April 2011 Archives


Artist Influence

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It was a challenge to decide which artist influenced me the most so in order to be the most productive I decided to ask myself who's approach to public art did I find appealing-who's approach could influence the way I would like to approach my corner. I thought of Julie Muhretu. I read an article about her in the New Yorker, Big Art, Big Money, last year about her mural, "Mural" in the Goldman Sachs's lobby in downtown Manhattan. By working with a company which has received a lot of criticism in the last few years, it could have hurt her reputation. It was interested to see how she approached this problem. Julie was able to separate herself to a certain degree. She has a large wall. She evaluated the space which was steel and glass and systematically came up with something.



"I was thinking back to the modernist tradition of painting as part of architecture, and I was also thinking about the narrative of lower Manhattan."

West Side Corner

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My neighborhood intervention has extended from the corner where I live to a corner one block north, where the street is diverted by the limestone bluff. This corner is frequently used as a place to dump unwanted items into the dense brush below, and my neighbors and I have discussed for a few years ways to improve the corner and dissuade littering. I have constructed a simple structure, attached to the guardrail, that will suspend five colored panels that will hang over the bluff's edge. My intention is that these panels will call attention to the ignored view, which is now obstructed, and to the unnatural presence of foreign objects scattered below.

I remember hearing this joke frequently, and I'm aware of the baggage that a lot of very large, metal sculpture carries as far as being big instead of good, but I like big, steel things. My favorites at the Walker's sculpture garden are Serra's Five Plates, Two Poles or Calder's The Spinner

I know you've all seen those, so I apologize for wasting the space to post yet another picture.

What I like about these is the way that the scale and material can surround you. The size of these creates an interaction that is not always available with smaller works. The tactility of the steel, and the heat it puts off even into the evening is a different type of interaction than most objects I encounter. I do touch everything as I walk around all day, and quite a bit of manufactured or built objects seem to fail to absorb and slowly release the evidence of existence around them. The self healing nature of the steel also means that even the marks from children's feet or chalk or graffiti are absorbed, but also slowly released over time.

One of the artists I mentioned, Anthony Caro is yet another artist that dealt with steel as a material. From what I've read, it seems that his work, at least for the last half century has been commissioned work, rather than self initiated, but I assume he has the luxury of choosing what to be commissioned to do. One interesting thing I learned from the website, was that he collaborated on London's Millenium Bridge, the walking bridge over the Thames. Arup.com The way I think this ties into our discussion is that Caro is among those credited (by his own website anyway) with placing large, brightly painted sculptures directly on the ground so that they engage the viewer on a one-to-one basis. I think that while there are now many more interactive ways to engage a viewer besides placing art in the same plane they are standing in, I have to imagine that at the time this was a big deal.

Another Corner Iteration

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Here is a sketch of some ideas for creating the image I am interested in on this corner. I love the sense of perspective and the bare trees. Now I need to figure out where to go from here.


Sean and Nicola's corner- facts for cars

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Sean and Nicola Corner: estudio: Car Facts!

artist intent:

provide information/humor to passing cars from HW94!!!

trivia, unexpected facts

contradicts expectations of homeless and protesters


armadillos can walk underwater

you weigh slightly less when the moon is directly overhead

ants never sleep

if you stretch a standard slinky out flat, it measures 87 feet long

hummingbirds are the only animal that can fly backwards

there are around 10,000 trillion ants in the world

welcome to latitude: 44.964599 longitude: -93.233760

elephants have 4 knees

polar bears are left handed

it would take around 1,600,050,000 pieces of this paper to weigh the same as a full grown male african elephant

a crocodile cannot stick its tongue out


mosquitos have teeth

camels have three sets of eyelids. one of them is clear.

you have around 100-150 eyelashes on each of your eyes

you blink around 4,200,000 times each year of your life

View Sean and Nicola Corner: estudio: Car Facts! in a larger map

Nicola and Sean: Send Your Message Into the World!

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Send Your Message Into the World

Corner Project

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I set up 28 round reflector panels underneath the bridge at Lake and Stevens in a double arrow ( <-->) design. On each of the panels I wrote the words "Saint Christopher Protect Us." My attempt was to transform the panels into amulet medallions. I posted two signs encouraging passer-bys to remove and take a medallion. I asked, furthermore that if they lived towards Hennepin they take one from the left and if they lived towards Hiawatha they take one from the right.
alt="102_3530.JPG" src="http://blog.lib.umn.edu/willow/estudio_seminar/assets_c/2011/04/102_3530-thumb-600x450-78029.jpg" width="600" height="450" class="mt-image-center" style="text-align: center; display: block; margin: 0 auto 20px;" />
The piece is meant to be about choices, travel, traffic currents,different speeds of looking and walking, protection and being protected and possibly throwing away things that protect you and history and new ways of looking at the old, new ways of looking at things from a distance, new ways of approaching a crossroads and arbitrary midpoints in space (a position we arguably occupy everyday, destruction and equilibrium in the evolution of an image over time (the arrows should transform into a scattered cluster of dots after a while), and my family's history with Lake Street (Stevens is the midpoint between Hennepin and 13th where my mother and her siblings lived 30 years ago).
A week later, when I revisited the site, all but 4 pendents were removed, presumably taken. The 4 that were left were all on the Hennepin Ave side of the bridge, and so may tell us something about the people that frequent the bridge.102_3560.JPG

Park Corner Project

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Here are some images of the swings that I mentioned in class. The presence of the rope and sign only lasted one day, I drove past the park on Friday (the 15th) and saw that everything had disappeared. It was bittersweet, because the unplanned removal of my ephemeral installation meant that people actually do go to the park near my house, but I was frustrated that all of my materials had vanished, (I had prepared for my things to be taken, but not everything, oh well).
Now I'm planning on venturing on to the next idea I have in mind to the park area. My focus will be on the grass near the park or doing something else to the sand. Hopefully the next ephemeral art idea I have works a little better and longer--Krista




Making meaning from speakers

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To begin, I think that we can all take something from each of the speakers, regardless of our background or interest area, but as I need to choose 3, and talk about their direct influence on my work, I think Sam Gould, Micheal Sommers and Janaki Ranpuri are currently among those that I have used quotes or concepts from this semester.

Sam Goulds characterization of public art as a space for communication has really helped me to move outside of my previous understanding of public art. I think that definition alone has been popping up in my daily conversation at least twice a week, since this talk. Part of the reason would be my involvement in a project to help discuss and facilitate community identity for a new suburban development. We are looking at art as a way to have the types of conversations that the developers are looking to have, in order to allow community members to influence and feel belonging to the community, rather than using brand messaging to tell them what the identity is, and force them to participate or not.

Additionally, Sam's comments during the discussion of our work in the atrium regarding the use of a recognizable framework to allow people to access the work, not only reinforces a lot of the theory I discussed last semester in a game design theory class, but helped me to extend those theories outside of that realm. Though I had talked about dealing with what I was calling composite spaces, I found that having that discussion would require much more infrastructure than I could consider ephemeral. Sam's comments helped me to identify some ideas that participants would understand with little instruction or infrastructure, for a piece that would exist only temporarily. I think I was looking for something with a much lighter footprint, both physically and cognitively, and Sam's discussion helped me to re-frame what I understood as public art and execute something that would be accessible.

Micheal Sommer's talk was not only energetic, but presented some new ideas on anthropomorphizing objects, which is an interest area of mine. I think that when you can identify the personality an object has, that can help inform the design of the object or experience, and Micheal's discussion of giving objects life was right in that vein. Even in the week since that talk, I have found myself discussing anthropomorphism with my students in one of the classes I assist in teaching, who have been having trouble creating original facial and body feature for toy monsters they are designing. I had been telling them all spring semester to think about what attitude their toy would have and how that ornery-ness or shyness could influence the types of features it possesses and the way that it moves or operates. Micheal's exercises have given me a whole new way to talk about that process and show people how to think about giving objects life.

Similiarly, I also take some new ideas about anthropomorphism from Janaki's discussion and the stop motion video of the tea cup and assorted items that climbed into it. I think examining the way puppeteers and animators not only make the objects move, but the way they give them personality is very connected designing user experiences. I don't think we can continue to have object and experiences driven by the raw technology, and endowing these objects with personalities and attitudes might be one way to allow humans to connect with the objects that populate our daily life.

3 guest artists/speakers

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I found myself remembering what was said by Janaki Ranpuri, Michael Sommers, and Jack Becker the most, because they were all very inspiring.

Janaki Ranpuri--Her interaction-based lecture was compelling, and I enjoyed her enthusiasm with her own work. The tea cup and mini theater animations were fun to do and really got me thinking of how objects can be brought to life with simple movements. I also liked how she mixed technology with social interactions from the public, in reference to her most current project with the egg/sperm bicycle thing.

Michael Sommers--It was fun to get up and move around during his discussion with us, which helped us relate our movements to the objects we manipulated afterwards. Although it was hard to get into the newspaper exercise, I understood and appreciated the concept. The random objects that he brought turned out to be interesting when we had them perform for a little bit. I took a lot of his instructions for the class into my own work. I'm in one of his classes and his discussion with us helped me figure out some things with my sand painting. Giving random objects life can be a hard task, but usually having fun with them is the best way to go about it. Sommers kept saying to "let the objects speak for themselves" which has always remained true. Usually objects keep a certain persona if they are being used in an interesting or 'correct' way, if its too forced it will not be received well by the audience.

Jack Becker--His discussion helped me think of the future, specifically for when I graduate. His discussion was motivating, because I have never thought of artists as free agents before, that could apply for grants to make the art that they want to make. Our society is so money based that commissioned work seems like the only thing that is made anymore, which doesn't sound fun for the artists. Making art strictly for the artist is more or less a way of "self-indulging," which is a rare thing to do in the workforce nowadays. Having fun and working are rarely correlated in today's economy, but Becker's lecture made it seem possible for the artist. Of course a lot of people are competing for the grants, but the option is out there through his company.

The information that all three of these speakers gave us was helpful, and the variety of their experiences and artwork was equally entertaining to see, interact with, and motivating to hear.


Speaker reflections

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I am bad with names and so I apologize for having to refer to the speakers in the following way. In the sessions with the two architects/ designers, the conversation artist (radio broadcast conversation pieces), and the puppeteer, a light went off. These three speakers not only brought up interesting and relevant questions, which for me I am still wrestling with, but also were able to introduce important insights into critical procedures in the art-making process.
When the architects/ designers spoke they put a lot of emphasis on collaboration and the ways in which collaboration informed their process. The greatest insight for me was how they worked from start to finish. They weren't combing the world of art and design for questions to answer. Rather, their ideas sprang from conversation, and collaboration was the vehicle by which they arrived at a fruitful discussion. Once they had an idea, and certainly they were working on more than one at a time, they would work in a systematic way to bring the idea to life, often with the help of a great number of people. In this way, their collaboration was a continuation of that initial dialogue. This was an invaluable insight into the process of making work. Seeing how a source of inspiration was generated and subsequently sustained provided me with a sort of standard candle for checking the success and failure of my own work (in the sense that it had either generated and sustained a conversation or had gone flat).
The "conversation artist" (again, I'm really sorry for not remembering names), talked about social practice and intervention, using broadcasts of people talking and voicing their opinions to a local audience. What was important about his talk was the ways in which he structured his work and also trusted his volunteers. He made a point not to come up with answers to the questions he was bringing up, or to contribute directly to the conversations he was initiating. Rather, he letting the people do the talking while working to create effective sites for democracy. Seeing his work has shifted the ways in which I look at my own work and the role of ideas in my work.
Finally, the puppeteer's talk made explicit what it means to structure an artwork. Using structure, one can direct one's own spontaneity; by practicing, one can use less structure. This insight got to the heart of a problem I have been struggling with for a year, which is how do you structure instinct? He showed that by learning about the actions you are using, by opening up the ways in which you make these actions, you can work on a level that is less conscious and more authentic than if you were drawing from learned experience.
All in all, the speakers were really important to my own development as an artist. I'm not sure how they affected my work in the public realm. I think that what they showed is that public realm is a dimension of every artwork, and that that dimension can always be pushed, often with incredible results. Time will tell the ways in which their talks fully influenced by work, but for now the future looks exciting

speaker 1, speaker 2, speaker 3 (surround sound)

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The three speakers that were the most inspiring to me and my art practice were Sam Gould, Janaki, and the guy from Transmaterial (oops, forgot his name).

Sam Gould: The Friday before class I also saw him talk, but he still added new things for our class. I really liked how he explained his art practice and gave me a lot to think about when it comes to social practice as art. His insights were helpful for the Regis Transformation, and I thought he had much to say. He brought up some really good things to think about when framing art and also interacting with the public.

Janaki: Though I have known her from being a volunteer helping on the Mayday parade the past two years (this will be my third), she still offered new things to say. I didn't know about her egg and sperm ride, but it is exciting that she is adding technology to her work. I have done puppetry and stop motion before, but never live stop motion :). It was fun, but I also got a lot out of her talking about her own work and passions. Janaki always has something interesting to say, and this was no exception.

Transmaterial person (I can't believe I forgot his name...): I loved all of the slides he showed about new materials and how they are being used in architecture, design, and other uses. I am a fan of felt, so the molding of industrial felt was fascinating for me. My parents both work in the Field of Architecture, so I grew up with two people with strong ideas about design. Architecture and design still have a place in my mind. His lecture was heightened when I visited the "New Materials" room at CCA over spring break. I got to see some of the things he was talking about...

Speaker Reviews

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Marc Swackhamer

As a 3-dimensional designer, I'm intrigued by the intense research and development that each HouMinn project seems to endure. Professional architectural practice typically focuses on programming and documenting a design, and very few resources are devoted to prototyping, modeling, and larger-scale mock-ups. The mechanical precision and craftsmanship required by Marc's modular work necessitates hands-on work by him and his various collaborators. Their experimentation with uncommon industrial materials and processes within the context of thoughtful small-scale design projects is an approach that they share with some innovative art practices that interest me. I'm also inspired by the graphic design and overall clarity of his presentation, which is such a vital part of success in the public art and architecture world.

Sam Gould

Though I don't imagine my practice ever incorporating overt political tones or performance, I'm still contemplating Sam's assertion that all art is fundamentally political. He believes that the act of creation is effectively the artist's statement that his/her work 's existence is valid. Unlike most other media, art and design within the built environment is both a commercial endeavor and has a physical endurance that must be carefully considered. In my experience, this frequently results in a tendency to water down public work to meet a community's level of comfort. The work of Red76 takes complete ownership of its political and aesthetic position and boldly inserts it into the community, which is an attitude I believe would both complicate the public art process and improve its results. I also appreciated Sam's careful critique of our ephemeral transformation projects.

Michael Sommers

The exercises that Michael put us through were socially uncomfortable, but I find that they have adjusted my outlook on the experience of performance and public work. For me, the most compelling work in the public realm incorporate some form of 'aliveness,' or responsiveness. Taking inanimate objects and creating physical interactions and narratives with Michael has made me aware of the power that is generated when an ordinary thing becomes a character, and is imbued with a personality. It made me consider how characters can be created on a larger spatial scale and over an infinite time range, and how static objects in space can be overlaid with subtle human traits that create emotional connections. The exercise that involved reimagining our own movements through space also reinforced the power of imagination in the perception of our surroundings.

Elisa's Reflections on Speakers

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Michael Sommer's talk was extremely helpful for me. We did two exercises that helped clarify some things for me. In one, we kneeled on the floor with a piece of newspaper on the floor in front of us. We then put our hands on the paper and began to move the paper slowly, animating it incrementally by pushing and crinkling the paper until it came off the floor and began to take life. This exercise reminded me that an intuitive and playful engagement with a material and its capacities gets me very excited. Then, we did an exercise in which we walked arm and arm with a fellow classmate and looked at random things and made statements of what sorts of thing they reminded us of. This exercise could be described as the practice of creating metaphors. I had much more trouble coming up with linguistic statements about material phenomena. I am much more interested in the possibilities of what material can do, and how it feels. In the process, the material also takes on metaphorical properties, but those are not based on the imposition of language on the material, but on the formal and active properties of the material. Inanimate material can fly, mold, float, zap, flutter, emerge, or fall.

Tasoulla Hadjianni's talk was also inspiring for me, and her thoughts on the role of craft in the homes and lives of different cultural groups in Minnesota made me consider the importance of the insertion of creative and artistic alternate realities into our daily lives. All cultures make art and practice ritual. Art has the capacity to give meaning and pleasure to our lives. In addition, craft can be a form of preserving memories and performing identity. Tasoulla and Michael's talks are making me think about how art has an important role in daily life as an insertion of metaphor, narrative, play, and joy. This insertion of an alternative layer of reality that takes us out of our daily experience, even as it is inscribed in the very midst of daily life seems to be an important function of art.

Finally, Mike Gould's art, in an extremely different way, similarly provides an alternative space removed from daily life even as it is situated in the midst of daily life, for the purpose of transforming how people interact with the world. By using familiar cultural practices like a dinner at someone's house, he changes the form just enough to wake up participants and show them that they have more power than they think over the world in which they live. I was inspired by Mike Gould's talk, not so much because he has an artistic practice that I would like to emulate, but because what he is doing, with earnestness and persistence, is finding innovative ways to promote dialog and community, evoke political change, and have fun in the process. I think that he is providing some excellent models for democratic education. As I think about how to teach students, I hope that part of my pedagogical practice can be to promote discourse and empower the voices of my students.

All of these guests, and the others we had the pleasure of meeting, were also inspiring because of their sincerity and integrity, and the generous and honest way in which they are intending with their practices and their scholarship to contribute to the world.

Plans with Corner~Krista

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I unfortunately have not had the time to accomplish my other plans with this corner. I am trying to coordinate with the weather, which is nearly impossible. Also, I am worried that anything I do further with the corner will just be taken down or someone will complain. My first swing interaction was quickly taken down. We'll see though, hopefully this weekend I'll find the time, because the weather is supposed be nice. Maybe if I put it up really early in the morning, it will last longer? --who knows.

My idea with the balloons was inspired by my performance class, because I had to buy a bunch of balloons, so I might as well reuse my materials, and I figured if the balloons are in the ship, adults won't interfere and take them away. Hopefully they will just be seen by the kids that play there.

Bluff Installations (in magenta)

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The bluff edge in my neighborhood is overgrown, forgotten, and littered. I planned three interventions that would generate a moment of attention for this neglected community asset. The first, installed a week ago, was at a guardrail above a steep drop:

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Though I don't have photos of the original configuration, which was four vertical panels obscuring the view, the work quickly fell apart due to vandalism and the elements. I find its deterioration symbolic of the bluff edge itself, which was once quite intentional but has become tattered over time. The second, installed Wednesday morning, was along a secluded stair:

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As neighbors take the stairs to and from the bus stop and commercial area, they pass under a canopy of fluttering plastic. Even a day later, the influence of the wind, rain, and passers-by is evident. The third piece was installed at the top of the stair, near a view of downtown Saint Paul:

As it is placed along a created path through a community garden and towards the bluff stairs, it will be passed a number of times a day. It draws attention away from your movement, through the opening and towards the view that always exists, but is rarely noticed. I am interested to see how the work changes as the view is accessed.

So far, my favorite guests to our class are Sam, Jack, and Michael.

Out of all of the guests, I believe I connected most with Sam. It was useful to hear about his art practice and his outlook on art-making and public space. His concerns for site specificity, reciprocity, political activism, public discussion, documentation, literature, philosophy, community, democracy, social histories and communication were all extremely useful to learn about.

It was inspiring to learn about the depth of his art practice. His projects have existed in such a wide variety of places and with a large variety of people.

Also, Sam mention of Stephen Duncombe was great! Stephen's lecture at the walker on Utopia is great!

I also enjoyed meeting Jack from Forecast Public Art. It was useful to get exposure and a glimpse into how funding for art happens in Minneapolis. His passion for art and artists really showed during his presentation. It was also great to hear his stories of projects and to hear about his connection to public art. The photos he showed during his presentation were very helpful in his explanation of public art in Minneapolis. Overall, I was impressed by the variety of skills Jack had. He has communication skills, business skills, artistic skills, writing skills, and media skills (among others). It was inspiring to meet someone with such a diversity of talents!

Lastly, I really enjoyed our class engagement with Michael. It was really great to have our class stand up and move. Although interests in puppets and theater are not primarily my focus, I learned many concepts and techniques which I believe I can apply to my own practice. Michael's discussion of the object and our bodies connection to objects was fascinating. I believe most useful was Michael's suggestion to rethink how we see and interact with objects in our everyday (and our connection to objects, narrative, and meaning).


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To begin with, Jack Becker was so helpful in his explanation of what public art is. He illustrated the many different directions artist have gone and helped to broaden my boundaries especially with the corner project in mind. The set up for his lecture was very helpful in how casual it was-it was really just a discussion to help brainstorm ideas. He made public art approachable. It was great to be able to speak with someone that had worked within the field for so long-his list of resources appeared really never ending.

The architect that worked with a designer in Texas was another speaker that I was interested in. It was especially exciting to see how he worked with his partner. They worked differently and both had their own set of skills and they used these skills they had to their advantage. It can be hard working with someone on a project and the two of them often times weren't meeting face to face so it was really impressive to see what they were able to achieve. His enthusiasm for materials was also very exciting to see. He was a problem solver and it was interesting to see how he employed different materials depending on their properties in order to solve problems.

Bruce Wright is also someone that I greatly admire mostly for his wealth of knowledge. He is someone greatly interested in materials, how they function and change. He enjoys knowing what project people are working on. He is a great example of a collaborator or networker. His curiosity has brought him so many places and has made him such an invaluable resource.