Friday, April 16, 2010
Information for Peace and Democracy, by Brett Cook-Dizney, was located in the Bronx during 2002. These were 8' by 16' murals which focused on reactions to the tragic events of 9/11. Cook-Dizney interviewed five people about their thoughts on peace and democracy. After being interviewed, the interviewees were asked to help draw themselves and their thoughts on murals. This type of art is strongly based around the central issue of the interaction of the public. This piece breaks down the border between viewer and artist due to the actual participation of the subject. It is very sincere and realistic. By including quotes that the participants said, it shows the realism behind 9/11. This art speaks entirely to the public since many can relate to the views each participant expressed. This situational art allows people to engage and feel as if their voices are being heard and represented through the normal population. The sites of these murals are also important because they are generated to target a certain population. If these were to be moved to Kansas, the responses would be different. The emotions are more deeply felt in the place where one of the attacks occurred. The murals acknowledge the feelings many citizens were feeling and give people the feeling that their thoughts and opinions matter. It makes the public more aware of current issues and opens up the floor for people to engage in these matters. It opens up space for discussion. It opens up the doors to a situation where people take responsibility and take a stance. These murals allowed for community to grow and for interaction to take place. They grounded the feelings of many Americans with a futuristic lookout on what was yet to come. It combined the past and future while maintaining a connection with the people in the present. This situational art went against norms by asking for so much involvement from the people. Even after the murals were finished they asked for constant interaction through thoughts and dialouge. The outcome was discussion.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
Certain artists attempt to create an interactive experience with their art, which is where the site-specificity comes into play. By placing or performing their art in a specific place, the artist also understands that he/she is presenting it to certain individuals. Leonard van Munster, a Dutch artist, often designs performance pieces or installations, both site- and subject-specific. One of his most well-known installations is a series of interactive toilets in Amsterdam, titled Private room 02, which, with the help of censors and pre-recorded responses, registers what its user is doing and provides its user with suggestions and/or inaccurate facts from Google. It's interesting to see then how van Munster is able to transform an everyday object like a toilet into an interactive installation piece, creating a sense of awareness in those who happen to use one of his talking toilets.
Another more recent installation of van Munster's is "The dancing white man", also located in Amsterdam. The piece is of a man who remains frozen until approached, which then causes him to "come to life" and begin to dance. Once again, the reaction of the viewer creates and transforms the art based on the individual's personal experience.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Similarly to what the Everyday group discussed today in class, Sarah Sze, an artist known for her site-specific pieces, frequently uses everyday objects to create unique pieces of artwork. Based on the space provided, Sze designs intricately-designed installation pieces that catch the eye, though constructed from everyday objects such as water bottles, books, rulers, lamps, etc. as seen in the pictures above and below. Her obvious attention to details such as color, shape, and lighting indicate that she, unlike many, is very aware of her everyday surroundings. As a result, she is able to fashion installations such as these which, in turn, raise awareness in others about everyday objects due to the size and shape of her pieces. Though fashioned of unexpected and common objects, Sze's pieces possess a quality of grandeur about them due to their very intricate nature.
University of Toledo
Wake Forest University
This just shows that one of the best places to find examples of site-specificity is in the everyday world around us.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
It's hard to imagine being able to find a connection between a Martin Scorcese film and our class, but last night proved otherwise to me. As I was watching "The Departed" for the first time, I grew intrigued by the portrayal of South Boston in the movie. As I tend to do when I find myself curious about something, I looked it up on Wikipedia, and discovered the mural above. Unfortunately, I was unable to find any further information on the origins of the mural, and I also learned that it has recently been torn down to make way for new condominiums- yet another ancient casualty of the rapid rise of new technology and desensitization. Regardless, the piece may be viewed as a truly site-specific representation of the neighborhood it overlooked for so many years. "Failte go mBoston dheas" reads the sign in Irish, over the English translation of "Welcome to South Boston". Adorning the mural in addition are a large Celtic cross in the center, flanked by the coats of arms of the four historical provinces of Ireland. The texts across the bottom read in English, from left to right, "Sinn Fein", a left-wing political party in Ireland, "Irish Republican Army", and "NORAID", an Irish-American fund-raising organization with ties to the IRA. All of these aspects represent, in many ways, the lifestyle and interests of the very residents which have shaped South Boston into the neighborhood it represents today. From the mural one can see how South Boston, or "Southie", is comprised largely of Irish-Americans and Irish immigrants. Though this is not uncommon across all of Boston, the Southie neighborhood has historically been seen as one of the working class. While many Americans view the IRA with less-than-favorable opinions, the Irish and Irish-Americans hold a deeper understanding of the struggles of their homeland. Working against the historical tyranny of the British to acquire Northern Ireland and bring about a "workers republic" across the entire Emerald Isle. Indeed, seeing as the Republic of Ireland is historically Catholic, with Northern Ireland being largely Protestant, the conflict had roots in religion, and has endured some very bloody years. With South Boston being both highly Irish and largely Catholic as well, it comes as no surprise that a mural venerating the efforts of the IRA stood tall over their humble neighborhood for so many years. Interesting to note as well is the placement of Irish text even before the English greeting on the mural. This fact, in addition to the outspoken support for the IRA and the groups associated with it, may suggest that much of the population of South Boston is more concerned with the ongoing political strife in their home nation, than in their new land of America. The foregone mural paints a true picture of the Irish identity so prevalent in South Boston, and thus may certainly be viewed as a work of site-specific art.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
Sunday, April 4, 2010
Now that April has arrived, it means on-campus tours, and lots of them. As the spring sun beats down on the picturesque Wake Forest University, wide-eyed teenagers and their concerned parents are led around campus by an experienced student. What is a seemingly normal routine, however, might be viewed as an exercise in performativity as it relates to site-specific art. While the guide absentmindedly rattles off obscure statistics about the founding of the University, and of certain buildings, the eyes of the prospective students twinkle with an curious mix of excitement, wonder, and even trepidation. To look into the faces of these youths is to experience a truly pure form of reaction, which has in recent years come into the world of site-specificity as a performance art. One such example brought up in class previously involved an artist (whose name escapes me right now) who put on an exhibit wherein he simply stared into the faces of individual audience members for an extended period of time. This avant-garde style of performance relies heavily on facial expressions, and how people react to the situation of being stared down by an eccentric artist. Observing the faces of the parents and kids touring the campus provided a similar sort of intrigue for me as a current student, as expressions often reveal thoughts and emotions. For some, it is clear that they have immediately fallen in love with the campus, and will be attending for sure. For others, vague expressions of disenchantment might reveal one of several emotions; whether it be disinterest in our particular campus, or even crippling fear at the prospect of college life in general. Indeed, students passing by often fail to realize that these 17 and 18 year olds are in the process of making perhaps the most important decisions of their lives. This coupled with the fact that they often forget they are being casually watched by the students on the quad makes for natural and highly interesting reactions to observe on the faces of kids who might well be spending the majority of the next 4 years on this very campus. On a side note, the grandiose campus that they are so overwhelmed by will in a few months time become the "everyday" for a good portion of these very same kids. Whereas museum tours can involve myriads of different times of people, college tours almost always include teenagers in similar situations, and thus seeing the different reactions on people so similar is a truly intriguing situation.
As I am sitting outside and pondering, musing, and writing about situation and its many applications in the world that surrounds me, a few things come to mind, all of which reside on the Wake Forest campus.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Environmental art was discussed in an earlier post and an interesting example of it is Andy Goldsworthy's Stone River. First off, an important distinction to make in environmental art is that certain artists do not consider the damage they might cause to the environment while others create pieces that will not cause any harm. Stone River falls under the latter category. Simply from the title alone, one can see how images of nature are evoked. Goldsworthy comments: "I call it a river, but it's not a river. [The sculpture is] about the flow. There's a sense of movement in the material, through the individual stones, so you just see this line." More than just the flow, this piece also examines natural light. Goldsworthy wanted to create a piece in Northern California where he believes there is "the clearest, brightest and most intense light", which plays into the site-specific nature of this piece. As a result, Goldsworthy believes that to truly understand the piece, it must be examined constantly throughout the day as the sun rises and falls, in order to see how the piece changes with the sun's placements in the sky. Stone River is an interesting piece due to the stark contrast created by its very natural components--sunlight and rock--and its unnatural formation as a wall.
Friday, April 2, 2010
On the topic of the eighteenth century notion that art should have a certain didactic quality to it, versus the twentieth century avant garde idea that art should avoid the moral and the norms that it is so commonly associated with, we look today at some examples in both literature and visual art.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
In 2001, Keith Barrett designed a wooden structure to be placed on the island of Whalsay in Shetland, Scotland. This structure really draws from its surroundings, especially the water visible in the distance. From certain angles, the structure appears like a shell sticking out of the ground. Other views of the structure suggest boats turned on their sides. Without the sea nearby, it is doubtful that the viewers would be able to make the connection between the shape of the structure and its meaning. For those who dare to enter in between the two sides of the structure, it also serves as shelter from the high winds. From all these different interpretations of the structure, it is easy to see how its surroundings really play into how it is viewed, interpreted, and understood.
Barrett accurately stresses the importance of each element for the success of the piece, saying: "It is only complete in the relationship between the work, its environment and the viewer. Remove one element of this relationship from the equation and the art loses its meaning. The environment of the work is as much a part of the artwork as the built elements. The person who sees the work and engages with it completes the whole."
Wednesday, March 31, 2010
The examples of the Statue of Liberty, the triangles outside the Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower were given as pieces that, through history, have become so grounded in their sites that it's difficult to imagine the place without them. Can sites such as these truly be considered site-specific? If not, how do we categorize them?
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Monday, March 29, 2010
The original monument:
What can be seen today of the monument:
Questions to consider:
-Can all monuments be considered site-specific?
-If the artist intends for the piece to eventually disappear, is that considered "destroying the work"? (Remember Richard Serra's quote: "To move the work is to destroy the work".)
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Roland Barthes retains a sense of profundity in his work. His ideas of transforming everyday things into true science, the punctum & the studium, and his criticism in general have had great impact on the world of modern art and criticism. Focusing on the punctum and studium, today I will look at its relation to the situation.
As noted, images will outlast their producers. That being known, it is interesting to see that situation, something that is so dynamic, can be captured in film. We can look at any given photo and without hesitation point out that there is a situation, whether manufactured or natural; that is, the difference between theatricality and absorption. Going back to my own photos, there is a distinct punctum that is quite irritating in almost every picture. The absorption that is associated with candidness is something I firmly believe comprises any punctum. Looking at Nicaragua, I see that the punctum is a product of the situation itself. If the nuns were not walking one way, the soldiers another, there would be no situation (of course depending on your standards for a situation), hence no punctum. It is, as I see it very difficult to have art devoid of a punctum, for almost everything creates some sort of tension, even if it’s the aesthetics of the thing that please you in the first place.
This is not to say the punctum is limited to the realms of photography, for its applications extend far beyond. Let us look at Chris Burden’s performance art. The crux of performance art, especially Burden’s, lies at the situation; Burden puts himself in a situation in which he leaves the outcome to the external stimuli that are involved (whether or not they want to be).
Every situation carries with it a “punctum,” a sense of tension, of “pricks.” The sensation is familiar, mostly because from situation to situation we feel this. We are pelted with punctums thus desensitizing us, making it easier to find in works of art.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
"Le blues de l'escalier"
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Ron Silliman, as discussed in class is very into the idea of streaming data and the human interaction. We, as humans, often avoid the idea of intangible streams of data and try to freeze things, like pictures do, in order to deal with it, this incomprehension of what real life is. Society, to this day, is irrational, and we can look at some of the absurdist art movement work (from the 50's) in order to see how they dealt with it. Specifically the theatre of the absurd played a huge part in the reflection of modern life during that time- for an example through Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" click here. Essentially it was a way to deal with the absurdity of real life.
Monday, March 15, 2010
A local piece of site-specific art you may have seen is the large black flatiron found in Asheville, NC. This iron structure was fashioned by artist Reed Todd in the shape of a laundry iron used in the early 1900s and placed in downtown Asheville across from the historic Flatiron Building. (Flatiron buildings earn their name from their formation, usually taking on the shape of an isosceles triangle.) The flatiron structure mimics not only the name and shape of the building, but also the time period in which the Flatiron Building was created.
Friday, March 12, 2010
Located off of Lake Union in Seattle is Gas Works Park. One of the park's more well-known features is what is known to the locals as "Kite Hill", a man-made hill placed specifically where the wind has been known to pick up. Though it might be a bit of a stretch to call the hill a piece of art, it is site-specific, as are its features. The pathways leading to the top are placed strategically so that, when climbing up the hill, the walkers can avoid being overtaken by the wind. One of its most interesting features, however, is a sundial/calendar positioned on the top of the hill. Artists Chuck Greening and Kim Lazare fashioned and positioned this sundial so that when the sun shines upon it, a person can read both the time of day and the season based on where their shadow falls. The sundial serves both an aesthetic and a functional role due to its specific placement.
Thursday, March 11, 2010
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
One of Oppenheim's most famous performance pieces was 1968's One Hour Run, in which he created a six-mile, continuous path of snowmobile tracks in St. Francis, Maine. While this is an example of the ephemeral nature of site-specific art, it is also a perfect example of an artist completely embodying his site.
Oppenheim's One Hour Run
For more information on Dennis Oppenheim, click here.
References: Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation by Nick Kaye. Pages 151-152.
Sunday, March 7, 2010
I was thinking about situation & music today, specifically I was listening to Tyga's song "Cali Love" off his album "Outraged and Underaged." The song just kinda reminded me of a modern version of Sartre's preface in his "Situations." Of course, it's a completely different time period and we seldom keep lookout for the communist overthrow in our daily lives (of course it may be different in China and North Korea), but someone like Tyga expresses so much "situation" in his music. Tyga, a Compton native, knows more than most do about the American condition (let us use that as a variable for situation); the poor, crime-infested, violence-ridden, and "high culture" devoid lives of the Americans in places like Compton, Detroit, (parts of) Harlem, and whatnot. In his music you'll find not much else than the likes of his specific situation, at least in terms of content. Similarly, we can recall that Sartre so obviously pointed out that censored work is incomplete (duh), but it is truly unbelievable that a disparity in culture can have such vast differences in art; a California slum, opposed to a communist run group is unable to access so many amenities to even create art, yet somehow produces soulful art, whereas a communist culture that Sartre speaks of will never reach that level.
Monday, March 1, 2010
Although site-specific paintings are not as common in today's society, history has shown us many examples of paintings designed to fill a certain space. Most of these paintings were portraits commissioned by royals and other aristocrats who desired to fill a space in their homes. Though most of these paintings found a place in a member of the upperclass's personal collection, certain pieces were designed to fit into other (more public) spaces.
A prime example of the latter type of site-specific painting is "El entierro del Conde Orgaz" ("The Burial of Count Orgaz") by El Greco. This painting was commissioned in 1586 by the church of Santo Tome in Toledo after the death of Count Orgaz, a pious man who had dedicated much of his time, money, and effort to charitable deeds. The painting was designed to fit into the space above Count Orgaz's tomb inside the church of Santo Tome. For this reason, the painting has a uniquely rounded top so that the edges can fit in the space provided (as shown below).
Friday, February 26, 2010
Below is the first stanza of "Rückenfigur." Notice how each line breaks not where the idea ends, but right about where the reader needs to take a breath. For the full poem, click here.
Iseult stands at Tintagel
on the mid stairs between
light and dark symbolism
Does she stand for phonic
human overtone for outlaw
love the dread pull lothly
for weariness actual brute
predestined fact for phobic
falling no one talking too
Tintagel ruin of philosophy
here is known change here
is come crude change wave
wave determinist comparison
Your soul your separation
Wednesday, February 24, 2010
A question to consider:
Can site specific music be reproduced?
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
As a basic working definition, site-specific dance involves the artist performing in the real world, using the location and its surroundings as part of the piece. Interestingly, some believe that site-specific dance stemmed from unhappy dancers who participated in dance companies. As a result of this discontent, the dancers left the theater and began to perform in the streets and other locations outside of the theater, combining choreography and improvisation to form a performance piece based on the site picked.
Major areas, such as Hong Kong, now encourage site-specific dance as a means of expressing creativity and hold festivals in order to show their support for the creation of this unique art form. In 2007, Hong Kong introduced the first Site-Specific Dance Festival, inviting people from all around the world to perform in the streets. Since then, other major cities have opened their facilities and invited dancers to create a performance within a certain space. The dancers are challenged to work within the space provided as well as around any other people that are present. Some of the artists provide their own props, allowing passers-by to interact with them, adding to the specificity of the site as well as adding a situational aspect to their performance. However, there are also other artists who act as though they are the only ones in the room, ignoring other people by moving around them. An interesting example of this sort of variety of site-specific dance can be found in Beyond the Threshold: Seattle International Dance Festival.
Questions to consider:
-Can anyone create a site-specific dance? If this is the case, what is the difference, if any, between street performers and site-specific dancers?
-Does having someone else dictate the site in which you perform (such as in these site-specific dance festivals) change the significance of the piece?
Monday, February 22, 2010
Charles Olson, one of America's most profound modern poets, created the idea of "projective verse" which, according to him centers around the idea of the poem's lines being reflective of the actual meaning of the poem using breaks to synchronize with the breath of the reader. This is particularly relative to situation in that the work then works with the situation; that is to say it is in sync with the situational being of the poem itself.
Butterick, George F. Editing The Maximus Poems: Supplementary Notes. Storrs: University of Connecticut Library, 1983. Print.
Olson, Charles. The Maximus Poems. Ed. George F. Butterick. Berkeley: University of California, 1983. Print.