A Programmer's Perspective on Art

Italy Vacation!

Pipilotti Rist

I have mixed feelings about Pipilotti Rist’s art but with all things considered I found it to be very engaging. Her art is showcased on her website inside an interactive playlist which ends up portraying her art very well – even though I found the website itself difficult to navigate. She specializes in manipulating film and video as well as what it seemed to me as flash videos. On her website you can view her art by clicking on a video which will launch a short audio clip followed by an interactive image. Mousing over certain areas of the page would bring up different aspects of the piece which i found to be very interesting – one piece in particular was a picture of a woman which would fall into place like puzzle pieces if you moused over a certain area on the screen. Another piece was a video of her pleading for help with fire digitally added to the video behind her. The video was placed in a corner of the screen which made it look as if a woman was trapped inside the computer burning. Although extreme, it nevertheless caught my attention.

Although I thought a lot of her work was disturbing (the lady burning in particular), I can’t deny that it kept me interested – which was a good thing since it made me want to view the next piece of her art on the playlist. It was as if I was on a psychedelic roller coaster through hell…but in a good way if that makes sense. Her art is vibrant, bold and unique. If you want a taste of what she does, check out the trailer for her film http://www.pepperminta.ch/.  Trust me, it speaks wonders.

Corey Arcangel

While past artist’s I’ve discussed have created art using digital tools, Arcangel uses these digital tools as art. A lot of his art is focused on old school games. For example his “Super Mario Clouds” piece is a video in which he took everything out of the original Super Mario game except for the clouds. He also modded the NES game Hogan’s Alley so that the bad guy is Andy Warhol. The rest of his art seemed to be focused on video and the more technical aspects of it.

To be honest, I didn’t really much care for his art. When I first saw the title’s of his art I was excited because a lot of them involved games and I happen to be a huge gamer nerd. However, in my opinion, his art involved taking the cool aspects of the games out and leaving the boring parts in there. Take his “Super Mario Clouds” for example; after 5 seconds of watching clouds float across the screen I was bored. Also, It felt like he didn’t put that much effort into his work. For example, “I Don’t Want to Spoil the Party” was a video of an interview with the Beetles and the only thing he changed about it was point a red pointer laser at Paul McCartney’s head the whole time…kids in the third grade could (and do) do that. However, I did enjoy some of his art – the mod he made for Hogan’s Alley was interesting and funny. In summation I enjoyed the projects that looked like he spent time on and didn’t care for the ones that looked thrown together in a few minutes.

Matt Siber

Matt Siber’s art reminds me of Jon Gitelson’s in that it focuses on the ordinary and transforms it into extraordinary. His main emphasis seems to be on advertising. For example, one of his projects involved him photographing public places (highways, crosswalks etc..) and taking out all the text. His goal was to draw the viewer to the subtler form of public communication such as symbols and colors – a goal he reached. In a different project, he took pictures of large advertisement signs (like the big McDonalds “M” you can see from a mile away) and edited out the large pole that help it up. It brought the viewers attention not only to the sign but also to how ridiculously high the object was. His photography forces the viewer to draw their attention to details they might otherwise overlook. It is captivating and genius.

I quite enjoyed Siber’s photography. I thought it was unique and refreshing; even though he photographed ordinary objects, he made his photography interesting by purposefully editing specific items out in order to draw attention to other aspects of the photo. It made his art fun because although I was looking at an ordinary object, sometimes something would be omitted that would make the object look very different and out of place. Although he focuses on the advertisement of other products, he does a very good job of making his own message heard. And I think that is the work of a master.

Scanograms: The Other Two

Space Invaders (Items used : AA battery, N64 game, key, iPod, WoW authenticator)

Do Not Duplicate (Items used : AA battery, N64 game, key, iPod, WoW authenticator)

Scanogram: Classmates Favorite

Solitary Confinement – (Objects used: AA Battery, key, N64 game, WoW authenticator, iPod nano)

Mike Wsol

Architecture is the first word that comes to mind when I think of Mike Wsol’s art…followed closely by handyman. Most of his pieces are sketches of architectural design while others are actual architecture. The piece I recall the best is the reinforcement he built. Not only was it beautifully designed but it also had bronze tokens inlaid within. The tokens created a cool pattern which engaged the viewer in a quest to solve the puzzle. A couple of his sketches such as “Reinforcement Web”, “Compartmental Structure”, and “Untitled” focused on perspective – the sketches represented 3D objects drawn on a 2D medium.  All of his pieces were in some form or another related to architecture.

I must admit I really enjoyed Mike Wsol’s art. Perhaps my linear programmer mind found harmony in the sharp right angles and efficient design of his architecture, who knows? However, I think the draw his art had on me ran deeper. This may have nothing to do with art but I left that exhibit with feelings of nostalgia; I recalled building wooden go-carts and other gadgets with my uncle during hot summers. I believe it was the feeling his art had provoked that sold me.

Experimental Art





Jonathan Gitelson

I’ve never had to critique art before, however when I think about the typical art people would critique I think of paintings and sculptures done by Michelangelo – the polar opposite of the artist I’ve been assigned to critique today.

Jonathan Gitelson’s art is captivating in that it tells a story. His art is personal in that every piece seems to illustrate a part of his life. On his website he documents the journey of the garbage cans in front of his house – apparently people had been stealing them so he decided to install a surveillance camera and take pictures in order to document what happened to them. The results were insightful and somewhat comical. He was able to catch the people who took the cans as well as capture some funny interactions people had with them – such as people kicking, running into, and taking items from them. Another one of his projects showcased the clothes his girlfriend hid from him so that he wouldn’t wear them again.  A project I found cute and funny at the same time.

I must admit when I first saw his artwork I was disappointed. Like I said, I was preparing to look at classical instead of modern art, so when I saw pictures of garbage cans as part of his art portfolio I was taken aback. However, after reading the back story on his projects I really started to like it. His art is personal and centered on everyday life, which makes it easy to relate to. It may not be pretty but it’s entertaining and tells a story. That, in my book, makes up for the fact that his art lacks a certain “eye candy” factor.

What is the Digital Approach?

As a computer science major I spend most of my time behind a screen writing code instead of drawing in a sketchbook, so my knowledge of the fine arts is somewhat limited – and that’s putting it gently. However, I would have to live under a rock to not notice the new genre of art that has emerged as a result of the computer revolution: digital art.

Well what exactly is digital art?

I would define digital approaches to fine art as the process of creating and critiquing art using cutting edge technology. Many things fall under the umbrella of what a digital approach to fine art can be and,  from my experience, this includes: creating/modifying art using Photoshop, digital photography, the creation of virtual worlds, and video game environments. The line defining what constitutes using the “digital approach” is blurry. However in my humble (perhaps ignorant) opinion, I believe that in order to approach art in a digital fashion, one must approach art using modern technology. In some cases this may mean dropping the paintbrush for a mouse and abandoning the sketchbook for a monitor.