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.