art 2840: reading 10

November 18, 2010

Reading 10 is an interview with Olaf Blanke called Getting Beyond Ourselves. Blanke led a team of neuroscientists in creating an out-of-body experience in the laboratory.
The experiment used virtual-reality googles to show a person an image of themselves from behind, displaying an image in front of the person. The scientists stroked the person’s back with a paint brush at the same time, projecting the image on the body. People felt they were floating toward the projected body.
Blanke experiment was one of perception and awareness, attempts to localise a space in which the brain realises the space it functions outside of itself.
Looking into awareness of body and self outside of one’s self/perception is an experiment that is of interest to artists because perception is such an important aspect of work. In addition to the reading, was a look at the work Live Taped Corridor by Bruce Nauman. The narrow corridor featured monitors and a camera. The closer the viewer gets to the monitor, the further they are from the camera, making the image of themselves tiny on the screen. Also, some what of an out-of-body experience.
Being hyper aware of self, is something I am not certain I can say has happened to me. I don’t believe I have had an out-of-body experience, as described, but I have the nagging feeling I must have experienced something like this somehow. I feel like I have a high story that should involve being outside of myself, but I don’t feel like any sufficiently show an outer perception.

art 2840: reading 9

November 15, 2010

After reading a portion Screens by Kate Mondloch, our class went to Apothecary to take a look at Greg Pond’s sound sculptures. Wood and rabbit fur partially covered the machines necessary to produce the sounds emitted by the sculptures, giving them a familiarity that contrasted sharply with the alien and surreal noises coming from the speakers.
We discussed the works in Screens in relation to the sculpture, both having in common pieces that don’t have distinct beginnings or endings. The artists are creating works that aren’t intended to be viewed or heard beginning to end. The screen works were created with no expectation of full viewings. The piece doesn’t rely on the viewer having an attention span long enough to view an entire piece, just pieces of a piece. The film can use the time it has to embed pieces into the self-conscious of the viewer by slowing down time to allow the viewer to notice details not seen in a regular viewing, as in the case of the Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho

art 2840: reading 8

November 3, 2010

This reading was from Lea Vergine’s The Body As Language, and was accompanied by two videos of performances by Maria Abramovic and Chris Burden. In class we have been looking at various performances using the body. I watched Abramovic wildly (and sometimes violently) brush and comb her hair while repeating, “art must be beautiful, artist must be beautiful.” Sigh. Just like other performance art, I was really on edge because I was afraid she was going to cutting her self, I am not a fan of blood. Watching her brush her hair while saying that was frustrating, she was beautiful then (and still is, it’s like she’s barely aged) so I feel like rolling my eyes hearing another beautiful girl with some sort of statement about beauty all the while being BEAUTIFUL. I was also worried the entire hour of the video was her brushing her hair… but no, now she’s FREEING THE VOICE. She’s moaning. If she’d add a little variation she could work a haunted house. The thing about performance art is that it occupies a space of artists doing things that are sometimes ridiculous and without an artist statement on why, it’s hard to take it seriously. (I would give Bas Jan Ader as an example. I watched a video of him falling slow-mo off of a house and I laughed till I cried, but he had his own reasons for doing it.) For Freeing the Memory, a list of words. She kind of looks like she is broadcasting from outerspace. Now to free the body. I can buy this. I think there’s no better way to free the body than through dancing and dancing naked is the ultimate freedom. The mask is strange, I don’t like it, it makes it less fun and more like a hostage situation.
Now onto Chris. MOUSTACHE. I am going to admit, I am a bit nervous about watching this because Chris has done some crazy things. My name is Chris Burden. I noticed you’re admiring my guyliner and moustache. Please, there’s more to me than that! Let’s look at my work.
I am SO GLAD he is explaining the pieces. The simple act of an explanation gives me so much more insight and respect for pieces created. I think it adds a lot to hear what the artist intended.
First piece: “220” HOLY BALLS. Flooded gallery, ladders, ELECTRICITY. Kind of reminds me of Jaws. I feel tense just looking at this set-up. Here comes “Shoot” This is a piece I have already seen, but it’s so strange because I am expecting something extremely violent everytime. Bloodspatter, some kind of pained cries, but there is none of that. “Bed Piece” 22 days of being in bed. He brings up the aspect of the people providing him food had to deal with him as an object and a person, and that is an interesting thing to explore. He occupies their space, but he isn’t speaking to them. The next one has road flares and Burden was arrested. It’s interesting to me that he was frightened by the process of arrest and trial, but he takes all these risks to his body.
Smoking dope and watching tv is up now. This was seems less interesting. He’s wearing stolen pants. “Icarus” Awesome glass and gasoline. The vapour ignited beautifully. B.C. Mexico. Vicarious participation. That makes sense as an access point. “Through the Night Softly” Gorgeous, the opening comment about broken glass as stars touches me because I love stars and I also have a thing for broken glass scattered across parking lots. I know he is getting cut up, but I don’t feel any of the tension. I feel like, “WHAT A STATEMENT” I know he hasn’t mentioned anything of the sort, but isn’t there someone in your life that you would wiggle across broken glass for? I do feel uncomfortable for him though. SHEESH, that looks sharp. This TV Ad thing is so honest, he just wanted to be on tv. Oh, Chris!!! Real TV. Haha, and now he’s requesting volunteers and it doesn’t sound like anyone is just jumping up to do it. I am not surprised in the least. Oh yikes… pushpins. This one is more tense, is the volunteer gonna do it? Just a few, but they did it.
By using body, Burden and Abramovic are able to access a media that EVERYONE has on them at all times: their body. Maybe you can’t paint or draw, but you have a body and most people have a fascination with watching terrible things happen to others. Seeing one person’s body injured gives you that cringe/chill of your imagination feeling it for a second happening to your own body.

art 2840: reading 7

October 29, 2010

Cremaster Cycle is a series of videos by Matthew Barney. The cremaster is a muscle that raises and lowers the testicles. From the synopsis provided (and from further research), the videos progress from genderless through till the end when male gender can no longer be denied with the release of the testes.
Marina Abramovic sat at a table in the MoMa in a snuggie from open to close, inviting anyone and everyone to come sit across from her at the table. Normally you would go to an art museum expecting to stare at art, but with this piece the art stares back. At the table with Marina, the viewer become a part of Marina’s performance. Sitting at the table for as long as they please, some for minutes and some for hours (I read the longest was six hours). One of my favourite things to come out of this piece is Marina Abramovic Made Me Cry. The interactive aspect of this piece is interesting to me. I think questions of the motivations of those who chose to sit across from Abramovic are fascinating as I scroll through the images looking at how long they sat. Are they participating because they love art? Are they sitting there because they can? Is it an attempt to stay the longest or to try and make Abramovic crack or show emotion? Are they merely basking in the glow of an artist they dearly love? Maybe they just want their picture on the MoMa website for all to see. Something else I found that I thought was interesting: James Franco and Marina Abramovic.
Barney’s concern with sexuality doesn’t seem to be paralleled in Abramovic’s The Artist is Present. Physical presence is a similar aspect, as is a facing of something undeniable. I don’t really see a lot of similarities with these two works.

art 2840: reading 6

October 18, 2010

Clement Greenberg believes that Kant is the first real Modernist because Kant was the first to criticise the ways of criticism.

art 2840: reading 5

September 20, 2010

This reading was on spectacle. Spectacle dates back to Greek tragedy, and relies on using emotional and visual ties to entrance an audience. Spectacle can be positive or negative and flows across a variety of media. With recorded technology, the way spectacle is viewed changes. The temporal and spatial effects of spectacle have changed with advent of recording technologies that allow the spectacle to be viewed across time zones. Spectacle can be used for pleasure, or for shock, as Foucault mentioned through the use of public executions as a show of power to the spectators. The spectacle seems to be more and more becoming something of a consumer item, with the use of television. So much of what we see is could possibly oversaturate us with the spectacle, with images of good things next to bad things, displayed within seconds of eachother and with such ease we hardly notice the difference.
Ummmm. Spectacle. I would suppose that I have been experiencing spectacle since April. I have been working on a part performance art piece called “The Voyage of Fatima.” It involves carrying a boat sculpture around taking photos of people and places. The experience has been significant for me in making new friends, meeting tons of people and being a source of entertainment. Physically at times it can be wearing to carrying Fatima around. She isn’t heavy but she is awkward and navigating crowds has become something of an art form. Emotionally it has brought a lot of joy to me. Every single time we go out and someone agrees to be in a photo with her before I explain her, it makes my day. The fact that people are willing to help a stranger based on “it’s an art project” warms my heart. Psychologically I may be losing it because I have grown attached to the boat and refer to Fatima as “her” and I have said “we” quite a few times in my statement. It can be overwhelming, especially when I am in a place that I cannot put her down or hide her if I get tired of the stares or questions. I hope that counts. Here’s the project: The Voyage of Fatima.
Oh and my senior project was also based on spectacle, but I am past the word limit!

art 2840: reading 4

September 9, 2010

This reading was actually a video, Lemak Bakia, by Man Ray. Our other option was Ballet Mecanique, but I found its music to be unsettling. The swing vibe or Man Ray’s piece suited my mood more. The opening is gorgeous abstraction, looking like orbs of light melting around the screen. Suddenly recognizable images appear, a man in a car, sheep, dancing legs and a banjo. At one point there is stop motion animation. As I watched the film I was wondering about the processes behind making such a film, was this story boarded or concretely planned or did this have a more random selection of objects and footage with nothing but instinct as the driving force? The illusional aspect of the shifting and spinning effect of the lens at times made me think of Barthes’ issues with the camera not providing a true image. With cinema, the subject knows they are being filmed and acts accordingly, but the act isn’t the action of making the self they want to appear, it is making the self of the persona they are putting on for the film. There’s no acting as we were would think of it now in this film but it made consider also the Benjamin from reading 3 because he specifically references the illusion afforded to film actors with the ability to act from take to take and to redo any mistake. The film can also be cut together in ways that change what it means or how it looks, providing the illusion if acting does not.

art 2840: reading 3

September 6, 2010

This reading is from Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. Benjamin is making a statement about reproducibility. The opening states that objects made by humans can and were always copied by humans. In order to study and learn, we copy works that we consider important, though what was produced was limited by medium. With the introduction of lithography, the ability to copy gave design a chance to expand, to be available widely with printed media. The biggest limitation of any media is the human factor, but with photography the speed at which images could be captured and without the human limitation of skill at illustration, images could be quickly delivered to the public. Reproducing photos is also very easy and mechanical and without much if any variation between the photo and further reproductions of it.

art 2840 reading 2

September 1, 2010

Our second reading assignment is from Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. This is a very serious piece, partially attributed to its being written after the death of his mother. I feel that maybe he takes photography too seriously but maybe he would argue that I don’t take it seriously enough. I know that I was at once struck by the sentiments of the opening paragraph in his amazement at a photograph of Napoleon’s brother:
“I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.”
When I look at old photographs, I feel lots of little questions tugging at my mind: What is the context? What is this person feeling? What would it be like to live through this time? Is this candid or posed? But it had never occured to me to consider what their eyes had seen.
Another piece that particularly caught me was a section lamenting over posing. He realises his body is making itself into something that it would not were he unaware of the camera. Making what you see in the mirror match up with a piece of paper isn’t always possible and I can understand his frustration. You’ll never realise how fat you are till you see yourself in a photograph because it tells the truth (in some cases) in ways that a mirror and scale can’t but at the same time your posed photo self is still only an imitation of the self you want to project. It all becomes very complicated and intriguing.

art 2840 reading I

August 30, 2010

This reading was from Techniques of the Observer by Jonathan Crary. Fascinating to me was the efforts in formulating theories of “persistence of vision.” Work with figuring out how long after images would last in the retina helped with developing instruments that utilized the persistence of vision to create the illusion of motion. One such instrument was the phenakistiscope. Developed by Joseph Plateau, the phenakistiscope used a wheel of still images spinning viewed through slits. As the images spun past the slits, the persistence of vision gave the appearance of the images being in continuous motion. With technology like this being developed, the role played by the observer was changing. The observer was becoming more actively involved becoming a part of the machine that they powered to view images, also moving from viewing static things to experiences that involved involvement, such as dioramas that caused the viewers to move their heads and eyes to see an entire scene.