Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cuil Theory

A bit of background on Cuil Theory: According to, "The popular conception of the Cuil is heavily informed by the thought of Immanuel Kant. In The Critique of Pure Reason, Kant lays out what he describes as his 'Copernican Revolution.' He insists that the world we experience is informed by the world as it truly is and the restraints of our own consciousness. Thus, we can never really know what is happening in the world as it truly exists, expect that it has a role in shaping the world that we experience. Kant believed this experience was similar to realizing that the sun, not Earth, is at the center of the solar system."


There exists online a written example reality at each level of Cuil. Various YouTube videos, such as the one above, have been published with people reading this text, but not many have corresponding visuals. My goal is to illustrate this text, utilizing original and found video clips. I aim to create a vibrant visual narrative to enhance the absurdity of the text, and help viewers gain a deeper insight of the reality of Cuil Theory

Thursday, May 16, 2013

the D.L. Simmons experience

"I use my personal experiences as a lens to explore cultural context and develop visual concepts as metaphor. When the objects and images from out everyday lives mingle with the nuances of memory and forgetting, the familiar becomes saturated with multiple layers of meaning from the seemingly mundane to the larger-than-life metaphorical significance."
 ~D.L. Simmons

It was such a treat to have print maker D.L. Simmons join us for a two-day tour de force. There was just something about his youthful energy, southern twang, and membership to multiple Mason groups that made his print demonstrations that much more captivating.
            Strictly visually speaking, I was not that crazy about the work he produced. In the examples he shared with our class, it seemed that Simmons stuck to a familiar army camo-esque color palette. His subject matter also doesn’t stray far from the familiar – that is, images of or relating to his family. Despite these things, however, I loved the adventurous spirit that drove his creativity. I particularly appreciated having the opportunity to view his work up close and in person. There’s an amazing dimensionality to his work that photos cannot capture. His use of various processes, layers, and coat textures work harmoniously to create strong, mysterious, and exciting work.

TEDx Lawrence: Reimagining a Liberal Arts Education for the 21st Century

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

NO MORE BORING ART, John Baldessari

"If I saw art around me that I liked, then I wouldn't do art" 
~John Baldessari

The video below explains John Baldessari better than I ever could

Monday, April 29, 2013

Staged Reality

"A hyperreal henceforth sheltered from the imaginary, and from any distinction between the real and the imaginary, leaving room for the orbital recurrence of models and the simulated generation of difference." 
~Jean Baudrillard, Simulations 

In response to Baudrillard's notions of "hyperreality," I chose to explore the crazy world of stage lighting; in particular, concert lighting.The need to further sensationalize live music's aesthetic with a staged light show has now become standard for concert performances. We have become accustomed to dramatized moments drenched in candy-colored lights.

My interest in concert lighting brought me to a bar where my friends in Porky's Groove Machine were playing. I only had my still camera with me that night, but the resulting images were fascinating. I found that the still images were able to capture the consistently exaggerated lighting into one, hypperreal moment.

In an effort to further explore, I brought a video camera with me to a different Porky's performance. The lighting that night was faced-paced, and borderline frantic. I found that the rush of lights detracted from the initial feeling I got from the still images. In Final Cut, I tried slowing the footage down to 15% of its original speed. See the result for yourself below.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Bill Viola's chunks of wisdom

"[The artist mission is to] transform experience into the tangible.
~Bill Viola

I feel like a jerk for not having known who Bill Viola was before his visit to Lawrence University. It only occurred to me what a big deal his presence here was when a large group of townies appeared at the first video screening in the Wriston Auditorium. I attended the screening with them, and was immediately struck by Viola’s command of the medium. (I can’t recall the title of the first film, but it was part of the series “Vision as Reception”). He clearly knows what he’s doing, and conveys his messages in a vivid visual manner. 

If only his lectures could be as coherent as his films. Viola’s lecture, titles “Artless Art,” had the metaphorical consistency of cottage cheese: little chunks of wisdom suspended in a strange colloid of discontinuity. However, one of the chunks of Bill Viola’s lecture that resonated most with me was when he addressed the audience, saying, “artists, be honest with yourself in the deepest way possible.” As someone who values genuine intent and emotion in both my own and other’s art, this statement struck a chord with me. 

I was grateful for the footage that played in the background, because it acted as the glue that held the experience together. In particular, I enjoyed the film of the man plunging into water in slow motion (pictured above). Viola claimed that the piece was a representation of the soul leaving the body as the bubbles floated upward, and the body down. I interpreted it differently, seeing a cleaning of sin from conscience. That's the beauty of art: the variation of meaning as intended by the artist and as interpreted by viewer.

"Nexus" and the Sonja Thomsen experience

"The installation forces the viewer to weave back and forth within the space triggering visceral awareness in conjunction with cerebral perception. The photographs...create a skin between memory, place and the present."
~Sonja Thomsen 

Sonja Thomsen is a master of subtlety. Her photo installation "Nexus" in the Hoffmaster Gallery at Wriston creates a subdued, yet sophisticated atmosphere. As pictured above, the display is minimalistic, focusing on the juxtoposition of her velvety inkjet prints and strategically placed reflective panels that refract rainbows of light into various corners. Walking, or rather spiraling through this gallery, I felt an immense sense of the sublime.

The real treat was having Sonja give a critique of our current work in the Digital Processes course. Sonja gave insightful feedback and commentary on our photo projects, including mine, pictured below. She shared with our class her view on the value of well-crafted imagery, and how a photo should draw the viewer in. For example, in comparing my two prints below, Sonja stated that the one on her right held a greater appeal because of it's gentler tones and heightened mystery. She helped me see the subtle complexities of my own work, for which I am deeply grateful for.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Hysterical Literature

"A viral video art series exploring mind/body dualism, distraction portraiture, and the contrast between culture and sexuality." 
~Clayton Cubitt

I am obsessed with artist Clayton Cubitt's recent video project, "Hysterical Literature." Cubitt takes a theme previously discussed on this blog, Art v. Pornography (see Evan Baden, below), and produces a racy, yet much more pro-woman result.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

shitfaced voyeurism

In response to Michael Lesy's "Wisconsin Death Trip," I decided to film one of the most integral components to Wisconsin culture: alcohol. The introductory text of the video is actually something I asked myself when I began this project - what do you most associate with Wisconsin? I asked this to other people as well, and the response was always along the lines of alcohol and/or cheese. I chose the first response, given that Appleton in among the top ten US cities known for having the highest bar per capita. I spent a weekend creeping in the corners of Appleton's numerous bars, filming people without their knowledge or consent (not unlike my earlier photo project).

Evan Baden

"Alice and Ryan" Evan Baden, 2008
Does this picture make you uncomfortable? If yes, you're not alone. The image is part of a greater body of work entitled "Technically Intimate" by photographer Evan Baden. This series explores the  the rise of sexual material's availability via technology, and today's obsession with "sexting."

"Technically Intimate" raises a highly relevant art world question: how do you distinguish art from pornography? In his visit to Lawrence University, Baden explained that his work is intended to convey much more than just sex. The images he created for this series are all based off of real photos posted online, but expanded. For instance, the image above's source photo was simply a pornographic shot of a couple gettin' intimate. Baden takes this source and mimics the posing, but makes it once removed by adding the separate entity of the camera. As Baden explains on his website, " the introduction of the camera to the relationship dramatically changed the way the couple interacted with each other...The couple knew very well that the camera was there and actually played to it."

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Art Game

Wait, guys, you seriously need to check this out. It's an 8-bit style game about artists and their work. Each artist features a different classic game. uhhhg this is so cool, I can't even. 


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Nietzsche Family Circus

Nihilists and non-believers alike, this is definitely worth checking out

Charlotte Moorman

"I am a sculpture and not a concert" 
~ Charlotte Moorman
Charlotte Moorman, performing Nam June Paik's "TV Cello"
Classically trained, Moorman first became exposed to Avant Garde art when a colleague of hers at the Julliard School suggested she perform composer John Cage's "26 Minutes, 1.499 Seconds for a String Player." From there, she became enticed with the Avant Garde art scene, with a particular interest in mixed-media performance art. Moorman met her creative match when she began collaborationg with performance artist Nam June Paik. The two put on a number of ground-breaking works, including "Opera Sextronique," a peice that made history for Moorman's topless performance, and her subsequent arrest on a count of public indecency. Additional noteworthy performances include:

-"Concerto for TV Cello and Videotapes"
-"The Chocolate Cello"
-"Sky Kiss" 
-"TV Bra for Living Sculpture" - featured below

Charlotte Moorman was also responsible for establishing the New York Avant Garde Festival, an annual event that functioned as a platform for experimental artists. Moorman herself participated in the event, which ran for nearly twenty years

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Everything is Music

"Everything we do is music."
~John Cage

 During the fall while I was living in Florence, I was struck by just how noisy the street outside my window was. I felt like I could hear everything: cars and mopeds passing by, intimate conversations and raucous arguments being had, church bells ringing, drunk people vomiting in the alleyway, ext. One evening, I decided to try and record it all. I took about a five minute sample of sound from my open window, and stashed it away for the rest of the term, not anticipating how well that sound clip would fit into this latest Digital Processes assignment. Below is a link to my Soundcloud page, where I mixed two versions of the same clip, one ambient, and one dancey. 

The view from the window I subsequently recorded from

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Paperman - Full Animated Short Film

Disney's "Paperman" is SUCH an exiting new release in the world of animation. The work is  product of a newly developed animation software that allows the fusion of hand drawn and computer generated imagery to create a truly unique look. This look, in collaboration with the charming storyline is what rightfully earned "Paperman" an Academy Award nomination this year. 
PLEASE check it out!


"Introducing a groundbreaking technique that seamlessly merges computer-generated and hand-drawn animation techniques, first-time director John Kahrs takes the art of animation in a bold new direction with the Oscar®-nominated short, "Paperman." Using a minimalist black-and-white style, the short follows the story of a lonely young man in mid-century New York City, whose destiny takes an unexpected turn after a chance meeting with a beautiful woman on his morning commute. Convinced the girl of his dreams is gone forever, he gets a second chance when he spots her in a skyscraper window across the avenue from his office. With only his heart, imagination and a stack of papers to get her attention, his efforts are no match for what the fates have in store for him. Created by a small, innovative team working at Walt Disney Animation Studios, "Paperman" pushes the animation medium in an exciting new direction."

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

fascinating people

"A strange bond often exists among antisocial types in their power to see environments as they really are."
~Marshall Mcluhan

Maybe it is the unspoken bond or insightful nature that Marshall McLuhan mentions that draws me to certain people - people I don't know, people I spot in crowds who effortlessly stand out in one way or another. I have this strange affinity for people with a certain je ne sais pas, and the result has been a few year's worth of photos of interesting people in interesting places. I put all of them up in Flickr Photo Set, titled "Fascinating people who don't know I'm taking pictures of them." 

This collection was a nice base for me to further refine my study. I ended up narrowing the set to (in my humble opinion), the top 32 most interesting of the bunch. These are presented in a 
 Snapfish Photo Book, with the cropped, to-the-point title "fascinating people." (Yes, the lower case was intentional). In designing the layout of the book, I paid careful attention to the compositional elements of each photo. My goal was to find pairs of photos that had similar aspects, and juxtapose them so that the "strange bond of antisocial types" can be shown to visually transcend time a place.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Lynda Barry

Lynda, on the right, chatting with students during her writing workshop

Lynda Barry is a creative force to be reckoned with. Having her here at Lawrence University last Thursday, January 24th was an absolute treat. Her talk, "Crossing the Fox River: From Thought to Action," gave students and staff here an introduction to her quirky, wonderful presence, as well as her ideas about brain hemispheric differences, childhood memories, and the power of images.

I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of students who shared lunch with Lynda after her lecture. She was bright, inquisitive, and seemed genuinely interested in what each and every one of us had a passion for. (Most of us were art students, but one was a government major. Lynda spent just as much time asking about this student's interests as the rest of us. She seemed to overlook art, and jump right to human passion, in whatever field that may be)

My favorite part of the day was attending here writing workshop in the afternoon. She led one fast-paced writing exercise after the next, denying students the time to doubt their work. She advocated the importance of keeping motion in writing or not: if not writing, you draw spirals. If writing and you reach a block, write the alphabet instead.

Her work is truly extraordinary. Please take a moment to explore her blog:
Cover detail from Barry's "What It Is"

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

time, space, and The Medium

"Ours is a brand-new world of allatonceness.  'Time' has ceased, 'space' has vanished. We now live in global village ... a simultaneous happening. We have begun again to structure the primordial feeling, the tribal emotions from which a few centuries of literacy divorced us."
~Marshall McLuhan, The Medium is the Massage

The title of this film, "The Medium," is both a reference to Mcluhan's classic, as well as a fitting name to the nature of the subject matter; the means in which we communicate. In this video, I sought to exploit today's rapid-fire digital communication, as a response to the specific McLuhan quote, "At the high speeds of electric communication, purely visual means of apprehending the world are no longer possible; they are just too slow to be relevant or effective."

I created to soundtrack in Garageband, using a mixture of natural and synthetic sounds and loops. The final shot of this film focuses on a quote that is printed on the back of Massage, book, which reads, "all media works us over completely." McLuhan's computer-aged philosophy, conveyed through ever-changing media, poses an opportunity for us to understand where we came from, and where we are heading.