Tuesday, March 1, 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 primary 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 and personas it shapes and promotes among individuals. Unfortunately, today countless lives are shattered like glass dolls under the exuding pressures of media, which is what makes artist's works such as Huang's so important.

This is a sample of more of Huang's work. Projections is a video projection and sculpture installation that was presented in 2007. Each screen reveals an incredibly life-like mechanical form that moves by virtue of light and color. To me, these objects resemble human bodies or trees. My favorite is the one with the veins that appear to branch-off the screen.

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