Art Jones: Disidentification

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Art Jones: Disidentifications a show I curated for the Heter Art Gallery at UMass Amherst is now on view.

Art Jones: Disidentifications celebrates the 30-year career of artist, Art Jones. Working across film, video, live media performance, and 3-D printed sculptures, Jones’ explores how social information is both transmitted and received. Experimentation with traditional media forms through the manipulation of image, sound, text, and data is a key component in this exploration. In the early 1990s, Jones developed a unique visual hip hop aesthetic that translated the aural qualities of rap music to moving images. In a series of three videos addressing the early hip hop music scene, Jones introduced video noise, rapid-fire repetitive editing, and image distortion to the traditional documentary format. Two of these videos, Media Assassin (1990) and Know Your Enemy (1991) are included in the exhibition. With Fell on Financial Crisis (2018), Jones’ returned to the documentary format, this time producing a karaoke-style video that remixes footage from Operation Wall Street and the French yellow vest economic protests with lyrics from “Fell on Black Days” by Soundgarden. Other recent videos playfully examine the interplay between moving image, audio, and text. Afro-Futurist Vernacular (2019), for example, explores the poetic possibilities of mis-translation as a computerized Siri-like voice misreads the lyrics to “Earth People” by Dr. Octagon (aka Kool Keith). The exhibition also features blue/lives (2018-2021), a moving series of 3D-printed topological sculptures that map the sites of fatal encounter between unarmed civilians and law enforcement in the United States. 

Visitors to Herter Art Gallery’s Soundcloud site can listen to brief clips of Art Jones discussing artworks included in the exhibition: https://soundcloud.com/user-335597275

Art Jones’s multimedia, video, and installation work has been exhibited in the U.S. and internationally at venues such as Ars Electronica, MOMA, Tate Gallery, Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning and LA Freewaves, among others.  He works in a variety of old and new media interfaces and continues to perform at various locations. He is from the Bronx, New York, and lives in New York City. 

Art Jones: Disidentifications will open for viewing with special evening hours on Thursday, September 23, 2021, from 4:00-6:00 p.m. A closing event, featuring a live video performance by Art Jones, will take place at the Studio Arts Building at UMass Amherst on Friday, October 22 at 6:00 p.m.