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http://picturesoundtext.ytmnd.com

 

In the recent, generally dismal show titled The Generational: Younger than Jesus at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York, there were a few artists that stood out. One of the most refreshing and engaging was certainly Guthrie Lonergen. Lonergan, a Los Angeles-based artist, has an eclectic body of work that is smart, poetic, ironic, and conceptual in orientation. Working in video and media art in myriad strategies including appropriation, intervention and an uncanny admixture that is difficult to pinpoint because of its seemingly screen grab quality, Lonergan may be the progeny of Cory Arcangel. It is absurd to even think that there is a generation after Arcangel so soon.

http://www.guthrielonergan.com

After all, Arcangel first emerged some eight years ago? But the compression and/or elongation of temporality, which is an ontological trope that media artists pulverize, has rapidly given birth to a whole slew of media artists. Such is the case with Lonergan, who has configured an aesthetic that can be described as techno-luddite, in that his tweaking of the medium in so many different ways seems to be antithetical to media art’s teleology and techno-philia. His spot on works allude to something anachronistic, yet they concomitantly engage current technologies that saturate our contemporary milieu.    

And/Or Show #22: YTMND Paul Slocum, Max Goldberg, and Guthrie Lonergan March 2009

And/Or Show #22: YTMND Paul Slocum, Max Goldberg, and Guthrie Lonergan March 2009

Take, for example, one version of a video piece titled Acapella (2009). The video commences with a rotating hourglass set within a blue background as the Police’s Sting  sings S.O.S., albeit devoid of music hence the title. Other elements that appear include a person gesturing with their hands truncated from the arms down, a rotating pair of pliers, a white picket fence, a slowly twirling basketball, an apple making circular movements, a hand seen up-close and descending downwards, and a waving checkered flag and popcorn which eventually culminates with leaves that appear to blow across the screen. The only continuous element that threads these disparate, random images is the soundtrack and time code running throughout the video’s duration. The ostensibly inconsequential iconography is both banal yet intriguing, though on further thought they seem to deflect the dialectic of the audio and the timer.

And/Or Show #22: YTMND Paul Slocum, Max Goldberg, and Guthrie Lonergan March 2009

The song and dance, if you will, between Sting’s haunting voice and plea via SOS and the cognizance of the rapidity of time, is existential and even creates a kind of memento mori effect: for the song ceases to be only about melancholy and loss. As the soundtrack edges towards its completion, we are reminded of its cessation where it becomes metaphor for death. This is often the scenario that Lonergan creates for us with verve and aplomb: low tech, high concept. In this sense, his work can be seen as the media art equivalent of Arte Povera.

http://www.theageofmammals.com/2009/acapella2.html

Guthrie Lonergan is also endeared to intervening into a broad range of existing material, genres and formats found on the Internet including videos loaded up on Youtube. This assisted readymade strategy is, however, either extremely apparent such as his Cover This Youtube in Blood (2003) or stealthily executed underscored in Mall March (2007). Guthrie Lonergan’ s modus operandi that runs the gamut of textual descriptions of artworks on Twitter, to an ascii Ouija board, to speeded up Bob Dylan Karaoke files, and just about anything in between, is situating him as an artist definitely worth watching. His poetic and cerebral corpus with its reconfiguration of picture, sound, and text, maybe singular in focus, but it is not…well…you know….a faggy short film.        

http://picturesoundtext.ytmnd.com

http://www.theageofmammals.com

http://www.guthrielonergan.com 

By Raul Zamudio



Raul Zamudio, curator and critic, is co-curator of the upcoming 2009 Beijing 798 Biennale, and co-curator of 2008 Seoul Media Biennial and artistic director, Yeosu International Contemporary Art Festival. He is New York correspondent for EYEBALL.


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