Archive for September, 2009

Note to self, of sorts

I need to work on making my posts a bit more terse.

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I can’t tell whether it’s the institution or the students at CalArts that creates an air of pretentiousness. For instance, as read in Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World, the MFA critique class at CalArts is called “Post-Studio Art.” This is due to John Baldessari’s claim that “Post-Studio Art” is a larger enveloping term than “Conceptual Art.” My question is not whether or not “Post Studio” is a better term than “Conceptual Art,” but rather, why not call the class “Art Criticism” or something straight forward in the first place?

It is this overt need to over-complicate simplicity that I do not understand about these California artists that Thornton describes. Famous artists/professor Michael Archer runs a six hour class in which only three works by three student artists are looked at, yet the work is barely talked about—the conversation is very circular and does not really come to any definite conclusion—and Archer barely says a word, let alone make any remarks about the work. Then on top of all of that, the other students have their pets and are listening to music and are reading the paper and doing all sorts of other things unrelated to the class. Then on top of all of that, the class itself is considered some kind of minimalist workshop? How can the students or the professors be so full of themselves as to believe that that class is the end-all and be-all of criticism classes?

I found it very funny that many of the artists could not describe what an artist is, what art is, or what creativity means. The artists looked way too deep into the emotive meanings of the terms in question, causing a lapse in logical thinking. I suppose the CalArts people believe that logical thinking is the tool of consumerism, marketing, and corporations, so they naturally shun it. This also explains the statement that Thornton makes about how “most of the artists are openly hostile to commercial spectacle” (60) . I wonder, does CalArts have a design department? If they do, the designers are most certainly not the most loved people on campus.

-rgm

In order to increase my credibility as a designer, I am taking a web authoring course this semester to build a portfolio website. I know a bit of flash and a decent amount of java programming, however, my html/css stuff is a bit lacking. Hopefully, this class will really reinforce my html knowledge.

The first project for the class was to build a bio web page for yourself using only html and a text editor, but then to subsequently soup it up with a separate CSS file. My page is still rather basic, however, I aimed for cleanliness. And even though cleanliness was my ultimate goal, I found it rather difficult to keep an organized system when there were more than a few requirements; we needed at least one bullet-point list, one table, three images, 500 words, etc… Till next time,

-rgm

from emory douglas's 'the black panther'

At the New Museum, one exhibition really stood out to me far beyond the others: Emory Douglas’s litho prints. They were bright and dynamic, and shared the revolutionary aesthetic of Communist propaganda prints from the 30’s and 40’s, which in turn are heavily influenced by the flat, Japanese, Ukiyo-e prints dating back to the 17th century. As seen in my previous blog entries, I am very interested in D.I.Y., revolutionary culture, as seen in today’s stencil and paste-up graffiti (see Shepard Fairey’s work), the punk culture of the late 70’s and early 80’s, and clearly, as seen by Douglas’s work, the Civil Rights Movement. Douglas’s juxtapositions of photographic imagery to bold color and text create very in-your-face, dynamic compositions.

The only drawback to Emory Douglas’s exhibit had nothing to do with the work itself, but rather, the way it was displayed. I would have much rather seen a number of prints stacked above one another, displayed on one wall at once, with a few select prints being shown by themselves—”by themselves” meaning having ample wall space surrounding the image, separating it from the next—instead of each small piece shown one after another after another, on and on. It seemed never-ending.

As for the rest of the museum: Rigo 23’s stairwell was cool, with a lot of shock value, however, it seemed to me to only be shock value; David Goldblatt’s images were very evocative of struggle and I quite liked how each image really paid a delicate attention to the often small, fine details in the foreground; Dorothy Iannone’s pieces made me uncomfortable—not because of the eroticism in the work, but because she openly uses Indian and East-Asian aesthetics to show off her pornography. Iannone’s use of a “primitivist” art style and culture that is clearly not her own, or has anything to do with her, made her seem exploitative and colonialist.

Well, that about sums it up. I had a decent time.

-rgm

moodline logo

So, the assignment (the first given in my design class) was to document something—anything—for 24 hours, and present that item or object or what-have-you in some format—any format. As you can see, this was a very open project. My solution to this project came out as Moodline, an internet application/web site. Check it out yourself by clicking on the logo image above.

-rgm