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Title: Multimedia artists and fieldwork (1960-80s)
Authors: Martinovic, Jelena
Issue Date: 27-Jun-2016
Series/Report no.: Practices: Histories of the Studio Lab;06.11.2015 Session 2B
Abstract: The coming together of human engineering, experimental psychology, ethnography, communication and learning theory in the work of two artists, the Chilean Juan Downey and the American Paul Ryan (1960­80s), serve as a departing point to question the value of research among artists using new medias to challenge the role of the artist as a communicator (video, surveillance techniques, biofeedback, real­time transmission). Informed by ethnography and experimental architecture Juan Downey produced groundbreaking video artwork, while living among the Yanomami Indians in the Amazonian forests (The Abandoned Shabono, The Laughing Alligator 1977), and by visiting numerous societies in Latin America to which he fed back the recorded cultural experience (Video Trans Americas 1973­77). The multimedia artist Paul Ryan developed after his seminal work "Everyone’s Moebius Strip" (1969) a set of behavioristic instructions for performances (Relational circuits) and "Earthscore Notational Systems", which are video workshops dealing with environmental perception and politics that apply Gregory Bateson’s systems and Marshall McLuhan’s communication theory. By analyzing the works of Downey and Ryan simultaneously, I will emphasize their contribution to historically significant platforms for research and art practice related to new media, such as Radical Software (1970­74). Furthermore I will draw a more general history on multimedia artists (Nam June Paik, Michael Shamberg, the Raindance Corporation, Ant Farm) by showing how they extended the art production to the streets, the woods/rainforests, and therefore treated the exhibition space and the spectator's experience as laboratories for cultural and artistic innovation.
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