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Sights and sounds, the changing illusion of the world in which
we live, and the world that lives
only in the mind, are the basic materials of film creation.
The full flow of color, sound, synthesized form, plastic form, light and
picture poetry have in no way begun to be explored in man’s
range of experience.

–Stan VanDerBeek, “Re:Vision,” The American Scholar 35, no. 22 (1966): 340.

 

DOCUMENT is pleased to present Poemfield, Stan VanDerBeek’s first solo exhibition at the gallery. The exhibition will present a 16mm film installation of Poemfield no. 7 (1967-68), a digital projection of the film Symmetricks (1972), and a selection of works on paper (1973-83).

VanDerBeek’s Poemfields, the artist’s most well-known series of computer-generated films, are complex, multilayered moving tapestries of abstracted images, colors, visuals, texts, and sounds. Fascinated with the computer’s ability to generate text on a screen, VanDerBeek established an “image-based poetry language.” For this series, he collaborated with computer scientist Ken Knowlton at AT&T Bell Labs beginning in 1964. Using an IBM 7094 computer and BEFLIX (short for “Bell Labs Flicks”), a computer graphic programming language that Knowlton conceived in 1963, VanDerBeek and Knowlton created eight Poemfields films between 1966-71. Each film combines the artist’s own poetry with a range of digital illustrations. Since studying under poet M.C. Richards and composer John Cage at Black Mountain College, VanDerBeek incorporated collage-like practices of chance and simultaneity, experimenting with representations of text and poetry in cinematic time.

The poetry of Poemfield no. 7 presents a thought-provoking message, one that maintains its political relevance in 2018. VanDerBeek’s poem ends: THERE IS NO WAY TO PEACE; PEACE IS THE WAY; NO MORE WAR. Movements 1 and 4 of John Cage’s composition Amores comprise the soundtrack; this same composition premiered at the historic performance of Cage’s work at the Museum of Modern Art in 1943. The synthesis of text, pattern, and sound in Poemfield no. 7 conveys a bizarre sense of foreboding, a quirky yet urgent uneasiness. Some words appear and then dissolve on the screen so quickly that one must focus intently to capture the phrase in its entirety; VanDerBeek anticipated the blink-and-you-miss-it effects of newsfeed overload and image overstimulation.

Symmetricks invites a slightly more meditative viewing. While artist-in-residence at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, VanDerBeek experimented with computer-animated drawing to explore the visual effects of rapidly tracked drawn line, symmetrical patterns, and flickering images. White forms pulse, shrink, expand, and mirror each other against the black screen, and the contrast subtly suggests colors as Symmetricks progresses. One reflects on their own interpretation of the cinematic Rorschach test upon the film’s completion.

VanDerBeek was a pioneer in the growing fields of “movie art” and “Expanded Cinema” during the 1960s and 70s. His multimedia practices forecasted many facets of later iterations of contemporary art–network aesthetics, Internet art, graphical user interfaces, and appropriations of desktop computing. Rather than employing a camera to traditionally capture images, VanDerBeek made use of the computer as an abstract notation system for making movies. He wrote pictures and visually manipulated language. VanDerBeek challenged the formal paradigms of film and moving images, adopting a collaborative, pluralistic, and multisensory approach to filmmaking that resonates with today’s prevalence of multimedia art and the feedback loop of everyday digital life.

Stan VanDerBeek (b. New York, 1927-1984) studied visual art at The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art, New York and then at Black Mountain College in Asheville, North Carolina, receiving honorary doctorates from both schools in 1957 and 1972, respectively. He began his artistic career as a painter but soon moved on to create animated collage films made of altered paintings and newspaper and magazine clippings. VanDerBeek’s research into developing visual languages as ways of communication led him to seek out expertise from individuals pioneering in the fields of film technology, digital media, and computers. He worked with Ken Knowlton at AT&T’s Bell Labs and served as an artist-in-residence, collaborator, and instructor at a number of organizations and research universities during his artistic career. He was a professor of art and film at University of Maryland, Baltimore County from 1975 until his death in 1984.

Among VanDerBeek’s numerous awards are grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Guggenheim Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts; and an American Film Institute Independent Filmmaker Award. VanDerBeek’s work has been featured in countless international exhibitions over the past six decades, beginning with the pioneering exhibitions Cybernetic Serendipity, Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA), London, and Smithsonian Institute, Washington, D.C. (1968-69); The Projected Image, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (1968); and Software, The Jewish Museum, New York (1970). Recent exhibitions include Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, The Museum of Modern Art, NY (2017); Merce Cunningham: Common Time, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN (2017); Delirious: Art at the Limits of Reason, 1950-1980, The Met Breuer, New York, NY (2017); Dreamlands: Immersive Cinema and Art, 1905-2016, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2016); Leap Before You Look: Black Mountain College, 1933-1957, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2015); Stan VanDerBeek: Poemfield, Andrea Rosen Gallery 2, New York (2015); Cosa Mentale: Art et Télépathie au XX Siécle, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Lorraine, France (2015); Venice Biennale (2013); and Stan VanDerBeek: The Culture Intercom, MIT List Visual Arts Center, Cambridge and Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (2012). VanDerBeek’s films have been presented in numerous moving image screening programs, including Cine Dreams: Future Cinema of the Mind, 1972, Planetario Galileo Galilei, Buenos Aires (part of Art Basel Cities Week, 2018); Experimental Animation, Anthology Film Archives, New York (2015); Stan VanDerBeek: Newsreel of Dreams, Los Angeles Filmforum at MOCA, Los Angeles (2015); Movie-Drome, New Forms Festival, Vancouver (2014); Stan VanDerBeek: Expanded Cinema, Skissernas Museum, Lund, Sweden (2014); and Expanded Cinema: Activating the Space of Reception, Tate Modern, London (2009). Upcoming exhibitions include Judson Dance Theater: The Work is Never Done at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2018).

VanDerBeek’s work is represented in public collections worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Centre Pompidou, Paris; the Art Institute of Chicago; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; the National Library of Australia Film Collection, Canberra; Pennsylvania State University, State College; and the Arts Council of Great Britain, London.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Paul Mpagi Sepuya (b. 1982, San Bernardino, CA) lives and works in Los Angeles, where he received an MFA in photography at UCLA in 2016. From 2000 – 2014 Sepuya resided in New York City, receiving a BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 2004 and participating in Artist-in-Residence programs at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Center for Photography at Woodstock, The Studio Museum in Harlem and Fire Island Artist Residency.

Sepuya’s work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Guggenheim Museum, the Studio Museum in Harlem, the International Center for Photography, the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Milwaukee Art Museum and the Carnegie Museum, among others. Recent solo exhibitions include “Dark Room” at team (bungalow), Los Angeles and “Figures, Grounds and Studies” at Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York City, and group shows at the New Museum, Callicoon Fine Arts and Sikkema Jenkins & Co., in New York City. His work is featured in“Being : New Photography 2018” at the Museum of Modern Art, New York City, through August.


Sepuya’s work has been covered in ARTFORUM, The New Yorker, The New York Times, Art Review, Frieze, Art in America, The Nation, and he is a recipient of the 2017 Rema Hort Mann Foundation’s grant for Los Angeles artists.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Darkroom Mirror Study (OX5A1531), 2018 Archival pigment print, 34x51

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Figure (_2100597), 2017 Archival pigment print 24x32

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study for Joe (_2010964), 2017 Archival pigment print 24x32 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study (0X5A6568), 2017, Archival pigment print, 34x51 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study (0X5A0486), 2017, Archival pigment print 34x51 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Darkroom Mirror (_2100135), archival pigment print, 24x32 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Dark Room Mirror (_2060999), 2017, archival pigment print, 20x24 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study (0X5A1237), 2017, archival pigment print, 34x51 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, A Ground (0X5A1495), 2018, archival pigment print, 34x51 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Mirror study for Joe (_2010980), 2017 Archival pigment print 34 x 45 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Study Reflecting Dureau (0X5A1227), 2017 Archival pigment print 34x51

Paul Mpagi Sepuya Figure (_202078), 2018, archival pigment print 24x32 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Black Mirror Study (_2110109), 2018, archival pigment print, 24x32 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Darkroom Mirror Study (0X5A1519), 2018, archival pigment print, 20x24 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Untitled (black figure), 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 33 x 22 in, Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 33 x 22 in, Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror Study, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 24 x 20 in, Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Dark Room (_2010616), 2017, archival pigment print 20x24 Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Mirror study, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 34 x 51 in, Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Draping, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 24 x 20 in, Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, A sitting for Matthew, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 51 x 34 in, Edition of 5

Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Figure / ground study, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 20 x 24 in, Edition of 5

Studio, March 2 (part 2), 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 24 x 18 in. Edition 1/5

Desktop, March 6, 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 24 x 18 in. Edition 1/5

Studio, March 2 (part 1), 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 24 x 18 in. Edition 1/5

Erik, April 1. 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 48 x 36 in. Edition 1/3

Study for T.H. with Five Figures, 2013 - 05 (0702), 2015 Archival Pigment Print, 80 x 60 in. Edition of 5

Micah, Chicago, March 27, 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 24 in. Edition of 3

Studio, March 12, 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 24 in. Edition of 3

Marques, April, 2013 Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 24 in. Edition of 3

Mirror Study, December 10, 2014 Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 24 in. Edition of 3

Study for D. with Four Figures (March 8), 2015 Archival Pigment Print, 30 x 24 in. Edition 2/3

Study for D.A. with Three Figures (0905), 2015 Archival pigment print, 48 x 38 in. Edition 1/3

Study for Roses at night, for K., 2006 - 15, 2015 Archival Pigment Print, 48 x 36 in. Edition 2/5

"Document." Wallpaper* City Guide Chicago. March 2018. Page 058. Print.

DOCUMENT Wallpaper Chicago City Guide

Document
This small and edgy gallery — a simple, lofi venue with white walls, lightwood floors and industrial elements — specialises in photography, film and media-based art. Founded in 2011 by Aron Gent, it focuses on bringing new and emerging names to wider attention. A 2017 joint exhibition by local talents John Paul Morabito and Laura Letinsky saw them combine photography and weaving in painterly cotton and wool works, while John Opera showed a range of compelling geometric cyanotypes in ‘Technical Images’ (above). There is a coterie of fresh enterprises in the building, which is the hub of the Ukrainian Village scene — Volume Gallery (see p062), Paris London Hong Kong (see p069) and Western Exhibitions (T 312 480 8390) are all here.

1709 W Chicago Avenue, T 262 719 3500,
www.documentspace.com

Owner
Aron Gent
aron@documentspace.com
Director
Sibylle Friche
sibylle@documentspace.com
Gallery and Print Studio Assistant
Renata Cruz Lara Guerra
info@documentspace.com

Gallery hours:
Tuesday-Saturday: 11am-6pm

Private Works Login
DOCUMENT is a commercial gallery located in Chicago that specializes in contemporary photography, film and media based art. The gallery has organized more than 40 solo exhibitions since its opening in 2011 and actively promotes the work of emerging national and international artists. Operating conjointly as a professional printmaking studio, DOCUMENT facilitates the production of works by artists from Chicago and the US. At this time we do not accept unsolicited submissions.