Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Gym Culture

In my set of Gym Culture photos I explore gym mentality and acceptable ways to look and act while working out around others. For the photos I have constructed scenarios of conduct that would draw attention in exercise facilities. Gyms are typically sterile, quiet places with isolated individuals that are very focused on their machine of use and work out routine. In the photos, I bring up ideas of self-consciousness, physical appearance and multi-tasking while working out as well as the oddity of exercise methods and equipment. The exercise equipment in the photos are treated as machines and tools of excitement that offer the ability to not focus on being physical while in the act of it.

The message of my photos is self-evident through my use of satire. I work with McLuhan's idea of "Humor as a system of communications and as a probe of our environment--of what's really going on--affords us our most appealing anti-environment tool. It does not deal in theory, but in immediate experience, and is often the best guide to changing perceptions." Through my photos I am not asking for a major social change in the way that people work out--I watch the TV while on the treadmill also-- rather these photos are a reflection on the subtly odd ways that humans acts when in the act of becoming "fit". 

Lauren Semivan

The work of Lawrence graduate and professional photgrapher Lauren Semivan is a layering of contradictions. Her images create sensations of electricity and decay, hope and helplessness, elegance and chaos, illusion and candidness. Scribbled lines and tangled wires against billowing curtains and wispy, cloud-like surfaces. The woman (the artist) appearing in many of the photos is identity-less, windswept, deep in focus seemingly holding onto whatever is in her reach. The found objects arranged in her sculptural compositions are vintage, organic and rustic.

Semivan feels that she needs to live in location that is nurturing to her creative process and artistic endeavors. Neither the thoughts of working three jobs to rent a closet home in New York city or living in a suburban apartment with two cats, a TV and air conditioning are appealing to her. Both her and her  husband value self-sufficiency and living in flux rather than reclining to a comfortable boredom.

Her work is highly deliberate, personal and purist and execution. She creates all of her images using an early 20th century 8x10" view camera. All of the surrealist qualities of Semivan's work are created by manipulation of physical space rather than of photo, camera or other means of technology.

According to Semivan "Within each image, ghosts of previous drawings create a sense of time suspended, evoking gesture, atmosphere and memory. Photographs allow me to access the extraordinary, to keep a record of dreams, and to employ the unknown."

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Sandy Dyas

Sandy Dyas Photography

Sandy Dyas uses art to make sense of her life and to find truth. She does this by photo documentation and by creating her own visual language that she can share with others. Her photography is effective because of the way it portrays her familiarity to the identities and cultures that inhabit the Midwest and specifically Iowa. Her relationship to the Midwest reminded me David Foster Wallace’s speculations of the region in A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again: "Those from IN/WI/ Northern IL think of their own Midwest as agronomics and commodity futures and corn-detasseling and bean-walking and seed-company caps, apple-cheeked Nordic types, cider and slaughter and football games with white fogbanks of breath exiting helmets".
Themes of friendships, small town shops, vintage cars, hunting souvenirs, old-time folk artists and kooky advertisements bring sensations of vibrancy, curiosity and tenderness in Dyas’ work. Her most effective work is her portraits of musicians. She is able to capture their soul, vigor and authentic country charm.

Dyas’ work inspired me think about my connection to landscape and location. In recent years, my neighborhood, the Mission District in San Francisco, has been rapidly developing. Every time I come back home I find that new artisan organic bakeries, designer coffee shops and vintage bottled soda shops are replacing the dollar stores, kitchy wedding decoration shops and family-run taquerias that I grew up walking past. Watching this change take place saddens me. I feel my neighborhood, which was such an important part of my childhood, is growing up in this burst of popularity and loosing a lot of its quirky charm. Although some of the changes taking place are enticing it has felt slightly unsettling to come home not to experience familiarity here that I knew my whole life. I agree with Sandy that you never really know your true opinion about a place until you have left and come back. 

Experimenting with Experimental Video

"Time" has ceased, "space" has vanished. We now live in a global village...a simultaneous happening...Information pours upon us, instantaneously and continuously. As soon as information is acquired, it is rapidly replaced with still newer information"-Marshall McLuhan

In creating with my video, I became interested in the relationships I could form between unconnected sound and imagery. I did not have an end-goal in mind while capturing footage for the video but rather decided to film what was in front of me on several different occasions. In my video I juxtapose different interpretive dances next to each other and combined this with audio that I filmed. The different dance clips act as a response to the narration/ music and to each other. I played with the idea of time and space by overlapping dancing footage to create a multiple exposure effect, by speeding up parts of the video and by having the majority of video clips be action packed and a disorienting less than 10 seconds. 

A week ago, I initiated a “Performance Art Night” in my house where there was interpretive dancing, story telling (with the narrator acting out all the characters), a collective singing of the National Anthem and Bad Poetry reading among other things. Most of the footage was taken from here. Since my house is filled with a number of experimental souls it made sense to me to find inspiration in their activity and merry-making.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

A Brief History of My Visual Ideas

Since a young age I have been inclined to express myself through visual means. My relationship with art has been inconsistent over the years but has been generally consuming when I have a project that I want to accomplish. The following is a chopped history of my art since age 4.

I express the desire to be an artist in this self portrait I drew in preschool. Below it is another drawing from that time of a girl that has no feet.

Self Portrait of an Artist, 1998
Girl who Lost her Feet, 1998

This is my first website as a visual artist circa 2001 My dad made this for me and I forgot about it until a year ago. At the time, at age 7, I was very inspired by young women and their idealized roles as mermaids and cheerleaders. I also started taking my first art lessons at this time, where I learned to draw and paint still lifes.

In 5th grade history class (which I think was 2006) I started making model replicas for extra credit on research projects. This is a  replica I made of the Trojan Horse. It had toy soldiers that came out of its torso on a string and moved on wheels.

Trojan Horse, 2006
In 2010 I took my first oil painting class at my high school and learned the method of glazing. This is my first oil painting and it is drawn from a vulture photo that my art teacher had in his office. He was really into safari animals and I really liked this bird for how distorted its body seemed.

Vulture, 2010

This is a collage I started to make in 2011 out of the Camel cigarettes packaging. The figure is from a Lucky Strike ad that was in a 1920s Vogue Magazine. I never finished it but was planning on incorporating a cut out of the obituary section.  Around this time I became very interested in expressing more conceptual and societal ideas in my art such as the measures that women go to beautify themselves, a growing reliance on technology, and the psychology behind consumerism.  

Unfinished Collage, 2011

These are some of my first figure drawings from the summer of 2011. 
Figure Drawing, 2011
Figure Drawings on the Floor, 2011

In the Fall of 2013 I took my first sculpture class. Using power tools was a new and exhilarating experience for me because it gave me more power and abilities yet gave me less physical control while creating. I started to think a lot about materials and their physical qualities. For the piece below I was interested in creating fluidity and motion in a material as stiff and dull as wood.

Anemone, 2013

Below it is a snail pattern that I drew around the same time. I'm really fascinated by reoccurring patterns in nature such as fractals and spirals, and wanted to create a pattern containing this type of pattern. 

Hail the Snail, 2013

This term I'm excited to be further pursuing sculpture as well as developing skills and methodology as a film maker and photographer. Interests in absurdism, mundanity, human potential, natural beauty and decay, subcultures and anthropology might be themes in my future work but I have little insight about where unfamiliar tools and materials will take me. For a while now I have had a large interest in the effect that digital media, especially social networking has on individuality, relationships, loneliness, creativity, attention span and culture and I hope to explore these concepts through digital media and through my blog. 

"All media are extensions of some human faculty--psychic or physical"-Marchall McLuhan (The Medium is the Massage)
"the ultimate goal of technology, the telos of techne, is to replace a natural world that is indifferent to our wishes--a world of hurricanes and hardships and breakable hearts; a world of resistance--with a world so responsive to our wishes as to be, effectively, a mere extension of the self"-Jonathan Franzen (Further Away)