A Programmer's Perspective on Art

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This animation uses screenshots from the game The Elder Scrolls: Oblivion.

Paul Pfeiffer

Pfieffer is a video artist who uses cutting edge technology to create videos which captivate the viewer visually as well as intellectually. He edits video extensively and seems to focus on taking out or disguising certain aspects of the original piece to create something more interesting.  An example would be his, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, photo series in which he edited out all the players in a basketball game except for one. Another would be, The Long Count, which is a video of a boxing match which was edited so that the boxers appear to be about 80% invisible – which made the collision of the boxers and the edge or the ring rope a lot more exciting.

I absolutely loved Pfieffer’s video’s and, in my opinion, his process to achieve his end goal was spectacular. Accomplishing tasks such as making boxers appear to be invisible In a boxing video must be the work of a true craftsman. He obviously spent a lot of time on each piece because, as stated at the beginning of this blog post, each piece not only captivates the imagination but also the intellect. His art draws attention to the mass media in the modern age – especially to the sport media. Pfieffer is my favorite video artist out of all the ones we’ve had to view so far – and with good reason.

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Bill Viola

Bill Viola is a video artist who specializes in the dramatization of a single moment.  He was born in 1951 and grew up in Queen’s, New York and graduated from Syracuse University with a BA in Fine Arts.  He is a master at using ultra slow motion in his art – and the two concepts he seems most interested in are water and emotion. An example of his use of slow motion and water would be Reflecting Pool – where he uses slow motion, water and the suspense of time to create an intriguing video. A good example of his emphasis and dramatization of emotion would be The Quintet of the Astonished – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MR9av-I35ME – which is a 47 second video of five people emoting astonishment in super duper slow motion….it is epic.

I think this is the first video artist whose art I’ve been able to understand easily. His use of slow motion and emphasis on the grandiose is something our current society is used to already, so viewing his art lead me to a comfortable place I’ve visited before – thanks to Hollywood. My favorite piece of his was definitely The Quintet of the Astonished (video linked above), and I think that is because there is so much going on in that piece. The people are reacting strongly to some outside stimuli, that the viewer cannot see, and each of them is reacting in his/her own way. Especially the guy in the back who seems to not be astonished at all during the whole video – to the contrary he looks as if he is in his happy place or something, which brings a new layer of intrigue to the piece. Bill Viola may use cheesy techniques such as slow motion to grab his audiences attention, however he does it in such an elegant way that his pieces don’t suffer from it.

Jenny Holzer

http://www.jennyholzer.com/list.php

Jenny Holzer’s work focuses on the use of text in photos. She was born in 1950 in Gallipolis Ohio.  She received her education from many schools: Ohio University, Rhode Island School of Design, and also participated in the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art.  She was a member of a group named Colab – short for Collaborative Projects which was a New York City artists’ group formed in 1977.

Text is a critical part of her pieces. In her Projections project she uses text and projects it onto a building, or reflects it in water to create a dynamic photo. I also noticed that the text, when strung together for each city, formed a poem. The project’s duration is over more than ten years, took place in three continents and in more than ten countries, including: Italy, Spain, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, England, the United States, Austria and Ireland.  Now THAT is dedication.

I really liked this artist. She used the landscape and thoughtfully chose the text to display to create great photos. I’m not sure if the poems in her photos are ones she wrote herself, however I think that they are because I couldn’t find them published – every hit I got when I searched for it was referencing her work. My favorite piece was the Florence – 1996 city projection piece. That piece interested me not only because I was living in Italy at the time she photographed it but also because it engaged me. I had fun translating part of the text, discovering it was a poem, and then trying to excavate where it was from and who wrote it. I roughly translated it to:

You are my own

I’m losing ground

I lie

I can not stand

I am losing time

Bite

I smell you on my skin

Breathe your breath

I cover you

I am crying hard

There was blood

No one told me

No one Knew

My mother knows

There was blood

No one told me

No one knew

However, I found the full version on someone’s blog – http://www.ricksteves.com/jackiesteves/index.cfm?fuseaction=entry&entryID=18. The blogger stated that she had found the poem on a bench while visiting the Peggy Guggenheim Collection of Modern art. The benches are very beautifully engraved with verses from the poem. Jenny Holzer obviously put a lot of thought and effort into her pieces and it shows – she is a master at her craft.

http://www.jennyholzer.com/Projections/site/Florence1996/

http://www.jennyholzer.com/Projections/site/RioDeJaneiro1999/

http://www.jennyholzer.com/Projections/site/NewYork2004/

Jeff Baij

Baij’s art is very pleasing to the eye. He uses repetition and perspective to draw the viewer into his piece. His Small File piece is a great example of his use of repetition.  Unlike some of the previous artists I’ve been asked to critique, it seems like Baij’s art does not require me to know the purpose or back story of the piece in order to appreciate it as art. In fact, his art tells a story in itself – a great example would be Space Stories (which happens to be my favorite).  The story is simplistic, and again he uses repetition, however it allows the viewer to fill in the blanks and create their own story to accompany the art.

I honestly really enjoyed Baij’s art. It was simplistic in that it was easy to understand but also complex in that it had the power to captivate and engage the viewer with very little effort. As i stated above Space Stories was my favorite piece of his and I think it’s because the color scheme he used fit very well between every image and each one practiced every design principle I have learned in this class including: economy, repetition, balance, variety, etc…I really liked this artist.

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