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December 14, 2005

Image Breakers Abound

Klein Gallery: 'Destroyed'

Just as the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is witnessed in the process of destroying its own artwork to make room for its new addition, I just received a bizarre email from the University of Pennsylvania's Esther M. Klein Art Gallery:

The current group show at the University Of Pennsylvania's Esther M. Klein Gallery was destroyed during the night of December 12th, and the gallery has been closed until further notice. Philadelphia artist Albo Jeavons has sent a statement to the gallery claiming that the vandalism was carried out by an "Autonomous Intelligent Artwork" under his control. We are updating our Website with information about this terrible situation as it becomes available.

The culprit has a website, if you even care to look. (Jeavons has gotten past mentions at Fallon and Rosof's artblog, as well, here and here.)

More, from the Klein Gallery's press release on the matter:

"We have included Albo's artwork in past exhibits but he was not in this show" said co-curator Amy Addams "he sent us a statement the night of the destruction claiming responsibility and explaining why he did it, but we're still kind of in shock over the whole thing" The statement from Jeavons explains how an "Autonomous Intelligent Artwork" called "The Corporation" was left in the gallery during business hours, waiting til after midnight to begin it's destructive spree. "The artwork in question is a semi-autonomous machine pseudo-intelligence, programmed to evaluate individual artworks and determine the least-noisy, most efficient way to eliminate them. Future versions of the work will be completely autonomous; once released they will continue to work until destroyed or decommissioned, and ideally will be fueled by the materials in the artworks that they are eliminating"

"The artwork that Albo showed here last month touched on some of the same themes, but we had no idea he was seriously contemplating this kind of action" says Addams. The communique from Jeavons goes on to explain that "We live in a world ruled by market forces, and artists need to get with the program and learn to compete on a levelled playing field. I want to succeed in the competitive Art World and that means eliminating the competition. I can't physically eliminate other artists, but I can eliminate art work that competes with mine. "The Corporation" is loose is in the world and I have only limited control over it's future actions. It will continue to search out and destroy work by other artists for as long as it can." Addams and Schimell acknowledge that no trace of "The Corporation" was found in the gallery.

The question of whether and when artists can "go too far" was the topic of a recent discussion on Chicago's Other Group listserv (a discussion someone has recently tried to revive). If this all proves true, I think we have a bona fide contender right here.

I mean, does this thing sound like physical computing art's first malignant virus/trojan or what?

Or does it just sound like an elaborate put-on? (The thought has most certainly crossed my mind. The theme for the destroyed show—"The Faux Show"—was "simulation," after all.)

Update 6:28 pm... Of course, upon further reflection, I'm now thoroughly reassured that it's all just a conceptual hoax—though not until I went back and reread a few telling lines in the above that my eyes managed to skip over the first time through. To wit:

"The Corporation" is loose is in the world and I have only limited control over it's future actions. It will continue to search out and destroy work by other artists for as long as it can." Addams and Schimell acknowledge that no trace of "The Corporation" was found in the gallery.

Not only that but, where the press release has the date of destruction as December 12th, the gallery's website has it all happening on the 1st. Something someone missed in the final revision before going live?

What can I say? There's a sucker blogging every minute. This sure would have been one hell of a feat of engineering, though:

The artwork in question is a semi-autonomous machine pseudo-intelligence, programmed to evaluate individual artworks and determine the least-noisy, most efficient way to eliminate them.

I should say that I do hope the gallery is committed fully to this and does "leave the remains of the old work in place for the remainder of the show" without further tipping their hands.

"Image Breakers Abound"
Posted by Dan at 03:42 PM

Comments

This should answer some questions. I congratulated him though - it sounded plausible enough for me to check it out with Roberta.

Posted by: Franklin on December 16, 2005 at 08:52 PM



Referenced in this post:

Albo Jeavons
Art in America: LACMA revives expansion plans, thanks to Broad
Artblog: Ebb, flow and coagulation
Artblog: Fee fie faux
Artblog: How anti-corporate can you get?
Esther M. Klein Art Gallery
Esther M. Klein Art Gallery: Current Exhibition
LACMA
Modern Art Notes: LACMA deaccessioning, destroying
Other Group: August 2005—Mon Aug 22 12:29:11 CDT 2005
Other Group: December 2005—Sat Dec 10 14:31:30 CST 2005
Speed of Life: LACMA Garage Goes Down: Fragments and Memory