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Archive for the ‘visual arts’ Category

The Underbelly Project: Hiding in the Light, Painting in the by Dark Jeff Ferrell

In art, history of art, visual arts on August 19, 2014 at 03:03

From: The Underbelly Project: Hiding in the Light, Painting in the by Dark Jeff Ferrell, Rhizomes, www.rhizomes.net

A few years ago, New York City street artist and artiste provocateur PAC was out doing what street artists sometimes do: drinking. As the night wound down and the drinks added up, a guy PAC had met earlier in the evening asked him if he wanted “to go somewhere cool.” PAC soon enough found himself in a cavernous, never completed, long-abandoned New York City subway station, four stories below street level. “I woke up the next morning feeling like I might have dreamt it all,” PAC remembers. But it wasn’t a dream. It was the beginning of what was to become the Underbelly Project. 

IMG_2254In this sense, the Underbelly Project is, if nothing else, some next stumbling step in the evolution of street art and its relation to the gallery world and the “world in general”—kind of like Australian artist Strafe’s stumbling step over and off a subway platform in the middle of the night, in the dark, while painting in the Underbelly. In fact, the trajectory of art culture right up to the Underbelly can itself be seen as a long drunken stumble, replete with thieving, borrowing, occupying, screwing up, and generally mining mistakes and missteps. Looking back from the perspective of the present, from inside art history books and well-mannered museums and galleries, it can seem like it was all straight and honest and clean: new ideas, individual brilliance, a firm march toward beauty or enlightenment or profit. In reality, the whole thing has been more a matter of picking up the scraps, and figuring out ways to make those bits and pieces into something that matters. Dada artist Hannah Hoch recycling the fashion photographs that crowded her little Berlin magazine office in the 1920s into a confrontation with the horrors of World War I, Trinidadians transforming old fifty-five gallon oil drums into Caribbean steel drum music, hip hop pioneers digging through old records, cutting and mixing James Brown yelps and Clyde Stubblefield drum solos to invent a new form of global music and culture—time and again art’s forward momentum has run on what was around, with the only question being what to make of it. Then there’s Kandinsky, Man Ray, Duchamp, Rauschenberg, Pollock, de Kooning—all artists whose breakthrough works, we now know, emerged out of mistakes and misperceptions, out of cracked printing presses and broken picture tubes (Lovelace, 1996). So as I say, it strikes me that mounting a multi-year, international art project in an abandoned subway station four stories underground, sans legality or audience or fresh air, in violation of the norms of contemporary gallery art and artistic profitability, and with no certain prospects as to what it might become, constitutes just one more gorgeous mistake, one more moment of making do with what’s at hand and under foot, one more stumbling step toward…well, toward what?

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Reposted with permission from: Rhizomes

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We Are the Weather by Brian Kuan Wood

In art, economy, North America, philosophy, society, visual arts on December 4, 2013 at 20:47

From: We Are the Weather by Brian Kuan Wood, e-flux, http://www.e-flux.com

The sublime of the nineteenth century was described by Kant as the feeling of watching an avalanche from a distance. A glacier crumbles, a frozen world breaks down, creating awe and shock and awe again, pleasure and horror at the same time—but always at a remove. Today the sublime of the nineteenth century has gone haywire. It’s more like a monster wave. A tsunami as freeze frame. A twister exhaling in slow motion, collapsing a block of South Asian textile factories. A moment of exhilarated foam suspended high up then crashing down to devastate your lives terminally. The razor-sharp spike of an algorithm when it crests, just barely high enough to brush up against the inside of the bubble.

The distance between the observer and the disaster has disappeared. In fact the observer and the disaster might even be the same thing. It’s as if when one bubble bursts, another one expands to become the atmosphere itself. We are standing above the remains and the rubble of the first, but still inside another enclosure that arrives as some sort of psychotic causality. Is there a way out of the market or are we only trapped inside with no escape? Yes and yes! The trouble has to do with being liberated and newly imprisoned in such quick succession. You are watching the storm and being blown and carried away by it at the same time. This is why you may often feel that you’re in competition with yourself, or that you are not yourself at all. You may be a wanderer above the mist, but you are also in the mist.2 The Caspar David Friedrich painting went gray. You think you may be God himself, but you still need Google Maps to find your way through the mist. The wanderer lost his phone and is just trying to get to a restaurant.

In the aftermath of the financial crisis, Wall Street firms made some very interesting adjustments. It is well known that after slashing jobs by the thousands, salaries and bonuses for individual executives reached record highs. But how is this possible? Did executives simply stuff their own pockets with bailout money? Well, yes, but only through a much larger systemic adjustment by which Wall Street firms essentially diverted money away from infrastructure and support staff, clearing the way for a slimmer workforce of highly gifted, self-sufficient, and well-paid geniuses.

Around the same time as the crash, while artists and art institutions feared the worst, many have been surprised to find the field of art as a whole thriving, even in spite of savage cuts to public funding nearly everywhere. Institutionalized austerity seems to remake the artist into a carrier of a much more important technology—one that it becomes increasingly necessary to understand and access. And the sensitive artist still guilty from being an agent of property speculation and gentrification during the boom years of the creative class may not have seen the ruins of that cutesy economy in cities like Dublin.3 As a vanguard of resilience in the face of impoverishment, the artist who beautified low-income or derelict neighborhoods has only more to give, because he or she is also an originator of extra-economic technologies, of ways of living inside and outside of economic relations, of the conquering genius of exemplary survival, with some misshapen idealism that pours forth seemingly endlessly, with or without resources, over and above demands and expectations.

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Reposted with permission from: e-flux

The Guardians: Tamara Natalie Madden

In art, culture, North America, visual arts on October 21, 2013 at 05:13

From: The Guardians by Karolle Rabarison: Interview with Tamara Natalie Madden, The Morning News, www.themorningnews.org

Jamaican-born Tamara Natalie Madden is a painter, writer, and photographer based in Atlanta. Her work has appeared in outlets such as the New York Times, the Jamaican Gleaner, and Upscale Magazine. Her paintings are in the permanent collections of Vanderbilt University and London’s Bridgeman Art Library.
The Morning News:

KEEPEROFILLUSIONSTMNLike you, I emigrated to the States at a young age, and people often ask if I feel more attached to—or more a part of—one country’s culture over the other’s. To which country, Jamaica or the U.S., do you feel you most belong?

Tamara Natalie Madden:

I feel 100% connected to Jamaica. I was not embraced when I came to America and had difficulty adjusting. I faced culture shock and a battle to maintain my identity. As a young child, I did not have a choice in coming to America, so I kept Jamaica in the safest place that I knew—my heart. Over the years, I have developed many solid relationships with people in America, some that I couldn’t do without, but I am inherently connected to my country and my people, and no matter where I live or how long I have been gone, I am very proud to call Jamaica home.


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Reposted with permission from: The Morning News

The Death of Romance in the Shadow of the Colossus by Jesse Miksic

In anthropology, art, history, mythology, technology, visual arts on October 13, 2013 at 18:05

From: The Death of Romance in the Shadow of the Colossus by Jesse Miksic, Berfrois, http://www.berfrois.com

Myths have no life of their own. They wait for us to give them flesh. If one man in the world answers their call, they give us their strength in all its fullness. We must preserve this myth, and ensure that its slumber is not mortal so that its resurrection is possible. (Albert Camus, Prometheus in the Underworld, 1947)

We are drowning in myths.

Of course, I don’t mean myths like primitive folk stories transcribed in anthropology textbooks, transmitted in a way that no shaman could have foreseen. Those myths are under glass, specimens preserved for our edification and amusement. Some commentators – like the great Claude Levi-Strauss – didn’t bother acknowledging any other definition of the term.

I’m talking about myths in a more general sense… myths as stories that tie our random, noisy, contingent lives into meaningful narratives. These myths may serve as articles of faith, or as aspirations codified into archetypes, or as warnings to those who would repeat our half-remembered mistakes. I’m talking about myths as the semantic sinew connecting our individual identities with our groaning, patchwork collective consciousness.

This is an essay about how a particular video game – an acclaimed 2005 adventure game called Shadow of the Colossus – unmistakably echoes Romanticism (specifically, German Romanticism and its related movements). Quite a bit of second-hand research has gone into this analysis, and I’m ecstatic about the results, but the whole mess would have very little meaning if I wasn’t talking about something bigger than a particular reading of a particular game, according to this particular player at this particular moment.

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Reposted with permission from: Berfrois

Adventure on the Vertical by Mark Dorrian

In books, film, North America, photography, theory, visual arts on April 24, 2013 at 07:39

From: Adventure on the Vertical by Mark Dorrian, Cabinet, http://cabinetmagazine.org

Introducing W. Watson-Baker’s 1935 book, World Beneath the Microscope, the English artist and critic William Gaunt wrote:

We are no longer so excited as formerly by the account of trips on the surface … The mind is stretched, uncomfortably sometimes, but with a new fascination, to speed and profundity, to the thought of worlds that lie a million light-years away from us, to the worlds that recede in evolutionary time beneath the lens, to the thought even that they merge or that by some extraordinary trick of relativity the smaller may contain the large. There is an affinity between the telescope and the microscope, between the discovery of stellar space and the discovery of the atom.

The film Powers of Ten was first made as a trial version in 1968, and then remade and released in 1977 in the familiar form that has been so widely disseminated in both film and printed formats. Produced by the Eames Office, the Los Angeles-based firm founded by the husband-and-wife design team, the 1977 version was one of the couple’s final films. In the postwar era of US corporate expansion and ascendancy, the Eameses established relationships with some of the key companies of the time. … While work for corporate clients destined for the international exhibitions of the Cold War period was inevitably situated in an arena of national representation and geopolitical contest, the Eameses were at the same time receiving major commissions explicitly driven by such imperatives. Most notable of these was the film installation Glimpses of the USA, produced the year after the Brussels exposition for the 1959 American National Exhibition in Moscow, coordinated by the United States Information Agency (USIA).

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Reposted with permission from: Cabinet

Call of the Wild by James Searle

In film, nature, North America, society, visual arts on April 17, 2013 at 20:10

From: Call of the Wild by James Searle, The Oxonian Review, http://www.oxonianreview.org

I’m not the first to see elements of Terrence Malick’s epic The Tree of Life in Beasts of the Southern Wild, the debut feature of Benh Zeitlin. Both are ambitious, dreamlike parables about the nature of existence relying on formless, wandering structures. Likewise, both films have attracted devout camps of supporters and detractors prepared to argue at length over their merits and failings. That said, there are two major distinctions between the films. First, Zeitlin’s film, based on the play Juicy and Delicious by Lucy Alibar, is far more accessible and narratively coherent than Malick’s. Moreover, while The Tree of Life obsesses over the balance between the way of Nature (harsh, passionate, male) and the way of Grace (reserved, gentle, female), Wild abandons all traces of civilisation and restraint. This is not a film about balance, but one about raw emotion and embracing nature completely.

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Reposted with permission from: The Oxonian Review

Video: The K-Pop Effect

In Asia, documentary, media, music, video, visual arts on April 8, 2013 at 17:35

From: Video: The K-Pop Effect: Plastic Surgery, Documentary.net, http://documentary.net

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Viral sensation ‘Gangnam style’ sparked imitations worldwide. Yet closer to home, the dream to be like such K-Pop idols is driving young South Koreans to a darker level of imitation: plastic surgery.

“Once people graduate almost all of them get double-eyelid surgery”, explains Gina, who recently left high-school. “In Korea they say, ‘please make my nose into the style of this star’.” In the district that is home to K-Pop’s major entertainment companies there are over 300 plastic surgery clinics on a single street. But some fear this growing beauty obsession is threatening young people’s sense of identity; “they treat their body as a product. They are losing the meaning of who they are”.

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Disclaimer from the website: “Yes it is free and legal. Films are provided by the filmmakers or rights-holders themselves. Or they claim their copyright protected contents on YouTube and monetize it (like National Geographic).”

Reposted with permission from: Documentary.net

Points of Light by Ian Marcus Corbin

In ethics, film, nature, photography, theory, visual arts on April 2, 2013 at 20:25

From: Points of Light by Ian Marcus Corbin, The New Atlantis, http://www.thenewatlantis.com

Rumors of our civilization’s collapse have been somewhat exaggerated. When the National Society of Film Critics announced its awards for the year 2011, the top two films — Lars von Trier’s Melancholia, in first place, and Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life, in second — were separated by a single vote. It is fitting that they should vie so closely: they are opposite and in some ways equal attempts to show the essential nature of reality and the best way to live in it — openly flouting the au courant truism that art is fit chiefly to interrogate, unsettle, and subvert. Both films debuted at Cannes. If there had been any separation between their release dates, it would seem certain that one was made as a rebuttal to the other, for while the symmetry of the two films is striking, there is a deep philosophical quarrel between them. Von Trier and Malick can’t both be right: Melancholia argues that reality, including life, is best understood in the light of death; The Tree of Life argues that reality, including death, is best understood in the light of life. These propositions are familiar enough; more surprising and important are the force and grandeur with which the two films substantiate them.

The tone and the source of light in The Tree of Life are vital to Malick’s philosophical vision. He is a rhapsode of the Emersonian order — plainly enchanted with the stuff of existence. His world is one of illuminations. Rich, clear light suffuses leaves, grass, fabric, hair, water, even skin. The lovely, if sometimes flickering, radiance of earthly life echoes a deeper, more enduring light. As Mrs. O’Brien says, love smiles through all things. We simply need eyes naked and patient enough to see them as they are. The journey of the movie, from Jack’s conjuring of the Big Bang onwards, is an effort not to impose a novel vision, but to shake the scales from his eyes. In Melancholia, by contrast, things in themselves don’t shine. Life has nothing to say for itself. Illumination always comes from without, whether it is cast by the comforting artifice of human technology, the very occasional glimmer of sunlight, or by the sharp white light of heavenly death. Only one of these sources of light has the power to reveal the truth. For von Trier, to bathe in the stark, blanching light of death is simply to become reconciled with reality; death is the one star that illuminates everything.

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Reposted with permission from: The New Atlantis

The Art of Swimming by BibliOdyssey

In books, history, society, sport, visual arts on March 16, 2013 at 15:34

From: The Art of Swimming by BibliOdyssey, http://bibliodyssey.blogspot.ca

Of the manner of entring into the water

Wherein naked early modernists get wet in the name of science!

“While one reflects on those many and frequent Accidents, which thro’ want of Swimming daily happen amongst us: Every one is ready to complain of the unhappiness of Man in that respect, in comparison of other Animals, to whom Nature has indulg’d that faculty, which he ought to enjoy in a more excellent degree, since it is so necessary to his Preservation.

This Art, which may be numbered among the Mechanick ones, since it is performed by Motion, and the Agitation of the Hands and Feet, has been hitherto exercised rather by a rude Imitation, than the Observation of any Rules or Precepts, by reason no on has taken the pains to reduce it to any; although it has always sufficiently deserved it, by the great advantages it brings to those who possess it, and in general to all Civil Societies, the consideration whereof ought to have made Men study to render it more easy to be learned, and more familiar to all men, since they may have so great occasion for it. [..]

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Reposted with permission from: BibliOdyssey

Books of Ice: Sculptures by Basia Irland

In art, books, ecology, nature, video, visual arts on March 12, 2013 at 15:32

From: Books of Ice: Sculptures by Basia Irland & Text by Kathleen Dean Moore, Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org

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Balls of ice sowed seeds of life on Earth. That’s what comets are, just clumps of ice holding interstellar rocks and dust. But in that dust are amino acids and nucleotides that build living things. Many scientists think that this might be one way life began on Earth, 4 billion years ago, when the spinning arms of the galaxy cast comets over the planet, comets and comets and comets, protolife smacking onto the broken lava plains, until basins gathered the meltwater into oceans, and the oceans nurtured onrushing life.

Ice sows ice, too. The first grains gleamed in white sunshine, throwing back the sun’s heat and cooling their own small shadows. More ice formed in the cool places, and the shine of it cooled a larger shadow, until the reflectivity of the growing ice sheets cooled the whole planet, finally draped in dazzling layers of ice. Now the glaciers that remain in mountain valleys give life to rivers—the Ganges, the Fraser, the Colorado—as meltwater slides down blue rills and finally cuts a channel through gravel and till.

Reposted with permission from: Orion Magazine

Patterns in art and nature by Philip Ball

In aesthetics, art, biology, nature, photography, science, visual arts on February 24, 2013 at 01:03

From: Patterns in art and nature by Philip Ball, http://www.philipball.co.uk

Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa, near Mull in Scotland, has inspired artists (this is Turner) and composers – Felix Mendelsohn wrote his orchestral piece named after the cave in 1829. But it also made an impression on an awestruck Joseph Banks, president of the Royal Society, when he sailed to Staffa in 1772 during an expedition to Iceland. This is what he said:

    “Compared to this what are the cathedrals or palaces built by men! Mere models or playthings, as diminutive as his works will always be when compared with those of nature. What now is the boast of the architect! Regularity, the only part in which he fancied himself to exceed his mistress, Nature, is here found in her possession, and here it has been for ages undescribed.”

Banks had noticed that the entrance to the cave was flanked by these great pillars of rock. Close up, you can see the regularity that Banks spoke about: hexagonal cross-sections.

Now, this of course has its counterpart on the west coast of Ireland itself: the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim, built in legend by the giant Finn MacCool.

There are something like 40,000 pillars of rock in the giant’s Causeway, and they generally have this extraordinarily regular and geometric honeycomb structure. When we make an architectural pattern like this, it is through careful planning and construction, with each individual element cut to shape and laid in place. At Fingal’s Cave and the Giant’s Causeway, the forces of nature have conspired to produce such a pattern without, we must presume, any blueprint or foresight or design. This is an example of spontaneous pattern formation.

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Reposted with permission from: Philip Ball

Young European directors by Amélie Mougey

In Europe, film, interview, media, visual arts on January 12, 2013 at 22:52

From: Young European directors: ‘You can spot a French film a mile off’ by Amélie Mougey, Cafebabel, http://www.cafebabel.co.uk/

They are aged 24, 26 or 31, hail from Croatia, England, Belgium or Germany, and they all have one thing in common: a desire to create magic with a camera, and to transform their passion into a job. At film school, these budding directors create stories for film. Freshly graduated, they are now throwing themselves at the mercy of the festivals to at last compete with the big boys.

They all dream of making a film with universal appeal. But the public is quick to catch on and their audiences can surprise them. In Volume, the 27-minute short film she is presenting at the rencontres Henri Langlois festival between 30 November and 9 December 2012, English director Mahalia Belo transports her viewers to a prim suburb that is indifferent (or almost) to the disappearance of one of its inhabitants. ‘Here in Poitiers, my film was perceived as being very profound, whilst in Munich, the audience laughed,’ she says, confounded. For the directors, the public’s expectations often remain more obscure than the work of their colleagues.

‘You can spot French films a mile off,’ teases Croatian director Sonja Tarokic, 24. ‘They are usually set in pretty, upper middle class interiors. The singer or pianist who’s in the corner of the bar while the characters are having a drink: that would be completely incongruous in Croatia.’ Mahalia Belo has also developed this radar for detecting different nationalities. ‘After trawling the festival circuit, I can now recognise the very black Finnish sense of humour,’ says the London-based director, who says she is often pigeonholed herself. So all is fair in love and war. ‘At the end of a screening, some audience members tell me my films have nothing to do with English cinema, while others say that they are terribly British,’ she smiles.

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Reposted with permission from: Cafebabel

Zojoji Temple in Snow by Philippe Theophanidis

In art, Asia, history of art, visual arts on January 3, 2013 at 16:49

From: Zojoji Temple in Snow, four prints by Kawase Hasui by Philippe Theophanidis, Aphelis, http://aphelis.net

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Hasui Kawase (1883-1957) was a prominent printmaker in the shin-hanga movement who worked closely (but not exclusively) with the famous publisher Shōzaburō Watanabe. From The British Museum:

In 1907 he began studying Western-style art, especially landscape, at the Hakuba-kai (White Horse Society) and took guidance from Okada Saburosuke (1869-1939); subsequently in 1910 he became a pupil of Kaburaki Kiyokata who gave him the art name Hasui, though the greatest influence on his style and palette was the ‘Nihonga’ painter Imamura Shiko (1880-1916). At this time he earned his living through designing ‘sashi-e’, magazine illustrations, posters and patterns for sashes. Through Kiyokata he became known to Watanabe Shozaburo, who published his first landscape prints in 1918-19. These in turn were first inspired by ‘Eight Views of Omi’ by his fellow-pupil Shinsui, which had aroused Hasui’s interest in single-sheet prints. From then on Hasui worked very extensively as a designer of landscape prints for Watanabe, and from almost the beginning inspired the carvers and printers to produce newer and subtler efforts, especially in the expression of snow.

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Reposted with permission from: Philippe Theophanidis

In Between Insomnia and Scandinavia by Carson Ellis

In art, books, Europe, history, interview, literature, North America, space, visual arts on December 12, 2012 at 19:07

From: In Between Insomnia and Scandinavia by Carson Ellis, The Morning News, http://www.themorningnews.org

fate-1TMN: For the Wildwood art, did you do any actual location scouting, despite the locations not being real? Assuming the Impassable Wilderness isn’t real? And if it is, should we be concerned for our children?

Carson Ellis:

The Impassible Wilderness is actually based on a very real place: Forest Park, a 5,000-acre woodland in the west hills of Portland. Colin [Meloy, her husband and author of the Wildwood books] and I knew we wanted to set the books there before we knew what they would be about. Before there were characters or a plot, we traced the boundaries of Forest Park onto a big piece of paper and made a map that we populated with real and imagined places and then revised and revised as the story took shape. (It’s now the map on the books’ endpapers.)

We live next to the park, which is just a big forest crisscrossed with 80 miles of trails, and Colin outlined a lot of the books while were walking in it. So yes, the Impassable Wilderness is real and really teeming with coyotes, though they aren’t the Napoleonic uniform-wearing, saber-wielding kind. Just the housecat-devouring kind. So you should be concerned for your cats. Some of the locations within it are real too: Pittock Mansion, for example, the seat of government in the books, is an actual, old historic mansion in the southern part of the park.

 

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Reposted with permission from: The Morning News

A Traditional Artistic Training Method for Landscape Painting by David Clayton

In architecture, art, Europe, history of art, nature, religion, visual arts on November 24, 2012 at 01:04

From: A Traditional Artistic Training Method for Landscape Painting – How We Can Apply This Today by David Clayton, The Way of Beauty, http://thewayofbeauty.org

Thomas Girtin trained in England in the late 18th century and trained for three years from the ages of 14-19. He was apprenticed to the established artist Edward Dayes and began by doing supporting work (grinding pigments etc) and by watching his master painting. Only later he was allowed to copy his master’s work. He was expected at this stage to pick up the idiosyncrasies of his teacher’s style as a necessary stage in the longer term goal of his emerging with a similar but independent style. From the start he was given talks about art and especially the moral purpose of art. Consistent with academic theory and following Joshua Reynolds in his Discources given to the Royal Academy, Dayes announced that the artist only selects the best parts of the natural world in order to reflect an idealised Nature. In addition, Girtin was expected to read in order to form his taste.

For his painting training, he would be introduced to colour by being asked to colour prints (so don’t hesitate to photocopy and colour-in today!). He then progressed on to his own landscapes by working in the studio and creating amalgamations of different works by Dayes and others and drawings and sketches.

In painting from nature, he would start to observe and sketch doing either line drawings or broad tonal renditions depicting scenes using sweeps in monochrome; through this he could start to control the sense of space by changing the intensity of shadow according the to distance from which it was viewed. He would also do repeated studies of individual items – bushes, trees and so on – both from works of others and direct from nature.

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Reposted with permission from: David Clayton (The Way of Beauty)

The Painter’s Revenge by Gordon Hughes

In aesthetics, art, film, history of art, theory, visual arts on November 3, 2012 at 20:21

From: “The Painter’s Revenge”: Fernand Léger For and Against Cinema By Gordon Hughes, NONSITE.org

Intuitively enough given its subject matter and title, Fernand Léger’s and Dudley Murphy’s 1924 film Ballet mécanique is generally understood as a relatively straightforward extension of the so-called “machine aesthetic” that informs Léger’s painting of this period. Standish Lawder’s comparison of the film with Léger’s paintingis typical in this regard when he writes: “He sought to create in film the same discontinuous, fragmented, kaleidoscopic world that his paintings [evoke]…. The [same] pulsating energies of modern urban life, its rhythms and its forms.” In marked contrast to this view, I want to argue just the opposite: that the relationship between film and painting is highly vexed for Léger; that Ballet mécanique does not function according to the same aesthetic principles as his painting—quite the contrary; and that the strongest relationship between cinema and his painting is to be found not in Léger’s “machine aesthetic” works of the late-19-teens and ‘20s, but rather in his abstract or near-abstract “Orphic” paintings of 1912-1913, particularly in the 150 or so works that make up his Contrasts of Forms series.

As unlikely a comparison as this may seem, I’m not the first to propose it. In a recent essay on these early paintings, Maria Gough has suggestively argued that Léger’s post-Cubist push into abstraction is rooted in a hardening of volumetric and tonal effects, such that, as she describes it, Léger: “hypostatiz[es] chiaroscuro’s most elementary property, that of value, into its two most extreme or contrasted states—brilliant black, brilliant white.” And in so doing, Léger “interrupts the surface of the sheet, animating it with an insistent flicker…[ a ] compulsive, pulsatile flickering on and off…. [such that] Léger creates, in short, a cinematic effect.”

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Reposted with permission from: NONSITE.org

The Ideology of Color by Fernando Castro

In aesthetics, art, culture, ethnicity, Europe, history of art, politics, religion, sociology, South America, visual arts on October 15, 2012 at 19:07

From: The Ideology of Color by Fernando Castro, Literal Magazine, http://www.literalmagazine.com

Many of the works of The Ideology of Color arose from Texas ́ history class when one of my Mexican students of Native-American descendance asked me when white people first arrived. Any artist who ever painted people knows that white is perhaps the only color not to be used for human skin –unless you are painting dead people. Even the ghostly skin of Giovanna Cenami in Van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Marriage (1414), is conspicuously different from the truly white headpiece she is wear- ing. After this two-second thought I blurted out, “There are no white people.”

Noticing the skeptical expression on my student’s face I took out a piece of white paper and added, “There is nobody this color.” In order to show my young students how white people would look like if they existed, I decided to make photographs of truly white people. I went through my negatives to see which ones I could use for what would become the White People series. Back in 1988 I had taken pictures of people and their dogs in a canine competition in Peru. These images were fitting because some of the ideas behind the motivation of many people to call themselves “white” are connected to the project of selectively breeding dogs to obtain Dobermans, French Poodles, etc. I painted the skin in the black-and- white negatives with an opaque medium so that they printed totally white.

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Reposted with permission from: Literal Magazine

Film Reviews: The Window (La Ventana) directed by Carlos Sorin

In film, Film Reviews, philosophy, South America, video, visual arts on September 23, 2012 at 20:29

The Window (La Ventana) by Carlos Sorin, Drama, Argentina / Spain, 2009, 77 min.

It is a rare treat to find a director that follows simplicity and presents us with something as minimalist as The Window. A window into the soul of an older man, bed-ridden with a debilitating heart condition, a window out of a hacienda, out onto the Patagonian landscape, a window to the simple and the everyday. This is an intimate look at the life of Antonio, an 80 year old man nearing the end of his life. A fly on the window, the clock ticking away the minutes in anticipation of the arrival of Antonio’s estranged son. A slow and philosophical film, with a wonderful taste of Bergman’s Wild Strawberries mixed into it. The same pattern of the return to childhood at the end of a man’s journey, takes us on the trip into the stark beauty of Patagonia. Details of life, raw and often touching in every little aspect of everyday existence, even the most ordinary and unimportant for many. The spaces are clean and minimal, everything bathed in natural sunlight coming through the windows of the old estate. There is no background music, though the piano and Antonio’s musical past is everpresent throughout the film. This silence underlines the simplicity and complexity of the life lived in the past and what is left of it in the present. The rhythms are dancing around the central theme, never completing the circle in the end. But maybe it is all about the journey, not the final destination.

The sweeping frames of the verdant Patagonian hills pull us back to the times of our own lived experiences, but the scenes are not intended to sentimentalize or offer consolation at the end of the film. Everything is being prepared for the arrival of the son, but time and space have its own way of directing reality as events stay open-ended. Perhaps, just as in life, things turn out not as perfectly planned, but open to more questions about the end of life for each of us. With the director’s poetic eye on beauty and with questions never being answered, the film allows us to touch the philosophical roots of questions about human existence. The story is intentionally simple, the film relatively short, but the life behind it is large and the poetry exquisite.

HSG

© 2012 anagnori

 

Video: Getting into Cirque Du Soleil – The Audition Process

In art, culture, film, music, North America, performing arts, video, visual arts on September 17, 2012 at 04:59

From: Getting into Cirque Du Soleil – The Audition Process, Documentary.net, http://documentary.net

Getting into Cirque Du Soleil

Ever wondered what it takes to be a part of Cirque du Soleil? Getting to be a one of a kind performer is no small feat. For four months, the film team followed Cirque Du Soleil scouts as they scoured the world, searching for the best of the best.

Watch the video

Disclaimer from the website: “Yes it is free and legal. Films are provided by the filmmakers or rights-holders themselves. Or they claim their copyright protected contents on YouTube and monetize it (like National Geographic).”

Reposted with permission from: Documentary.net

American Mythology by Scott Esposito and Michael Smith

In aesthetics, film, history, North America, philosophy, photography, visual arts on September 16, 2012 at 06:25

From: American Mythology: A Conversation About Kelly Reichardt’s Meek’s Cutoff by Scott Esposito and Michael Smith, The Quarterly Conversation, http://quarterlyconversation.com

Michael Smith: Kelly Reichardt initially came to my attention with her film Wendy and Lucy (2008)—I immediately noticed a sensitivity to social issues and also a relatively spartan aesthetic. She relied on long takes and came across as a patient filmmaker and storyteller. Meek’s Cutoff is a more complete realization of that aesthetic. The opening shots alone are extraordinary in that they don’t constitute a narrative exposition so much as establish the physical nature of a journey being taken by several pioneer families. Using static, relatively long takes, Reichardt shows them performing tasks: crossing a river, drying their clothes, fetching water from a stream, cleaning dishes. These all seem mundane, which is exactly the point. Part of the experience of this film is becoming familiar with the sheer punishment of the Oregon Trail, how the movement westward was full of not only considerable challenges but also what might be called elongation. After the initial sequences, Reichardt employs a beautiful, very slow dissolve in which a wagon train gradually appears on the horizon, and then she cuts to a night shot as clouds slowly move in real time. The journey already seems endless, even though, as viewers, it’s just started for us.

Read the conversation

Reposted with permission from: The Quarterly Conversation

A rear view of Alfred Hitchcock by Alan Saunders

In culture, film, interview, philosophy, visual arts on August 21, 2012 at 21:39

 

From: A rear view of Alfred Hitchcock by Alan Saunders, The Philosopher’s Zone, ABC Radio National, http://www.abc.net.au

Alan Saunders: Now the action of the movie occurs naturally, given the single-take effect; it occurs more or less in real time, which means that the murder is committed by daylight, and as the time goes on, is discovered at night after a party attended by the parents of the boy they’d murdered. What does this move from daylight to night, what does this have to tell us about the moral world of the movie?

William A. Drumin: The meaning that Hitchcock, as the director, seeks to ascribe to a film, philosophic or otherwise, is how he films it. Now my view is that see these two young killers want to cut themselves off from society, they regard themselves as above society, and that apartment, that closed-in compartment that’s kind of a separate world, as if it said they are the gods of this world you see, disposing of things by their superior intellects, and that kind of thing. So by filming continuously, I feel that Hitchcock is acting to break, to oppose the attempt of those killers. To say, No, you are wrong, society will re-assert its authority. You cannot arbitrarily cut yourself off from the social relationships you see.

You remember at the end of the film how Jimmy Stewart opens the window and fires the three gunshots out of the window? And then you hear the noises from the street filtering up, and the sound of the police siren and so on. That’s a liberating act, because this closed apartment has kind of been a vision of hell, where God and morality has been shut out, and now continuity has been re-established. So I think that in filming continuously, he establishes his stance towards the action of the film.

Listen to the broadcast / read the transcript

Reposted with permission from: ABC Radio National

Frontline Debates “Four Horsemen” by Jim Treadway

In economics, film, politics, society, video, visual arts on June 13, 2012 at 22:56

 

From: Frontline Debates “Four Horsemen” by Jim Treadway, Frontline Club, http://www.frontlineclub.com (watch the debate on the website)

Daniel Ben-Ami journalist and author of Ferraries for All: In Defense of Economic Progress, argued that the documentaries biggest mistake was to underestimate the role of the state in today’s crisis. Emeritus economics professor Victoria Chick, meanwhile, commented on the documentary’s suggestion that we return to the gold standard.

“I sort of flinched,” she said. “Everything I’ve always known about the gold standard was so repressive, and it was a very deflationary regime. [I] like the courageous quality of Minsky who said, ‘alright, I know banks are unstable, but they’re worth it, because they provide productive investment.’ Well that was when they did lend for productive investment. And now they no longer do.”

Giving voice to the sentiment of the evening, Mark Braund author of Four Horsemen: The Survival Manual complained,

“We have democratic institutions which aren’t delivering democratic outcomes. And that’s because I think too few people are interested enough to engage with what are quite complex ideas about how the ecomony works.”

“X-box, cheap lager, and mass media” were Ashcroft’s culprits for the public’s malaise in the face of a system that he believes is increasingly stacked against them.

At several points, panelists emphasized that change would have to come “from the bottom up,” but as one audience member regretted, what change “from the bottom up” really meant seemed hard to elucidate.

Read more & watch the debate

 

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