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Exploring the Intersection of Art and Technology with FAX
Peter Coffin, Untitled, 2009.
BALTIMORE, MD.- The Contemporary Museum will explore the potential of the fax machine as a device for creating, transmitting, and distributing an artist’s ideas and images with FAX, announced Contemporary Museum Executive Director Irene Hofmann. The exhibition will feature more than 120 fax-based works, on view from September 12 through December 20, 2009. The Contemporary is the first institution to host FAX during its national tour.

In FAX, the exhibition’s dedicated fax machine will continually receive and print incoming communications by artists from around the world. As faxed artworks arrive, they will be added to the gallery walls. In addition to the hundreds of faxed images, the exhibition will include the inevitable transmission errors and junk faxes received during the run of the show.

The exhibition invites visitors to explore artists’ creative expression through their drawings and to consider ideas of reproduction, originality and distribution.

FAX will feature works created by more than 120 international artists, designers, architects, scientists, and filmmakers who utilize the fax machine as a thinking and drawing tool. Visitors will see drawings, text, and collage works from contributors including Joseph Grigley, John Armleder, Fia Backstrom, Barbara Bloom, Liam Gillick, Glenn Ligon, and Kay Rosen. Included in the diverse roster of contributing artists are 20 Baltimore-based artists including Hugh Pocock, Leslie Furlong and Soledad Salamé.

Concurrent with FAX, the Contemporary will present teenFAX, an exhibition that features the fax-based works of Baltimore area high school students. Using lesson plans provided by the Contemporary’s new online teacher portal and presented during curriculum workshops at the museum, teachers will engage students in drawing projects that explore the relationship between art and technology. Participating high school classes will be invited to fax their works to the museum for inclusion in the teenFAX gallery installation.

FAX invites a multigenerational group of artists, as well as architects, designers, scientists and filmmakers, to conceive of the fax machine as a tool for thinking and drawing. Although the technology for transmitting printed images and texts over distance dates from the nineteenth century—a machine by Scottish mechanic Alexander Bain patented in 1843—it was the introduction of the modern fax through commercially available machines in the 1970s that turned facsimiles into a ubiquitous communications medium for international business. Artists readily exploited its immediate, graphic, and interactive character, making it an important part of the history of telecommunications art, nestled between the legacy of mail art and the nascent practices of new media.

Faxes by nearly 100 artists sent to the initial showing of FAX at The Drawing Center will form the core of the exhibition, including seminal examples of early telecommunications art. Each institution on the tour will invite up to twenty additional artists to submit works, which will be presented at all successive venues. These works may be transmitted to each participating institution’s working fax line throughout the duration of the exhibition. The active accumulation of information—received in real time, in the exhibition space—will include drawings and texts, and even the inevitable junk faxes from telemarketers and local businesses as well. All the transmitted pages will be archived or displayed together with the active fax machine, which may produce new faxes from invited artists at any moment. The result—an ongoing cumulative project—is a show concerned with ideas of reproduction, obsolescence, distribution, and mediation. Here, reproducible yet erratic production via the fax machine displaces traditional notions of the hand‚ still commonly associated with the medium of drawing, and foregrounds the role of drawing as a generative process.

The exhibition is curated by João Ribas, curator of The Drawing Center in New York, and is accompanied by an illustrated catalogue co-published by iCI and The Drawing Center.

João Ribas is curator at The Drawing Center in New York and an art critic. Among his recent projects are an exhibition of Matt Mullican’s work, 2008; New Economy, 2007; and Ryan Gander: Loose Associations, 2007. He has also created an online platform for experimental film and durational work called Expanded Cinema. Ribas teaches at the School of Visual Arts in New York.

Participating artists:

Julieta Aranda, John Armleder, Roy Ascott, Tauba Auerbach, Fia Backström, Darren Bader, Cecil Balmond, BANK, Colby Bird, Pierre Bismuth, Barbara Bloom, Mel Bochner, Tobias Buche, Ian Burns, Cabinet Magazine, Etienne Chambaud, Peter Coffin, Jan De Cock, Collage Center West, Liz Deschenes, Helen Evans &, Heiko , Hansen, Morgan Fisher, Claire Fontaine, Yona Friedman, Aurélien Froment, Ryan Gander, Liam Gillick, Marissa Gonzalez, Joseph Grigely, João Maria Gusmão & Pedro Paiva, Wade Guyton, Charline von Heyl, Matthew Higgs, Eduardo Kac, Matthew Keegan, Tom Klinkowstein, Germaine Kruip

Exhibition Itinerary:

Contemporary Museum, Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland
September 12 – December 20, 2009

Torrance Art Museum
Torrance, California
January 14 – February 20, 2010


Contemporary Museum | fax | Tobias Buche | Ian Burns | Cabinet Magazine | Etienne Chambaud | Peter Coffin | Jan De Cock |




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