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January 1, 2008

Franklin Art Works: Oliver Michaels

At Franklin Art Works, Oliver Michaels: Train was an exhibit I am glad I got to experience. This was my first time inside the Franklin Art Works building and I hope it is not my last since it’s so close to my house. Inside I found myself liking the set up because it was open yet separated. I like how Michaels’s video was curtained off in the front and secluded because it allowed me to focus on the video without any interruptions. If I had only glanced at Michaels Train digital projection I would have figured it to be a camera on a toy train going through his own house. For this piece I feel that one must sit and watch the entire twelve-minute projection to understand some of the symbolic glimpses Michaels adds. The train goes through many different rooms and shows different seasons outside including a gloomy winter and a dry summer. In his handout, Michaels explains that the setting is focused on the public and private interiors of a British middle-class home. With this knowledge I can understand why he decided to pause and still the camera on certain places for instance, the train stopped and focused on a toilet. I think it’s interesting how the train is never seen; yet the viewer can tell by the title and visual flow of the camera that they are following the path of one.
Digital art is a relatively new art form that struggles for acceptance because some see it only as a by-product of computer programming, which then presents the question of what constitutes art. Unlike other digital art, Michael’s projection, Train, was aesthetically successful and is a true form of art because it allowed me to take a minute (actually twelve) and think about what the journey was trying to tell me. I had to question what I thought it meant and by doing so I looked at certain objects in the video and used them to remember memories, and symbolic meanings for myself. I later read the handout and saw what he had wanted it to symbolize, which were different from mine. I enjoyed the artwork and the building because they allowed me to reflect on my thoughts, memories, and art in general.