Saratonin:art:blog


True Color
June 13, 2009, 5:17 am
Filed under: Art, Photography

Mark Cohen
May 21st – August 28
Hasted Hunt
529 W. 20th St., 3rd Fl New York, NY

MarkCohen

Sometimes I’m a little critical of the value of Photography as fine art, until I see a show like this. Actually, every time I walk in to Hasted Hunt I feel this way.

Mark Cohen shows how content, composition, and color can be perfected to create an evocative, poignent series, depicting everyday moments of everyday life. Cohen depicts the good along with the bad; the ugly and the mundane made are beautiful through a lense of nostalgia.

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Memory Boxes
June 13, 2009, 4:57 am
Filed under: Art, Sculpture

Jerry Meyer
May 14th – June 20, 2009
Denise Bibro Fine Art
529 W. 20th Street 4W New York, NY

MemoryBoxes

Using images and artifacts that seem as if they could have come from my grandparent’s attic, Jerry Meyer created muli-layered and multi-textured light box collages that combined perfect amounts of nostolgia, humor, craft, and aestetic. These pieces create disjointed narratives, allowing us glimpses of the lives and minds of unknown characters, but leaving ample ambiguity for viewers to derive their own meaning from the works.



Live Feed: 1972 -1994
May 31, 2009, 4:44 am
Filed under: Installation, Sculpture, Video

Nam June Paik
April 14th – June 6th, 2009
James Cohan Gallery
533 West 26th Street, NY, New York 10001

Discovering the work of Nam June Paik while in college, among other discoveries, such as Bruce Nauman’s Live-Taped Corridor, Rhizome, and  Eyebeam, launched me into my current obsession with Digital Art as Fine Art. There is nothing more satisfying to me than manipulating reality through technology, and manipulating technology for the sake of art. Therefore, I was immensely happy to find that James Cohan Gallery in Chelsea was showing his TV sculptures. This show was the best eye candy I have seen in a while.

Though I loved everything there, my favorites were TV Bed, Living Egg Grows, and Watchdog II.

NamJunePaik3

TV Bed consistes of an angled metal bed frame holding a bed of televison monitors, depicting images of a cellist, crawling soldiers, toy soldiers crawling on a nude, a nude cellist, crawling soldiers carrying cellos, a woman playing a soldier like a cello, a woman playing a stack of TVs like a cello, and other combinations of cellos, soldiers, women, and TVs, combining imagery of war, sex, and entertainment into a colorful, quickly changing collage of footage. A nude wooden doll and and soldier doll carrying a cello are positioned as if they were crawling up the bed.

NamJunePaik1

Living Egg Grows is a series of angled televisions ordered smallest to largest with a video of a nude woman in an egg shape, interspersed with glowing white eggs, and ending with three smaller stacked eggs, seemingly narrating the birth and reproduction of a woman through television.

NamJunePaik2

Watchdog II is a humorous TV sculpture of a dog, with a video camera on its tail providing sideways live feed for its snout. The televisions feature colorful distorted video, and loud speakers are transformed into the dog’s ears.

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And, it wouldn’t be a Nam June Paik show without Enlightenment Compressed, or TV Buddha, where a Buddha figure sits on part of a monitor and meditates on live feed of himself shown on a small television in front of him.



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/



After Nature
August 30, 2008, 1:51 am
Filed under: Art, Installation, Sculpture

The New Museum
235 Bowery, New York, NY

I recently payed a long past due visit to the New Museum (its been a few years).  The current show was “After Nature,” and it was full of many intriguing pieces, though I was particularly interested in two bodies of work:

The first was Paweł Althamer’s sculptures, which he created from grass, hemp fiber, animal intestine, wax, and hair.  The characters’ bodies looked as if they had been decaying for years, yet they held video cameras, and wore glasses.  All of the figures were nude, and several were self portraits of the artist.  These sculptures brought together the archaic and the modern; putting everyday life in perspective of the entirety of time, calling to question our everyday activities, and reminding us that we too someday will be ancient history.

The second piece that caught my attention was Maurizio Cattelan’s, Untitled, 2007, which consisted of taxidermied horse skin, and fiberglass resin. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time when I saw this.  The way the horse is positioned, high above the viewer with its head seemingly through the wall, makes one wonder what kind of violent force could have put it there.  Yet its positioning is very out of the ordinary. Rather than mounting the animal’s head on the wall, as many hunters do with game they kill, the artist mounted the body instead. Because horses are such large, domestic animals, it is odd to mount one at all, let alone with the head missing and the body dangling out of the wall; the result is sadistically hilarious.



Waterfalls
August 26, 2008, 4:45 am
Filed under: Installation

Waterfalls
Olafur Eliasson

This controversial public art project is one I see on a regular basis, as I work In DUMBO (and acronym for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, which I was standing on to take this picture). I am normally a huge fan of public art in general; however I have my doubts as to how well Eliasson’s (theoretically great) idea was executed, especially considering the price tag ($15 million).

When I first saw the Waterfalls, I couldn’t get over how incredibly industrial-looking, and LARGE, the supporting structures were. Though admittedly one can get a good view of the waterfalls from the Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges (and probably from the ferry boats), those on the shore are left staring at a large metal frame, getting lightly salted with a mist of questionable East River water, which The Brooklyn Paper accuses of killing nearby trees.

However, I do admit I enjoyed my trip across the bridge to see them; and no doubt they are helping local businesses by attracting more tourists.