Art 211: Introduction to Digital Art


Final Project: Place/Abandon

Artist Statement:

A primary interest in my art-making is the exploration of structures, spaces, and dwellings. This interest is focused on asking what constitutes a structure/dwelling, and what effect this space has on the humans that interacts with it. Place/Abandon explores the physical reality of an abandoned house, juxtaposed with an imagined narrative scene. For the past four years I have walked past this structure and asked it "where have your people gone? And why did they leave in the first place?" Embedded in this act are two discoveries--one, when the structure of a house is no longer in use, it becomes its own entity (it is suddenly more interesting than an inhabited structure), and two, this entity only exists in relationship to the sense of abandonment. When I see an abandoned house, it no longer is a structure built with the simple purpose of protecting humans from the elements, it has become a lost story, a clue to a narrative that I can only imagine. In order to create this sense of a projected narrative, I combined still footage of the house with footage condensed from an eight hour drive. As this moving footage is slowly digitally painted across the entire face of the still house, the viewer is invited to enter the imagined narrative and confront the questions that it asks of them.


Bibliography

Alÿs, Francis. Painting/Retoque. 2008. Photographic documentation of an action. N.p.

In Painting/Retoque, a performative action, Alÿs repainted sixty yellow median strips along a road in the former American Panama Canal Zone. In doing so he created a “found painting in a public space charged with memories of past political conflicts.” I am very drawn to the idea of creating a found painting that deals with some past trauma that is only remembered by a worn down reminder--like a median stripe. In the case of my project, there is only a small, one room, wooden house left on the side of the road in Davidson--worn down, with a broken out window. The owner of the house (who caught me during filming) told me her father lived in the house, but left it abandoned, filled with things that she’s never looked into. Thus, this structure is a great fit for creating my digital “found painting” on the dynamics of abandoning a house/leaving home behind.


Galindo, Regina Jose. Tierra. 2013. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

In Tierra, the artist stands naked in a grassy field, which is soon destroyed by an excavator that digs out the earth around Galindo until she is standing on a small patch of earth with a deep, square ring surrounding her. The Guggenheim notes that in this piece “Galindo alludes to the incident in which innocent citizens were murdered and cold-heartedly buried in a bulldozer-dug mass grave. The stark contrast between the machine’s huge, armored bulk and the artist’s vulnerable body captures the injustice of Montt’s regime.” What moved me the most about this piece was its powerful simplicity. The two components--the artist standing naked and still, and the excavator working constantly to dig the trench around her--work against one another with such a subdued ferocity that upon viewing one could underestimate the conceptual power of this piece. I would like to create a similar juxtaposition of stillness (the front view of the house) with the constant movement of the car-window footage.

Morelli, Didier. Pendu. N.d. Web.

On his website Morelli describes Pendu as “an ongoing performance, which explores the idea of the sports pitch (soccer field) as a site of political and social tension.” In this piece, Morelli walks towards a soccer goal, jumps up and begins to hang from the crossbar. Soon after this initial action, a layer of masked footage begins to play around his body, within the rectangular shape of the goal. The layered footage is a collage of mouths moving while similarly collaged audio, seemingly sampled from political speeches as well as a repeating quote from Mohammed Ali--“float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” This piece is what inspired me to create Place/Abandonment. I am fascinated by the idea of taking footage of real life structures, and then using digital tools to paint over the initial image, bringing in another layer of video that adds more meaning and energy. An important thing I learned from this piece was in how well Morelli creates the mask--it fits perfectly within the goal posts creating a kind of screen that works well in displaying the busy collage footage. Similarly, I was very intentional in how I painted over my initial image of the house in photoshop--I created over 25 different images so that the layered footage would show through in a considered, gradual way across the various forms present in the exterior of the abandoned house.

Paik, Nam June. Electronic Moon No. 2. 1966-1972, 1992. Ubu Web. n.d. Web.

Electronic Moon No. 2 is a collaboration between Nam June Paik and Jud Yalkut. To create this piece, the artists used “both B&W and color 16mm film...footage was captured and electromagnetically distorted...then a second taping was completed, filming the shadows of various objects projected overtop the footage of the moon to create the end product. In Electronic Moon No. 2...the accompanying sound is moonlight serenade by Glenn Miller, a classic sound in contrast to this avant garde media.” I am very drawn to Nam June Paik, and I see this piece as a predecessor to the work I have made. Once again, I think it is very effective to have a more still image (the moon in this case) which is painted upon by a more experimental, moving image. While I think that using footage captured out the window of a car is a little out of the ordinary in terms of what kinds of footage I see used, I definitely would like to explore more experimental treatments of film, in the tradition of Nam June Paik. Furthermore, I chose to use found audio from a highway that I manipulated into a calm, constant, rushing sound. My hope is that the constancy and familiarity of this sound will allow the viewer to sink into the video and not be overwhelmed by it.

Rauschenberg, Robert. Faus. 1984. Photoetching and lithograph. Museum of Modern Art, New York.

I am inspired whenever I see Rauschenberg’s work, and I am especially fascinated by his skill in creating collaged/layered images. The richness and variety in textures and colors that he is able to put in one piece is astounding--he is able to use a large variety, but composes these elements in such a way that they rarely feel overworked or obnoxious. I had similar considerations in creating my video piece in that I had to work with two layers and make sure that these were interacting in a way that worked, and I had to make a lot of editing decisions in what shapes/colors/textures would be included in the car-window layer (I had about 40 minutes of footage that I needed to condense into 4 minutes). For the most part I kept the footage neutral, with a focus on colors and blurred movement, and then chose specific images that I wanted to show through (cars/trucks passing by, RV’s lined up in a parking lot, a mountain top, neon light from a gas station). Furthermore, I worked on making smooth transitions between the different clips I selected by matching up similar blocks of color on the beginning and ends of disparate clips. By doing this, the footage should give a sense of unnerving continuity instead of appearing clearly as several different moments strung together.

Wodiczko, Krzsztof. The Hiroshima Projection. 1999. Public projection at the A-Bomb Dome, Hiroshima, Japan. Galerie Lelong, New York.

On August 7th and 8th, 1999, Wodiczko exhibited a public projection that was cast upon the Atomic Bomb Dome’s wall in Hiroshima. This project included a video projection along with a sound system that comprised of ten loudspeakers. The videos were created from interviews of fifteen atomic bomb survivors, and featured the subject’s hands, which were projected onto the very bottom of the monument, along with the subject’s voice which was played over the loudspeakers. Creating a work of public-structure based art of this magnitude and power is something that I aspire to. In the future I would love to explore similar methods of actually projecting onto structures, but for now, using Photoshop and Premiere is the best way for me to enter a similar aesthetic conversation as Wodiczko. Simplicity is once again a key aesthetic choice, as Wodiczko projects only the hands of the subjects, instead of using the more obvious footage of the explosions, which would have been inflammatory and would not have lifted up the survivors of this trauma--which was his goal.


Modeling the Utopia: The Utilities of the Utopia

Documentation of 3D model + final installation

Bibliography

Berkebile, Bob, Stephen McDowell, and Laura Lesniewski. Flow: The Making of the Omega Center for Sustainable Living at the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies, Rhinebeck, New York. Point Reyes Station, CA: ORO Editions, 2010. Print.

Flow documents the Omega Center for Sustainable Living, one of the world’s first “living buildings”--buildings that so fully incorporate sustainability in their design that they have a net-zero impact on the environment. This book was very influential in making me think about every aspect of how our current architecture negatively impacts the environment and what we can do in future buildings to change these issues. One of the concepts I borrowed from this book was the waste filtration system that Flow calls “the Omega Machine.” In this system, waste is filtered through several different underwater tanks with different kinds of plants, animals, and organisms that are suited for filtration, as well as advanced technology, so that wastewater can be cleaned up on site and reused. My map square incorporates a lot of water space so that this process could be used for the entire city.

"Greenhouses Around the World | Architectural Digest." Architectural Digest. N.p., 31 July 2015. Web.

This article by Architectural Digest shows wonderful examples of greenhouses around the world. I knew that I wanted a public greenhouse structure to be at the top of my building and that I wanted the aesthetic of glass paneling. I looked through this guide to see the many different ways greenhouses have been approached throughout history, around the world, and finally settled on the simplicity of a glass dome.

Ingels, Bjarke, and David Zahle. Amager Resource Center. N.d. Copenhagen, Denmark. BIG. Bjarke Ingels Group. Web. 17 Nov. 2015.

I believe that BIG is one of the most influential and innovative architecture firms in the world. They manage to not only come up with fantastic concepts, but also win competitions and convince stakeholders in order to  actually execute these concepts. One fine example of their work is the Amager Resource Center, a powerplant that is designed as a ski slope for public use. Thus, instead of producing yet another eyesore of a powerplant, BIG created a structure that is useful for the public. I had this lesson in mind when I designed my building as a kind of hill with a greenhouse on the top for public use--I want my building b to serve the community in multiple ways.

Konrad, Tom. "Your Solar Panels Aren't Facing the Wrong Way." Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 22 Nov. 2013. Web.

This article is a helpful introduction to positioning solar panels. According to the study discussed in this article, solar panels facing south gather the most solar energy, but are more likely to put energy back into the grid instead of having it available for use during peak energy consumption hours. Meanwhile, solar panels facing west supply energy that is more accessible during peak energy consumption hours, but do not gather as much solar energy overall. In my design, I would have the majority of solar panels located on the back, south side of the building, because I would want this building to gather as much solar energy as possible, but then I would recommend solar panels being installed in East/West orientations on other buildings in the city so that the energy is more accessible for daily use in more high-traffic buildings.

Nevelson, Louise. Dawn's Wedding Chapel II. 1959. Painted wood. Whitney Museum of American Art, Whitney Museum of American Art.

I vouched for our utopia being painted all white, because Nevelson’s white works seem to me to be the most unified and optimistic. I believe that painting all our buildings white will allow the wide range of design choices made to be unified instead of seeming disconnected and haphazard. I was also inspired by the way Nevelson takes familiar forms and transforms them through accumulation. Thus, I worked with simple shapes like circles, spheres, and basic polygons in order to balance a sense familiarity, with the novelty of accumulation.

Snøhetta. Norwegian National Opera and Ballet. 2000-2008. Architecture, Landscape, and Interior. Oslo, Norway.

The Oslo opera house is another example of innovative contemporary Scandinavian design. This design is notable for its approachable, low slung design which includes a roof that extends all the way to the ground level, this feature invites the public to use the space for walking and sitting and looking out on the water. Snøhetta, the design firm, notes that this building is, “as much landscape as architecture and thus fosters public awareness and engagement with the arts.” This design was another influence on my grassy hill concept. I want my building to function in a similar way where it would become part of the landscape and would be accessible by the public as an area to walk, sit, and be engaged in a public works space.


Video Experiments


How Has My Art 211 Webpage Changed?

In this section I will take you through a brief overview of how my webpage for Art 211 has changed this semester. The first thing necessary to understanding the development of this page, is my decision to "lock-in" to Squarespace. I started out with WordPress and tried many, many different themes but couldn't find anything that was flexible, easy to change without extensive coding ability, and affordable. There were some aesthetically-pleasing paid themes out there, but why put down $50 for a theme that I might not like in a month because it didn't end up working the way I wanted it to? So, while there is a yearly charge to use Squarespace (discounted because of my Davidson College affiliation), and it is somewhat restrictive (i.e. like not being able to use a different theme for subdomains/not being able to put any files up), overall it is the best fit for my design style. The themes are all very well designed and have a lot of flexibility in terms of inserting different types of content.

I originally set up my Art 211 as a "blog" instead of just a "page." This had features like time-stamping and a sidebar where titles of posts could go, as well as a publishing feature. I soon grew to dislike this because I could not delete the sidebar and control the overall look of the page in the way I wanted to. Furthermore, I didn't need to have control over publishing, as I'm not actually blogging.

Since this realization I have gone to a plain "page" format and am exploring the vertical scrolling format and making choices with size of fonts, breaks between sections, and overall layout of the main body of content. I prefer minimal websites that allow the content to be showcased, so I imagine that most of my design choices from here on out will be subtle.


A Few Introductory Thoughts on "You Are Not a Gadget"

What does it mean to be a person? What does it mean to be a person online? What does it mean to be a person while interacting with technology? Jaron Lanier tackles these questions and more in “You Are Not a Gadget” with incredibly thorough, contextual understanding, and clear, approachable, and incisive writing. The issues this book tackles are wide-ranging and complex. Thus, for the purposes of this entry, I will respond to a selection of ideas that I was most captivated by.

 

On Fragments: Anonymous blog comments, vapid video pranks, and lightweight mashups may seem trivial and harmless, but as a whole, this widespread practice of fragmentary, impersonal communication has demeaned interpersonal interaction.

            This is the story of my growing-up on the Internet. I remember a brief period where I took part in free and open interpersonal communication by way of messenger (AIM and later Facebook), but for the most part, my experience has been one of fragments. Shared YouTube videos and articles devolving into GIFS, Vines, listicles, all encountered through impersonal “shares.” I remember I used to send videos and pictures to friends and then discuss them offline at school, but now I mostly learn about peoples beliefs and interests through the fragments of content they choose to share.

 

On Lock-in: The brittle character of maturing computer programs can cause digital designs to get frozen into place by a process known as lock-in. This happens when many software programs are designed to work with an existing one. The process of significantly changing software in a situation in which a lot of other software is dependent on it is the hardest thing to do. So it almost never happens.

            The idea of lock-in is central to this piece. While Lanier can trace certain locked-in structures back to their genesis because he was actively engaged during that time, there are many people of my generation who won’t be able to grasped decisions have been locked in, because it is all we’ve ever known. Humans naturally adapt to their environment, and this is no different in terms of technology. I had never even considered examining the why of the technology I use—and even less the who and when. I connected with two of Lanier’s examples quite well once I examined my own experience.

 

First, being someone who has always had playing music as a part of my life, I was fascinated by the lock-in of the MIDI scheme. I was trained on violin, and thus learned to think of music both in terms of the distinct notes that are printed in a score, but also the color and variety that exists in between. In reality, my teacher and I could both play a C, but the notes we played would not be exactly the same. Furthermore, I recall my first experience with Garageband—I loved the freedom that it gave me to experiment with different “instruments,” but didn’t realize the transition I was making into the world of MIDI, where each key I played corresponded with a single note—regardless if I was playing a keyboard (where this idea makes sense) or a “strings section” (where it does not).

 

Second, I was a bit taken aback by my own mental lock-in when Lanier calls into question the “notion of the file.” Lanier writes,

Once upon a time, not too long ago, plenty of computer scientists thought the idea of the file was not so great. The first design for something like the World Wide Web, Ted Nelson‟s Xanadu, conceived of one giant, global file, for instance. The first iteration of the Macintosh, which never shipped, didn't have files. Instead, the whole of a user‟s productivity accumulated in one big structure, sort of like a singular personal web page. Steve Jobs took the Mac project over from the fellow who started it, the late Jef Raskin, and soon files appeared.

The idea of a file is an integral part of how I interact with computers. I create files in different applications, save them in folders, and share them with others in different ways nearly every day. What would the experience of interacting with a computer even be without files? The fact that I can’t even imagine a world without files illustrates just how locked in files have become—“the file is a set of philosophical ideas made into eternal flesh.”


Performing for the camera: Lift


Bibliography

 Barreras Del Rio, Petra, and John Perreault. Ana Mendieta: A Retrospective. New York: New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1988. 10. Print.

In this exhibition catalog, I found a quote from Ana Mendieta describing her Silueta series in which she says, “My art is the way I re-establish the bonds that unite me to the universe it is a return to the maternal source. Through my earth/body sculptures I become one with the earth…I become an extension of nature and nature becomes an extension of my body.” This last phrase really connected with me—what could I do formally that would connect my body with nature, and make my body some kind of extension? While Mendieta’s Siluetas are much more obvious in their extension of nature, I created several different forms and gestures—extending my body upwards as far as it will go, collapsing to the ground with the fallen branches—that are meant to explore this idea of extension.

Burden, Chris. Through the Night Softly. 1973. B&W Video, Sound. Ubu Web. Web.

I was struck by how simple yet effective this piece is—it is only one angle and limited in its constraints, but it made me very uncomfortable simply because I knew it was real. While I am not interested in going to the lengths that Chris Burden did, I am interested in his basic idea of exploring the limits of the human body. Thus, in my piece I did my best to actually push my physicality and tire myself out. The intention behind this exertion is to bring a sense of authenticity to the work, much in the way that Burden using actual broken glass does in Through the Night Softly.

Horsfield, Kate. "Busting the Tube: A Brief History of Video Art." Feedback: The Video Data Bank Catalog of Video Art and Artist Interviews (2006): n. pag. Www.vbd.org. Video Data Bank. Web.

This is a helpful background on the history of video art and the ways in which it has been adapted and made use of over its relatively brief history. I was especially interested in the relationship to Marshall McLuhan’s ideas of the medium as message, and how the development of the format of video was related to the how messages could be conveyed. I also felt a sort of call to action in the last paragraph in which Horsfield writes “Video art has achieved its greatest success when it parallels and articulates ideas coming out of contemporary cultural, art, and political movements.” Thus, in my piece I attempted to explore the contemporary (and historical) issue of environmentalism and the human relationship to nature.

Mendieta, Ana. Untitled (Silueta Series, Mexico). 1976. Tate Modern, London. Tate. Web.

In this piece we see Mendieta’s outline carved into the sand with a red substance poured in the cavity. I connected with the ephemeral nature of this piece, and the idea that the only way it lives on is through documentation. Similarly, the forms created by my performance only live on through my documentation. Furthermore, I considered the concept of Mendieta’s work as a feminist critique of the land art of her contemporaries, i.e., Michael Heizer. I do not think I was able to address it in the work itself, but I certainly considered my privilege and standing as a white male, and the inherent references to the destruction of nature that my body holds as a symbol.

Morelli, Didier. Walking Through Walls Series. 2011. Video, Sound. Didier Morelli. 2012. Web.

I found two aspects of Morelli’s work to be very useful in developing this piece. One is the awareness of the camera and the idea of admitting its presence to the viewer. I think this is important in video art because unlike in cinematic entertainment, the artist does not need to “fool” the viewer with the screen. It is acceptable, and in my opinion useful, to acknowledge the documentary nature of the camera, and the artist’s physical relationship to it. In response to this idea, I chose to physically replicate a “fade in/fade out” by starting the recording, then removing the lens cap, performing my piece, replacing the lens cap near the end of the piece and then stopping the recording. In doing so, I am acknowledging the camera’s presence. Furthermore, I responded to Morelli’s repetition and physicality in regards to the architecture of a wall by trying a similar physical repetition in repeatedly attempting to lift the fallen tree.

Nauman, Bruce. Wall-Floor Positions. 1968. B&W Video, Sound. Ubu Web. Web.

This piece by Nauman was informative in thinking about the different forms the body can create simply by bending, stretching, leaning, and crouching. This piece is also very impressive in terms of the amount of time Nauman gives each pose/form—this length challenges the viewer to give their attention to what the body is doing and elevates the simplicity of the gestures. Conversely, I chose to spend less time in each of my positions in order to build a sense of frustration and failure.

Sleeper, Clint. Teaching Capitalism to Nature: Wealth of Nations: Book 2: Chapter 11: Part 3: Sections 3 and 4. 2015. Video, Sound. Vimeo. 2015. Web.

This section of Teaching Capitalism to Nature was useful in two ways. First, it made me consider how I composed my shot. In each section of Teaching Capitalism to Nature, Sleeper appears to employ the “rule of thirds” derived from photography in order to create a composition that allows the viewer’s eye to return to the figure amid the complex background of a forest. Similarly, I set up my shot so that the main section of tree trunk visible is placed on the bottom right intersection according to the rule of thirds. Thus, when I go to lift the tree here my body is positioned in such a way that the viewer’s eye is drawn to me amid the visually complex background. Second, my concept is similar to Teaching Capitalism to Nature in that I am considering issues of environmentalism, and attempting an impossible task in nature in hopes that the viewer makes the connection between the futility of my actions and the urgent need of environmental responsibility.

Suzuki, Tadashi. "PHILOSOPHY Suzuki TadashiSuzuki Company of Toga." SCOT Suzuki Company Of TOGA. Web.

I have recently been studying the acting philosophy of Tadashi Suzuki and have been inspired by his concept of “animal” versus “non-animal” energy. Suzuki draws a line between the animal energy produced by the human body, and non-animal energy that has been harnessed by humans to do work (i.e. electricity, nuclear, gas, oil). Suzuki is a proponent of performers focusing on reconnecting with the animal energy inherent in their bodies and exerting this in relation to the physical environment around them. In my piece I attempt to exercise my connection to my own animal energy but ironically fail in celebrating this energy, because the only documentation of this performance is a video that was created and is sustained solely by non-animal energy (the electricity necessary to run the camera). The choice to be barefoot was also derived from the Suzuki method.


Intervening in the internet: American Crystal Sugar Addiction Inc.


Bibliography

Avena, Nicole M., Pedro Rada, and Bartley G. HoebelNeu. "Evidence for Sugar Addiction: Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects of Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake." Evidence for Sugar Addiction: Behavioral and Neurochemical Effects of Intermittent, Excessive Sugar Intake. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, Oct. 2008. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

This journal article provides evidence that sugar acts as an addictive substance. This was very important as my intervention depended on this idea of sugar acting as a drug-like, destructive, and addictive substance.

Boyd, Andrew, and Dave Oswald Mitchell. "Beautiful Trouble." OR Books (n.d.): n. pag. Web.

This class reading provided me with insight on how grass roots movements have used creative measures to facilitate change. I found this piece to be full of insight and inspiration. One of the thoughts that stuck with me through this project was that of creating materials that are “just beautiful enough.”

Ferdman, Roberto A. "How the Sugar Lobby Helps Perpetuate That Sweet Tooth of Yours." Washington Post. The Washington Post, 25 June 2014. Web. 28 Sept. 2015.

This article is an investigation into how the consumer industry is manipulated to a vast extent by the power and money of the Sugar Lobby in Washington, DC.

"Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Sugar (HBO)." YouTube. YouTube, n.d. Web. 22 Sept. 2015.

This piece is a comedic but informative overview on America’s sugar problem. This video sparked my initial ideas and provided several different research lanes to explore.

Lenoir, Magalie, Fuschia Serre, Lauriane Cantin, and Serge H. Ahmed. "Intense Sweetness Surpasses Cocaine Reward." PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science, Aug. 2007. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

This shocking study is one that is often cited in discussions on the addictive quality of sugar. In this study, researchers found that intense sweetness triggered the brain’s reward system to levels that were equivalent and sometimes greater than those triggered by cocaine.

"Sugar Cane & Sugar Beets - Top Contributers." Opensecrets. Center for Responsive Politics, n.d. Web. 25 Sept. 2015.

This is a helpful glimpse into some of the money spent by sugar organizations in lobbying efforts. After deciding that the Sugar Association’s website was not going to work well for this project, I cross-referenced this list with website results in order to find a suitable target. It just so happened that the America Sugar Crystal Company had spent the most money and had the most useful website structure.

Taubes, Gary. "Is Sugar Toxic?" The New York Times. The New York Times, 16 Apr. 2011. Web. 5 Sept. 2015.

This article presents an extremely thorough look at the many different substances grouped under the name “sugar,” and examines research on how these different substances effect the body in different ways.

"U.S. Food and Drug Administration." Factsheet on the New Proposed Nutrition Facts Label. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Sept. 2015.

This is an important development from the FDA—new labeling guidelines are being proposed that would require the amount of “added sugar” in a food item to be presented on the label as a separate item from the pre-existing “sugar” category. Many food organizations involved with the sugar industry are fighting this proposal, so it was important for me to understand what was actually being proposed.


Photoshop Collage + Animation: Many Body Problem Kaleidoscope



Many Body Problem Kaleidescope

Art history has always been about the body in one way or another.

What would happen if bodies from all over art history were to meet/collide?

Which bodies have been celebrated? Which have been abused?

Which have been included, and which have been pushed to the margins?

Bibliography

Arcangel, Cory. Super Mario Clouds. 2002. Screen shot from hacked Super Mario game. N.p.

Category: New media artist. By manipulating an existing piece of technology, a Super Mario cartridge from Nintendo in this case, Cory arcangel creates a piece that is at once nostalgic and unsettling. Instead of the main figure of Mario running and jumping around obstacles, there is merely a blue sky with clouds scrolling by. I selected this piece in order to build up the background of my piece (playing on the backgrounds of traditional pastoral paintings), as well as explore the idea of a world where there are initially no bodies present.

Atkins, Ed. Warm, Warm, Warm Spring Mouths. 2013. Video. MoMA, n.p.

Category: New media artist. This image is a screenshot from an animation by British artist,

Ed Atkins. The animation shifts between several otherworldly scenes featuring a strangely colored avatar floating in some kind of underwater space. As I consider the idea of bodies colliding in an imaginary space, I was drawn to this image for the strange and fascinating body suspended in a digital space, as well as the use of a text that speaks again both to the body and to movement and collision. 

Basquiat, Jean-Michel. Self-Portrait. 1982. Acrylic, crayon. Private Collection, n.p.

Category: Digital image selection. Working as a painter in New York City in the 1980’s before his early death, Jean-Michel Basquiat was both a legitimate star in the art world, and also a tokenized black figure. Although his compositions were highly skilled, many wanted to understand his work as a sort of primitivism. I selected this self-portrait as a way to speak to one of the types of bodies that has traditionally been unheard in the art world—the artist who is a person of color.  It is appropriate that Basquiat painted himself as simple figure with no features and no specific identity.

Bearden, Romare. Evening 9:10, 461 Lenox Avenue. 1964. Collage. The Van Every/Smith Galleries, n.p.

          Category: Artist found in Davidson Collection. Although known for his paintings that featured black figures, this collage by Romare Bearden fascinated me. When talking about his earlier landscape collages Bearden said that they depicted the “landscape of [his] imagination.” Thus, this collage of black figures playing cards in Harlem seems to be an imaginary meeting of different bodies—a meeting that seems warm and friendly, but also resonates displacement due to the choppy nature of the collage. In breaking up this piece for use in my collage I am furthering this displacement—an action all too common in the history of African Americans in this country.

Boticelli, Sandro. The Birth of Venus. 1486. Tempera on canvas. Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy.

          Category: Digital image selection. Venus—the goddess of love, beauty, sex, and prosperity, and, one would think, the ideal body. I turned to Boticelli’s painting of the birth of Venus (an image that has reached the top tier of widely recognized images) to represent the idealized female body. She is white, fair, impossibly proportioned and positioned, and has no flaws. She is part of a fantasy composition in which every body is floating and there is no distinct light source. In an interesting nod to European decency, Boticelli also chose to depict the goddess of sex and fertility covering her pubic region with her bright red hair.

Collins, Dan. Twister. 1995-2012. 3D laser scanned figure, CNC cut urethane, resin, 84" high. Datong Sculpture Museum, Datong, China.

          Category: New media artist. Based off a digital model created by the artist using an early whole body scanner in 1995, Twister is a set of just-over life-sized sculptures made from a mixture of polyester resin, crushed marble, talc and pigment. What fascinated me about this sculpture the most was the process it went through from human body, to digital scan, to digital model, to cast mold, to physical model. To me it speaks of  the ways in which new media can explore the body, and shift back and forth between the digital and physical world.

Coplans, John. Self-Portrait (Back with Arms Above). 1984. Photograph, black and white, on paper. Tate Modern, London.

          Category: Digital image selection. In this photograph by John Coplans, the body becomes a bizarre monolith block with fists protruding out from the top. As in all of Coplans work of this kind, the head and face are not visible. Coplans has written that his work is about “body politics,” and an investigation into the ways in which youth is worshipped in America, and oldness is taboo and despised. Because the old body shows age, imperfection, and disease, it is often pushed into hiding. I leveraged this idea of the elderly body being one of the kinds of bodies that are hidden by hiding it in my composition, with only the fists still visible.

Da Vinci, Leonardo. Vitruvian Man. 1490. Pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper. Gallerie Dell'Accademia, Venice, Italy.

          Category: Digital image selection. I chose the Vitruvian Man as the male counterpart to Boticelli’s Venus. The title is, of course, dedicated to Vitruvius, the ancient Roman architect who determined the “ideal” human proportions in his treatise, De Architectura. To this day, this single sketch is immediately an image that is associated with what the human body should look like. By declaring this body perfect, however, we also classify other dissimilar bodies as imperfect or non-ideal. I’m also interested in this image because despite depicting the ideally proportioned man, when isolated from its frame the figure becomes a sort of alien creature with two sets of arms and legs.

Degas, Edgar. The Tub. 1885-86. Pastel. Hillstead Museum, Farmington, Connecticut.

          Category: Digitized from book.

According to the Hillstead Museum, this painting was created during Degas’ preparation for the impressionists final exhibition in 1886. The elevated perspective of the viewer is important because, according to Degas, this gives the effect of “one watching her through a keyhole.” This voyeuristic male gaze is unnerving but common enough that it is normalized.

De Kooning, Willem. Woman, I. 1950-52. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York.

The MoMA has a fascinating note on Woman, I that reads, “combining voluptuousness and menace, Woman I reflects the age-old ambivalence between reverence for and fear of the power of the feminine.” Thus, this painting is a good example of a society’s respect and fear, admiration and disgust of the female body. It is both captivating and grotesque.

Category: Digital image selection.

Delacroix, Eugène. Liberty Leading the People. 1830. Oil on canvas. Louvre, Paris.

Liberty Leading the People is Delacroix’s iconic representation of the Paris uprising of July, 1830. Delacroix uses bodies in this piece to depict victory by creating a “pyramidal composition,” on top of a type of “pedestal” made from corpses, featuring the Greek-inspired, female, allegorical figure of Liberty at the front bearing the French flag.

          Category: Digitized from book.

Dumas, Marlene. Magdalena 2. 1996. Ink on paper. Tate Modern, London.

In the Magdalena series Dumas is exploring the figure of Mary Magdalene. I was drawn to this series because of the calm brushstrokes of the body, and due to Dumas’ fascinating description of the series in which she states, “I also liked the fact that this woman wants this man and he says “no.” My men are often supposedly “feminine” while my women are more “masculine” (if you want to use these distinctions still).”        

Category: Digital image selection.

Frankenthaler, Helen. Bay Side. 1967. Acrylic on canvas. André Emmerich Gallery, New York, New York.

 

          Category: Digitized from book.

Gauguin, Paul. Day of the God (Detail 1). 1894. Oil on canvas. Art Institute of Chicago, Bartlett Collection, Chicago.

          Category: Digitized from book.

Gauguin, Paul. Day of the God (Detail 2). 1894. Oil on canvas. Art Institute of Chicago, Bartlett Collection, Chicago.

          Category: Digitized from book.

Gauguin, Paul. Yellow Christ. 1889. Oil on Canvas. Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.

Category: Digitized from book.

Gulan, Genco. Hello, 2015. Sculpture with a Robotic Arm. 2015. Sculpture, robotic arm. Variable dimensions. Unknown Collection, n.p.

Category: New media artist.

Matisse, Henri. Dedicace from Poesies Antillaises. 1946-53. Lithograph. The Van Every Smith Galleries, n.p.

Category: Artist found in Davidson Collection.

Michelangelo. Day. 1526-34. Marble. Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy.

Category: Digitized from book.

Michelangelo. Night. 1526-34. Marble. Church of San Lorenzo, Florence, Italy.

Category: Digitized from book.

Munch, Edvard. Kvinnen II (The Woman II). 1895. Drypoint, line etching, and open bite on copperplate. The Van Every/Smith Galleries, n.p.

Category: Artist found in Davidson Collection.

 

O'Keeffe, Georgia. Black Iris. 1926. Oil on canvas. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York.

Category: Digitized from book.

O'Keeffe, Georgia. Blue and Green Music. 1919. Oil on canvas. Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago.

Category: Digitized from book.

O'Keeffe, Georgia. Jack-in-the-Pulpit IV. 1930. Oil on canvas. Formerly in the Collection of Georgia O'Keeffe, n.p.

Category: Digitized from book.

Picasso, Pablo. Les Demoiselles D'Avignon. 1907. Oil on canvas. Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York.

          Category: Digital image selection.

Rees, Michael. Images from Putto 2x2x4 Animation. 2005. Animation. Michael Rees Archive, n.p.

Category: New media artist.          

Rees, Michael. Putto 2x2x2. 2003. Fiberglass. Michael Rees Archive, n.p.

Category: New media artist.

Roth, Dieter. Bats. 1978. Offset prints. The Van Every/Smith Galleries, n.p.

Category: Artist found in Davidson Collection.

Turner, J. M. W. Burning of the Houses of Parliament. 1835. Oil on canvas. The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, Ohio.

          Category: Digitized from book.

Turner, J. M. W. Snowstorm: Hannibal and His Army Crossing the Alps. 1812. Oil on canvas. Tate Gallery, London.

          Category: Digitized from book.