Recently in inspirations Category

Animatronic Sculptures

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Here is a link to the Animatronic Sculptures I mentioned (by Asia Ward):

http://asiaward.com/toy-sculpture-video

They are awesome!

Dunne and Raby: Critical Design

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The designers Dunne and Raby use design to propose alternative products that challenge about how we think, live and produce things. They suggest that a "design fiction" attitude can critique the status quo and generate awareness. What I find interesting is their comparison with Art:
" But isn't it art?
It is definitely not art. It might borrow heavily from art in terms of methods and approaches but that's it. We expect art to be shocking and extreme. Critical Design needs to be closer to the everyday, that's where its power to disturb comes from. Too weird and it will be dismissed as art, too normal and it will be effortlessly assimilated. If it is regarded as art it is easier to deal with, but if it remains as design it is more disturbing, it suggests that the everyday as we know it could be different, that things could change."

This is much more in line with my own approach -subtle critique. Objects that infiltrate our every day activities can be used to communicate subliminal messages, or to gently nudge us into new ways of thinking. However, I don't believe all art is "shocking and extreme" !

The Project "Between Reality and the Impossible explores food production for an over-populated world: http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/projects/543/0

http://www.dunneandraby.co.uk/content/bydandr/13/0

Hannah's Inspiration

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Theo Jansen has had a huge influence on my work with the biological body. He is a Dutch sculptor who works with yellow PVC electrical tubing and creates huge creatures that walk across the sand dunes. They are equipped with sails and wings to capture the power of the wind in order to walk with their hundreds of legs. They also have features like a nose to detect storms coming and sensors to detect if they start to walk in water so they can hunker down for the storm or get to higher ground away from the ocean.

What I take most from his work is how we, as humans, can look at these assemblies of inanimate parts and materials as creatures. We project onto them and, through our imaginations, and through Theo's own aesthetic, bring these machines to life. They seem real and I often find myself forgetting that
they aren't actually alive. I love how Theo talks about their evolution in this sense - as though they really are alive. I love how he plans to set them free eventually so they can roam the beaches on their own and all they use is the power of the wind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcR7U2tuNoY

Hannah S

John Cage

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John Cage was not a bio-artist in the same sense as many of the artists that we have been discussing in this class. He was, however, passionate about bridging the perceptual gap between art and science or, perhaps more accurately, between "art" and "life." His aesthetic philosophies and techniques have greatly influenced my artwork. The techniques I used for this class--photographing yeast, then creating music using those photographs-- was inspired in part by Cage's compositional use of star charts and his interest in mushrooms. I feel that his ideas about chance, silence, and activity that is not our own speak directly to the kinds of work that many artists are doing with non-human biological bodies today.

Cage was invited by C.H. Waddington to speak at a symposium entitled, "Biology and the History of the Future" sponsored by the International Union of Biological Sciences in an attempt to "promote reciprocity between the arts and sciences." His contributions to the symposium were edited by Waddington and published by Edinburgh University Press in 1972. Since these materials are not readily accessible online, I thought that some of the ideas Cage presented at that symposium might be useful/interesting/inspiring:

"I think that the present way of deciding whether something is useful as art is to ask whether it is interrupted by the actions of others, or whether it is fluent with the actions of others. What I have been saying is an extension of these notions out of the field of the material of the arts into what you might call the material of society. If, for instance, you made a structure of society that would be interrupted by the actions of people who were not in it, then it would not be the proper structure."

"So I want to give up the traditional view that art is a means of self-expression for the view that art is a means of self-alteration, and what it alters is mind, and mind is in the world and is a social fact...We will change beautifully if we accept uncertainties of change; and this should affect any planning. This is value."

"When I first began to work on 'chance operations,' i had the musical values of the twentieth century. That is, two tones should (in the twentieth century) be seconds and sevenths, the octaves being dull and old-fashioned. But when I wrote The Music of Changes, derived by chance operations from the I Ching, I had ideas in my head as to what would happen in working out this process (which took about nine months). They didn't happen! --things happened that were not stylish to happen, such as fifths and octaves. But I accepted them, admitting I was 'not in charge' but was 'ready to be changed' by what I was doing."

"After...[the symposium]...he had convened in Mexico, which included the avant-garde composer John Cage, the anthropologist Margaret Mead, and the Swedish biologist Gunther Stent, Waddington received from the latter a letter saying:

'Since John Cage had pointed out to me the analogy between the genetic code and
the I Ching, I have looked into this matter a little more. To my
amazement I found that the 'natural' order of the I Ching hexgrams
generates a table of nucleotide triplet codons which shows the same inter-codon
generic relations in Cricks' table!'

"Progress may be the idea of dominating nature. But in the arts, it may be listening to nature. In the forties, I conceived of a piece with no sounds in it, but I thought it would be incomprehensible in the European context. Five years later, I was inspired to do it by seeing the paintings of Robert Rauschenberg--one of which was a canvas with no paint on it. Charles Ives wrote a romantic essay about sitting in a rocking chair, on the front porch, looking out toward the mountains, "listening to your own symphony. I once went to a Quaker meeting--with silence--and found myself thinking of what I should say--that is, how to dominate the meeting (Faustian!)-- and then I realized that was not the point--not to dominate, but to listen. And to listen to silence. By silence, I mean the multiplicity of activity that constantly surrounds us. We call it 'silence' because it is free of our activity. It does not correspond to ideas of order or expressive feeling--they lead to order and expression, but when they do, it 'deafens' us to the sounds themselves."

"I just was in San Francisco and then I went to Santa Cruz to see my friend Norman O. Brown, who has written those beautiful books, Life against Death and Love's Body, and we had very interesting conversations. And that thing that Jesus said in the New Testament came up, about considering the lilies, which is a kind of silence; but now we know, through science, that the lilies are extremely busy. We could say that Jesus was not thinking scientifically, or not thinking microscopically, or electronically; but then we could agree with him, because the work of the lilies is not to do something other than themselves. In other words, it is not production of something else; it is rather reproduction of themselves. And that perhaps is the proper work for us all, and that I think, could bring us back to silence, because silence also is not silent--it is full of activity."


Artist Arthur Ganson

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I find Arthur Ganson's work to be one of the best artificial representations of life. It is easily misunderstood that evolution moves toward a predetermined goal, and Arthur Ganson's work evokes ideas of artificial life that exemplifies the superfluous and gratuitous features often found in the natural world. The personification of some of his machines is what I find to be extremely inspiring. In a way, I think it demands a more empathetic observation than some true 'bio art', without skirting the ethical issues.

Bio Artist (at least sometimes): Mark Dion

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Here is a link to a brief Art 21 segment about Mark Dion's public ecological project in Seattle: http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/mark-dion

Also, here is a link to Mildred's Lane, Mark Dion's long-term project with (I believe his ex-wife) artist Morgan Puett. The two have created an art/life integrating "complex(ity)" in PA.

"Mildred's Lane [activates] connections that situate themselves at the nexus of science, methods of living, environmental activism, transhistorical and critical artistic practices. This unusual situation affords participants the ability to collaborate in the production of large-scale, socially charged, research- driven projects within a truly transdisciplinary environment. Woven into the project work is a curriculum based on creatively and experimentally living and working together - what we call workstyles. These valuable collaborations are designed to become shared experiences that hope to have transformative and lifelong effects on how artists think of themselves as practitioners functioning in the world."
Check out Mildred's Lane here: http://www.mildredslane.com/home#home

Bio Artist (at least sometimes): Mark Dion

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Here is a link to a brief Art 21 segment about Mark Dion's public ecological project in Seattle: http://www.pbs.org/art21/artists/mark-dion

Also, here is a link to Mildred's Lane, Mark Dion's long-term project with (I believe his ex-wife) artist Morgan Puett. The two have created an art/life integrating "complex(ity)" in PA.

"Mildred's Lane [activates] connections that situate themselves at the nexus of science, methods of living, environmental activism, transhistorical and critical artistic practices. This unusual situation affords participants the ability to collaborate in the production of large-scale, socially charged, research- driven projects within a truly transdisciplinary environment. Woven into the project work is a curriculum based on creatively and experimentally living and working together - what we call workstyles. These valuable collaborations are designed to become shared experiences that hope to have transformative and lifelong effects on how artists think of themselves as practitioners functioning in the world."
Check out Mildred's Lane here: http://www.mildredslane.com/home#home

Fluid Culture

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Fluid Culture @ the University of Buffalo presented an Arts/Media series focused on water, globalization and culture.