Wednesday, April 23, 2014

yet another cat video

 "If a work of art is successful, it will invariably set its sights beyond its mere presence in space: it will be an open dialogue, discussion, and that form of inter-human negotiation that Marcel Duchamp called 'the coefficient of art', which is a temporal process, being played out here and now."
~Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

Cats are a universal language, and a universal art.

 No, seriously, think about it. Cats are hilarious, and since the dawn of lolcats, the internet has been the strongest forum for sharing funny cat pictures and videos. If we consider Bourriaud's definition of "successful art," then the mass spread of cat memes marks one of the most successful art movements of our time. Cats transcend time and medium; each time someone sends a cat picture, shows a friend a cat video, or quotes a cat meme, they are creating relational art. 

I offer yet another cat video to the countless others in an effort to further this great contemporary art movement.


Monday, April 14, 2014

a lot has changed in 4 years

I am fascinated by the forum of the bathroom wall.  

During my time attending New Trier, a MASSIVE public school in the middle of a very wealthy part of the "North Shore" of Chicago, I experienced the beauty of these ladies' bathroom forums. Dialogues, criticisms, gossip, quotes and commentary were all things I recall seeing whilst sitting on the loo. It was the criticisms that really excited me though, the real mean stuff. Luckily for me, it was everywhere. (I attribute the surplus of negative commentary to the way that attending such a large and impersonal school made people crazy, in combination with the easy accessibility of bathroom walls and sharpies).

I was back at home this past weekend, and with Bourriaud's Relational Aesthetics in mind, decided to utilize these stalls as my "Arena of Exchange" in order to provoke more of those  juicy critical comments (or whatever people decided to respond). On a blank sheet of paper I wrote:

(write the meanest thing you can think of)

I prepped ten of these sheets and snuck in to the school.
So much had changed - in the bathrooms (everything else was the same). New plastic doors had been installed in the majority of bathrooms to replace the old wooden ones. I suspect that this replacement was made in an effort to decrease the graffiti that I so loved, since permanent maker is easier to clean off plastic than wood. I really had to search to find stalls that had any writing at all

When I finally did find some writing, the content was just as shocking to me as the new doors. They were positive messages! I really had to hunt to find something the least bit mean (pictured above).


Still, I forged ahead, planted all ten of my "arenas" in ladies' bathrooms around the campus, and waited. I let two class periods pass before going to collect the results (an ample amount of time considering the size of the student body and amount of traffic that travels through those stalls). Then came the next shock:

All of my Anonymous Hate Mail forums had been torn down.

I found them all in their respective bathroom's trash can. Such blatant rejection of my prompt both frustrated and inspired me. I chose to focus on the second reaction as I gathered my things and left the school. Clearly something has changed within the past four years at New Trier High School. Either students are making a genuine effort to promote positive relations, or custodians have gotten much much better at purging restrooms of negativity. Whichever it is, I left the school feeling hopeful.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Where do we come from? Cosmogony 2.0

"Where do we come from?

Much like the stars scattered throughout the night sky, we seemingly come from everywhere and from nowhere: from chaos, from a silvery egg, from ice, from earth and saliva, from mud, from tears."
~Carol Emmons

I had the privilege to view artist Carol Emmons' installation of Cosmogony 2.0 before it officially opened. I walked through the gallery in a state of awe. There were colored gels over the ceiling lights and lines of text crossing every which way. Never before had I seen this gallery's ceiling space artfully utilized, and I was excited. Furthermore, the objects she chose to display gave me vivid memories of walking through the Galileo Museum on Florence, Italy a little over a year ago during my semester abroad. I left the space enveloped in a sense of wonder and mystery. 

However, my science boner quickly went flaccid upon attending Emmons' talk. It became clear that she didn't really understand her work either. Hers was a situation in which I admired her more with less understanding about her artistic intent. The cradles on tracks filled with trinkets were elements of the installation that I had previously mused over. Post lecture, I found them cliched. The ladder that led into the skylight of the space lost its mystique after hearing Emmons' explanation that "there was a hole, and I just wanted to put something in it." Perhaps her work fell short as a result of the enormity of her subject: the genesis of the universe, cosmogony itself.

Friday, April 4, 2014


"Art is a state of encounter"
~Nicolas Bourriaud, Relational Aesthetics

My idea for the first project of this term is inspired by surveillance cameras and monitors.

I found this picture from a Google image search of "surveillance footage." Is it an advertisement? Why is she pregnant?  Why is there SO MUCH SmartWater? The world may never know.

Back in the day, (and still very much in my current days) one of my favorite places to visit was the friendly neighborhood Walgreens. Beyond the glory of cheap makeup and cheaper candy was the thrill of entering the establishment and seeing yourself on the surveillance monitor . It's worth noting that my memories occurred in a pre "selfie" time. As such, the crappy monitor at the local drug store was the closest one could get to feeling superficially famous - or infamous. The way you'd see yourself was the same way you'd see criminals in surveillance footage on "America's Most Wanted." BUT, you'd be seeing yourself on TV, which is always a thrilling notion. It's completely different than seeing yourself in the mirror. I used to spend an embarrassing amount of time watching myself in that monitor. I'd make stupid faces, do little dances, etc., all in the spirit of seeing and being seen

Thus, my idea for the first project of this term is inspired by surveillance cameras and monitors. I want to set up a camera at the Info Desk of the Campus Center, and have the footage linked to the television monitor above the desk. I want to see the way people react to seeing themselves. I then want to compile these reactions into a 2-4 minute video with the aim of furthering the continuum of "being seen."