cool projects everywhere you look

It is has been some time since my last post, so I want to kick off this post with a little discussion about where we have come from, what we are doing, and where this will eventually lead us. Let’s just call it a recap.

We began the semester looking at what originally seemed to be an obvious dialectical: public vs. private. However, after some discussion, project-making, and a field trip, it became very clear that those two things cannot exist apart from each other. Public entitites and private ones bleed into one another. The boundaries blur. What we had once assumed to be public space was in fact encroaching on private domains, and the private spaces we thought we had control over turned out to be, through contact with one or more permeable membranes of the city–doors, windows, the computer, the phone– portals to the realms of others. The urban environment, as it turns out, is a place marked by physical borders, concrete, signage, yet characterized by movemewnt between and through those same boundaries. The city is a delineated space, yet it is a place of change, migration, exodus, creation and destruction. The line drawn in the proverbial sand, as far as the city is concerned, was meant to be crossed again and again.

From there we took a look at Street Art, and the sociopolitical, as well as the art world implications of bringing art to the street…and then bringing it back into the gallery. We asked ourselves: How does message change when the work moves? What does the context of the city do to enhance the work? Enlarge the audience? How are we, as printmakers and art students, taking advantage of the history of printmaking. What does it mean for work to engage not just the moment in history, but also place?

This brings us to our current project. You have all been asked to design and fabricate a fort. We have looked at various artists including but not limited to Do Ho Suh, Gabriel Orozco and William Kentridge. For a refresher download the powerpoint from this blog. I want to stress that the making of these forts, whether you are engaging with the materials to create a confessional space or otherwise, should give you the opportunity to think critically about what it means to structure social interaction (which can be a solitary experience, in fact). Instead of asking you to come into a space and transform it, we are asking you to construct place which we can then enter and fill with meaning. Here the transition occurs between a purely expository practice, and a phenomenologically active one. How does this relate to your experience of the urban environment? How have you incorporated printed media, OR ideas related to print-media? Suddenly the relationship between printmaking and the built environment is getting very clear!

So where do we go from here? What next? Below are some links to some projects HAPPENING RIGHT NOW. These are contemporary works by designers, artists, and scientists not too much older than you. These are projects which deal with typography, image making in the natural world, and Occupy Wall Street. We are living in a very exciting time. Conceptions of place, hierarchical economies, and the structures of world systems are being rethought–torn down and rebuilt. In many very real ways, this is your time. As artists, you have a potentially big role to play in how the world is shaped. It may sound cheesy but just turn on the news. With that in mind, I want you to think about how space, place, and image can be utopian or dystopian. Think back to our conversations about Pruitt-Igoe. How do images function as utopian? How and why do things change? How and why do we construct utopias? Is the creation of utopian or dystopian images or places a worthwhile goal? Why or why not? Do some brainstorming as you finish building your fort. Is your fort a safe space or a challenging one? Is it ambiguous?  Why did you make those choices? WHAT MATTERS TO YOU/WHAT MATTERS TO OTHERS? Also, how do you convince others to care about those things that matter to you?

Here is a link for some amazing graphic data rendering for the Occupy Wall Street movement.

Here is a link to video of magnet generated typography. Think about the powers of attraction and the use of industrial materials. There is potential here.

Here is a link to a personal projector system prototype. Technology is powerful and ubiquitous. Given that fact, how we design interfaces and locations for the use of those interfaces will factor in to how we see…and are seen.

Here is some interesting work being done with squids. How do you make a submarine…disappear? What are the politics of an image which conceals another image? Interesting…

Here is an image drawn by Da Vinci…the context has changed. Now it is a call to action. How does image resuse and appropriation and a change in scale or context, alter meaning?

I hope you find those links interesting. They are a fraction of what is out there. Go looking for some more.

I want to leave you with a little anecdote. The artist Tomas Saraceno gave a lecture in the Steinberg Auditorium a couple weeks ago (His work is currently up in the Kemper. GO SEE IT–it applies to this entire conversation). Towards the end of the lecture he said something, a real gem, which I think is worth repeating. In reference to the way he works, he said (and I am paraphrasing) “I do not believe in DIY. I do not like ‘do-it-yourself’, I like ‘do-it-in a-group.” One way to consider how your work addresses the contemporary moment is to look at how you are engaging other people. How are you collaborating with other artists, with your viewer, with the world? In a world that, for all of its appearances, is full of dissolving boundaries that once separated people and ideas and images, should your work represent an attempt to recognize the power of many?

Next week, more on utopia and dystopia. Are they so different?  Shifts on the horizon.



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