Lynn Hershman Leeson, “Agent Ruby” (1998–2002). Users can converse with Ruby, an artificial intelligent web entity, at agentruby.sfmoma.org. (screenshot via agentruby.sfmoma.org)

This week brings encounters of different kinds: some with robots, and some between artists in the past that we can only speculate on. There’s also a lecture by a photographer who shoots pictures without a camera, two openings in Bushwick, and a screening of Hitchcock’s classic The Birds. As always, you can’t go wrong.

 A History of Possible Encounters

When: Opens Tuesday, January 28, 6–9pm
Where: e-flux (311 East Broadway, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

Based on an intriguing premise, e-flux’s upcoming exhibition, Taiping Tianguo, A History of Possible Encounters: Ai Weiwei, Frog King Kwok, Tehching Hsieh, and Martin Wong, will explore various connections between the four artists in New York City during the 1980s and early ’90s. In doing so, it hopes to offer an alternate narrative to the dominant art historical modes of formalism and nation-specific history. Along with a wealth of archive materials, the exhibit will include guided tours of downtown New York.

 The Rights of Robots

When: Wednesday, January 29, 7 pm (free with registration)
Where: New School, Kaplan Hall (63 Fifth Avenue, Union Square, Manhattan)

Highlighting the work of artist Lynn Hershman Leeson, Robot Dialogues, a panel discussion at the New School, will “showcase technological innovations in artificial intelligence and expression.” Leeson’s best-known work, Agent Ruby, an artificial intelligent web entity (essentially a chat bot), is continually gaining knowledge and archiving memories as she converses with users online. Leeson will be joined by Heather Knight (Carnegie Mellon, Marilyn Monrobot Labs) and Wendell Wallach (The Center for Bioethics, Yale University), and the event will feature human-robot conversations. Get ready to see the future.

 Photographer Without a Camera

When: Wednesday, January 29, 7 pm ($15)
Where: School at ICP, Shooting Studio (1114 Avenue of the Americas, Midtown, Manhattan)

This next International Center of Photography lecture features photographer Marco Breuer, in association with the institution’s soon-to-open exhibition What Is a Photograph? Breuer’s known (and celebrated) for his unique approach to the medium — namely, his abandonment of the camera, aperture, and film. Brush up on your Breuer with this John Yau review, and if you can’t make it in person, you can watch live online at 7 pm.

 Songs Stuck in the Wave

When: Wednesday, January 29, 7:30 pm
Where: Nicelle Beauchene Gallery (327 Broome Street, Lower East Side, Manhattan)

Much as we enjoy seeing art exhibitions just as they are, it’s also lovely to see them activated in new ways. On Wednesday night, James Hoff will fill Sarah Crowner’s exhibition The Wave at Nicelle Beauchene Gallery with music performed live by three French horns and two tubas. Hoff created the pieces by taking apart and putting back together catchy pop and disco songs, “in an attempt to reach the haunted melody of involuntary musical imagery,” the announcement says. It should be interesting to see how that interacts with Crowner’s decidedly more light-hearted installation, a hand-tiled floor and sewn paintings.

 WOW Is that a Milli Vanilli Opera?

When: Thursday, January 30–Saturday, February 1, 8:00 pm
Where: BRIC Arts I Media House (647 Fulton Street, Fort Greene, Brooklyn)

Nothing says WTF is up with pop culture quite like Milli Vanilli, the German pop duo from the 1980s that shattered the childhood innocence of their fans when the world learned that … gasp … they didn’t actually sing their famous songs. This production seeks to reinvent this tragic/hilarious/bizarre story in opera form and they’ve picked BRIC’s new Brooklyn space to do it — which seems like a perfect pairing. Come with an open mind and perhaps lip sync along. —HV


Still from Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” (1963) (via moma.org)

 The Birds

When: January 29–31, 1:30 pm daily ($12)
Where: The Museum of Modern Art (11 West 53rd Street, Midtown, Manhattan)

For decades, historians and analysts have posited their own interpretations of the underlying themes in Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds (1963). Female sexuality, repression, hubris, chaos, domineering mothers … what is it really about? Cited (unfairly) as Hitchcock’s “last great film,” The Birds is genius because it strikes a near impossible balance between B-movie thrills and high art. See (or re-see) for yourself.

 Playful Abstraction


Osamu Kobayashi, “Remote Horizon” (2011), oil on canvas, 72 x 72 in (via storefrontteneyck.com)

When: Opens Friday, January 31, 6–9pm
Where: Storefront Ten Eyck (324 Ten Eyck Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn)

Storefront Ten Eyck presents the work of two Brooklyn-based artists who share an interest in geometry, modernism, and abstraction: Björn Meyer-Ebrecht and Osamu Kobayashi. Meyer-Ebrecht’s Seating Arrangements, which are usable benches, both blur and poke fun at the lines between painting, architecture, and sculpture. Meanwhile, Kobayashi’s paintings are more subtly playful, experimenting with dualities between chance and control, the organic and the geometric, and more.

 When the Walls Spoke

When: Opens Friday, January 31, 7–10pm (artist’s talk at 8 pm)
Where: Centotto (250 Moore Street, Bushwick, Brooklyn)

Brooklyn sculptor, Ben Godward, who makes bright, brash, and materially gluttonous forms, is the latest artist to get the Paul D’Agostino/Centotto treatment. D’Agostino, a writer, curator, and L Magazine contributing editor, runs his gallery, Centotto, out of his living room. As part of the Portfolio x Appunti exhibition series, Godward will present his artworks alongside notes he’s written, and give an informal artist’s talk the night of the opening.

 Slow Art

When: Saturday, February 1, 2 pm
Where: Nancy Margolis Gallery (523 West 25th Street, Chelsea, Manhattan)

Jennifer Samet, art historian and a Hyperallergic Weekend interviewer-at-large, will discuss the notion of slow art, which, taking its cue from slow food, offers a kind of antidote to the prevailing appetite for “conceptual, popular, media-driven art.” More from the press release:

Slow art does not rely on an easily made, easily digested image. The punch line might not be found in the wall label. Slow art reveals itself to us over time. It is not craft for craft’s sake, but slow art does use the medium and form for expression.

Count us in.

With contribution by Hrag Vartanian

Jillian Steinhauer is a former senior editor of Hyperallergic. She writes largely about the intersection of art and politics but has also been known to write at length about cats. She won the 2014 Best...