Saturday, September 18, 2010

Art Week

It's been a week of (visual) art, that, with the opening of Liverpool Biennial last night, and the Abandon Normal Devices Festival next week, could become a month. It might be because it's so comprehensively at the heart of Arts Council thinking (and funding) but it sometimes feels that visual arts is a colonising force, trying to co-opt other art forms into it's aesthetic sphere. This, by the way, is not necessarily a bad thing, as visual art has made a very strong case for itself over the last decade or more for its "importance" - something that poetry for instance, or contemporary music, could learn from. A visual arts aesthetic, and the accompanying culture of critical discourse around it, is something we can all benefit from.

The highlight of the week - and a highpoint for Manchester this autumn - is the opening of the Rafael Lozano-Hemmer exhibition at Manchester Art Gallery. Taking over the entire top floor, a mixture of new and old works, all of which he categorises as "Recorders" (the title of the exhibition.) Technically complex, but emotionally simple, by appearing in the city's most traditional of galleries, there's a real "mainstreaming" of digital or electronic artistic practice. More on this exhibition some other time, as I need to go back, in my own time. He's talking about his work at the Whitworth gallery later this afternoon.

Art can sometimes seem temporary - an exhibition come and goes - yet, for an artist the art remains, part of ongoing practice. So it was great to be able to help with showcasing the Windhorse project, which, having hung in All Saints Park as part of a previous exhibition with the Cornerhouse, had now been ported into the virtual environment Second Life.

What is fascinating about both these exhibitions is how the distinctions between what is a "digital" and what is an "analogue" project are being broken down, a breakdown being made explicit in one of the ANDFestival events "Analogue is the new digital" next week. As someone who called one of my compilation albums Digital-Analogue (reflecting the recording techniques used), its remains an interest.

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