How Sweet Art Is

On Art 21 this week, the site posted an article entitled “Contemporary Art, How Sweet It Is” about an artist Paul Root and art historian Nicole Root who decided to undertake an almost humorous project – creating sculptures out of candy and other sweets. While the art is purely amusing to look at, the article suggests that Shore and Root were truly trying to comment on the culture of contemporary sculptures and bring into question some important notions regarding “new” art.

In the project, Shore and Root sought to recreate important projects by Minimalist and Earthwork artists and sculptures. In essence, Shore copied the work of these artists, but made something new through his use of candy and his artistic eye. On the surface, I find the exhibit to be very appealing. There  is something really neat about creating a child’s fantasy by making a world where even art could (ostensibly) be eaten. But deeper than this is an important message, I think.

By re-creating contemporary art with candy, it seems that Shore may be making a commentary on contemporary art itself and how it really breaks all boundaries and tries the new and absurd. In the article, Shore mentions that he thinks by recreating the works with candy, the art may be made accessible and less intimidating to those unacquainted with recent art history.

I think that this is a very good point to make – contemporary art to those who often do not look at art may seem crazy, inaccessible, and incomprehensible. Yet, what Shore did to bring this kind of art closer to all people is a very smart idea. Just as a Shakespeare text can be made easy to understand by the “Spark Notes” version, this contemporary art was made more accessible to the viewer by using a familiar medium and playful attitude. The more relatable, the more understandable.

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Deus Digitalis

So I actually find this piece online media art really awesome and interesting. Usually I shrug off Flash-player-made online art as being designed by programmers, not having much meaning, etc. But not this time. Deus Digitalis, an audiovisual installation, by Hans Verhaegen and Jean Delouvroy is not only fun to watch, but also has a good deal of thought and meaning behind it.

The animation made from the old school version of Flash at first may appear to be one of those old screen-savers or graphics from a 1980s video game. But upon looking closer at these highly recognizable patterns and standard computer graphics colors, you see that the moving figures are actually symmetrically arranged people in groups of 25. The project seems to explore the symmetry of human motion and how motion in itself can create art.

Further, the artists got their inspiration from visiting a cathedral in Germany, and sought to recreate stained glass colors and patterns in the realm of new media. The fusion of old gothic art with that of new media presents the viewer with something novel. I surely have never seen moving and interactive stained glass before. In this case, I believe that the creation of internet art was effective and original.

Beyond the purely aesthetic or entertaining, these artists put much thought into the inspiration for their patterns and the symmetry behind them.

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Light is Waiting

Since we are currently working on “reinventing” commercials, I thought I would look in to some works that involve cutting, dubbing, flipping, and more this week. One theme I noticed on–for some reason, artists really seem to like using the 90’s television show Full House as their material. That observation aside, the video Light Is Waiting (2007) by Michael Robinson uses very interesting techniques, though it is at times jarring and painful to watch-literally-because of the highly saturated and vibrant colors.

Robinson utilizes found footage from Full House, involving multiple different scenarios, to create one video piece about 10-minutes long. The initial scene involves two of the main characters, who are young girls, trying to carry a T.V. up the stairs, yet drop it to the ground below. As the T.V. is about to crash, Robinson interrupts the feed with a sound akin to loud static from a radio and the rapid blinking of a bright blue background (that’s the part that hurt my eyes).

From there on out, Robinson slows down the rest of the found footage to create voices that are long, low, and drawn out, and the visual alternates between slowed down and transparent footage of Full House when they are on an island and rapidly blinking solid colored backgrounds.

These artistic decisions are interesting to say the least, and also ones that I do not fully understand-probably because this is my first time trying to work with video footage. I thought it was very effective how right as the T.V. was about to crash from the original footage, Robinson interrupted with jarring, in your face, sound and color. It highly dramatized the situation, which is what I believe the whole video does for various scenes of Full House.

What was especially effective to me was when Robinson slowed down one of the characters’ voices that said “It’s ok. You can tell me anything.” He made what are often used as reassuring words sound almost creepy, causing the viewer to question the true motive behind such a phrase.

The next scene with the cast on an island with natives. Robinson mirrored many of the images during this sequence and made them almost transparent. I found this mirroring and transparency highly effective to (what I think may be) Robinson’s message regarding this kind of family sitcom shows. It had a kind of redundancy that may serve to point out the redundant and cliched plot line of many of these shows. I’m still not sure what the flashes of brightly colored light was for during the rest of the video, except to maybe hurt my eyes. It caused me, and I’m assuming some other people, to look away.

All in all the video used techniques that we may be using in making our commercials, and it was helpful to see these in action-even if I don’t understand the real meaning of the video.


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CD Scan

On Rhizome, there is a post featuring this exhibit called “CD Scan” by Tobias Madison. And I really have no idea why I’m drawn to it. The photoshopping technique looks like something that I probably could do, with rough edges and inconsistent blurring. Yet there is still something that I like about it.

The art piece does remind me of the blurring lines between different art forms in new media—how audio and visual can easily come together. Maybe that’s part of the reason I am attracted to it—the fact that it is a visual representation of how artists are able to combine the visual with the non-visual.

Another interesting thing to note is that the exhibit is called “CD Scan.” I think the word scan in this context deserves some attention. Pieces are often named meaningfully, so maybe this picture is an artistic interpretation of the fully digital process of scanning a CD on a computer.

I wish there was some sort of explanation behind the altered picture. It drives me nuts that I cannot figure out the true purpose of the piece. But maybe I’m reading too much into it.

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Sailor Kisses a Nurse

After reading “Re-Use Value,” I became very interested in the idea of stock photography and how it connects all forms of media and social culture. Before I even began to read the meaning of stock photography, I already had a clear concept of what it was, as it is ubiquitous in our lives.

The relationship between journalism, art, and commerce is a rather interesting thought—and a very circular one. I couldn’t help but thinking about the V-J Day in Times Square photograph—which is more commonly known as the well-known picture of an American sailor kissing a woman in a white dress.

Alfred Eisenstaedt originally took this photograph, which is (in my opinion) probably irrelevant now that it has become stock photography. It has become such a generic and anonymous looking picture that the average American couldn’t equate Eisenstaedt’s name with the photograph.

Eisenstaedt originally took this picture for and published it in Life magazine. The journalistic photograph quickly become an icon and thus came to the forefront in the commercial world. There is a certain romantic, patriotic, and vintage quality to the photo the consumers of stock photography just cannot resist.

And though this photograph is mainly associated with the commercial world of stock photography, this ever-present photograph has also been used for artistic renditions (such as a life-size sculpture) and the object of much copying (and maybe copyright infringing?—only speculation here, though).

I find it fascinating the pictures that can be considered stock photography become so famous while many obscure ones by avant-garde artists (or similar) never become widely recognized. I wonder what qualities allow a photograph to become stock photography and what the common appeal is amongst them.

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Silence Is Golden

Well, this is just taking Twitter to a new level. Creating a Twitter account—to tweet about what? Your life, your problems, your obsessions, your mood swings, or…your silence?

Posted on by a group using the ever-so-fitting alias of Les Liens Invisibles, this twitter account literally is updated with nothing. The group posts blank tweets.

The tag line reads: “Les Liens invisibles is an imaginary art-group from Italy. It is comprised of the media artists Clemente Pestelli and Gionatan Quintini. Their artworks are based on the invisible links between infosphere, neural synapsis, and real life.”

Sure, at first it may seem stupid or pointless, but I think this could be the exact commentary on social media that Baudrillard may have been alluding to in his many articles. In the “Implosion of Meaning in New Media,” Baudrillard discusses how people either conform to new media or completely rebel against it. But is this Twitter account doing either?

Perhaps this account is mirroring meaning without absorbing it. The group is not rejecting new media, since they are using it to spread whatever message they have. It could be seen as a rejection because there are no words in the tweets—and Twitter is about spreading information and ideas. The account could be implying that the (cyber) world is so inundated with information and dialogue, that sometimes, as the picture says, “silence is golden.” A visit to this Twitter page may serve to remind people of the beauty of peace and calmness in the midst of their lives that are flooded with messages from all mediums—especially electronic. I think this is also trying to take social media outlets to the level of an artistic outlet.

Words are an art form, but so are lack of words.

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Gestalt Principles

The Gestalt principles of perception are fascinating to me. I think it’s because I’m fascinated by psychological perceptions and how our culture influences them. Though I don’t have much of a background in psychology, I did take the “advanced placement” crash course in high school. In it I learned about nature vs. nurture—essentially the effect each has on cognitive functions and the way we interact in the world. I never really thought about psychology relating to art until I read the Universal Principles of Design and how it relates to the Gestalt principles of perception.

As I was thinking about both the principle of closure and the Law of Pragnanz while reading the article, I immediately thought about how “nurtured” we are to view objects in these two ways. One line in the article regarding closure really made me think—it said, “if the energy required to find or form a pattern is greater than the energy required to perceive the elements individually, closure will not occur.” Then, the Law of Pragnanz states that a person will “interpret ambiguous images as simply and complete, versus complex and incomplete.”

I found both of these suggestions of simplicity in interpretation as very interesting. As humans, we tend to look for the “deeper” meaning of things in an intellectual atmosphere, yet our brains are inherently trained to make patterns, disjointed lines, ambiguity, as simple and complete as possible. And it’s true. In a complex and ambiguous photograph, we try to make it something simpler, something we understand.

I’m not sure why that is, but I’m sure it has something to do with the way our brain compiles information. I know when trying to memorize lists, its easier to make acronyms. Again, its making something simple out of something complex.

I wonder how many artists consider these principles when creating their designs (I’m sure lots/most do..). I also wonder if how they perceive their design is how others perceive it—whether each brain interprets patterns in a similar fashion.

So, I’ve compiled some neat images that I think (key word is THINK) obey the law of closure.

Let me know why you think we tend to perceive the simple and orderly, not the complex.

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