Friday, December 4, 2009

Mary Stewart Artist Talk

On November 11, 2009, Artist-in-Residence Mary Stewart gave a lecture on her background, beginnings of becoming an artist to her works. Stewart grew up in a rural area south of Miami, Florida. From the beginning of her childhood, she taught herself to draw and has not stopped drawing since. She became interested in lithography and after reading a book on lithography, she decided to attend the University of New Mexico because the author of the lithography book taught the subject. She got a degree in Printmaking and a minor in Art History with a Film History emphasis. She then attended graduate school at Indiana University. She now teaches at Florida State University and wrote a book while balancing her time in the studio and writing. Her interests include visual narrative, Greek and Asian philosophies, politics and current events, media, digital prints, stop-motion animation, video, book art, relief prints, etching, silk screen, photography, drawing, and more.

She then showed slides of her works. One of the earlier slides she presented was "Without Voice" (black pastel on white paper). She had made this piece in response to going up for a tenure position. The drawing uses her personal experience of feeling silenced and being unable to go against anyone. With these feelings, they are psychologically portrayed in her art, where darkness brings out deeper meanings for her. It is a figure drawing of a man in a position resembling someone just about to vomit. The strokes and lines are rapid and striking, echoing movement and blurring certain areas against an angular look. It is interesting that Stewart didn't choose a woman to portray herself but a man to resonate her anger. She explained how it depicts a loss of senses, and with that a boldness appears in the drawing.At the same time, she engages students and inspires them to extend their creativity and make art. Another interesting drawing was "Learning to Sink #2" in which she asked the audience what the top image might represent. One student saw a tree, another saw the Twin Towers during 9/11. She then explained the importance of context in that she was asked to take the piece out of an exhibition because it resembled the Twin Towers, even though she had made the piece two years before 9/11 and it is actually on the bombing of Hiroshima. Her digital prints at the end included the "Entanglements" series where she depicts landscapes close to her home in Florida. It was interesting how it resembles the way streams are always refreshing their form and they are constantly shifting in a fluid manner.

I thought it was admirable how she introduced herself to each individual student in the audience and asked about their interests in art. She cares as much for others as she does her own work and encourages others to learn and be creative in whatever they do. I liked how she showed her works such as the book art after her presentation and explained more of her works closely with students. The book included watercolor and crayon that seemed to dance as she flipped the pages and created a vibrant set of colors. While she takes her art seriously, she does not forget her childhood sense in that it is also imaginative and enjoyable. She shows a lot of passion for her work and includes a variety of her inspirations. At the same time, she engages students and inspires them to extend their creativity and make art.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Camille Utterback and Romy Achituv

Text Rain is an interactive installation where participants use their own body to lift letters on a screen "that do not really exist." The participant stands and moves in front of a projection screen. The screen depicts a mirrored black and white video projection of the participant, "combined with a color animation of falling letters. Like rain or snow, the letters appears to land on participants' heads and arms. The letters respond to the participants' motions and can be caught, lifted, and then let fall again. The falling text will 'land' on anything darker than a certain threshold, and 'fall' whenever that obstacle is removed. If a participant accumulates enough letters along their outstretched arms, or along the silhouette of any dark object, they can sometimes catch an entire word, or even a phrase" (Utterback, Achituv 1999).

"The falling letters are not random, but form lines of a poem about bodies and language. 'Reading' the phrases in the Text Rain installation becomes a physical as well as a cerebral hinges the behavior of falling text to the physical movements of human bodies (Utterback, Achituv 1999).On Camille Utterback's website, she provides a statement on her artwork in that she explores the "tension between the abstract realm of ideas and the corporeality in which we live and interact with these attempt to bridge the conceptual and the corporeal" (Utterback). It seems that there is somewhat of a separation between viewer and machine when we think of the digital and virtual realm. I think the artist is trying to find a connection with something that seems abstract from what we physically know in concrete terms. For example, we have a direct connection to something we might paint, since we hold a brush in our hand and physically provide brush strokes on a canvas. There is a direct connection with the artist and the painting. Utterback provides an interesting way to connect us with her artwork in that our physical movement of our body provides a relationship with the falling text and letters to create a poetic illustration in motion. Also, the fact that a participant sees their own body projected on a screen brings the body into the digital realm. It is like an actor seeing their own image on screen digitally since their physical body was recorded by a camera. Utterback provides an example of connecting the physical to digital: "Physical-digital interfaces - ranging from the familiar mouse and keyboard to more unusual sensing systems - provide the connective tissue between our bodies and the codes represented in our machines."

I think the artwork has an elegant, graceful quality that is calming and almost seems natural. I like that a virtual realm can provide a similar atmosphere to that of nature and what we witness in nature. The text resembles snow or rain and we often pull out our hand to catch snowflakes or raindrops. With the letters resembling the movement of rain or snow, there becomes a relationship with letters, poetry, body, and movement. When I look at the pictures of the project, I get a sense that the letters move slowly because I think of a slow snowfall, even if I haven't seen the piece in a video or in person. I wish provided information on the speed of the falling letters and what kind of software she might have used for the project.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Airan Kang

Airan Kang from Jun Lee on Vimeo.

109 Lighting Books (2009) is "an installation by Airan Kang at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery for the group exhibition: 'Textual Landscapes' showcasing books that are made from fiber optics and enclosed in plastic. Though the books don’t contain any actual text, they serve as physical representations of poets and philosophers that have influenced Kang." (

I was drawn to the LED lights and shifting colors portrayed in books on shelves. I think it's possible that Kang wanted to have us hold on and appreciate the origins of a concrete book or anything that is written down, and to see that things are constantly being changed and improved while still holding on to the roots of the original concept, in this case, a book. The bright LED lighting on the books in plastic cases seem to illuminate the significance books have had on her and everyone while at the same time giving a new perspective on the way we think of and look at books. I was also reminded of Pop Art and Andy Warhol. I wish I could've found Kang's statement on her piece or her creative decisions on how she chose to display the books since we see mostly original book covers and spines. There's also a possibility that she wanted to show methods on how books have been displayed, how some book covers are more apparent than other books (showing the book's spine versus the cover), and how some might "judge books by their covers," since the text inside the books are not shown. Then again the books in the piece are Kang's personally chosen books that have influenced and made a significant impact on her. The books are not alphabetically ordered, and I like that it shows her admiration for the books and how anyone and any idea have influenced her. I wish I knew if she had a specific order in placing the books. It would be interesting if the books were chronologically ordered from the time she first read them and how people and ideas have influenced her at various times. Or if the books placed in the middle were one of the most significant books to her or if she wanted to equally show the importance of all of the books. I also like how the gallery website allows me to zoom in and get a closer look (but not close enough) at the piece and a video to show the shifting colors displayed on the books. I think this also gives the artist a way to reveal what has influenced her to viewers without us seeing her or having heard from her in person. Viewers can also connect with the artist's interests since we might have similar interests.

This piece made me think of the way books are being read today. I now have many Blackboard readings and Blackboard journal entries as a part of my assignments for many of my courses. I like that electronic readings saves paper and reduces waste. I also save a lot of money since I don't have to buy the books if they are provided on Blackboard or online. Also, researching on the web is faster and somewhat easier with Google, links for further research, online encyclopedias, and online search catalogs. I find myself reading more and more from my laptop now because I can find many articles and sources online in one setting. I still personally like having a book to read since I think books can also expand on more than what we might see online. I can also physically bookmark or write notes, take a book where ever I go, turn pages, etc. but it is also a little inconvenient to carry and look into several books at a time. I also like searching for books on shelves and physically going to bookstores. When I was on the Metro, I found around half of the people reading from their e-book readers and around half reading from a book. It will be interesting to see if and when more people might buy the e-book readers as the price decreases and if it becomes more popular in demand. From The New Yorker, there was an article online by Nicholson Baker talking about's e-book reader, "Kindle." Baker makes an interesting point in the article: "Maybe the Kindle was the Bowflex of bookishness: something expensive that, when you commit to it, forces you to do more of whatever it is you think you should be doing more of."
I personally would rather have a book in my hands to read (and I don't have an e-book reader), but what happens when books become increasingly read electronically? We even recently experienced the switch from analog to digital television. It seems that we are constantly changing and improving the way we view something.


Saturday, October 31, 2009

Rafael Lozano-Hemmer

In Vectorial Elevation (1999-2000), Lozano-Hemmer created an interactive project that was first planned out as a celebration for the then upcoming year 2000. He set up eighteen searchlights in Mexico City's Zocalo Square and the light beams could be seen from a 15 km radius. Every 15 seconds, the lighting would change according to new participant's designs. The searchlights were connected by data cables and used Global Positioning System trackers. These searchlights were controlled by a three-dimensional web-based simulation program (Java 3D interface) to choreograph the light beam patterns and create light sculptures. Then these visuals on landscape were captured by digital cameras and the images and videos were broadcasted live online. On the website, any participant with internet access is able to design light sculptures for the actual landscape. Then each participant received a personalized web page via email with their images of their design, virtual renditions, and their information. The web pages were uncensored which allowed the participants to leave a variety of messages. There were around 800,000 participants from 89 countries for within two weeks for the project. Lozano-Hemmer later more installations in a similar nature as the Vectorial Elevation (, Mark Tribe).

"Lozano-Hemmer calls this type of performance 'Relational Architecture,' which he defines as 'the technological actualization of buildings with alien memory.' In other words, laypeople and passersby (who possess the 'alien' memories of outsiders) can construct new meanings for edifices, usually via technological tools -- such as Internet software and robotic lights... According to Lozano-Hemmer, 'light projections...can achieve the desired monumental scale, can be changed in real time, and their immateriality makes their deployment more logistically feasible'...Vectorial Elevation was hard to ignore because of its giant scale and inescapable presence. But Lozano-Hemmer describes his project as an 'anti-monument' that serves primarily as a platform for public self-expression" (Mark Tribe). Also, on Lozano-Hemmer's website (, he states that he makes an allusion to Sol LeWitt’s "art of instructions” as well as László Moholy-Nagy’s paintings by telephone in 1922.

The fact that the project was exhibited where there are naturally many people gathered in an open space coincides with the project's participatory nature in that people in Mexico City and many countries were able to participate in the same experience through the internet or through their own eyes. I like the concept where it is personal but at the same time public because Lozano-Hemmer offered the foundation of the program and the set up of the searchlights and then allowed any participant to create their own personalized lighting design, express themselves through text, and show their public. I was actually able to go to the website and explore how the interactive process worked. It gave a new perspective on how space and movement worked with the project's web-based program because I initially had seen the captured image of the actual searchlights shown in Mexico City. I was able to choose different settings, move through different specified areas, and explore variations for the light beam forms. The designs for the light beams are almost limited to certain settings so it seems that there is a limit to the participant's creative process but we can still direct the light in different angles and view it from different points of the location. I felt that an individual's text was also an interesting and expressive addition to personalize their designs. One of my concerns would be that some might concentrate more on the "spectacle." I looked at the list of Lozano-Hemmer's works and I liked the concepts of the Microphones, Reporters With Borders, Close-Up. Many of his projects seem to reflect on participation, interaction, changing through time, observation, records, etc. I think participating in the Microphones project would be an interesting experience.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Jonah Brucker-Cohen and Katherine Moriwaki

(close-up) uses a mobile ad-hoc network to link either iPaqs (PocketPC computers) or bluetooth equipped Personal Digital Assistants (PDA) that were attached to white umbrellas. The sensors in the umbrella detects whether the umbrella is opened or closed. When a participant opens their umbrella, the sensors notify the opened state of the umbrella so then the hardware attached to their umbrella communicates to the PDAs to start up a connection with other PDAs. Then the Light-emitting diodes (LED) illuminate their umbrella either in blue or red to show their connection state. There are three states that include a red-lit umbrella showing that it is searching for a connection. A blue-lit umbrella indicates that it is connected to other umbrellas. If the umbrella has a flashing blue state, it means that it is transmitting data between umbrellas. The iPaq and PDAs include a text-messaging application to communicate with other participants holding the umbrellas. They also include a graphical interface to show where each participant is in relation to their own umbrella. ( )

The artists' website includes their statement and vision for their project:
" is a project exploring transitory or ad-hoc networks and their potential for causing sudden, striking, and unexpected connections between people in public and urban space. The project focuses on the theme of 'networks of coincidence', or how shared, yet disconnected activities can be harnessed into collective experiences. examines how the haphazard and unpredictable patterns of weather and crowd formation can act as an impetus to examine coincidence of need networks..." The artists also portray an image of the streets of Dublin, Ireland where there is "frequent and unpredictable is common to witness a sea of umbrellas in the crowded streets sweeping open as raindrops first hit the ground. This collective, yet isolated act of opening an umbrella creates a network of individuals who are connected through similarity of action, and intent...we believe these transitory networks can add surprise and beauty to our currently fixed communication channels in the crowded streets sweeping open as raindrops first hit the ground" ( The Mark Tribe website also provides connections between aspects on society and the project's relations to other artists such as John Klima's Ecosystm and Christo and Jean-Claude's Umbrella Project. It states that "The absurd nature of the umbrella's enhanced functionality seems to poke fun at the increasing ubiquity of digital technology in the early 2000s, from robotic vacuum cleaners to microwave ovens that utilize live Web data to determine cooking times" (Mark Tribe).

I like the idea of connections and coincidences due to natural circumstances, in this case, rainfall. Everyone has something in common physically when they they are affected by the rain and use an umbrella to shield themselves from the rain, and when we see this image from afar, we can see an almost common movement of umbrellas. The image posted above creates an interesting and unexpected combination of a captured colored image of real participants holding the LED umbrellas on a background of a grainy black and white photograph of a street in Dublin during a rainfall. The people on the image almost seem out of place compared to the background from it's "flash of color" coming from the LED umbrellas. This is where I can see why the Mark Tribe website thought that the artists might be "poking fun at the increasing ubiquity of digital technology." However, from reading the artists' statement on their project, I think it is possible that they were at the same time focusing more on the phenomenons of making connections between people in a public space ( and that their project creates a new aesthetic approach to technological and communicative connections.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

John Klima

In American Cinema (2002), John Klima used a dual Java applet to show still images from horror films on the left side of the frame and pornographic films on the right side of the frame. There are 50 images in each frame with one image placed on top of a larger preceding image. Through the use of three-dimensional rendering technology, Klima was able to stack the images on top of each other and allow the viewer to see a zoom into the image until it gets out of focus to bring out the next image that was stacked on the frame (CityArt). Klima is known for his computer software art in which he creates programs and game-like environments so that the viewer can participate in the artwork by maneuvering certain aspects in the artwork such as movement, actions, and (in Glasbead) the creation of musical sounds (MarkTribe). In American Cinema, Klima "allows the viewer to zoom through the stack by clicking and dragging the mouse up and down over the image" (CityArt).

Klima uses close ups of faces from still images of both horror and pornographic films rather than the whole body. This allows us to compare and contrast facial expressions, emotions, and messages expressed from the images displayed. Also, Klima places two quotes separated by both frames on the bottom and a titled quote at the top. The quote on the left states: " is far easier to slash a breast..." and on the right: "...than to kiss one..." with the top quote saying, " American Cinema..." Klima states in his CityArt website that, "it is odd that the images on the left, frequently displaying mutilation, rape, and torture, are far more disturbing than those on the right, yet the images on the right are considered 'X' rated and the left only 'R' rated." Therefore, the artwork questions the censorship on media and allows us to judge on what makes something more disturbing and forbidden to a viewer compared to something else.

I think it gives an interesting observation to visuals as we compare and contrast two images on a split screen as different images dissolve onto another. When we think of sex and violence, I feel that there is a tendency in America to strongly oppose and protest against portrayals of sex rather than violence. The rating system and censors in America seems to be able to accept more images of violence than portrayals of sex. Therefore, I agree with what Klima was trying to explain through his art in that the depiction of violence tends to be more disturbing than the depiction of sex. At some points during the viewing, I felt that a few of the images of facial expressions shown side by side were almost identical which made it more difficult to distinguish which image was worse. However, the motionless quotes shown below each of the frames gave me a constant reminder that one frame represented images from horror films and the other from pornographic films. I then thought about the portrayal of violence in sex, such as rape, and how the two aspects combined create a larger force of disturbance. Also, historically, there have been films such as Midnight Cowboy that received an X-rating at the time of its release for it's portrayal of sex and male-prostitution which seemed to be a forbidden subject for censors at the time. Now the film has an R-rating after it won an Academy Award and the sexual aspects do not seem as explicit controversial now with the R-rating and the passing of time. I was also not able to download the programs presented in Klima's CityArts website and I only looked at images and videos of his artwork and what others have done when participating in his programs. I might've had a different experience with the artwork if I was participating in it because I could also create various movements and actions within the art and observe the variations that could be shown when another person collaborates with the art.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Young-Hae Chang and Marc Voge

In Bust Down the Door Again! Gates of Hell-Victoria Version, the original text using flash animation in the color red from Bust Down the Door! is superimposed over a photograph of their own exhibition in the Rodin Gallery a the Samsung Museum of Art. The Rhizome website describes most of creations from Chang and Voge: "using Flash animation techniques, they create fast-moving, text-based artworks that are synchronized with original scores. Seemingly an extremely simple format—text on monochromatic backgrounds— YHCHI carefully choreographs texts that weave complex and evocative narratives." The photograph shows on the left: Gates of Hell by Rodin and on the right: the actual video of Bust Down the Door Again... displayed on nine Samsung internet refrigerator screens,referring to Dante's Inferno and the nine circles of Hell. These internet refrigerators are stacked on top of each other and face Rodin's Gate of Hell where Rodin also depicted Dante's Inferno (MarkTribe). The original text is shown changing quickly and simultaneously with the jazz music's rhythm with an unidentified, robotic-like woman's voice reading the text to us as it keeps changing. The original Bust Down the Door! is slightly different since it provides a different soundtrack of jazz music, no narrator, a countdown like the start of silent films, and the text is black usually with a white background. However, the text is the same; describing a story of "a midnight raid on a home by unidentified armed aggressors: 'They bust open the door while you sleep, rush into your home, enter your bedroom, drag you out of bed, push you in your underwear out into the street...' The point of view begins in the second person, then shifts to first and third person, offering various perspectives on the narrative" (MarkTribe).

In the Gates of Hell-Victoria Version, Chang and Voge "thought that an Internet refrigerator would be an unusual way of presenting Net Art. Advertisers would have us believe that the Internet refrigerator puts the housewife at the cutting-edge of modern, hi-tech life. We titled our piece The Gates Of Hell because, on the contrary, we feel that their refrigerator helps keep women in the kitchen." The Mark Tribe website describes Chang and Voge's work from their Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries in that "most New Media art employs interactivity to engage us as participants in the work. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries eschews interaction, but the result is hardly a passive experience. By accelerating the pace at which the text appears to a rate just within the threshold of human cognition, the artists coax us into a state of rapt concentration. Bust Down The Doors! is remarkable for its ability to produce a strong, visceral impact with limited means. Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries' work is closely related to both concrete poetry and experimental cinema. A connection to film history is explicitly signaled by the artists' consistent use of a title screen that reads 'YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES PRESENTS,' as well as a numerical countdown that is similar to those that preceded early movies." Therefore, the text of Bust Down the Doors gives us different perspectives on one story. Also, the quick paced display of texts make it difficult to read each word as another word comes up. We try to concentrate more on reading the text and/or try to understand the overall meaning as the texts pass with the rhythm of the jazz music. The original score is ironic with it's relaxed but fast-paced tone paired with the texts describing "sex, violence, alienation, and the insignificance of human life" (Mark Tribe). Also, the fact that the stacked internet refrigerators face Rodin's The Gates of Hell complement the darker tone of Bust Down the Doors! even when they seem to be a non-traditional pairing. This also comments on the positive and negative impacts of technology.

When I first looked at the Bust Down the Doors!, the title immediately grabbed my attention with its intense and bold statement. I thought the music and more simple font for the texts gave an ironic tone since the story describes a more violent scene. I tried reading all of the text but soon found that it was more important to understand the meaning and tone of the piece rather than knowing every word from the screen. I also liked how the artists made a connection to women in the kitchen with the internet refrigerators. Historically, women used to have domestic roles such as being in the kitchen and Chang and Voge's new version of Bust Down the Doors! brings a perspective on the past, present, and future on our dependence on technology and how it can consume our lives. I feel that new inventions and forms of technology are growing at a fast rate in today's society with inventions such as the digital coffee table and the internet refrigerators. It is interesting to see how society adapts to the new forms of technology while also showing negative aspects.