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Minnesota Original

We were asked to comment on the first episode of Minnesota Original

Alec Soth: His photos are captivating in a sense very different from normal photographs. One of his pieces that I was really struck by was a very simple photo. It features a run down cabin in the snow, with a line of brightly colored laundry hanging from it. As the narrator had mentioned, he managed to tell a story without forcing it out of the work. You kind of get this idea that a flamboyant, rather fun person lives in this worn out, frozen cabin.

He manages to bring out emotion where you wouldn't expect one. In his once group of pieces, he takes pictures of old movie theaters, and what they've been converted to. There was one that was changed into a video store or a laminating store. It's something in our everyday life that we overlook, but is inevitably sad when you think about it.

Heather Doyle: She's a very intriguing person. Heather has an optimistic sense of imagination, finding discarded metal pieces and creating them into something beautiful, or useful. The "schwoop" that she is best known for creates a very natural beauty to metal, which is inherently a cold, empty feeling mineral. The idea of her making a table out of something so old but still precious to her family brings a smile to my face. She's essentially reusing things that would be thrown out and left to gain dust.

Video Response 2

The next video I chose to write on, was "The Fantastic Mr. Fox". The scene that most intrigued me was when Mr. Fox, nephew boy, and the mole were robbing the distillery. Light and color were very important factors in this scene. A constant amber glow was emanating around the room during this scene, giving the vibe that the alcohol was as valuable as gold to Mr. Fox.

Shadow was also used to show impending danger. When the wife first came into the room, her shadow was the first thing that appeared, looming down the stairway, as an ominous, gigantic creature coming for them. Had it been merely a small shadow, or none at all, the scene wouldn't have worked as well as it did as far as suspense goes.

One of the best camera angles I thought that was used in that scene, was again when the wife was coming down the stairs. It was a straight-on shot of the bottle, with Mr. Fox hiding directly behind it. It both created a suspenseful moment, because he was in no way hidden, and (possible) foreshadowing to him being caught, as he appeared to be pickled within the bottle itself.

Quarter Gallery Exhibit / BA Exhibit

I'm grouping these posts together mostly because I chose two pieces which share some similarities, including how they were made.

The piece I chose from the BFA exhibit, unfortunately didn't have a tag with an artist's name or a title, so I'm of little use there. Here's a picture:
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It's pretty simply made, a metal frame, with a rusty cover in the shape of a moose. That's not to say this piece isn't well crafted. (Unlike the two-by-four leaning against the wall with a list of different types of wood taped to it.) What I enjoy most about this piece is the balance of it. The moose stands very sturdily, even though the legs are set at such awkward angles.

When looking at the moose the first thing I noticed was the body, it looked strong and sharp. When my eyes moved down the piece, it almost seemed fragile, young.

The second piece, I chose from the BA exhibit was by Kayla Kulzer, an untitled cast bronze and iron piece.

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What I enjoyed about this one was pretty much the same reason as the moose. I get such a thrill out of things that shouldn't be standing, but are. The other thing so aesthetically appealing about the piece, is the play on color and shape within the stacked spheres.

It's not quite the same version of rust as the moose, but the natural color gradations of the oxidation mixed with the unnatural blocking off of where the colors lie makes a fine mix of natural and unnatural. It's an unnatural stack of natural shapes, placed against a stairwell where it almost seems to belong.

Both the moose and the spheres seem to accomplish the feeling of belonging in a place where they shouldn't really belong.

Response to Nash Gallery 4-1-10

Once again, we were asked to write a response to a piece currently in the gallery. The piece I've chosen is entitled "Planes of Existence" by Jessica Teckemeyer.

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This is a three (sort of) part piece featuring a plastic Cerberus, a pool of water, and video projected onto the water. As the title states, this piece plays on the ideas of different planes of existence. The way I imagined it, given my nerdy background, is somewhat similar to the stories in the Golden Compass series. There are many different worlds, and places where they may connect.

There is the world with good ol' Cerby, drinking from his pool. there is a second world atop the pool, with an ethereal type water, changing from blues to pinks and so on. There is then another world, featuring the eye of someone peering into the pool back at Cerberus.

There is a second play on Cerby, though. Another take on this could feature time. (See Doctor Who episode: The Girl in the Fireplace) Perhaps the worlds do not follow the same time frame. Three seconds in the dog's world could be three hours in the world of the eye. It could be that as others view into this world, they are in fact seeing the reactions of just one dog in slow motion. First, it drinking contentedly. Second, it hearing a noise and looking up. Third, it growling at an intruder.

This theory then goes on to the idea of perspective. Looking into this slowed down world gives the "girl" the assumption that Cerby is a monster, when it is in fact a slowed down normal dog.

Theories aside, this piece works very well. The very blunt, precise lining of the dog statue complements the very smooth, flow-y rhythm of the projected water. The colors are much the same. The dog again features the very blunt, saturated colors while the pool has light, pastel colors. This is also used to denote the different planes of existence. Also, having actual water in the pool beneath the projection adds another layer of movement, though it may be just the occasional subtle ripple. It adds a random factor to the projection that gives it a more real effect.

Video Response

The film I decided to write a response for was a Japanese animated film entitled, Howl's Moving Castle, based off a novel of the same name. The animators stray away from the typical anime film with both the setting and color choice. They use bright, pastel colors such as pink, blue and yellow, against pale, painted backgrounds to help the characters pop out from the background.
The camera angles vary from the perspective of Sophie and that of the world around her. When she is being intimidated by the soldiers, the "camera" shows the men from her height. This creates the feeling of intimidation, and being closed off from any exits. There are also a lot of over the shoulder shots of the characters, as the oil creatures begin sneaking up on them.
The animators tend to show shots from the perspective of the character a good deal of the time, as shown with when Howl and Sophie first take flight. They show a shot of the two's feet, floating in the air, looking down at the people below. It helps to portray the feeling that it's a kind of scary situation, while the bright colors are able to offset that into a light, almost whimsical feel. By using the brighter colors and less shadow, the animators are able to portray these uneasy situations into a more young person friendly atmosphere, while still keeping the original message intact.
Also, by using the perspective of the characters with the camera angles, it helps to make the viewer insert his or herself into the film as one of the characters. It's a very effective way to make the viewer care about the characters without using dialogue, or using a forward exposition to give the life story of the characters.

China Exhibit Response

We were asked to write a response to a piece of art from the National Art Museum of China. The piece from the Synthetic Times exhibit I chose to write about was called "Eye Contact, Shadow box 1".

http://www.mediartchina.org/hte/eye

The piece features eight hundred simultaneous videos of people "... lying down,
resting". There's a motion sensor in the piece. When a person walks near, all of the videos come alive, and stare at the viewer. It is an interesting play on one of the basic principles of art; voyeurism. The point of most pieces of artwork is for the observer to play a role of someone looking in at a scene, while the people in the scene are unaware. I think it's a great play on the simple idea. Having a piece of art that is "self-aware" and able to look back can bring a sort of discomfort to the viewer, in a new way different from most pieces.

Most of the pieces within the exhibit seemed to illicit fear, or discomfort in some way. It was refreshing to finally see the tables turned on the viewer. The people in the videos also go back to sleep once the viewer walks away. It almost brings in its own viewers. One person goes over, becomes surprised, and leaves. Another person sees their reaction from afar and decides to investigate for themselves. They reach the piece and are surprised by the change.

The cycle goes on as the piece draws people in one by one. I've never had the chance to witness interactive art pieces, but after going through the site, I was very intrigued by the innovative thinking coming from the artists, and how the science of robotics can be utilized to create something aesthetically pleasing, rather than just creating a piece of machinery.

Chambers Hotel

We visited the Chambers Hotel on Tuesday. It was both classy and fascinating. Most of the art was awesome, and I felt very underdressed. Cheryl asked the class to write about a piece that spoke to us.

The piece that I chose was called, "Other Thing" by Subodh Gupta. Other Thing was a massive sculptural piece. It intrigued me so much for the most part because it's something beautiful created from something so ordinary, kitchen tongs. It almost looks like an eight-foot tall silver pine cone protruding from the wall.

It was able to create a pattern using simple objects that transformed them into something not of this world. The concept of creating something truly beautiful from something so plain is an idea that fascinates me. Given the luminosity of the metal, the artist seems to have created a duo of pieces. The first aspect of the piece being the actual structure of the metal object itself, while the second half of the piece transforms the stark, white walls into something beautiful, by using the light that dances off the piece itself.

I also love pieces that pull the viewer in. The viewer is definitely drawn into this piece- mostly because the lines start in all different directions, and converge in the center.The vast enormity of the piece also plays a role. It could be a metaphor referring back to the peasantry- or rather that the lower class is small, unimportant.

The artist used the small, unimportant tongs to create something larger than life. He made it so the tongs surpassed the class that the tools were originally used for. It's always intriguing to see what will happen when something one wouldn't take a second glance at is transformed into something a person can't take his / her eyes off of.

Almos(t)here

We were taken to see the exhibit (see title) at the Nash Gallery. (Or whatever it's called). C-W-C requested that we respond to a piece in the gallery that speaks to us. I chose some photos by Jaakko Heikkila (I don't know how to do the umlaut over the "a").

His main piece I decided to take a focus on was Peter in his room.

I really enjoy how this piece is set up using thirds. The subject seems so cramped an unhappy in the first third, while we have the deep red curtain as the second third, leading into the final area which makes the same sized area seem so vast and endless.

The contrast of background colors for the separate parts of the image is also a smart choice, using complementary orange for the lighting of Peter's room, while the outdoors is a variety of blue shades.

Heikkila seems to have a real gift for distorting space in his pieces. Harout in the everyday room has a nice fisheye effect with the walls, they seem to almost bend inwards. Tigran in the everyday room plays with the height, making the amount of ceiling and floor shown seem so vast in comparison to the subject on the bed.

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