Tuesday, March 15, 2016

For my final project for the term, I created a series of colorful words and phrases to be placed in real space around campus in an imitation of the paintings of Wayne White. The idea behind this series was to see how people would react to the presence of words in space rather than simply as representations of an idea. To help chronicle this, I made a blog recording what I could gather of people's reactions to the project on social media, as well as what occurred in real life related to the project. One important part of this that I did not anticipate was not only the effect of the art on it's environment but the effect of the environment on the art. For example, some of my letters were re-arranged by people, before being blown away completely by the wind. However, I found this lack of control contributed to the piece rather than took away from it. I believe that art does not have to be rational to be meaningful, and that the irrationality can often contribute to the meaning. As Baudrillard states, "[The real] no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal or negative instance."

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Jennifer Angus's unique work combines beautiful, breathtaking images with something that we as a society are taught to fear; insects. This creates the fascinating juxtoposition of something society teaches us to admire created using something it teaches us to hate. One of the most interesting parts of Angus' talk focused on why we hate bugs. Many of us love them as children, so what changes? When and why does the transition from fascination to disgust occur? Angus mentioned that it may have something to do with losing a sense of wonder at the world as we grow older. As we become adults, we slowly learn to see many of the things we once loved as unpleasant, boring, or simple a nuisance. Another thing in this category which comes to mind, besides insects, is snow. As children snow is beautiful and fascinating, transforming the world into a magical land in which we are content to spend hours playing. But as we grow older we learn to view it as an inconvenient obstacle. This is exactly what makes Angus' work so incredible. Through her art she is able to take us back to that place of childlike wonder, where insects were mysterious and fascinating, rather than disgusting and annoying.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

For my final project, I want to continue and expand on what I did for my first project this term, spelling out words and phrases in strange places for people to see and react to. I have chosen a color pallet for the letters and 8 words/phrases that I will be working with. Half will be made in two dimensions with adhesive vinyl to be stuck onto surfaces such as walls and windows. The other half I plan to make three dimensional with a combination of 3D printing the letters and constructing them out of cardboard. The idea for this project is to bring words into physical space, making them real in a way that they normally are not, and to explore the idea of the word as visual art rather than just symbols to represent meaning. For this project, I will present photos of the words/phrases in their environments, as well as hopefully document the reaction to them by member of campus by using social media.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Theo Jansen is a dutch artist born in 1948 in Scheveningen, Netherlands. He is known for his work on the large kinetic sculptures called Strandbeest which he has worked since 1990. The main material used to create the creatures is a type of PVC tubing which is used in electrical wiring in Holland, and therefore very cheap and widely available. Some other materials such as plastic bottles and fabric are used to supplement, but the Strandbeest are entirely wind-powered and contain no electronic or computerized parts despite the increasing complexity of their design. Jansen considers the creatures to to be living animals and has even given them their own taxonomy. His ultimate goal is to create a herd of Strandbeest that will be able to survive on the beach by themselves after Jansen’s death. Over time, and with help from Jansen, the Strandbeest have evolved to suit their environment, with such adaptations as storing compressed air for later use, a 'feeler' to sense when the creature walks into water and cause it to reverse, and an anchor to keep from blowing away during storms. Recently, Jansen has also come out with smaller versions of the Strandbeest, both through 3D printing and modeling kits, which are for sale on his website. Jansen considers the purchase of both the models and the 3D printed creatures a form of reproduction for the Strandbeest. Jansen’s idea of his Strandbeest as a new form of life is related to Baudrillard’s idea about simulation replacing reality and how hard it is to tell the difference between the two. The true question of Jansen’s work is; are these creatures in fact new forms of life, or just simulations of life? How can we know? And who are we to judge?


Sunday, January 24, 2016

Baudrillard writes in Simulations that, "for ethnology to live, it's object must die." This idea brings up the concept of the inevitable loss and disintegration of an object that is frequently used. When we love something, our impulse is to interact with it as frequently as possible. But, it is this interaction itself that wears down the thing, making it harder to use. This reminded me of my Dina, a stuffed toy dinosaur which I have had since I was a baby too young to remember. My parents wisely purchased another copy of the toy when they realized how upset I would be if the first one went missing. It never did, however, and both still exist today. One, faded and torn apart, travels with me everywhere, while a pristine copy sits at home in my closet. While the clean, new copy is objectively nicer to look at, brighter, containing more stuffing, with a neck that stands up on it's own, it is not truly mine. The ragged version belongs to me in a way nothing else ever will. It has gone with me everywhere, my entire life, I have a story for each rip and faded patch. While it is my love of this toy that has caused it to fall apart, the disintegration is actually what I love most about it. This is what gives it meaning, makes it not just a toy, but a representation of my childhood and the love that I have and will continue to pour into it.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

On January 13th I attended the lecture by H. Schenck about art in relation to society and environment. One of the most interesting things they talked about was the idea of human beings as social chameleons, constantly adapting ourselves and changing the way we present who we are to fit our social environments. I have definitely found this to be true in my own life, not so much in the sense that I pretend to be someone I'm not, but that being around different groups or in different situations brings out different aspects of my personality. For example, I naturally find myself being very polite and friendly around my parents friends, while around my friends I tend to make more jokes. I can talk seriously about social and political issues if I am in an environment where that is appropriate, but I can also spend hours gushing about my love for Lord of the Rings if I have a captive audience. In fact, I often find myself almost unconsciously taking on aspects of the people I surround myself with, using their common phrases and gestures, becoming more inclined to gossip at work because my coworkers do, while around my high school friends I would rarely do so. I find this idea of social adaptation very interesting, and I have always been aware of it, but never quite heard it explained the way it was by Schenck. This was extremely helpful in clarifying my thoughts about the topic as well as bringing up even more questions for me to explore, both about myself and others.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

"[The real] no longer has to be rational, since it is no longer measured against some ideal or negative instance."  -Jean Baudrillard, Simulations
This quote reminded me of the paintings of one of my favorite artists, Wayne White. He creates his unique images using paintings found at garage sales and goodwill, adding interesting, colorful, and often nonsensical words to them. I've always liked this concept, and for a long time I've had the idea of doing something similar but in real life with three dimensional letters, which can be moved around and left just about anywhere for people to experience and respond to them. For the first project of this term, I decided to do a small experiment with this idea, creating a single word out of painted, cardboard letters. I chose the word 'bees' partly because it was short and simple to create as an experiment, but also because it doesn't make much logical sense. Similar to Baudrillard's statement about reality, I believe that art does not have to be rational to be meaningful, and that the irrationality can often contribute to the meaning. 'Bees' is irrational in this context for several reasons, namely because of the winter weather and indoor setting. I find it interesting to consider Baudrillard's point in relation to the idea of
the presence of real bees versus simply the word 'bees', and the meaning behind making a word into a tangible object. I'm not sure what conclusion I should draw from these questions and comparisons, but I still like thinking about it. Hopefully as I continue working on the project this term I can develop my ideas further.