Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Killing Sasquatch: The Latest and Best in Independent Music


I'd like to give props to my college roommate and good friend of mine Jeff Hoffman for what he's done with Killing Sasquatch. An indie/pop/rock/electro/misc sound is consistently fresh. I've been lucky enough to be invited to contribute some visual design, as well as some show photos and posts.


Business Cards. Holler if you want one.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Stuckism vs. Suckism: What Is Modern Art?

I'd like to talk about boring modern art. We're all familiar with the type; huge, lofty, and hopelessly abstract monuments of intellectualism which fall flat on most folks. The type that earns it that special "modern art" stigma.

Why is art today this way?

Mark Di Suervo "Are Years What?" 1967. Washington, DC ● Di Suervo's piece conjures a derelict iron building.
The answer begins in the late 1800's with the startling transition the human condition underwent going from a non-industrial society to the modern world. The replacement of workers with machinery, as well as the crushing anonymity of the modern city generated an enormous amount of existential stress for the common man. Originality became a coveted rarity. Simplicity became a nostalgic desire. Within this climate artists like Gauguin, Picasso, Jean Arp, and Mondrian were sensationalized due to their uniquely reduced styles.

Mid-20th century witnessed a shift away from the rich expressiveness of early Modern painters towards a new form of self-reflexive conceptual art. This shift is essentially the transition into post-modernism, as it has become generally associated with conceptual art. Duchamp's "Fountain" of 1917 was the debut of this type of meta-art which caused an entire reevaluation of the fundamental roles of artistic process and authorship. Suddenly, the finished artwork became secondary to the original idea or concept.

Joseph Kosuth "One and Three Chairs" 1965. London. Sit & Think on this one for a while.

Above, Joseph Kosuth critiques this phenomenon by focusing his concept on the actual representation of the idea. Here the viewer ponders the importance of each of Kosuth's four iterations of the chair; the actual idea of the chair set on par with the visual representations instead of over them.

These types of short quips corresponded with the development of Minimalism, the movement responsible for eradicating any necessity of thoughtful aesthetic composition in art. Artists such as Donald Judd and Robert Morris found success with works which were nothing more than a metal box, or plate, in space. Though much can be (and has been) said about the interesting play on space and specified objects in the works of minimalists artists, the movement caused a trend of art so stripped-down that it was generally uninteresting to folks. John Baldessari's work "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art" references this.

John Baldessari "I Will Not Make Any More Boring Art" 1971. New York, NY ● Cute.

The future of art..
Taking after the likes of Francis Bacon and Lucien Freud, the Stuckists (est. 1999), a well-organized group formally responding to conceptual art, push for a return to figurative painting as a mode for representing modern ideas. Their manifesto Remodernism outlines the foremost failures of current works (loftiness, sarcasm), and make a call for a new spirituality and return to beauty & authenticity in art. Stuckists are known for dressing in clown suits and protesting the Turner Prize, a large cash sum usually given to the driest conceptual artists.

Although conceptual art is still the dominant school of thought today its nature and media are changing. It was traditionally a multimedia movement; found objects, text pieces, performance, etc, but today media such as video games, Real-Time 3D Multi-User Virtual Environment (
RT3D MUVE) and especially the internet have emerged to the forefront and we find ourselves undergoing another drastic transition of social structures (a Digital Revolution).

Like newspaper or television before them, these media have a way of incorporating other forms of media as content, such as photos, illustration, text, and eventually video, sound & interactivity. This McLuhan inspired idea is known as Post-convergence, and gives us a glimpse into the future of how art might look. The Cremaster Cycle (1994-2002) by Matthew Barney, which includes five feature-length films as well as sculptures, drawings, photographs, and artists books, exemplifies post-convergent tendencies in artmaking.

We may expect future artwork to remain entrenched in much of postmodernism's looks and feels, as 60's style Conceptualism (with its various intersections with Pop and Abstract Expressionism) continues to define the global trajectory of Western art, though as new technologies become available contemporary artwork begins to reflect the capabilities of new media. Conventional examples such as the CGI in Avatar or Transformers, and the sound engineering of Skrillex demonstrate the way that digital technologies become integral to the artwork and has a tendency to rely upon effects that are shinier and in higher definition than anything in reality. This relates to the notion of hypermodernism, or a deepening or intensification of modernity as information and media infinitely converge, and as science and technology push our species towards singularity.

Of course we are left only to speculate on how art will look in the future until these next few decades have passed. However I'm sure there will be plenty of robots.

EDIT: If you're interested in reading more, here is the article I would have written if I were a tenured professor.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Imaging the City Final: HDRamas

These images were deceivingly easy to make, thanks to the Automate feature in Photoshop CS5. Just shoot a couple exposures of each scene on a sturdy tripod, Merge to HDR Pro, then photomerge. Voila!

The wonderful thing about HDR photography is the ability to emphasize more expressive colors and forms. The digital artist is allowed to depict the scene as he or she experienced it by exaggerating the sharpness of certain portions of the image, for instance. The outcome is nice.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Team Gallery!

Is Conceptualism back in vogue? Last April I looked at the works of Stefan Bruggemann and how his text-based art works upset many pretenses of what art ought to mean, first in that it is a meaningful work of art itself. Revisiting him in a Google search, I stumbled across this pretty stunning collaboration he did with Pierre Bismuth:

Here Bismuth's spray painted comment in a way completes Bruggemann's work, responding in the only way one can to such a straightforward statement, with another extremely cut-and-dry statement. But besides being a nihilistic art party, this work is like an old Donald Judd that offers no explanation other than its existence in [gallery] space, but with a fresh self-consciousness, more sincere than sarcastic.

Mr. Bismuth enjoys collaborations. His association with other artists of the Team Gallery, such as Ryan McGinley and David Ratcliff creates a thread whose common characteristic is conceptual art. Go to teamgal.com to check out these up-and-coming type artists.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Rude Brood Logo

Draft #1: Based on a prelimenary drawing, which was sketched element by element, traced with pen, scanned, touched up in photoshop, then live traced in illustrator for quick vectorization.

Draft 2: Uses found elements for inspiration; outlined, scanned, then traced with the brush tool for a vectorization with a hand-drawn feel.

Final Draft: Deleted 1,000+ bezier points from the brush tool version to give a bolder, cleaner look. It might have been faster to use the pen tool originally, but this technique allows the vectors to retain a subtle organic quality.

Rude Brood is a collective of 16 BFA candidates at the University of Oregon in Portland, White Stag Building.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Fresh Art: Allison Shulnik, anonymous

Allison Shulnik

Her works are of a clear aether, newly synthesized and bright-- but recall a mystery and deviance present in the art of Dubuffet. The effect: interplays of primal vitality and crumbling ephemerality of the body and mind.

Anonymous [Ego Leonard?]

Some jokester leaves an 8 foot tall lego man on the beach. Is this mixture of PR stunt, performance, and public installation a legitimate form of art? I honestly don't know you all must tell me

Monday, October 10, 2011

Pablo Picasso, meet Kenojuak Ashevak

Kenojuak Ashevak is an Inuit artist who produces prints with all the ethereal beauty of the Baffin Island landscape she grew up on. Her artwork are studies in the transformation of simple forms into traditional iconography. The spirit forms of various creatures are depicted in an elegant centralized composition, suggesting autonomy as well as the links to their mythological significance.

Ravens Entwined, lithograph

Birds from the Sea, stencil, 1960

and my personal favorite; Arrival of the Sun, stonecut, 1962

Inuit and Native American art in general has not traditionally been considered important to the Western World's conception of what art ought to look like, but as the world becomes increasingly globalized, we begin to look back to time-tested cultures for more natural solutions to the problems of representation and of life. Kenojuak's prints are successful at expressing that which is most urgent and primitive. They strive for order and meaning, without complication, as we do in life as well as image-making. See more of her work here.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Imaging the City II

PORTLAND, Many hundreds of people marched through the streets of downtown Portland today in protest of what they call "corporate greed." It is linked to the growing Occupy Wall Street movement that began last month in NYC, and has inspired similar movements in many cities across the united states. Citizens marched down second ave from Chapman Square where they have set up long-term "infrastructure," and over the Broadway bridge, halting traffic on many of Portland's main streets. The demonstrations here in Portland have remained peaceful.

The other sign of this kid's sign said "Horatio Alger is Dead."


"Viva La Evolution"

This guy had a lovable goofy smile.

These folks had an amp and a generator that they were towing in a cart. It was hooked up to a microphone which really helped give the chants some extra "uumph"

Fellow GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich told CBS that he agrees with Cain that the protests are "a natural product of Obama's class warfare. ... We have had a strain of hostility to free enterprise. And frankly a strain of hostility to classic America starting in our academic institutions and spreading across this country. And I regard the Wall Street protest as a natural outcome of a bad education system, teaching them really dumb ideas." But what Mr. Newb Biggrinch is forgetting is the idea that unregulated free enterprise creates vast economic disparity is only "dumb" if you're profiting from it.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Climbing in your Windows: Snatching your Culture Up

Chatting with my Music Theory grad student brother-extraordinaire recently I learned of the developing field known as Music Cognition. "What's that?" I immediately got excited. He explained its a mix of hard cognitive psychology, aesthetics, philosophy, and sociology used to figure out how we understand music. I thought of a dozen lab-coat clad academics gathered around some dude with headphones on. Creepy.

So many parallels between music and art, I thought. So, why not Art Cognition, or Media Cognition? (it does exist in scattered texts). If used for the forces of evil, much money could be made. Today's communicators must be psychologists as well as designers.

So who succeeds in an age where novel content is outshadowed by even more novel media? YouTube's most popular video of 2010; The "Auto-Tune the News" Bed Intruder Song exemplifies a familiar phenomenalism, but with viral videos taking the place of radio tunes or blockbuster movies. This well produced hip-hop mash up caught us off guard with its shockingly relevant mix of music and media. It elicits no response from the self-centered viewer, but is interactive in that it inspires them to afterwards view and create other remixes.

But if it wasn't the Gregory Brother's skill with software then it was their specific choice of each elements; a cliche snippet of network news, the auto-tuned voice of an urban black figure, a shiny pop song. It's classic yet avant-garde, a collision of the old and new, familiar yet fresh, safe yet edgy. A similar aesthetic is present in Dub-step, where the DJ/musician combines left-over 90's hip hop, drum n' bass, and reggae tropes with digitally produced sounds that early electronic artists only dreamed of.

But these cultural phenomenon have little to do with furthering art unless using the former to achieve the latter. Both will continue to change in appearance according to the spirit of the times, but for now the Gregory brothers seem to have the winning formula.