15 12 2009

The artist that i have looked into most recently goes by the name of “Mouchette.” Like Marcel Duchamp’s Rrose Selavy, Mouchette is only an alias. However, unlike Duchamp’s Rrose, Mouchette’s real creator is unknown. Mouchette, according to the website, is a 13-year-old girl who lives in Amsterdam, and is an artist.  This site is partially based on a Robert Bresson film called “Mouchette.” The film is about a young girl who is suicidal that goes to the woods late at night and is raped.

I tried accessing the website,, but could not successfully. I am not sure if this was because of the content on the site was too provocative and taken down or because my browser is not working right.

One thing that i found particularly interesting was a quote from the site that says “An artist? Yes. Here is a tip: I heard that the only way to become an artist is to say you are one. And then you can call “art” everything you make…. Easy, he?”I feel that this quote holds some validity.



Joe Lucchesi Lecture: Art Week event 2

3 12 2009

“(Art) Boys Don’t Cry: Reading the Visual”

In Lucchesi’s lecture he discussed how we live in a very image saturated culture. He discussed how images we see in everyday life and in art communicate to us and how they garner emotions and responses from us. A couple key studies that Lucchesi mentioned were the study of semiotics and Stendhal syndrome. Semiotics is the study of meaning and how it is communicated with codes in images. Stendhal syndrome is the extreme, purely emotional response that is felt by an individual that views a piece of art that is overwhelming to their emotions. This emotional response tied into one of the last points that Lucchesi made in his lecture, which is that not all works of art are meant to be strictly political and provocative: some works of are just visually appealing, and we take great pleasure in just viewing a piece of art work as a thing of beauty. He compared pictures of Obama to Da Vinci’s Last Supper and discussed how they are both appealing, analysing their compositions and the balance that is created in both works.

What i particularly enjoyed in his lecture was his discussion of Stendhal syndrome. Based on Wikipedia’s definition of Stendhal syndrome, it is ART which will make you feel overwhelmed, thus it’s not just limited to painting or works of art in a gallery. With this in mind, it could also be possible to have a Stendhal Syndrome reaction to a piece of music, which I can relate to. There have been multiple occasions where i have been listening to music and heard a particularly powerful lyric or a dynamic sound created by an instrument(s) and have teared up or have gotten goose bumps. I found it interesting that were is an actual term for this emotional response to a piece of art, and I feel that many people can relate to it.

Spike Jonze and Where the Wild Things Are

15 11 2009


Often times with digital media art the artist wants to make art work that seems realistic, as if an event had actually happened and took a picture. Some of the projects from our first assignments tried to do exactly that. Going along with this notion of creating lifelike art with digital media, I decided to do my newest post on director Spike Jonze’s newest film Where the Wild Things Are (2009).


Where the Wild Things Are stands out like a sore thumb amongst the trite and formulaic children’s movies that have been produced with in the past 5 years or so by Dreamworks, Disney, Pixar, etc (not to say that Disney and Pixar films are bad, I love Pixar films). Instead of using only CGI graphics to produce the beasts from the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, Jonze decided to use Jim Henson’s creature shop to help turn his ideas into reality for the big screen. The only CGI part of beasts is the facial expressions and mouth movements, which are flawless. Based on the drawings made by artist Sonny Gerasimowicz, the Henson shop made miniature models to get an idea of how they would create the massive puppet suits for the actors to fit in. The models were then scanned by a 3-d scanner to recreate the heads into 3 foot wide pieces of foam, which were then sculpted and formed. After this process, they inserted 3 inch wide tv screens into the head, so the actors could see what their movements looked like from Jonze’s camera’s perspective. After making the heads Henson’s crew then focused on the bodies, which were between 8 and 9 feet tall. The suits weighed between 50-70 pounds, most of the weight resting on hips. These bodies were much different from the heads, each having multiple layers of synthetic cartilage, foam, and lycra. They were designed to replicate how some one would actually treat their body . Essentially the Henson crew made the bodies as durable, versatile, and life like as possible (in regards to the movements made by the actor inside the suit).


^Jonze holding a picture by Sonny Gerasimowicz next to a clay model done by the Henson company.^

Bringing it back to the notion I mentioned earlier, it is difficult, particularly in films, to create something not human, and make it look believable ( like creating a piece of digital art based on manipulated pictures/”hand” made elements that look believable). Jonze and the Henson company certainly succeeded in this respect. The effect of the larger then life puppet suits and mixture of CIG is amazing. The interaction between the main character Max and beasts is incredibly natural and fluid, along with the running and tumbling of the beasts. At no point during the film did I question whether or not the beast’s were “real.” What is amazing also is that this film technically started production in 2006. This shows the time and effort that Jonze and the Henson company put into creating the film. As a side note, the film as a whole was great in my opinion. The film was geared more towards the inner child in all of us, rather then children of this new generation (although it is kid friendly and would be a lot fun for them). I also enjoyed the music and cinematography of the film also (the handheld camera was great, you don’t see enough of this in films!).



7 11 2009

Young-hae Chang, a Korean artist, and Marc Voge, and American poet, make up the unit called YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES, a flash-based group that deals with text and music. Change and Voge both met each other at a Flash work shop in Australia, and they both discovered their artistic calling in Flash. Their projects, which can be seen here, involve displaying words in rapid succession in-synch with jazz music. The words are not random, however. They are poems/stories written by Voge. The words take up the entire screen when played, and alternate colors (mostly black and white). Every poem or story begins with “YOUNG-HAE CHANG INDUSTRIES PRESENTS: ” then counts down from 10 (not unlike something you’d see in an old film. There seems to be at least 50 of these web poems/stories on their website, all of which are in multiple languages.


As stated on, much of YOUNG-HAE CHANG HEAVY INDUSTRIES deals with “sex, violence, alienation, and the insignificance of human life.” I watched a few of these video/flash stories, and my favorite was “Morning of the Mogoloids,” a story about a man who wakes up in Seol, Korea after a night of drinking. He notices that he looks different, and cannot recall if he had gotten into a fight, which would explain the “deformities” on his face. He then runs outside, and is surrounded by Korean people. He yells at a woman “Where are we!” and she answers Seol. He then realizes that he is speaking Korean, and IS Korean. He then goes to a restaurant to eat a cup of noodles, which is “perfect for a hangover” (the end of the story). What’s interesting about this story is that the man is so overwhelmed and worried about being Korean (different from who he was originally) but then quickly changes the subject to helping his hang over. This story brings up issues of race, and how quickly we seem to forget about certain problems. The language used in this story is very believable too, all told in first person.

I find this form of storytelling to be very affective on different levels. The stories themselves are very well written, and too “poetic” i guess you could say. As long as if you can read well, you can derive meaning from them. Its also nice that they have different languages of the stories too, which allows for their messages to reach a wider audience. This project also reminds me of film in a way, based on the rhythm and synchronization of the words with the music.

Art Week Event

28 10 2009

Today I went to an art event that presented a segment from  the BBC series, The Genius of Photography, called “We Are Family.” This particular part of the series focuses on the notion of the self portrait, the interaction between the photographer and the subject, and whether or not a self portrait really reveals the subject’s personality, humanity, etc. Among the featured artists in this segment were Tony Vaccaro, Larry Clark, Araki, and Sally Mann. Having never heard of these artists before, watching this documentary really inspired me to take out my 35 mm camera and shoot some photographs. All of the artists featured were extraordinary. A common theme that I found in this segment was that each artist tended to do very informal portraits of their subjects. Instead of positioning families or individual people inside a portrait studio and having them say “cheese!,” the photographers got right up in their subjects personal space, waiting for the perfect moment to snap a picture. As Sally Mann put it, you cannot simply ask a person to give you a good picture, THEY “have to give it to you.” I believe Vaccaro said that he tries to find the one accurate word to describe his subject, then tries to find the perfect way to embody that word by taking the photograph at the perfect moment.


Probably the most intriguing artist for me was Larry Clark, his book Tulsa in particular. This book features graphic images of normal teenagers from Tulsa, Oklahoma shooting amphetamine and performing sexual acts on each other. I found a preview of this book on Google, and Larry Clark prefaces the book with the line ” once the needle goes in, it never comes out.” Despite the fact that he moved out of Tulsa and kicked his amphetamine habit, he apparently has shot up numerous times since. This eerie line alone makes me want to buy the book. The picture above is from “Tulsa.”

We were also shown a short 3 minute clip of an installation artist named Ann Hamilton. I am not fully sure as to how she pulls this off, but essentially she puts a piece of film into her mouth and holds her mouth open letting the light hit it and thus creating a picture of what ever is in front of her mouth. Whats interesting is that the image that results is framed around her open mouth, which resembles the shape of the human eye.

Tobias Stretch

21 10 2009

For this blog I’d like to focus on an incredibly talented and relatively unknown artist, photographer, filmmaker  named Tobias Stretch. Originally from northern PA, Stretch now lives in Philadelphia. I am unsure as to what his job is now, but he is not making money from his art work/films, as far as I can tell. I consulted multiple sources to find out more about his background but found very little. His art work over all reflects on his childhood. According to an interview with file, he tries to create an Idealized and altered version of his childhood memories. Restless parts of his mind in regards to his childhood are manifested in surreal looking creature puppets that he makes. These puppets, or characters in his short music videos, “run amok and misbehave” like he and his brothers used to when they were younger ( Some of the puppets you may see in his videos are not his though. Apparently Stretch will some times find abandoned puppets in the streets and take them back to his house, and ultimately incorporate them into his work. Stretch is now working on a surrealist stop motion fantasy/adventure film using large scale puppets called “Flabbergastaland.”

His stop motion music video for the song Weird Fishes/Arpeggi by Radiohead caught my eye some time ago. The website Aniboom, which features a multitude of amateur animators, had a music video contest in 2008 based on the Radiohead album In Rainbows. Aniboom and Radiohead both judged the contest and deemed Stretch and two other artists the winners. Despite winning, Radiohead has yet to contact Stretch about making potential music video’s for them in the future.

The music video itself is fascinating. Stop motion animation takes an incredibly long time and effort, and it really shows in this video. Most of the video is shot using a wide angle lens, which incorporates more of the landscape and distorts the faces of his characters when he uses close ups of them. The video includes at least five of his grotesque looking puppets, all moving about rapidly to the fast paced music. I’ve watched this video a few times and have tried to piece together a story, but have yet to actually come up with one. I am assuming the song lyrics are telling the story, but the only correlations I have found are when Thom sings “your eyes, they turn me,” and Stretch cuts to a close up of a puppets eyes turning, and how they would follow them to the bottom of the sea (or in this case a pond or lake in the video).  Nonetheless, the video is very impressive, with great camera work, unique puppet creations, and use of nature.


Animal Collective

5 10 2009

Going along with new digital music artists, I decided to focus this weeks blog on one of my favorite electronic based artists, Animal Collective, and their most recent studio album Merriweather Post Pavilion.


Maryland natives, AC has their roots in Baltimore MD, originally consisting of members Avey Tare (David Portner), Panda Bear (Noah Lennox), Deakin, or Deacon as spelled on Strawberry Jam (Josh Dibb) and Geologist (Brian Weitz). Before they officially formed the group in NY and produced their first album in 2000, Spirit They’re Gone, Spirit They’ve Vanished– Here Comes The Indian, the group got together and collaborated often in Baltimore. The group also owns the record company Paw Tracks, which they have released their own work and other artist’s work on. According to Wikipedia, their style of music is some times classified as either “freak folk” or “noise pop.” It really is difficult to put a label on their sound, especially since their style seems to vary from album to album. However, each album and song has a lot of passion behind it, be it in the lyrics or screaming vocals, or the psychedelic melodies and chants.


Their most recent album, Merriweather Post Pavilion, is (according to Panda Bear) “the bands best-recorded album.” The title of the album pays tribute to the outdoor music venue in Columbia, MD, where a few of the members went to hear music over the summers. The group wanted to make an album worthy of being played at such a great venue, and thus made MWPP. The optical illusion album art is inspired by the Japanese psychologist Akiyoshi Kitaoka. This album consists of only three of the four original members (minus Deacon). Compared to their earlier albums, MWPP is more user friendly I would say. The style is not as free form as earlier works, thus I would be more inclined to recommend this to people who have never listened to them before. According to Wikipedia, the main “instrument” used in the album are samplers. This is one of the reasons why I really enjoy Animal Collective and this album in particular. You cannot really make out any real instruments. Most of the sounds seem to be either distorted samples or completely new sounds created by a mixing board or synthesizer. It is an almost entirely digital medium.  It’s really incredible to watch them perform tracks from this album live, using mostly mixing boards and some actual instruments.