Posts in the Precedents/Inspiration category

Last night I attended a the Works and Process series at the Guggenheim. I had never been to one of these performances, but have known about them for a while. The program featured three different choreographers embodied the theme “Voices of the Americas”. What I appreciated most about this program, was that each piece was followed by a moderated Q&A with the artist. Regardless of the medium, looking into an artist’s process is always informative, especially when I am currently developing and working through a process of my own.

The one piece that really struck me was a collaboration between choreographer Jonah Bokaer and multimedia artist Anthony Goicolea. There was a unique marriage between the movement and the design of the piece (which included the costumes, sets, and overall aesthetic) all which embodied a subdued, monotone feel to it. There was a sense of ritual as four male dancers, who looked almost like identical quadruplets, led each other through a forest of gold leaf trees. In the center of the stage was a gold platform, in which the dancers precariously balanced on, testing their limits on an unsteady surface.

I was previously familiar with a lot of Bokaer’s work, as he is very interested in the merging of new media and performance. However, after seeing the performance, I looked into the visual work of Goicolea. I was surprised to see that his work grapples with themes similar to the ones that I have been exploring in my thesis prototyping, childhood, family genealogy, reflection. In most of his work, Goicolea dresses up like a young boy, and creates photographed scenarios reenacting moments of childhood. The photographs usually contain multiple versions of himself, creating an illusion that defies space and time. How is it that one can exist in many spaces at once? Perhaps they represent the different facets of the self, all experiencing something different from the same situation.

None the less, both the performance and the work I researched later were thought provoking and inspiring. I have made myself a promise to see art at LEAST once a week from here on out.

In scouring the internet, and also being sent things from people who know the direction my thesis is taking, I found several different projects that I feel relate in some way to the work I’ve been making. I figure there is no point in keeping them to myself, so I might as well post to my blog. Even if nobody reads it.

Christophe Behrens :: Compression Series

Digital artist, Christophe Behrens, worked on a piece almost 10 years ago entitled Compression Series. Interested in compression algorithms, Behrens developed a series of portraits that celebrated the pixelated compressed images on the web. The project was an investigation in web standards, and using a text editor to modify and manipulate the image data. I am interested in the final aesthetic chosen for this work. The notion of pixelated images, generally have negative connotations of poor quality and little detail, but those are the exact metaphors I am looking to explore in my own work. Also, I am interested in learning more about manipulating images with programs other than image editors and am currently doing more research about those topics.

William Basinski :: dlp 3

Musician and composer William Basinkski digitized a series of old cassette tapes, capturing the sound a deteriorating medium. Due to the age of the tapes, much of the information had disintegrated, leaving Basinkski with a literal translation of decay and mortality. I love this notion of capturing a real process in life that translates itself quite literally without being cliche. The sounds are haunting yet beautiful, mirroring the cycle of life.

Ishac Bertran :: Linyl

Bertran set out to design a record that would play “memories” instead of music. He developed a system where a color pallet was extracted from a specific photograph, then turned into a pattern which was printed on the record. These colors were then analyzed to generate music. While I love the idea of creating audio based on memories and/or images, I felt that the sounds produced were not abstracted enough. They felt almost too melodic. I also feel like it would be interesting to see the images that the records were derived from. This way we could compare the feeling of the memory/image to the sound of the record.

In his series Memory Pieces, Jim Campbell explores the notion memory through inherent bodily rhythm and personal artifacts. His specific work, Photo of My Mother, uses his breathing as the “memory” which alters the viewer’s perception of a photograph. Campbell previously recorded himself breathing for one hour. The duration of each recorded breath is then used to alter a piece of fogged glass in front of the photograph. With each breath, the glass becomes foggy and then transparent, simulating the act of breathing upon a glass surface.

What Campbell has achieved is a dual commentary. In one sense, he reminds us that our memories of certain things become “foggy” over time. He also speaks to the inherent routines that our body completes. We never have to remember to breath, it simply happens naturally. For me, this duality is powerful. This piece makes me question if I have any control over what I will remember or forget. Perhaps my body subconsciously makes it own decisions.

How can someone’s existence in a certain place be documented and revisited? I believe this is one of the core questions of Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s interactive installation Under Scan. Installed in a public plaza, Lozano-Hemmer sets up an elaborate system of cameras and projectors to create this interactive experience. As people walk through the space, the cameras are able to detect the public’s movement. The program is able to predict where people will be in the future and places projections within their paths. Portraits of other people are scaled and aligned to be displayed inside the shadows of the public. One is then able to explore the space, looking for the “hidden” projections of other people.

The installation is dependent on its viewers to activate the space. I find this idea exciting, engaging a dialogue through the relationship between the viewer and the media. In addition, the interaction encourages the audience to question the space and people who have occupied it previously. Information about the past is learned through present exploration.

Musician Patrick Lidell, decided to partake on an experiment. He recorded a video using his computer’s webcam, uploaded it to YouTube, and then downloaded it. He repeated this process 1,000 times, achieving some very interesting results. YouTube uses a certain codec when uploading content, and this compresses both the video and audio components of the file. With each download, the file became more compressed, loosing pieces of its information. By the 1,000th download all definition is lost. The video is a blur of colored shapes where all of the pixels blend into one another. The audio too is completely distorted, creating a cacophony of muffled tones and noise.

I find the results to be fascinating. The piece itself speaks to massive amount of content that our society is sharing online. We choose to post content so that it can be immortalized and preserved. We believe that what we upload is being presented in the form that we intended, but in fact the content is being slowly destroyed.

Art21 : Memory

So I decided to hunt around the interwebs for some fine art inspiration, since the majority of my prototypes have been heading in that direction. I came across this site, Art21, who had an hour long documentary about four different artists who have been using memory as a theme in their work. I sat down and watched it, and was very inspired.

The documentary followed the work of four artists: Susan Rothenberg, Mike Kelley, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and Josiah McElheny. I was amazed at how different these artists were both in the art they make and their process. However, it was their approach to using memory as an impetus in their work which I found most fascinating. 

In Rothenberg’s current work, there is a sense of displacement and longing. She recently transplanted herself from her studio in New York City, to the South West. The landscape couldn’t be more different, and this change has ultimately had an affect on her work. You can see a longing in her work, and she attempts to capture the essence of the city she left behind. She spoke about how the move changed her ability to produce paintings in a series. No longer are ideas explored over a period of several years. One of two paintings about a particular subject and she moves on.

I was very inspired by mixed-media artist, Mike Kelley. In one of his works, “13 seasons”, Kelley reproduces old sketches that he made when he was first studying art. His process became about the parts he couldn’t remember, and leaving them blank. In another work, “Day is Done, he builds 3-D models of the all the schools and homes he lived in from memory. All the details he can’t recall are left as literal holes. For Kelley, his inspiration is in exploring his past. I feel that the work I have been creating of late stems from a similar vein; motivating from personal experiences to express a larger theme.

Hiroshi Sugimoto continues to use some of the earliest techniques in the field, not giving in to modern day digital imaging. He believes that this is the way to take the best pictures. He talks about photography being the “fossilization of time”. I found that to be so poignant, thinking about how true that statement actually is. It made me think about creating fossils of my artifacts, as a way of preserving my past. It is an idea I am interesting in exploring.

Sculptor, glass blower, installation artist, Josiah McElheny, takes a very different approach in his notions of memory. In his exhibit, “Total Reflective Abstraction”, McElheny creates a series of rooms all filled with reflective sculptures on reflective surfaces. This creates a seemingly infinite commentary on the past. He says that his “work is a memory of objects…derived from a previous source.” The idea of reflection as memory is one I haven’t thought of. I guess I find reflection to be more subjective and critical, where simply remembering is one of experiencing the past.

This is an earlier dance work produced by the Danish Dance Theather, in collaboration with programmers Ole Kristensen and Jonas Jongejan, entitled Body Navigation. Unlike the other software, which was developed using OpenFrameworks, all the technology for this performance was built in Processing.

This suite of 3 duets, was developed at an installation exploring the relationships between “wo/man and technology”. I believe that this was one of their first collaborations and explorations into the world of dance/technology, and I feel like that were able to create some very interesting interactions. My personal favorite is the human pong, in which two dancers move their paddles based on their movements within a particular space. For me this interaction allows the technology to play more of an active role, rather than the passive/decorative role I had seen it play in later works.

My friend Richert posted this on my facebook ball yesterday, and I was so excited to get to watch it. It was obvious to me who the technical/creative master mind was behind the interactive visuals of this music video.

Frieder Weiss, came to the New School last year and did a workshop on his interactive software, EyeCon, which he developed himself. He was on tour with the Australian dance company Chunky Move, presenting their newest work Mortal Engine at BAM. The style and aesthetic that Frieder Weiss is able to incorporate into his work is amazing. Like everything that I have seen of his, the work is beautiful and exciting. It was nice to see it incorporated into a slightly different context with the Kylie Minogue video. The technology itself was “choreographed” during the post-production process, through editing. Enjoy!

I came across this music video early this summer, and was just completely enthralled with its surrealistic narrative. I think overall the video is just beautiful and touches upon the qualities that make us all unique individuals. Also the way in which the video approaches sexuality, as a complex and strange thing, is refreshing to see. I have never heard of the band PAG before, or the director Roy Raz, but I will continue to look out for both of their work.

I’m not sure what inspires me so much about this video, but I find myself coming back to it. Perhaps it is the bizarre approach to composition and narrative that is tackled. I love the abstraction, the strangeness, the eroticism, its starkness…really everything about it.