Still from Mounted Horse Men featuring an unmounted donkey man.
Christy Gast is an artist whose practice is immersed in investigations of liminal landscapes. Driving around South Florida and the wider USA with her video camera she visits local history museums, public lands and the communities that support them. Through exploring folklore, music and vernacular architecture from cultural fringes her work takes on a narrative structure, or logic, expressed with a variety of media.
“A landscape’s overlooked detritus, if closely examined, reveals much about the cultural histories of place and people both in conflict and accord. I am interested in often-overlooked places where history and identity politics intersect as metaphors on the body or the landscape.” – Christy Gast.
Her most recent project, Mounted Horse Men, can be expressed as part sculpture, part accessory, part documentary; a primitive tool that, once removed from its sheath and inserted into a USB drive, launches a national video study of men imposing order upon landscape.
Aside from the anthropological nature of the study, one of the things that makes Mounted Horse Men interesting is that it was commissioned by open-Player, a revolutionary downloadable software application that enables users to store, playback and transfer video art across a digital network in broadcast quality.
open-Player was developed by Drazen Pantic, a micromedia activist, mathematician and computer programmer from Belgrade, Serbia. In addition to founding OpenNet, the Internet department of Radio B92 in Belgrade, co-founding OpenNet.org, Serbia’s first internet service provider, and advocating the use of the Internet to support independent media and free expression, Pantic was instrumental in the over throwing of Yugoslav President Slobodan Milošević through the countering of political repression in the former Yugoslavia with the use of new media technologies.
“Resisting censorship and reporting news that the government wanted suppressed, [Radio B92] was banned several times after its illegal launch in 1989, including a 1996 incident in which the President’s son stormed the studio, threatening to kill the station manager. Radio B92 provided Yugoslavia’s only independent coverage of the 1996-97 protests and the 1999 NATO war.” – www.nndb.com.
Now living in New York, Pantic is a well-known proponent of micromedia and in addition to co-directing Location One, a real-world art gallery for digital, visual, performing and on-line arts in Soho (26 Greene St., NY), he also pioneers open-Player.
Installation of Mounted Horse Men using a white ibook G4.
Having perfected their technology, open-Player is now commissioning artists for small editions to be released on USB sticks utilizing their new compression and playback software for their Video-On-Stick initiative. Each edition includes a video project and a USB enclosure designed, altered or handmade by an artist.
For Mounted Horse Men, Gast met with Pantic in New York to discuss and produce marketing materials for her project. After researching the capabilities of open-Player, Gast decided to create a composite piece consisting of a stick (literally) containing many files that open-Player would configure and play as one video. The order of the clips is reconfigured each time the stick is inserted to a port, revealing new meta-narratives. Here’s a sample:
Sifting through hours of investigative footage, Gast selected clips for Mounted Horse Men that best conveyed her experience of the male relationship to the environment. Objectively, but with a peculiar fondness, she presents the bonds that her subject’s form with their landscapes as a means to understanding and ultimately controlling them. Male belligerence in regard to order and rationalistic endeavors bordering on the obsessive can of course be evidenced in many areas of life from alphabetized CD collections to a common fascination for (yet equal frustration with) mechanics, however, whether Gast’s work, which is largely derived from experiences in the US, points a finger specifically at the typicality of the American male, the male in general, or even points at all is yet to be determined. Nevertheless, her choice of subjects, as diverse as outsider artists, heritage tour guides, model railway fanatics, river conservationists and the occasional serendipitous spectacle of westernized masculinity (as in the case of the flying cowboy) relate simply, if not with a certain sense of satire, within the context of living human realities.
Still from Mounted Horse Men featuring the flying cowboy.
Mounted Horse Men Mounted Horse Men is an edition of 20 available through open-player and Art Metropole. Each ‘stick’ is unique and comes with a holster made of natural Maine leather, signed and numbered by the artist.
Christy Gast’s work is currently on view in Showings, a NWSA faculty exhibition Opening Thursday August 27th on Ne 2nd St., and in November will be featured in Night Shift, an upcoming group exhibition at Bass Museum, Miami Beach, curated by Jerome Sans.
For more information please visit: www.christygast.info
This post was contributed by Thomas Hollingworth.