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