Friday, June 8, 2007


Its funny looking at this on the screen
The masking in that work is like the calm eye of the storm. I cant tell actually though if its negative or positive space I'm looking at. It seems to get back to matter, matter circulating and assuming certain patterns. I like those central marks behaving like lens glare. It reminds me of footage from Joseph Kittinger's leap from the edge of the earth's atmosphere. ( Apparently he wrote a book about it but its sort of like what can you even put in that book.

On TV-- its affected our behaviors, and for sure our metaphors for experience. Maybe it depends where we're looking to find this in art. There's Nam June Paik. I saw that piece of his at the national gallery earlier this spring, with the wall of televisions. I remember watching these two young kids looking at it too and thinking whats this like for them? Really loses its criticality to a viewer whose own experience may be so genuinely akin to the feel of it. But what about painting and drawing. Illusionistic work and television do overlap, theyre all about surface. Hi-def technology pushes that envelope further and further, that envelope where you know the difference between whats real and what isnt. Hi-res TV's make you feel like youd been near blind your whole life and you didnt know it.

Technologies of optics (art status regardless)--Giotto, one point perspective, the eye glass lens, still photography, digital photography, camera phones, the new microsoft coffee table that is also an interactive media space-- though seemingly differentiated, seem to grow from the same objective-- bringing ourselves closer to some idea of real. When I looked at Zak's babies, that was what they were about for me too, but in a way that is about genuine intimacy.

Ive been visiting at my mother's, a place that is all about TV. Right now the soundtrack in the house, besides the fridge, is Larry King. No one, clearly, is in the room with the TV at the moment.

TV watching flips in and out of states of focus and distraction. When I pointed out that Paris Hilton has been the sole subject of discussion on CNN for the past twenty minutes, mom reminded me of that point. "We all need our distractions" is what she said.

And then there is the way that the watching replaces being outside (back to mirror neurons!) Bringing the outside inside. Sitting outside watching TV makes no sense. I cant think of why that would ever happen. I guess thats whats going on in Tom's piece is that the outside is the outside brought inside (yikes). The TVs are also hyper materialized, we are much more aware of their physicality as objects or furniture and not just their contents. Maybe that is what is hard about using TVs in the work. There is the object and then the experience of tv, and it is hard to capture that. You make a really good point Susan about it boiling down to light. I just remembered seeing thesis work this year, paintings on the first floor of the main of children in interiors. One had a lot of blue light I think, projected light, on the faces of children, so that the tv is central to the scene though not directly in view, only its effects. Maybe others know which paintings I mean.

I think I'll stop there for now, but hello blog! Hope all is well with everyone. Looking forward to future conversations.


Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Work in Progress

This is the image I started in The Illusionism class this spring. I haven't worked on it at all since then, and I thought it would be interesting to post it periodically for comments as it develops. Obviously there's not much here yet, but if it prompts any responses, I'd love to hear them. Look in on the blog over the summer and see what develops.

Where are the televisions?

I’ve always felt the absence of TV’s in today’s art. People still paint traditional landscapes, nice pictures of trees and water, but what Americans do with the bulk of their time is watch TV. The absence of TVs in art seems like evidence of the extent of denial. When people talk, it’s about TV shows, their favorites on American Idol, the last episode of a popular drama. Most homes have multiple TVs, yet the interiors in art are thoughtful figures by windows, through doors, flanked by mirrors. It’s never seemed true to modern life. Past attempts to use it as a class project had limited success. Tom Symond’s piece showed me how to incorporate it as an assignment because TV is not bound by the traditional brightness constancy of reflected light. Tom brought this piece to show me in progress and it faithfully obeyed the rules, all the light on the screen diminishing with distance, the reflected light on the figure in the foreground, the strongest light in the piece. When I said, the TV has to be brighter, is on a scale of its own, he said, “No way” . He’d learned the lessons of brightness constancy well. And I learned that this was the opportunity to re-engage my students with TV as subject matter. After all, the world of projected light is pervasive, not just TV’s and computer screens. When I shut off the lights in my studio in the evening four little LCD,s are still glowing. Our attention is drawn to light sources, and is even more attracted to sources of movement. When a TV is on in the room even if you’re not interested in what’s on, if you’re focused on a conversation with a friend, it will periodically drag attention to its screen by the flurry of urgent motion. Let me know what you think about TV’s in art and why there isn’t more of it.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Learning to Swim in a New Medium

I’ve been finding my way to what is interesting about blogging and am thinking about particular questions and your take on them. In the next week or so, I’ll be posting three or four of them, after which I will lay low for awhile to let comments accumulate.
First , I’m interested in how you would answer the question, “What is illusionism?". Ever since Paul Manning wrote something to the effect of “What the F*** is illusionism?" On the evaluation at the end of class, it’s been clear to me that I must not have come up with a concise amnd straightforward definition, so I can use some help. I’ve always said initially , that it’s the appearance of space and volume in an image. In its purest form , it’s actually fooling the eye into believing something could be real which engages sensory reactions rather than simply communicating the idea of space. Beyond the simple definition, I’m also interested in what about it you are drawn to philosophically, where you see larger implications. I look forward to whatever thoughts you have on this. Thanks!