by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

Avant/Garde Diaries Festival in Los Angeles - Transmission LA: AV CLUB curated by Mike D

Yesterday evening, the multi-disciplinary Avant/Garde Diaries festival “Transmission LA: AV CLUB curated by Mike D”, from 20th April to 6th May 2012, opened at The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Los Angeles. Until 6th May, Mike D of Beastie Boys presents the event as official curator, which features a mixture of contemporary art, design, music, film and food. The artists include Peter Coffin, Jim Drain, Will Fowler, Benjamin Jones, Mike Mills, Takeshi Murata and Tom Sachs among others as well as an outdoor pop-up restaurant from Chef Roy Choi and interactive coffee bar designed by Robert McKinley. A special highlight is the artistically staged world premiere of the Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupé. It offers a glimpse of the all-new midsize four-door luxury coupé scheduled for market launch next year. Entry to the festival is free of charge.

With different exhibitions, concerts, DJ nights, performances and installations, the festival illustrates, in keeping with the title “AV CLUB”,how audio and visual art forms can inspire each another and unleash unimagined synergies. The Mercedes-Benz Concept Style Coupé, too, will be staged in an installation. "What you are seeing is: The Mercedes-Benz A.K.A Benzo Concept Style Coupé, will be bathed not unlike a young infant in an installation of light and sound. We were inspired by our visit to the Design Center and to Mercedes-Benz’s climate tunnel. We have used the car to create an installation that uses light triggered by sound to startling effect translating the car’s dynamics into real movement,” said curator Mike D of Beastie Boys.

The four-door coupé is set in front of a large, matte mirror wall and is illuminated from above by LED panels arranged at a 30-degree angle to accentuate the distinctive, powerfully taut side lines. The LED lights react to a soundtrack that Ad Rock from Beastie Boys produced specifically for the installation. The light reflections, which adjust in line with the music, symbolise the vehicle’s unique aerodynamics. Furthermore, four large beams of light incorporate the visitors into the scene creating an interactive experience.

“This impressive staging emphasizes the exceptionally avant-garde design of the Concept Style Coupé. This vehicle is a style rebel that sets new benchmarks for midsize sports coupés,” said Gorden Wagener, Head of Mercedes-Benz Design.

The Avant/Garde Diaries

“Transmission LA: AV CLUB curated by Mike D” is the sequel to the series of festivals created by Mercedes-Benz that premiered in Berlin last summer with curator and fashion designer Raf Simons. “As time and products change, our brand and the way it is presented changes, too,”

said Anders Sundt Jensen, Vice President Brand Communications Mercedes-Benz Cars. “With the Avant/Garde Diaries we have established a creative platform to present social and contemporary issues and to question the status quo. At Mercedes-Benz, curiosity and the joy of breaking through existing barriers have always been drivers for innovation and progress.”

In the Avant/Garde Diaries festivals, international artists and trend-setters meet under the curatorship of a visionary pioneer in order to present their view of the world of today and their vision of the world of tomorrow, and to exchange views about these with experts and the public. The basis for this is the digital interview magazine that presents exceptional people, as well as style-forming and pioneering ideas, at . In addition, the magazine reports extensively on the festivals taking place in several major cities around the world.

Opening hours of “Transmission LA: AV CLUB”

Sunday: 11 am to 6 pm
Monday: noon to 6 pm
Tuesday: closed
Wednesday, Thursday, Friday: noon to 10 pm
Saturday: 11 am to 10 pm

“Transmission LA: AV CLUB”presenting
art, design, music, film and food: 
International reknown artists and musicians
bring acoustic and visual art together

The artists participating in the “Transmission LA: AV CLUB” festival were selected by curator Mike D, a musician, artist, producer and founding member of The Beastie Boys. He lives and works in New York City and Los Angeles. The Beastie Boys had one of the richest, most important careers in hip-hop and rock, introducing rap to a huge new audience and then pushing the frontiers of what a hip-hop group could do. In April 2012 the Beastie Boys received their merited spot at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and can without a doubt be called one of the most important and avant-garde music groups of all times. Mike D is a creative mastermind in many different artistic fields and has an enormous impact on global pop culture. His vision and his network of outstanding people make him one of the most inspiring icons of post-modern society.

The Artists Mike D chose are:

Cory Arcangel
He creates work in many different media, including drawing, music, video, performance, and video game modifications, for which he is perhaps best known. Arcangel’s work has appeared in many museum exhibitions, including a solo exhibition at the Migros Museum in Zurich, Switzerland, and exhibitions at the Barbican Centre in London, England and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, Illinois. Arcangel often uses the artistic strategy of appropriation, creatively re-using existing materials such as dancing stands, Photoshop gradients, and YouTube videos to create new works of art.

Mike D: “With Cory Arcangel I like his diversity and complexity. His work explores the relationship between technology and culture.”

Sanford Biggers
A native of Los Angeles and current New York resident, Sanford Biggers uses the study of ethnological objects, popular icons, and the Dadaist tradition to explore cultural and creative syncretism, art history, and politics. An accomplished musician, Biggers often incorporates performative elements into his sculptures and installations, resulting in multilayered works that act as anecdotal vignettes, at once full of wit and clear formal intent. Biggers has won several awards including: The Creative Time Travel Grant, Creative Capital Project Grant, New York Percent for the Arts Commission, Art Matters Grant, New York Foundation for the Arts Award in performance art/multidisciplinary work and others.

Mike D: “Sanford immediately came to mind for this show as his work continues to explore the dialogue and border that exists between music, visual, art, expression, spirituality and the moment. Thankfully he is part of this program.”

Roy Choi
His food truck “Kogi Korean BBQ” has won much recognition, including a Bon Appétit Award in 2009 and “Best New Chef” for Roy Choi by Food & Wine in 2010, the first for a food truck. It was also recognized as one of the Top 5 Food Trucks in the U.S. by

Mike D: “This LA native represents the truly global vision and tastes that can be LA at least in a culinary sense. Roy truly amazes me with his ability to reinvent radically different cuisines presenting them with respect for what they are but completely remixed or reinvented. His work is really analogous to what a hip hop producer or DJ does, chopping up a sample, re-contextualising it, adding beets, maybe a little vocal and on and on. And he makes a hell of a mixed tape.”

Peter Coffin
His work is exhibited internationally and features in several prominent collections. Peter Coffin received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Davis in 1995, subsequently attending Carnegie Mellon University and receiving an MFA in 2000. He is currently collaborating with Al Jaffee inspired by his undergraduate personal encounter with the modern dance choreographer Twyla Tharp. Often using art history as a departure point for his surreal reinventions, Peter Coffin’s work engages with pre-conceptions about cultural ideals to challenge established perception and interpretation.

Mike D: “Peter is a mad man, genius, and physicist/prankster and keeps a sly wit in cold storage for special occasions.”

Will Fowler
His abstract paintings reference early Modernism, can sometimes take years to complete and often feature the same patterns and shapes that appeared in his previous work. At the NY Armory Show at David Kordansky’s gallery in March 2010, Fowler’s works were the objects of desire: Kordansky moved 13 of them in under two hours. MoMA trustee David Teiger even snagged three of them.

Mike D: “I first saw Will’s work at David Kordansky’s booth at the Armory show in New York City. Even amongst this chaos, his methodical yet witty abstract canvases stayed tight, focused and galvanising. I was sucked in immediately. One can keep coming back to his work which, filled with enough depth that repeat views are a must and rewarded.”

Jonah Freeman & Justin Lowe
Since 2008 Los Angeles based artists Jonah Freeman and Justin Lowe have been collaborating on several projects; among others they showed their installations at Ballroom Marfa, Deitch Projects, Miami Art Basel and Country Club at R.M. Schindler ’s Buck House. With its work the duo manifests a fictional parallel universe – part slide show and lecture, part fashion show, part art installation, part rock’n’roll freakout. In the ever expanding narrative universe of their work they have amassed a variety of fictional products, books, magazines, movies, drugs, characters and places. The broader picture of their ongoing body of work could be seen as a form of “expanded cinema” in which the various elements that go into the construction of a narrative film are exploded into separate autonomous pieces.

Mike D: “Work that plays with perception, with time with place with reality. History is by nature revisionist anyway. Was Zabriske point a place or a movie or both? Are they artists from Red Hook or Laurel Canyon? If they were a record would they be the Byrds Sweetheart of the Rodeo? I am not sure.”

Benjamin Jones
Besides exhibiting sculptures, paintings and drawings at galleries internationally, Benjamin Jones has designed giant blimps, sneakers and board shorts. He animated music videos for M.I.A. and Beck, staged performances with homemade costumes and produced a plethora of zines, comics and art books – all while tinkering on the website-as-art,, which also hosts a much beloved series of his computer-animated cartoons. Jones has defined an aesthetic both handmade and mass-produced, combining cartoon characters, high energy techno music, meta-graffiti, fantasy worlds and sublime colour fields.

Mike D: “Ben’s work can be silent, in that there can be moving animated images without a sound track, but it can be the loudest thing on the planet. I can truly say that his installation will leave visitors stoked or perhaps nauseous or both.”

David Kramer
He is a co-founder of Family Books a book store at the heart of Los Angeles's thriving art scene. His humorous ramblings tell of an American Dream as Sisyphus’ rock. David Kramer’s work has been exhibited throughout North America, including the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, Pierogi 2000 (Bklyn), Feigen Contemporary (NYC), and RoeblingHall (NYC) as well as various venues in Europe. Kramer’s videos, installations, paintings and drawings satirize his own unrequited and boundless desire for things that offer only temporary fulfilment and diversion from the existential condition – things that are quickly used up and discarded and deemed worthless once in the artist’s possession.

Mike D: “I admire David Kramer for his humour and almost sarcastic approach. I’m looking forward to seeing his contribution to AV CLUB.”

Lauren Mackler / Public Fiction
Lauren Mackler founded Public Fiction in Los Angeles in 2010. The physical space, a storefront in Highland Park, provides a site to experiment with installations, performances and shows on a changing topic. The publication of the same name combines ephemera from these experiments with things that happened outside and around L.A. on the same subject.

Mike D: “Lauren Mackler is an energetic magnet for artistic talent on the East side of L.A. I became aware of her from her publication: Public Fiction. What will go down at the show will go way beyond the publication and will really explore the audio visual realms and realities.”

Robert McKinley
Robert McKinley, principal of Robert McKinley Creative Services (RMCS), and co-owner of GoldBar in New York’s Little Italy and the Surf Lodge in Montauk, New York, has become an industry leader in hospitality design and branding. With a career that began within the fashion houses of Tommy Hilfiger, Donna Karan, and most notably Giorgio Armani, McKinley’s affinity for sophisticated environments was cemented early on with projects including retail store layouts, event design, concepts, and production, eventually leading to branding events for such high-profile clients as Yves Saint Laurent, Alexander McQueen, Stella McCartney, Ermenegildo Zegna, Boucheron and others.

Mike D: “I’ve been working and hanging out with Robert a lot. He has many facades and is a guarantee for surprises!”

Mike Mills
He has created music videos for musical acts as Moby, Yoko Ono and Air. Air named the fifth song on their album “Talkie Walkie” after Mills. He has also worked as a graphic designer on promotional material and album covers for such acts as Beastie Boys, Beck, Sonic Youth, and Ol' Dirty Bastard. In addition Mike Mills has created graphics for X-Girl and Marc Jacobs, and currently produces his own line of posters and fabrics called Humans by Mike Mills.

Mike D: “Mike is a true Renaissance man: a visual artist, a film maker, a graphic designer, a musician and a personal collaborator even. What am I forgetting Mike? And he does it all with such great flare but a lot of heart.”

Takeshi Murata
He graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1997 with a B.F.A. in film, video and animation. Takeshi Murata produces extraordinary digital works that refigure the experience of animation. His innovative practice and constantly evolving processes range from intricate computer-aided, hand-drawn animations to exacting manipulations of the flaws, defects and broken code in digital video technology. Whether altering appropriated footage from cinema (B movies, vintage horror films), or creating Rorschach-like fields of seething colour, form and motion, Murata produces astonishing visions that redefine the boundaries between abstraction and recognition.

Mike D: “Takeshi Murata, like Jim Drain and Ara Peterson, was in the show of the Forth Thunder group that shared ideas, visual art, studio space and even a music project.”

Ara Peterson & Jim Drain
Ara Peterson and Jim Drain are Providence-based artists who have been collaborating in different ways over the past ten years. Both are members of the group Forcefield, whose exciting project in the 2002 Whitney Biennial was one of the major events in new art-making today. The geodesic spheres were developed in collaboration with Eamon Brown during a residency at Pittsburgh’s Mattress Factory, one sphere being shown in the Lyon Biennial, 2004, curated by Bob Nikas. Some of the pinwheels were a component of the Wiggin Village installation at the Moore Space in Miami, December 2004, curated by Larry Rinder. A smaller version of the kaleidoscope piece was first shown at Greene Naftali in 2003.

Mike D: “I am psyched to have the pinwheels as a big part of the AV CLUB. This big format, mind altering installation is one of my favourites. AV CLUB will be at 11, Pinwheels will be 15, what?”

Tom Sachs
He is a sculptor, probably he is best known for his elaborate recreations of various modern icons, all of them masterpieces of engineering and design of one kind or another. A lot has been made of the conceptual underpinnings of these sculptures: how Sachs samples capitalist culture, remixing, dubbing and spitting it back out again, so that the results are transformed and transforming. Equally, if not more important, is how he totally embraces “showing his work”. On a practical level this means that all seams, joints, screws – or for that matter anything holding stuff together – such as foam core and plywood, are left exposed. Nothing is erased, sanded away, or rendered invisible. On a more philosophical level this means that nothing Sachs makes is ever finished.

Mike D: “It is with great pleasure that AV CLUB presents Tom Sachs. It is kind of a full circle thing for me because over a decade ago during a hot summer in NYC a small group of us including myself and Tom kept gathering in the evenings at a friend’s shaved ice stand in lower Manhattan trying to cool off from the savage heat. We wanted to listen to music, so Tom started building different boxes so we could listen to dub while we enjoyed the shaved ice, good company and scenery. One of these, the aptly titled Guru (the name of the aforementioned shaved ice stand) is in the show. These contraptions became bigger and more elaborate as the summer went on and eventually Tom built the Behemoth Toyans that you all will see, feel and hear.”

Sage Vaughn
Wildlife and Wildlives make up the world of artist Sage Vaughn. Swarming brightly coloured butterflies along with strangely dressed kids make for some interesting subject matter, and there is definitely a feeling of tension between the natural and unnatural elements in these paintings. He has had widely acclaimed solo shows in New York, L.A., Geneva and London. Sage also helped illustrate a music video for N.A.S.A. called “Way Down”, feat. RZA and John Frusciante.

Mike D: “Sage is a painter that I am a fan of. I am always excited to see new work of his. He has the chops, imagination and the humour.”

Credits: Daimler AG

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