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SEAN SNYDER
Sean Snyder. Video excerpts at variable frame rates from Kino Pravada, Dziga Vertov (1922–25) and L'argent, Robert Bresson (1983), 2007. DVD on monitor, 3 min. 48 sec. Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London

Sean Snyder takes the global circulation of data as the raw materials for his practice. He experiments multilayered signs revealing unexpected layers in an intentionally not pedagogical way. Refusing to conform to conventions, his practice avoids simple classification. In resistance to contemporary art’s tendency to aspire to a mechanized consumer society, his investigations parody and mirror their processes.

Bypassing conventions, the artist’s practice encodes information using an unpredictable matrix. Anatomically ordering preconceptions, his installations deconstruct assumptions that might be attributed to a topic. Interrogating representation, the nebulous investigations, occasionally come into clear focus oscillating between fact and fiction. What might seemingly be intelligible, might turn out to be far more complex. Conversely, what may apparently be complex, might unravel in multifarious, yet simple and uncomplicated ways.

Researching algorithms and unknowns, his practice dissects the aleatoric use of databanks and publicly attainable information, producing unexpectedly (and subjectively) interconnections between memory and materiality. Via a deconstruction and reconfiguration of components, he elucidates hypotheticals from incongruent perspectives.

(Artist’s Statement)

Sean Snyder lives in Berlin. His current inquiries can be pursued here:
mnemosynedrone.info

EXPLORE

  • How do we access an image, and how does it access us?
  • How are belief and knowledge formed by the structuring information?
  • How are Sean Snyder’s image archives being formed?
  • What will the archives of the future become?

ADDITIONAL SOURCES OF INFORMATION

Bouwhuis, Jelle, et al., eds. Now is the Time: Art & Theory in the 21st Century. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2009.

Birnbaum, Daniel, Jerry Sheerin, and Jan Verwoert. Sean Snyder. Frankfurt am Main: Portikus; Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König, 2007.

Clarke, Chris. Search and Seizure: The Ambiguity of Mediation in Sean Snyder’s Untitled (Archive Iraq) Series. Photography & Culture 3.1 (2010): 65-72.

Decter, Joshua. Sean Snyder. Artforum 49.7 (2011): 268-269.

Read more

Demos, T. J. Zones of Conflict. New York: Pratt Institute, 2008.

Ebner, Martin, and Florian Zeifang, eds. Poor Man’s Expression: Technology, Experimental Film, Conceptual Art. New York: Sternberg Press, 2011.

Esche, Charles. The Slobozian Question. Afterall 6 (2002): 82-87.

Fleck, Robert, Maria Lind, and Barbara Vanderlinden. Manifesta 2 : European Biennial for Contemporary Art / Luxembourg. Luxembourg: Agence luxembourgeoise d’action culturelle / Casino Luxembourg-Forum d’art contemporain, 1998.

Lütticken, Sven. Sean Snyder. Artforum 43.5 (2005): 194.

Moschovi, Alexandra, Carol McKay and Arabella Plouviez, eds. The Versatile Image: Photography, Digital Technologies and the Internet. Leuven: Leuven University Press, 2013.

Potrč, Marjetica, and Sean Snyder. Ducks, Gambling and Cultural Bankruptcy or, The Bastardised Urban Landscape. Afterall 6 (2002): 88-91.

Prince, Mark. Southfork Ranch Romania. Art Monthly 264 (2003): 7-10.

Reese, Simon. Sean Snyder: Double Dubya. ArtUS 14 (2006): 56-59.

Snyder, Sean. Disobedience in Byelorussia: Self-Interrogation on “Research Based Art.” e-flux journal 5 (2009): 1-10.

Snyder, Sean. Disobedience in Tokyo. e-flux journal 9 (2009): 1-11.

Snyder, Sean. Marriott Hotel Islamabad. In Bouwhuis, Jelle, et al., eds. Now is the Time: Art & Theory in the 21st Century. Rotterdam: NAi Publishers, 2009.

Snyder, Sean. Optics. Compression. Propaganda. Art & Research 2.1 (2008) Web. http://www.artandresearch.org.uk/v2n1/snyder.html Retrieved on April 8 2015.

van Weelden, Dirk. On Mobility. Amsterdam: De Appel, 2006.

Verwoert, Jan. Sean Snyder: Jump Cut Cities. Afterall 6 (2002): 70-81.

Verwoert, Jan. World in Motion. Frieze 84 (2004): 90-95.

Woznicki, Krystian. Embedded Pyongyang: American artist Sean Snyder’s reconaissance of North Korea. Springerin 10.1 (2004): 42-45.

mnemosynedrone.info

svenlutticken.blogspot.ca/2013/11/sean-snyder-no-apocalypse-not-now.html

espionart.wordpress.com/2014/07/21/featured-artist-sean-snyder

starship-magazine.org/index.php?page=item&issue=11&pages=17ff&view=11

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Produced with the support of the Frederick and Mary Kay Lowy Art Education Fund.

In partnership with Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal – 14th edition
The Post-Photographic Condition

Guest Curator: Joan Fontcuberta

Artist

Sean Snyder

Sean Snyder was born in 1972 in Virginia Beach, and lives and works in Berlin. Since 1998, his works have been presented in solo and group exhibitions, including at The Barbican Center (2014), the Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2013), the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. (2012), the Israeli Center for Digital Art, Holon (2010), Artist Space, New York (2010), the ICA, London (2009) and the Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation, Stockholm (2009). He has received many grants and awards, including from the Office for Contemporary Art Norway, Oslo (2006) and the Institute of Contemporary Art, Sofia (2004). He is represented by Lisson Gallery in London, Galerie Chantal Crousel in Paris, and Galerie Neu in Berlin.

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Works

Aleatoric Collision (Sony Hacking Scandal), 2015

Aleatoric Collision (Sony Hacking Scandal), 2015
Digital prints, cell phone, dvd and case, book
Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin

There is a curious analogy between SNS systems of security and the relatively archaic, yet reliably well functioning system of Dabbawala in India (moped stacked lunch delivery system). When a delivery is made it usually arrives at its destination. The viral dissemination of corporate culture can be mirrored in reality. The recent MERS virus was apparently caused by one man who traveled from the Middle East to South Korea. The outbreak of the deadly virus generated panic throughout South Korea. There is no known explanation of why the outbreak spread so quickly, nor how long the threat will continue.
The project presented in the exhibition attempts to approach the mediation of paranoia through both virtual and physical channels. The Interview, a film produced by the Sony Pictures has become a centerpiece of transnational corporate anxiety involving state security and recycled Cold War scenarios of defense and covert penetration. The hacking scandal was made public on November 23rd 2014, leaking corporate secrets from CEO e-mail exchanges. North Korean and Chinese hackers were blamed by the FBI, generating threats from the US government against an erratic and unpredictable state. The film’s release scheduled on November 24th was postponed for one month and one day, making it major national news in the US. Some critical voices claimed that it was perhaps artificial hype to market the film, which was finally released on Christmas. When IP addresses were found by some in the hacking community, implying that the leak originated in the US, it became unclear which unpredictable rogue state was to blame.

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Untitled/ (digital imaging/sensor), 2009

Untitled/ (digital imaging/sensor), 2009
Digital print
Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London

In 1960 the weather satellite TIROS-1 achieved the first complete picture of the globe. During the following years, the astronauts of the Apollo program improved that recording until they obtained the iconic The Blue Marble (NASA AS17-148-22727). For Luigi Ghirri, it represented the image that encompassed all images, a kind of visual Aleph. This image can be seen as foreshadowing the incipient globalization.
In 2009 Sean Snyder updated this type of endeavour, at a time when digital technology had contributed to the consummation of globalization. The bare surface of a digital sensor is shown, a device that allows to see, but not to be seen. Thus, when we deal with images that are participating in the moulding of our consciences, we must not forget that all of them are born in such a sensor.

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Index (Storage Media), 2009
Index (Synopsis), 2009

Index (Storage Media), 2009
Black and white digital prints

Index (Synopsis), 2009
Black and white digital prints

Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin

In 2009 Snyder edited and digitised the archives that he had amassed while researching previous works, as part of a project entitled Index, destroying their old media – analog videos, photo contact sheets, and so on – and getting a number of files which should be able to fit onto a single ‘memory stick’.
Several works have spun off from Index, including a large group of photographs depicting storage media and the other physical elements of Snyder’s archive. The photographs are complemented by other materials, including test prints arranged on white boards – photographic experiments that offer insights into Snyder’s working process and formal vocabulary. The viewer is presented with abstract forms that emphasise the materiality of information and images.

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Untitled (Novosti Press Agency), 2007

Untitled (Novosti Press Agency), 2007
Single channel video on display screen, 56 sec.
16 mm film transferred to HD video, processed through 5 digital compression formats
Courtesy of the artist and Gallery Neu, Berlin

The source material is a 16mm newsreel progressively compressed to mobile phone resolution. The only image is the photographic material, which is transformed during the compression process to the point where a sequence of enlarged grayscale pixels is obtained.
The prominence of mass media and the Internet impose a new equation to visual information today: more compression, and more distribution potential. This dilemma is underlined in the video Untitled, (Novosti Press Agency) (2007), highlighting the way the image transmission forces an aesthetic compromise between high and low quality, and between high and low resolution, pointing to the way aesthetic quality has been relegated to the background in favour of greater accessibility and intensity, in order to be re-edited, manipulated, remixed, and circulated. However, the treatment of orphan and corrupted images is inexorably tied to a transgressive or subversive intention: these images can be seen not only as a sign of resistance and appropriation, but also, conversely, as an act of conformism and exploitation.

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Radiographic Search (MRI), 2015
Adventure Fragment. Atari (Algorithm), 2015

Radiographic Search (MRI), 2015
Mp3 audio file, 13 min 21 sec.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin

Adventure Fragment. Atari (Algorithm), 2015
Digital file, 1 min. 01 sec.
Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Neu, Berlin

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Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars, 2004 – 2005

Casio, Seiko, Sheraton, Toyota, Mars, 2004 – 2005
DVD projection, sound, 13 min. 11 sec.
Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London

Footage from amateur-videos and material from media agencies are used to analyse conventions and complications that arise in the production of an iconic image of war. Simultaneously, there is a focus on the international acceptance of consumer goods, extending beyond all ideological boundaries. The narration begins thus: News stories, scripted for consumption, merge the spaces of recent conflict. Plots, characters, and camera direction produce images for decoding. The sets can be cities, mountainous landscapes, hide-outs and tourist resorts. The plots include documents, dossiers, manuals, reports, un-released videos, un-circulated images, found mobile phone SIM cards, confiscated hard drives, and a largely unseen spectacle of incidental props.

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Video excerpts at variable frame rates from Kino Pravda, Dziga Vertov (1922–25) and L'argent, Robert Bresson (1983), 2007
Video excerpts at variable frame rates from Harb ul Mustadhefeen, As Sahab Media (2005), 2007

Video excerpts at variable frame rates from Kino Pravda, Dziga Vertov (1922–25) and L’argent, Robert Bresson (1983), 2007
DVD on monitor, 3 min. 48 sec.
Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London

Video excerpts at variable frame rates from Harb ul Mustadhefeen, As Sahab Media (2005), 2007
DVD on monitor, 3 min. 25 sec., no sound
Courtesy of the artist and Lisson Gallery, London

A series of videos made up of moving images publicly available on the internet. Avoiding direct comparison, the selection consists of iconographic subjects shared both by the US Department of Defense (DoD) website and Jihadi media material. The work uncovers the visual vocabulary and the conventions of the production and reception of current war propaganda. The resolution, size and compression of images are crucial not only with regards to the level of details and information attainable from them but also to the political message implicit in its producers’ access to high or low technology.

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Horizontal Propagation, 2015
Question to the CIA (Abstract Expressionism), 2015

Horizontal Propagation, 2015
Puzzle and base

Question to the CIA (Abstract Expressionism), 2015
B & W laser print

Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin

Convergence, a Jackson Pollock painting from 1952, reproduced as a puzzle was purchased via eBay. An excerpt from the consumer product description states: “Pollock’s startling painting is a challenge to the deft­of-hand puzzler and the art connoisseur alike.” The side of the box claims: “The world’s most difficult puzzle to solve.” And the other side: “340 Pieces – Each One Different.” The scattered pieces of the puzzle are displayed on a surface of horizontal structure (Horizontal Propagation, 2015). The structure is scaled to 50 percent of the size of the original painting that hangs in the Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The painting’s political dimension and its being an element of Cold War propaganda, as a representative of ideology of freedom and American exceptionalism with alleged CIA involvement in promotion of Abstract Expressionism, is now more than a rumor of art history, but is not yet documented. In order to produce a (framed) document, Snyder contacted the CIA via email and asked a question regarding the utilization of art as a weapon during the Cold War. A print of the automated response confirming the reception of the question is displayed. (Question To The CIA (Abstract Expressionism), 2015).

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Vertical Traces, 2015
Transcription of Inquiry to METRA (Chicago Urban Transport), 2015

Vertical Traces, 2015
HD data file, 1 min. 20 sec

Transcription of Inquiry to METRA (Chicago Urban Transport), 2015
Digital print

Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin

A vertical video projection traces the location of an intervention by Daniel Buren titled Watch The Doors, Please!, commissioned by the Art Institute of Chicago. The exhibition space itself was left empty with the schedule of the subway trains passing by available to the audience. The intervention active between 1980 and 1982 was referred to as not only in situ, but in motion. Snyder’s projection documents the location of the intervention visible from the exhibition space juxtaposing the images accessible at present via the online remote viewing technologies. The Google Earth searches represent the location as a rigid topographic scheme while the Bing search playfully animates the route of the transportation network with the rail lines rendered in gray and white, ironically reminiscent of Buren’s iconic stripes.

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Schema (Television), 2006-2007

Schema (Television), 2006-2007
DVD on monitor, sound, 10 min.
Courtesy of the artist, Galerie Chantal Crousel, Paris; Lisson Gallery, London; Galerie Neu, Berlin

This work scripted in collaboration with Olga Bryukhovetska, is a year-long attempt to crystallize and redefine the indeterminate re-ordering that emerges from the chance montage the viewer creates through the use of remote control. Dziga Vertov’s 1920s silent newsreels Kinopravda are referenced as a formal and editing model and as a way to emphasize the impossibility of either direct propaganda or of attributing truthfulness to the moving image. The video explicates a schema for television, not only in terms of established television genres and conventions, but also within the specific televisual modality of consuming reality through images. It takes the distinct subjective position of a semi-immediate but cynically indifferent observer, witnessing inevitable and often absurd juxtapositions of what would be considered ‘serious news events’ (for example, war) with predominately entertaining programs.

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