Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Prince of Time, Clee McCracken

This video is a simple interview with my friend who likes to think about time. I first thought of interviewing him because I felt he shouldn't be excluded from any project that has to do with time. I wanted to take an almost ironically literal interpretation of the assignment and distort it into being interesting.

 "The viewer of Renaissance art is systematically placed outside the frame of experience."

I filmed the interview from two cameras, one of which was the low-quality, mirrored webcam in my laptop. This made some of the footage backwards, and gave it the eerie, greenish, grainy cast you see in half the video. I wanted to create an uncertain, flickering reality to be contrasted with Clee's jovial ramblings about the nature of time.

 "Electric circuitry is recreating in us the multidimensional space orientation of the 'primitive'."

I was inspired by McLuhan's ideas about perspective in art how western mathematical perspective is devolving in the face of "electric circuitry." By using two perspectives, one clean and professional and one proudly amateur, I tried to involve the audience, and by distorting the narrative, the image and the quality of the footage I tried to disorient them. 

"The instantaneous world of electric informational media involves all of us, all at once. No detachment or frame is possible."

Jason Yi: Good Instincts, Weird Execution

I found myself connecting with a lot of Jason Yi's art as he showed it during the lecture, but when he started to explain each piece, I became disoriented as he gave it a completely different meaning from what I saw as obvious.

In particular, the video featuring overlaid clips of his parents talking first struck me as a beautiful, stripped down study of the subjects' physicalities when speaking. The way the two figures drifted closer and further from each other in their separate rhythms seemed to abstractly and simply express the nature of human relationships. However, when he started to talk about the video, it was clear that the overlaying of the clips and the visual impact of the piece were secondary to the literal message  his parents were delivering. His explanation about his parents' life stories converging on him was certainly personal and touching, but it seemed like he didn't give as much thought to how to convey that message through the video itself. He spoke of his parents' synchronicity and "oneness," and yet the video seems to force the viewer to contrast the movements and speech patterns of the two subjects. I wonder whether he picked the right manner to deliver his message.

After that, I was most impressed with his works that focused on broad concepts, instead of trying to deliver a specific message or story. His sculpture about the White Snake fable appealed to me because the feeling of impenetrable confusion and chaos is evident in the sculpture, in addition to the PVC pipes actually looking like a white snake. In this piece, his concept and execution seem more closely aligned than in the video project.

I'm starting to believe that in art, it's a greater challenge to try to express a very specific message, and it is often more impactful and creatively fulfilling to focus instead on an abstract concept and allow for varying interpretations by others. I think Jason has done this with his zip-tie installations here, and much of his other installation art, but it seems like he didn't really intend to. I think a lot of his art is interesting and thought-provoking to the viewer, but I don't know if he sees his own work in the same way.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015


My artistic world, at this point, is sort of  foggy. I have a lot of interests to explore and relatively little experience in any of them. Since I started to become aware of myself as an artist in middle school, I have gone through several drastic changes in medium, aesthetic and philosophy, but I have never doubted my identity as an Artist, in a soul kinda way. 

During my four years at a large public high school (a bit of a shock after my tiny K-8 charter school) I allowed myself one visual art class per year, so that I could focus my energies on doing well in school and constructing a sham resume for colleges. I consider this a period of artistic hibernation, as I was constantly putting off my art education until college, when I would finally be able to breathe and focus on my creativity. I did do some stuff in high school, though!

A still life in colored pencil, completed for my Advanced Portfolio class senior year
Senior year, I did a project on bookbinding- I ended up with about 10 fully bound books of all kinds, including this little one.
At some point I got a tablet and started fooling around with photoshop, sometimes to hilarious ends.

Now that I'm finally allowed to really study art, I'm starting to realize the impact of my shallow education- I'm interested in everything and I haven't tried anything. So I'm exploring. However, cartoons– especially  funny ones– and good stories have been inspiring me for as long as I can remember. This has led up to my current interest in comics and graphic novels, which is turning in the direction of developing longer stories and more complex worlds.

Page 1 of Burbs Aeterna, the 4-page comic I made with my brother for his school's comics publication in 2014.
While I know I want to make art, I've never been interested in the life of a traditional gallery-bound artist. Instead, I can see myself becoming a sort of tradesperson. Freelance illustration, webcomics, and self-employed artists are gaining new power and recognition in the internet era, and using the web as a tool for exhibiting and distributing art in an informal, intimate setting has already changed the way my generation sees art and artists. I intend to capitalize on this trend in true American fashion.

Burbs Aeterna

This is a project I did with my brother in early 2014. He wrote the story and I drew it, and we submitted it to his school's comics publication, the Carleton Graphic. You can view it on the Graphic's website and check out all their other issues here.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Hippie Bullshit (tentative title) is a fledgeling project I started with my friend Sam in 2014. Each piece has a music component and an art component, and we create each one by simultaneously improvising in our own medium (for example, I draw or paint and he plays saxophone), trying to depict what the other is producing. We are still exploring right now but we're excited to see what happens!

This is the visual part of one of our pieces. To listen to the musical portion, go here.

Untitled, November 25, 2015, Willa Johnson
Marker and Saxophone
Weaving a Tapestry of Love and Appropriation, 2014, Willa Johnson
Digital Collage