Monday, May 3, 2010

Video Art: "Nails On A Chalkboard"

For my Video Art Piece I filmed subjects from front and back simultaneously in front of green screen. I then keyed out the green and place the two images together to create a shot/reaction shot without having to cut.

My subjects were listening to "Mycenae Alpha" by Iannis Xenakis, which is a very unpleasant sound. I turned it up really loud in the headphones and they were pretty much surrounded by the sound which made it very uncomfortable (you'll see I tried it).

I took inspiration for my piece from Nam June Paik and another video artist I studied in another class named Bruce Nauman. Nauman was known for tortorous video installations such as these.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Nude MoMA Exhibits

I read the NY Times article about the incidents when museum visitors have shown a lack of restraint, to say the least, when observing nude exhibits. As I read on I started to think to myself how immature these people must have been. First of all, if you have a membership to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City it should imply that you have some appreciation for art. Second of all it is commonly assumed that adults are mature enough to handle things such as nudity, profanity, and other adult content in public settings. To harrass nude performers in an art exhibit is just plain immature and shows a lack of self-control and discipline.

I can remember back in the 5th grade when I visited the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. In the lobby was a projected video image of a woman sculpting something from clay while entirely nude. My entire 5th grade class was able to show more maturity looking at this naked woman in the art museum than some of these people at MoMA. If 5th graders know enough to be respectful, so should these supposed art buffs.

It takes a good deal of courage to show one's naked body in front of strangers in the name of art. So to comment and poke fun at these performers or comment on their imperfections is just unacceptable to me.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Santiago wanted me to take the video down for obvious reasons but I hope that my performance was memorable enough to comment without it haha. Anyway, for my Performance Art piece I decided to roll myself in banner paper to resemble a joint and walk through Plant Park on 4/20, a day considered a holiday by those who use marijuana. The idea was to decontextualize the use, and abuse, of marijuana by making the human body look like a form of the drug. It also was meant to show the reaction of those people who are very pro-marijuana. Both of these missions were accomplished successfully with my performance and I think it is certainly worth mentioning that I do not smoke weed at all so this was not done in a pro or anti-marijuana perspective, merely that of a performance artist conducting an experiment if you will.

P.S. The security guard's full quote at the end was "$30,000 a year to dress how?? Alright have fun".

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Residents Make No Sense but Nam June Paik is a Genius

While learning about video art in class this week we have been watching and listening to videos made by "The Residents". The Residents were formed in the late 1960s and started producing music in the early 70s. They were pioneers in technology at the time and there music includes very odd, discordant melodies made with computer altered instruments and synthesizers. Even the singing in their songs is far from mainstream. Along with creating nonconventional music, they also explored video art and the creation of many music videos and performance art pieces. Never exposing their identity The Residents always wore costumes of some sort, mainly an eyeball headpiece with top hats and tuxedos. Going along with their strange public appearance their music videos were very strange and out of the ordinary. Most of the time the videos would be a performance by the band members in a costume of some sort, with wild video, lighting, and computer graphic effects. These techniques were never used by musicians before The Residents making them the first band to use music videos.

That being said, I hate "The Residents". Throughout this class I have kept an open mind about what we are shown and the artists we are learning about. I am able to find most of the artists, no matter how bizarre, interesting and I can understand how they are artistic or revolutionary regardless of my personal opinion of their work. However, I have found my limit with The Residents. I am a big music fan and I love listening to all different types of music and consider myself to have good taste and a decent ear for music. I can say now after sitting through them for two class periods, that The Residents are horrible. To me their music is not only bad but it is hard
to listen to, after watching a few of the videos in class I started to cringe each time a song came on. This awful sound is only magnified by the images that are synced to the music. The video for "It's A Man's World" was so out of the ordinary that it made the music even harder to follow and even more torturous. Overall, their lack of actual singing as opposed to speaking their lyrics, their disconnected rythms and beats, and anti-mainstream melodies make The Residents music downright annoying and unpleasant.

Now, as for Nam June Paik, or the father of Video Art; Paik is someone who I consider to be a genius. I believe it is one thing for someone to improve upon an art form or take influence from someone and vary it in some way. However, before Paik showed up, there was no such thing as video art. Paik had to discover his own art form and master it all at the same time and he did so brilliantly. Whether it was something as simple as dragging a violin behind him to decontextualize how the instrument is played, or as complex as making a tower from 200 separate TVs displaying images in a specific pattern, Paik essentially invented video art and the standard for which the art form would follow. I found Paik's work really interesting and I thought it was also interesting how he applied so much thought and knowledge in his work. He was not just throwing cool images onto TV screens, he truly understood the technology he was using and he exploited that in his work. One of my favorite works that he did was also one of his most simple; TV Buddha is a sculpture that I find really interesting because of the philosophy involved in it. The Buddha is watching himself be watched by a camera in a never-ending circuit of surveillance, however nothing will ever change since the Buddha is a statue that cannot move and the camera is only recording what the Buddha is doing. It almost sounds lame to video tape an inanimate object in this way but it makes for a result that is worth much conversation.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Squat Theatre and the Wooster Group, Revolutionizing Theater

I recently researched both the "Squat Theatre" and the "Wooster Group". The "Squat Theatre" is a theater group that performed on West 23rd Street in New York City in the late 70s and early 80s. They performed their in the storefront windows using the street as the backdrop for the stage. Squat Theatre's most famous plays include, "Pig! Child! Fire!", "Andy Warhol's Last Love" (pictured), and "Mr. Dead and Mrs. Free". In Mr. Dead a World War II military Jeep, carrying four performers dressed as soldiers, drives down West 23rd Street, pulls a sharp U-turn onto the sidewalk in front of the the
ater and comes to a stop. The soldiers jump out of the Jeep run into the theater and grab one of the performers off the stage, put them in the Jeep and drive away. The five of them are never seen again. I found this to be an interesting take on live theater. Not only are they using the unpredictable and varying streets of New York as a backdrop, they add an interactive element by staging the kidnapping of one of the performers by the outsiders in the Jeep. This type of creativity fascinates me simply because I always think of plays as being a live presentation of a script in front of an audience with a fourth wall that is hardly ever broken. In Squat Theatre the
performers do the opposite by trying to eliminate the fourth wall altogether.

I also spent some time looking at the "Wooster Group"'s website. The Wooster Group has been performing for about thirty years and deal with performance, dance, and media. Their main goal has been to incorporate new technologies into their work. A great example of this is a video installation piece I found called "There Is Still Time...Brother". Pictured below this installation is a 360 degree screen projecting images shot from 12 different digital cameras in a panoramic view. The performers surround the viewer who has the ability to look at any part of the 360 degree image at any moment. The performers talk to the viewer, perform simple tasks such as typing on a computer or drawing, and some even tell stories well the others act it out.

One of the most disorienting moments in the performance is when one performers moves his left hand outward to his left. The next perfor
mer picks up this motion and continues it in the same direction to the next performer. All of the performers do this until it looks like one hand has gone all the way around the circle. Overall, this installation along with many of the works from the "Wooster Group" are very captivating, and very advanced.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Xerox Project

This is my Xerox Project, made from a papier machee balloon face

Gilbert, George, and Orlan Becoming Art

After the lecture on performance art and viewing the works of both Gilbert and George and Orlan, one thing in particular stood out to me about their artwork. Regardless of the medium they were using or the message they were sending they all have an uncanny ability to turn themselves into art. Gilbert and George used a grid to put themselves on huge canvases as well as doing somewhat goofy installations such as "Bend It". I find their art very simple yet extremely expressive, they are able to capture a lot of substance in their art with simple means.

The video installation "Bend It" stood out to me for three reasons, the first is the way they are moving or "dancing" to the music. They are keeping in rhythm with the song but their movements are so disjointed and they seem to take the words "bend it" literally. The second reason is they have made themselves into the art because they are the ones performing to the song and interpreting the music in their movements. The third reason is how the performance triggers emotion and reaction in the audience despite their rather neutral facial expressions. It is a goofy and somewhat humorous performance but their faces seem as though what they're doing is perfectly normal.

Orlan is another artist who is excellent at making herself into the work of art. In her series coming out of the frame as well as her self-hybridation of different cultures she is quite literally making herself into a piece of art. Either by surrounding herself with a picture frame and photographing herself coming out of it, or manipulating her own appearance to make it that of an individual of the precolombian, african, or other eras. In her performance art she does not simply perform for an audience or a camera, she transforms herself through surgery as part of her performance. Getting plastic surgery on her lips to look like the "Mona Lisa" and her eyebrows she is taking the idea of performance so literally that she is making herself into a piece of art.

Although I can admit that my own performance art will not be so involved, I certainly found it interesting how Orlan and other artists go to extremes in their art. So far Performance Art, in my opinion, has been the most interesting movement that we have discussed thus far.