Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Artist - Ron Mueck

Ron Mueck (1958) is an Australian hyperrealist sculptor working in the United Kingdom.
His early career was as a model maker and puppeteer for children's television and films... freaky.
Mueck moved on to establish his own company in London, making photo-realistic props and animatronics (awesome factor of 10+) for the advertising industry. Although highly detailed, these props were usually designed to be photographed from one specific angle hiding the mess of construction seen from the other side. Mueck increasingly wanted to produce realistic sculptures which looked perfect from all angles.

In 1996 Mueck transitioned to fine art, collaborating with his mother-in-law, Paula Rego, to produce small figures as part of a tableau she was showing at the Hayward Gallery. Rego introduced him to Charles Saatchi who was immediately impressed and started to collect and commission work. This led to the piece which made Mueck's name, Dead Dad, being included in the Sensation show at the Royal Academy the following year. Dead Dad is a rather haunting silicone and mixed media sculpture of the corpse of Mueck's father reduced to about two thirds of its natural scale. It is the only work of Mueck's that uses his own hair for the finished product.

Mueck's sculptures faithfully reproduce the minute detail of the human body, but play with scale to produce disconcertingly jarring visual images. His five metre high sculpture Boy 1999 was a feature in the Millennium Dome and later exhibited in the Venice Biennale.

One of the amazing characteristics of Mueck's work is scale.

The detail in the flesh and with all the different types of hair is phenomenal.

Here's a detail shot. Ridiculous I say!

Sunday, March 28, 2010

New Phone

I want a new phone. Do I need a new phone... not really. I am just trying to justify it by the fact that my current phone doesn't make it through the day. Because of it's age and original design, the battery just doesn't hold up.

The most important thing for me is a CALENDAR and they ability to type quickly. I know this sounds like every phone, but if you know me at all, you'd know I am really picky. But the calendar really is the most important thing because without it, I fail. I can't remember appointments so I miss them, or I double book. And if I write them down in some sort of planner I leave them at home and miss them anyway. Something like the iPhone would be great, but I don't have what is equivalent to a car payment to throw at my phone every month. I don't know how people do it... ridiculous I say!

T-Mobile (my carrier) just released this phone. This is what I dream about when I go to sleep at night. Just look how it meets my requirements in its sleek, sexy design:

  • Nice keyboard

  • SUPER THIN!!! - I can't stand having a thick hunk of phone in my pocket!

  • Battery lasts longer than one of my classes

  • IT HAS A CALENDAR that rocks!

Maybe someday. It sucks being poor... and cheap on top of that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Artist - Janet Fish

Janet Fish is a contemporary realist painter and printmaker who was born in Boston, Massachusetts in 1938, and raised on the island of Bermuda. She is best known for her still life paintings, but also sometimes includes figures and landscapes in her work. As a student at Yale, her realistic approach was not always encouraged, except by Alex Katz, who told her to just go outside and paint the landscape. This would be in sharp contrast to the rigorous intellectualism often seen in prestigious university art programs, where figurative painting may be presented as inferior to abstract or conceptual work.

Although labeled a photorealist, she says that she is not a photorealist painter. An example of photorealism is the early work of painter Chuck Close. Fish may work from photographs, but it appears that often her paintings are composites of many photographs, which she rearranges to form her compositions. Her paintings seem to have more of a painter's than a photographer's eye.

I noticed that most of what I was able to find online was still life… setups of flowers, vases and jars of canned fruit to be specific. The amazing thing about the majority of her work is the amount of reflectivity/transparency in her work. I crap my pants when thinking about having to draw, paint or do anything that has to represent something transparent. I guess it’s my lack of experience mostly. When I stop to think about it, I’ve never even actually tried! I guess the fear has kept me from trying for all these years.

At any rate, here are a few of them for you to check out.

Artist - John de Andrea

John De Andrea is an American sculptor associated with photorealistic depictions of the human figure. He is known for extremely realistic polyvinyl or polychromed bronze casts of the human figure, most often female.

While in Albuquerque, DeAndrea began to use fiberglass to make life casts of body parts. He dropped out of UNM and returned to Denver, where he soon produced the signature work that would bring him worldwide recognition. The first sculptures to anticipate his mature style were realistically cast nude figures finished in automotive paint--just like kayaks. But soon DeAndrea was carefully blending latex acrylic paint into realistic flesh tones, making his sculptures look more and more like real people.

De Andrea received his Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder and studied at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque on an art scholarship, 1966–8. He was born in Denver, Colorado on November 24, 1941 and currently resides there.

While most of what I was able to find online was female sculptures, I was able to find at least one male. This is good, because I was beginning to think De Andrea was just a really big perv. As with most art that I am viewing through these entries, I feel extremely limited by the thumbnail sized pictures. Most art that I have seen in person is SO MUCH better than an image representation. I would really love to see one of these sculptures in person... as creepy as they may be.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Artist - H.R. Giger

H.R. Giger (Hans Rudolf Giger) is about as freaky as they come. He's a Swiss surrealist painter, sculptor and set designer. He's probably best know as the designer of Alien creature for Ridley Scott's Alien that was released in 1979 and through the film won international recognition.

Giger started with small ink drawings and later moved to oil paintings. During most of his career Giger has worked in airbrush. His work is a fusion of human bodies and machines termed "biomechanical" set in dark monochromatic dreamscapes. His paintings often display fetishistic sexual imagery. He released a compendium of images in his 1977 book titled Necronomicon which included around 200 of paintings, sketches and photographs, as well as autobiographical passages and the artist's personal reflections on his work. This book became so successful after the release of Alien that a subsequent collection of his images followed as H. R. Giger’s Necronomicon II, printed in 1985.

Giger is perhaps the best-known sufferer of night terrors and his paintings are all to some extent inspired by his experiences with that particular sleep disorder. He studied interior and industrial design at the School of Commercial Art in Zurich (from 1962 to 1970) and made his first paintings as a means of art therapy.

Here's a few of his pieces:

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Digital Dependence

Tonight in class I was somewhat down... depressed really. For the first time since the semester began I've realized my dependency on the computer for every piece of art/design I've done. Its not like I just realized this... I've thought about it throughout the semester, especially when watching others work on their projects. I just think tonight was the first time that thought has really sank in.

The depressing part isn't that I use the computer for art, but rather that it's the ONLY way I know how to create art. I'm not comfortable/competent with fine art mediums so I feel really self-conscious when trying to branch out. I know that sounds stupid -- I mean, how else am I going to learn -- I guess what I'm feeling is that I'm a kindergartener amongst a group of grade schoolers.

Artist - Livia Marin

Chilean artist Livia Marin is an artist that works mostly with manufactured materials. She takes something that passes under our nose everyday and looks at it with a critical eye. In an interview with It's Nice That she says, "What fascinates me about everyday objects are the traces of humanity that are lodged in them and which it is possible to bring to the fore in art. These traces embrace both their processes of making or construction and the daily use-relationship we establish with them."

Marin pursued an art career in Chile and has exhibited widely both in Chile and abroad (Argentina, Brazil, Sweden, USA). She has lived and worked in London for five years and is currently completing a practiced led PhD programme at Goldsmiths College.

In particular, I came across a show called "Broken Things" which was open from October - November 2009 at the House of Propellors gallery. She has taken everyday, manufactured pieces that appear exactly the same and injected into them the issues of brokenness and recuperation. What is cool about her idea of brokenness is that we generally think once something material is broken it goes out of use and can be discarded. But the idea of recuperation comes into play if and when the owner has a strong attachment to it.

She says, "It’s that moment of decision or indecision of value for that object that interests me and that I try to recreate by building the object as an ambiguous figure. Within this, it is important that I have worked with mass-produced, non-noble objects, whereby things that were not important in the first place achieve a value or significance by the attachments that people form with them."

Monday, March 15, 2010

ARTIST BOOK - Brainstorm

"Instant Content" suggestions - answer these questions:

1. scars and how I got them.

- fingernails of girls on the playground
- losing the fight when punching glass
- stepping over lines that were clearly drawn
- taking ownership of something that was never mine
- seeing alcohol work it's magic on those you love

2. these are the places I have lived.

- Fruitland, Idaho
- fear and doubt
- McPherson, Kansas
- joy and fulfillment
- Santa Cruz, California
- guilt and shame
- Boise, Idaho
- excitement
- happiness
- grace and mercy

3. 10 different types of apples.

- Gala
- Fuji
- Red Delicious
- McIntosh
- Granny Smith
- Rome
- Gravenstein
- Braeburn
- Cameo
- Adams

Project 3 - ARTIST BOOK

The third project is to create an artist book (about us, the artist). We didn't get an assignment sheet with specific details and this one, but rather a hand-out with examples of how to make accordion folds. Also included were instructions for creating "instant content". I'll be going through a few for my brainstorming session, but am excited at how quickly I was able to come up with content for this project. I'm already ready to go!

Artist - Tara Donovan

Tara Donovan is a artist that I would put in the same category as Tom Friedman. She uses everyday manufactured materials to create large scale sculptures. Though, those last few words are what I think differentiates her from Friedman... most of Donovan's work is large scale. Her sculptures often have a biometric quality, but also mimic vast landscapes. Donovan says of her work, "It is not like I'm trying to simulate nature. It's more of a mimicking of the way of nature, the way things actually grow."

Another quality worth mentioning is that she chooses the material before she decides what can be done with it. This is exactly what we were told to do in class for our "Transformation" project. This is something that I really struggle with. I'm much more inclined to conceive the project in my head and then figure out what materials I need to make it happen. I guess that means I need to spend more time doing material studies and really understanding the medium before conceptualizing what I'm applying it to.

At any rate, here are a few of the most interesting Donovan pieces I was able to find online.

This should give you a sense of scale of Donovan's projects. This piece is on display at the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego and is made entirely from styrofoam cups and hot glue. Crazy. You can also see the biometric/organic influence I was talking about earlier here in this piece. Reminds me of sea coral, or something of a similar fashion.

Here's an example of a more landscape-esque piece. This one is also made of cups, but these are of the plastic variety.

Think stalactites and stalagmites. Soooo many buttons. I thought I used a lot of cotton swabs on my project... this makes me hide my head in shame.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Artist - Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman is cool. I like him. He takes everyday objects and turns them into crap-your-pants awesome pieces of artwork. Most of the pieces I'm familiar with appear to be very tedious and look like they took a LOT of time to complete.

From what I've seen, there are quite a few pieces that are titled "untitled". I'm not sure of the reasoning behind it, but by looking at this piece (untitled, 1995) you should get an idea of the tedious nature I was talking about above. The exact number of toothpicks it took to make this thing, I do not know. All I know is that it is more of an undertaking that I would ever want to commit to.

Here's another one that I believe is made from common construction paper. Just as other, it is untitled but is intended to be a self portrait that was created in 2000. The detail is awesome and I like how Tom bridges the gap between realism in the torn body and the comic esque blood splats.

Friedman was born in St. Louis, Missouri and attended Washington University in St. Louis, receiving his Bachelor of Fine Arts in graphic illustration in 1988. He pursued graduate coursework at the University of Illinois at Chicago receiving a Master of Fine Arts in sculpture in 1990. His first solo exhibits were held the following year at Feature in New York City, Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the Rezac Gallery in Chicago. He has since exhibited in London, UK, Rome, Italy, Geneva, Switzerland and Tokyo, Japan among other cities. Friedman currently lives in Leverett, Massachusetts.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Article - Conceptual Art

1. Why is the viewer an important part of conceptual art?

-Because the viewer is required to take on a more active role in which response is required/demanded. Some argue that conceptual art can exist solely in the mind of the viewer.

2. Why was it so difficult for people to accept the "Fountain" by Duchamp, as art?

-Everything that was considered art prior to the "Fountain" was assumed to be a painting or sculpture and set within the context of the art museum. The art museum itself was still being percieved as the only place to house such "sacred" items and the "Fountain" was clearly blasphemy in the eyes of many art critics.

3. What question did Duchamp pose with his "readymades"? Explain with examples.

-"Could this be artwork?"

4. Why is is difficult to categorize Conceptual art in the context of traditional art? Explain using examples.

-Conceptual art is difficult to categorize because it cannot be defined in terms of medium or style. A good example was Kosath's "One and Three Chairs", which had to be destroyed just to store it in the museum. There was no "Conceptual art" department, so each piece (the chair, the photo of the chair, and the definition of the chair) had to go to separate departments.

5. Choose a quote from the article that you find interesting and explain. Be sure to cite the page number.

"Conceptual art was made, it seems, in times of crisis, when authority - both political and artistic - came into question."

The thing I love about this is that it seems, most often, that it takes some degree of failure and struggle to take the next stride of progress. Conceptual art was born in a time where there was much struggling, much like the economic boom after the great depression. People hate conflict, struggle and pain, but I truly think these are gifts (yes I said it... GIFTS) that open our minds and allow is to grow beyond what we thought was previously possible.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Punishment for Thinking

Okay, I'm in love with this delightfully evil Mattel Mindflex hack, which delivers an electric shock if you don't remain calm, but you have to wonder: wouldn't this thing be amazing if you hooked it up in reverse and punished not thinking enough?

Project 2 - EXTENSION (Artist Statement)

Ex·ten·sion, noun: An addition that increases the area, influence, operation, or contents of something. This is what I think of when I look upon the humble cotton swab.

I chose to use the cotton swab in this piece as the medium to shape the very object that uses it. A cotton swab cannot function without the hand to guide it, while a hand cannot function in the same capacity as it can with the cotton swab. The thought that either is not as effective without the other is what makes the relationship so strong.

The physical properties of the cotton swab were appealing as well. The contrast between the color, often representational of purity (something untouched or undisturbed), and the texture/material cotton (which is something soft, desirable and wants to be touched) was something I felt would add to the already established relationship.

In the original sketch I had decided to create depth in the relief style composition by producing 8 different levels of height pressed into foam core board. I quickly realized an increase in detail (height levels as well as overall size) would mean an exponential increase in construction time. The final composition was reduced by 2 levels of height and reduced in size to a more manageable 35 swabs wide by 47 swabs high. I felt this was the best ratio of detail to hours of work required to compete Extension. In total there are 1,665 cotton swabs that complete the composition using 6 different height levels.

Project 2 - COMPLETION

On the home stretch now. After hours and hours of cutting cotton swabs with my finely crafted "height gauge" (the back of a business card) I can start plugging them into the grid holes.

I think I was able to watch an entire season of Myth Busters with the time it took to accomplish this.

Another noteworthy observation while completing the project is how heavy the it became. There is some serious weight to a crap load of cotton swabs.

Project 2 - UPDATE 3

Here's a shot of the foam core grid that the cut swabs will go into. This took A LOT more time than I thought it would to create. First part was to cover the foam core with some grid paper I bought and then poke a hole at each intersecting line with a push-pin. After the initial holes were created I could remove the grid paper and cut down the foam core board to the correct size.

The problem I had now was that the holes weren't any where near the size they needed to be to accommodate the cotton swabs. I had to go over the entire surface again with a small screwdriver to enlarge each hole... all 1,665 of them.

Project 2 - UPDATE 2

Ok... first step, picking what I wanted to make in my relief sculpture and how I was going to accomplish it.

I decided to go with a hand. I'll explain my reasoning behind this in the artist statement, but for now I'd like to talk about the process of getting the image to represent the 6 levels of height for the cotton swabs.

I used Photoshop to convert the image from color to grayscale, reduce the image to 45x37 pixels and finally output the image with only 6 values. From here it's fairly obvious to see what I am up to. Each pixel represents a single cotton swab and each of the 6 grayscale values represents a height value.

The next step was to separate each grayscale value into an individual layer to create the "map" that I'd follow when placing the cotton swabs on the foam core grid, which is exactly what is next on the list to create... better get moving.

Project 2 - UPDATE 1

So, I've been horribly lazy and have not tracked my progress during this project at all. I've completed the project and have taken pictures along the way, so I'll just dump them all here today in separate posts to emulate the actual chronological order of events.

First off... after the material brainstorm I did a very simple sketch to get an idea of what I was looking at. Basically, the original plan was to divide a cotton swab into 8 different segments at varying heights pressed into foam core board in an attempt to make a relief image.

I quickly realized that 8 lengths meant a LOT of cutting and because I wanted a fairly well represented image I was going to have to use a lot of cotton swabs. I decided to simplify somewhat, reducing the original 8 lengths to 6.