Dusty Dilemmas

July 24th, 2008 § 2 comments

Seems like all my material explanations begin with, I scanned it first and then….I think I used the scanners upstairs more than the painters or printmakers, I would pass their enormous studios with arms piled full of images and paper, and the machines would have the same preview I left the night before. Scanning is usually more time consuming than people think, and generally far less complicated—my professors seemed to think it was either a very tricky process or like using a copy machine, which can be a very tricky process. I scanned slides for the office last summer, a ridiculous waste as the new slide scanner was hooked up to a very old, incredibly slow computer, and thankfully this summer that has been rectified. I have been working for my old ‘advisor’, converting her slides into digital images, scanning the lectures she gave out of state this summer. It has been nice to see the lecture artists without having sit in, and to see the progression of her textiles beginning in the 1980’s

Slide scanners are obviously different from the large, flat bed Epson’s I use (and want), and like all my knowledge I know what I have needed to know for my own work and little outside of it—why these kind of jobs are good for me. I generally set my “target” size and scan to the scale am printing, but the slide scanner scans the actual size of the slide at a high (4000) resolution, which seems to make sense for uncertain later uses. The program the scanner uses is quite willful, and unlike the Epson preview it simply does not allow you to make changes, seems you can request it nicely to do, or not to do, certain things, and hope for the best. It took me a long time to figure out the correct way to insert the slide—how many possibilities could there be?—but it is counter intuitive and when put in the wrong way it simply crops the slide down, for some reason unknown to me. I let it do just what it wanted, thinking it probably knows best.

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A Context for Conceit

July 20th, 2008 § 0 comments


History deals heavily within the confines of context, and so it is that my brother shouts at myself and others when we make assumptions and judgments—as we tend to do so often—about people, places, events, that happened outside our knowledge of “the context” they happened in. It was the first film class I took in collage, however, that taught me if I wanted to understand much of anything, I had to be able to separate myself from it. This separation is necessary to see any context other than your own. I don’t tend to think of visual art in this manner, for inexplicable reasons I am moved in ways I can almost always articulate, and I am not usually helped by, or reliant on, context. Artistic histories never seem to exist in the same realm as the art itself, they are two separate ideas that rarely connect together in my head. I have great interest in art history but it never gives a context, at least not one that does not feel artificial, to art itself. With film, however, it is imperative for me to understand it as something besides what it is—context renders the unwatchable watchable. Who is the film for, how does it function, and is it worth taking the time to guess? It would be fair to say, although I am not sure it is fair to do, that I ask more questions of film than I do of visual art. The necessary connection film shares with its audience is perhaps slightly less muddled a history than that of the fine arts, or that connection has been maintained by the industry because appeal and movie-going pleasure is linked to profit. My relationship with film has always revolved around struggling for a context in which to place it, a way to make sense of that which I dislike, dismiss, or despise. Without a context too large a percent of films could be dismissed from my current perspective. My latest dive into Truffaut and Godard was disappointing to say the least, and I am gasping for a way to hold their reputation and critical acclaim against what I see as two bad films, both from the 1960’s, Shoot the Piano Player and Breathless. My determination not to dismiss them has caused quite a ramble of thought.

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The Broad: An Aesthetic Display of Wealth

July 4th, 2008 § 0 comments

“In the state ranking for per capita arts spending, California currently stands last. The local budget for arts spending in Los Angeles is abysmally low. Exhibitions in the city’s public spaces all vie for funding from the same pool of five or six private benefactors (A in A).”


Well, they could have fooled me. Not knowing the funding behind to our county museums (LACMA) new expansion plans, I heard a great deal about the now open new wing—the new museum is fittingly named Broad Contemporary Art Museum after Eli Broad who’s collection it was (stressing was) supposed to house. My initial thoughts on the new addition and pending changes after my recent visit was, impressive; meaning not that I myself was impressed, but that I was meant to feel how impressive the changes really are.

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June 14th, 2008 § 0 comments

They don’t recommend bringing children under 11 to the Holocaust museum in the National Mall, and I can understand why. I have wanted to visit for quite some time, a desire left over from my days of unhealthy indulgence in death, memorials, and monuments commemorating memorialized events. My initial response to the museum was a slew of questions concerning the artistic decisions of the architect, James Freed, and the curators of the main exhibition. I was surprised to learn the museum opened in 1993, it seemed such a landmark of respect in Europe that I assumed it was much older. The building was perhaps most interesting to me because I have seen most of the “exhibition” content before. Its design was inspired by, but apparently not meant to reference, camps, historical sites, etc. found in Europe, and I was surprised it was so similar to the museums in Berlin. Light was controlled, leading from darkness and claustrophobic spaces into hallways of bright, natural light. The exhibition began on the forth floor and spiraled downward with the chronology of the war. I was interested in skylights, triangular windows, and the use of glass. Transition spaces broke the mood, and corporate looking carpet led to the next floor.

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I Wasn’t There

June 5th, 2008 § 0 comments

Expectations for artists have changed, perhaps because of post-modernism or changes in institutions, where the ability to lecture/discuss/critique is valued over the artwork. Visiting artist programs have taught me, through observation alone, that younger artists are expected to be well read, articulate, well informed and well connected, knowledgeable of their own field as well as others–mainly philosophy and politics. These qualities don’t sound unpleasant, but they don’t feel too good when they are expected of you. They seem to be distractions added onto the pressure of making, or alternative ways to gain validity and recognition when art objects are dismissed. “Research” seems to be one of those promising new vocabulary words, akin to studio “practice.” Our chair stated the other day, “if you hear someone who lectures well send them my way, but not if you only like the work.”

I was thinking about artistic expectations while watching both The Last Waltz and I’m Not There. Since Dylan and The Band are connected, I thought they would be interesting to watch in succession. Both films were dominated, or made worth while, by one central person: Robbie Robertson in Scorsese’s documentary (1976) about The Band’s last performance, and Cate Blanchett, playing one of the many Dylan’s in Haynes film. Both movies seemed only average, I’m Not There is a frightfully confusing mixture of visual tricks and cinematic genres, and Scorsese’s documentary, though thoughtfully sequenced, was marred by his own questions and The Band’s general lack of intellect.

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