Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Final Project: The Ephemeral

For my final project I opted to complete the second option, which was to make an art project that conveyed meaning, convey meaning visually through some sort of visual component, and also was edible.  Initially I considered choosing the first path, which was to create a response artwork to my last piece, yet I hesitated, since it's not every art class a project that involves food is directly assigned.  For my initial brainstorming, one phrase stuck in my mind: how can I play with my food?

The obvious answer, stemming from that, was to complete an interactive piece of some sort, that involved both food and the viewer (eater).  For some reason, images of my favorite childhood toys were repeatedly conjured, with my mind finally landing upon the thought of Lincoln Logs, essentially, simple miniature logs which you can build structures with.  This somehow related to a memory I have of exploring Venice in summer of 2006, fascinated by the "floating city" (or rather, sinking city) that, for better or for worse, has been constructed almost entirely on fragile, rotting piles of logs.  In its barest terms, one of the seven wonders of the world, built on the same stuff that we make desks out of.

This irony struck me, and coupled with my earlier idea of an interactive piece, led me to the choice of my food, which I decided should be pretzels and melted chocolate.  The idea was the pretzel sticks would be buried vertically into the melted chocolate, creating a sort of "piling" design, that the viewer/eater could then build on top of.  The work would be inherently time-based as well as delicious, since the chocolate would harden quickly, making it nigh impossible to add or subtract any building materials from the construction site.  However, this struck me as too difficult and frustrating, and I slightly detracted from this element by adding the option of using chocolate cake frosting as a cement.

The in-class crit went well, and it turned out delicious as I expected, although I have many leftovers that I don't know what to do with.  I was a bit unhappy with how the work turned out visually, however, as it looked like a mess when I brought it in, and only slightly improved when I left, as everyone saw the example I had made with my terribly-wrought foundation and proceeded to build upon it (everyone knows what happens when you build upon a bad foundation.)

However, this became a part of the work as anything, it being an interactive piece, and overall, I'm happy with how it turned out.  Taking this class was awesome, and I'm looking forward to a project like this in the future (it was fun)

Monday, November 25, 2013

studio progress - artist response to La Monte Young

La Monte Young - Compositions 1960

I am still pondering an appropriate response to La Monte Young's work, and don't yet have physical evidence to show for it, although a great deal of pondering has been done.  I have decided to respond to La Monte's works photographically, and in doing so, I can interpret his works in several ways.

Firstly, I could respond to his scores, shown above here, in his work Compositions 1960.  This would be interesting, as the act of taking the photograph may have more impact than the resulting shot--a response, I believe, is fitting, as within his works Young concentrates upon a eternal flux in time, a stasis, and the very definition of photography is the capturing of a single moment in time.  However, La Monte's work also features a sense of constant and ever-pervasive flux, such as these scores--each and every time a score of La Monte's is responded to, it is done so in a differing way.  An infinite amount of variables play into this, causing the work to be almost transcendent of time, in the sense that it is constantly shifting and changing.  

In my second idea, I am considering not responding to a certain score or set of conceptual directives, but rather a response to the Minimalist philosophy--in short: the less, the better.  This would be immensely difficult (especially for me) as photography has become massively stylized through mass distribution.  I could perhaps meld these two approaches (and this is most likely) and thusly give myself a bit more material to work with, although I think the most difficult aspect of this assignment will be simply going out and doing/implementing the thoughts I'm putting down here.. Thanksgiving break will be an enormous opportunity to ponder, and more so, do.  

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Reader Response: George Kubler from "The Shape of Time"

George Kubler’s “The Shape of Time”, selections from pgs. 4-8 and pgs. 44-48, discuss art’s relationship with history and time.  The reading assigned was divided between two separate passages of the same text, although they both address the same topic of time and history’s unavoidable influence on artistic creation.  Kubler’s notion of time is linear, as he describes the history of art as “railroads,” and uses this metaphor to describe perspective of artist biographies’ place within the study of art history of a whole.  He believes that studying a single artist, and using his or her story exclusively to explain or illuminate an entire art movement or period is inaccurate, as doing so would be similar to describing a “railroad” from the perspective of a single passenger.  It may be accurate in technical terms, but it will be severely limited in scope.  Biographies, according to Kubler, are important as a “provisional way of scanning artistic substance” but do not “treat the historical question in artists’ lives, which is always the question of their relation to what has preceded to what will follow them.” 

This analogy of art history acting as a linear “railroad” track of sorts is built within another point which he makes, regarding the time period in which an artist functions, as a section of this track.  This section, he argues, is inherent to the work produced by the artist, and also others’ reception of it.  Added to the usual attributes of “temperament and training” that come to determine an artist’s “position” within Kubler’s track of history, the artist should also establish a “tradition”—the type of art he pursues—that appropriately aligns with his “entrance”—when he enters this track of history.  He then theorizes that this “entrance” has as much to do with an artist’s critical and public acclaim as natural talent does.  There are many other factors, but the “entrance” into an appropriate artistic environment is crucial.

In the next sub-section, appropriately entitled The Invisible Chain, Kubler asserts that all art is interconnected in the way that rival artists and previous works often inspire and motivate new works, generating a sort of recurring cycle, and giving the ancient tradition of the artist’s muse as an example.  Through repetition of a certain form the artist hones his/her skill, but once done, the artist moves on—Kubler asserts this is what artists usually disguise as periods, but may also stem from not being able to push certain aspect or form any further due to such intense repetition.  Kubler ends by asserting that the modern-day artist is lonely, since usually the impact of an artist’s work won’t be fully known until long after their passing.  His or her works exist in the present primarily as “wonderful and frightening surprises for [the artist’s] immediate circle.” 

Thursday, October 17, 2013

3 Artists + Mid-Semester Report

So far in the semester, we have covered an array of time-related readings, exploring artistic expressions of time, and having the opportunity to create our own two-dimensional works.  We have joined theory with practice, and pursued live-model charcoal drawing, as well as pastel drawing to music, and our first Time Visualization project.

All of these assignments have greatly expanded my horizons and artistic skills, as I'm mainly a photographer, and rarely tackle drawing of any sort, unless on the most basic level.  However, this class has encouraged me to not only leave my comfort zone, but to try to excel in it, and I'm motivated more than ever to put in hard work that will hopefully eventually lead to a proficiency in drawing.

I felt my Time Visualization project was a success for the most part, although I had originally wanted to use more recent negatives, instead of the older ones that I was forced to use due to time/equipment restrictions (lack of film, camera batteries, etc.)  In spite of this setback however, I felt that my intent was mostly unimpeded, as the process of developing the image, and the formal qualities of the image (e.g. repetition) became more important to the project's outcome than the subject within the photographs--I chose the negatives that I did purposefully, but certainly not strictly subject matter.

Although the project was a general success, I'm looking forward to the next assignment, which will be photography-based once again, but will be a time-lapse, and inherently time-based, unlike the static quality of photographs.  This, although somewhat familiar territory, is significantly less-traveled, and I'm looking forward to experimenting with this assignment.

The three artists I am considering for my project are all sound-based, as I find sound-based art interesting in not only its use, but its dependence upon environment to function--differing environments will completely change the acoustics of the sound, or how it expands within a space.

The artists I'm considering for my presentation are, so far (this will probably be subject to change) :

- Arnold Schoenburg

- Alvin Lucier

- John Cage

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Reader Response: Ways of Seeing, John Berger

In his essay, Berger addresses the growing commodification and availability of art, and how this changes interpretations, perspectives, and the decreasing value of images, stressing that a new way of viewing visual art must be adopted within our contemporary society.  The crux of his argument centers around the statement, "seeing comes before words."

Although his assertion of the decreasing value of imagery initially sounds demoralizing, he also compares it to the transcendental and accessible properties of languages, stating, "they [artworks] surround us in the same way that a language surrounds us" which implies not only the growing importance, but the growing influx and accessibility  of visual art within our society.

Essentially, it is hard to deny his argument, which seems to contain the prophesy of both a blessing and a curse: "The art of the past no longer exists as it once did. Its authority is lost. In its place is a language of images. What matters now is who uses that language and for what purpose."

He initially begins by stating that "the relation between what we see and what we know is never settled", moving towards his exploration of a work's meaning, and how it is changed and shifted between existing contexts that the viewer may have--"we never look at just one thing, we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves."  This, he says, is rapidly increasing within our information-fueled society, and drastically shifting the manner in which art is viewed.

Information, he says, is wildly prevalent in society, and growing more so day by day.  This is apparent everywhere: the Google mail I am currently signed into was allotted a single gigabyte of data when I first signed up for this service: I am now allowed 30 gigabytes of data, and this is for a single email account.  Information, and our contemporary society, is never still, always in constant flux.  He contrasts the constant fluctuating aspects of information to painting, which he states is still and static by nature.

He then introduces the relation of this particular aspect of modern society to visual art, asserting that "visual arts have always existed within a certain preserve" and "during all this history the authority of art was always separate from the authority of that preserve."  The continually shifting property of information, specifically the "modern means of reproduction" has functioned to "destroy the authority of art" and to remove it from any "preserve," or separation from society.  This is what leads him to ultimately state that what remains of visual art is a "language of images" that "if used differently" could lead to "a new kind of power".  His urgent message is one of mobilization, pressing us to figure out how to use this "language" and for what purpose--this will lead society to a greater awareness of not nostalgic worship of the past, but a understanding of how we exist in the present.  

Monday, September 16, 2013

Reader Response: What Is Time?

In the second part of the "What Is Time" reading, the author explores the relationship between time and one's "personal awareness of phenomena."  I thought it was interesting how throughout the text, Whitrow repeatedly describes the passage of time as a consciously perceived sensation, as it somewhat relates to the perception of time as relative, and therefore reliant upon one's perspective, which he coins as "temporal duration."  Essentially, he asserts that time is not static, but fluid through multiple perspectives.  He then goes on to introduce memory (or lack thereof), asserting its ultimate importance and fluid nature as key in one's perception of time and phenomena.    

Whitrow's placing of memory into the context of time's passage was helpful throughout the process of completing the homework, which was illustrating one's first memory.  For me at least, I find that memories are more impressionistic than detail-oriented, as I can recall the tone and feeling of a past moment more effectively and strongly than specific, ungrounded details.  Whitrow indirectly comments upon this, stating that "'long distance' remembering is not a simple re-excitation of innumerable fixed traces but is essentially an imaginative reconstruction depending upon our frame of mind at the time of recall" and remembering "only a few striking details which are actually remembered."

Monday, September 9, 2013

Reader Response: "The Whole Ball of Wax," Jerry Saltz

In his essay "The Whole Ball of Wax," Jerry Saltz explores and comments upon the daunting question of "does art change the world?"  He acknowledges that art unfortunately cannot physically halt global warming, cure AIDS, save the sea turtle, or other methods of physically changing troublesome aspects of the world.  However, he asserts that art, in fact, does change the world in other ways, "incrementally and by osmosis."  He says, "Art is a bridge to a new vision and the vision itself, a medium or matrix through which one sees the world."

I agree with Saltz's statement, and his declaration of art as "a bridge."  Art and artistic communication often acts as a translator of sorts, a changer of perspective.  A single work of art may mean one thing to a certain individual, yet something completely different interpreted by another.  It becomes a universal language that all can speak, but whose vocabulary is ceaselessly shifting.

This brings to light one of my favorite aspects of art: one must work to express oneself with it, and in traditional terms of the word, cannot fully understand it: one person's interpretation of their work may completely bypass their boundaries of definition.

IVT (Time); First Post: What Is Art? (in two sentences or less)

In a word, art is an idea.  In an additional sentence, I will add; an idea that is variable through the subjectivity of one's individual perspective; this is what makes art special, and necessary.