The Power of Messaging through Electronic Intervention in the Public Space

Projection on the TRUMP International Hotel by BellVisuals

Join us live & online for Networked Conversations, hosted by Randall Packer from the Underground Studio Bunker in Washington, DC with Robin Bell & Leanne Mella, Saturday, January 25, 12-1pm ET-US. 

When artists emerge from their studios to use the public space as their canvas, things can get dangerously interesting. Art is traditionally a sequestered activity. You know, the romantic notion that the artist holed up in their atelier studio bathes in the silence of the night to create impossible images of the imagination. On the other hand, there is another path for artistic creation. It’s been called “post-studio” by the conceptualists (coined by John Baldessari who just last week passed away), in which the artist transgresses the arbitrary boundaries between the studio and the world out there. It is in this approach that art making leaks out of the holy studio practice and enters into an often “unholy” alliance with the public space to transmit signals of social & political messaging.

Projection at the Environmental Projection Agency by BellVisuals

It is in the environs of the nation’s capital where Washington, DC media artist Robin Bell (Bell Visuals) has extended his studio practice. Yes, Robin does operates a media studio for the usual everyday tasks of editing and post production in the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood of DC. But clearly, the architecturally austere & imposing government buildings situated around the National Mall have provided him with the perfect canvas, a mis-en-scene for timely interventions, a space for using his electronic projections to instigate public dialogue & subversive infiltration. In the age of XTreme TRUMPology, when climate change, war, corruption, and abuse of power threaten to engulf the world in apocalyptic terror, here in the streets of Washington, DC we find fertile ground for challenging the status quo with projected messaging that contradicts & disrupts the intent of the symbols of power.

Projection at the US Capitol by BellVisuals

Bell’s work with the projected image has a broad history & context in interventionist electronic art, perhaps most notoriously the projection of Robert Mapplethorpe’s image on the Corcoran Gallery of Art in 1989 to protest the scandalous closure of the artist’s exhibition. The well known artist Jenny Holzer has staged numerous works in public spaces with her aphoristic texts, including her 2004 and 2007 anti-war projections in the nation’s capital. And The Illuminator is an artist-activist collective based in New York City that has infiltrated DC and The TRUMP International Hotel as well, transforming TRUMP’s emolument-infested “hotellerie” into what they refer to as a “a site of engagement, conflict, and dialogue.”

Impeach Him projection at the TRUMP International Hotel by The Illuminator

I look forward to discussing Robin Bell’s work on our upcoming Networked Conversations, along with the curator and cultural producer Leanne Mella, who brings a long & informed history working with pioneering media artists that have pushed their activist work far beyond the confines of the studio. I invite you to join us in our participatory online third space medium, a new kind of virtual public space for art & activism, where together we can discuss the implications of electronic media and its interventions in this 2020 banner year of political chaos. #rawhope of artistic mediation!

Emoluments Welcome, projection by BellVisuals

Follow this link to register and “save your spot” in our online platform Crowdcast to attend Networked Conversations, hosted by Randall Packer with Robin Bell & Leanne Mella, Saturday, January 25, 12-1pm ET-US. Calculate your time zone.