Michelle Kuo

  • Fujiko Nakaya, Veil, 2014, fog. Installation view, Philip Johnson Glass House, New Canaan, CT. Photo: Richard Barnes.

    Fujiko Nakaya at the Glass House

    Fujiko Nakaya changed the weather. In 1970, the Japanese artist produced a stunning fog that swelled and occluded a pavilion at the world’s fair in Osaka, Japan. The Pepsi Pavilion, dubbed after its corporate sponsor, was created by the group Experiments in Art and Technology (E.A.T.), founded in 1966; Nakaya’s project encapsulated the organization’s vision of a new kind of relationship between art, science, and engineering, and she has continued to work with fog for more than four decades, collaborating with everyone from wind scientists to choreographers, and turning mist into a fantastic

  • “Zero: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950s–60s”

    Promoting a vision somewhere between glory and horror, the postwar German group Zero has long puzzled me. Was their self-proclaimed desire to create a tabula rasa—to wipe the slate clean for the world—part of a techno-utopian beginning or an insidious historical forgetting? Or neither? This large-scale survey ventures to find out, showcasing approximately two hundred works and installations by members Heinz Mack, Otto Piene, and Günther Uecker but also by their pan-European network of friends and associates, from Lucio Fontana to Jesús Rafael Soto. Beyond

  • “Panamarenko Universe”

    Buckminster Fuller made civil engineering utopian, but Panamarenko made it weird. In the 1960s, the Belgian artist turned from proto-Conceptual assemblages to a design problem that would consume the rest of his career: the invention of experimental flying machines. By turns absurd and monumental, his constructions borrowed from the aerodynamics of blimps, hot-air balloons, cocoons, gondolas, race cars, winged fauna, and parachutes; from Skylab, Pan Am, Leonardo, Utopie, jet propulsion, and satellites. He even tried to fly one such zeppelin, the Aeromodeller

  • Jaquet-Droz, singing bird cage automaton clock accompanied by six melodies, ca. 1785, brass, gold, enamel, mixed media, 20 1/4 x 12 x 12". From “Art or Sound.”

    “Art or Sound”

    To hear sound is to be unmoored, to let go. Unlike seeing, hearing occurs from all directions simultaneously, however uneven or sporadic the din. “Art or Sound” gathers all those things that have embraced such spatial release: more than 170machines, musical instruments, sound sculptures, and sundry other devices that spill over with sound, exceeding the limits of their material source. Eighteenth-century automata, singing clocks, synaesthetic color organs, and Futurist noisemaking intonarumori will join the aural experiments of the postwar neo-avant-gardes, including

  • Jeff Wall, The Destroyed Room, 1978, transparency in light box, 62 5/8 x 92 1/8". From “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950.”

    “Damage Control: Art and Destruction Since 1950”

    Not just a whimper but a bang: Postwar art overturned T. S. Eliot’s prediction of the way the world would end, producing visions of both spectacle and negation, euphoric flash and nihilistic critique. “Damage Control” promises to chart this obsession with destruction, addressing culture’s confrontation with the devastation of World War II and the rise of unprecedented technological, economic, and environmental risks. From Warhol’s car-crash Disasters to Jean Tinguely’s self-destroying sculptures, Christian Marclay’s punk-noir Guitar Drag, 2000, to

  • Stewart Uoo, Hayley Pisaturo, and Marie Karlberg at Xtapussy LIXXXTAPUSSY party, New York, January 26, 2013.


    THERE’S NO SAFETY IN NUMBERS, REALLY—and maybe that’s why the fluid, frequent collaborations between Antonio Blair, Marie Karlberg, and Stewart Uoo seem hazardous, or at least fraught. Irreducible to any one individual practice but never cohering as a group or even a network, moving in and out of galleries and showrooms and basements and screens, their activities hover somewhere around art and fashion, but they can’t be explained by those industries, either.

    The New York–based Karlberg and Uoo joined with stylist Hayley Pisaturo to start the party Xtapussy in 2012, an event that merges music,

  • Hans Richter, Cohesion II, 1970, metal on painted wood, 32 3/4 x 20 3/4 x 2".

    “Hans Richter: Encounters”

    Long before the touch screen, Hans Richter was making screens that touch. Rectangles lunge at the spectator in his abstract film Rhythmus 21 (1921), confounding figure and ground; collaborations with Viking Eggeling and Kazimir Malevich promised the convertibility of all signals and sensations, electronic and tactile, into a universal code. LACMA’s major retrospective will include these works along with nearly 150 others—from collages to wall reliefs—in which resolute materialism vied with totalizing sensation and perceptual change augured political revolution.

  • Cover of Whole Earth Catalog: Access to Tools (Fall 1968). From “The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside.”

    “The Whole Earth: California and the Disappearance of the Outside”

    “Nature or network? This was the question haunting 1960s California.”

    Nature or network? This was the question haunting 1960s California. And the answer was, of course, both. Ecology and technology were seen as part of a single teeming system, hopefully headed toward homeostasis: Counterculturalists led the search for a universal equilibrium between tools and worlds, minds and machines and energies, as a way of remaking the postwar world in all its crisis and promise. This exhibition endeavors to trace that quest, taking as its figurehead Stewart Brand—impresario and visionary creator of the Whole Earth Catalog

  • Zoe Leonard, Arkwright Road, 2012, lens, darkened room. Installation view, Camden Arts Centre, London.

    After the Deluge

    THE WEEK THIS ISSUE of Artforum was supposed to go to press, the “natural” disaster dubbed Hurricane Sandy devastated thousands of homes and huge swaths of coastline in the eastern United States. I use scare quotes around natural because the weather is, as we know, intricately tied to man-made environmental changes—and also because to understand something as natural is to normalize it, indeed to naturalize it, and this event was, like countless crises facing us around the world, hardly comprehensible. It was strange, and it was horrific. I will not forget driving down Seventh Avenue and

  • Pages from Wolfgang Tillmans’s FESPA Digital/Fruit Logistica (Walther König, 2012)


    MICHELLE KUO: I was struck by your reaction to the David Hockney exhibition in London this past spring [“A Bigger Picture,” Royal Academy of Arts]. Beyond any sheer aesthetic pleasure, you seemed especially taken by the show’s structure, in which traditionally painted canvases were shown alongside digitally produced paintings as well as arrays of video monitors that functioned as display “canvases.”

    WOLFGANG TILLMANS: Hockney’s exhibition is a fascinating example of the veil we put around medium. This is a subject I’ve been dealing with in my work from the beginning, so I was intrigued to see

  • Letter from Philip Leider to Matthew Baigell, October 30, 1967.

    Introduction by Michelle Kuo

    THE MESSAGE WAS BRIEF. Typed as if for telex, a 1967 memo from this magazine’s editor, Philip Leider, responded to a writer’s pitch with characteristically lapidary concision: “I can’t imagine Artforum ever doing a special issue on electronics or computers in art, but one never knows.” And, really, how could one know? The contingency of the moment is right there in black and white. Leider’s skeptical words said one thing, but the memo’s blocky, futuristic design, as if auguring a world defined by computer terminals and communications media, said another.

    The magazine Leider helmed—which,

  • Cover of Artforum 20, no. 6 (February 1982).

    Ingrid Sischy talks with Michelle Kuo

    MICHELLE KUO: Under your tenure [1980–88], Artforum distinctly moved beyond the visual arts, to culture more broadly—not only to different media but to mass media.

    INGRID SISCHY: Much of that impetus came from what artists themselves were looking at, talking about, and creating. If you look at our very first issue [February 1980], we handed the editorial pages over to artists and alternative art magazines. We didn’t ask them what they were going to do before they sent in their projects.

    And that was no accident. The philosophy behind it derived, in large part, from the world of artists’