Monday, February 28, 2011

Allan Kaprow, Fluids

Allan Kaprow invented the word "Happenings" in reference to Performance. He rarely recorded his works, thus museums and universities have often re-created and recorded his work from notes. This one: Fluids was done at LACMA.

Andy Warhol Velvet Underground & Nico

Warhol was among the earliest of modern artists to stage new kinds of performance events like his management of the Velvet Underground.

Blue Man Group [Las Vegas performance]

Performance art can take many shapes and appears in different venues such as Blue Man Group who incorporate conceptual ideas into their performance.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Mary Flanagan

Mary Flanagan and Andrew Gerngross, [ineffable], 2004
In this short film, we see the collaboration of two great new media artists changing the hypertext and technological messages into sound. The digital colors created by each artist (each side belongs to each artist's creation) represent the sound of the text of e-mails, messages and websites we, as a society, continually use to speak through everyday. The eerie sounds almost becomes a familiar tune after listening for awhile while nonetheless emphasizing the importance of how we establish our identities in a technological age.

Mary Flanagan, [domestic], 2003
Flanagan's artist website, explaining her multi-media works.

Interactive Identities

“My creative practice investigates human relationships with systems — technological, representational, linguistic, and experiential…Therefore, games, computer viruses, search engines, cell phones, email — seemingly boring or ordinary computationally-driven systems — become for me extraordinary and revealing artifacts representing themes of human desire, intimacy, secrecy, language, and the conceptual spaces of machines themselves” states new media female artist Mary Flanagan. Flanagan, an American artist, explores the way in which society uses the technological world to identify oneself. Through the heavy use of memory as her basis, Flanagan creates many computer interactive games, websites, and embodied interfaces to interact with society through the medium of the virtual world.

Internationally known and exhibited, Flanagan carries an accomplished history of works and installations as well as having a repertoire of writing about the medium of technology and social change. Flanagan graduated from the University of Minnesota then later on earned a MA and MFA at the University of Iowa—both in film. Finally, she completed her PhD at Saint Martins College of Art and Design UK in Computational Media honing in on activist game design, thus resulting in her passion to help underprivileged societies and communities interact with the technological world in a meaningful way—ways that speak about human existence and interact people in discovering their identities through the exploration of text and memory. Her passion for underserved populations explains her directorship of Tiltfactor Lab; a research lap group that focuses on developing interactive computer games for exploring social issues and interventions. Also, many of her other works ([the perpetual bed] (1998), [phage] (2002) and [collection] (2002)) revolved around our perceptions of memory and how we interact with memory in present experiences.

Flanagan’s personal artist website neatly organizes her works for visitors to explore the many different themes her artwork conveys. Flanagan exhibits this exploration in her three-dimensional computer game, [domestic] (2003), in which the game modifies a first-person shooter game. The environment of the game consists of confusing perceptions—large layered hypertexts on walls, and narrow hallways that look familiar but not completely. The game is representative of Flanagan’s childhood home that burned down; a traumatizing experience. Throughout the maze-like game, the player experiences the flames of the fire and shoots at the flames with images of domestic images or different texts such as “STOP.” Also, the player runs into a staircase built of the word “reconstruction” which may symbolize the way Flanagan herself, as the artist as the ultimate “controller” of the video game, sees herself and her identity. The artist creates the environment of the game, which the player creates the action in the game—a collaboration of collective memory and experience.

Flanagan reconstructs the memory of when she lost her home through the computer game, but invites other players to interact with this exploration of memory stuck in media. Because of this, it portrays the great lengths in which Flanagan places herself, her persona, in the identity of her computer game. Flanagan humanizes this robotic technological world by creating a narrative (for her one of memory) and makes the complex and life-less technology contain substance. She challenges the idea of how we interact with technology and asks viewers and participants to join in her quest to blend human narrative in all parts of our daily life. Because of Flanagan’s great involvement in technology and the effects it has on human life, the question bears, how are we to respond to such a technologically driven world? For Flanagan, memory gives us the basis for this answer. As a society, we should, in Flanagan’s perspective, involve our memories and identities in tangible things so that it can be shared communally. I can’t help but agree with Flanagan, in that community creates much of one’s identity—so, her work agrees with this perspective of persona, and therefore successfully achieves at being “socially engaging” (Flanagan, Artist Statement).

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Eija-Liisa Ahtila, The House/Talo, 2002

Ahtila is a Finish video artist that bases her artwork on narratives and the exploration of feminism. While browsing through Slyvia Smith's book, Video Art, I found Ahtila description and artwork very interesting as she delves into the exploration of identity. Smith explains that many of her video work revolves around the British author James Joyce. In this film, presented at the Tate Modern in 2002, she explores the documentary-like film of a private woman confessional. There are three projections, symbolizing the different perspectives a women could have on her body image (or the way society differs in viewing women), and in the middle is the half-body shot of the women explaining her sorrows about her "fat and ugly body." As this is a hard documentary to watch, the changing perspectives that flank the main frame create a sense of tension and uneasiness. Also, the wind symbolizes this unsteadiness as well.

.|.Eija-Liisa Ahtila.|. The Wind.|. 2002 from reel aesthete on Vimeo.

Adam Broomberg Oliver Chanarin Saturday Come Slow

"Filmed inside Cambridge University's anechoic chamber (designed to create total silence) and featuring former Guantanamo Bay detainee, Ruhal Ahmed, this short by Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin is a reflection on Ahmed's experiences whilst in detention (particularly how he was interrogated using high-volume music) and about the use of human sound on the body. "
Can a nation have a "persona" that is different from its "personality?"

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Antonin de Bemels

I've shared Antonin de Bemels' work previously, but it is very relevant to the subject of personality. If anyone is interested in revisiting his work or viewing a few more videos from his "Bonhomme Daniel" series, you can visit his Vimeo page.
Le Malediction du Bonhomme Daniel and Technique de la Schizophrenie are two that I would suggest (also the ones I shared in class).
This video is entitled "Dream". Many of Bemel's videos featuring Bonhomme Daniel deal with the concept of schizophrenia.

A DREAM... from Bonhomme Daniel on Vimeo.

"Imponderabilia", Marina Abramovic & Ulay, 1977

We've studied Marina Abramovic before, but I thought this video related to our study this week on persona/personality, particularly the topic of persona. In this performance/installation, Abramovic and Ulay stand nude, flanking the entrance to a museum. Abramovic describes the piece: "The public entering the Museum has to pass sideways through the small space between us. Each person passing has to choose which one of us to face".
In Imponderabilia (1977) Serbian artist Marina Abramovic and Ulay collaborate to create a performance piece in which they, completely nude, flank the entrance to the Galleria Communale d'Arte Moderna in Bologna, Italy. Visitors wanting to enter the museum are forced to squeeze through their bodies. The aspect of nudity is not foreign to Abramovic's pieces – Nude with Skeleton, Freeing the Body, and Relation in Space are just a few of her many videos that feature the artist as nude. Often these pieces focus on the artist. Imponderability, however, is meant to draw attention to the participants in the performance.
Abramovic's piece encapsulates the subject of “persona” in an interesting way. Abramovic and Ulay expose themselves completely to the public's view – in effect, this is the public image of themselves they are presenting to the viewer. Yet, what the piece seems to be exploring is the reaction of the public to this persona. While watching the video of this performance, it is not the blatant and unabashed nudity that captures one's attention; instead, it is the reaction of the public to the situation they find themselves in that catches the eye. Each visitor to the museum must make two important decisions. First, he must decide whether or not to enter the museum. Second, he must decide which figure to face when passing through the entrance. The taboo nature of nudity makes these decisions seem critical. Do I want to squeeze my way past two nude bodies? If I do, whom shall I face? These are the questions that are posed to the visitors in line to enter the museum.
Through this piece, Abramovic exposes our understanding of what a proper public persona is, and our subsequent reactions if that expectation is not met. While the distinct characteristics of personas often vary with different individuals, some variables generally remain the same. Nudity as an aspect of one's persona is not common, prompting a public reaction riddled with uneasiness and uncertainty. Abramovic made sure that this point was understood, as the text on the wall facing the entrance reads: “'Imponderable. Such imponderable human factors as one's aesthetic sensitivity/the overriding importance of imponderables in determining human conduct”. An imponderable is defined as “a factor that is difficult or impossible to estimate or assess”. When presented with a deviation from personas that the general consensus regards as normal, such as nudity, individuals are unsure how to act. Furthermore, individuals must make the unusual decision between different types of nudity: male or female. Observing the visitors entering the museum, it becomes quickly clear that most visitors choose to face Abramovic, suggesting that the female nude form is less threatening or serious than the male nude form. Visitors pass through quickly and do not make eye-contact with Abramovic or Ulay, rarely looking back after they have passed through.
The study of public reaction to unusual personas explored in Imponderabilia not only exposes the instincts that are ingrained in society, but also shapes the personas of those who enter – each decision that the individual has to make upon entering shapes who they appear to be, a concept that is furthered by the presence of a camera documenting their choice. The characteristic of vulnerability that normally accompanies the persona of a nude figure has been transferred completely to the clothed visitor passing between Abramovic and Ulay.

"My [public] space", NIMK exhibition, 2008

My [public] space was an exhibition at the Netherlands Media Art Institute. It features videos and installations from a handful of artists, all exploring the idea of the blurred line between public and private space and persona.
Marisa Olson, Eduardo Navas, Eva and Franco Mattes, Jill Magid, Susan Härtig, Dora García, Kota Ezawa, Martijn Engelbregt, Guy Ben-Ner, Hasan Elahi, Aram Bartholl

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Julia Abraham, Internal Site, 2008

Internal Site from Julia Abraham on Vimeo.

Julia Abraham, Entropic Landscape, 2008

Her personal website where you can find her videos.

Entropic Landscape from Julia Abraham on Vimeo.

Earth Artist's website.

The Familiarities of Dislocation

“I understand the landscape to be a dominant aspect in the reconnection of lost memory; a place where if one pays close enough attention, may be able to regain the memories the land has graciously stored” states British female video artist, Julia Abraham. Abraham’s aim (as her personal website tells us) in her creation of art revolves around the experience of recalling memory and interacting with the physicality of the land—locations that are familiar to her and hold memory. Abraham is fascinated with the abstract nature of memory collided with the tangible earth. Abraham graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelors in Fine Art History and Visual Studies. As her personal statement on her website states, she is an artist, curator and academic researcher who “examines memory and spaces through a methodology of spatial theory and phenomenology” (Abraham).

Throughout her video work, she creates numerous short films that are very blurred in color and confusion. Though one may be able to point out the nature around her (usually a field with dead trees of sorts) as well as the figure of a person, the distortion of the video reigns. Abraham may be symbolizing the confusion between the natural and abstract world our lives revolve around. I was intrigued by her new media work because it is not something that is directly involved with “earth art or digital earth art,” rather the concept of location is what motivates her video artwork. Abraham has a series of videos found on her website that revolve around this fascination.

In her film Entropic Landscape (2008), Abraham distorts the image so much to where the viewer is constantly trying to make out familiar shapes and figures in the film. The soundtrack of the video consists of bits of natural sounds with chaotic, high-pitched, echoey technological reverberations, thus creating a tense, irritating and suffocating environment. I caught myself squinting at the screen in trying to make out what I was watching as well as struggle to hear the different noises she literally collides in her video. Entropy is the scientific term in physics to describe randomness and disorder. Figuratively, Abraham uses this definition in order to encapsulate her feelings of dislocation between the memory of the world around her and the confusion we often experience in our daily lives.

Thematically, I took Entropic Landscape, to be representative and symbolic of the interactions between humans and the natural world around us. Throughout the video, the viewer gets slight and short glimpses of a familiar, natural world, and then the camera goes back into chaos and distortion juxtaposing these two unfamiliar and familiar worlds humans exist in. We also gets slight glimpses of a figure, but we cannot be sure if it is there or not. The abstract is as much familiar to us as reality is; paradoxically, this symbolizes the human emphasis on the importance of location. We use location as a signifier to define the world around us; in order to make sense of the world, and ourselves. Abraham states about this film, “This engagement with the land takes the form of a performance where I go to a specific location that symbolizes memory and present a proposition through a bodily engagement to pull out the entrenched memories from within it. By revisiting aspects of the memory that are still present in my mind and re-immersing myself in a sensory remembrance, I experience a merging and reconnection of the empty areas. The performance takes the form of a dance, where as I perform the memory, the land becomes my relational partner. The land dually takes on the position of spectator and participant, as I attempt to lure my memories from it. The work will exist as photographic documentation of my performance in the landscape.”

Tomas Saraceno, Galaxies forming along fliaments, like droplets along the strands of a spider's web, 2009

Biosphere MW32/Flying Garden/Air-Port-City, 2007

Tomas Saraceno hails from Argentina in which he explores the mathematical elements of raw nature and puts them in formations that are astounding to experience in a museum. In this video, we see the making of his piece Galaxies forming along filaments (2009) at the Miami Art Museum. Originally opened at the Venice Biennale, visitors of the exhibition had to climb their way through these mass "biospheres" in order to get through. They interacted with the pieces and in a sense made the art come alive. Although Saraceno's work does not directly involve himself with new media, I thought this was a fun and interesting artist to look at because of the beautiful latticework he creates—very biomorphic, but mechanical all in one experience.

Ibon Aranberri, Politica hidràulica, 2003-2007

Floating Garden, 2004-2007 (Right). In this installation, Aranberri uses broken San Pellegrino water bottles and concrete to make a statement reflecting his beliefs in how the natural world is having to literally force and "cut" (the broken bottles) through the power of industrialization. Aranberri focuses on how humans effect and change nature (Creamier, 24).
Politica hidràulica, 2003-2007 (Above right). Part of the Documentia 12 exhibition.
Cave (Above left).

Continuing this theme, in this exhibition Documentia 12, Aranberri continues to explore the relationship between the earth and the society and politics. As Creamier notes, Spanish Aranberri does this so his ethical standings are not blatant at these exhibitions rather, Aranberri raises significant and interesting conversation. I thought his involvement with looking at how we see the world through the contorted perception of our industrialized and measured eyes makes an interesting conversation to occur, especially in this day and age when environmental issues are such a hot topic. Also, he works with a lot of "land art" such as Cave (Ir.T º 513), 2003-2008 when he documented his trip through the Basque region in prehistoric caves. He has built a metal structure over the opening of the cave in which I took this to be a direct involvement with earth/land art—the industrial meeting the natural architecture of nature.

Salvador Dali and Disney?

We watched this fun little creation in DeBoer's Modern and Contemporary art class last night, and I really enjoyed it. It's a disney collaboration with Salvador Dali and his surrealist themes. It's a fun, light-hearted, whimsical creation that shows the foundations that root artistic creativity today—surrealism influencing Disney's creations.

Jeremy Wood, Mowing the Lawn, 2010

Jeremy Wood, a UK based artist, utilizes self and technology to create a fascinating series of drawings. Wood employs GPS technology to pinpoint, chart, and track his movements on a lawn mower in his garden. The movements are recorded in a series of lines that create images that would not exist without the innovation of GPS technology. The geodesic, or straight lines to curved spaces, qualitiy of his drawings connect a seemingly strictly technological image to that of an organic form with a human connection. The lines were created over ten years by the specifying points that Wood plugged into his GPS, i.e. time, place, date as his data. The lines in Wood's series of images were generated over the course of several seasons.

Wood is actually referred to as a GPS artist, a new field of art that has cropped up with the invention of this cartographic technology.

Wood's art represents an interesting take on the relation of humanity to space and time. He calls into question how we, as humans, view the world now that GPS is at everyone's fingertips. How do we see maps? Do we see them as Google images--bird's eye views of the world at large?

According to PSFK Salon Austin, "‘Mowing the Lawn’ portrays [Wood's] movements on a riding mower in different intervals of time where he uses his GPS data stream by accurately plotting his time, date and position coordinates to reveal an evolving exploration of travel in the form of densely packed line drawings and animations."

Installation at Tenderpixel Gallery in London

Critics say that this piece reflects upon the way in which humans consider travel--the lines overlap, backtrack, and get stuck in certain places. The images that Wood creates resonate with viewers because of the intrinsic desire to map and chart location in a planographic manner. Some of the images look almost eerie, like an x-ray of broken or shattered bones.

Jeremy Wood, Nine Years of Mowing, 2010

Taking the menial task of mowing the lawn and maximizing it to the status of art is a testament to the esoteric quality of the apparently simple drawings Wood gives us.

Wood is represented by Tenderpixel Gallery in London.

Jeremy Wood, Lawn 2005 Scale 1:300, 2010

Ken Goldberg Telegarden 1995

Marie Sesler ACCESS 2003

Interview with Marie Sester
By Regine on October 3, 2006

ACCESS has been showed in several countries. Did you have the chance to cross-reference the various reactions that emerged in each location? How do people behave under the ACCESS beam? And can you imagine ACCESS being installed in a public place, not a museum nor an art gallery?
With ACCESS, some people run away in fear, and other people really enjoy it and want to stay in the spotlight and play. And I would love for ACCESS to be shown outside a museum or gallery. It is a permanent installation at ZKM [Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie] in Karlsruhe, Germany. So, it is the first contact you have with this museum, before you even reach the information desk. But it's still inside the museum where you are prepared for an art experience. What would happen in a public space without that set up? The first public test was done in Japan, in a corporate lobby, and the reactions of the unsuspecting public was significantly different. That's what I would really like, to put ACCESS in places like that. It was the very concept of ACCESS.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Torolab, "The Region of the Transborder Trousers" 2005

Uploaded by C-Monster. - Discover more animation and arts videos.

An artist collective based in Tijuana, Torolab was founded in 1995 by leader Raúl Cardenas Osuna “…as a socially engaged workshop committed to examining and elevating the quality of life for residents of Tijuana and the trans-border region through a culture of ideologically advanced design.” Working in collaboration, Torolab members who include artists, designers, architects and musicians utilize their skills and new technology to research and explore ways to improve urban environments with works ranging from media projects to construction systems and clothing design. There work is very specific to the locations and sites they work in. For instance, in 2008 they created One Degree Celsius, an installation including a scientific garden station and architectural plans for the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum (USFCAM). Equipped with streamline gadgets, this futuristic garden lab was a proposal for the city of Tampa to promote a more plant-sustainable generation.

This video installation titled The Region of the Transborder Trousers was presented in 2005 in Madrid at an ARCO contemporary art fair. Using satellite and the GPS, Torolab investigates the border identities between Tijuana and San Diego by tracking and recording the commute of its members crossing these boundaries for five days. To achieve this, participants were given a GPS transmitter and attire designed by Torolab with a hidden pocket for a fake Mexican passport. In addition, the fuel used by each member during their travels was recorded. This information was then entered into a computer and projected onto a screen depicting a map of Tijuana and San Diego and the commuting members, each represented by a colored moving dot. In addition, each dot is encircled by a linier portion which virtually encloses the commuter as their car fuel depletes. Perhaps this suggests that although fuel can take people far, it also has its limits.

In an interview, Osuna communicates the idea of contested borders, emphasizing that they not only include political, economical and linguistic borders, but also the personal borders we experience in our lives. He continues to say that these borders should not be viewed as an ends but as means for growth and the establishment of new frontiers in whatever we pursue in life. In the Vertex Project created from 1995-2000, Torolab took the Tijuana/San Diego border as an opportunity to unite these territories by proposing a media bridge to be built directly over the regions. In essence, the bridge would have two large screens at the center to allow individuals to walk by and post a text messages for display from their cell phones. In this way, and as demonstrated with Region of the Transborder Trousers, new media and location are quintessential components of Torolab’s work which addresses various barriers and urban issues to advance social transformation.

Robin Rhode, Promenade, 2008

Robin Rhode, Promenade, 2008. Video stills.

For my Modern and Contemporary art class, we are paging through Creamier's top artists of the contemporary today. Many are new media artists and Robin Rhode is such an artist. He creates his art in urban, public spaces usually using "simple materials" to create shapes while involving himself in the artwork. From South Africa, he states in Creamier that a lot of his inspiration comes from his native land. Currently, he lives in Berlin, Germany and has a history of connecting the world of art with urban, public space to share his messages about the commonalities of the world. The location aspect I found appealing in this artist was the fact that Rhode blends the world of art with the world of the local in a way that makes sense to both—the art is the locator and the artist is the locative.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blast Theory, "Can You See Me Now : Tokyo", 2001

Can You See Me Now? Tokyo from Blast Theory on Vimeo.

Based in the UK and created by Matt Adams, Ju Row Farr and Nick Tandavanit, Blast Theory is well known for its exploration of audience participation via geographic devices in pieces such as Uncle Roy All Around You, You Get Me, and I Like Frank. In Can You See Me Now? a street team in Tokyo interacts with an online community (in a virtual Tokyo), while the street team, or “runners”, attempt to track each virtually represented character using a handheld GPS.
This particular video challenges viewers to consider the concept of the “real world”. In this technological exploration, both the physical and virtual world exist simultaneously. Individuals from both the real and virtual city can see one another (at least the virtual version of the other) and can communicate. Despite this seeming closeness, virtual players can be accessing the game from anywhere in the world. What constitutes as “presence”, then, in Tokyo? The fact that the street team is tracking down the virtual players suggests that they have somewhat of a locality in Tokyo, though perhaps not a visible locality.
Before entering the game, the participant is asked to give the name of someone he has not seen in a long time, but still thinks of. The given name is the name identified when a member of the street team finally finds the player: “Runner 1 has seen _____”. After finishing a game that questions the reality of presence vs absence, the player is reminded of his “absent” friend. This game brings to mind the connectivity that exists in our world with the advent of cell phones and internet. No longer do we live in a site-specific isolation. In Can You See Me Now? Blast Theory has exposed the concept that location has become, in a sense, irrelevant. Games like “Hide and Seek”, which were once wholly dependent on physical presence, now can include players from across the globe. Once a virtual player has been caught by a runner, a photo is taken of the exact location in Tokyo where the capture occurred: “The photos taken by runners of the empty terrain where each player is seen are uploaded to the site and persist as a record of the events of each game. Each player is forever linked to this anonymous square of the cityscape”. Though the player never physically visited the site, can they still claim a connection to it? Most would insist that they could. But how far, with our abundance of sophisticated technologies, can we take this idea? These are the questions that Blast Theory seeks to ask in Can You See Me Now?, as well as in their other video explorations.

Daniel Sauter, "Light Attack", 2007 (Mexico)

From the above link: "Light Attack elaborates the concept of the 'moving moving' image - the projected moving imagery corresponds to the movement through the space while the character's behavior is influenced by the urban context and passers-by. The piece suggests projection as an emergent ubiquitous medium, raising questions about property and privacy. How public is public space? How do authorities deal with this question? How is projection, as a ubiquitous medium, changing the environment in which we live?"

Theo Jensen, Kinetic Art Sculptures

These creatures are unreal! I find that this video encompasses the technological and on location combination that this week's theme suggests.

Matthew Harding, "Where the Hell is Matt?", 2008

Where the Hell is Matt? (2008) from Matthew Harding on Vimeo.

This is just a fun video that incorporates location with a certain joie de vivre.
Consider it a hybrid of these two weeks.
It doesn't feature any technology worthy of "new media" consideration, but it is a video....

JODI, "GEO-GOO", 2008
JODI is a collaboration between two artists, Joan Heemskerk and Dirk Paesman. In "GEO GOO", the artists use the familiar imagery of online maps and location markers to create digital art. By providing drop-down menus, JODI allows the viewers a sense of control amidst the chaos of quickly reproducing icons.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Canon Pixma Printer: Behind the Scenes

The people behind Canon Pixma printer used sound frequencies to organically shape the formations of paint bouncing off a small speaker. They wrap a membrane on a small speaker and place paint on the membrane, then they put sound through the speaker which vibrates through the membrane and the paint bounces and forms beautiful images. They shoot at a high speed and the depth of field is less than a millimeter, which makes the filming very difficult. This video is great because it combines photography, music theory, physics and film.

This video is a great example of another innovative spin on the use of paint in the art world.

Tilt-Shift Video, Coachella 2010 by Sam O'Hare

Tilt shift is a video style where the lens is tilted inside the camera so the top part is out of focus. This particular video explores the location of Coachella, an annual music festival that takes place in the desert city of Indio, California. Tilt shift encompasses two types of movement: rotation of the lens plane relative to the image plane (which is called tilt) and movement of the lens parallel to the image plane (called shift). The resulting effect is that all the movement looks miniaturized and rapid.

Joshua Allen Harris, Inflatable Street Art

Street artist Joshua Allen Harris utilizes the exhaust from subway vents to create kinetic art that is both jarring and inspirational. This particular video was shot by Jonah Green. Trash bags and tape create these three-dimensional creatures that look wildly out of place in the context of a metropolis.

Mircea Cantor

Romanian multi-media artist, Mircea Cantor's personal website. Cantor is interested in the reality of globalization and takes after Duchamp's precedent in challenging the standards of what an artist can do and say in contemporary society. From this Youtube clip where a curator describes an exhibition of Cantor, she explains how his art taps into the notion of what is an artist's genuine role in society, and if that role even can exist in a functioning society. Cantor's different mediums of expressing his opinions on globalization vary with meaning and message.

Catherine Sullivan

An American born artist who searches the distinctions between innate human behavior and learned human behavior. Her involvement in film explores this theme. With an extensive and impressive educational background, much of her work has been exhibited in elite museums. This film is a clip from Art21's interview with her discussing her films as she explores the life between the theatre and reality.

An example of locative art


According to the definition in Wikipedia: In the most cases the term Digital Surface Model represents the earth's surface and includes all objects on it. In contrast to a DSM, the Digital Terrain Model represents the bare ground surface without any objects like plants and buildings


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tyson James Dale, Trompe L'oeil, 2010

Here's an entertaining video from vimeo made by Tyson James Dale. It fits in with the theme we saw last week with claymation/animation and music all put together to create a very entertaining short narrative. The film plays off the term "trompe l'oeil" which is the art term for a two-dimensional piece of artwork giving the illusion of being three-dimensional. The story of the mime acting out the invisible theatre is making the theatre seem "real." This film is definitely an entertaining little vignette.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Alan Pelz-Sharpe "North by Northwest" 2010

North by Northwest from alan pelz-sharpe on Vimeo.

This is a video which appears more like a slide-show of photographs taken at various locations by artist Alan Pelz-Sharpe. Although the format of Sharpe's video is simple, he creates interesting compositions with each frame using black/white film and bold bands of color.

Anything for art?

I found this REALLY interesting article about this male artist from Iraq, Wafaa Bilal, who implanted a camera into the back of his skull for the sake of a year-long project that would take a picture every minute. The camera was causing an infection, so he had to get surgery. This article poses a very interesting question of how far is too far in the world of art? Apparently for Bilal, it looks like nothing will stop him from taking pictures.

Brennan Conaway "Trajectory" 2008

TRAJECTORY from Brennan Conaway on Vimeo.

Artist Brennan Conaway could have shot this bullet at any other barren location, but he chose this scenic dessert with all its natural elements that add richness and depth to this video.

Diego Agulló "The 4th Circle of the Dragon" 2009

The 4th Circle of the Dragon from Diego Agulló on Vimeo.

Artist Statement:

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Billy Rennekemp, "Oops", 2010

This video was a winner of the 2010 Vimeo Awards in the Experimental category, and also From Sundance: Oops is "a lucid, seamless voyage through the Internet's infinite repository of "throwaway" social documentation and into the humanity of everyday life - via YouTube's clumsiest videographers".

It's always fun to watch other people's "oops" moments, and here are a lot of them.

oops from Chris Beckman on Vimeo.

Graham Harwood - Uncomfortable Proximity, Tate Modern 2000

Hogarth, My Mum

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Sand art by Ilana Yahav

Ilana Yahav is a world renowned sand artist that highlights the "joie de vivre" with her unique drawings. Though she is not a video artist, Yahav's work is simply admirable and fun to watch. ENJOY!

December in Toronto by Millefiore Clarkes

December in Toronto from Millefiore Clarkes on Vimeo.

This is often how I remember trips. Snippets. Feelings. Sounds. Smells. Emotions.

A Day Off by George Horne

A Day Off [HD] from George Horne on Vimeo.

This video was shot with available light--all of it is naturally lit. I find that this is a lovely homage to nature, life, music and animals.

Small Black: Photojournalist by Yoonha Park

Small Black: Photojournalist from Yoonha Park on Vimeo.

This highly edited piece is a perfect example of joie de vivre in that it represents two women, one more natural than the other, going about their daily business, which happens to be basically the same thing. It celebrates life, nature, beauty and humanity through its wonderfully edited transitions, music and shots.

Jocco Olivier "Reflection" 2010

Jocco Olivier is a Dutch artist who creates these amazing animations by painting many images and compiling them on film. His works underscore the joy of life as they depict lovely landscapes and pleasurable everyday scenes in vibrant colors and lively paint strokes. Olivier currently lives and works in Amsterdam and just recently exhibited his video art at the 8th International Santa Fe Biennial.

In this interview Jocco Olivier talks about his "moving paintings."

Iceland Video, Joie de Vivre

Inspired by Iceland Video from Inspired By Iceland on Vimeo.

I am not sure if anything celebrates the joy of living more than this video about Iceland. From the cintematography to the joyous bursts of dance, this video portrays this week's theme of joie de vivre in a vibrant, silly, lovely, wonderfully human way.

Koki Tanaka "Everything is Everything" 2006

This is the first video I found online by Tanaka, and the minute I saw it I was reminded of Lee Walton's "Making Changes." Tanaka, like Walton, uses common objects along with his own ingenuous actions to offer his viewers a new way of looking at life and a child-like curiosity for what will happen next in his film.

This is an interview with Tanaka explaining his art and it's mission.

Koki Tanaka "Walk Through, test no.2" 2009. This film is the most recent one I found by Tanaka, and unlike in "Everything is Everything," we actually get to see him entirely performing all his actions.

Zohar Ron video art celebrating life and culture!

I don’t remember how I discovered the video art of Zohar Ron, but I vividly recall experiencing the “joie de vivre” the minute I clicked on this video. In fact, just about every time I watch this five minute video I’m taken over by the mesmerizing rhythmic tunes and playful imagery, as seen for example with the umbrella that puffs its way across the blue sky like a huge jellyfish in the sea and the tribal villagers boogie dancing across the hot dessert floor. The following segment is short but powerful. Here the viewer sees a figure in silhouette swaying before a soft beige background. This scene is quite hypnotizing, and may be interpreted as a moment of contemplation intended by the artist for the viewer.

These are the simple yet creative elements Ron utilizes in his works to convey the direct and compelling message that “life goes on” as natural cycles and cultural community prevail. You might detect by the masterful use of lighting as well as staging that Ron is a skilled film director/producer. You might also see with the natural images he captures of his African subjects that he is a talented photographer with a keen eye. Each frame in this video is well balanced, containing a harmonious blend of intricate square-like patterns and vibrant colors, from the men’s tribal attire to the body paints that decorate their bodies. In this way, Ron reveals the natural balance of life between people and land and underscores the rich and thriving African culture. Moreover, Ron is a painter, which furthermore contributes to the fact that each frame is so carefully arranged like the paints he meticulously applies to his canvases.

Ron’s work is thus far a culmination of his extensive travels to remote areas in Mongolia, Egypt, Senegal, Morocco and Scandinavia. Among a handful of the interests Ron explores in his work include the spirit, life, nature, people, animals, the dessert, God, and Islamic culture. At this point the viewer will have noticed the wide range of media effects Ron has artistically used to enhance each scene including dissolves, slow and fast motion, silhouette casting, and other editing techniques that add repetition and energy to each shot. When it comes to the body paint patterns that are projected behind the body, it is as thought Ron is suggesting that beauty is only skin deep and virtually abounding us everywhere in our natural environments. Ron’s Positive direction, commitment to excellence, and fine art are among the three mottos he lives by. Indeed, these attributes are exceptionally personified in Ron’s works which evoke a universal sense of life and spirit.

Ron’s website nicely summarizes the commercial as well as social aspects of his art work: As a director and set/lighting designer, he has created outdoor environmental productions, As a painter and photographic artist, he has crafted moments in time and space to capture feral beauty as well as gentle spirit, ancient archetype as well as contemporary viewpoints. Most importantly to Zohar, his work has helped to highlight the need for community service and charitable work (a promo film for Sakal Corporation on its initiatives to benefit children in need), and to bring reconciliation in a difficult world ("On The Way To Sulha" a film on peacemakers and the subject of Jewish-Arab cooperation in Israel).

For over 15 years, he has spearheaded the creation of first-class promotional videos (as a producer, director, editor and videographer) and print materials (as a photographer and art director/stylist). His diverse clientele has encompassed hotel chains, fashion designers, manufacturing and distribution companies, world music festivals and marketing enterprises, peacemaking events, and performing artists including Shlomo Artzi, Shalom Chanoch, Alma Zohar, Momi Levy, Subliminal, Diwan HaLev, Omar Faruk Tekbilek, Sheva, and Heeyam.

Andy Gracie, Spanish artist, microscopic images

Gracie works with teams of scientists in creating his art. from andy gracie on Vimeo.

Nicolas Anatol Babinsky Flamenco Magnetico 2005

A German artist, inventor, musician, and film maker, Babinsky celebrates the joy of dance in his robotic inventions.

Toy Symphony Tod Machover

Momoyo Torimitsu, Miyata Jiro, as demonstrated in Australia

A Japanese businessman in the form of a robotic man crawling on hands and knees down the street is at first humorous, but as the video unfolds we come to realize that the artist is making a connection between the relentless busiman and a wounded warrior.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Red Shoe Delivery Service, "New York", 2006

Andre Maat & Superelectric, "Squeeze Me", 2010

This is a music video for Kraak and Smaak's Dutch hit "Squeeze Me". It has won several awards for its impressive art direction. The lighthearted message of the song combined with the fun visuals makes for an all-around good experience.
joie de vivre.

Kraak & Smaak from WEAREWILL on Vimeo.

Simon Tofield "Snow Business" and "In the Box", 2010

This animation is one of many videos in the award-winning series "Simon's Cat", by Simon Tofield. The animation may not be considered "new media", but it is proof that an older form of animation can still be relevant and popular.
I'm not a cat person, but these videos are fun (joie de vivre!).

Coldplay (Shynola), Strawberry Swing, 2009

Coldplay (Art directed by Shynola), Strawberry Swing, 2009

Shynola's personal website featuring their most famous music video animations.

Interview with Shynola on Coldplay's website.

Childhood Chalk as Art

In the one of the latest Coldplay music videos, a group of three (originally four) (sarcastically dubbed “Shynola”) artists set out to create a magical fairytale land using the medium of chalk as their art tool (2009 is when the music video was released). Coldplay’s song, Strawberry Swing, is from their newest album, Viva la Vida, and exudes a whimsical and somewhat nostalgic emotion. During the beginning of my freshman year here at Westmont, this song eclipsed the new independent person I was beginning to discover, so I can personally relate to these emotions in the song.

Shynola consists of Gideon Baws, Chris Harding, Richard Kenworthy and Jason Groves who met in 1994 and collaborated their artistic talents while studying at the Kent Institute of Art and Design. While based in London, their aim was to create paintings, illustrations, comics, books, music and poetry. To say they missed an art form would be a slight misunderstanding. Before their collaboration became their main job, each artist was working in the art world with little influence and because of their success in creating music videos, they have succeeded in stabilizing themselves and their group financially. It is an art collaboration that is still effectively at work. With lofty goals and creative minds, Shynola began creating short films called “blipverts” which are digital micro-movies. With this invention, they created many famous music videos for many infamous musical artists and bands such as Beck and Radiohead.

Though they are known for their talent in animation (micro-movies), they have dabbled in the world of advertisements, film and even television throughout their years together. As listed on their own website, Shynola has received numerous awards for their outstanding and creative artwork. Strawberry Swing alone has received four awards; the D&DA Music Video award for Animation (2010), UK Music Video Awards for Video of the Year (2009), UK MV Award for Best Rock Video (2009) and UK MVA Award for Best Animation in a Music Video (2009).

In this particular music video, Strawberry Swing, was created in Los Angeles as Coldplay decided they wanted the group to come up with something for their music video. Shynola talks about the process in an interview found on Coldplay’s website. In explaining the motivation and decisions for the music video, they state how “we wanted it to be almost nonsensical and dream-like.” And certainly, they did. Shooting numerous still shots of the different drawn chalk scenes created the film, Shynola succeeded in capturing this dream-like narrative and the dream-like feel of the song. The music follows a simple short narrative in which the good little boy superhero (Chris Martin) saves the good girl, “Baddy.” Shynola states how they wanted a simple narrative in order to simply, but profoundly, support the atmosphere of the song.

As one watches the video, one is taken aback by the beautiful “more-than-just-cartoon caricatures” drawings in chalk that seem to literally move as Chris Martin moves through the narrative (although the creativity is that he doesn’t actually move, it just appears that way). This amazing and delightful illusion doesn’t fail to make the viewer smile even before the beautiful leaf scene enthralls your amazement. Throughout the video the different sequences of the story unfold before your eyes to seem as if it is one solid moving picture. Although, small nuances (such as seeing Chris Martin’s shadow and remembering his three-dimensional body juxtaposed with the two-dimensional chalk drawings) remind the viewer that these are complete still shots that took a lot of time and energy to create each artistic drawing. These still shots allow for the video to be enjoyable with the music and the narrative—one definitely remembers the video more clearly due to Shynola’s fantastic artwork.

The collaboration our generation has slowly started to rely more heavily between art and music, which reveals a culture that profoundly takes pride and joy in these two art forms. Both forms are blended through the new mediums of new media and technology. Through the use of this new media art form, the blend of art and music becomes more possible in new and exciting ways. The narratives of music and art can combine to create a new kind of narrative and genre in the contemporary art world—one that we have seen being taken thorough advantage of throughout this class with all the different video artists. This new genre redefines what might be able to be seen as “high art” versus “low art” and stimulates conversation between contemporary art as attached (or not attached) to the movements of past “high art.” What will be our response as the viewers?

Grizzly Bear, Ready, Able

Monday, February 7, 2011

Matthew Heckertt, Mechanical Sound Orchestra, 2009

Music is one of life's great joys, and technology has changed not only the way we hear music but the ways in which music is made. Heckertt was born and raised in Kent County Rhode Isalnd, but moved to San Francisco in 1977. He was part of the SRL until 1988 when he began his own art. He creates machines, controlled by computers, that make music.

Martin Arnold's Alone.Life Wastes Andy Hardy, 1998

Martin Arnold is Austrain, born in 1959. He often uses other filmmaker's footage and cuts it into repeating patterns that offer the viewer a closer look at human gestures and interactions. At first blush the absurd edits seem humorous, but on closer inspection the viewer might find a hidden narrative in the repetition of movements and sounds. This clip is from the ending of a longer film titled Alone. Life Wastes Andy Hardy.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Jarbas Agnelli, Birds on the Wires, 2009

Jarbas Agnelli, Birds on the Wires, 2009

Yet again, another video from the Guggeinheim's "Youtube" contest. This film has to do with the blending of animation and music to control that change in the film. I just really enjoyed this film! Especially because it has birds in it. :)

Pogo, Gardyn, 2010

Pogo, Gardyn, 2010

This is another Top 25 "Youtube" video from the Guggeinheim's competition. I thought this video is fun to watch, but more fun to listen to. I am really attracted to what video artists are doing with music and how they are responding to the technological age in our musical world. So, this compilation of natural sounds embedded with "techno" beats is a really neat blend to make an interesting movie about her mother's passion, gardening.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

thank you, netherlands, for your media art catalogue.

hi all!
here is a link that I found very helpful.
it's the netherlands media art institute catalogue.
just look at all the subject choices!


Since I wasn't in class on Thursday due to sickness, I was wondering if there were any changes to the homework assigned for this week? Can anyone update me if there was—like how many artists we are supposed to find? Thanks so much! Hope you all are having a splendid weekend.


Friday, February 4, 2011

Andy Huang "Doll Face" 2006

I first discovered this work called Doll Face by Andy Huang when researching media artists that utilize the body as their primary focus of subject matter. An aspiring student, Andy studies fine arts and animation at the University of Southern California, and created Doll Face as one of his class projects which earned his fame and is still view tremendously online. Huang exhibited this piece in 2006, and although it is a digital animation, it incorporates computer graphics, real images, and robotic forms to communicate a powerful message that deals directly with personal and personality. From the start of the film, the viewer is shown an old T.V. set, and then a silver treasure box. Out pops a robotic girl, who serves as a stand in for all girls and women that create their own persona based on what media conveys.

The robot’s face looks cold and gray, and her eyes are deep black voids that perhaps suggest the emptiness or the beginning stages of building one’s persona. In this case, the delicate machine-like teen is clearly creating her own image based on what she sees presented through on the old, malfunctioning television set. Slowly but surely, she manages to bring her face and persona to life, swashing on bright colored lipstick and implanting an eye into the left side of her face. But as the video progresses, it appears more and more difficult for the girl to use the media screen as her mirror, as it moves away from her mechanical body. At this point, she is in a vulnerable state as she stretches her frail body to the limit, and the viewer is left to ponder what this determined doll will do next.

Of this particular work, Huang states, "My concept for 'Doll Face' stemmed from a series of drawings and paintings I did in high school that focused on robotic yet organic tree-like bodies. Some of my early artistic influences include musicians Björk and Radiohead, as well as artists and directors Chris Cunningham, Eiko Ishioka and Jan Svankmajer. I loved watching music videos and films that seamlessly fused actors with CG makeup/effects (for instance Björk’s 'Hunter' video or the makeup effects in The Cell) and I knew I wanted to direct a short film that incorporated that same kind of CG interaction."

Psychologist and practicing psychoanalyst, Dr. Deborah Serani notes, “This is a haunting and visually stunning work of art, showing how beauty is merely a facade. How media and its messages create a subjective world, where unattainable goals often lead us to disaster. As the ending of this video reveals, the doll has made a leap for perfection which leads to her ultimate destruction. She lies there flat on the ground, immobile, with half a face and a twitching eye. What I find most interesting about this video is that I find it portrays a relevant representation of the media and its effects on society. Videos like these make the viewer think twice about the negative influences of media and its false identities it shapes and promotes among individuals.

Jym Davis "White Space" 2004

Jym Davis works in experimental film. "White Space" is about the creation of man, and as I understand, Adam's emergence from dust as represented by the figure covered in white chalk. Below is the artist's statement:

"My work blurs the boundary between traditional studio practice and emerging digital technologies while exploring such far reaching issues as science fiction, spirituality, and the human body."

Mathew Barney "Cremaster 4: The Isle of Man" 1995

Raging sounds of motor engines, testicle muscles, racy costumes, and sexual body fluids are among most of the prominent masculine elements Mathew Barney elegantly packs into his fantasy world created in the Cremaster Cycle. This video excerpt is from Cremaster 4: The Isle of Man and was the first series out of the total five which was released in 1994. The Cremaster Cycle is about the creation process. What may be observed by these films, are that they explore the continuous fluctuation of muscles and especially the key moments of growth that happens before and after the muscles and restrained and released. For this reason, it is helpful to know that the cremaster is the muscle that is suspended to the testicles. In addition, this muscle contracts with stimuli such as cold and fear. Moreover, there is a strategic time in the womb when a baby’s genitals will either ascend or develop to determine its gender. Similarly, this time occurs in teenage goats, which explains the metaphorical work that Barney draws heavily on to communicate ideas of sexual ambiguity, identity, and the body’s transformation potential.

Barney is an American artist who graduated from Yale, training in sculpture, photography, drawing and film. His mastery of these arts is clearly apparent in his quality presentation films, where he stars himself as the main figure in film. As can be seen in Cremaster 4: The Isle of Man, Barney is the goat-like satyr in orange hair, ears and a blazing white suit appearing symbolically in the state of gender ambiguity. He tap-dances until he creates a hole in a pier floor, falls through, is submerged in the ocean, pushes his body through a tube filled with slimy vaseline, and finally finds himself sitting in the grass with whimsical creatures. Throughout these scenes, we hear and see clips of motorbikes. The video then ends just before two motorists are about to ram into each other.

Commenting on his work, the artist remarked to the critic Roberta Smith in 1997: “I want to get at the moment of freedom between things, between formlessness and form, which is the exciting moment, the moment of conflict. The goal of the work isn’t about something being fulfilled but about setting out to find perfect symmetry, true equilibrium. I think of it as a tragic goal; the pursuit of it is what the narratives into the videos are based on.” According to our college textbook on contemporary artists, “Mathew Barney’s art simply bewildered many older viewers, even while ravishing them with beauty. It also bewitched younger ones, who seemed quite effortlessly to find the works mysterious but meaningful…” Also, critic Michael Kimmelman proclaimed that Cremaster, “…gives us an inspired benchmark of ambition, scope, and forthright provocation for art in the new century.”

Although many viewers are taken aback by the horrific things Barney chooses to film, they may challenge themselves to look beyond what the images convey, and deeper into the rich meaning and metaphorical issues that are very much a reality of our humanity and experience. As Barney himself stated, “I don’t think my work is so strange. It’s just a matter of having the discipline to go the whole way with an idea, to stretch it as far as it can go.”

Barney’s additional works include:
Mile High Threshold: Flight with the Anal Sadistic Warrior
(Influence: Athletic performers or escape artists as Harry Houdini and football legend Jim Otto)
Guardian of the Veil, 2007
Drawing Restraint series of performances and works since 1998

Mathew Barney talks about "Cremaster Cycle"

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Shirin Neshat Turbulent, Rapture, Tooba, Passage

Neshat is an Iranian film maker, video, and photography artist who lives in New York.

Shirin Neshat Montage from sam neave on Vimeo.

Tracey Moffatt, Night Cries: A Rural Tragedy, 1989

Moffatt was adopted as a half-Aboriginal child into an Australian white family.

Mona Hatoum, Measures of Distance, 1988

Mona Hatoum was born in Beirut, Lebanon in 1952, but during a visit to London in 1975 war broke out in Lebanon which forced her to stay in London. She studied art between 1975 and 1981 and in the early 1980s that she moved from performance pieces to video. Measures of Distance is a 1988 video installation that addresses Hatoum’s status as an exile and her longing to be in relationship with family, particularly her mother. In 1981 she returned briefly to her war ravaged Lebanon to visit with family. Measures of Distance is Hatoum’s response to that visit.
The video opens with Arabic script moving across the screen and in the background the viewer begins to recognize a female form -- images of Hatoum’s mother. The Arabic script functions as a partition between the viewer and the women similar to the veil that protects the privacy of women in Muslin countries. It also can be interpreted as a barrier; not only are we the viewers kept at a distance, but the woman too is confined by this wall of characters.
The letters are read aloud in English. The very personal content of these letters allows the viewer an intimate glimpse into the artist’s family life in Lebanon and insights into her feelings of displacement as a citizen in exile. Her mother speaks openly about family matters and the troubling frustration she feels because war has separated her from her children. At one point she reads: “I felt as though I had been stripped naked of my soul.” Indeed, Hatoum shows the viewer her mother’s nude body in the shower sharing with her daughter that her husband, Hatoum’s father, does not think they should be talking “about these things” and the artist should not be phographing her mother naked. The mother, however, seems to love the intimacy she shares with her daughter. Hatoum exposes the sexuality of her mother in both images and words breaking down another stereotype of Islamic women as emotionally repressed. The mother’s full and sensual body, together with her loving and warm letters, speaks of a deep emotional intimacy that all women share. The letters become love letters between mother and child...a longing to shrink the distance between them and to be physically close again. Yet even though Hatoum lives in exile, these demonstrative and tender letters are a measure of how the distance between mother and daughter can be eased, even mended.
Hatoum’s video also challenges what she calls “the stereotype of Arab women as passive.” This is a very personal narrative about the “disasters of war” and the ways that political agendas result in deeply personal consequences. War has caused the mother pain and sacrifice and her letters betray her unfathomable hurt. But, the letters are also redemptive insofar as they become her way of actively connecting to her daughter, to the world, and to her own healing. This is one family story among thousands, but it addresses the universal pain of separation caused by war and politics. Hatoum is the child Palestinians who escaped war in 1948 fleeing to Lebanon. Hatoum is thus twice a displaced person and the video as such calls attention to the distress of Palestinian people who have been removed from their birth places.
Measures of Distance presents a portrait of the artist’s mother, but the viewer soon realizes that the video also is a measure of Hatoum’s physical and emotional distance from family and country. The video examine artist as content as she experiences her own culpability in choosing to remain in exile while her parents are exposed to harm and agony. The grief and anguish of separation weighs heavily on both the refugee and the family members who remain in place.
Hatoum continues to live and work in London and beyond performance and video, she is also creating sculptures. The themes of separation, displacement, and the very personal consequences of political turmoil are ideas that she has returned to throughout her artistic career.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Google Art

Hey, here's a neat thing I saw on Google today. They created this website where you can virtually explore museums!

Antonin De Bemels, "Technique de la Schizophrenie", 2010

TECHNIQUE DE LA SCHIZOPHRENIE from Bonhomme Daniel on Vimeo.

Antonin De Bemels, "La Malediction Du Bonhomme Daniel", 2010

LA MALEDICTION DU BONHOMME DANIEL from Bonhomme Daniel on Vimeo.

Antonin De Bemels studied at the Ecole de Recherche Graphique in Belgium, where he developed interest in video art, specifically in the relation between sound and image, a relationship he explores through all of his works. The video La Malediction du Bonhomme Daniel (or The Curse of Bonhomme Daniel) is one of the several videos featuring the character Bonhomme Daniel. This piece is characteristic of much of Bemels' work, with sped-up, frenetic imagery. In this character Bonhomme Daniel, Bemels expresses his alter ego, a man with a simple and eerily expressionless mask. In this particular video, Daniel walks down a street, encountering one other masked human. We think nothing of this encounter until the scene darkens and takes a menacing turn. An overlay of a mask appears and morphs into a nightmarish image. Bonhomme Daniel dances hysterically, overcome with this nightmarish spirit, and attacks another masked man, perhaps the sane version of Bonhomme Daniel himself. As the setting changes from the street to a home interior, we understand that this curse follows Daniel everywhere, even into the privacy of his own home. When this work is considered in the context of the other Bonhomme Daniel works, such as Technique de la Schizophrenie it becomes clear that mental illness is a common thread throughout the series. This particular Bonhomme video is meant to “reflect on mediocrity and normality” . Applying the term “normal” to a video that displays such mental agitation suggests that perhaps this curse or illness is not as rare as we might think. Though Bonhomme Daniel is an alter ego of the artist, the anonymous quality of the masked man is undeniable, implying that the viewer might also be reflected in Bonhomme's mundane life, fragmented by mental illness.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011


This video doesn't fit in with our topic this week, but I loved it so much that I wanted to share it!
It's a short film (only 10 minutes long) entitled The Thomas Beale Cipher by Andrew Allen. Here's the website, where you can see all the festivals it has been entered in. It's worth the watch!

The Thomas Beale Cipher from Andrew S Allen on Vimeo.

Hermine Freed, "Art Herstory", 1974

More Zackary Drucker

If you're interested in seeing what a transgender artist is doing with her body check out Zackary Drucker's website.

Zackary Drucker, One Fist, 2010

     Born a male in 1983 in New York, Zackary Drucker is now an emerging Los Angeles-based transgender performance and video artist whose work deals mainly with gender and sexuality issues. As a cis-male (born male), transgender woman (identifies as a female), Drucker leads the pack and tackles issues facing the transgender community head on. With overtly sexual images, text and themes, the viewer cannot escape the pertinent issues at hand. Drucker has only been working since 2006 and has already given the art world a hefty oeuvre to study and track transgender art in the contemporary scene.
Drucker began her studies at the Media School of Visual Arts in New York, NY where she received a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Photography. She completed her studies at the California Institute of the Art in Valencia, CA where she obtained a Master of Fine Art Degree in Photography. Before she devoted herself to the world of fine art, Drucker starred in reality television and typecast herself as the typical transgender: “that token queer—self-important, edgy, and hip, challenging the other cast members with a sharp tongue and a fierce fashion sense to boot.” As she matured, so did her art. Now the art world is faced with a “direct, unapologetic confrontation between the audience and her body, gender, and voice,” instead of a stereotypical “tranny”.

     In an interview with Christopher Bolen , Drucker said, “I’ve always been interested in mixing signals…I don’t think any of us are easily defined. Trans people have a tendency to adhere to normative culture, but I think all the rules and truths are being redefined.” In her works, Drucker will often comply with the stereotypes of the transgender culture, yet in the commentary and message that the entire work suggests, she simultaneously undermines those very stereotypes and often does so with biting implications.
     In Drucker’s avant-garde performance, You have one fist in my mouth, and one fist up my ass; your arms are trapped inside me like a Chinese finger trap, which showed at Jerome Zodo Contemporary (Milan) on January 21, 2010, two voices come in and out of clarity while a gold painted body wrapped in bandages slowly rotates 360 degrees on a pedestal. An assistant holds the end of the bandages and unravels the tightly bound Drucker at the same rate as the pedestal rotates. The voices speak about transgender misconceptions and appear to be spoken by Drucker. The voices are both female and male, warped by an editing machine to lower and heighten the pitch, calling to mind both a male and female voice. Sometimes the voices overlap and the distinction between the two is blurred. At other points the voices are distinct, separate.
     In the performance, the recording says, “This is a culture polarized by fucking. I am an archetype; a survivor; a living history; a dying history. Who does that bitch think she is? They say she is too low for the dogs to bite; she should find a sewer and jump in…it is part of our peculiar society that difference must be stamped out and ignored. Made to fit the model…this is the truth that resonate with ourselves…Transcend and transgress the kinds of knowledge out there…The debate of binary sex is circular…There are only two sexes to be…It will be my body and my gender on the firing line, I will be forced to defend and make art about over and over again.”
     When asked by Performance Art World how important her body is to her work, Drucker noted, “My body is my work. I’d like viewers to feel desire, repulsion, identification, judgement, confusion, guilt; and then I want to make them laugh and feel like they are in on the joke.”
Drucker continues to play with transgender themes as she comes into her own. She asks the hard questions, makes herself uncomfortable, and attempts to bring the viewer into the conversation about gender, sexuality and confused norms. Drucker is the trailblazer for many artists who are using performance pieces to comment on society in a non-violent manner. Be on the look out for more from Drucker and her collaborators in the near future.