New York is Now (2006)
By Paul D. Miller a.k.a. Dj Spooky that Subliminal Kid
NEW YORK IS NOW an installation at the Venice Biennial Africa Pavilion.
Photos from Paul D. Miller installation of New York is Now, Michaelis School of Fine Art.
Exhibition from February 24 to March 10, 2008
Michaelis School of Fine Art University of Cape Town
32 to 37 Orange Street Gardens, Cape Town
Especially created for the Luanda Triennial in 2006, Paul D. Miller’s
“New York is Now (2006) is a response to the conditions
art reflects in the 21st century’s fast paced and completely
networked global culture. Miller has long been at home on the
global scene of digital culture – as a writer, artist and
musician, his work has focused on the intricate relationships
between what he views as urban culture’s uncanny relationship
to the production processes of digital media. With “New
York is Now” he explores how memory works in tandem with
found archival footage to create a tapestry of a city made of
improvisations, disjunctions, and multiple rhythms.
Inspired by Ornette Coleman’s classic free jazz album of
1968, Miller has gone through thousands of film portraits of the
city that has inspired his work. New York has long been considered
a global starting point for many of the most important artists
of the last century, and Miller starts with the poem “Mannahatta”
by Walt Whitman and rapidly moves through a series of architectural
invocations that leave the viewer with a sense that the “city”
for Miller, like Coleman, is a structure made of many rhythms,
some local, some global, - all syncopated to a collage based aesthetic.
For the Luanda Triennial, Miller creates a collage tapestry of
New York through the prism of jazz, and found footage appropriated
from material as diverse as Duke Ellington’s “Harlem
Tone Poem,” Hans Arp’s “Rhythmus 21,”,Situationist
architect Constant’s “Manifesto for a New Babylon,”
Marcel Duchamp’s “Anemic Cinema,” Meilies “l’homme
orchestre,” Thomas Edison’s portraits of the electrification
of Coney Island, George Antheil’s “Ballet Mechanique”and
many other bits and pieces from the 20th century.
In essence, “New York is Now” is a video portrait
of a New York at the edge of the recorded imagination –
a city made of many rhythms and tempos. Miller’s composition
looks at history, cinema, and how the we think about urbanism
in the 21st century. The science fiction writer William Gibson
once wrote “the future is already here, it’s just
unevenly distributed.” Miller reveals to us how much this
phrase has come to mean in the realm of digital media as an artform
that reveals many of the hidden connections between the way we
live in the 21st century’s media dense, global information
economy. “New York is Now” posits a place where all
these visions of the urban landscape exist simultaneously.
The U.S. participation in the First Luanda Trienal is
presented by the American Embassy, Luanda, and the Bureau of Educational
and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State, Washington,
D.C.; with the guidance and assistance of Laurie Ann Farrell,
Museum for African Art, New York.
Between Art and Artefact
by Sean O'Toole - Editor of Art South Africa
Interview with Paul D. Miller on his installation for "New York is Now"
Paul D Miller, aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal kid, is a new york-based electronic music composer with a habit of collaborating. Aside from Yoko Ono, Merzbow and Arto Lindsay, he has also worked with Fernando Alvie and Berni Searle.
In 2006 you participated in the first Luanda Triennial. Was it your first visit to the African continent?
I’d been to Africa several times before – one of the first times I visited was when I was 11. We went to Kenya, Egypt, Senegal and the Ivory Coast. What made everything so beautiful was the newness of the experience, also the eerily familiar spectacle of places like Goree Island in Senegal, or the desert outside of Cairo when you drive to the Pyramids, or the packed market places of downtown Nairobi. They all washed over me as a kid, and left an indelible mark. My Luanda project is a kind of excavation of certain memories – of old NYC as a faint impression left on 100 years of cinema, and my own memories of an Africa outside of the flow of my life experiences. They connected at the ‘happening’ that we presented. But hey, that’s what sampling and dj culture is about: you play with fragments, and make something new from the old.
What was the experience of performing New York is Now in Luanda like?
Well, tropical heat and computers don’t necessarily mesh that well. We had a flash rainstorm in the middle of the concert, and my computers almost got ruined, but beyond that, it was great to see how they responded to the downtown NYC flavaz. I love Angola! Hip hop there is all about bootlegs. DVD’s of stuff like The Lord of War drift off of cardboard box tops, where people sell everything from cigarettes – probably bootleg! – to the latest software patches for Hewlett-Packard laptops. With bootlegs, anything goes.
In 2006, you collaborated with Berni Searle on RoseLee Goldberg’s Performa
series of events. Can you elaborate a little on your impressions of working with Berni Searle.
Berni’s work is a kind of meditation on time. The piece she showed at Performa was a video that almost reminded me of blood flow and ocean currents. Her work moves at an elegant and slow pace. Mine is rushed and fragmented – a reflection, perhaps, of all the fragments we use to hold modern life together in the era of ubiquitous computing. I like being put in juxtaposition with radically different artists. The show was a conversation between different compositional strategies. My work is about a certain kind of pattern recognition – it stresses a deep and likely never to be resolved tension between art and artefact, between material goods, and the immaterial processes that we use to shape them. Like software!