Electric Fields
Dec 19

Electric Fields

  • Punch Gallery

Electric Fields

2015 Punch Gallery Juried Exhibition

5 NOV 5 - 8 PM

5 NOV - 15 DEC 2015

Juror: Julia Fryett (Founder, Aktionsart)

Left: Joshua Noble. Aaniscope. 2015  
Right: Kevin Bell. Specimen. 2012.

Juror Statement

I thought about many things while swiping through the 1,075 entries submitted to this exhibition. But mostly, I thought about four things: Aaniscopes, rain forests, Walter De Maria and the Beatles.

  1. The Aaniscope, by Joshua Noble, enables its owner to feel electromagnetic field radiation (EMF) - the invisible waves from radios, power lines, wifi signals, bluetooth transmissions and wireless communications that travel through our bodies each day.

  2. The quietest place in the United States is believed to exist above a moss-covered log 678 feet above sea level, situated near a singular square inch of silence at 47° 51.959N, 123° 52.221W, in the Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic National Park.

  3. In 1977, Walter De Maria installed a grid of 400 polished stainless steel poles in a New Mexico desert, each spaced 220 feet apart, to create his seminal work of Land Art, The Lightning Field. The poles materialize into a living, electric sculpture during a lightning storm. The poles are taller than the average person.

  4. Ten years prior, in 1967, John Lennon wrote these words for a song called Strawberry Fields Forever:

Living is easy with eyes closed
Misunderstanding all you see
It's getting hard to be someone
But it all works out
It doesn't matter much to me
Let me take you down
Cause I'm going to Strawberry Fields
Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about

The works presented here form an exhibition landscape comprised of electrical and natural fields - charged materials and particles, positive and negative, each dependent on the other. Several objects live between product and sculpture as critical hybrids that conceptualize wearable technologies. The spaces between screens and the distances between data sets are visualized, visibly and invisibly. Informed by the aesthetics of scrolling, loading, browsing and shopping, the gallery becomes a store.

A singular juror statement would not be conclusive, as the works encompass an asynchronous supply of disciplines, formats, concepts and subjects. But here are four more things to think about:

  1. Distributed charges at the surface of physical interfaces: the electric shock of The Bracket that signals you have entered a census subarea where the median income is higher or lower than yours, the cathartic charge of your breath on glass, the pressure of a needle

  2. Cash injections and blasts of wifi radiation

  3. Particles of matter with previous histories: a handkerchief, a hand, mahjong tiles, yards, closets

  4. Ikea, electric fields, silence

Julia Fryett
Seattle, November 2015

Artist List

Michael Handley – Philadelphia, PA
Jenny Hawkinson – Vancouver, BC
Carson Grubaugh – Norfolk, VA
Anna Mlasowsky – Seattle, WA
Hongzhe Liang – Seattle, WA
Juequian Fang – Seattle, WA
Catherine Burce – San Pedro, CA
Kevin Bell – Missoula, MT
Barbara Polster – Seattle, WA
Eli Coplan – Portland, OR
Joshua Noble – Seattle, WA
Holly Martz – Bellevue, WA

Punch Gallery

PUNCH was founded in March 2006 by a group of artists eager to participate in the dynamic cultural exchange resulting from the emergence of other artist-run galleries in Seattle. 

PUNCH seeks to exhibit work that is honest, thoughtful, vocal, fearless, and fresh. Applauding individual expression, the gallery’s primary mission is to provide support and encouragement for artists to create and exhibit their work in an atmosphere free from the constraints of commercialism. Committed to excellence on every level, PUNCH promotes the visual arts as a necessary, valid, and worthwhile contribution to Seattle’s cultural growth.

Header Image: The Lighting Field (1977), by Walter De Maria

General Intellect
Oct 3

General Intellect

  • Aktionsart | Morningside Academy


18 SEPT - 3 OCT 2015
THURS - SAT, 12 - 5 PM

CURATOR: Julia Fryett
INQUIRIES: info@aktionsart.org

South Lake Union Artwalk

THURS 1 OCT, 5 - 8 PM

Aktionsart is pleased to present General Intellect, an exhibition of new work from James Coupe. Featuring a generative database of 3,000 videos produced by workers hired through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk (mTurk) service, this exhibition displays single and multi-channel video installations throughout an entire decaying school building in South Lake Union. Coupe makes the individuals behind mTurk visible by instructing workers to record a one minute video each hour from 9AM and 5PM, thus creating an archive of their regular daily routine. General Intellect questions the value of digital and cultural labor, the shifting conditions of exploitation and the new forms of social alienation that we face today, alone and together.

Mechanical Turk is an online labor market that was inspired by the vision of humans helping machines to perform tasks. Comprised of over 500,000 workers around the world, mTurk distributes human intelligence tasks (HITs) which computers are not yet capable of completing, such as image recognition and filling out surveys. The tasks typically contain little information about who generated them or how they will be used. This marketplace is named after an 18th century life-sized, mechanical figure - “The Turk” - who travelled the world playing and winning chess matches against notables such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. It was later revealed that the machine was an illusion and The Turk was controlled by a human chess master hidden inside a concealed box.

Coupe: “In a society where machines have largely replaced human workers, there are few skills or forms of knowledge that remain exclusively human. Marx anticipated this situation when he coined the term “general intellect” to describe the collective, social intelligence that arises from abstract human knowledge. In a data-driven society, our individuated responses to particular lived situations and contexts have in themselves become a form of capital. With the rise of social media, the conflict between human knowledge and algorithmic knowledge has been drawn into sharp relief. Every time we post our thoughts, ideas, preferences, and comments online, we contribute to a mechanized version of Marx’s general intellect.”

General Intellect is presented as a series of single and multi-channel videos, each automatically generated from a set of unique queries to the database of videos uploaded by mTurk workers. Designed by the artist, queries are based upon demographic information and other metadata provided by the workers. Each query is available for purchase and is accompanied with an annual subscription that funds the cost of workers to complete further HITs based on the properties of that query. As the workers produce more content, the results from the queries change and the videos continually update. The database expands and generates new content through the act of collecting, positioning the collector within a specific socioeconomic relationship with the workers that their query employs.

A portion of the sales proceeds benefit Aktionsart, a new art and technology nonprofit based in Seattle that experiments with new models of new media art production, exhibition and distribution.

Hashtag: #generalintellect

Amazon Art

GENERAL INTELLECT is the first project on Aktionsart's film, video and new media art gallery on Amazon Art. 


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Artist Bio

James Coupe is an artist who works with installation, video, internet and public art. Born in Blackpool, UK, he is now based in Seattle, where he is an Associate Professor at the Center for Digital Art and Experimental Media (DXARTS), University of Washington. Recent commissions include the Toronto International Film Festival, the Henry Art Gallery, and the Abandon Normal Devices Festival. He has received grants and awards from Creative Capital, the Prix Ars Electronica and New Contemporaries. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including venues such as Camden Arts Centre, ZKM and the Museum of Contemporary Canadian Art. Further information about his work can be found at http://jamescoupe.com

Program Partner