Digital material is never natural. It is
either generated or repurposed, and
always pre-inscribed with meaning. It settles in sediments, turning the Web
into a veritable billboard land: a frenetic free market in which corporations, private citizens, and fictional conglomerates all wave their own signs. It is a landscape rich with fiction, contradictions, and disjuncture. The new quickly becomes obsolete, and the old is continually revived. Internet-based montage, the assemblage of distinct materials into a new whole, is therefore both an inevitable and perpetual accident and an emerging, illuminating art form....
Montage is the final exhibition in Unmonumental: the Object in the
21st Century at the New Museum
of Contemporary Art.
Subterranean House (Oonce Oonce) (2007)
Subterranean House (Oonce Oonce) (2007) is a reworked excerpt of Bob Dylan's seminal "electric piece" (a film set to the score of his song "Subterranean Homesick Blues") in which the legendary rocker holds up the provocative song lyrics on cue cards for the camera. Bell-Smith's modification draws a line between the protest culture of the '60s and the frenetic youth culture of today. To construct Subterranean House (Oonce Oonce), he digitally altered one sequence of the original piece, wiping the cue card of text and replacing it, frame by frame, with the single word "oonce,"-the onomatopoeic vocalization of the archetypal house beat. He then replaced the original song with a repetitive, pared down house beat. These simple alterations contrast Dylan's music, with its focus on lyric, narrative, and political agitation with contemporary, instrumental dance music and club culture. In Subterranean House (Oonce Oonce), Dylan, one of the first visible proponents of the electric guitar in mainstream music culture, is left looping endlessly in the ambivalent consequences of his musical legacy.
Born 1978, East Corinth, ME / Lives and works in Philadelphia, PA Michael Bell-Smith's work-in animation, video, web sites, pictures, and audio-explores the ways in which technology mediates culture and personal experience. Recent exhibitions and screenings include, Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; MoMA, New York; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and Galeri F15, Moss, Norway. His work has been featured in The New York Times, Time Out New York, and Artnet.