My most recent favorite artist is a gentleman known by most as Banksy. He is an anonymous English graffiti artist, that is know to roam the streets as night and display his art to the public by early morning. Nobody ever actually sees him in action. He is not only an amazing artist but also a political activist constantly using his art to challenge political agendas. I recently saw a film about him and the description I found most suitable was " mix the irony and juxtaposition of John Yates with the beauty of the finest aerosol art, and you'll have some idea of how good this really is." His work inspires me because society labels it as vandalism, yet I see it as political and social commentary that is very honest and important. A few of the pieces are a bit dark for my taste, but I like that they make a strong statement and rebel against artistic norms. One of my favorite quotes from him is " We can't do anything to change the world until capitalism crumbles. In the meantime we should all go shopping to console ourselves." This as well as in most of his art shows that at least he still has a sense of humor.
I have several that I am continually interested in and some that are new since the beginning of this class. One of my favorite contemporary artists is named Barry McGee from San Francisco. He specializes in pop art, graffiti art and typically in the realm of subcultures from that area. He creates characters that always seem tired, distraught, disillusioned or heartbroken with modern society, control, addiction and mass media. He has been highly regarded in that underground punk/surf/skateboard culture and I have always found that fascinating, fancying myself one of those members although I grew up in the midwest. I really enjoy the dark and dramatic expressions and lines in his characters, and most often they seem relatable and familiar. Here is one of his prints:
Another artist that I found recently is named Shea Hembrey. He has a unique background and currently an equally unique concept of singularity. His work is titled "Biennial" where he created 100 artists with differing mediums and stories, and then created the works that they themselves would create. We get a twofer in his current work. I thought this concept was so new and risky and seemingly complex, but he states that simplicity and universal understanding was important to him for the viewers of his work. Art is supposed to touch people, rather than to be completely esoteric that it is difficult to articulate. He seems like a cool dude. HIs website:
Another artist I found in the literary magazine "Paper Darts" is named Jolyn Frazier. Her work seems light, playful and funny. The piece "Don't Let the Bastards Get You Down" made me laugh for about twenty minutes straight. I find anthropomorphic work hilarious for some reason I cannot explain. "Paper Darts" is a good source for all kinds of art, and new contemporary/digital artists.
I really enjoyed "Absentee Landlord" curated by Mr. Waters and the other exhibit titled "Parallel Occurrences/Documented Assignments". I did not find the latter exhibit particularly appealing visually, but rather the whole concept that the artist Mark Manders was working with and around. He was interested in everyday objects and language and how that shapes our relationship in and with the world around us. He is a bit of an anthropologist in that he was very focused on culture and the minute tangible objects that actually play a large part of our daily lives. He combined things that seem unconnected and creates a story from this relationship. I really like the idea of household objects, taxidermied animals and other non-living pieces having identities, stories and a life all their own. This reminds me of one of my favorite pieces of fiction by the author Tom Robbins titled "Skinny Legs and All" which does that very same thing with a spoon, sock, and can of beans.
John Waters curated exhibit was colorful and varied. He seems like an interesting artist, never keeping to one medium or another and always trying to stay in a provocative or perverse vein. One of his pieces that struck me right away was the 'cut/uncut' which needed no further explanation at first glance with the imagery of a spaceship running into the side of the white house beside the airplanes hitting the twin towers. It was just attesting to the tragedy and horror of that occurrence- which seems to happen unaccounted for all over the world all the time- and how it almost could be a fictionalized moment due to it's extremely violent nature, something that would be found in a blockbuster movie. The reason this image resonated with me so much is because I remember seeing the planes hit the towers live and firstly thinking that perhaps it was a new Michael Bay film being advertised. I also enjoyed the short film "Flooded McDonald's" by the artistic team Superflex. It was a poignant film in the message it was delivering about mass consumption and inevitable disaster, global issues, commodity fetishism and outsourcing and the effects that that will have on local and foreign economies and their respective environments. The "Exposed" exhibit was really engaging with it's disturbing photography and installations and the idea of where is the line drawn on photography/mass media and society and how personal is too personal? It dealt with all the attention getting themes of violence, sex, celebrity and viscera which I found especially appealing. I think I enjoyed that because of my fascination with human biology and also that unappetizing feeling you get by looking at disturbing images of flesh and blood that you are still drawn to, with those tug of war feelings of repulsion and arousal, and those goos bumps that eventually proceed from that visualization. I also liked that Waters included the Yves Klein print of the female bodies on that translucent piece of fabric, or curtain of which I cannot remember the name. It was my favorite in the Klein "Blue" exhibit. I also would like to check out the "Ballad of Sexual Dependency" which I missed due to time constraints. It is really wonderful being able to witness something so intimate and artfully done, universal but individualized to each personal relationship.
Still needs some work, but much farther along.
I want to mention a poet who bridges into the "new media" realm (in terms of poetics) via the "backdoor." The poet is Christian Hawkey, and I'm specifically interested in his book _Ventrakl_.
The description on the website (Ugly Duckling Presse) describes the book as:
"Envisioned in the form of a scrapbook, Ventrakl folds poetry, prose, biography, translation practices, and photographic imagery into an innovative collaboration with the 19th/early 20th century Austrian Expressionist poet Georg Trakl. Like Jack Spicer'sAfter Lorca, translation is the central mode of composition in this book, and it is also the book's central theme, which Hawkey explores in a surprising array of different genres and modes of writing. What evolves is a candid and deeply felt portrait of two authors--one at the beginning of the 20th century, the other at the beginning of the 21st century, one living and one dead--wrestling with fundamental concerns: how we read texts and images, how we are influenced and authored by other writers, and how the practice of translation--including mistranslation--is a way to ornament and enrich the space between literature and life."
Hawkey translates Trakl's poetry by shooting it with a gun, putting it into a jar to rot, studying the poets biography and "translating" from that historical material, and so on. While the book doesn't outright tackle an electronic medium, the spirit and the newness of its project (although it definitely echoes Burroughs and a whole cacophony of other experimental writers since) make it feel experimental in trajectory.
"The Constant Critic" entry on the book states that it tackles a slew of contemporary "problems" in terms of poetics:
• Interest in translation, both as overtly stated theme and as mode of composition
• Collaboration and a problematizing of monological authorship
• Use of ekphrasis, both as an occasion and as a tool for prying into the nature of representation
• Use and problematizing of biography, of how to represent a life
• Interest in overtly exploring intertextuality
• Explicit articulations of a poetics, while, at the same time enacting this poetics figuratively (or by rejection of figure), formally, extra-lexically
• Recognizing the necessarily political implications of language, a weariness and despair of facile articulation
• The hybrid (the book, part of UDP's Dossier Series, includes lineated poems, prose poems, invented conversations, biographical sketches, photographs, and quotations)
• Documentary poetics
• Procedural poetry
• The poetic project
The book tackles issues that echo problems in new media works. Anyway, it is a pretty awesome book that turns an act of solipsistic translation into a critique of violence and war.