AdrienneRose Gionta is an interdisciplinary artist and independent curator from Brooklyn, NY residing in South Florida. She has earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Sculpture along with a minor in Psychology from Florida Atlantic University and has worked as the assistant to the director at the University Galleries at FAU & as the co-creator/coordinator for the FAU Fine Arts Festival with Department of Art & Art History. Gionta has been the Gallery Coordinator at the Miami Beach Urban Studios Gallery & is currently a Teaching Assistant while attending Florida International University pursuing her Master of Fine Arts in Time-Based Media & Photography on a Full Scholarship & Graduate Assistantship.
Gionta has been the recipient of several awards such as the Women in the Visual Arts Scholarship, The Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties Art Educators Fellowship, the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters Friedland Project Grant, & The National League of American Pen Women Marion Kofman Scholarship.
She has co-curated & designed exhibitions at the University Galleries & has exhibited at Art Basel Miami, FL; Art and Culture Center of Hollywood, Hollywood, FL; David Castillo Gallery, Miami, FL; Girls’ Club; 18 Rabbit, Ft. Lauderdale, FL; Locust Projects, Miami, FL; Zadok Gallery, Miami FL; Armory Art Center, West Palm Beach;Showtel, West Palm Beach & 10×10, Lake Worth, FL. Her work is also included in the private collection of Francie Bishop Good and David Horvitz as well as the Florida Atlantic University Department of Visual Arts & Art History and other private collections.
The following is discussion between AdrienneRose Gionta and Eddie Arroyo via email.
I’m interested in having a discussion on interactive video (video games) and how the medium is being utilized in art practice. Have you had a chance to see the current MOCA exhibtion Love of Technology? If so what are your thoughts on it?
Adrienne Rose Gionta
I am not afraid to admit my lifelong love affair with video games and spent countless hours at sleepovers with one of my best friends trying to solve the original Nintendo Super Mario’s Bros game that rocked our video game loving worlds. This could very well be my first experience with what I would call interactive gaming. One could be Mario & one could be Luigi either working together or against one another at the same exact time. Interacting side by side IRL (In Real Life) while also virtually on screen. Interactivity in gaming certainly has progressed since then as well as my interest to analyze the sociological & physiological effects.
I will be going to see the I Love Technology at MOCA Tuesday night. So I will get back to you on that after I do. I can’t go to an exhibition like this on an opening night there’s too much going on & too many people to distract me from what I desire to learn from this particular body of work. I did however find that UNNATURAL at the Bass was one of my favorite technology infused exhibitions this year. Did you see this one?
For quite some time, the label video game was term I was uncomfortable with to describe the medium as a form of expression. Interactive gaming seems to be a good direction. Now, I heard of the Unnatural exhibition but never had the opportunity to experience it. Tell me your impression of it.
Why were you uncomfortable with the label “video game”? I suppose when you break it down. Anything you can manipulate could be considered interactive. Is it interactive with the medium itself &/ or with others that interests you? When we are playing with & against a non living creature verses when we play with other people there are different sorts of interactions involving relations of varying degrees.
Unnatural at the BASS was slightly overwhelming with the amount of work present so I had to visit several times and even took my Electronic Art class for a field trip. The giant sperm whale 4 channel video installation piece was by far the most impressive and creepy. As it disorients you to feeling like you are in an aquarium within an art museum seeing relics of the past in a post apocalyptic world trying to fool us in to believing they still exist. Jennifer Steinkamp’s video installations are something I had always wanted to experience in person as I have been a big fan of her work via the Internet. All of these artificial computerized representations of nature made precious by bringing them into this place…. forcing interaction… relying on memory & experience to meet each object individually & collectively as a pawn in a game.
Over a year ago, I began speaking with artists and organizers about individuals who use video games as a medium to convey concepts. There was this odd tension and even a dismissive attitude toward it and for me more telling of its history. Certain people still see it as a form of entertainment at best or a complete waste of time at worst. This perception of Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros, Tomb Raider, etc… name your game narrative. There was even speculation as to the validity of Cory Arcangel’s work when I spoke to a certain local artist.
Case in point, there was an acceptable exhibit last year at the Boca Museum of Art entitled The Art of Video Games. It’s an on tour exhibition launched by the Smithsonian American Art Museum which is an educational retrospective of the history of this medium. It is well known that I am guilty of nostalgia but to see an Atari 2600 in a Museum setting, well, it’s more than just that, under a context of art history. It was exciting. As a collective and progression of work from different artists, developers, and companies. I began to see it vwas a history of narratives.
You spoke to me earlier of your experience with the original Nintendo Super Mario’s Bros game as interactive. This avatar who may come in the form of Mario and Luigi as you interact, not only with the program, but also the side by side IRL. Its physiological effects come in the form of its narrative. You and your friends’ efforts are dedicated to rescuing Princess Peach from Bowser in this foreign land of the Mushroom Kingdom. The story is very classic and misogynistic in its nature and it’s targeted toward children.
On the same point there is the example of Metroid and its reveal at the end where Samus Aran is this attractive female protagonist. It was a surprise to me that after all the ass kicking I did in the game that I was experiencing the story of a woman. This medium has that kind of gravity and impression on an individual. Paintings, poems, music, novels carry that moment of insight.
Have you ever spoken to Bonnie Clearwater about Cory Archangel? I attended one of her Bootcamp series… where she was doing research & wrote about what will save art. I had the impression that it was technology based practices and artist such as Cory Archangel were the saviors. I may be exaggerating in my favor but that’s the message I picked up.
I understand the stigma associated with using video game as a medium and am ready to arm myself with all I need to know to how to tap dance all over the naysayers. The video game genre by and large is indeed misogynistic, male dominated. I am working within these confinements and trying to figure out how to use them to my advantage. What’s your strategy? Your hope? Your vision?
Have you ever seen this artist Feng Mengbo? He is like a dream to me. I need to surround myself with more people like him. I would go crazy with all of that old-school equipment. I am intrigued by his way of thinking about our environments (both real & virtual), how they affect our aesthetic, shaping those worlds, folding them over layer into layer. In baking, to “fold” is the term used for gently combining a delicate mixture into a heavier textured, thicker mixture in a way that will ensure that both mixtures are properly combined without impeding the ability of both mixtures to work as desired.
Feng Mengbo, Long March: Restart, 2008
Yes, the “I love Technology” exhibition at the MOCA is a good direction as to where contemporary art is going in reference to interactive gaming. It’s not a matter of if but when it will be acceptable and prevalent as a medium. It’s relatively a soft introduction to where technology is today but there were two pieces stood out in my mind. Morag Keil’s installation where there was a video shot in a first person view point, in reference to first person shooter games. The association was obvious to me because the background sound was of the X-Box game Halo. It was strange to hear the guns fire off and the noise emanating from the piece. It even had the sound when your force field inevitably recharge. The camera would move around an apparel retail store panning left to right, back and forth. It was such an exciting and foreign thing to experience in a museum setting.
Ian Cheng is less esoteric in its presentation with the Thousand Islands Thousand Laws video with his use this misogynistic avatar as you referenced earlier. A theme which is very prevalent in the video game community. In fact the presentation is surreal and even abstract in nature as this gun wielding character is walking aimlessly around a swampy dystopia environment. That was my favorite piece in the entire exhibit in its solidarity.
I was not aware of Bonnie Clearwater’s sensibility toward Cory Archangel but agree with her in reference as technology and subsequently interactive gaming becoming more prevalent in practice. As for Feng Mengbo video interview… its mind blowing and exactly what we have been discussing. Mengbo has effectively used the medium and iconic images and has infused it with his culture and personal identity. Especially his use of the Little Red Solider and using Coke bottles as bombs.
There is a word that keeps popping up around me that I never really had an issue with until recently. It came about when I presented and moderated a title for roundtable discussion for Locust Projects last year. I was corresponding with Amanda Sanfilippo concerning the title of the discussion. My proposal was to name it the “Miami Aesthetic”. She recommended using the word vernacular. I didn’t really care what it was called as long as there was a venue for me to discuss my thoughts and ideas with the local art community. Hence it was titled the “Miami Vernacular”.
It’s a word I continue to ponder as it’s applied to the practice of production of art. Today, I agree with Amanda and feel that aesthetic is a poor choice and very limited way to describe art. Aesthetics is a focused on a visual appreciation of beauty and how it evolves in time and place – too much on the surface. Whereas vernacular is concerned with a language or dialect spoken and what follows is a narrative of personal experience expressed in.. anything. In the case of Megbo, his practice is more than simply aesthetics but conveys experience with the Chinese Vernacular. Chinese history and popular culture is the narrative mixed together with personal identity or to “fold” as you noted. It’s the foundation of good art.
I totally agree with you about the two works that you liked at MOCA. I also enjoyed the drawings in the first room of the cyborg creatures however the rest of the works didn’t translate as well. I was confused by how Josh Smith and a few others related.
I am further contemplating your aesthetic vs. vernacular word debacle and fascinated with the implication of terminology. I’m not sure if you have had seen this or have had time to… but I would love your feedback & some conversation about my project: My Big Fat Summer As a Skinny Hot Chick
Yes, I’m aware of the project but for the purpose of the conversation please elaborate on the intent.
Is it strange of me to ask your interpretation of the intent before I answer you? I am curious as to what you get from it so that I can see if any of what I’m doing is readable/recognizable….
The purpose to state your intention is to elaborate on something that has not presented by the work. Very well, I do understand why you would ask first. The Title of the series is “My Big Fat Summer as a Skinny Hot Chick”. I remember visiting the site when the summer began and we spoke about your expectations for the project. The use of the online game Second Life makes the research that much more interesting and am glad to see that you have really taken advantage of the medium. I find it to be an exercise of experiencing life free from social norms and judgment. This is a literal interpretation.
In what ways has this series affected you in your first life?
I am curious as to how others see it versus what I know of it initially. since it is a web based project I know many people have seen it, like six-thousand times or so. However I’am not sure what they see, think or experience… not sure it completely matters, to answer your question.
In what ways has this series affected you in your first life?
Aside from insomnia…
I began to dream in both worlds toward the end of the series. They were intertwined and seamless, effortlessly existing simultaneously, further emphasizing my desire to create with this dynamic IRL with my art. The physiological responses during game play were surprisingly strong yet not completely or fully the same: I felt attached, empathetic & responsible for my avatar. There were times I/she elated and floating on cloud nine and times where I regretted and felt bad for decisions I had made that she then would have to endure. Of course I am braver with letting her do the more daring and adventurous things that I may like to explore IRL but probably never will… the risk is of course not the same.
Most importantly perhaps it has brought awareness of my own body/ mind disconnect. Many of us live in our mind, steering our bodies according to thought but without feeling…on auto pilot. When I am reconnected with my body. Frustrated with it & myself for not being able to look, do and feel the way I wish it would. Operating within the virtual world alleviates some of this frustration while also feeding the disconnect further.
See that’s the thing which compelled me about your project and this is true with art practice. Its a representation of the human condition. The excitement rests on your utilization of this new medium. There are many people online experiencing it in different ways, to be sure, particularly on second life. What is notable about your initiative is the conscious documentation, public availability, and subsequently its presentation in the arena of contemporary art. As for feedback, any of the social media outlets would resolve this issue.
There is the piece you presented in the current exhibition at the 6th street container that alludes to this disconnection you mentioned earlier. The projection video of your avatar falling through the sky and a looking glass facing the wall parallel to it. Of course my reference to Carroll was attached to the piece but in the spirit of this interpretation tell me of your adventures in wonderland. Lets talk about your white rabbit which came in the form of the avatar RC.
First, I completely agree and appreciate your feedback. It was one of the most difficult performances piece I have yet to endure; and I stood still for 2 hours straight, facing a wall two times in two different locations with Misael Soto back in the day. I thought that was hard, but was relieved to blend in & take part in someone else’s project; and all I had to do is what I was instructed to do. This project was a challenge to myself… to stay committed to something from beginning to end while concurring some of my biggest fears. I love to write but have always lived in fear of others seeing what I write. It even paralyze me for a long time and it’s part of the reason why I chose to return to school; to force me to write.
I find executing my moves within the web aesthetic informal format of Tumblr is less intimidating. In fact I find it’s flow more intuitive to how I think and how I like to work. It was very difficult and challenging knowing I was putting it all out there for anyone and everyone to see. I found myself questioning the editing/curating process: what do i divulge? How honest could I, should I, would I be? Eventually I began to have fun with my journal entries by adding links that would lead the reader further down the rabbit hole with me. Either way it was liberating, exciting, and daring. I also wanted to further explore my interest in Tumblr art projects. I have quite a few others floating around that are a little more anonymous.
Although, I have great respect for galleries & institutions I desire to make art that reaches further than four walls can; you don’t even have to leave Miami to see it. The delivery and content warrant a more intimate setting. I am not a “surface” person and hopefully my art reflects that. Perhaps lying in bed with your lap top…or on the couch…or at your desk… alone… is part of the collaboration. I feel the internet is the perfect vehicle for expressing some of my projects as well because I am curious about how the internet influences the art world as a whole and what my part in that could be. I also have thought of having the whole story published as a book from beginning to end – as some have told me it would make a great romance novel. Perhaps I will link up with the right circumstances to make that happen. I do love books and have created a few narrative photography based books before that were super cool. After that comes the unauthorized…un-edited content…
Because of my appreciation and understanding of the gallery, I intuitively have collected things from this project and put them aside for exhibition opportunities such as 6th Street Container. As soon as I walked into the space I knew I wanted to project something onto that specific wall…recalling the falling video I had captured quite a while back and the conversation I had with Mr. FY who explaied to me how relationships in SL are like “falling down the rabbit hole so to say”. It was one of those moments where i get really excited because I know everything is just coming together. I couldn’t wait to get back to the studio to put together and play with my idea. Creating site specific work is always an exciting challenge for me.
Here is my project statement…
“falling into the rabbit hole…so to say”, 2013 is a looping video projection with sound that was created specifically for the space I have chosen within the gallery. This work is a visual interpretation of a voice conversation that I had with an online/virtual lover who actually used that phrase as a cautionary tale that sort of came true while expressing a reoccurring fear/ dream sequence that I have experienced throughout my life. The words of Edgar Allen Poe sum it all up very well…. “All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.”
Unlike many of the viewers at 6th Street you know about the web portion of this project and have tied this project to the other perfectly when you say that it does reflect the disconnect that I spoke of. I didn’t even realize it till you pointed it out. So thank you for that gem! Also thank you for taking the time to do this!
Ohhhh…. I wouldn’t say that RC is the white rabbit…. essentially I feel PLEASURE is the white rabbit and he (RC) is but one of the manifestations of it. Wouldn’t you agree?
Yes… I would.