Track 16 Gallery presents

em/bedded

A multi-media installation by Alan Sondheim
with Leslie Thornton

May 27-June 24, 2006
Reception: Saturday, May 27, 6:00-9:00 p.m.
Performance: 8:00 p.m. Free

About the installation

In his first solo exhibition in California, Alan Sondheim, along with filmmaker Leslie Thornton, will transform Track 16 Gallery’s cavernous main gallery into the multi-media installation, em/bedded. Sondheim brings together video projections of cyborgian, mutating, sexual bodies and the artifacts of battlefields soaked in banal horror. Together, they offer a distorted beauty of the disasters of war and the pleasures of love. Guest curated by Tyler Stallings.

Scattered amongst the video projections of furiously moving dancers, of sexual confrontations, of computer generated “avatars,” there will be antennae, battlefield telephones, off-kilter combat tents, photographs of battleships, trenches, and bodies, souvenirs taken from Japanese soldiers, old microscope slides, and antique book editions of du Maurier's Trilby, Confessions of a Magnetiseur, a Japanese pre-Meiji book of black and white block prints of Westerners, Volney's Ruins of Empire, and Albert Dreyfuss' Five Years of My Life. Together they all suggest attempts at communication amidst fortifications created around language and confinement.

Integral to the installation will be a large tent that contains Leslie Thornton’s recent video work, Let Me Count the Ways: Minus 10, Minus 9, Minus 8, Minus 7, Minus 6…. In this work, Thornton explores the social effects of new technologies and media, but here she pushes even further into autobiographical territory to suggest the ways in which we are all implicated in these changes. Juxtaposing aerial footage of pre-9/11 New York City; scientific data on genetic mutation; audio testimony about the bombing of Hiroshima, and a home movie of her father, an engineer on the Manhattan Project, as he is dispatched to that city, Thornton creates a dense and compelling meditation on violence.

Like nomads, Sondheim and Thornton create an ensemble of videos and the physical remains of history that traverse the landscape of memory and time. The work occurs in the far future - mutations, extinctions, broken spaces of information. The work occurs in the past - organisms huddled as if protected against the fury of the world, primitive electrical machines tuned into atmosphere and universe. In em/bedded, the distorted bodies are our own of course, in the present, of course. em/bedded offers no solution - there isn't any - but presents a distorted beauty of its own within an image storm that is a continuous splay, spew, emission, of violence, sexuality, and cloned grotesques.

About the performance at 8:00 p.m.

Alan Sondheim will present em/bedded (assembled performance) (45 mins. approximately). It consists of a laptop performance that deals with political, sexual, and cyber issues. He runs video/audio/text segments from a laptop in combinatory fashion, typing a real-time commentary at screen bottom. The result is an extended body, the digital problematized by analog, purity by error, language by language-stumbling. He uses various avatars who “live” in a world that has collapsed into pixel- annihilation.

About the artists and the curator

Alan Sondheim's work is trans-media; his emphasis is on writing, theory, and digital performance.

His books include the anthology Being on Line: Net Subjectivity (Lusitania, 1996), Disorders of the Real (Station Hill, 1988), echo (alt-X digital arts, 2001), Vel (Blazevox 2004-5), Sophia (Writers Forum, 2004), Orders of the Real (Writers Forum, 2005), and The Wayward (Salt, 2004) as well as numerous other chapbooks, ebooks, and articles. His video and film have been widely exhibited. Sondheim co-moderates several pioneering email lists, including Cybermind, Cyberculture and Wryting. Since 1994, he has been working on an Internet Text, a continuous meditation on philosophy, psychology, language, body, and virtuality. In 1999, Sondheim was the 2nd Virtual Writer in Residence for the Trace online writing community (Nottingham-Trent University, England). In 2004, he was a resident of the Center for Literary Computing and the Virtual Environments Laboratory at West Virginia University, and in 2005 he was resident artist/writer at Grand Central Art Center in Santa Ana. He produced two CDs at the latter (his older records have been reissued by ESP-Disk and Fire Museum). In 2001, Sondheim assembled a special issue of the America Book Review on Codework, which was seminal in its genre. He is currently working with the Swiss dancer/ choreographer Foofwa d'Imobilite on new work to be premiered in Switzerland and Italy in summer 2006. Sondheim lives in Brooklyn, New York.

Text and image of his work can be found a the following URLS:

Leslie Thornton is an internationally acclaimed media artist working in film, video, photography and installation. Her conceptually rigorous and lush work explores the outer parameters of ethnographic and narrative form, and consistently breaks new ground. She was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. She studied with filmmakers Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, Stan Brakhage and Richard Leacock. Her numerous awards include the Maya Deren Lifetime Achievement Award, the first Alpert Award in the Arts for media and grants and fellowships from the Rockefeller Foundation, the NEA, NYSCA, NYFA, and The Jerome Foundation. Thornton's film and media works have been exhibited worldwide, in such venues as The Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Biennial Exhibition, Centre George Pompidou, capcMusée Bordeaux, and at the Pacific Film Archives. Festivals include The Rotterdam International Film Festival, The New York Film Festival and the film festivals of  Oberhausen, Graz, Mannheim, Berlin, Austin, Toronto, Tokyo and Seoul.  Thornton is Professor of Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. She lives and works in New York City and Providence, Rhode Island.

Tyler Stallings, the guest curator for em/bedded, is an artist, curator, and writer. He has been the chief curator at Laguna Art Museum since 1999. His curatorial projects focus on contemporary art and popular culture. Past exhibitions that he has organized include: The Juxtapoz School: An Art Movement (upcoming); Whiteness, A Wayward Construction (2003); Surf Culture—The Art History of Surfing (2002);Cyborg Manifesto, or the Joy of Artifice (2001); Sandow Birk's 'In Smog and Thunder: Historical Works from the Great War of California' (2000); Rubén Ortiz Torres: Desmothernismo (1998); Kara Walker: African't (1997); Robert Williams: New Work (1997); among others. He is also the co-editor of the anthology, Uncontrollable Bodies: Testimonies of Identity and Culture  (Seattle: Bay Press, 1994). Stallings is also an artist who has shown in Los Angeles, New York, and Europe. Concurrent with em/bedded, Stallings has a solo exhibition of his new paintings at Newspace Gallery in Los Angeles, May 9-June 17, 2006.

em/bedded has also been made possible by additional collaborations with Azure Carter, Foofwa d'Imobilite, and Thomas Zummer.