Underground in the Aether
Hannah B. Higgins, Vincent Bonin, Allison Collins, Luis Jacob, Jee-Hae Kim, Felicity Tayler
VIVO Media Arts Centre, 2625 Kaslo Street — Saturday, April 8, 10AM – 5PM, 2017
Robin Simpson and Joni Low invited me to participate in Underground in the Aether, a symposium responding to the themes of collectivity, selfhood, and communication circuits in the exhibition Hank Bull: Connexion. Organized by Or Gallery, in partnership with Burnaby Art Gallery, VIVO Media Arts Centre and Doryphore Independent Curators Society, the symposium took place as the closing event for Spring Fever: Vancouver Independent Archives 2017.
My contribution, “The Spirit of Those Spaces Where Networks Overlap,” takes Hank Bull’s article “The Relican Wedding,” (Centerfold, July 1979) as a case study, highlighting the “politics of publicity” that are enacted in a transitional moment for news media, intermedia art, artistic subcultures and national culture. “The Relican Wedding” parodies news reporting, exploiting the print culture form of the magazine for the documentation of a live peformance event, which was also recorded using the electronic medium of video. We could think of it in today’s terms as a cross-platform event that took place between more than one networking technology and/or social imaginary. Initially published as a tabloid newsletter by Arton’s, an artist-run gallery founded in Calgary in 1975, earlier issues of Centerfold(1975–1979) covered the activities of artists, musicians and poets who, like Hank Bull, identified with Robert Filliou’s post-national concept of the Eternal Network. Centerfold was distributed for free amongst this affinity group, using mailing lists similarly activated to circulate correspondence and video art. Bull’s Relican “reporting from Vancouver,” on the other hand, was published shortly after the magazine had relocated to Toronto, a city that was positioned as the communications centre for a networked national geography. Following the move in 1979, Centerfold was reinvented as a subscription-based artists’ news magazine, FUSE (1979–2014).