Saratonin:art:blog


There is no end to more
February 2, 2010, 5:59 am
Filed under: Art, Collaborative, Performance, Video

Jeremy Wade
EMPAC, Troy, NY

In a style simultaneously reminiscent of Frank Zappa and Nintendo, Jeremy Wade explores the constant onslaught of media and consumer culture in our daily lives through the persona of a child. (review)

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Merry Christmas
December 25, 2009, 11:07 pm
Filed under: Books, Collaborative, Design, Installation

My brother knows me well. This morning he gave me two interesting nuggets.

The first covers a topic that has been running useless circles around my head since I first started working with advertisers: the relationship (and potential relationship) between true creativity and commercial agenda (perhaps they can can be symbiotic, after all?) Interesting so far. I hope it’s enlightening.

I also received this one.

The former is a commentary on how to salvage creativity and convey a message while working as a commercial artist. The latter suggests bypassing commercial agenda and conveying a message any way you wish. Hmm…



Mark Bradford & Kara Walker
October 28, 2009, 4:53 pm
Filed under: Collaborative, Installation, Painting/Drawing, Sculpture, Video

Sept. 10 – Oct. 17 2009
Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
530 W. 22nd Street New York, NY

I was impressed with these two artists ability to use shape and negative space to create vivid portrayals of misogyny, racism, and violence. Mini-narratives lay everywhere, in text, in image, and sometimes in texture, hidden under a monochrome layer of paint. These paintings and objects were beautifully tied together with videos by Walker using silhouette puppets, paper sculptures, and other media. This exhibit was aesthetically and conceptually intricate and provocative.



Catching up
October 21, 2008, 1:37 am
Filed under: Art, BlogTalk, Collaborative, Installation, Photography, Programming, Sculpture, Video

Due to a recent cut in my free time, I am trying to spend what little is left making my own work rather than writing about others’. Therefore, I am going to hold off on my analysis of each, and instead create a list for later reference.

Eyebeam:
Untethered
– Various Artists

Smack Mellon:
Decoded Love – Shin Il Kim
Oh, Very, Yes! – Kwabena Slaughter

Klompching:
Doppelganger – Cornelia Hediger



Free Tibet
September 9, 2008, 2:01 am
Filed under: Art, Collaborative

James Powderly, an internationally acclaimed light artist, co-founder of the Graffiti Research Lab, and Eyebeam alumni, recently had an unpleasant run-in with the Chinese government regarding a plan to help a group of activists use lasers to project a pro-Tibet message on the side of a building near Tienanmen Square during this summer’s Olympics. What I know of this I learned through the Brooklyn Paper’s articles on the subject, the first published before he returned, the second after.  While I admire his work very much, and I am incredibly envious of (and inspired by) his technical ability and his creative use thereof; The comments posted on the second article have got me thinking about the use of art for activist purposes, and the effectiveness and integrity of activism in general.

My issue with activism lies between the desire to work to make the world a better place and the nagging thought of “what right do you have to decide what is ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ for others?” What is considered a fight for the betterment of humanity by some might be considered terrorism by others.  Uninformed good intentions can create disastrous outcomes, and there will never be a worldwide unanimous agreement of what works best in any given situation. I suppose all we can do to fight for what we believe in, regardless of self doubt, and trust that dialectical forces will sort things out.

What is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ is determined by majority opinion. Powderly was doing what he could to tilt majority opinion in favor of freeing Tibet.  He was successful even in his mission’s failure.  The number of comments on that article and here, and the variety of voices being expressed, however harsh, shows that people are paying attention, and care enough about the issue to argue about it. Debate produces ideas; by pointing out that going to China with high tech protest signs might not be the right way to go about helping Tibet, as one commenter did, perhaps someone else might come up with better solution.

James Powderly failed in his mission, but he succeeded in striking up one hell of a conversation.

*As a side note, if you feel like brushing up on Chinese politics, this link, provided by one of the commenters, is very interesting: http://www.ninecommentaries.com/



Portrait of Silvia Elena
July 24, 2008, 3:01 am
Filed under: Art, Collaborative, Installation, Painting/Drawing

Swoon & Tennessee Jane Watson
May 30th – July 12th, 2008
Honey Space

148 11th Ave, New York, NY

Swoon and Tennesse Jane Watson put this show together to raise awareness for femicide in Juarez, Mexico. Silvia Elena was one the first of hundreds of young, poor women to be sexually assaulted and brutally murdered on their way home from long days working in local factories. The murderers are suspected to be prominent, wealthy men, and the police are suspected of aiding them by being indifferent to the murders or by torturing innocent people until they confess to the crime.

In the main room of the gallery, a shrine was set up on a table, with newspaper clippings and pictures of some of the girls on the wall behind it. To see the main installation, a visitor would have to climb down a ladder through a hole in the floor into a sub-level of the the building. There, among dirt and cinder blocks, one could fine Swoon’s ornately detailed paper cutout portrait of Silvia Elena, lit by candles and adorned with donations. The portrait was accompanied by the voice of her mother, speaking in Spanish, and by the sound of dirt being shoveled off a grave. The sound of the dirt was especially eerie: alone in the sub-level of the building, it sounded like somebody trying to dig their way in or out of the room.

Having to enter the exhibition by climbing into a hole in the ground put the viewer outside of their comfort zone. The sub-level area outlined the isolation of these girl’s deaths, left alone in the desert. Some girls were not found for years; many were never found at all. The mother’s voice conveys the pain that these murders cause not only to the girls, but to their families, who are powerless to seek justice.



“Stemma”
July 6, 2008, 1:43 am
Filed under: Art, Collaborative, Painting/Drawing, Video

The Black Estate
February 7th – March 8th, 2008
Clair Oliver Gallery
513 West 26th Street, New York, NY

The Black Estate is an artists’ collaborative comprised of Noah MacDonald and Scott Pagano. I saw this exhibition a few months ago, and I was very impressed by the delicate balance of traditional media and and technology within each piece.

Upon entering the gallery, the veiwer would first encounter Field #2, a HD video loop displayed on a wall mounted flat screen TV. The video consists of a hand drawn ink-wash landscape, delicately animated to portray a gentle swaying of flora, a slow fall of what could be snow (or ash), and a gradually changing perspective. The image is eerily dark, and the borders are feathered to black in a way that distances the piece from its rectangular habitat.

Walking further into the gallery, the viewer would be confronted with Tree, another high definition video; only this time projected onto the far back wall of the gallery. The feathered edges of this piece had an even stronger effect, being that the work was fully incorporated into the gallery space, needing no container whatsoever, transforming the wall into a gateway to the artist’s life-sized, surreal landscape.

Looking to one’s left, one would encounter several wooden video objects with lenses in the top. Through these lenses, several more videos, Float, Bloom, Fall, and Swarm, could be seen. Each of these are also delicately animated, surreal depictions of nature, viewed in a manner that one would view an organism under a microscope.

Along the walls, one could also find a series of pen-and-ink and mixed media abstractions of nature, flora, and fauna.

The Black Estate’s haunting digital depictions of the natural world raise questions of contemporary man’s relationship with his environment. These beautiful, delicate works of art carry a message of the mortality of nature and all of its inhabitants, and a gentle reminder to protect what we have.

In “Stemma,” The Black Estate masterfully combined traditional media with digital technology to create an eerily surreal depiction of the natural world, inviting the viewer both to enter the landscape and to examine it through a lens.