LAURIE ANDERSON INTERVIEW: A VIRTUALITY OF STORIES, via Louisiana Channel, 2017

Notes from Louisiana Channel:

In this exclusive video, Laurie Anderson presents her prizewinning virtual reality work from 2017: “I wanted to see what it would be like to travel through stories, to make the viewer feel free,” the legendary multimedia artist says.

Laurie Anderson’s ‘Chalkroom’ (2017) has been created in collaboration with the Taiwanese artist Hsin-Chien Huang. In ‘Chalkroom’ it is possible to float around virtually and to explore a hand-drawn universe of sentences and words written in chalk on the walls, guided all the while by Laurie Anderson’s voice – stories and storytelling are at the heart of the work.

You can interact in different ways and e.g. experience letters intermittently floating towards you: “Like snow, they’re there to define the space and to show you a little bit about what it is. But they’re actually fractured languages, so it’s kind of exploded things.” The most important aspect of working in virtual reality for Anderson was the fact that this technology enables you to fly, “like in your dreams.” Anderson feels that everything that she’s ever done is about one thing: disembodiment. In virtual reality, this is even more evident, as you become the ultimate viewer, who has amazing abilities such as flying: “My goal is to make an experience that frees you.”

Being inside Anderson’s VR work is an isolated experiment not unlike reading a book, and one of the things that make it different is that it isn’t task-oriented but rather “visually dazzling.” Another difference is that it isn’t as “perfect, slick and shiny” as VR is in general: “The reason it’s ‘chalk room’ is it has a certain tactility and made-by-hand kind of thing, and it’s the opposite of what virtual reality usually is, which is distant and very synthetic. So this is gritty and drippy and filled with dust and dirt.” Moreover, Hsin-Chien Huang – who is responsible for the extensive programming – made it full of never-ending secrets: “’Chalkroom’ is a library of stories, and no one will ever find them all.”

Laurie Anderson (b. 1947) is a legendary award winning multimedia artist based in New York. Initially trained as a sculptor, she has worked with painting, music, multimedia shows, drawings, operas, electronic software, theatre, films and installations throughout her career. Anderson became widely known outside the art world with her single ‘O Superman’, which reached number two on the UK pop charts in 1981. She is considered a pioneer of electronic music and is praised for her unique spoken word albums and multimedia art pieces. Among her most recent work is the film ‘Heart of a Dog’ (2015). In 2017 under the name of ‘La Camera Insabbiata’, ‘Chalkroom’ won for ‘Best VR Experience’ at the Venice Film Festival. Anderson’s visual work has been presented in major museums throughout the United States and Europe. From May 2017 Laurie Anderson’s ’Chalkroom’ is on view at the MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, USA. For more about Anderson see: http://www.laurieanderson.com/

Laurie Anderson was interviewed by Kasper Bech Dyg at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Denmark in connection with ‘Chalkroom’ being shown as part of the Louisiana Literature festival 23 – 27 August 2017. Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard & Simon Weyhe Produced and edited by: Kasper Bech Dyg Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art Supported by Nordea-fonden

Nobuyuki Wakabayashi: Adam & Eve, self-published, 1970, *via @solitudeofravens (instagram)

Screen Shot 2017-09-14 at 4.56.17 PMNobuyuki Wakabayashi was born in 1939 in Okayama City, Japan. He became a member of the Japan Professional Photographers Association and held his first solo exhibition in 1962.  Published images of his work are very difficult to find, but thanks to the instagram page @solitudeofravens, (who shares images of post-war japanese “new” photography from their photobook/magazine collection), here are a joined pair of photographs entitled Adam & Eve from 1970.

PIETER HUGO AND NIGERIA’S HYENA HANDLERS: PORTRAITS OF THE GADAWAN KURA

“These photographs came about after a friend emailed me an image taken on a cellphone through a car window in Lagos, Nigeria, which depicted a group of men walking down the street with a hyena in chains. A few days later I saw the image reproduced in a South African newspaper with the caption ‘The Streets of Lagos’. Nigerian newspapers reported that these men were bank robbers, bodyguards, drug dealers, debt collectors. Myths surrounded them. The image captivated me.” -Pieter Hugo

 

Pieter Hugo first learned of Nigeria’s Gadawan Kura, or hyena handlers, in 2003 when he received an image taken on a cell phone camera depicting several of these men with their beasts in the streets of Lagos. A newspaper in Hugo’s native South Africa published a similar image and identified the men as debt collectors, drug dealers, and thieves who enlisted hyenas as muscle in support of their criminal activities. With the help of friends in Nigeria, Hugo found the group in a shantytown outside of the capital, Abuja. They were not necessarily criminals, but rather what Hugo describes in an artist’s statement as “itinerant minstrels… a group of men, a little girl, three hyenas, four monkeys and a few rock pythons,” who subsist by staging performances and selling traditional medicine. Hugo traveled with the group for weeks at a time over the course of two years, taking a series of portraits of the men posing with their animals.

Much of Hugo’s work documents life on the peripheries of African societies, addressing the complex political realities of race and identity through the conventions of portraiture. The circumscribed scope of the genre forces an engagement on the level of the individual, an approach that skirts both sentimentality and the journalistic impulse to explain. He has photographed inhabitants of border towns and civil war zones, farm workers, and migrants, in each case rendering social flux and marginalization with reference to the human face and figure.

In Hugo’s series on the Gadawan Kura, entitled “The Hyena and Other Men,” the subjects are also animals. The titles of the photographs include the names of both the humans and animals depicted along with a reference to the various cities in Nigeria where the images where taken. These double portraits describe a trans-species relationship unfolding in a setting of poverty and uncontrolled urbanization. They constitute a stark tableau of life on the margins, but also raise questions of how and to what extent this life can be something shared by human and non-human subjects.

– Will Smith, The Hyena And Other Men, Museomagazine.com