Jesse Fleming, Still from “Apart and Together,” Digital Medium, 2012, as part of “Codex Dynamic,” 2012
(Image courtesy of the artist and Anat Ebgi/The Company)
The curators behind “Immersive Surfaces”, the large site-specific video mapped exhibition made specifically for the Dumbo Arts Festival in 2011 have done it again this year with “Codex Dynamic.” Similarly to “Immersive Surfaces”, the exhibit featured projections on the Manhattan Bridge Archway and Anchorage, including an aggregated selection of videos from a group of New York based and international artists.  The single-channel videos were projected in various locations in and around the bridge and between screenings of the video mapped works, titled “An Inquiring Age” by Glowing Bulbs and co-curator John Ensor Parker and “Time Divides” by Integrated Visions. The project was granted the The Grand Prize and prize for Best Exhibition at the 2012 Dumbo Arts Festival. I recently sat down with curator Leo Kuelbs and we discussed the single-channel artworks that were selected for the festival along with his upcoming exhibition at Dumbo Arts Center titled “A Wake; Still Lives and Moving Images” which is co-curated by Rachel Rits-Vols of Momentum Worldwide and Adam Nankervis of another vacant space, both Berlin based.
Sarah Walko + Malado Baldwin, Still from “Lux/Nox,”
Digital Medium, as part of “Codex Dynamic,” 2012

Katy Diamond Hamer: First off, congratulations on once again winning The Grand Prize and Best Exhibition at the Dumbo Arts Festival. The technology used to make video mapped works is really phenomenal and still awe inspiring not only for art world aficionados but also the general public, and I know the large scale exhibitions you have been organizing have yet to disappoint. Since we’ve talked about video mapping previously, maybe we can start the conversation with a dialogue regarding the single-channel videos and how you selected those artists and the connection, if any, between “Codex Dynamic” and “A Wake; Still Lives and Moving Images”.
Leo Kuelbs: The basic thread connecting the two shows is single-channel video art. One thing that was great in “Codex Dynamic” was that thousands of people, New Yorkers and tourists alike, sat in the archway for hours watching not only the 2 video-mapped pieces [“An Inquiring Age” and “Time Divides”]  but also the 13 single-channel works.  Braiding the single-channel pieces with the mapped works creates 2-way support: The single channel pieces adding some artworld legitimacy to some of the novelty/spectacle qualities of the mapped pieces, while the mapped pieces attract viewers and give them an opportunity to view multiple works of world-class single channel work.
Gary Hill, “Isolation Tank”, Installation view as part of “Codex Dynamic”
Dumbo Arts Festival, 2012
Image courtesy of Leo Kuelbs Collection


KDH: How were the artists selected regarding contributions of single-channel works and what was the criteria?

LK: DNA Galerie in Berlin provided us with “Isolation Tank” by Gary Hill, which was presented on a corner wall nearby the Manhattan Bridge. This piece was also key as it played alongside the rest of the show (15 pieces) adding a zen quality that gave all of “Codex Dynamic” an air of tranquility.  “Isolation Tank” has a helicopter/chanting soundtrack that occasionally rose out of the general din and was supported visually in the piece. We had a closed call, which went out to about 25 artists and galleries.  John E. Parker, who co-curated “Codex Dynamic,” had his lists and I had mine.  Basically, I had been taking notes at galleries and art fairs for about a year and John had been doing something similar.  Almost all the submissions were very good, but we began to see how various pieces responded to each other, and the concepts behind the show, then the single-channel pieces, sort of selected themselves. I’ve been a part of several public art events and the energy of “Codex Dynamic” was truly magical, in so many ways.
Eszter Szabó, “Our Lady in Art, 2012, Calendar”
Video Still, courtesy of the artist
(SIngle-channel video as projected in
Codex Dynamic, part of the Dumbo Arts Festival)

KDH:  I remember seeing “Isolation Tank” installed at DNA when I was in Berlin this past June. It’s inclusion in “Codex Dynamic” was probably a reinvention of sorts, projected onto a brick surface and not far from the East River. It’s not often art is given the opportunity to exist outside the realm of the gallery. Speaking of gallery, “A Wake; Still Lives and Moving Images” opens at Dumbo Arts Center quite soon! The show was on view last year at this time in Berlin, how do you think it will be perceived by the New York audience?

LK: “A Wake; Still Lives and Moving Images” moves from Momentum Gallery in Berlin to DAC on November 1st, which is quite a feat.  17 channels of work from 16 different artists, all relating to the lines between trauma, shock comprehension and acceptance.  It’s a very voyeuristic show, where you are observed while you observe. It’s cool because my curating partners (Rachel Rits-Vols and Adam Nakervis) and I were able to expand from single channel videos into projected photography, digital animation, even film.  When you take “A Wake” along with “Codex Dynamic” you start to see what many of my colleagues and I would like to illuminate: the spectral continuum of all of these digital genres, including elements of performance art’s temporal nature.  There’s strength gained for each medium when it is supported by many creatively connected cousins. As for content, I think some New Yorkers might be a little taken aback by “A Wake.”  It is a very visceral show and I was a bit worried about its intensity when we opened it in Berlin last Halloween.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but if you approach it with its intended spirit, I think you can safely inhabit a very human place that isn’t readily accessible or dealt with in an open way.   That space is the border line between life and death and we all go through it, experience it, so it is more than fair game, it is an area of human experience that will benefit from further articulation.

KDH: Sounds good to me and also perfect timing to re-explore the ever growing dynamic between the contemporary art scenes in Berlin and New York and what better way to do it, than with the exposure of ghosts.

Installation shot from “A Wake: Still Lives and Moving Images,” as presented in Berlin, 2011.
Fiona Pardington, Polynoid, Digital Projections.
Photo by Stephanie Gerner; Courtesy of Momentum Worldwide

Artists who are participating in “A Wake; Still Lives and Moving Images”: AES+F, Osvaldo Budet, Annika Eriksson, Yishay Garbasz and Nikola Lutz, Anna Bella Geiger, Stephan Halter, Jarick Jongman, Betty Leirner, David Medalla, Tracey Moffatt, Fiona Pardington, Polynoid, Paul Rascheja, Alain Resnais and Jan Svankmajer

Single-channel artists who participated in Codex Dynamic include: Enid Baxter Blader, Eelco Brand, Monika Bravo, Shahram Entekhabi, Jesse Fleming, ,Gary Hill, Jaakko Pallasvuo, SYSTEM D-128, Eszter Szabo, Gabriela Vainsencher, Mariana Vassileva, Sarah Walko + Malado Baldwin, Yi Zhou, Marina Zurkow + Daniel Shiffman

Due to damage from Hurricane Sandy, the opening of “A Wake; Still Lives and Moving Images” has currently been postponed. Check the gallery website for updated information. Dumbo Arts Center

More soon!