Transcode

South African exhibition catalog, featuring stuttering, static, and works from Distill Life and Call and Response.

TitleTranscode: Dialogues Around Intermedia Practice
Author: Gwenneth Miller
Publisher: UNISA (University of South Africa) Art Gallery
Date of Publication: 2017 (exhibition 2011)
Language: English

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MKE Journal Sentinel

‘Surfacing’ at Lynden Sculpture Garden
This article by Diane Bacha appeared in both the online and print editions of the MJS

MJS_think-inkJessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern, colleagues at the Peck School of the Arts, took their kids on a trip to the Milwaukee County Zoo one day and came back with an idea for a collaboration. That was three collaborations ago, and they don’t plan to stop.

I can only imagine the conversation that day at the zoo. I am picturing a continuous loop of ideas and theory interrupted by chatter with the kids and pauses to watch the polar bear play. They would have been two families walking at various paces, passing groups moving in other directions, everyone having different conversations about different things while the animals moved in their enclosures. In the background the sky and clouds had their own rhythm. It’s a familiar scene at one glance, but there’s a lot happening on closer inspection. And that’s the way this collaborative work feels: a layering of experiences, moments, ideas, and intersections that teeter between mundane and complex.

Stern is a video and installation artist and Meuninck-Ganger is a printmaker. Although any description of what they do requires asterisks – their work doesn’t exist in silos – their collaboration draws on those specific disciplines, then veers.

“Surfacing” is their latest installation together, and it’s at the Lynden Sculpture Garden until March 24. In it, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger continue their fascinating exercise in layering printmaking and video one atop the other. Each of the six pieces in the small Lynden gallery is a framed, rear-projected video over which has been laid a translucent editioned print or, in one case, a drawing. The viewer sees a static black picture in the foreground and moving, color images in the background. The static image on the skin is taken from a moment or multiple moments occurring in the video beneath.

“Pantograph” uses transportation to convey the idea of layered moments. It’s four minutes in the life of a city intersection where rail, automotive, bicycle and foot traffic converge. The static image is a collection of moments from the traffic – an electric railroad car entering the frame at right, a woman guiding some children at left, a row of automobiles cutting through the middle. As you watch, moving images interact in conflict or harmony with the still image. “Midst” is seemingly less complex: the video depicts a man doing tai-chi exercises on a waterfront, his movements barely visible beneath a woodcut. In this case, a dragon’s form on the static woodcut introduces an element outside the literal. 3-D interpretations of the original woodcut hang on each side of the framed piece. Still more layers.

Other pieces depict a bowling ball striking pins, the Allen-Bradley clock tower, another street scene, and two seated subway-car passengers with their backs to each other. The video loops range in time from 15 seconds to 5 minutes.

Where Stern’s video ends and Meuninck-Ganger’s printmaking begins is fuzzy, since the two have traded off roles depending on the piece. They want to blur the lines between individual contributions and also between the two media. The image applied to the video gives the video a new meaning, and vice-versa. Each is a singular experience – neither video nor print but a distinct hybrid.

Someone viewing this work for the first time might not see it that way. You find yourself fascinated by the technique, so you’re aware of it and you’re trying to figure out its trick – when will the images line up with each other? Is there something I’m supposed to see when it does? Are there other sleights-of-art to watch for? And why was this particular moment chosen as the static image?

Then there is the blending of old media and new and all that’s implied with that. There is the idea of time stopped (perhaps a memory) and time looped (perhaps an obsession). One thinks of the “key block / color block” elements of traditional printmaking. And of the endless possibilities of a particular moment in time, and how few of those possibilities we usually perceive.

What are we to make of these images as a whole? Is it a fable about patience? About being watchful for the beauty in mundane moments? Each piece is different enough in tone, context and even technique that the overall experience doesn’t feel cohesive.

Ultimately, what I found most rewarding with “Surface” was the meditative experience it offered when I let my questions go. It was akin to finding a park bench to watch the world go by. Like most times I’ve spent on a park bench, it takes a while for me to empty my mind and just observe. The rewards come throughout the process, not just at one moment.

Adjacent to the exhibition space, in a porch whose windows overlook the snow-covered sculpture garden, there’s a lovely echo of this experience. The artists have created an installation here by using the windows as a membrane covering the landscape outside. Images drawn on the windows repeat static elements of the landscape in the same way they do on the framed pieces. This time, the movement comes from whatever happens outside randomly, but also from the viewer who changes position to discover visual alignments and misalignments. In a nice interactive touch, the artists have invited visitors to add their own images to the glass.

Meuninck-Ganger and Stern offer up a beautiful opportunity to shift our way of seeing. It is a more conscious way of seeing, to be sure. How often does that happen in the Age of Attention Deficit? The possibilities are exciting.

read the entire article online
see the print edition

Dynamic Stasis

Dynamic Stasis catalogue, Nathaniel Stern + Jessica Meuninck-Ganger

Exhibition Catalogue and Videos

Title: Dynamic Stasis / Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger
Essay: Richard Grusin
Design: Andrew McConville and Jeff Ganger
Photos: Jessica Kaminski
Documentation Videos: Brian James McGuire
Publisher: Gallery AOP, Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger
Date of Publication: 2013
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-620-55064-2
Download Dynamic Stasis as PDF (6 mb)
Available from Gallery AOP, Johannesburg

Maximo Ramos

Maximo Ramos

Exhibition Catalog

Title: 22 Premio Internacional de Gráfica Máximo Ramos 2012
Writer and curator: Anne Heyvaert
Publisher: Centro Torrente Ballester
Date of Publication: 2012
Language: Spanish and English
Download as PDF (3.8mb)
Available from Centro Torrente Ballester

MKE Journal Sentinel

js gallery nightTop picks for Gallery Night & Day
This article by Mary Louise Schumacher appeared in both the online and print editions of the MJS

What happens to artists who are singled out, identified as exceptional or promising in a very public way?

In a practical sense it may mean added pressure and more deadlines, but, ironically, high-profile affirmations of artistic instinct can inspire some to question their art making practices more than ever. They are effectively given license to risk and recalibrate.

Such has been the case with many of the artists included in three exceptional surveys of regional, contemporary art, the “Current Tendencies II” exhibit at the Haggerty Museum of Art, the “Mary L. Nohl Fellowship Exhibition” at Inova and the “Dressing the Monument” show at the Lynden Sculpture Garden.

In many cases, I found the work of artists I thought I knew to be unfamiliar, and I discovered artists I didn’t yet know. It was, in short, a revelation.

The openings for these shows were among the more electric art events I’ve attended in recent years, jammed with people puzzling over, experiencing and talking about art. It speaks well of the quality of work being made here.

For this reason, this trio of shows, which have nothing to do with each other, incidentally, are my top recommendations for this Gallery Night & Day, the citywide art crawl that takes place Friday evening and Saturday.

It was fascinating to see what artist Reginald Baylor did when he ran out of time to create paintings – which can take several months – for the show at the Haggerty, 530 N. 13th St. The complex ideas that connect his iconography, ideas that are usually locked in his mind and rarely implicit in his work, spilled out in some works. He also continued to mine his mainstay imagery in entirely new materials, creating animation and quilts.

We have seen the collaborative works of Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger before, but not quite on this scale and ambition, at least locally. The artists mount prints and drawings onto video screens, creating moving images on paper and a dialogue between old and new art forms. The juxtapositions of imagery and methodology, between the recognizable and the less known – all of it moving in real time – creates a fascinating, textured in between space.

“You step back,” wrote Melissa Shew, a visiting professor of philosophy at Marquette, who wrote about the installation for the exhibition catalogue. “You consider the whole once again, and you view the journey. You understand that this installation speaks to the multilayered, prismatically dimensioned interplay between space and time.”

“Current Tendencies” also marks Mark Brautigam’s debut into the contemporary art scene here. His first major project is a knowing and meditative photographic portrait of our state. From a desolate street in Superior to a 90-year-old woman raking in Hurley, Brautigam explores the quiet dignity of seemingly unremarkable people and places.

Other artists included in the Haggerty show are Julian Correa, Lisa Hecht, Sharon Kerry-Harlan, Luc Leplae, Will Pergl and Jordan Waraksa.

Over at Inova, 2155 N. Prospect Ave., at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the winners of the 2010 Mary L. Nohl Fellowships have work on view.

The Mary L. Nohl Fellowship exhibition is the culmination of the fellowship year, the most prestigious prize for individual artists locally. In this the eighth such round we find artist Paul Druecke, who left Milwaukee and returned, continues to make a significant contribution here. There is a wonderful, conceptual through line in Druecke’s work. More than a decade ago he bestowed the status of “park” on forlorn and leftover patches of urban landscape with art happenings; today he explores the language of historical markers, those seemingly unassailable landmarks that tell it like it is.

Waldek Dynerman has been breaking apart and fusing together old things, from dolls’ heads to mechanical objects, for his assemblages for some time. But his work takes on a new life in the immersive, theatrical installation he created for the Nohl show. At a time when the not-so-distant past feels farther away than it used to, Dynerman taps into the sheer otherly nature of bygone days in an expressive and exacting fashion.

Ashley Morgan’s work is as subtle and sophisticated as I’ve ever seen it in the Nohl installation. Though her work consistently explores love and loss through the processes of collection, repetition and decay, her artworks also stand beautifully alone.

We are drawn into the Inova gallery by a kind of temporary stained glass that Morgan has created with a thin – and ephemeral – layer of honey. On a handrail, she has carved a pattern of Xs and Os that could so easily be dismissed as non-art, just part of the room, just pattern. In perhaps the most formally eloquent piece in the show, she collected eyelashes in tiny vials of rainwater, placing them in a case above water, which catches their reflection. Nearby, a dish hangs on a wall where visitors are invited to leave eyelashes, or wishes, for the artist who is painstakingly hoarding her own.

Other artists included in the Nohl exhibit at Inova are Brent Coughenour, Sarah Buccheri, Neil Gravander and Chris James Thompson.

Over at the Lynden Sculpture Garden, 2145 W. Brown Deer Rd., River Hills, “Dressing the Monument” serves as the culmination of a series of exhibitions in which artists responded to the permanent collection, a series that marked Lynden’s new place in the art community.

This final exhibition features temporary sculpture by an exceptional array of artists from the Midwest, and a few from New York and Switzerland, too. Some of the artists include Nicholas Frank, Michelle Grabner, Lucas Knipscher, Tobias Madison, John Miller, David Robbins, Hannah Weinberger, Anicka Yi and Matt Sheridan Smith.

Lyndenis not open on Gallery Night, but is open Saturday during Gallery Day.

All three of these shows are well outside the epicenter of Gallery Night & Day, the Third Ward, but each will rival any art-seeing experience in town. With that said, let me quickly offer a few more recommendations.

“Generation Next” opens Friday at the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, 273 East Erie St., and is billed as a collection of artists “whose talents identify them as the next generation to make a significant contribution to the cultural life of the region.” The show includes Minneapolis artist Evan Baden, Milwaukee artist Sarah Gail Luther and Madison artists Sofia Arnold, Emily Belknap and Melissa Cooke.

Former Milwaukeean and now Brooklyn-based artist Jason Rohlf returns home for a solo show of his abstract paintings at the Tory Folliard Gallery, 233 N. Milwaukee St. When I visited Rohlf’s studio last fall, venturing up to his roof and seeing the layers of architecture and sounds in his neighborhood, the densely textured surfaces of his work began to make more sense.

His rhythmic and geometric works are exercises in what to treasure and what to let go, and how to make all of these things part of a whole.

Finally, I’d be remiss if – since we’re looking at contemporary art this time around – I didn’t mention the first survey of works by Taryn Simon on view in the contemporary galleries at the Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Dr. Not for the faint hearted and appealing to both our prurient and noble sides, it exposes unseen aspects of the American landscape.

read the entire article online
see it in the print edition

Third Coast Digest

Strange Vegetation' blooms at Villa Terrac“Current Tendencies II: Artists from Milwaukee” at the Haggerty
By Kat Murrell

Current Tendencies II: Artists from Milwaukee, newly opened at the Haggerty Museum of Art, is a curated potluck of work by ten Milwaukee-based artists. The pieces on view trend toward large-scale, expansive installations, with some quirky humor and pleasant surprises.

Jordan Waraksa “Untitled.” Zebrawood, walnut, steel.
Like many Haggerty exhibitions, the art starts happening as soon as you enter the door. Julian Correa has charge of the opening salvo with Contents Under Pressure, a combination of a sculptural (and rather carnival-esque) representation of an exploding spray paint can and panel paintings hung high upon the walls. There are lot of objects competing for attention, but some of the most gripping moments are in the grisaille background, with figures and images that are anything but wallflowers.

Two particularly strong installations bookend the exhibition, beginning with artist and musician Jordan Waraksa’s sparse but satisfyingly rich combination of sound and sculpture. Elegant conical zebrawood forms sit in twisted balance as music, combining strains of classical and folk-tinged songs, emanates from within. The visuals are arresting enough, the but music firmly roots the visitor to the space. This little gallery may be a favorite place to pause on repeated stops this autumn season.

13 Views of a Journey, Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger

13 Views of a Journey, Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger

Another of the smaller gallery spaces that stands out is the technologically savvy work of Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern. 13 Views of a Journey is more than a digital collage, more than moving images. Combining references of the contemporary world and historical works by artists such as Eadweard Muybridge and Utagawa Hiroshige, the piece sends the viewer on a journey, moving forward yet back in time.

Tactile sensibilities are played up in the fabric work of Sharon Kerry-Harlan, as textures and words circle around explorations of the the human face. Lisa Hecht brings together eye-dazzling patterned wallpaper and obliquely probing questions, while Mark Brautigam’s photographs seem straightforward until you start getting into the details. Humor and puzzles are to be found in works by Will Pergl, Reginald Baylor, and the charming, hilarious, and poignant drawings of Luc Leplae.

So what are the “Current Tendencies,” so to speak? They range freely over a wide range of disciplines and mediums. But generally, there is a sense of looking outward, to social commentary and response, telling a story or sending a message. This reflects a momentary cross section of Milwaukee’s creative energy, but this exhibition creates a unique touchstone as time, as well as art, marches on.

Read all of “Current Tendencies II: Artists from Milwaukee” at the Haggerty in context

Current Tendencies II

Current Tendencies II:

Museum Catalog

Title: Current Tendencies II: Artists From Milwaukee
Editor and curator: Lynne Shumow
Essays by: Bonnie Brennen, Roberta Coles, Ryan Hanley, Thomas Jablonsky, Jason Ladd, Richard Lewis, Danielle Nussberger, Melissa Shew and Larry Watson
Publisher: The Haggerty Museum
Date of Publication: 2011
Language: English
Download as PDF (4mb)
Available from the Haggerty Museum of Art, Milwaukee

Milwaukee Magazine

Milwaukee Magazine: Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger

Milwaukee Magazine rated the Current Tendencies exhibition at the Haggerty Museum of Art one of the top 5 things to do in the city for the Fall of 2011. Although uncredited, the included image is a detail of 13 Views of a Journey, a commission for the show by Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger.

Critical Mass

Critical Mass: Printmaking Beyond the Edge

Book on Contemporary Printmaking

Title: Critical Mass: Printmaking Beyond the Edge
Author: Richard Noyce
Publisher: A&C Black
Date of Publication: 2010
Language: English
ISBN: 978-1408109397
Order this book from Amazon.com

Bad At Sports

Bad at Sports Episode 244: Nathaniel Stern
by Duncan MacKenzie

“Bad at Sports is a weekly podcast produced in Chicago that features artists talking about art and the community that makes, reviews and critiques it. Shows are usually posted each weekend and can be listened to on any computer with an internet connection and speakers or headphones.”

This audio interview (available streaming from the site, or as a download to your computer or mp3 player) begins with Nathaniel Stern rapping a bit of Beastie Boys / Q-Tip, and quickly degrades to him lovingly poking fun at his dad. It’s actually a great interview, where you can hear some off the cuff chatting with Duncan MacKenzie about hektor.netDistill LifeCompressionismWikipedia Art,Given TimeDoin’ my part to lighten the load, and more. It’s good fun, with lots of tangential stories and jokes, and many mentions of good friends and colleagues. Enjoy!

listen to or download interview on B@S

Shepherd Express

Sheperd Express / Express Milwaukee feature on Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-GangerPast, Future Combine in ‘Print Press Play’
By Robert Tilley
This article appeared on the web and in the print edition.

“Print Press Play,” a collaboration between Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern that blends complex printmaking with 21st-century computer art, has opened at Elaine Erickson Gallery. As digital printmakers, they create images with tone, volume, color and dimension in rippling loops of “virtual” time with prints in motion, the new direction in printmaking.

These two nationally acclaimed artists reference the seascapes of Japan’s early-19th-century printmaker Hiroshige in The Multitude, an LCD-woodcut diptych with virtual “machinima” petrels climbing, circling and swooping from one screen to the other over a shimmering sunlit harbor.

Kinnickinnic is an intricate, remarkable work of images specific to Milwaukee. Two cameras mounted on the dash of a car, one focused forward and the other into the rearview mirror, capture video of Bay View street scenes. The video is then embedded into a traditional lithograph of the driver’s view through the windshield.

“Print Press Play” runs concurrently with other works from this series in “Distill Life” at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. With the delightful aquatint etching on copper plate, Meninas, the artists recall Velazquez in images of their studio, dancing through the doorway to meet viewers and invite them into their art.

see the original article online
see it in the print edition

MKE Journal Sentinel

milwaukee journal sentinel feature on wikipedia artStern and Meuninck-Ganger at MWA and Elaine Erickson
This article by Mary Louise Schumacher appeared in both the online and print editions of the MJS

Artists Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, professors of art at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, collaborate on artworks that combine some of the oldest and newest art forms.

They mount translucent prints and drawings on top of video monitors, which appear to bring moving images to life on paper. The juxtaposition of physical and virtual, tactile and electronic is wonderfully strange and novel.

Stern and Meuninck-Ganger have shown separately and together around the world. A show of their work opens Wednesday at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend. A second show “Print Press Play” opens Thursday at the Elaine Erickson Gallery, 207 E. Buffalo St.. An opening reception will be held at the Erickson Gallery from 6 to 8 p.m. and an artists’ talk at 6:30 p.m. I’ll be there!

read the entire article online
see it in the print edition

Rhizome.org

rhizome feature on wikipedia artOn Nathaniel Stern & Jessica Meuninck-Ganger’s “Passing Between” at AOP Gallery
by Christo Doherty

“This past month, Johannesburg’s AOP Gallery, a space devoted to works on paper, hosted the exhibition “Passing Between” which showcased the collaborative output between digital artist Nathaniel Stern and printmakerJessica Meuninck-Ganger. At the outset, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger approached the collaboration as a chance to learn each other’s techniques. But they quickly chose to focus on their own strengths in a process they call [Distill Life]. For Stern, the move toward printmaking comes from a long interest in the technique. In recent work, he has engaged with an expanded form of digital print making, using a hacked portable scanner to produce densely patterned sequences of natural images, in a project called Compressionism. For “Passing Between,” Stern concentrated on using digital photo frames as a medium for displaying loops of video obtained through live filming, and sampled machinima taken from Second Life. Meuninck-Ganger responded to the framed video loops with an encyclopedic range of printmaking techniques from wood block to mono print, silkscreen, etching, and photogravure. In some cases, she printed or [drew] directly on the screens of the digital photo frames; in other cases, the prints were layered over the screens creating a delicate conjunction between the fibers of the paper medium and the illumination of the underlying video. In The Gallerist, a prominent New York art dealer is portrayed anxiously perched on a [raft] in [the] middle of a lithograph while below the surface of the paper machinima sharks circle him endlessly.”

“The effect is both magical and subtle. Jessica’s images often capture a static moment from the subject matter of the video in etching or ink. The pleasure offered by the composite images comes from the interplay between the stasis of the printed image and the temporal flow of the video, producing witty and sometimes fascinating results. In the diptych [Twin City] the 2009 tornado is represented with an animated twister from Second Life. Jessica’s lithograph shows a flying pig coming to rest momentarily in alignment with its outline before whirling back to the beginning of the looped tornado. In general, the artist’s subject matter is deliberately low-key and it presents samples from their lives as artists and young parents in Milwaukee and Johannesburg exploring moments of fun, awkwardness and good humor. However, the rich range of techniques and visual allusions layered over the works also references an entire history of contemporary art and print making, ranging from Hokusai to Velazquez.”

see the original article

N Adams Transcript

north adams transcriptVirtual world crosses over to our own
This article by John E. Mitchell appeared in both the online and print editions of the North Adams Transcirpt.

ADAMS — Artist Nathaniel Stern likes to take media from the past and present and put them together without compromising the integrity of either, revealing them to be equal in artistic expression.

Stern’s show, “Arrested Time” — featuring work with collaborator Jessica Meuninck-Ganger — opens at Greylock Arts, 93 Summer St., tonight with a reception at 5:30. UPDATE: Due to a snow storm, the reception has been postponed until Saturday at 5:30. The show will feature two works — the large-scale installation “Given Time,” alongside some derivative work, and a collection of the self-described “monovids” done as part of an ongoing collaboration with Meuninck-Ganger.

“Given Time” is a screen projection featuring two life-sized avatars derived from the Internet community Second Life. This virtual space takes social networking like Facebook to a whole other level. Rather than being in the form of posting boards and messages, Second Life is like a freeform computer game in which the point of the play is to inhabit the space and get to know others around you.

Each member is represented in the three-dimensional screen world by a computer figure – an avatar – that is customized to his or her own desires based on templates supplied by Second Life. The service is the closest thing we have to a known parallel universe that we can perceive physically, rather than the more abstract psychological spaces provided by Web sites like Facebook.

Stern has used Second Life as a medium much like oil paint or marble, hand-drawing two Second Life avatars and pulling them from out of their universe and into ours. In the gallery, they exist on two large screens facing each other, and the viewer may only encounter them by walking between the screens. Thus the figures become actual existing beings in our own dimensional plane.

“Second Life became the perfect environment to situate this piece in, in that there is no time; there is no body, and yet you cannot access this space without a body,” Stern said during an interview this week. “There is no avatar without a person actually sitting there. Here, the viewer lends their body to the piece, and they become the avatar – and there’s this feedback loop where the avatar we’re looking at we’re only seeing through the other avatar’s eyes.”

The result comes from the culmination of Stern’s physical artistic efforts, combined with the more difficult realm of computer coding.

“I imagined the avatars to be very visceral and older and not as beautiful as they are,” Stern said. “The problem was that when I sketched that out, people didn’t recognize it as Second Life, and so what I wound up doing was basing it on actual avatars in Second Life and drawing on those so they still had the shape and the pretty-boy aspects, and they were recognized as being in a virtual space while still being hand-drawn.”

He added, “Making those hand-drawn elements was very difficult to figure out how to do it and put it on an avatar – making an avatar translucent actually isn’t possible in Second Life, so we had to find a lot of work-arounds in order to accomplish that. Because of those work-arounds, we weren’t able to use the built-in breathing and winking that comes with avatars. We had to hand-write our own scripted animations and introduce histograms and probability factors to make sure the blinking wasn’t perfectly timed and always in the same interval and things like that.”

The technique of building a totally customized figure through Second Life is reliant on a technical understanding of how the figures are structured. Prims are single-part digital objects that are used to create portions of a Second Life figure – for instance, hair – by attaching them to the animated figure.

“What people very often wind up doing – and what we wound up doing – is we actually shrink the avatar down to very small size and make them invisible and then put prims on top of the avatar that are built onto it,” said Stern. “The most complex avatars are actually almost entirely prims – they’re avatars that are tiny and invisible, and you attach things to their body.”

Stern was inspired by Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ work “Untitled (Perfect Lovers),” a minimalist piece that featured two clocks together, slowly winding down to their deaths – it was inspired by news of Gonzales-Torres’ partner’s diagnosis of being HIV-positive.

“Part of the beauty and the devastation, once you find out what these clocks are pointing to, is that they are precisely not anthropomorphized until you know, and then there’s that shift and that visceral wrenching on your stomach,” Stern said. “Once the decision was made to use this medium, then the depth and the layers aren’t going to be the same as they are with ‘Given Time.’ It’s not going to be this amazing shift once you hear this story but rather much softer layers that you slowly dig out to feel it. Hopefully, because of their enveloping experience, that can become more visceral. Rather than seeing two clocks on the wall, you actually enter between two projections.”

Stern’s work with Meuninck-Ganger involves a variation on the practice of monoprints that includes video screens. There are two different types of work in this body. In both, Stern and Meuninck-Ganger created video animations to display in digital photo frames. The variations are that, in one, the team painted directly on the video screen, while in the other, Meuninck-Ganger utilized her skills as a printmaker to create a translucent paper work that is permanently attached to the video screen.

“I had already figured out the technology of which screens were going to work when she started working on the technology of the papers,” Stern said, “but in terms of each work, we usually worked on the video and on the drawing at the same time. Sometimes we would just shoot a video and it would be cool. Sometimes we’d have an idea and would sketch it out, but because of the way things had to line up and decisions about the size of the screens and the size of the plates, everything had to be worked on simultaneously.”

Stern and Meuninck-Ganger use the same video for an ongoing series of their monovids. What distinguishes the works is a different drawing on each, done with Sharpie paint markers right on the video screen.

“The particular video that we’ve been using for this monovid is one I took over the Atlantic Ocean, where you can see the railing of the boat cutting across the screen and then rolling waves behind it,” Stern said. “We’ll sometimes put sea serpents in the water or boats in the water or little fish bowls in the water or swans in the water, and we’ll just draw those right on the screen.”

The other side of the work involves backgrounds for the images on the frames. Stern has used Second Life for this, as well, and this has helped him realize that old technologies are still technologies: It is not out of the question for the old and new to find common ground in order to fabricate an entirely fresh form of art built on varying stages of technology. More importantly to Stern, digital progression does not rule out the more physical arts.

“A lot of people talk to me as if I’m this super tech geek – I am, but just because computers are thought of as a technology, people forget that ink and paper, that kind of stuff, is a technology, too,” he said. “Yes, I sometimes speak over Jessica’s head, but she sometimes speaks over mine. I have no idea what she is doing in that back room.”

It’s in this nexus of the two ends of art technology that a warmth has been created – digital technology has been brought into the human senses and is related as such, emotionally. It’s a huge leap forward in not only the presentation of creativity, but also the harnessing of it – and Stern points out that it’s not unattainable to those from outside its realm; it just takes an effort to use it as a material in an artist’s creative arsenal.

“That’s where our technology is coming now – you can feel it,” Stern said. “It used to be that you couldn’t just feel technology; you had to know how it worked in order to make something interesting; whereas we have this new generation growing up with technology. You can feel what’s working or not. And some people just have to work harder.”

Nathaniel Stern can be found online at nathanielstern.com.


Caption: Stern’s Second Life avatars, Ross and Felix, in their digital environment.

(c) 2010 North Adams Transcript. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Media NewsGroup, Inc. by NewsBank, Inc.
Record Number: 14475092

Mail & Guardian

Passing Between: Mail and Guardian reviewProfundity and plasticity for the greedy
This article by Chris Roper appeared in both the online and print editions of the Mail & Guardian. Also see their online video feature.

“Jessica, a trained and practiced printmaker, had a growing interest in new media, time and space, and Nathaniel continued to investigate composite work that lives between the digital and traditional.”

Good grief. Is this a homage to that fateful first meeting of Princess Leia and R2D2? No, it is the opening paragraph to the catalogue for Passing Between, the collaborative show by Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern now playing at the Art on Paper gallery.

Time and space, you say? To the Batcave! Ah, artspeak. You can get tired of it, although it is useful when you’re in the mood to poke fun. But, sadly, there is no other way of doing justice to works that demand critical respect. And despite the disturbing image I’ve just conjured, of Stern as a chirping, egg-shaped robot, he and his collaborator earn our respect with this show.

The work is funny, pretty and accessible, but it’s also complicated, surprising, exceedingly well crafted and rewards a long-term relationship. That’s your cue to rush out and buy a piece, take it home and plug it in.

I’d better take a stab at describing the pieces in the gallery, although it would be easier all round if you checked out the video of the work on www.mg.co.za/stern. Basically, it’s a new-media mash-up. Paraphrasing the artists’ own description: they mount translucent prints and drawings on top of video screens, creating moving pictures on paper.

That doesn’t do justice to, for example, the mesmerising, joyful experience of watching insubstantial sharks endlessly circling The Gallerist. He’s depicted kneeling on some driftwood in the middle of the ocean while sketchy vultures hover ominously. And there’s a perfect beauty to The Great Oak, the central image of which is a drawing of a sturdy tree, already complicated by the digital echo of itself, counterpointed by ghostly figures leaping at its base.

The players are ordinary digital photo frames, LCD screens, PC monitors. If it wasn’t for the old-media interventions of the artists, you could call this Apple art—designed in the United States, made in China. And that’s not an insulting description. Stern has a history of online interventions that flatten out easy categories of valuing art and that make evaluating this show’s output a much more interesting proposition.

Last year he and collaborator Scott Kildall put up a page on Wikipedia called Wikipedia Art, a self-referential artwork, editable by anyone, that achieved its legitimacy by the publication of articles about itself on other websites. A clever interrogation of Wikipedia’s standards and what constitutes archival know-ledge, it resulted in a running battle with Wikipedia editors and a legal challenge on trademark infringement. According to Wikipedia (ha), this saga eventually became an artwork and was included in 2009’s Venice Biennale.

So when you wander around the show at the misnamed Art on Paper, or if you’re lucky enough to have one of these works on your wall, you can choose. Do you just want to enjoy the playful nature of a piece such as Twin City—whoah! Here comes the flying cow again!—or do you want to meditate on the nature of the loop, which “without origin or telos … interweaves the work’s time with the spectator’s as rhythm rather than succession”?

I know, you’re a 21st-century art lover, so you want it all—profundity and plasticity, facile conversation piece and deep worth. Greedy. But with this work, you can have it all and, in true hypertextual style, leap from moment to moment, constantly recreating desire and satisfaction, in much the same way as the looped video constantly re-enacts the pleasure of watching.

Passing Between shows at Art on Paper, 44 Stanley Avenue, Milpark, Johannesburg, until February 27

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see the print edition

Passing Between

Passing Between catalogue, Nathaniel Stern + Jessica Meuninck-Ganger

Exhibition Catalogue and DVD

Title: Passing Between / Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger
Essay: Nicole Ridgway
Design: Jeff Ganger and Jesse Egan
Documentary Videos: Sean Kafer
Music: Michael Szpakowski
Publisher: Gallery AOP
Date of Publication: 2010
Language: English
ISBN: 978-0-620-45908-2
Download as PDF (4 mb)
Available from Gallery AOP, Johannesburg

Videos on the included DVD

This 6 and a half minute video features the artists discussing their work together in their studios in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. It was shot and edited in late 2009 by Sean Kafer, with an original musical score by Michael Szpakowski.

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This 4 and a half minute video features documentation of all 14 works on the Passing Between exhibition at Gallery AOP, Johannesburg South Africa. It was shot and edited in late 2009 by Sean Kafer, with an original musical score by Michael Szpakowski.

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lithograph, LCD with video
10 x 14 x 2 inches, 2009
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern

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etching, sugarlift, LCD with video + machinima
11 x 14 inches, 2009
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern

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photo etching, LCD with video
11 x 14 inches, 2009
Jessica Meuninck-Ganger and Nathaniel Stern

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This 2 minute video briefly features all 14 works by Nathaniel Stern and Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, for the Passing Between exhibition at Gallery AOP Johannesburg. It was shot and edited in late 2009 by Sean Kafer, with an original musical score by Michael Szpakowski.

Download this video (mp4, 21.5mb)

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