Sunday, July 19, 2009

Inspired Aesthetic Quality

Snippits, brief thoughts, whatnot…

Rogue Wave 2009 at LA Louver – I went because it’s the Rogue Wave show, and because Kaz Oshiro was in it. Turns out someone I sort of know (Tia Pulitzer) was in it. Her work stood out at Superficiality and Superexcrescence at Otis, as it does in this show.

Nice scene, a lot of sculpture, as Sara Simon pointed out. We attempted to formulate a theory about how the economic downturn would usher a new opportunity for sculpture in the art market. Painting has always been the most archetypal of marketable art objects; sculpture has a reputation for being more, well, inconvenient. But much of what was at LA Louver Thursday made it seem worth the effort.

Lawrence Weiner at Regen Projects – I like words. I like poetry. I like typography. I like conceptual art. I like artists with funny last names. I like seeing John Baldessari at openings. I like being able to park. 6 out of 7 ain’t bad.

I’m beginning my initial preparations for teaching again in the fall – Introduction to Art Concepts and Introduction to Digital Media. My respective goals for this semester are to give the students practical tools for writing about art, and to emphasize more ideas about two-dimensional design in the digital class.

My basis for the latter has come from the realization that the students tend to catch on to how to use the software with incredible ease. What escapes them is how to create compositions and images that have an inspired aesthetic quality. A new book I have been studying, and have adapted for the class, Digital Foundations: Intro to Media Design with the Adobe Creative Suite by xtine burrough (sic) and Michael Mandiberg, provide a possible curriculum with this in mind, and it has become one of my favorite pedagogical materials.

As far as getting students to write about art better, I was wondering what all of you think. What are the essential points of emphasis when trying to get newcomers to art to articulate about it?

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Audacity of Stillness

Two things --

1. Your Bright Future at LACMA – Chance and fate have dictated that I am currently housemates with Korean artist Nakhee Sung at the moment, here at my home, Raid Projects. It's quite serendipitous, then, that LACMA should have an exhibit of contemporary Korean art at the same time. The show is indeed a good time. Christopher Knight has chided it as “90’s festival art”, and though I agree it has some dull spots, overall it made me want to go to Seoul and make video art.

A standout was Choi Jeong-Hwa’s plastic container installation that should have been a few acres bigger, but provided a delightful forest to lose oneself in. It was an interesting contrast to the other “forest” on the LACMA campus – Burden's streetlights – whose permanent status on the grounds served to highlight how disposable Choi’s materials end up being.

Of course, Do Ho Suh’s pieces kicked everyone’s dick in the dirt. His ability to get so much artistic mileage out of the places he has lived as the source for his work is mind bending. His brother’s an architect Nakhee tells me.

Love that Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries, wish they would have mounted the monitor in the elevator, to see how they play off of the permanent Krueger installation. My favorite in the whole show, however, was Kimsooja’s unbelievably provocative video installation A Needle Woman. So achingly simple, so hypnotically compelling, so tellingly revealing, she has managed to concisely and articulately show how contrary to conventional wisdom it is to literally take a stand. Kim does nothing in these videos, and yet the audacity of her stillness so quickly instills a similar notion in the viewer. The presentation of multiple videos from all over the world make the universality of her stance (and her stance) visually and poetically apparent. One simple move, or more correctly a lack of moving, and Kim has transformed herself into a force of nature, dictating the direction of the humanity around her, instead of the other way around. An inspiring solution to anyone who has felt caught up in life’s flow.

Plenty of other goofy and great pieces, by other goofy and great artists, an overall paradoxical feeling of a group of artists at different forms of play, yet united by something globally plugged in, but decidedly non-Occidental. A heavy prevalence on video is a badge worn almost patriotically in this show, and a picture of Korea is presented that makes a case for a country whose artistic identity could easily be the meat in an Asian contemporary art sandwich, surrounded by the hearty bread of China and Japan. But only as long as it’s one of those Vietnamese sandwiches. Because those are fucking tasty.

2. I was going to write about Mat Brinkman’s Multi-Force comic book, but Frank Santoro over at the Comics Comics blog has beat me to it. I agree with almost all of his assertions, save for his initial feeling that Brinkman’s most representative output was his “official” art – the drawings, the installations, etc. For me, I’ve always just been waiting around for Brinkman’s work in book form – his comics – and everything else was ancillary to it. At most, I sought to incorporate and connect his other output to what I saw in Paper Rodeo, or Kramers Ergot, or Teratoid Heights. His show at M+B Gallery here in LA a little while back totally confirmed this for me, as it was easy to see those drawings as depicting denizens of Citadel City and the surrounding areas. It seems “cartoonist” is a term that needs re-defining in this new wonderful era of avant-garde comics. The Comics Comics gang seems to be at forefront of articulating this new contextualization, and it is them, frequently, that I turn too when I myself am trying to wrap my brain around the larger picture of what is being produced by fellows like Brinkman. I sort of thought of Brinkman as an artist who has maintained a comics practice, but maybe it’s my problem with the word and not the word’s problem…………