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  • Writer's pictureCorrina Crazie Espinosa

Yael Kanerak:

Will the real Yael Kanerak please stand up?

Yael Kanerak is a well-known pioneer in the realm of internet art. Although she was born in New York, she is from Israeliean decent and grew up in Israel. She returned to the US to go to art school and earned her BFA from Empire State College before moving on to attain her MFA from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her work has since been internationally exhibited and Kanerak is celebrated for her use of multilingualism in storytelling and for reshaping cultural associations of language. She's a revolutionary leader in the early development of internet art and has a long history of important technological and based collaborative projects on an international level. In addition to the role of artist, Kanerak is also an activist and has spearheaded some powerful community based projects that have been highly influential in providing education and other resources in the development of the digital art/international art community.

Love Letter, 2010, site-specific installation, text carved into drywall, pencil, marker, dimensions variable.

“Networks made of Language- Natural and Computer”

Growing up in Israel had a deep impact on Kanerak. She personally experienced the conflicting issues that develop in a multicultural and multilingual society.

“In that ancient land, ambiguous and contradictory narratives violently divided and sometimes bond people together. Her experiences in Israel went on to inform her works of art...” --Austin Peay State University

According to Kanerak her work functions to “nurse the philosophical boundaries of the political and spiritual; artistic and scientific, private and universal; horizontal and vertical.” She has been widely recognized for her works that include personal childhood memories from her experiences in Israel. She perceives the internet as a “network made of language – natural and computer.” Very recently her work– the Internet art work “Object of Desire” and her series “Textwork” articulate her notions on the net, expressed though many different languages with a primary goal of communicating themes of connection and rejection.

An Eclectic Art Practice

Kanerak’s work is unique for a new media artist in that she moves back and forth between digital and analog.

Here is a painting that was a part of her fifth show at Bitforms Gallery in New York. The show titled, “Kisses, Kisses,” included analog and digital works including paintings such as this as well as multimedia, web based narratives.

Textwork Series

Kanerak’s Work is largely focused on multilingualism and reflects her perception of how language on the net can function as “a border and a space.” Her Textwork series started in 2007 with Hebrew, Arabic and English has grown increasingly complex and has since developed to include additional languages.Kanarek's Textwork Series may seem to be analog on the surface, but Kanerak utilizes some creative new media techniques to weave the works through the digital realm.

White Between the "Green Blouse" and Sneakers, Silicone on wood, diameter 42 in / 106.7 cm, depth 2 in / 5.1 cm

In this sculptural piece called, White Between the "Green Blouse" and Sneakers, Kanarek uses silicone forms to repeat the word “white” in nine languages: Amharic, Arabic, English, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Latin, Russian. This work (2011) was inspired by the painting The Green Blouse (1919) by Pierre Bonnard, and borrows from that color palette.

detail White Between the "Green Blouse" and Sneakers,

Mixing Media: When Analog & Digital Collide!

Kanarek notoriously utilizes performance, time, and the internet to allow the works to function on a variety of aesthetic platforms including digitally and in the real world.

Roam, 2001, Computer, speakers, custom self-generating landscape software, soundtrack

Dimensions variable, Installation from the World of Awe solo exhibition at The Moving Image Gallery, New York

In Roam, from 2001, Kanarek combines analog equipment, with digital information (video) on the display. This is one way artists can exhibit their digital artworks in the analog realm.

Sanctify Thyself, (2103 -) The word “white” in nine languages: Amharic, Arabic, English, German, Hebrew, Japanese, Chinese, Latin, Russian Silicone on wooddiameter 42 in / 106.7 cm, depth 2 in / 5.1 cm

Kanarek's piece, Sanctify Thyself, is a prime example of the artists analog/digital aesthetic blend. The sculptural piece was exhibited as an interactive performance in which viewers were encouraged to pose in from of the piece with the work as their background and snap a photo for Instagram. They were invited to play with the theme of “self sanctification."

The Instagram feed is accessible here: #sanctifythyself

Video Clocks

On the Digital side of Kanarek's artistic spectrum are her "Video Clocks." In 2010 she set out working on a new a series with a software designer named Shawn Lawson. Video Clocks are screen-based computational, audiovisual-collages.

Heavenly, So Long!, 2011, Custom software, computer, video display, Infinite duration, Screen dimensions variable (minimum projection: 15 feet wide), Software designed by Yael Kanarek and Shawn Lawson, Sound by Andrea Parkins, Commissioned by Flux Factory, Queens for the exhibition "The Typhoon Continues and So Do You," 2011. Sound designed by acclaimed experimental musician, Andrew Parker.

For this piece Kanarek was challenged to react to one of five political viral media pieces. Heavenly, So Long!, is what formed from the amalgamation of the North Korean Army March that documented by Western journalists. The video remixed was then set to the tune of video game music. Heavenly, So Long! has been described as "a remix to the remix."

"A musical box gone mad, Heavenly So Long! is a spectacle on the spectacle. Motion set in time, a march and parade on an endless loop, set to keep time, as the hand of the deceased dictator, Num Jung Il, waves so long every full hour to mark the passing time." --From the Artists Vimeo Channel.

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