Quote: Satoru Iwata

Satoru Iwata, Nintendo President and CEO, passed yesterday.  During his talk at the 2006 Game Developers Conference Iwata summarized his approach with Nintendo succinctly:

“Above all, video games are meant to be just one thing: fun. Fun for everyone.”

In a his March 25 interview with Time, Iwata spoke further about the value of intergenerational inclusion in video games:

“And when the game itself is one that reaches across those different age groups, then you see situations where different people are talking about it together and learning from one another different things about the game.”


Quote: Francis Bacon

For in conjecturing what may be men set before them the example of what has been, and divine of the new with an imagination preoccupied and colored by the old; which way of forming opinions is very fallacious, for streams that are drawn from the springheads of nature do not always run in the old channels.

-Francis Bacon, The New Organion [Book One], 1620.

Quote: Jacques Dulieu

On the discovery of an unusual and disquieting botany…

“It is from these very notions that its plants, mysteriously alienated from the events of growth and decay, which struggle for the dominion of the biosphere, appear to draw their vital juices, and thereby emerge perennially immune, outside the sphere of normal perceptions and the links and associations of the memory, in a fashion quite ‘other’, ambiguous, perverse, and beyond our ken.  We are unable to grasp it because of the long-consecrated notion of reality which clings so obstinately like a twining perhaps poisonous ivy, to our logic.”

-Jacques Dulieu, Un autre jardin (Éditions La Nuit, Paris, 1973)

(fictional scientist quoted in Leo Lionni’s Parallel Botany)

Quote: Franco Russoli

“These organisms, whose physical being is sometimes flabby and sometimes porous, at other times osseous but fragile, breaking open to display huge colonies of seeds or bulbs which grow and ferment in the blind hope of some vital metamorphosis, that seem to struggle against a soft, but impenetrable skin – these abnormal creatures with pointed or horny protuberances, or petticoats, skirts and fringes of fibrils and pistils, articulations that are sometimes mucous and sometimes cartilaginous, might well belong to one of the great families of jungle flora, ambiguous, savage and fascinating in their monstrous way.  But they do not belong to any species in nature, nor would the most expert grafting ever succeed in bringing them into existence.”

-Franco Russoli, Una botanica inquietante (Il Milione, Milan, 1973)

(fictional scientist quoted in Leo Lionni’s Parallel Botany)

Italy 2004 (1 of 3): Mosaic of the Standing Virgin Hodegetria

In 2004, I visited Venice, Pistoia and the island of Torcello in Northeastern Italy. I recently revisited my notebook from this trip and I was reminded of three artworks I encountered that continue to influence my own work. This post is the first of three posts that each discusses one of the three artworks.

Mosaic of the Standing Virgin Hodegetria, Torcello

The 11th and 12th Century mosaics in the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta on the island of Torcello are the oldest remaining mosaics in the area around Venice.

Mosaics of Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta
Mosaics of Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta in Torcello, Italy

Standing in the cathedral’s apse, I stared up for some time at the massive domed mosaic of the Standing Virgin Hodegestria and the register of saints in attendance below her. I realized that the Byzantine mosaics need to be experienced in person, and ideally with flickering candlelight, to truly comprehend the transformative space of these images.

The gold dome catches and reflects shimmering light in various ways across the expanse of the arcing surface, making it difficult for the eye to register a consistent depth or a solid continuous background. The surface dematerializes. The figure of the Virgin projects up into this ambiguous space, her feet solidly planted on a rectangular patch of earth, her upper body and the child Jesus in her arms suspended in an unearthly space.

My interpretation of this experience was that the mosaic creates an intermediate space that was neither entirely terra firma nor the divine realm, but a point at which these two interface, with the Virgin and child Jesus functioning as the conduit between the divine and the profane.

This 11th Century mosaic employs sophisticated visual phenomenon to create a visual metaphor for the metaphysical philosophies of the early Christian church. The physical properties of the mosaic and the supporting architecture of the Cathedral quite effectively alter one’s sense of experienced reality in front and around one’s self.

To connect the visual phenomenon at work in the mosaic of the apse of the Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta to our contemporary world, one needs only look to dome projections that are often used for entertainment and education, or to the work of artists such as Robert Irwin and James Turrell, whose work explores the phenomenological qualities of light and the impact these qualities have on our concept of reality.

Raethro Pink (Corner Projection) by James Turrell, 1968
Raethro Pink (Corner Projection) by James Turrell, 1968

In these contemporary examples, as with the 11th Century mosaic, the act of manipulating reflected and emitted light can trigger and subvert deeply embedded assumptions about the physical world that our perceptual systems have relied on quite successfully for millions of years to make instantaneous survival decisions.

Such manipulation can result in cognitive dissonance, possibly even a sudden existential crisis, the kind of experience that leaves one momentarily receptive to a transcendent belief system or simply to appreciating the fallibility of our senses.

Public Art & The Environment: A Panel Discussion

If you are around Madison New Jersey on the evening of September 22, please join us for a panel discussion at Drew University, titled ‘Public Art & The Environment’ The panel is in conjunction with Anne Percoco’s New Growth project, currently installed on the Drew University grounds.

Public Art & The Environment: A Panel Discussion
Monday, September 22, 2014 at 6:30pm
Dorothy Young Center for the Arts, Room 106

Moderator: Anne Percoco

Artist Panelists: Katie Holten, Marie Lorenz, and Justin Shull

Respondent: Ryan Hinrichs, Associate Professor of Chemistry and Environmental Studies and Sustainability & Chair, Environmental Studies and Sustainability

New Growth Anne Percoco, 2014 Photograph by Bill Cardoni
New Growth
Anne Percoco, 2014
Photograph by Bill Cardoni

‘Watching Wildlife’ Video Release

Watching Wildlife, a recent video I created for an upcoming exhibition titled Frame of Reference: Dioramas in the 21st Century at Ann Street Gallery in Newburgh, NY, is now available for viewing on this site and on YouTube and Vimeo.

Read a full description of the project.

‘On Wheels’ Review on

Charissa Terranova wrote an exhibition review for “On Wheels” which is on view in Fort Worth, TX through May 21, 2011. Below is the original essay from the Glasstire webiste. Original essay here.

Masura Tatsuki: ” Dichimaru II, Shizuoka”, 2007 C-print

The latest exhibition at brand 10, Fort Worth’s smart, cozy and newest kunsthalle, On Wheels is equal parts kitsch and high politics. In this show, plain-faced middle-American falderal meets something with a little more get-up-and-go—literally cars, but also a grassroots sensibility embodied in the rolling wheel and its indexical reference to the sidewalk, road, national infrastructure and wars for natural resources. Don’t get me wrong: this show is more about the laughter of a good prank than pieties of responsibility. But its populist formalism, rooted in our collective fetish of the car and all else that transports, gives rise to a powerful and empowering notion of regional art, which is the central topic of the Glasstire 10th anniversary panel at the Fort Worth Modern, May 7. In framing the multifaceted and poly-vocal work of On Wheels in terms of regionalism, I hereby kick off the pre-discussion and, more importantly, bring specific framing to bear on the work of Heagan Bayles, Libby Black, Matthew Cusick, Ryan Humphrey, Masaru Tatsuki, Matthew Porter, Chris Powell and Justin Shull, the coterie of artists brought together by On Wheels curator Kathy Webster.

Justin Shull, ” Terrestrial Shrub Rover,” 2009, Mixed Media

Beyond the simple functionalism of getting-there-now bound up with vehicular movement, this show, at some level, is about cadging an existential ride. Each work of art routes its own way through a ratty tangle of eldritch emotions. Justin Shull’s Terrestrial Shrub Rover, (2009) is a turf-covered pod on wheels. It looks like a giant topiary with the potential to roll. A video on YouTube, Terrestrial Shrub Rover Maiden Voyage (2009), shows that potentiality realized as Shull drives over and across the bucolic terrain of suburban America in his very extraterrestrial Terrestrial Shrub Rover. Chris Powell’s Hump on Casters, (2001-2011) is a large white swollen mound on small wheels. Its polish and tight form suggests Eva Hesse’s earthy minimalism and Louise Bourgeois’ finesse with molding tumors into art form. The piece is however truly about landscape and corporeal presence. It intentionally looks like a shiny white hill, the shape of which is based on the hump of a Brahman bull.

Chris Powell, “Hump on Casters”, 2001-2011, staff, pallet, casters.

Libby Black’s Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Roller Skates, (2011) does, in very pointed, miniature fashion, what most pieces in the show do, namely outline the extraordinary at work in the profane. In this instance a simple pair of toy skates is the currency of commodification. Black’s skates are laden with branding, bearing in handmade fashion the names and imprimaturs of money, arrival and ownership. Black’s skates are all about possession: your ownership of an object and, reciprocally, corporate ownership of you. Ryan Humphries’ Winnebago Skate, (2010), a pimped out toy camper, the wheels of which are jacked up, plays out a similar set of themes concerning the road, technological extension, ownership and identity.

Libby Black, “Hermes, Gucci, Chanel, Roller Skates,” 2011, mixed media

The implicit stability of the “region” and the changefulness and movement that is the crux of On Wheels might, for some, seem to be at cross-purposes, making the latter more about the non-place, as Marc Augé once described it, than the regionalist place. I would like to argue that the artwork in On Wheels offers a regionalism of the everywhere place—the ubiquitous localism that materializes in the form of roads, highways, gas stations, fast food restaurants and strip malls. It is a regionalism of what you see in passing while looking out the car window. It is a region on the run. So, theirs is a regionalism that might or might not be about Texas.

Matthew Porter, “Burnout #2,” 2007, archival pigment print mounted to plexiglas with satin laminate

The majority of artists in this exhibition are in fact from places other than Texas—Japan, New York, New Hampshire and San Francisco. These are works that engage and embody the region in its most basic and shared geographical form—the American road, built and un-built landscape and by connection, the automobile manufacturing industry here and abroad, the sources of petroleum here and abroad and our international interests connected to the region characterized by the road and landscape. We might say that it is a regionalism that moves beyond state boundaries while staying within the precincts of the United States. Yet, at the same time, it is a regionalism that knows global interconnection well, hence the electric light parade of 18-wheelers that is the center of Japanese photographer Masura Tatsuki’s work. Theirs is thus a regionalism fundamentally affected by globalization and the flows of capital.

Ryan Humphrey, “Winnebago Skate”, 2010, mixed media

Seen from the point of view of an everywhere-place regionalism, the flickering and maniacal views to the road of Matthew Cusick’s File on Motor Transgression, (2000-2011) are not so much about the spliced, edited and fused car chases in Manhattan or Chicago, but of our manic relationship to technology and shared place here as addle-headed channel surfers sitting on the couch in front of the TV where we actually saw the original footage in late-night movies. And the fetish-object photographs by Matthew Porter and Heagan Bayles describe a related localism, viz., a regionalism, of the drag strip, where men preen their mechanical feathers for all to see in the form of a smokin’ muscle car or the singularity of a Ferrari. In this show we find a regionalism that is a matter of interconnection and systemic relations, energies coursing through roads and airways while also forces for the beauty of a down-home healthy guffaw. Its resistance to globalization is not so much a matter of cutthroat, loudmouth politics but of a matter of just being. In that it is here, local and part of the workings of a not-for-profit space, it is a counterforce to operations over and beyond national boundaries. It bodies forth a regionalism against globalization, enabling a call for the “recuperation of local powers of self-determination” as Marxist geographer David Harvey would have it.

Brand 10 in Fort Worth is a small, plucky space with carefully focused energies, as proven by On Wheels, a mind-prodding, formally hip and fun exhibition.

On Wheels
brand 10 artspace
April 8 – May 21, 2011

Charissa N. Terranova is Assistant Professor of Aesthetic Studies at The University of Texas at Dallas. She lectures and teaches seminars on art and architectural history, theory, and criticism and media and new media theory. She is a scholarly writer and freelance curator and critic working both nationally and internationally. In January 2010, she stepped down from the position of Founding Director and Chief Curator of Centraltrak: The UT Dallas Artists Residency in order to complete her scholarly manuscript.