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Penelope Umbrico artist talk

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I thought Penelope Umbrico's lecture was interesting because it made me wonder about art appropriation. I also have worked in a collage style by appropriating images from different sources, but the characters are often hand-drawn/painted in a way that is unique from the original source images. I don't feel comfortable with actually taking a finished product from another person and collaging them and calling it my own, I need to feel a sense of the artist's interpretation of the images.

However I did enjoyed Penelope's "Suns from Flickr" because it begs to question whether anyone owns the image of the sun. It was visually appealing because of the choice of using bright coloured source photographs to create a sunset from many images of the sun. As Penelope delved into the topic of the digital age and how we as a culture are sharing many photographs online, I was slightly discomforted by the idea of taking images without permission from the owner, especially if it is a personal image such as a photograph. Lately in my practice I've been moving away from closely copying images, and instead I've taken inspiration from many images but in a way creating my own characters, which I personally feel is a better path as a growing artist.

Penelope Umbrico

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As I looked at Penelope Umbrico's website before her lecture, I found myself drawn in. I saw in her work her search for commonality, for unique phenomena that most take for granted, and I was excited to see her speak. She certainly did not disappoint, elaborating on her work while keeping a great atmosphere with the audience and speaking with passion. But as she spoke, I realized that what intrigued me most about her work was the absolute fascination and focus with which she approaches her subjects. Near the end of the lecture, she referred to herself as someone who works in photography and works with it, and yet would not call herself a photographer. I've recently become intrigued by the New Aesthetic movement, which deals with the ramifications of the digital world into the physical. Listening to Umbrico speak, I could not help but see her work as a study of just that, and I found it highly relevant.

Penelope Umbrico

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Although I found the concepts behind Penelope's works to be quite interesting, I do not have a love affair with her work as many others seem to have. I'm really interested in art on the internet, art about the internet, and new forms of media that express this. I find Penelope's work to be visually interesting, but to me, she seems somewhat unaware of art that is happening on the internet. The fact that she prints off these photographs and collages them into a giant work that she shows in a gallery, to me somewhat misses the point of the work. I guess she is trying to question "what we consider art" and what we can make out of other pieces of visual information. The final work of what she has created is somewhat visually interesting, especially in terms of it's scale, but it does not excite me as much as some of the art I see online, or in an artist who heavily stimulates like Ryan Trecartin. I think her ideas are good, but if I was on Tumblr (where people post a lot of original, novel art) and I was scrolling, I would probably scroll right past the image of her "Sunsets" piece because it doesn't capture my attention that much. What I "did" like about her work was the meta photographs of people in front of her work, photographs of photographs of people in front of her work, etc.

My main point is that I wish artists would question the idea of showing their work in public spaces more, and to expand their concepts of public spaces. That is to say, is it really worth it to showcase a two-dimensional object in a physical space? Are physical spaces really even that relevant anymore or are we hanging on to this concept because that is how things had to be done in the past? Or is a work like that more appropriate to show in other contexts? I know she also mentioned that she is creating an e-book, but to me, even that seems somewhat of an outmoded concept. A blog would be more appropriate. An e-book is trying to take a concept that exists in the physical work and translate it to the digital world, not keeping in mind the digital context. I realize by attending "gallery talks", I am automatically setting myself up to be somewhat disappointed, as this kind of art has never piqued my interest as much as what is going on in edgier arenas like the internet, or even places like MoMA PS1, which really understands that art taking place in a physical space should have a more three-dimensional quality, and that the most interesting art right now is taking place outside of the gallery.

Visiting Artists Lecture #7 - Penelope Umbrico

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Visiting Artists Lecture #7 - Penelope Umbrico

Bailey Haack
18 April 2013

Before Penelope Umbrico's talk, I had looked up a few of her images online. I was excited because I had been accepted into her workshop and didn't know a lot about her work, so I wanted to hear her describe her practice in more detail. I enjoyed the format of her talk. It seemed casual and comfortable, like she had planned what she wanted to talk about but wasn't following a script. I enjoyed that she showed a lot of pictures throughout her talk to illustrate what she was discussing. However, I kept finding myself returning to a sense of discomfort with her work, and I couldn't figure out why that was. I decided that I really like the idea of her work, and how she is making a statement about how we as a culture make and share photos. However, I think my discomfort stemmed from her process in creating what she creates. In his introduction, Paul Shambroom noted that hers is a process of "collecting images and creating context," and Penelope said that "the subject of my work is photography." I think I had a problem with this because she seems to sell herself as a photographer, when really she is more of a curator or a collector of images, not a creator. I enjoyed her work and her talk, and especially her descriptions of the stories she's telling within her pieces. I just think that she should give more credit to the people creating the images, because they're the ones coming up with the actual imagery in much of her work.

Penelope Umbrico

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I seemed to have a really hard time initially connecting to Penelope and her work. The suns were pretty and interesting but I felt like I lost interest quickly. Maybe it's my lack of experience with critiquing and analyzing the work different artists do, but I felt as if she could have done more with her work. It would have been so much more interesting if she had taken the time to go out and take some pictures for herself or if she actually travelled to amazing places to get beautiful pictures of sunsets rather than sitting on a computer looking them up. I don't find that very inspiring. The lines of information she is following (such as the amount of sunset pictures on flickr) are interesting to an extent. I don't think this is something that I would continually follow and track. Things like this are the normal now. I could just be really desensitized to how accessible information is steadily becoming but since sharing information is so easy and common, I don't think it was worth her time to put effort into tracking how many sunset pictures there are on flickr. She also spoke of old television sets and one hour photo booths and I felt the same way about this information as I did about the sunset collection.
Penelope gave a really good and clear talk and I do respect her as a person but for some reason I was just not inspired by her work. Maybe I am being too closed minded or I'm being too critical but I feel like so much more could be done on her part to actually go out and get pictures for herself rather than having to face the critique of "stealing" other people's photos.
I seemed to have a really hard time initially connecting to Penelope and her work. The suns were pretty and interesting but I felt like I lost interest quickly. Maybe it's my lack of experience with critiquing and analyzing the work different artists do, but I felt as if she could have done more with her work. It would have been so much more interesting if she had taken the time to go out and take some pictures for herself or if she actually travelled to amazing places to get beautiful pictures of sunsets rather than sitting on a computer looking them up. I don't find that very inspiring. The lines of information she is following (such as the amount of sunset pictures on flickr) are interesting to an extent. I don't think this is something that I would continually follow and track. Things like this are the normal now. I could just be really desensitized to how accessible information is steadily becoming but since sharing information is so easy and common, I don't think it was worth her time to put effort into tracking how many sunset pictures there are on flickr. She also spoke of old television sets and one hour photo booths and I felt the same way about this information as I did about the sunset collection.

Penelope gave a really good and clear talk and I do respect her as a person but for some reason I was just not inspired by her work. Maybe I am being too closed minded or I'm being too critical but I feel like so much more could be done on her part to actually go out and get pictures for herself rather than having to face the critique of "stealing" other people's photos.

Penelope Umbrico

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I thought that Penelope Umbrico's lecture was quite enlightening. Her work with collage was very interesting. I had no idea that someone could make art out of photos pulled from places like Flickr or Craig's List. One important point was how few of her pictures she actually took herself. Obviously, she is a talented artist and photographer, but I thought it was interesting that she spent most of her time on her collages sorting through Internet photos to find perfect fits. I thought that this was mainly instructive because I feel that most artists have a kind of immediate aversion to using the work of others. Whether or not it is justified, most artists that I know want to do all of their own work and create something that belongs to them completely. Umbrico took a much more collaborative approach, by using photos that others had taken with no intention of them being used in a larger piece of art.

The other point raised by the lecture for me was the issue of ownership and art. Umbrico seemed to "steal" photos off the Internet willy-nilly, certainly never pausing to ask for permission from the original photographers. Although I appreciated the collaborative feel this gave her work, in the end, I thought that it was rather disrespectful and cavalier of her. She's no hypocrite--obviously she's fine if people use photos of her art, but it didn't seem right either to be so rewarding of what amounts to theft. If she had been using stock photos it might have been different, but most of the photos actually belonged to somebody.

Penelope Umbrico

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I found Penelope Umbrico's lecture was quite interesting although I was a little late because of the snow. I have heard Penelope Umbrico's work during my digital photography class and I was really glad that I was able to make this lecture.

I really enjoyed her progress of her work time to time starting from the sunset images through the abstraction lines of the television screen and the changes of technology through photography. Through her progress of her work, I was able to understand better her influence and the inspirations as she progressed along her work time to time. Throughout her lecture, I found that she utilized different social medias in photos such as flicker and timeline technology or search engines into her work which was quite interesting. I think the work that captured my full attention was the sunset work display. I felt that the work was very unique such as the varieties of abstract colors of the sunset but they unified well together as a whole work.

I also really appreciated how specific and her intention about her work also the steps how she progresses her work. I really enjoyed how she showed her work thoroughly while explaining well that makes the audience easily to understand. I was really amazed how she thought of utilizing the internet into her photography work which I was very inspired.

Overall, I really enjoyed her talk. She engaged well with the audience to answer the question carefully with honest. Compared to the two previous talk with Dianna Molzan, I was able to understand fully about the progress about the personal work which I really appreciated.

Penelope Umbrico

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I found Penelope Umbrico's lecture very interesting and inspiring. I have seen her work previously and found it intriguing but I have not looked much beyond the images shown to me. Because of that, I never understood the conceptuality in her work.

How Umbrico structured her lecture was partially why it was so great. She was able to move through a timeline of her work--starting from the Flickr sunset images to her current projects with reflections in television screens. While she progressed in the timeline, Umbrico continuously looped back to earlier work so the audience was able to make obvious cognitive connections. The presentation itself was quite beautiful as well. The Keynote software allowed her to reveal her work in a sensible fashion.

What I also appreciated was how she explained her process. There were no gaps in her work where I felt like I did not understand how she had gotten to that point. Each project seemed to build on top of a previous one--or extend into a minor, sub-project. This was especially apparent in her television series. I believe she had at least three different projects result out of the original. Then, how she was able to relate it back to the earlier Flickr project was intriguing. She spoke about how she found that the unauthored television images revealed more about the photographer, than the authored Flickr sunset images. This she found ironic, and explained it in depth to the audience.

Lastly, I appreciated how transparent Umbrico was with her finances. Many artists do not explain how their funding works. The Craigslist selling was quite interesting and she spoke about how no collectors were buying work directly from her. She also noted that she was spending much more time on various projects than what she was getting paid for. I respected her for revealing this so openly to her audience.

Penelope Umbrico

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Penelope Umbrico Lecture

I enjoyed how she thought out side of the box; exploring what her media could do. I think that it's interesting how people get so upset that she uses images that she finds. The idea of authorship comes to mind; when I look at how people are upset about her using peoples photographs. She is not using photos that were intended for art. She is using them to produce a work of art of her own. The work would not be as strong if she did not create the dialog with the audience.
The images that she makes are her art and have a strong signature look. People would never question a painter's work of a still-life's or of a landscape. Those images are not created from their imagination purely. All artists are affected but the images around them, either man made or natural objects in the world.
She has done what I am set out to do; produce work that has something that sets it apart from others. I really enjoyed her craigslist works because she is truly taking an everyday image, created to explain what the item for sale looks like, and then she looks at the images to create a story with them. She was able to find items and images that the person taking the picture may not have ever looked at or thought of. (reflections and unnecessary objects in the photo).
This was one of the better lectures this year because she took the time to explain her processes.
-Nina A.

Penelope Umbrico

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Before going to Penelope Umbrico's talk I was very skeptical about her work. I wasn't personally a fan of her work and I just thought she was stealing people's images to make her own work. I also thought the concept of her work was too simple minded and there was absolutely no effort to it. I am very glad that I did attend her lecture because I learned a whole lot about Penelope's work. It was interesting to her explain her reasoning for what she does and to here her defend why she does what she does.
I found that her work isn't simple minded and effortless but she actually spends a lot of time looking for images on the web to use within her projects. Also, the scale of some of her projects is enormous. For example her project Sunsets stretches down a long hallway-like wall.
Yes, she spends a lot of time on these projects, but I still find myself feeling a little skeptical if these images are stolen images. In her defense she does crop the images down to only a small portion of the picture and it becomes totally unrecognizable to the photographer of the original image. Also, like she said, one person does not own the sun. In a way I just wish she would go out and take pictures of sunsets to make it more of her own work. It does seem like she is doing more of her own picture taking in resent projects like the one of the old cameras. It will be interesting to see if she continues to take her own pictures for projects in the future.

-Moriah Kelly

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