Sunday, April 25, 2010

Whitney Biennial: Rashaad Newsome/Kelly Nipper

I visited the Whitney Biennial yesterday and was thrilled with the collection as a culmination of contemporary American art. Keeping in mind our assignment to compare/contrast, I took note of two artists, Rashaad Newsome, and Kelly Nipper comparing one of each of their works.

Kelly Nipper's piece entitled, Weather Center, from 2009, is a single-channel video projection in black and white with sound, lasting 5:11. The artist's concept was to have the dancers movements mimic weather patterns. The dance, performed by Taisha Paggett, is closely based on German Expressionist choreographer, Mary Wigman's piece, Witch Dance.
Rashaad Newsome's piece Untitled and Untitled (New Way), from 2009, is a single-channel high definition silent video in color, lasting 8:07. Various single dancers perform the style vogue, and scenes of it are cut and spliced together to create this collection of movements in Untitled. In Untitled (New Way), Newsome shows the dancers Untitled and has them perform the dance that he essentially made, by piecing clips of their dancing together.

As a dancer, I found these two videos particularly interesting. In the dance world, just as in visual arts, new forms and styles fight for significance, for acceptance, recognition. Rashaad Newsome's works, Untitled and Untitled (New Way) argue for the legitimacy as vogue as style of dance worthy of high art's eyes. The movements that these men perform are beautiful and flowing, then dynamic, as they fall to the floor and rhythmically snake themselves up again. The legitimacy of this as a dance form aesthetically and athletically is successfully argued for. As I sat there for sometime viewing the work people came and went, and often laughed, maybe because these men are gay, maybe because they are dancing in this typically gay style. I don't know. What was evident though, was that anyone who sat and fully watched this work, and watched it more than once, would see the beauty of the lines of the bodies and the dynamism of the movements; essentially the success of the composition of the work.
Kelly Nipper's piece, Weather Center, need not argue as much for the legitimacy of its form of dance, Modern. Contemporary Dance has been around for nearly a century, with strictures became increasingly looser throughout time. Viewers still seemed to find the perfomer's modern dance to be too silly for them to handle, despite much of the choreography coming from a piece from 1914! I thought the dancer's movements were entrancing, rhythmic, and highly emotive. The dancer performed seated mostly, and it had a spiritual feel to it. Dubbed over top of the dancer's movements was a voice counting to ten over and over, but the movements and the numbers seemed entirely independent of one another. I don't think that the piece needed the counts, really. Also, dance is usually counted in 8's, not 10's.

I thought both of these pieces were dynamic and entrancing, while still subtly arguing for their right to be revered.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Word Visualizations


My self-portrait was meant to capture my relationship, my coexistence, with nature. Rather than just living on top of nature, I want to be a part of it. I think keeping a connection with nature keeps us healthy and sane. There's nothing as therapeutic as a deep breath in fresh air.

I wanted to incorporate the beauty and relaxing quality of symmetry, while at the same time, avoiding exact reflections. The variety in the symmetry, I think, adds a more natural quality to it while maintaining visual interest.

The appearance of chakras in this work is very personally significant to me. I had suffered intermittent pain for several years, chronic pain for 2 years, and only until I found someone who specialized in healing energy systems (chakras included) could I find relief, and begin again to live my life. The orb-like shape of the hair was meant to be reminiscent of the aura, another feature of our energy. Although this interest in "energy medicine" as termed by Donna Eden, is relatively new, it has made me rethink so much about my beliefs, my health, and my life, that I had to include elements of it in my self-portrait.

In regards to process of creating this image, most of the work was done in photoshop. I selected myself out of two pictures, one sitting, the other laying with my hair outstretched, using a variety of processes like magnetic lasso, magic wand, etc. I touched up my face and hair with the clone stamp. I used the smudge tool to draw out and accentuate the hair and the waves. I used the brush tool to create the light grey, electric looking roots. I used a mandala-like brush for the chakras, and made them have outer glow.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Abramovic-Kahlo-Xiuwen Comparison: Self Portraits/ Female Portrayals

Frida Kahlo’s paintings are the most literal, traditional notion of self portraits. Many of her works are only of her, since she said she knew herself best, as far as subject matter goes. Her paintings usual show herself as a bust, from chest up, though some show her whole figure. Some of her works seem surreal, with impossible elements in unusual settings. Kahlo claimed to be a realist, that what she painted was real to her. The scenes in her work seem to be set on a stage-like setting, with a very shallow and steep foreground. I think this gives a strange quality to her work.

Marina Abramovic’s works are largely performance pieces involving herself. As these works are documented via photography, many appear as self portraits. A reoccurring theme in her work is of the test of the human spirit. Abramovic seeks to push herself to the limits in order to see what a human—not just herself—is capable of withstanding. Many of her performances seem utterly dangerous. Her work Rhythm 10, she had 20 knives, with which she jabbed in between her fingers. When she would cut herself, she would take another knife. This was recorded, and as she replayed it, she tried to recreate what she had done. This work, she said, considers the state of consciousness of the performer, and how she can push herself to do things she would not be able to do had she not been performing. Abramovic’s works seek to analyze the performer and the performer’s relationship to the audience. Although she speaks somewhat distantly about “the performer” she is the performer, and her body is the medium, so her works cannot help but be self-portraits.

initially Cui Xiuwen’s works cannot literally be called self-portraits. Many of her works feature a young, perhaps 13 year old, Chinese girl. This young figure is meant to represent the experiences of females in modern day China. The young girl, shown in a school-girl’s uniform, is often posed in risqué, suggestive, almost revealing positions. Sometimes this young girl is repeated and repeated until her figure consumes the entire picture plane. In another series, Angel, she shows a young girl, again, but pregnant. These pristine works have peaceful landscape backgrounds, with the tranquil, glowing, mother to be. As she was once a girl growing up in China, these works are metaphorically self-portraits.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Film Still Visualization

The concept behind this piece is one of lost love. The seaside setting with the female figure calls to mind, the iconic wife waiting for her seafaring husband to return home. The absent look of the figure suggests hopelessness, but as she turns her head, she thinks for a moment she heard something out on the water. The viewer looks through broken glass into bereavement.

Images for Compositing in Film Still Visualization

This first image I took down the street from my
home is of the Delaware Bay in Cape May. After the first snowstorm the sand was thickly
coated in powdery snow, and seemed to be glowing white.

The view of this image looks out from a broken
window. Taken at my home, it is the result of my
sister's house party. A happy accident for my
artwork, although my parents weren't particularly thrilled.

Human Interaction
I took this photograph last, not sure what I wanted from the scene. I shot my friend, Manette, standing in the snow, dressed in white. I prompted her with different scenarios to elicit emotions, but I like this distant, preoccupied, mournful gaze.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Monday, February 1, 2010

My thoughts on others' thoughts on the 4 Artists

My fellow classmates probably had the least to say about Teun Hocks. His humor is appreciated by all. Most agree that his works are surreal and dreamy, and are not so dark conceptually, as say, Crewdson or Wall.

Many students appreciated Cindy Sherman's images for being B&W, claiming that it did not detract from her images, but rather strengthened  them. Many commented on a cinematic feel, as if each image were a scene from an old movie, but I particularly like Adriana's observation that they reminded her of a b-movie. I agree with Katie's assertion that although Sherman's images feature herself, they are not self portraits, but instead are portraits of womankind or the concept of woman. 

Crewdson seems to be the most thoroughly discussed artist. A few said Crewdson's works were peaceful, but most agreed on an unsettling feeling. Amy thought his works evoked anxiety, isolation, and fear. Many of us agree that the perspective Crewdson uses, is the driving force in creating a "cinematic" (Katie), and a vacant feel (Andrew).  His work is a snapshot of a moment; as Adriana puts it, he gives you the "crucial instance of an unspoken overarching story-line."

Andrew commented that Jeff Wall's images speak of themes of urban decay. Many commented on the tension in the images, and that being equated to societal tensions. Bryan and Brittney, among others, appreciated the insight that the artist offers into his works, through his lengthy descriptions of both the image and the concept behind it. 

Oops: Addendum to previous post

Jeff Wall creates large scenes reminiscent of film stills. The viewer feels this way about the image not by chance; the artist poses actors and photographs them in the action. There is apparent tension between figures in his works. Sometimes the tension is angry or just uncomfortable, but it is always active, balancing and counter-balancing, teetering and tottering back and forth. 

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Space: Gregory Crewdson, Teun Hocks, Cindy Sherman

Gregory Crewdson layers space upon space, conveying the illusion of perspective and depth. He creates the thrill of voyeurism as his viewers look at something that seems private and personal to the figures depicted. His images contain vast scenes showing you room after room or space after space, with often only one or two people. The figures are small in scale compared to their scenery, and convey feelings of lonliness, loss, and sadness.

Teun Hocks features only one figure, himself, in most of his works. This lone figure does not operate in the same way as Crewdson's; instead Hocks seems content in a strange, surreal place. The space that he creates is his dreams or daydreams, I imagine. Hocks uses irony in many of his pieces to create humor. Warming his hands in front of a painting of a fireplace or wearing band-aids on his face from snapping rubber bands, show a whimsical, silly side of the artist.

Cindy Sherman plays with voyeuristic visages in a very different way than Gregory Crewdson does. While Crewdson makes you feel like you are spying from next door or across the street, Sherman creates up close and personal images of herself, as if you just walked in on her changing. The viewer invades the figure's personal space. There is a sense of tension, an awareness of being photographed that hangs in the air as these vulnerable figures are captured.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


No matter the media, color is always my focus. I have always been more fond of painting, than drawing, as you can model forms through gradations of colors, rather than lines. Color has all the power in an image, and the lack thereof is equally as powerful. I love the colors found in nature, as well as the musicality of natural, organic forms. The natural world is equally influential in my art work.