Thursday, May 7, 2015
Having seen both exhibitions within the Shepard Contemporary gallery, shows me just how versatile that gallery can be. The first thing I noticed when I walked into the gallery was that the floor was tile and not carpet, which to me set a more serious tone for the space. The second thing I noticed was the framed documents on the wall directly as you walk in. These were some of the documentation for the other works of Hsiehs'. The piece that I was there to see was his "Time Clock" piece. When I went into the main part of the gallery, I was caught off guard with how it was presented. The time clock set up he used when he actually made the piece was replicated on and display. The thing that was most intriguing to me was that all of the pictures he took for every hour were lined up under the timecard for that day. Three hundred and sixty five columns were lined around the entire room. Something that caught my eye, when observing all of the pictures around me, were the pictures that seemed way darker then all the other ones. This caused me to think maybe the flash didn't go off right or the film was over developed or something of that nature. When standing in a space and looking at a collection of photos at that caliber really puts time into perspective. It was overwhelming. Trying to mentally comprehend what it took to complete that work is very challenging and awe inspiring and it really shows what can be done a determination like his. In the middle of the gallery was a table with the documentation of intent and the uniform he wore for the piece. It was incredibly humbling to experience this amount of work in a gallery here at UNR.
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
The exhibition that I was able to attend was the one being held inside the Shepard gallery. This exhibition was titled “Pink Elephants on Parade” and was created by the artist Nick van Woert.
Now as I attend my classes in the Church Fine Arts building on campus, I happen to use the stairs that go underneath the Shepard gallery space, so everyday I would be see one piece from this exhibition through the window overlooking the stair well. From my occasional glances towards that window, I formed an assumption that the piece was in conversation with the topic of fire and destruction. I arrived at this conclusion because through the window I could make out large dark gray objects that sort of billowed up and around a bright orange object. It wasn’t until I ventured into the gallery space that I realized how wrong I was.
To begin, none of Woert’s pieces are titled, so there is no hint to context or anything to give you a direction to take an interpretation. This piece that I had wrongly assumed was something about fire was actually a bright orange statue of a merman, my best guess would be Poseidon, with black wax being the billowing substance that I previously thought. I was particularly intrigued with how the wax was applied to the statue because when the statue was presented it seemed to defy gravity, which provided a wonderful movement and flow to the piece. The statue was placed face down on the ground and had hot black wax poured, dribbled, and lathered onto it. The wax also greatly surpassed the actual boundaries of the statue, providing this sort of great, over bearing feeling when you approach it. By doing this technique the wax created something that resembles frozen waterfalls all along the edges of the merman. The wax also created this network of pools that moved out and around the figure. The statue was then displayed facing upright, which caused all those waterfalls to suddenly be moving forward instead of toward the ground. This piece was an absolutely wonderful leading piece into this exhibition.
The exhibition layout was also very interesting, seeing that all of the pieces were just set onto the floor, with one mounted on a wall. There wasn’t a designated path the viewer was set to walk through the exhibition, I was free to walk around any of the pieces I wanted. This gave me a very loose and unrestricted feeling as I moved about the space.
None of the pieces within the gallery space had an aesthetic that correlated, they were all vastly different from each other, which provided a dynamic viewing experience. The next, and my favorite, piece that I encountered was the one that was mounted on the wall. The piece left about three feet of space on top and bottom and was about five feet wide. It consisted of two metal frames that were mounted next to each other, each holding tree bark. The thing that fascinated me about this piece was that this tree bark was unmistakable from the the same section of a tree trunk, meaning that Woert some how managed to flatten the bark off a section of tree trunk and keep it seamless. The presentation of such a large section of bark was incredible. I had never seen flattened tree bark before and it was fantastic seeing something I had only ever seen parts of at a time, due to the curves of an actual tree, spread out flat and put on a wall.
Then moving off to my left there was what seemed like a giant piece of sponge corral with burns all over it. The way it was shaped resembled that of a wedge of cheese. This piece was odd and I am still not entirely sure how it was created. I moved from this piece to a giant black ball of asphalt with a metal rod sticking from both ends. This mound of asphalt again struck me as odd and I was intrigued as to how one would get a ball of asphalt that big and be able to get a pole protruding from both sides. The pristine shine of the asphalt was also appealing, it gave me a sort of “just off the shelf” manufactured feel.
From the asphalt I moved over to what looked like a chair made from see-through glass containers filled with different solutions of sand. The sands were mixed and layered in a very earthy way, which gave the sculpture an interesting momentum, almost like it had been blown together by very fierce winds. Behind me and off to my left was something that resembled a chute of some kind. It was made out of solid metal, my guess was iron, which gave off a very mining old western feel to me. The piece itself had an interesting form, geometric, with pseudo moving parts. Something I came to appreciate with this one and was the welding work, it was beautifully layered and presented that I believe showed a great deal of craftsmanship.
Moving again off to my left, I kind of spiraled through the pieces till I arrived in the middle, was a group of pounded copper sheets that were welded together and resembled a mound. Again, the welding was wonderful and added an interesting dynamic when paired with the bright copper. The object itself didn't seem to have a specific form it intended to represent, but the materials aided its current form into something that was fairly appealing to look at. Finally I arrived at the network of steel tubes sitting in the middle of the space. My first thought was that they resembled car mufflers, a great deal of car mufflers. My second thought was that is looked very much like a rib cage, which was an odd combination of impressions. The welding was again very well done and I began to follow the tubes paths and I got lost within all of the bends and curves presented from all of the different tubes brought into this piece. Another unique installment from Woert.
After I had seen and thought about all of the pieces I then began to crack the code that was what was the meaning of all of them? What was Woert trying to say? I arrived at a dialogue that involved natural resources and how we use them and also I thought that some of the pieces were making a commentary on the oil industry and its oil spills. The statue of Poseidon with all of the black wax around him and the burnt sponge were the foundation to that claim. All in all I really enjoyed the exhibition and thought it was very neat to see this kind of work presented in this way.
I had never heard of this artist going into the talk which gave it an air of mystery and spiked my interest in what kind of art we were going to see from this artist. First thing I really noticed was that Tehchings' first language was not english. This didn't bother me at all but I knew down the line it could cause some problems when he tried to explain concepts behind his work. Tehching opened with a picture of a warrant for his arrest, seeing that he had entered the country illegally. This was one the best ways, I think, someone could have opened up an artists talk. Then he showed and explained what he was going to do for his first piece: He built a cage and declared that he was going to stay in this cage for one year. After seeing his documentation on the cage piece, it blew my mind how much determination he had. That was something I realized very soon about his work. The determination and dedication to his pieces was something I had never seen before. The aspect of time really struck me when he was talking and showing his work. An entire year is a long time and being able to do an art piece that involves being aware that the work isn't finished till that time has passed has got to have some sort of mental toll on someone. Then again he kept doing entire year pieces and was successful in all of them. Something else that fascinated me was that at the very end of his talk he showed everyone a picture of how eventually he would like all of his works displayed. He gave a distance equivalent to time. Forty feet equalled one year and everything else was derived from that equivalence. Forty feet. One year. The length doesn't seem to match up with that much time but Tehching mentioned that he viewer choses how much time they spend within the gallery space and that they ultimately choose the amount of time required to view each piece. This idea of giving time and space an equivalent is very intriguing to me. This perspective really has so many ways it can be interpreted and that is something that really left me in awe when I walked out of that talk. The determination, the concepts, and overall the relativity of time.
Listening to Joel Swanson talk about his art was an interesting experience. He came from a graphic design background which initially sparked my interest, seeing what someone with that kind of background is making in the art world. One of the main things that really fascinated me about his work was his theme of language. The idea that language is this invisible barrier that forces a certain perception of the world based on which language the person speaks. Indexicality was another point he liked to do work on and again it reinforced just how driven and focused language makes a person. That was a new perspective I had never considered before, how controlled I was by the language I could speak. It was really neat seeing a concept like that applied into artwork, there were some very interesting conversations created. I also enjoyed that he addresses that fact that there are errors in language and he plays around with that idea to create some interesting pieces. His minimalistic approach was effective in that his art was very minimalistic but it also seemed to fail in some points at being interesting. The small repeating white neon signs or a single blinking white LED, while being concept heavy pieces, they left something to be desired on the visual end. The bits of code work he talked about really emphasized how powerful code can be and that was something close to a powerful observation I hadn't made before. He didn't have much work based on code but the ones he did have displayed a great deal of the versatility code has to offer. The possibilities are endless. I appreciated the new perspectives he offered and his interpretations of those perspectives.
The University of Nevada, Reno recently implemented a program called 15 to finish that puts a requirement on certain financial aid options and on-campus jobs that makes it so a student must take 15 credits or more a semester in order to receive any of those benefits or work on campus. This is putting a great deal of unnecessary pressure on students in order for the university to get more funding based on its four year graduation rates. With my final, this was the more conceptual piece of artwork I believe I have ever made. I used a picture of our library to represent the quality of our education. I 3D modeled and printed the library and I also took that 3D model, textured it and animated it being built. I then light the model on fire with a blowtorch. The picture in the background represents the unmoving standard we have for our education: pristine and sharp. The next layer is the animated model being built, showing that at its core the university is a place that furthers the education of the people who attend it. The final layer is the burning of the printed 3D model with represents what we are currently doing to that standard by forcing people to take more credits each semester which in turn is causing one person to spread thin with the requirement of all the class work leading to a less impactful learning environment. The sounds I paired with the piece are the sounds of a 3D printer at work to represent the push for newer technology, the sounds of a construction site which ties to the fact that our campus always seems to be under construction and the final sound which is the sounds of a blowtorch burning a 3D model to emphasize what is happening to the quality of the students education.