Wednesday, April 28, 2010

There may be a pause in blogging

This blog is published using Blogger, but is hosted on my own site. Unfortunately, on May 1st Blogger is discontinuing the ability to host one's own blog.

So I'll be switching to Word Press... I'm a bit busy at the moment, so it may be a couple of weeks before I'm able to do the change.

Thanks for reading!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

The Virtual State of Jefferson

The Virtual State of Jefferson (above) by Ethan Miller and myself is being included in an upcoming show at Southern Oregon University's Schneider Museum of Art.

The State of Jefferson is a proposed 51st state that would be carved out of Southern Oregon and Northern California. Many residents of this region feel alienated from the rest of their state and see the movement either as a tongue-in-cheek protest or a serious libertarian movement towards self-determination.

The Virtual State of Jefferson is a wireless router. Laptops, iPhones, and Blackberries can connect to the internet through the router and browse the web. Whenever a webpage displays the address of a town that is in the proposed borders of the State of Jefferson, the router changes the state name to be "Jefferson." In this manner, the "City of Ashland, Oregon" website automatically becomes the "City of Ashland, Jefferson."

The Virtual State of Jefferson explores how the internet has become one of our primary windows for viewing the world and how the realities it presents can be authoritative, fictive, self-deluding, and enlightening.


Here is an example of how the router changes the web pages it servers. Immediately below is the results typically given when searching for "ashland, oregon" on Google.
click to enlarge

However, when using The Virtual State of Jefferson router to connect to the internet, these are the results that are returned:

click to enlarge

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Monday, April 5, 2010

Jan Vormann in New York

Jan Vormann, who I blogged about a couple of times before, made some art interventions in New York last month in conjunction with the art fairs.

These works are a part of a series where he repairs walls using Legos:

At Wooster & Broome Streets

I think my favorite of these latest involves repairing a subway mosaic:

In Times Square subway station

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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Favorite work from the Armory Show

I absolutely LOVED Hans Op de Beeck's 22 minute video, Staging Silence. I'm usually an impatient viewer when it comes to video art, but I paused my Armory Show wanderings to watching nearly the entire video.

I wish I could have it on DVD, but since it is only available in a BlueRay edition of 10, I'm pretty sure I can't afford it.  If I could, though, it would be running non-stop on a dedicated monitor on my wall.

It can be watched on de Beeck's website by click on Main Menu > Artworks > 2009 > Staging Silence (unfortunately de Beeck's site is in Flash, so I can't provide a direct link).

Monday, March 1, 2010

How to get accepted to an MFA in Studio Art program

A couple of years ago I wrote How to apply (and not apply) to an MFA program. If you're interested in the topic, I'd suggest taking a few minutes to read the advice in that post. What follows expands on what I wrote there.

To have a really effective application you need to understand that people have many motivations for applying to an MFA program. Some of the reasons people have for going back to school do not necessarily lead to a great educational experience. There's a good chance that whoever is looking at your application is trying to figure out what kind of student you will be.

What kind of students are professors looking for?  Generally, professors want students who are making interesting work, who are ready to experiment and break out of their artistic routines, who are open to feedback & critique, who have some self-direction & backbone, and who are ambitious for their art to be successful.

What kind of students are professors looking to avoid?  Ones who are defensive and do not want to investigate taking their art somewhere new.

So when looking at a portfolio and artistic statement, the admissions committee are not only trying to figure out if you're a promising artist, but also whether you'll benefit from graduate education.

Here are some particular things for you to consider when putting together your application:

  • In my earlier posting I suggested that the portfolio should be 2-4 series of work. It is important not have only one series of works. Why?  Because if all the artworks in your portfolio are too similar, the admissions committee may take that to mean that you've settled on making art in a particular way and are not interested in exploring new avenues.
  • If you are an artist who is already experiencing some success, be careful about how you present that. The admissions committee may worry that in light of your success you may be reluctant to try new things and may be unresponsive to their attempts to guide you. Also, graduate school is intended to be a safe place where you can explore without worrying about how the outside world reacts to what you're doing. If you're showing and selling work you may be a bit risk-adverse (or more responsive to the market place than the education).  You should try to make it clear that you truly want to be a student and that you're ready to take your art somewhere new.
  • As mentioned in the earlier posting, avoid mentioning teaching as a motivation for going to graduate school. There's nothing wrong with that being something you'd like to do, but if it's your primary motivation then it may indicate that you're not onboard for going on the artistic journey.

Before applying to graduate school, you should ask, "Why?" If the answer isn't to take your art somewhere new and/or deeper, then you should not go to graduate school. Also ask yourself whether you're prepared to be pushed and pulled and have your art challenged. If the answer is no, then you should not go to graduate school.

Be honest with yourself.  If your art is in a place where you're happy with it, and you're not interested/comfortable with taking it somewhere new, there's not necessarily anything wrong with that artistically, but it isn't going to lead to a happy MFA experience.


Friday, February 19, 2010

Anthroptic at the National Portrait Gallery (AU)

I'm very pleased to announce that Australia's National Portrait Gallery purchased a copy of Anthroptic and will be including it in a show this summer (or would that be winter?):

Present Tense
21 May 2010 - 22 August 2010 
Technology has been a major influence on art since the invention of the camera, particularly in the field of portraiture. The digital revolution of the 1980s-1990s has altered how portraits are made and what a portrait might be. This exhibition will explore how new ways of imaging reflect the individual in this digital world and the mechanisms of imaging that are used.

Anthroptic is a collaboration between Benjamin Rosenbaum and myself. It originated as an artists' book commissioned by The Present Group:

TPG still has some copies of the book available (it was an edition of 80), for anyone wanting to follow the National Portrait Gallery's example.

Alternatively, you can be experienced it in via a website version of the project.

Here's what Ben has to say on his blog about the show:

Anthroptic is still lounging about the high art world, wearing a black turtleneck, eating canapes, drinking flutes of champagne and occasionally sending me and Ethan a drunken postcard. It was at the JavaMuseumthe other day. Wouldn't it be interesting if that museum endured long enough in the future for people to be confused by its name? "Java" already no longer really has the connotation "new, flashy, internet" -- already, it sounds more like if they'd called it the CobolMuseum. It's like calling a movie studio Twentieth Century Fox, or a magazine that's supposed to have technical flair "Wired" or "Analog".
Anyway, now the robot in the black turtleneck is packing its bags to head Down Under, where one of its instances has been acquired for the permanent collection of the Australian National Portrait Gallery, where it will lounge and eat canapes with the other artworks at the vernissage of the show "Present Tense". (It tells me it is looking forward to meeting the young woman in the red Lycra suit with the chainsaw.)

Friday, February 12, 2010

Koblin & Kawashima's "Ten Thousand Cents"

Mechanical Turk is Amazon's new service where you can post a task you want completed, along with the amount you'll pay for it, and folks will do it--Amazon calls it "artificial artificial intelligence." The service is named after an 18th century chess machine hoax.
The Ten Thousand Cents website explains their project this way:
Ten Thousand Cents is a digital artwork that creates a representation of a $100 bill. Using a custom drawing tool, thousands of individuals working in isolation from one another painted a tiny part of the bill without knowledge of the overall task. Workers were paid one cent each via Amazon's Mechanical Turk distributed labor tool. The total labor cost to create the bill, the artwork being created, and the reproductions available for purchase (to charity) are all $100. The work is presented as a video piece with all 10,000 parts being drawn simultaneously. The project explores the circumstances we live in, a new and uncharted combination of digital labor markets, "crowdsourcing," "virtual economies," and digital reproduction.

This video replays the anonymous artists' act of drawing:

Ten Thousand Cents - Section close ups

[via Furtherfield Review]