Monday, September 20, 2010

Artist Statement

Out of the links provided with the purpose to assist us in this endeavor, I mostly relied on this one
to make it happen.

But I also had to find a statement from another artist; something I planned to do anyways because what better information to take down than whatever comes straight from the horse's mouth?

I'm going to post, before my statement {which will likely cower in comparison}, the artist statement{s} that I found for one artist that still inspires my work.

“I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures and uncertain ending – an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check, and nihilism at bay.”

On living a lifetime in Johannesburg: “I have never been able to escape Johannesburg, and in the end, all my work is rooted in this rather desperate provincial city. I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and the films are certainly spawned by, and feed off, the brutalised society left in its wake.”

On his drawings: “The drawings don’t start with ‘a beautiful mark’. It has to be a mark of something out there in the world. It doesn’t have to be an accurate drawing, but it has to stand for an observation, not something that is abstract, like an emotion.”

Quotations from William Kentridge by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev (1998), Societé des Expositions du Palais de Beaux-Arts de Bruxelles.

So! Here goes something...

Artist Statement Unabridged

When I was a child, I was often scolded for my constant daydreaming. I was smart and scatterbrained simultaneously, and when I could not keep my thoughts and my imaginings in my head I would make them tangible. If I had pencils, I would draw them. If I had clay, I would make them. Sometimes they were characters; the people I wished I could be. Sometimes, they were friends and foes that I didn't have in reality. I have not changed in all these years, though my focus has not remained the same. Now I imagine likelier scenarios to save myself from being lost in worlds that do not exist. Such became the subject of my latest work, involving my current fascination with the apocalypse. I can't keep myself entertained by the mundane that surrounds me in my life. I have to imagine a time or place of action, or I grow bored and weary of the real world, and it leads to the fear that I am ill prepared to live that life for the next thirty-plus years. My work is often an outlet of my imagination, or a plane where I can keep my many worlds recorded somewhere public, rather than privately stored in my mind. I've always been partial to sharing what I have in abundance.

Printmaking and stop motion allows me to take my time in recreating these worlds. I can fashion them with the same care and attention that I use when I think them up. I'm always reshaping and fixing the scenario to make someone or something fit--to make it legitimate--so I felt that my choices of media made the most sense. The certain styles I'm attracted to, like expressionist forms and stark, simple structures, I like to incorporate into my work, as most of the influences in style that I have been exposed to and absorbed came from all the horror movies I used to watch as a child. In time I am sure my own style will evolve from my current fixations, but until then, the work I make is still a combination of many old tricks from many old dogs.

The tl;dr {too long; didn't read} version.

To this day, I am still a daydreamer. I cannot keep myself entertained by the mundane that surrounds my life, so I imagine a more exciting place with interesting people, creating an avatar for myself to navigate these worlds. Since I could pick up a pencil and draw, I would try to reproduce images of the 'people' I would meet, or the 'places' I would go. Many of these worlds were born from nightmares I would have as a child, having been exposed to many of the 80s and 90s horror films since I was four. Later, they were born of the fantasies I would read in books or watch on television. As I grew older, I forced myself to restrain my imagination and think of more realistic worlds were more interesting things still happened. This restriction has lead me to my current focus, and that is my fascination of an apocalyptic world.

I chose printmaking and stop motion to be the mediums of my choice because I felt that they allowed me to create my latest world most effectively. With the process of creating prints I can draw up the plane as I do in my mind, and with the stop motion I can bring it to life as it plays through my imagination. I have always been fond of sharing what I had in abundance, so it only makes sense that I wish to share this world with others.

Still long. Why am I so verbose?

*note if it matters: listening to lots of Yes songs. It helps me concentrate.

The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

In Walter Benjamin's article The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction {1936}, Benjamin begins with a brief overview of the evolution of reproduction in the media, starting with the Greek woodcuts and reaching into the era of photography and film. From there, he starts to examine how human perception has started to change as visual arts began to expand its horizons in a time where mass reproduction was being realized. He starts to discuss how the introduction and assimilation of film lacks the aura of traditional art and the 'originals'. He describes how different it was to stand within the presence of art rather than confronting it through the lens. Before a lens you are at the mercy of the camera, whereas with your own body and mind in the presence of your query can cast its aura on you properly, leaving it to your mercy instead.

At the time this article was written, film with sound was starting to gain popularity. He mentioned one critic of silent film and sound even still claimed that an actor acting for a camera rather than a physical audience experiences discomfort and isolation, making every natural act more difficult to perform. The aura of the audience is just as lost to him as he might be to the audience. Later it's criticized that film promotes distraction whereas painting promotes concentration. The author then clears that up by mentioning that concentration might help to realize details, but the 'distracted' can get a grasp of the big picture. In either case, it's still safe to assume that the distracted may miss out on the point of a painting where one who concentrates would become frustrated with the dynamics of film.

1. How far have we come in this day and age of the computer? Where are we now in the respect of our connection to the cult of art {any kind-writing, image, video, music, etc}?

Now we can pull up images, video, articles, and more at the push of a button. Those who have gained this savvy can often tackle several tasks at a time, which for many reduces concentration as film was thought to do for those in the 30s. There are even virtual galleries being set up online so people can see work from their computers at home, but wouldn't this destroy the opportunity to bask in the aura of the work itself?

2. Also, what of the old reproduction processes? Have they gained more authenticity because of the quick evolution of film and technology? Are woodcuts, etchings, and lithos being met with greater appreciation because easier means of reproduction have been introduced?

And finally...

3. What about the latest technology of 3-D film? Can a film that brings you into the action in such a manner have an aura to it?

Because technically, a 3-D film tends to have a greater sense of inclusion than your average pictures. It was what lent Avatar so much of that special attention it received. Is attending that showing under the 3-D circumstance an experience we can relate to aura?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

The Death of the Author

In Roland Barthes's The Death of the Author {1977} essay, Barthes argues that an author should not be considered in the value of the text he/she produces. The language itself speaks to us, and not the writer, and so it's detrimental to the reader and to critics to start trying to think of what the author is leaving behind of him/herself in the writing.

I can't say that I fully agree with him, because sometimes it's very important to know the author when you're reading a text. It might have helped if the Germans in the 30s knew Mein Kampf's author while reading what he has written.

1. So does Barthes claim this analysis for all forms of writing, including personal biographies where the author is being taken into consideration quite purposefully?

Then I started to wonder how the idea might apply to art, and how pleasant I found it when I did. It would be nice for people to look at your work and stop trying to figure out the mind behind the piece. The piece should speak for itself, as should any writing ever made. But in the end the artist gets credit for his/her work, just as the author does for his/hers.

2. So does that mean an author shouldn't get credit for their text if technically it's just an arrangement of language?

Maybe the people who invented the language should get credited for everything! Or the inventor of the paint you used to make that portrait! Or the discoverer of bronze that makes up your sculpture!

To forget the author completely isn't a bad idea while you're reading something, but it's good to know after you're done at least for the sake of accreditation. Just like one doesn't just pull the information they find on some subject from any source because it could be a complete fabrication or the person providing the information doesn't know what they're talking about, one shouldn't just take everything they read for face value. They should understand the intentions of the author behind the work if it's supposed to be non-fictional. Or else who are you putting your faith in?

3. So is this article a little too extreme?

In my opinion, I believe it is. Sure you should enjoy what you're reading for what it is, and not who it was that wrote it, but sometimes it's important to know the mind behind the arrangement of language that is that book you're reading, or that article on the internet.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Why I Do What I Do.

I made the decision to expand my artistic talents when choosing a high school to attend. I enjoyed the art classes I took in middle school and I was told that I had a knack for it, and as an added bonus I enjoyed making it. Since elementary school I have not stopped drawing, whether it was all over the margins of a homework assignment or on the desks when no one was watching. South Miami Senior High sported a great magnet program in arts and in music and I applied for both. I got accepted into both and chose art over music. I still love music, but I knew I was not as passionate about playing it as I was about simply listening to it. When I started the program, I loved to learn all the techniques while applying them. Back then I made work I really appreciated, expanding upon my technical skills. I had the opportunity to get into a dual enrollment program to get the first two years of college out of the way while in high school, but it would have interfered with my art classes, so I declined. After doing well in both AP examinations, I was confident. I wanted to keep making art because I enjoyed it and whenever I learned a new process, it would become an adventure to me all over again.

I believe the reason why I chose this path was to keep doing what I love. I love to draw and make new things. I thought I would be happiest if I could improve upon my talents to use them in any way I wish. My mother was good at drawing herself, but she did not pursue the arts because she believed it would be a waste of time and money. I wanted to prove to her that you could still do what you love, even if it is as risky as being an artist, and be happy. Since attending Ringling College, my spirits have been up and down; there are times I feel that I have made the wrong decision and there are times where I would prefer no other alternative. Every year I seem to go through a slump, but I always come to the same conclusion. I approve of the decision I have made. I have learned more than I thought I would have from the start. I am the kind of person who finishes what they have started, and so I have gotten this far and plan to go even further.

Coming up with a thesis idea was troublesome at first. I had to reach a hypothesis of some sort by the end of a chaotic summer and all I could think about were ephemeral subjects--ones I would lose interest in after a month under their limitations. Finally, I started to think about the things that I have always found interesting. Aside from a lot of science fiction and fantasy, I finally settled on something that may be a little of both, but will likely effect us all someday in the future as a very real occurrence. I have always harbored a fascination for the idea of 'apocalypse'. It is a way to end an unsatisfactory, dull, or frustrating life without all that fret about suicide or accidents. The idea seemed to come to me when I was feeling a little depressed and frightened, which is nothing I am not used to by now. I always hoped that something drastic would happen to disrupt my life; something I would not have been able to control. It would give me an excuse to stop, or do something different, or approach life in a different way just because the old way is now over and done with. Then I thought of my obsessions with movies about the end of the world, whether in the form of nuclear bombings or zombie raids. I knew that if anything like that occurred, it would be a very reasonable excuse to just abandon everything.

Now at first, when I came up with this thesis idea, it was about 'peoples' fascination and not just my own. I thought it would be a more powerful idea however if I just approach it from my point of view, because who am I to speak up for 'people'? So I decided to settle on my fascination. It is a topic that I can easily get into and studiously work on, and I would need to have that kind of focus if I want to spend a year on it.

Print 1 is nearly done. Lots of pictures to take, lots of plans to bake, and lots of sleep to flake.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Semester Plan

1. A paragraph that describes the subject, form and content of your thesis project.

So what am I doing, how am I doing it, and why?

My thesis idea, focusing on my fascination with the idea of 'apocalypse', demands that I build a plan for turning this subject into work. People will be included, though I won't be using any actual people. People are not the focus of my idea--not even myself. Not so much. My fascination is the focus. Therefore most of the plane of visual context will be composed of disasters disrupting the mundane of everyday monotony. I want a couple of styles to be included in this undertaking, reflecting my mixture of longing and contempt towards my fascination. Most of my work will be on a smaller scale if it's physical, allowing viewers to look down upon it or see the whole picture in their heads like I do. It will have a stark quality to it whenever it depicts the images of everyday life, but whenever the disasters occur I want a surreal, expressionist contrast to that starkness from before. Since I am working in printmaking, most of the scenery will be made of prints. I plan to use these scenes in a stop motion to bring them all together to make sense of it all in the grand scheme of things. I know the finished piece won't leave every viewer feeling the same, so I didn't make any intentions to aim for that. Just like the mind map I created, the apocalypse has many qualities to it that are admirable, but I'm not blind to the fact that as a young person with no kids of my own, my fascination is not shared by everyone. My video is meant to show someone like me, if not me, and my longing for something so terrible that I can feel ashamed of it all at once. My goal is to share it, maybe not with everyone, but with those who can best understand.

2. What kind of research do you need to do? Where and how will you do it?

I need to look into a few old texts to understand, mainly the religious and mythical ones. I know that the Bible clearly states how the apocalypse is going to happen, but I want to see how far back the idea goes and how people see it. Is it a coming of something good or evil? Is it simply the end of days? Is it meant to fire up the spirit or inspire through fear?

The internet is a pretty good source for this information if you know where to look, but I'm sure the library would have a few good resources I could tap. I've already watched a fair share of apocalyptic movies just because cinema and film are entertainment favorites of mine, and they helped shape this strange romanticism I see behind something as gruesome as the end of the world.

3. What materials and/or processes will you use?

I'm using quite the array of materials so far. I've got clay and wiring for the 'characters' in my final stop motion, acrylics to paint them with, paper for printing, foam core for stability in the set as well as matte board for the thinner things, a camera to take photographs, and I'll be using programs to put the video together on my computer.

I'm using perhaps a couple of lithography editions for this, quite a few silkscreen images, most stand-alone instead of editions {though I will have copies for registration's sake}. I'm going to be folding the lithography prints I'm making into desks, chairs, and so on for my 'characters' to use. In order to make a stop motion sequence I need to take a lot of pictures, 'a lot' being an understatement. Then, using either After Effects like I did once before or a new, better suited program for this project, I will put these images together in a rapid sequence that will create the illusion of movement from otherwise immobile objects.

4. What is the scope of your project? How many works will you make? Approximately what will the size be?

Technically my focus is coming together to form one piece, but there are various elements that need to be made that can be included in it. A few of these elements may be able to stand alone as pieces outside of the stop motion piece. These will not be large, in height or width. The stop motion will need to be projected.

5. Create a timeline that indicates when you will have works completed or meet major milestones.

By the end of this week, I should have my first litho completed.

The weekend on to next week, I shall start building the litho into a set while starting the next couple of screenprints.

By the end of next week, the litho should be fully built and prepared for the first filming/shooting while the screenprints are still in progress.

Another litho may be done next month, along with several more screenprints. Meanwhile I will be filming/shooting as I go along with what is completed.

By the end of this semester, I should have most if not all of the stop motion shot. If it is not done, I will be working editing during winter break and taking the very last shots the moment school begins again. I will try hard to get all the shooting done before the break however so I can get all the editing done before classes start again.

6. In your timeline also include when you will likely schedule each of the four required individual crits and the two required group crits.

Hmm...tough. I'm probably going to try to schedule both an individual and group crit for when the first litho set is finished. I will then schedule another individual one after the first shooting/filming is done.

I will schedule crits from then on whenever I have another part added to the stop motion, or I've done a certain amount of prints. I'm going to try to keep the group crits far apart yet still not too close to the end of the semester because if anyone has any suggestions I need a bit of time to follow them if they're good.