Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Artist's Statement for Final Project

For my final project for this class, I had analyzed the essay written by Moyra Davey, Notes on Photography and Accident. I also looked at the Situationist movement and the derive method and decided to base my final project on those two works. For the Situationists, I decided to do a performance art that revolved around the derive and how the Situationists would drop their daily routine and go around and explore the scenario around them in an effort to find criticism of the spectacle. I would not criticize the spectacle in my performance piece, but rather use the derive method to explore what is unknown to me. I have always had a sort of wanderlust- growing up in a very small town with an incredibly sheltered household has left me curious about what was on the outside. Even though I have been attending the University of Nevada for three and a half years now, I commuted back and forth from Gardnerville. I never really had a chance to explore the city of Reno or even the University, as I would just go straight home after class. I moved out of my parents’ house in December of 2013 and gained a strong sense of independence. I also had no concept of the “real world” when I moved out so I had to quickly learn how to be in this new environment. I realize that in the big picture, Reno is really not that big of a city, but compared to Gardnerville, it was. This sense of wanderlust and exploration led me to travel to Los Angeles this past summer completely alone and devoid of help from anyone else. While it may have been just a simple trip to attend a concert, I felt that it had helped build character and helped me grow up a little. I also felt a sense of power, as I didn’t rely on help from my family. Anyway, my performance art was this: I wanted to visit the concept of duality and do some urban exploration. I would visit two sites. One would be an area or building that was decrepit and decaying, and the other would be incomplete and in progress, so I felt a construction site would fit this criteria.
For the old, decaying building, my friend and I traveled to Donner Pass. I originally wanted the performance to take place in the old abandoned train tunnel, but due to weather conditions it was unreachable. I settled on an old shack near the Sugar Bowl Resort. I also decided to add an item that represented innocence- a teddy bear. I had acted with a sense of innocence, exploring something that was old and worn. My friend photographed my exploration with the teddy bear included in the photos.
For the construction site, I chose the site right at the University. I chose it not only because it was easily accessible, but also because I felt like I hadn’t explored enough at my own school. I had my friend Brittney help me explore the site.  She also took photos of the performance. I also used the teddy bear in the performance, but it was laying face down in the dirt, symbolizing a loss of innocence that I felt when I moved out. It also contrasted the incompleteness and yet to be “born” building.
After hundreds of photos being taken of the performance art, I settled on only two photos, furthering perpetuating the idea of duality and the contrasting concepts of innocence and corruption. In the photos, I was present, but I was facing away from the camera because I didn’t want the performance art to be about me per se, but about the performance art and the exploration itself. I hope that the derive method was evident in the photos, but I think I could have used more photos to show evidence of this. I’m not sure if using two photos did the performance art justice, but I wanted duality to be a strong concept in this piece.

This project has also led me to think a little more about utilizing urban exploration in to future works. This fuels my sense of curiosity about the world around me. I hope to explore different areas other than in the Reno area; next time I would like to explore a different country and document it.

Reading Reflection: Notes on Photography & Accident

Moyra Davey's essay, Notes on Photography & Accident was an observation on the work of photography and how photos are captured in certain circumstances and the need for more photos in order of consumption. She describes photography as impulsive and spontaneous, and sees photographers having an "irresistible compulsion to seek a tiny spark of accident." Photography can capture any moment, or any activity, or any situation at any given time, and this can spark a desire in someone to take as many photos as possible to preserve the temporary moment or "accident." However, a photographer can take as many photos as they desire, but it is a mere false immortalization of the scenario; a disposable replica. There is a sense of futility when taking photos in order to preserve something; the situation has already passed and expired even before the photo is taken.

Reading Reflection: In Defense of the Poor Image

In Hito Steyerl's essay, In Defense of the Poor Image, she discusses what the "poor image" is and why it should be considered an art form, as it is a reflection of today's conditions of existence, similar to the clusterfuck aesthetic. The "poor" image can be a degeneration of artwork that is of suboptimal quality; it can be composed of image artifacts, low-res images, or distorted, muffled sounds. Steyerl says of the poor image,"the poor image has been uploaded, downloaded, shared, reformatted, and reedited. It transforms quality into accessibility, exhibition value into cult value, films into clips, contemplation into distraction." Perhaps the poor image just emulates what modern art has become; it is constantly copied, appropriated, and modified into a low form of art. Much of today's art is digital and the concepts of art are no longer tangible but represented on a screen or a print. Such is real life- we've become fractured and copied and available for mass consumption.

Reading Reflection: Society of the Spectacle

Society of the Spectacle was a philosophical text written by Guy Debord in 1967 and was a critical and important text related to the Situationist theory. The mass media, or the "spectacle," is nothing but a vapid manifestation of filling society with consumerism; the text is critical of this and also follows along the lines of Marxism. Relating to the Situationists, a group of avant-garde artists led by Debord in the 1960's. The basic goal of the Situationists was to extend concerns onto social/cultural issues, and mainly to bring attention to the idea that society has become a shallow representation of mass media, or the "spectacle." The Situationists used a dérive method, which meant to stop daily activity and let the curiosity of the terrain surrounding them to learn about the current scenario. The dérive method was used in order to disrupt and break the current flow of daily life that was run by the spectacle. It was used to create a journey to dive into the daily life run by consumerism.

Reading Reflection: The Clusterfuck Aesthetic

I read the article by Jerry Saltz and gained a little more insight as to what this sort of aesthetic is. It can be described as an art movement that utilizes the idea of messiness and chaos to the senses- it can be visually audibly confusing and overbearing. This can include art installations that are jam-packed and a tangled mess, or noise works that are an overload of loud, distorted, and perhaps displeasing noises. I find it to be perhaps a contrasting and rejection of minimalism; the goal is to include as much as possible and fill up as much space as possible to create a disorganized work of art. An example of the clusterfuck aesthetic is Twelve-Wheel Waggon Wheel Chandelier by Jason Rhoades in 2004. It is a tangle of wheels and neon lighting which fits the idea of clusterfuck aesthetic. I believe the point that Saltz was trying to make is that modern art today is no longer simple and conservative, but chaotic and varying in different ways. The clusterfuck aesthetic is an exaggeration and criticism of modern art.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Curatorial Project

I did a performance art for the art show we curated earlier in the semester. I wanted to do something different than a painting or a sculpture, so I decided to try my hand in performance art. I wore all white clothing and stood in an open space. I had bright blue body paint and allowed people who attended the show to paint my body however they saw fit. This was derivative of the works of Yoko Ono and Marina Abramovic- I allowed the audience to have full control over me and I could not stop them. 
I think the performance art was successful in that many people wanted to participate the did- by the time I was finished I was covered in blue paint- even on my face and in my hair. The blue paint was chosen to fit the theme of the show which was monochromatic color. I think the performance art could have been better if I was under a black light. I had originally planned to have one but given the space the black light would have interfered with other people's works on display. I think if I were to do this again I would probably have my own room in order to execute this successfully.

For my lightbox image, I decided to use a photo I took at the American Flat Mill in Nevada back in July 2013. I had recently learned that there are plans underway to demolish the flats and I was a little bummed to find out. I have always had a sort of wanderlust and have a fascination with urban exploration, so this is a eulogy to the flats. I thought the colors would look nice with the light underneath which is another reason I chose it.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Reading Reflection: Dada Manifesto

After reading the Dada manifestos by Hugo Ball and Tristan Tzara, I found Tzara's manifesto much easier to read and understand the points that were made. According to this particular writing, Dada is empty- the movement has no meaning or point to it. He said, "What we need is works that are strong straight precise and forever beyond understanding." Perhaps the Dada movement includes works of art that are meant to be vapid, but by making these works mean absolutely nothing, they are reflective of life itself- there is no meaning, and to live is to simply, nothing more, nothing less. While I understand what he is saying, I think the meaning and intentions behind art can be created by the viewers- people will always have their own interpretations of art and what the message is trying to be conveyed to them. I see works of art that fall under the Dada movement, and while the artist may intend for them to mean nothing, I still draw conclusions and messages through my own eyes, even though that was not meant to be the original point of the work. I think art, and life, has meaning, but that meaning is what people make of it.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Artist's Lecture: Scott Tsuchitani

On September 4th,  I went to a visiting artist's lecture for an artist named Scott Tsuchitani. Based in San Fransisco, California, Scott works with visual art that focuses on romanticization and fetishization of Asian culture and racism in modern visual art.
Tsuchitani's primary pieces focuses on the Asian Art Museum. The museum had an exhibit that had completely romanticized Japanese culture. He photo-manipulated a geisha's face and superimposed his face onto the geisha's face. He also created a flyer that parodied the original flyer from the original exhibit, titled "Lord It's The Samurai." It had replicated the flyer, but did so in a sarcastic way to criticize the museum's romanticization and fetishization of Japanese culture, albeit with humor. The first paragraph of the flyer said, "Enter the world of the samurai, where 7 centuries or martial rule are reduced to a Disney-like trope of gentleman-warrior myth, masking a real history of violence and domination. Selling militarism as beauty in a time of war." The flyer also advertised the truths of such a time as something to be desired, "romanticizing" Japanese samurai culture in a way that the Asian Art Museum did, however in a more honest, blunt way.
I think Scott Tsuchitani touched upon some great points and did so in a humorous way. He was funny, but I think that there is a more serious issue to be discussed regarding different cultures. I think that Western culture has a bad habit of exotification and mystification of Asian culture, and does so in a harmful way.

Exhibition: Dada Local

On September 4, 2014, I attended an exhibition on campus. It was called “Justin Quinn: Not Everything Means Something and Dada Local: The Legacy of Dada Culture in Reno,” located in the Jot Travis building, and curated by Brett Van Hoesen. It showcased several works of the artist Justin Quinn, known for using letterforms in this exhibition, and using mostly the letter “E.” The exhibition also showed works of art created by local artists that follow along the Dada art movement.
The whole point of the Dada movement was to create works of art that had literally no meaning behind them- they just merely existed to counter art that did have an abstract meaning. However, I personally see this potentially backfiring on the entire movement itself- the art does have a meaning to it because it was intended for the sole purpose of opposing something else.
With this being said, I still appreciated the works that were showcased at the exhibition. Justin Quinn used Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick as source material for his works, replacing any words with the letter “E.” While I have never read Moby Dick, nor do I have any intention of reading it in the future unless assigned by an instructor, I still liked viewing what Justin Quinn had to offer, and I felt the movement arranged by Quinn, perhaps emulating the movement and emotions from the novel. While this may be considered “Dada-esque,” as it counters the more traditional, metaphorical art that we still have today, I still was able to derive some form of meaning from it.
This is why I feel that the point of the Dada movement is moot- art has, does, and will always have a meaning to it, even if it was unintended by the creator. People will always gather some sort of meaning or reaction to any art they see, which is the entire meaning of the existence of art. I also looked at another piece at the exhibition- I do not remember the name of the piece, but it included a Hostess Twinkie and religious imagery around it. From that, I was able to get the feeling that it was criticizing the glorification of consumerism and capitalism in America. While that may have not been the intention of the artist who created the piece, I still felt that the use of such symbolic imagery led to such an opinion.

Collage- I got the original painting at Junkee Clothing Exchange. I wanted to dabble with the idea of negativity and cynicism, whether internal or external. I used a lot of words and phrases with a negative feeling to them; I wanted to give the viewers a feeling of unhappiness and bleakness. I also used people of status to show that people have problems and internalized negativity no matter who they are or where they come from.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014


The idea was about overcoming my social anxieties in a setting where I feel very uncomfortable. I have this certain thing about Walmart- I hate being there because large crowds, and because I always feel like I'm being watched, or judged. In the video, I attempt to "take control" of my situation by manipulating the settings around me. They are only subtle changes, but small "victories," if you will. I hate seeing myself from the outside; I don't like seeing myself in photos or videos, or listening to myself in recordings. While the video itself was rather basic and simple, the process itself was difficult as I had to put aside all feelings and insecurities about being on film in a place that makes me feel uncomfortable.