Snippets from readings to build on later.

Concerning Portrait Photography and its history:

“Look at the plates reproduced in this chapter. Notice how repetitious they arc. Heads and shoulders, as if those parts of our bodies were our truth”

“…It summoned up a complex historical iconography and elaborate codes of pose and posture readily understood within the societies in which such portrait images had currency. The head-on stare, so characteristic of simple portrait photography, was a pose which would have been read in contrast to the cultivated asymmetries of aristocratic posture so confidently assumed by Nadar’s Portrait of Rossini. Rigid frontality signified the bluntness and ‘naturalness’ of a culturally unsophisticated crass and had a history which predated photography. ”

“….the head-on view had become the accepted format of the popular amateur snapshop, but also of photographic documents like prison records and social surveys in which this code of social inferiority framed the meaning of representations of the objects of supervision or reform. ”

“The portrait is therefore a sign whose purpose is both the description of an individual and the inscription of social identity. But at the same time, it is also a commodity, a luxury, an adornmcnt, ownership of which itself confers status.”

-John Tagg, The Democracy of the Image

Expanding on this, particularly the first sentence for reading questions:

A portrait, according to John Tagg in his essay The Democracy of the Image, is a “sign whose purpose is both the description of an individual and the inscription of social identity.” Tagg also says that “at the same time, [the portrait photograph] is also a commodity, a luxury…[the] ownership of which itself confers status.”

Tagg speaks about the formal portrait, a shot of head and shoulders “as if those parts of our bodies were our truth”. Think about taking a portrait, though. Say, your senior yearbook photo. You go into a room that is not yours, under lighting that is not natural, sit in a way that you never sit, directed to tilt your head or body just so. There is no truth in this at all, and yet the resulting image, which goes in yearbooks and in frames in homes, is considered “you”.


Reading 5 : Making Art ch. 6

This week’s reading is chapter 6 from Making Art by Terry Barrett.

“Always changing, never twice the same” – Robert Irwin (Getty Garden, Getty Museum, Los Angeles)*

“time: The continuum of experience in which events actually (or apparently) take place.”*

“Time has dimensions of both duration and tempo. Duration refers to how long an event actually lasts. We also experience duration in relative terms: some things that take an hour seem like they take ‘forever,’ while other things that also take an hour may seem to pass ‘in no time at all.'”*

Tempo refers to the speed at which an activity takes place. Tempo, too, is a relative term: something can appear slower or faster in relation to something else. A rabbit moves more quickly than a turtle, but a turtle moves more quickly than a slug. Tempo can be measured, but can seem faster or slower than it is, depending on the state of mind we are in when we experience something.”*

Question: How can duration and tempo be represented in non-performance and non-installation works such as paintings, photographs and 3D non-moving sculptures?

Surely things like exposure can contribute to the feeling of tempo in a photograph. If a long exposure shot is taken of, say, a highway at night, cars racing by, we get a feeling of movement, often rapid and urgent. But is it “actual” tempo or implied tempo? Are these things achieved by the power of the narration in a piece? What if the piece has no narration?

I suppose this leads into the next section where we examine the concepts of actual time and implied time, as well as recorded time, scope and sequence. It is especially important to note that sequence need not follow time. Sequence is an “arrangement of events” and can be manipulated to achieve the effect the artist wishes to achieve.

I was prompted to revisit this section of response in particular when viewing Harold Edgerton’s piece “Queen of Hearts Playign Card Hit by a .30 Calibre Bullet” and reading about how the piece was captured using exposure times of less than 1/10,000 of a second – exactly the opposite of the long exposure that would indicate motion on a busy street at night. Those long blurs of light indicate motion in a different way than Edgerton does – the bullet in this piece seems frozen in time. Some people might see it as moving, but to me, it reminds me of scenes in films where people freeze time. I want to reach out and touch that bullet – move it off course, turn it around to go back through the card in the opposite direction, tilt it upward so its trajectory goes into the ceiling or downward into the floor when time resumes.

Question: When we seek to achieve an effect – such as the capturing of movement, what steps must we take to help the viewer see things the way we want them to be seen? Viewers bring their own life experiences with them, their own baggage and opinions and feelings and outlooks. These things cause them to react to work in a certain way. How to we reach past that or use that potential personal experience to help the viewer see things the way we want them to? And if they don’t, what does that mean? Are we a failure as an artist or did they interpret the work in a way that brings a new, equally or perhaps more important meaning to the piece that resonates more with the viewer because of their life experiences.

Question: In what ways have you manipulated sequence in your work, perhaps taking it out of time or placed items in an order that might not be what is perceived as the usual order of things to make a statement? If not your own work, then what examples of it have you seen? Do they stand out to you? Maybe you saw or chose a method that isn’t exactly odd, but is a choice that makes a statement, nevertheless, such as the example cited of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Order by casualty is not strange or even necessarily out of time, but it is a choice that says something about the information being presented.

The Following piece by Acconci is interesting and reminds me of a Christopher Nolan film of the same name that I have seen part of, but not all of. (netflix instant view link for Following.) It struck me as a very intriguing concept, but twice I have started it and other factors in my life have intervened in my ability to finish it.

When speaking of “Bunny,” the Barrett states “By its implication of eternal time, the film invites interpretations of a serious topic through cartoon characters.” The way the statement is made makes it seem as though Barrett finds this to be unusual. I disagree. Many animated pieces, especially Japanese animation (colloquially referred to as “anime”) often touches on extremely serious topics – whether through movies or full series that cover these topics. Many people see this as a genre apart from or different to “cartoons” while other people see all animation as cartoons. “Bunny” is a different sort of animation altogether, showing a more 3-Dimensional representation reminiscent of something like stop-motion or claymation (as inferred by the screen caps) than many other pieces of work that are often referred to as “cartoons”. In the Western World, there are cartoons that also cover these same topics. Although many of us see Disney works as “animated films,” how are they different from “cartoons”? And many times morals and situations that cause people to evaluate serious topics. Even Looney Toons was political in its day and made many comments on serious topics in its early days, disguised as humor.

It’s interesting to me that Barrett should reference 24 as an example of tempo – particularly rapid tempo. For me, this was an example of subjective tempo. Although the series is meant to feel fast, due to the way it is shot, and the intensity of the situations, I never made it past the first season. It felt slow to me – perhaps the fact that after 24 episodes – 24 hours, I had only assimilated one day of Jack Bauer’s life. To me, I felt like I wanted that day’s worth of my life back. I felt unsatisfied and although so many things happened in that one day, I felt cheated somehow. So much of it felt extraneous as they tried to cram more and more into that one day and I just felt as though it took “forever” to get through it. Reaching the end of the season was a relief and that feeling of stretched out time with little reward has kept me from ever being interested in watching subsequent seasons of the show.

Question: Looking at the Robert Capa photograph of the solider approaching the beach of Normandy, how would you feel if it were clearer? Would the feeling that you get from it change? Would it have a different emotion? Does time change that feeling?

To me, it feels old, in part because of the blurring, something that marks a period of time that has passed. But at its time of capture, it was not old. Would I have felt differently about it had I viewed it then?

“The Way Things Go” by Fischli & Weiss piques my interest as a piece of controlled chaos.

*excerpts taken from Making Art by Terry Barrett.

“reading” 4 questions

I haven’t posted my finished images of the palm here, but I do need to get to the questions for the next “reading,” which, instead of being a reading, is a couple of videos we needed to watch.

My first question isn’t particularly related to the type of question we’re supposed to ask, probably, but I wonder how people felt about watching videos versus doing a reading. I like the readings better for a lot of reasons – they’re portable, can be printed out, can have sections highlighted with spelling or whatever for further research and can be done in any environment. Videos cause more problems – I need to be somewhere where I can process the audio as well as the visual, which means being alone, having headphones available, being connected to the internet and various other limitations. That having been said, it’s interesting to be able to view things that move and show, rather than just reading words.

That having been said, I wonder how people’s views and opinions differ about installation art versus other art forms, digital or otherwise. I think a lot of people look at installations and think “oh, that’s cool” but if they aren’t familiar with the installation as an art form, may have trouble processing it as art. And in those situations, I wonder, how do people feel about their art being viewed as something that isn’t necessarily considered by some to be “art” but rather an interesting or cool “thing”.

And we come into the realm of “several artists” creating a piece. Although it isn’t necessarily appropriation, how do people feel about the pictures they take being incorporated into a larger piece? Do you expect your name somewhere? Credit? Generalized credit that others participated or assisted in the project? As an artist where does your need for individual recognition end and the fact that you’ve helped to create a larger whole begin?

Reading : Show & Tell

Questions based on reading Show & Tell.

I’ve never understood why some people don’t consider comics an art form, especially modern day comics. My question is why not? What is it about comics that keeps some people from considering them art? Could comics do anything to change that? Is it the words involved? The way panels are arranged? Subject matter? Style? Relating these queries back to digital art isn’t difficult, as we’ve discussed before that digital art often struggles to be considered in the same arena as other art forms.

And what caused us to create such a divide between words and pictures? It seems natural that they would go hand in hand – they did once. Was it for more specificity? Native ability? Not all writers can draw and not all those who can draw are good with the written word, but often, anyone can string a sentence together. Does this relate to the reasons for the gap?

The review collapsed.

Questions in response to [Lucy Soutter, “The Collapsed Archive: Idris Khan,” review of Idris Khan at Victoria Miro Gallery, London, Source, no. 49 (Winter 2006): 46-47.]

The biggest problem that I have with this reading, is that it references a visual subject matter that I’m not able to view right there. A review surmises a familiarity with a subject. Googling the artist is only slightly more enlightening, showing his profile at the Saatchi Gallery, Wikipedia article and, under images, an assortment of his work and photos of him.

The summary from Wikipedia helps slightly, as it words exactly what he’s doing in a way that makes slightly more sense than the review article by Ms. Soutter, stating:

His work comprises digital photographs that superimpose iconic text or image sets into a single frame (for instance, every page of the Qur’an, every Beethoven sonata, every William Turner postcard from Tate Britain), or every Bernd and Hilla Becher spherical gasholder

While the review did mention this, I suppose I just wasn’t properly making the connection.

Further still, I looked at the following paragraph on an article posted to the website PhotoSlaves:

Idris Khan creates multi-layered photos, often of appropriated art and books, in a way that both augments the aura of the original and reveals the idiosyncratic trace of his own hand. Khan’s work explores the history of photography and literature, the beauty of repetition and the anxieties of authorship. “it’s obviously not about re-photographing the photographs to make exact copies, but to intervene and bring a spectrum of feelings – warmth, humour, anxiety – to what might otherwise be considered cool aloof image.  You can see the illusion of my hand in the layering.  It looks like a drawing.  It’s not systematic or uniform.  The opacity of every layer is a different fallible, human decision”.

Armed with these two summaries, I looked over the pieces that were shown on the Saatchi Gallery site a second time, and began re-reading Ms. Soutter’s review.

Not knowing much about platinum printing, the following paragraph meant very little to me, and stood out as something I would like to understand better:

It was a brilliant move to make a set of works layering the serial images from Eadweard   Muybridge’s Human and Animal Locomotion –the resulting compositions are striking, dynamic. But it seems illogical to have used platinum printing, known for its luscious grey tones, to reproduce the half tone dots of the original book. In this context, platinum serves as a gratuitous signifier of Art Photography and of value for value’s sake.

What does it mean, in particular, the last sentence; how is platinum a “gratuitous signifier of Art Photography?” I should know more about these things, being a photographer & having a major concentration in photography, but I don’t. Maybe it’s something I should look in to when I have free time.

Other things and questions that occured to me while reading:

Upon beginning the article, I noticed immediately that this was an article about appropriation. With the advent of the creative commons license, more and more digital artists are opening themselves up to unintended collaborative works. However, since the advent of appropriation, these unintended collaborative works have existed. When is it “appropriation” and when is it “intellectual property  theft” or “copyright infringement” ?

This is incredibly important to me in a variety of ways

Is there a difference between appropriation and “creating derivative works” ?

The Function of the Response (when the response is a blog post)

Questions in response to The Function of the Studio (when the studio is a laptop) by Caitlin Jones.

What makes the studio so important to the artist? Is it a state of mind when in that studio?

I find that for me, that’s often exactly the case, although my “studio” doesn’t exist in the typical sense of the word. I would love to have a studio (and/or) an office. A place where I can go to work and be alone, cut off from everything distracting. But in a way, that’s cut off from everything inspiring. My studio would have to have a tv in it, something that many artists would scoff at. My studio would have to have music. My studio would have to sometimes have people in it.

Often, my studio is a coffee shop. Not just any coffee shop, but one I’ve grown to love since discovering it. It’s one of the few 24 hour coffee shops in Colorado, and no matter where in the state I live, I’d be willing to drive to it in the dead of night, when I can’t sleep and I can’t focus on the work that needs to be done. I’ve spent many a night writing, working on digital (and even  some traditional) art, sipping coffee or tea and breathing the ambiance of the little bookstore/coffee shop. There are never enough free tables, especially in November. There are never enough people who sit down at the piano and plink out a song or two. There are never enough hours in the day for me to spend as much time there as I’d like to.

My studio has also consisted of a multitude of classrooms, my coffee table (while a movie runs in the background or my fiancee plays a videogame), her parents’ basement, my mom’s kitchen table, and even my bed a few times when things need to get done, but I just don’t have it in me to face the day. The studio is where you create. It’s where your inspiration lives. It’s where your ability to get things done takes you.

How does the title relate to the article?

I felt like the article was important and relevant, but I felt like the concept of a studio got lost somewhere in the many and varied examples of contemporary and internet-based art. I’m not entirely sure that the title “The function of the studio,” was ever directly addressed.

Other things that stood out or were important to me.

I’m a very big proponent of the infinite universes theory, or quantum worlds, or quantum reality, or alternate universes or infinite possibility, or however you want to word it. I spend an extremely large amount of time thinking about this. Finding it here, where I wasn’t expecting it was sort of a kick to the gut.

“Every lie creates a parallel world; the world in which it’s true.” -Momus