"I still think the social function of art is that kind of negative aesthetic. Otherwise there’s no social function for it."
From "Art in the Twenty-First Century" Season 3 (2005)
The artists in “Structures” create systems, shift contexts, and engage with perception, utilizing unconventional devices such as exhibitions within exhibitions and dramatic shifts in scale between microcosm and macrocosm. Introduced by actor Sam Waterston, “Structures” is shot on location in Akureyri, Iceland; London, England; New York, New York; Houston, Texas; North Adams, Massachussetts; São Paolo, Brazil; Newark, New Jersey; Göteborg, Sweden; Santa Fe, New Mexico; and Austin, Texas.
“All anyone is trying to do is try out some new ideas,” says Mathew Ritchie in describing the project of modern art. Ambitious certainly describes Ritchie's work, which seeks to picture the known universe. In “The Universal Cell,” Ritchie uses computers and metal cutting equipment to transform drawings into sculpture. “If the universe is a prison, this is your cell...and you drag it with you everywhere you go.” In another show, “Proposition Player,” Ritchie creates a series of games to explore the continuum of risk, possibility, and universal connection. Ritchie reflects on how humans filter out information in order to go about their lives. “Can we turn the volume up just a little bit more?” he asks.
Fred Wilson blurs the line between art and curating by designing a museum exhibition space in Sweden that reorients archeological pieces to create new contextual meanings. “I would like to think that objects have memories, and that we have memories about certain objects,” he says. “A lot of what I do is eliciting memory from an object.” Mounting tear-shaped black glass drips on a white wall, and later creating prints of black spots, Wilson reflects on how he was “shunned” as a black child in an all-white school. “A lot of my project is trying to understand the visual world around me,” he says. “What is me, and what is something that the rest of the world has said I am?”
“A painting or a sculpture really exists somewhere between what it is and what it is not,” says Richard Tuttle. Tuttle uses humble materials such as paper, wire, and string to create art “that accounts for the invisible.” Tuttle sees his current work as “a conjoining of architecture and calligraphy.” In an exhibition at The Drawing Center in New York, Tuttle creates “villages” in which sculptures invite viewers into a contemplative relationship with the artist’s diminutive drawings. “The emotion of an art response does to me feel like motion,” he observes. “We use that word moved. ‘I am moved.’ And yet we know we’re standing right there and we have this experience of being stationary and moved at the same time.”
“I almost feel like I rediscover water again and again and again,” says Roni Horn. "Some Thames," Horn’s permanent installation at the University of Akureyri in Iceland, disperses 80 photographs of water throughout the school’s public spaces, echoing the ebb and flow of students and learning. While in Iceland, Horn also made "You Are the Weather," a series of some 100 close-up images of one woman. “I was curious to see if I could elicit a place from her face, almost like a landscape,” she explains. Horn’s installations bridge dimensions to “compose space” through images and text. “My relationship to my work is extremely verbal, extremely language-based,” she comments.
Each episode for Season Three concludes with an original work of video art by the artists Teresa Hubbard / Alexander Birchler. Known for their haunting video projections, Hubbard and Birchler’s work alters temporal, cinematic and architectural expectations of the viewer through the use of looping narratives. For Art in the Twenty-First Century, their first commission for television, they have created a series of beautiful and enigmatic short films. Each film uses the same setting—the interior of a police car at night—and begins when one officer brings a cup of coffee for another. Using recurring and non-recurring characters, interrelated dialogue, and ambient sound, the suite of films evoke not only the Seaon Three themes of Power, Memory, Structures and Play, but also sleep, dreams and longing.