Thursday, October 29, 2009

Reading 9 - Warhol, Samaras, Art 21

I thought the reading of quotes of Warhol on himself was very interesting. I've never done any formal research to speak of on Andy Warhol. So I was glad to get a candid glimpse of his perspective on his own work and its message and also more importantly, what its message is not, because of how influential and critiqued his work has been. The Art 21 videos I continue to find similarly interesting - I feel we (or at least I) get a lot out of personal interviews with contemporary artists. It changes the meaning of a lot of the gallery works I've seen and hearing things straight from the artists' mouth offers the perfect explanation/perspective. Hiroshi Sugimoto, a japanese artist from one of the episodes was of particular interest. He is a photographer and "craft" artist who shoots and develops almost entirely in large format film using natural light and is very set in this medium (and of course extremely proficient). Art 21 featured one of his architecture series' in which he photographed famous buildings that are now somewhat old and dilapidated, but he shot them out of focus so that all of the imperfections of the buildings blended away. I thought this was a genius way of implementing out of focus photography and now that I have been shooting a lot of out of focus work, I can appreciate the subtleties of blur in an image and his use of large format which may, to some, seem a bit overkill.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Artist Statement (Revised 1)

My name is Brandon Rodkewitz. I developed a strong interest in conveying my world through photography from relatively early age. My education has provided me with a healthy experience and appreciation for the foundation and the history of my primary medium, and I have fully embraced the digital age. I love the way that the lens and frame can direct the viewer’s eye and mind. As an artist I am by far my harshest critic. I have high self-expectations from my work and a piece that I personally find to be successful is both rewarding and motivating. The primary goal of my work is to help others view things in a way in which they have never seen before – my works have been both widely interpretable, and focused and informational.
Currently my work has been an attempt to visualize the way(s) in which we develop ideas – visual representations of what one sees as a thought or idea in one’s mind becomes clearly evident. This “pre-clarity” is a combination of our subconscious as well as sensory stimuli – much of which we disregard or forget about once the idea is clear and formulated. I feel it is a valuable tool for one to have a ready knowledge of how one’s ideas come about.

Readings 7 & 8 - Communist Manifesto Response (full text)

Marx’s Communist Manifesto is a publication that intended to clear up misconceptions about communism that were developing among the public. It was meant to explain the theories, goals, and intents of the growing communist party in a way that the public could better understand. Marx argues that up until the text’s contemporary time in history, class struggles had always been an evolving part of our economic history. It was only until this time that these class struggles and suppression of the lower class(es) was “masked” behind things like religion, and now that the people can supposedly see exactly what’s going on, a communist revolution is inevitable that will end class struggles forever. Marx spends most of the first two sections discussing this development through history, and the details of how the proletariat is oppressed and used by the bourgeoisie as a “commodity”. He then discusses the Communists’ relation to the proletariat and some of the misconceptions that have developed. The third and fourth sections consist mainly of what in simplified terms would be his proposals. The types of socialism and communism, and how he believes the progression will take place.

Marx and his party’s theories are all rooted in a very fact-based interpretation of history. However I feel that Marx failed to consider a number of other factors for the propulsion of this continuing class struggle, seeing it almost exclusively from an economic point of view. Religion, cultural factors, and probably most importantly basic human nature are things Marx did not fully consider.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Reading 6 - Marx for Beginners

The Marx For Beginners reader was quite a bit more complicated than Freud. Understandably so, however, when one considers the depth and breadth of Marx’s philosophies. The author’s preface was surprisingly heedful because even he admits he still has more to understand. There were hundreds of terms to breakdown and the author struggled to reduce the number of them without reducing the definitions of the ideas. For me some of the most interesting material was the number of pages devoted to the history of philosophy. While the illustrations were less complex than in Freud, the book gave a very good summary of the entire history of the evolution of religion, philosophy, metaphysics, mechanics, etc leading up to Marx’s time and contemporary schools of thought. I was surprised to learn that Marx had such a huge breadth of work. And I think it’s interesting when considering his theories, to consider his personal life and the hardships that he faced due to lifelong poverty.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Reading 5 - Uncanny

Freud discusses an important concept for artists in this reading, but I was not particularly amused by the sandman story. I never really knew much about the "sandman" or the actual bedtime story, but I had no idea it was so violent and grotesque!

In any event, the idea that anything we perceive can become "real" if we perceive it as being such, is important. It is a tool we can use as artists to evoke emotion or reaction from our viewers, and one that we ourselves can use when sourcing inspiration.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Whitney Museum Response

I thought most of the art we saw at the Whitney Museum was worthwhile. It was hard to try and cover everything, even without a time limit. I found Georga O’Keeffe’s paintings probably the most visually appealing. And they were probably most closely related to the kind of work I’m looking to produce this semester in the class. The number of paintings on display however was somewhat overwhelming, so I regret not having spent more time with a greater number of the works. I think the museum should have chosen a selection of the pieces to show rather than everything it had.
Dan Graham’s work was probably the most fun for me. His exhibition offered up a lot of very minimalist pieces playing on form, space and reflection. I thought his execution of idea was very well done, and I can appreciate the museum’s collaboration with the artist and the amount of work that goes into setting up an exhibition like his. The work was playful, and I wasn’t the only one who seemed amused by some of the work. Even one of the museum attendants was jovial in informing me that I could actually walk into one of the works.
The most thought provoking piece of the trip for me was my last stop back on the first floor – “Play Pause”. It was thought provoking for me not because of its content, but again in execution. The content itself was entertaining, but I sort of lost the artist’s track after a little past the halfway point of the movie. What really caught and kept my attention was Saide Benning’s implication of video as a medium. There was very little actual motion picture in the movie at all. It was mostly crude and simple hand drawings in slides timed to the soundtrack (whose acoustics greatly enhanced the piece overall). Even color was used sparingly. I was therefore surprised at how incredibly effective the movie was with such an elemental approach, and I’ll certainly keep this in mind in my own work in the future. It’s no secret that effective art isn’t necessarily complicated. But I’m not sure I’ve ever seen video employed this well with such simplicity before.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Readings 2 & 3 - Sourcing Inspiration

The article on external sourcing presented a number of artists and how they use external sources to generate their work. Some artists react to any number of things in their surroundings as I'm sure many of us do as well. Others hone in on a particular issue or subject matter that is very personally important to them. William Kentridge's work was particularly interesting to me both conceptually a visually. His art spans multiple mediums from theatre and puppetry, to film and drawing. But his subject matter primarily relates to events that he has personally experienced and has been very affected by...

So, is Kentridge's "external" inspiration truly external? Or does much of his work stem from his internalizing of these political and social events? He obviously has a deep reaction to the political events that are and have occured in South Africa, and his work is dark and tormented. I'm willing to argue that truly external sourcing of one's inspiration alone leads to superficial artwork. If art is going to make me think (which, after all, is the point of most modern art), it has to hit home. It has to be internalized, digested.

Further, without an internal component present in Kentridge's work, what would happen when his primary external source ceases to exist? Does he cease to make art? Or does the same internal drive that sparked his reactions to South African events move on to something else? Currently much of Kentridge's art investigates a similar situation that had occured in Russia.

I think these last two articles raised as many questions for me as they answered. And more importantly I think that they failed in their attempt to separate internal and external sources of inspiration.

Check out William Kentridge's video discussed at length in the article, "History of The Main Complaint". What an awesome way to make an animation - by reworking the same charcoal drawings, leaving traces from previous frames behind.