Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Artist Exhibition - Tehching Hsieh

Tehching Hsieh's exhibition was my favorite that I've attended in college. His installation was very simple and incredibly powerful. It's amazing to see how dedicated he is to his work, especially when it's quantifiable in all of the pictures laid out on the walls. I could see just how much work went into the piece. The idea that really shows the power of his time clock piece was his choice to cut his hair and not cut it for the duration of the piece. This puts just how long the piece was into perspective and provides a visual reference point behind the concept. I imagine Hsieh is critiquing the mentality of capitalist industry with its nonstop work and punch in, punch out mentality.
One of the aspects I liked most was just how overwhelming the installation made the project feel. Hsieh seems inhuman in taking on this project and in turn asks if maybe the ideal worker in consumer society must be inhuman. There is a tremendous amount of authenticity in his work, he had a witness validate the time sheets and admitted the times he didn't punch in on time. The concept behind is work is strong and it's this authenticity that takes his work to another level. I thought the video was more powerful, yet the amount of pictures on the wall certainly added to the moving quality of the work. It was better to watch his hair grow as a stop motion animation than see walls of seemingly similar pictures. The thing that I noticed in the pictures that I didn't in the video was that Hsieh has a faint smile on the final day. I was very surprised an artist like Hsieh would be shown at UNR and I feel lucky to have seen his work in person. It is a testament to how much passion and dedication an artist can put into their work.

Artist Talk - Joel Swanson

I attended Joel Swanson's talk on campus. His work focuses on language and typography. His pieces all have a black and white palate and typically feature words. Much of his work is  focused on wordplay like the piece Homophone that has the words right, write, and rite overlaid over each other. His work all focused on the idiosyncrasies of language and how to represent these things we take for granted and make them exist in a sculpture. He doesn't use color in his works and typically uses black text on white backgrounds, and is usually minimalist. In contrast he made an entire wall of handwritten ampersands that was very labor intensive and visually busy. In another piece he has an LED light up whenever Lady Gaga tweets, I thought his works were all very similar except for the two i just mentioned.
He talked about his work being in conversation with Sol Lewitt and Heidegger.  I didn't think his work approached these influences really, Swanson's work seemed like one liners to me that were more focused on being clever than making a statement. I was most interested in his idea that language really affects how a person thinks and how it effects the culture that it's spoken in. I wish he would show more of that idea in his work, however I was impressed with the technique of his work and I liked the clean aesthetic. It could make his message very clear if there really was one. Overall I think Joel Swanson could potentially make very interesting works about language and how it affects someone's world view, and his current work feels more like design than art.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Final Project

My project deals with the ceaseless need of society to be generating new content. Today as more and more creative mediums like film and TV are “dumbed down” and content constantly rebooted versions of past sources, we see a rise in quantity over quality of entertainment. My piece creates an endless stream of content that creates itself and contributes to itself without a user creating new content. It uses video and audio feedback loops to make swelling waves of sound and images. I want to symbolize this reboot mentality as well as a sense that new content is unoriginal, uninspired, and a sense of the public’s mass media hypnosis.
I returned to a focus on sound and instrument electronics in this project. I am more familiar with instrument and sound electronics than maybe my peers and that is a point for my work to have its own unique voice. I used a headphone speaker and microphone to create a feedback loop that would oscillate based on motion of the speaker. The speaker was suspended over a series of magnets to keep the sound random and interesting. I would have like to taken focus away from the form of the pendulum apparatus and I would have liked it to continually move. The magnets only kept it in motion for around two minutes, I would have liked it to move for hours. The other aspect that I felt could really improve is the video quality, due to the price of webcams I could only get ones that recorded in low quality. Better quality would have made the infinite video loop more clear and go on longer. Overall this was one of my best projects in that it had strong video and audio elements though the level of refinement could be improved upon.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Artist Exibition - Nick Van Woert

I went to the exhibition at the Shepard gallery, by the artist Nick Van Woert. The title of the show was Pink Elephants on Parade. None of the works had titles, so the viewer couldn't assume anything about the meaning of the pieces. It also makes it difficult to talk about his work since people may call his pieces different things. His works were all three dimensional, most were sculptures and one piece was tree bark in frames on the wall. The pieces in the gallery included sculptures utilizing exhaust pipes, coral, a chair made from boxes of sand, an industrial iron contraption, a welded copper piece that looked like a giant popcorn kernel, a black rock with a pole through it, two framed trees, and a statue covered in what looked like glass or wax. Van Woert uses a wide variety of materials and techniques.
The first piece in the entry of the gallery, is a statue of Poseidon face down in a pool of black wax. This was then presented upright in the gallery, with the hardened wax pool facing the door. It was the most interesting and unique presentation of Van Woerts work. This was the best piece in my opinion since it was both visually interesting and it had a message about pollution. I took the wax to represent oil, and the statue was covered in it like a bird covered by an oil spill. I then began to think maybe all of his pieces were about oil, but I couldn't make the connection. The exhaust pipes could represent a car that uses oil and gasoline, and the tree bark represents what the oil is made of. However, now I don’t think that’s what the work was about, I believe all of the works are about natural resources and how humans manipulate them. The tree bark was manipulated to be completely flat on a wall, the steel or aluminum of the exhaust pipes was bent, twisted and burned to create the blue finish on the tips. The colored sand was manipulated into a chair by putting it it plexiglass boxes. The copper sculpture was hammered and welded. The iron tower was also welded. I don’t know if Van Woert is trying to make a statement with all of these pieces or if hes just trying to work with as many materials and styles as possible. Most of the work doesn’t look like it was created by the same artist, the only unifying mark is his welding is consistent in the metal pieces.
I found most of the work aesthetically unappealing. The forms were usually bulky and unbalanced, especially the rock with a pole through it, I’m not sure if it was supposed to represent coal, it just looked fuzzy. The work was very random and seemed as if it was made by a collection of artists rather than one. The Poseidon piece seemed separated in style from the rest of the show, and also was the most successful piece in getting its message across. Visually the rest of his pieces weren’t nearly as striking, in fact they were boring. Most were just clumps of metal or other materials, and the tree bark felt completely out of place. Unless that was the point, that nature doesn't fit into this view of man manipulating resources. Nature is an afterthought, if even, to what we as a society create. If that was the message then it is made collectively by all of the works and the gallery space putting them all in context. This makes the Poseidon piece strange to include because it has the same message but does it itself, without the need to be combined with the other pieces in the space.
I can acknowledge that all of the works took time to build but I don’t think it makes them successful, they look over-thought and like a simpler approach might have made the sculptures more unified. I did like how he left it completely open to the viewers interpretation of the meaning. He also utilized the gallery space to allow his works to contrast in form and texture. As a whole, his work was more successful than his pieces because each material’s texture contrasted with the sculpture next to it. Too much contrast made the show feel somewhat disjointed. Overall I would say this exhibition was interesting, perhaps for reasons different than the artist intended, even if I didn’t think the art was very pleasing.