on the opportunity for collectors to enter the art world via the book arts:
Rosenberg holds a black bear jawbone wrapped in strips of a map by book artist Steven Daiber. ($300)
“It’s taking the book onto a different plane,” she says “out of the codex, out of the binding and creating a narrative around it.”
“The book is a three-dimensional object, so it’s basically taking it to the next step,” says Rosenberg.
Click the link below to hear Rosenberg:
Rosenberg holds Miriam Schaer’s altered book “Hands of Josephus.” ($2000)
Click on the link below to hear Rosenberg talk about the art form of the “altered book.”
Central Booking NYC: Panel Discussion
By, Jonathan Carroll
“It was an amazing night over in the Dumbo section of Brooklyn, as a group of young, talented artists and scientist gave a presentation on their involvement in their respective field. From a personal standpoint, I could’ve listened to Dr. James Beecham, a particle physicist, talk for hours. This is a subject which has greatly influenced my work, as it forces you to realize that the surface we see is not only dull, but far from the complete picture. There is a certain level of passion that I just can’t ignore when it comes to how physicists will not stop until all the fundamental building blocks of matter have been discovered: a passion which was expressed wholeheartedly in the presentation by Dr. Beecham, and certainly by the rest of the panel, and audience members as well.
Being an artist, not a scientist, I’ve always wondered exactly how artists who are inspired by the field deal with their incompetency of the factual knowledge it’s based on. This was best illustrated in the presentation by Martha Lewis, who even goes as far as using the technical terminology associated with what inspired her to make the piece. Unabashed –and for good reason, as the work she creates is quite lovely — Ms. Lewis had no problem explaining that a large portion of the material which inspired her, she did not comprehend. Whereas I find myself capable of understanding the material, and I feel from the way Lewis spoke about the sources of her inspiration she understands more than she may give herself credit, conveying an understanding is not the point of either of our works. Lewis even said that she greatly enjoys working with science, but would never actually want to make representational models of the material. This point highly reflects my own sensibility, and clearly illustrates an attempt to have art remain in the realm of the imagination: a place which is becoming harder to find in a world saturated by technical devices centered on achieving realism.
So, a big thanks goes out to Torino & Margolis, Carter Hodgkin, Dr. James Beecham, Dr. Lee von Krauss, Martha Lewis, and gallery owner Maddy Rosenburg (and crew), for providing such a wonderful presentation on the world of Art and Science. Until next time….
Square Knots: Art and Math
in New York City
Measure for Measure and Alyson Shotz
When Malevich painted a black square, he revolutionized painting. But had he painted the first abstraction, or had he painted a square? He had painted geometry and nothing more, but was he actually doing geometry? When Terry Winters calls a series Knotted Graphs, is he illustrating topology or doing topology?
I owe the question to an artist that, reasonably enough, works in abstraction. Puzzling it out takes knowing what one means by doing mathematics. If that were not enough, it takes knowing what it means to call something abstraction or illustration. A show that claims to connect art and math may not, even as it involves both artists and mathematicians. Alyson Shotz may or may not, but her waveforms depend on both. As for Winters, it is a knotty problem.
Math as an abstraction
Of course, Kazimir Malevich was not the first artist to turn to geometry. It is hard to imagine Jan Vermeer in The Art of Painting without his maulstick—or the Renaissance without a compass and straightedge. It is hard, too, to imagine any number of paintings without preparatory drawings gridded for transfer. Studio training had long required the tools, ideas, shapes, and symmetries of math along with a steady hand. Leonardo filled his notebooks with them, and indeed artists have probably found the golden rectangle and the catenary more interesting than mathematicians. But were they doing mathematics?
Art and nature may go together, but art and science intersect in curious ways. Art and math may seem even more alike, give or take the artist’s skill, a free and creative hand, or the pleasure and pain of expressionism. Today, software practically builds all these right in along with the math. Yet that still leaves a huge divide. One can see it in majors and graduate programs in art as opposed to mathematics. Guess which discipline, for example, has welcomed more women?
Artists who borrow images from science or medicine are obviously not doing science or medicine—not even when they understand, respect, and do not distort the original purpose of the image. They are plainly not doing research. But they are also not doing science in the sense of a student doing homework by using the tools of science, such as math, to solve problems or by going into the lab. There are often parallels in art to what scientists do, such as close observation, creative representation, and generalization about observations. But even those do not necessarily require images from science, and the parallels take one only so far. When artists take science as subject matter, they often look to something older than the rigors of science anyway, in natural history.
However, the case of math is much less clear, since there the very distinction between sign and the thing itself is hard to pin down. Is Terry Winters doing math? Set aside knots for now. What they are and how to represent them are an added complexity—and an unnecessary one. I hardly understand topology myself, and I had more than four years of college math and physics. Take instead something more familiar, a square. One can always ask later when knots qualify the conclusions.
It helps to realize that behind the question lie two quite distinct puzzles, although they do overlap. One puzzle has nothing at all to do with art: when one commits a square to paper, is one doing math—or even drawing a square? The second puzzle is whether it matters when the shape is a work of art. I cannot resolve either puzzle, especially the first. It has surely been around as long as civilization. But it is crucial to be aware of the question—and why it is distinct.
Logically, a drawing cannot possibly be a square. On the one hand, it has features irrelevant to a square, such as a color and the width of the lines. On the other hand, it lacks the essential features of a square. The angles are never exactly 90 degrees, and the sides are never exactly equal in length. People have responded to this puzzle in many ways over time. Their responses are in fact the philosophy of mathematics.
From conceiving to doing math . . .
Some have spoken of a square as an idealization—in effect, a more perfect drawing than just happens to be possible. They have called a square a concept, existing in one’s head but sharable. They have described squares as ideals, existing but in some other realm. For Plato even the mental pictures, much less the drawings, are just shadows or representations of reality. Or they have seen mathematics as a formal system, built on definitions and axioms. In this solution to the puzzle, a square is a sign in a language or is the same thing as its definition.
These are all good answers, and all have serious drawbacks. The meaning of an idealization is hardly clear, especially since by definition it is not achievable. As for mental constructs, they make math sound rather arbitrary, just when one wants mathematical truths to be universal truths—or at least true by definition. Formal models run up against the limits of all systems. Long before Postmodernism, Alfred Whitehead and Bertrand Russell sought to construct math from first principles, using set theory. Their early twentieth-century project ran up to their dismay against Gödel’s paradox, which showed that they could never encompass all of mathematics without also encompassing contradictions.
Plato’s solution has limits to its appeal, too. The nature of his other realm frankly eludes me. So does how he expects human beings to have access to it—unless he allows representations and formal systems back in after all. Plato also worked a long time ago, before what tortured students know today as algebra. He and his contemporaries took for granted that mathematics was geometry, not something best specified by formulas with symbols. In his time, the puzzle was the relationship between a square and a real or mental picture. Today the puzzle is the relation between an algebraic representation and a geometric one.
In fact, if anything sets apart mathematicians from us common folk, it is the ability to see the relationship as a matter of course. A knot is something governed by a set of formal rules, called mappings or transformations. However, topologists have no trouble understanding what that has to do with the intuitive idea of a knot. They know quite well that they are describing something distinguished by how it gets tied up. But then, that makes them mathematicians. A mere mortal has to settle for picturing physical reality, which is why I majored in physics and not math.
Plato’s solution also runs up against a contrary intuition: of course the thing on paper is a square. I just drew one! This intuition is hardly rigorous, but it gets at the ordinary motivation for studying these things. It also gets at how real people do math—and why artists may claim to be doing math after all. Students prove things in school by drawing and labeling pictures. Later, in college, they may prove things by manipulating symbols, but it is a little discomforting then to think that they are manipulating only representations and not the thing itself.
Kurt Gödel was a Platonist, but most contemporary philosophers who have skewered formal systems are closer to pragmatists or “wholists.” They are less and less likely to recognize the distinction between truth by experience and truth by definition. It all just goes into the big pot and gets stirred. Perhaps the most influential recent philosopher of logic, W. V. O. Quine, started out impatient with everyone’s arguments but his own. One of his first projects was to show that the three-volume Principia could be brought off in two hundred pages. In time, he showed instead one more reason that it could not be brought off at all.
. . . And from doing math to making art
The first puzzle, then, comes down to whether the square in front of one’s face is a definition, a representation, or the thing itself—or whether there is even a distinction to be made here. That applies to a square as a set of words, a picture, or a set of algebraic formulas. You and I are not going to resolve this, but it does help move the story along. You can already see why math in art is going to be different from science in art. You can see why we are tempted to think of pictures as not just illustrations but, yes, actual mathematics. “No ideas but the thing itself,” as the poem goes, and what is art if not the thing itself?
That brings me naturally to the second, distinct problem: what changes when the pictures are art? On the one hand, it seems impossible that anything can have changed. A picture is just a picture, to Plato’s dismay, but it is still a picture. In fact, as Andy Warhol or Jasper Johns makes clear, a copy of a picture is a picture, too. On the other hand, it seems obvious that everything has changed.
A high-school student draws a square to help show, say, that the opposite sides are parallel. An artist, in contrast, draws a square for its own sake—or for the sake of art. Winters is not trying to show anything about knots, or if he is, he has failed to teach me. For all I know, he could have got the math wrong. He would still have made his point about painting or even about knots. He would still be in the tradition of Wassily Kandinsky, describing modern art as point, line, and plane.
In other words, he would still be opening up art to the beauty of drawing, space, networks, connections, transformations, nature, and ideas. Like an artist working with images from science, he is using symbols from other disciplines than art as metaphors to make a point about painting. Is he doing math? When it comes down to it, who cares? He is still putting math to good use and not just throwing around pretty pictures. And, somehow, that fact makes his pictures art, and it helps make him a model for the present, when many artists combine imagery and other media with abstraction.
That brings the story to a final question—and this question really does matter to art. I can now ask whether it makes a difference how a painter or conceptual artist works with a knot or a square. If the artist is using geometry to construct a painting, like so many since the early 1960s, it feels more like doing math than if the artist shows a square as an image floating in a field, like a character in a graphic novel. I could argue that Winters is doing the latter. It is why I admire him but do not count him among my favorite artists. I put him uncomfortably between the people before him who seemed to hate imagery, like Frank Stella or Brice Marden, and the artists after Winters who have taught me how to enjoy made geometries like his after all, like Julie Mehretu.
Unfortunately, this is not a hard-and-fast distinction either, a lesson of lots of postmodern art. Elizabeth Murray and Jennifer Bartlett have both managed to use geometry in both ways, as composition and as subject matter, in the very same work. Call them illustrators, philosophers, painters, conceptual artists, or just artists. It hardly matters. Art would be far less rich without them. To return to where I began, though, mathematics would not.
When Malevich painted a square, he set a high standard for both abstraction and for geometry in art. “Measure for Measure” once again connects art and mathematics—and surprisingly much of it is not abstract. It says something that the title quotes Shakespeare rather than, say, calculus. Is the show doing math or using math only as illustration? Sometimes both, and sometimes neither one. These artists have stories to tell, and not all their stories are about geometry.
Most are, however. Only Rosaire Appel includes equations—and those simply samples out of textbooks. They could illustrate a student’s fear of math, the apparent subject of her cartoons. Graphs turn up in drawings by Anne Gilman, and Cherry Pickles spins out curves from allegedly the fourth dimension high on the wall. Susan Kaprov assembles jigsaw puzzles. Most, however, let a simple forms take their own course.
They include professors of mathematics or its history, who often seem to playing around while waiting for class. Julian Voss-Andrae and George Hart both sculpt polyhedra, Hart’s with additional ripples along the edge. (Ah, those pesky higher dimensions.) Folds enter often, but less as the unfolding of art’s very presence, as with Dorothea Rockburne, than as decorative patterning. Chris Palmer’s folds open like flowers and Martha Lewis’s as something akin to mappings, while Daina Taimina crochets hers. For Thomas Parker Williams, the work unfolds as an artist’s book of aluminum or wood and stained glass.
The sense of self-replicating pattern comes closest here to actual math or the philosophy of math. Both Sarah Stengle and Erik and Martin Demaine generate the paradoxical outcome of simultaneously yes and no. Kristoffer Myskja lets a machine do the job, churning out holes punched in paper with their own collective geometry. Does it all feel more rigorous than a plain black square? Does it experience the collision of simple objects and visual splendor more than Tara Donovan—especially Tara Donovan in Mylar? I doubt it, and I may want the rigor of the 1970s back, but I shall just have to wait.
Alyson Shotz calls her show “Wavelength,” and she hardly needs the 1970s with patterns this dizzying. Her waves appear not just in multiple media and multiple shapes, but in multiple manifestations within a single work. The simplest is the most intricate, a wavelike weave of black yarn held together only by pins in the wall. Facing it, more than a thousand acrylic strips break into waveforms in three dimensions over twenty-five feet. They also provide a lesson in the wave mechanics by refracting, reflecting, and transmitting light, giving yet another meaning to the title Standing Wave. One can look at its changes again and again without quite believing that the color arises entirely from the interaction of matter and light.
Can one call the strips colorless, without misstating the relationship between mathematics and nature? (Technically, the color of a dichroic material depends on the direction in which light passes through it.) Is Shotz really doing math rather than taking physics as subject matter? It is more than a textbook illustration either way. Long after Minimalism, geometry in art is still standing. Malevich, who went to his deathbed with Black Square hanging over him, can rest in peace.
Central Booking Launches Thomas Jackson’s New Work, “The Robot Book”
“In the Artist’s own words:
‘When I began this project three years ago, I didn’t know I was making a book. The plan was to create a series of staged photographs addressing a set of themes that interested me, among them our culture’s obsession with hard work and our less-than-harmonious relationship with the natural world. Composed in narrative form, in the manner of a medieval tapestry or altarpiece, the pictures would tell the story of a solitary robot’s last days in a post-apocalyptic place. But when I completed the images in late 2010, the project felt unfinished. The story seemed to need one last narrative twist. The answer, I came to realize, was a book. A book that was itself an artifact from the world I’d created in the pictures. A combination of organic, manufactured and mechanical components, it would be the sort of thing the robot himself might have made. The result is a mixed media mash-up that’s part sculpture, part graphic novel, part photo book and part gadget—an inscrutable relic long lost in an apocryphal future.'”
Thomas Jackson’s “The Robot Book” on Everything is Fascinating
“This afternoon I spent a few happy minutes at Central Booking in DUMBO leafing through my friend Thomas Jackson’s The Robot Book. Mysterious, witty, and indescribable. You really need to hold it in your own hands for the complete experience.
Do yourself a favor and visit today during First Thursday gallery hours, which run until 8:30 pm. Central Booking is at 111 Front Street, Gallery 210, Brooklyn, NY 11201″
Shifting Art ist Book Distribution Models
Shifting Artist Book Distribution Models:bookartbookshop; Boekie Woekie; Printed Matter; Sticky Institute; Golden Age; Family; Vamp and Tramp Booksellers, LLC; Central Booking; Ooga Booga; Woodland Pattern Book Center; KALEID editions Brandon Graham
OPEN: BROOKLYN, DUMBO
Brooklyn, Dumbo: 111 Front street, suite 210
Ends April 3rd, 2011
3-D Photo Books On Display at DUMBO Gallery
Central Booking’ Features Heidi Neilson By Harold Egeln
Brooklyn Daily EagleDUMBO — What do fake snow and orbiting space trash have in common? They have both been portrayed by artist Heidi Neilson, who has a master’s degree in fine arts from Pratt Institute, in two new limited-print editions of 3-D illustrated books she created recently.The stories in her new Fake Snow Collection and Orbital Debris Simulator books were told and viewed in anaglyph 3-D glasses at a presentation at the Central Booking gallery at 111 Front St.Even though real snow made for a winter wonderland in the city over the last two months, fake snow in 24 different forms appears in 40 images in the Fake Snow Collection, published by Visual Studies Workshop Press in an edition of 100.Page spreads include 17 dioramas such as “The Great Eskimo Vocabulary Hoax,” “The Crystallography of Snow” and “Niveculture.” Each illustration shows the variations in the fake snow around a cabin in the woods, accompanied by a text on the opposite page.“Orbital Debris Simulator describes the phenomena of ‘space junk’ in the Earth’s orbit, showing points of interest between the moon and Earth, such as geosynchronous orbit [which is 22,000 miles out], medium Earth orbit and the International Space Station,” said Neilson in a description of the various orbital altitudes of hundreds of satellites. Many of them are now defunct but continue to orbit the Earth.“Images of space toys, spaceships and action figures from various science fiction ‘universes’ as well as replicas of actual spacecraft, are used as stand-ins for actual orbital debris itself,” she noted, referring to a page showing the surface of the moon. The book was published by the Women’s Studio Workshop in 70 editions, each with hand-bound aluminum covers.Part of the “low Earth orbit spread” in the book includes action figures such as the robot Gort model from the 1951 movie classic sci-fi movie The Day the Earth Stood Still. Model spaceships include the Star Trek Klingon battle cruiser, the Russian Soyuz cosmonaut craft and NASA’s space shuttle. There is a spread on the International Space Station, also.
The book shows the extent of the space debris swarming around the Earth, mostly just a few hundred miles above the planet, a graphic illustration of how populated “near space” has become since the first Sputnik satellite was orbited by the Russians in October 1957. It also shows the potential threats to the current Space Station from space debris, which could hit it at super-speeds.
Neilson, a native of Oregon who now lives and works in Long Island City, is a conceptional artist engaged in the book arts, drawing, printmaking and some public projects, to the delight of Central Booking and its Executive Director Maddy Rosenberg, who has been showcasing trailblazing book artworks at her venue. Aside from this project, Neilson also recently co-founded an artist-operated weather station placed atop a studio building in her Queens neighborhood, according to her web site.
She has created six other art books, including another one devoted to the space topic, the 2008 limited-edition Home Planetarium Survey. This book, she said, “displays seven toy planetariums and photograms of the constellation Orion projected by the planetariums.”
Another of her works is “On Safari,” 1976, a photo tome looking at the past and how people perceive the past in various ways from a present perspective.
ART BOARS: AN ART AND CULTURE SOURCE
During first Thursday in Dumbo, I walked into this new gallery that specializes in artist books. I would recommend it if you’re in the area or in the market for both original and editioned art books. Link.
Neighborhood beat: DUMBO
Neighborhood BRIC Arts I Media I Bklyn
Host: Kecia Cole
Neighborhood Beat is a series featuring Brooklyn’s diverse neighborhoods. The programs are produced and directed by neighborhood reps.
Brooklyn’s neighborhoods are constantly reinventing themselves. This waterfront area was once known as Fulton Landing because it was the site of the ferry to Manhattan in the years b
efore the Brooklyn Bridge was built. In the late 1970s it became DUMBO (for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) and a haven for artists. Brooklyn Independent Television’s Kecia Cole hosts this new regular Neighborhood Beat segment, taking us to the galleries, performance spaces, cafes and shops that make”>link DUMBO a magnet for people from all over the world.
Click here to view a video featuring CENTRAL BOOKING
New. York. Art. Crit.
July 3, 2010
By John Haber
If eyes open windows onto the soul, no wonder art lingers over appearances. Biology and medicine, though, have gone one better. Want appearances and yet something deeper? We can cut you open and image the interior. And we do. “Anatomical/Microbial/Microcosms,” through July 11, brings together a dozen artists who, at least on the surface, look within.
Central Booking, started as a haven for works on paper and artist books, has in its short life had group shows on the intersection of art and science. “Natural Histories” looked back to a time when science, like art, trusted observation and intuition as much as grand theories. If you grew up with the Museum of Natural History as a succession of darkly lit rooms and glass cases, with no multimedia in sight, you will know what I mean. Biology, more than any other science, is still necessarily tactile and physical, even as new techniques are looking crisper and deeper. I myself have taken home x-rays home as ghastly souvenirs. So what if they are not imaging the soul?
Barbara Rosenthal, for one, displays her brain scans, in neatly cropped ovals and with the machine-generated data cut off as it fall. She had concerns for her psychic well-being, but doctors looked inside her head and found nothing. (Let me rephrase that: they found nothing untoward.) Her name lands on each sheet, in red block letters beneath the ghosts of a mind. In a show with few signed works, the most prominent artist’s signature is machine made.
Clearly it takes imagination to pin an artist down. Travis Childers transfers images of a human eye to a dense grid with peeled-off tape. If these eyes are not windows, they are also not quite I’s. Eva Lee creates a color Digital Terrain of the mind, in sharp-edged peaks and valleys. Paul Tecklenberg’s presumed micrographs turn out to represent not single cells but household objects, like corks and rubber bands. They are translucent and luminous all the same.
The theme could lead almost anywhere, given centuries of natural and human imagery. Even now, Terry Winters has had untold progeny in biomorphic abstraction, while Marina Abramovic in performance lay with a skeleton pressed to her naked chest. The Dumbo gallery prefers traditional media to shocks anyway, as with Nene Humphry, Elena Costelian, Stephanie Brody-Lederman, Thorsten Dennerline, and Linda Plotkin. While biology has advanced to evolutionary theory along with high technology. only Barbara Confino dives into The Genetic Wars. Her warnings have the visual style of a Cold War science-fiction menace, and part of me wishes they were true. Brian Alves comes closest to actual research, with photographic traces of medical reports.
Claire Watkins’s wires climb a gallery corner and descend, blossoming into a plant-like matrix of crystalline capillaries or nerves. Tiny brushes pluck the strings, leaving sonic traces in the air and visual traces on the wall. Mary Hambleton combines the directness of medical imagery with the harsh lyricism of early photography or film. She poses naked, crossed by white bars or machine imperfection. One work has successive images of herself dancing, with a pronounced belly and drapery like Louise Fuller at the dawn of Art Nouveau. The artist, who died in 2009, acknowledged the brevity of life but never frailty.
Curator leaves Long Island City for LA
April 29, 2010
By Nicole Levy
Deitch Studios in Long Island City will close after May 2 following curator Jeffrey Deitch’s controversial appointment as director of Los Angeles’ Museum of Contemporary Art in January.
Deitch is well known in the New York art scene for his interest in contemporary art and his 30-year career curating innovative exhibitions at venues around the world. As an advisor to leading institutional and private collectors, he has supervised the acquisition of major international and modern art collections. As an art critic and author of catalogue texts, he pioneered the now popular “visual essay,” an integration of text and images.
It was over a decade ago, in 1996, that Deitch founded his eponymous public gallery with three New York locations, including the LIC studios located at 4-40 44th Drive. Deitch Projects has since housed over 250 exhibitions, performances, and installations by contemporary artists including Yoko Ono, Keith Haring, Barry McGee, Todd James and Stephen Powers.
Though he has a reputation for shrewd business dealings in the commerical art world, it would seem that at Deitch Projects, the Harvard Business School graduate and former Citibank employee has prioritized the artists’ work over its value.
MoMA director Glenn Lowry praised Deitch for having “one of the most exciting and adventuresome galleries in New York.” Lowry is confident Deitch “will undoubtedly bring the same energy and excitement to his work at MOCA.”
Deitch has pledged “to position MOCA as the most innovative and influential contemporary art museum in the world.
“I am excited by the opportunity to play a role in making MOCA and Los Angeles the leading contemporary art destination,” he said. It has been suggested that, in succeeding Charles Young, Deitch will secure the museum the international trustees it currently lacks.
However, some in the art world fear that, with his background in corporate art advisory, he will obsess over bottom lines rather than curating a cultural legacy in his capacity as MOCA’s new director.
Maddy Rosenberg, artist and director of Central Booking gallery in Dumbo, Brooklyn, believes Deitch will lead MOCA in the wrong direction. “When you’re drawing on someone who is more interested in the commercial value [of art], that’s not good for culture. You want to have lasting artwork, things for future generations to look at,” Rosenberg said.
Whatever his agenda may be, in closing his commercial galleries, Deitch will likely avoid any financial conflict of interest. At any rate, Rosenberg is unconcerned about Long Island City’s cultural future: “There was an art world there before he came to Long Island City, and it will continue,” she said, once he’s gone.
On May 2nd, Deitch Studios will close. Until then, Josh Smith’s fresco installation “On the Water,” painted in the course of three and half days directly on the wall and therefore unsaleable, will be on view.
Art and Astronomy Come Together at DUMBO Gallery
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
April 12, 2010
By Harold Egeln
Central Booking’s `Celestial Art’ Frames Discussion
DUMBO – “How do you bring astronomy and art together?” asked Dr. Greg Matloff, an astronomy and physics professor at New York College of Technology in Downtown Brooklyn. As he asked that question, a mini-cosmos of space art surrounded him.
These were paintings combining stunning space photographs intermingled with wondrous images of the Earth, sailing ships, holograms and equations painted by artist C. Bangs, his wife and book collaborator, along with those by 14 other artists, who were answering his question.
The artwork is in the current “Astronomy: The Celestial” exhibit at the Central Booking gallery in DUMBO through May 2. “Artists explore the universe from a very earthly base as well as a more cosmic one,” said Maddy Rosenberg, exhibit curator and executive director of the gallery at 111 Front St. www.centrcg7.
Matloff, author of several books, and Bangs were among those discussing connections between art and astronomy at an illustrated panel discussion Thursday evening on “Reconstructing the Cosmos.”
Joining them were City Tech cosmology instructor Dr. Ari Maller and geologist Dr. Denton Ebel, a meteorite and planetary formation specialist at the American Museum of Natural History’s Department of Earth and Planetary Science and colleague of Hayden Planetarium Director Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson.
The Bangs-Matloff collaboration, dating back over 20 years, was evident in their latest book collaboration, co-authored with NASA scientist Les Johnson, deputy director for the Advanced Concepts Office in Alabama.
“Paradise Regained: The Regreening of Earth” (Springer Books) is about another connection: urging space advocates and environmentalists to work together in seeking space resources for new energy solutions, such as solar power satellites and mining asteroids and the Moon.
Space art was pioneered in the 1940s and 1950s by famed artist Chesley Bonestell, whose artwork fascinated readers of magazines such as Colliers, which featured artists in the coming age of space exploration and travel. Fanciful art appeared on science fiction magazine and book covers.
“I was influenced by science at a young age by my father, an engineer and scientist, and [also by] the use of art for science and the philosophy of art,” said Bangs, who met Matloff in the 1980s, which did their first collaboration.
“In the realm of images, it began to look like art,” said Ebel of the spectacular images taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, in orbit for 20 years now, as he showed pictures of beautiful nebula and stellar nurseries several trillions of miles long.
He then showed slides of the surface and inner structure of meteorites and asteroid particles, revealing colorful patterns and intricate shadings. “Visually its about science meeting artists visualizations as also seen in planetary formation discs around new stars,” Ebel said.
“I call it the art of the cosmos,” said Muller, a colleague of Matloff at City Tech. That cosmic art, added Matloff, was seen with the astounding 3-D effects of the mega-hit Avatar movie that dazzled the public worldwide with its imagined depiction of the alien world Pandora, making many yearn for such a planet.
`The Hunt for Pandora’
With a longtime interest in as-yet-to-be undiscovered extraterrestrial civilizations, their survival and growth over the aeons, and a human destiny in space travel, Matloff mentioned a scientist in Illinois who has launched “the Hunt for Pandora.”
That involves the search for Earth-like rocky planets around the double star system of Alpha Centauri A and B, the closest solar system to ours at a distance of four-and-one-third lights years which could only support rocky Earth-sized worlds. The Kepler and Darwin space telescope missions are among the searchers to be eventually joined by the Terrestrial Planet Finder.
“A visionary view of the cosmos was depicted by novelist Olaf Stapledon in his famous science fiction book Star Maker in 1937, taking the main character on journey through alien planets and multiple universes, learning that the cosmos is an artistic creation,” Matloof said.
Feature: Goodbye, Mr. Deitch
vol 4 issue 4 (Mar/Apr 2010)
By John Haber
IS a commercial dealer the right choice for a museum, I asked dealers from around the city. And how will Jeffrey Deitch’s departure for LA MOCA affect New York?……
MADDY ROSENBERG IS A DIRECTOR OF CENTRAL BOOKING IN DUMBO, FEATURING ARTIST BOOKS ALONGSIDE OTHER MEDIA:
“Can we just go back to PhDs rather than MBAs as museum directors? Not that one needs academic credentials, but someone who has actually spent a life in the scholarly pursuit of art might have a legacy to leave. Museums have to be interested in art that doesn’t count on the bottom line. They are investing in the cultural future, not building up artists for investment killings. People are hungry for it. They are seeking freshness, rather than institutionalized, empty art. Artists are still making art. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we focused on their vision? I do think the New York art world will survive without him. There are those who make their mark, but dealers come and go, and no one’s indispensable. The art world is just too large these days.”Janet Goldner’s “WhY (Ntlomaw)” sculpture, on display at Central Booking (Brooklyn) ……
For the whole article please visit Artillery
Art’s Evil Empire- Jeffrey Deitch and LA MOCA
January 10, 2010
By John Haber
Bringing Jeffrey Deitch to LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art is like asking Bill Gates to run Google. With street-level cameras and Google books, the company that made a fortune off the promise to do no evil is scaring people. So why not turn it over to the evil empire? As for MOCA, the museum that almost bankrupted itself is finding its way—at the cost of funding and oversight from a wealthy patron and collector, Eli Broad. So why not hire New York’s flashiest dealer, rather than a curator or academic?
And that is just what the museum has done, and it has polarized people. In fact, it polarized me, and I found myself on both sides. As it happened, the very week that I weighed in, a magazine asked me what some of New York’s other dealers think of the idea. This article interviews nine from around the city……
Beyond the Brooklyn Bridge
Maddy Rosenberg is an artist and director of Central Booking in Dumbo, featuring artist books alongside other media.
Can we just go back to PhDs rather than MBAs as museum directors? Not that one needs academic credentials, but someone who has actually spent a life in the scholarly pursuit of art might have a legacy to leave. I know it may be quaint to think a work of art might have some value besides how much it can garner in the commercial market, but museums have to be interested in art that doesn’t count on the bottom line. They are investing in the cultural future, not building up artists for investment killings.
The Alfred Barrs seem to be long gone, and directors these days are just about fund-raising anyway. The best a director can do is to be prescient enough to be surrounded by curators with a depth of knowledge and unique perspectives. I come by my own gallery as an organic growth from my years as an independent curator, not as a collector. I work with artists because of my belief in the quality of their work, desiring a widening of their audience, and not because I deem them economically viable.
If I had his chance, I would do what I do in my own curatorial program—show substantive work from artists who, for the most part, have careers but have not been given their due and young artists who are truly pushing the edge.
People are hungry for it. I see it over and over again in the eyes of even the most jaded New Yorker who walks into my gallery. They are desperate for challenging art that is also visually stimulating, work with concept and thorough follow through—and in quantity, rather than merely a rare find. They are seeking freshness, rather than institutionalized, empty art. Artists are still making art. Wouldn’t it be interesting if we focused on their vision?
I do think the New York art world will survive without him. There are those who make their mark, but dealers come and go, and no one’s indispensable. The art world is just too large these days. Besides, it is a rare contemporary dealer who goes for lasting quality rather than the latest trend. Few are confident enough to set trends rather than follow them, supporting artists who pursue their passion with an intensity and obsession…….
For the whole article please visit New.York.Art.Crit.
For Singer Collins, ‘Over The Rainbow’ Is Brooklyn
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
March 8, 2010
By Harold Egeln
Signs Books at DUMBO Store
DUMBO – Over the Rainbow and down under the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges was where famed singer Judy Collins signed her new illustrated children’s book and CD at a party last week.
“Judy sang at one of my seaside park concerts on August 5, 1993,” recalled Borough President Marty Markowitz upon greeting Collins at the Central Booking art gallery and shop in DUMBO on Thursday evening. Brooklyn’s leader has held those concerts dear since he was a state senator.
As Markowitz pinned a Brooklyn pin on Collins’ jacket, the singer and city resident told people that she was thrilled to be in Brooklyn. In May 2009 Pratt Institute honored Collins with an honorary doctor’s degree in fine arts.
The evening’s excitement was centered on Collins and the beautiful Over the Rainbow book she collaborated on, stunningly illustrated by French-born painter Eric Puybaret with his graceful illustrations, filled with touching wit and joyful whimsy.
The hardcover book holds, on its inside back cover, Collins’ wondrous CD of The Wizard of Oz’ most famous song “Over the Rainbow” by famed composer Harold Arlen and lyricist E. Yip Harberg – a song that has enchanted generations.
Collins includes the original and rarely heard opening lyrics of the famed song, and she sang it after being introduced by Central Booking Executive Director Maddy Rosenberg, who is also the current art exhibit curator.
The CD also includes two wonderful songs by Collins from 1992, “I See the Moon” and “White Coral Bells,” both accompanied by a children’s chorus, that are distinctive pleasures to enjoy over and over again.
Children anywhere, in families and groups, can sing along to these pleasant enchanted tunes.
It was “send in the crowds” at the second-floor gallery and art book specialty shop at 111 Front St., which it shares with several other excellent art galleries in an attractive space. Many people who were friends and fans alike formed a line at a table as Collins signed the books, chatted about their favorite songs and concert moments, or shared memories recent or long ago.
Collins, who was a child piano prodigy in Seattle, has been performing for more than 50 years. She released her first album in 1961, inspired by the folk song revival sweeping the country. Expanding her repertoire, she blossomed into fame with her Wildflowers album in 1967.
Her version of “Both Sides Now” is in the Grammy Hall of Fame; and her memorable rendition of “Send in the Clowns’ from Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, now enjoying a Broadway revival, won her a Grammy Award in 1975.
She has written six previous books since 1987 and has released several albums over the last five decades, now adding the joyful and hopeful Over the Rainbowpublished by the Imagine! – A Peter Yarrow Book-New York company (www.imaginebks.com).
The book launch party and reception inaugurated the new exhibit at Central Booking, “Astronomy: The Celestial,” showcasing 15 artists including book illustrator Puybaret, on exhibit through May 2.
There will be an artists’ reception on Thursday, March 25 from 6 to 8 p.m., featuring a panel discussion on “Deconstructing the Cosmos” with C. Bangs, Denton Ebel, Ari Maller and Greg Matloff.
What Were Books, Daddy? Two Trees Exhibit Space Pays Homage
The Commercial Observer
March 9, 2010
By Emily Geminder
Before they were flashes of pixels jettisoning across screens, books meant pages and crackling spines and penned notes in the margins. Although bookstores may be closing, Dumbo’s recently opened art gallery Central Booking is devoted to those strange relics of pre-Kindle civilization.
It’s perhaps fitting that physical books are finding homes in spaces typically reserved for aesthetic appraisal, or maybe an onslaught of digital reading has sparked interest in books as physical things. Whatever the reason, Central Booking is like an acid-fueled bookstore turned inside out. Its rotating book art exhibitions range from re-envisioned Natural History texts to large book sculptures. Books hang from the ceilings and racks of zines line the walls.
Originally a pop-up gallery, Central Booking signed a two-year lease at Two Trees Management‘s 111 Front Street. The 1,250-square-foot gallery opened last week as part of Dumbo’s First Thursday celebration.
Central Booking: “ASTRONOMY: THE CELESTIAL”
Brooklyn The Borough
March 2, 2010
By Kat Irannejad
Central Booking opens with the Big Bang in its new space as Astronomy: The Celestial inaugurates Gallery II. In this exhibition, artists explore the universe from a very earthly base as well as a more cosmic one. Curated by Maddy Rosenberg, participating artists include: C Bangs, Doug Beube, Mary Hambleton, Karen Hanmer, Barbara Houghton, Eva Lee, Donna Levinstone, Despo Magoni, Pamela Moore, John Noestheden, Carol Prusa, Eric Puybaret, Ilse Schreiber-Noll, Susan Schwalb, and Ted Victoria.
Feb 25th, 2010
Artists C Bangs, Judy Collins
Astronomy: The Celestial
Central Booking Art Space
Exhibition Date: March 4 – May 2, 2010
Artist’s reception: March 25, 6-8pm
DUMBO First Thursday: March 4, 5:30 – 7:30pm
Special Appearance & Book Signing by
Legendary Singer/Songwriter Judy Collins Celebrating Book Launch of
Over the Rainbow a Collaboration with Painter Eric Puybaret
Brooklyn, (DUMBO), NY, – Central Booking opens its latest exhibition with the Big Bang in Astronomy: The Celestial, a group show featuring artists whose work explore the universe from a very earthly base as well as a more cosmic one. The exhibition premieres with a special appearance by folk icon Judy Collins who will be signing copies of her new book project, Over the Rainbow, a creative collaboration with renowned painter Eric Puybaret. Judy Collins will be at the gallery Thursday, March 4 from 5:30 – 7:30pm. She might even sing…
November 18 – 24, 2009
Goldner’s ideas conceived in Mali, born on Warren Street
Tribeca artist’s massive steel sculptures resonate through two worlds
Janet Goldner’s “WhY (Ntlomaw)” sculpture, on display at Central Booking (Brooklyn)
October 7, 2009
By Matt Connolly
When Maddy Rosenberg tells people she is, among other things, a book artist, she’ll often get such quizzical responses such as, “So…you’re an illustrator?” Rosenberg hopes to dispel this confusion with Central Booking, a Dumbo-based gallery focusing upon the multi-faceted art form.
A curator and artist who works across mediums, Rosenberg finds herself drawn to the differing ways that book art—which ranges from sculpture to printmaking to pamphlets made on a copy machine—manifests itself. “[Book art] is made by artists who approach some aspect of what a book is,” Rosenberg explained. “It may be text or structure or sequencing. It may be any one of those viewpoints that make it a piece of book art.”
As the gallery’s executive director and curator, Rosenberg works to filter the art form’s playful, multidisciplinary spirit into how she runs Central Booking. Two galleries make up the space, with the first devoted to all forms of book art and prints. Many of the pieces can be handled by visitors, and the price of individual works ranges from $2 to $100,000.
The second gallery houses various exhibitions. Keeping with Central Booking’s theme of disciplinary cross-pollination, the inaugural show, entitled “Natural Histories,” focuses on the overlap between art and science. A future exhibition will examine the relationship between art and social anthropology.
Rosenberg also hopes to shake up established conventions of how to lay out a gallery space, paying tribute to the work of individual artists while ultimately seeking to cultivate a larger atmosphere beyond any one piece. “It’s not a traditional installation where there’s one work or sculpture in the center,” she said of Natural Histories. “With this, I could create a whole natural environment: work hanging from the ceiling, work coming out of the walls and into the space.”
It took roughly two years to see Central Booking come to fruition, and Rosenberg does not regret the decision to forge ahead with the gallery’s opening despite the dicey economic climate. With plans to curate special web-based projects and to publish a book-art ‘zine by year’s end, she sees the medium’s future as full of possibilities. “From ‘zines to sculptural pieces to video art: It’s a very open arena,” Rosenberg said.
THE ART NEWSPAPER
Gallery dedicated to book art opens in Brooklyn
Commercial venture shows growing popularity of the medium
By Andrew Goldstein | Web only
Published online 5 Oct 09
The Art Newspaper
Central Booking’s opening party
NEW YORK. In tune with a growing interest in print and book art, a new pop-up gallery has opened in Brooklyn’s DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass) neighbourhood dedicated to the art form. Called Central Booking, the space is the brainchild of Maddy Rosenberg, a book artist and independent curator who has worked in the field for more than two decades, and hopes to further expose the versatility of the medium to the art world at large.
“My definition of the book is very expansive and inclusive,” says Rosenberg. “When an artist says they’re making a book, that’s my parameter.” As a result, Central Booking bears little resemblance to a traditional book store. The first of the gallery’s two rooms is reserved for curated shows of work by artists who make prints but also explore other mediums; the current show, “Natural Histories”, contains pieces ranging from a sawbox by Steven Daiber that is filled with pine cones wrapped in wood prints of a natural history text ($5,000), a non-print-related installation of scavenged metal and natural debris by Judy Hoffman ($25,000), and a limited-edition copy of “A Book of Works”, an unfinished 1993 book of poems and photographs by Ana Mendieta (loaned by the artist’s foundation, it is the only piece in the gallery not for sale).
in New York City
A NATURAL HISTORY OF BROOKLYN
by Haberarts haberarts.com
Topics: artist books, Central Booking, Dumbo galleries, Joseph Stashkevetch, Mary Frank, Natural Histories, science and art, Von Lintel
At least since Leonardo began his notebooks, artists have claimed fidelity to an impersonal nature. And at least since William Blake, artists have claimed to free humanity from the suffocating logic of science. “Art,” he wrote, “is the tree of life. Science is the tree of death.”
And all the while, artist materials developed as in a laboratory.
Romantics even combined the roles—of ever-patient explorers and the creative imagination. Think of J. M. W. Turner, strapped to a mast to observe a storm. As it happens, scientists were doing much the same thing, give or take the melodrama. People still prize sketches by biologists and astronomers then, for both their beauty and their place in newly emerging theories. Science itself was emerging as a discipline, against a background of eighteenth-century natural history. (I tried to pin down parallels and differences between art and science after taking in Jacob van Ruisdael landscapes.)
For its opening show, through November 8, Central Booking looks back to that time and to the present. “Natural Histories” includes delicate drawings and print. It includes Mary Frank’s monkey, in deep blue against a deep red monoprint, bent like the fossil in mystic contemplation. It includes a closed book by Ana Mendieta, who had quite a habit of identifying herself with nature. Mostly, though, it has an eye to less-familiar artists and to Brooklyn’s own natural histories. It even has Long Island City weather reports, from SP Weather Station.
Both realism and truth took a beating in the last century or so. Science showed up again mostly as technology became new media. For the Dumbo gallery, an older model of science comes naturally. The gallery will specialize in, and a second room has dozens. Just when science textbooks are adding more and more fine illustrations, these artists can still cherish books as something to hold in one’s hand. No wonder they want to reclaim art and science for natural history.
Many works aspire to the scale and intimacy of a book, like insects by Helga Eilts and Jule Rump or Humanist Prayer Flags by Donna Maria de Creeft. Others aspire to its uniqueness, like monoprints of single species by Robin Holder, or fragility, like painting on chiffon by Desirée Alvarez. Some directly evoke dated modes of observation—like Case Studies in Taxidermy Restoration by Heidi Nelson, hand-painted stereographs by Julie A. McConnell, photographs on glass by Amina Bech, the composting of an Earth Volume by Michelle Wilson, and a textbook of engravings wrapped around pine cones by Steven Daiber. Some span a corner wall or migrate overhead, like butterflies by Sabra Booth and night creatures on shaped plywood by April Vollmer. When paintings appear in full color, by Holly Sears and Gerhard Mantz, they actually look the most like science fiction rather than science, with sharp reds out of late Romanticism. Think of Thomas Moran rather than Thomas Cole.
Sometimes, though, the work does spill into the present, like those creatures overhead. And then things get messy, like the pile of Gowanatopia on the floor by Judy Hoffman. Apparent shards or growths in a petri dish, from Travis Childers, turn out to be Silly Putty—with faces peeled from the papers, of course. On video, Chris Jordan compresses six days of the Chinatown skyline into minutes, and how time flies. For Sara Garden Armstrong, the changes in nature remain slow and elusive. Her fluid grays represent the water’s depth, and wash over into abstraction.
Central Booking surely fills a need, when the Center for Book Arts must focus on its active workshop and galleries like Bravin Lee must mix books with other media. It may even have to pare back its enthusiasm, after an opening with one hundred and twenty contributors. It also gets to share with others a reminder of natural histories.