Welcome to the Springfield Township High School Art Blog. The purpose of this forum is to inspire discourse surrounding your artistic experiences while building writing skills, exercising your art vocabulary, and refining descriptive language relating to art. In your writing, you may choose to discuss museum and gallery exhibitions, publications, articles, professional works, student works, or responses to each other’s ideas and investigations. Additionally, participants may want to pose questions or react to artistic predicaments, sharing the trials, frustrations, solutions, or the general excitement we feel when we make or look at art.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Roberto Capucci

Given the number of students interested in making clothes for their fiber projects, the current exhibition at the Philadelphia Museum of Art should be of special interest to you.  Capucci's work is as much sculpture as it is fashion.  Although many of the outfits look stunning on models, the amount of fabric and other materials he used to create the tiers of dynamic folds and billowy layers make the dresses look heavy and impractical for use.   What is most impressive are the varieties of color, pattern, and texture contrasts Capucci employs when creating forms.  The sparks of emphasis are masterfully placed drawing your attention to the form of the dress without losing touch with the figure beneath the gown.  Check out the museum link to the right of your screen.  Hopefully we will have time to see this exhibit when we tour the museum (there is an additional charge for the exhibit so it may be cost prohibitive).

Sunday, March 6, 2011

What's behind the "Cool"

Film has become a popular and entertaining form of time based art because they give us a lot to look at on the big screen, it comes with a powerful sound track, and a plot.  Also it’s over pretty quickly.    We get the point.  The producers make sure you have varying levels of visual, aural, and intellectual stimulation regularly; in other words, something to keep you awake.  Other traditional forms such as poetry, literature, music, dance, and theater may require more concentration.  Although each art form can exist independently, they are usually, with the exception of literature, interdisciplinary (combined).  Can you think of a film without words or musical accompaniment?  They do exist, but not usually in the mainstream.   It is the unique exceptions, experiments, or curious combinations of these time-based forms that we start to consider as art.  By that I mean the work has greater meaning beyond the obvious; or a work of art will suggest multiple interpretations, its point being somewhat elusive.  If it’s art it should invite discussion or investigation into its motives or production. 
That is why I frown upon shallow exclamations like, “it’s cool” or “it really pops,” because I believe the artist offers more than a clever one-liner. We need to look a bit deeper into a work if we are going to discuss it as art.  We could come up with thousands of cool examples of film shorts from Youtube® alone. It would be a lot of fun. The technology is just so easily accessible now that, given the right concept; one could create art with their cell phone.  There are a lot of people putting scads of visual information online daily.  Youtube® and the internet in general have made it easy for anyone to show his/her work.  So as budding artists we attempt to discriminate between what is pretty clever and entertaining and what we can discuss as art.  Hopefully, some of you have already experienced work by the performance teams at Philadelphia’s Fringe Festival or other well established performance artists like Laurie Anderson.  Their multidisciplinary productions and experimental methodology make full use of artistic license, and are good examples to discuss.  But, let’s dig a little deeper into the details that define a work as art when we discuss it.
            I’m interested in your response to a practical kind of time based work, animation.  The following work builds a bridge between the studio techniques you’ve learned in school and animation.   […It’s funny.  I am always fascinated when students interested in animation shun the idea of having to develop a 2-D portfolio when applying to an art school.  Perhaps these two artists will enlighten.]
1.      I was watching Robin Hood starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blanchett and although the movie may be worth discussing critically, the end credits are what bowled me over.  The background scene behind the print was a combination of painting and still photographs from the movie produced through analogue animation rather than digital (although, I’ll bet in the end there was some digital monkeying).  Analogue animation is the kind Walt Disney and Looney Tunes used to do, where separate frames are sequenced like a flip book.   Gianluigi Toccafondo, an artist from Prologue Films (a collective of designers), is responsible for the work.  If you look up, “Robin Hood Prologue Films” You’ll see what impressed me.
2.     Also check out Danny Yount’s work.  He is a self-taught graphic artist who transitioned between some pen and ink drawings and still shots when he animated the end credits for Sherlock Holmes.   Among other works, he is also the graphic artist responsible for the credits on Iron Man and Iron Man 2.  Click on “work” at:  http://www.dannyyount.com/

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

That Initial Response

It is hard not to think, “wow that's really awesome" or “that’s cool” after watching Seaweed or Making a Shell. But those meaningless phrases are not nearly effective enough to describe what you just saw or experienced. What does the word “awesome” even mean? It is really just as subjective as the word art is, my definition of awesome is certainly not the same as yours. We say these little fillers all the time, but it’s not our fault! We have been bombarded with these meaningless statements all throughout our lives. Even as a young child we hear and say “aww look how cute it is!” or “oh that’s adorable”, we throw around these meaningless adjectives when we really don’t know what they mean. We know what those words are supposed to represent, or what they are associated with, but not what they mean. The over use of these fluff words have made them become platitudes, second nature to us, almost as reflexive as someone saying “God bless you” after someone sneezes.

On another note, I noticed that both Seaweed and Making a Shell are short films. They were in no sense long narratives of any kind, more so snapshots. It's difficult to watch the videos without letting your mind wander as to what else you could do with that type of low-fi imaging. The seamless combination of photography and video creates this surrealists movement of the subject’s hands. Both films are really are beautiful catalysts for further exploration, inceptions.

Monday, February 21, 2011

So You Want to Talk About Time Based Art

I’m kind of interested in student reactions to Maddi’s YouTube® clips that are attached to her comments from the previous post (see links below if you missed them).  The one thing unique about visual art is that it affects a response.  Some reactions may be initial shallow exclamations like “that’s really cool and/or awesome” to “creepy,” but perhaps at the root of your initial reaction is a much deeper wealth of aesthetic understanding.  You are beginning to learn the basics of what I like to call “special effects.”  The elements and principles of design are the basic building blocks.  How you apply and manipulate these through your chosen medium’s techniques (in this case video) determines and alters your audiences’ response (and I don’t mean applause).  Perhaps you noticed in Seaweed and Making a Shell that the still photographs displayed visual movement and/or rhythm, or maybe you were more aware of repetition and the lighting effects, or even the musical accompaniment.  Maybe you were more aware of the figures moving behind the still images.  Although you may not have noticed any of the above, they were there.  The artists' timing and arrangement of those elements presents a new visual experience to you.  As you observe others using techniques in any medium, explore their methods, experiment yourself, and employ the basic principles of design.  They are your building blocks.
            Remi Weekes and Luke White who posted these videos are young award winning writers and directors.  Check out more short video experiments of theirs at:  http://www.tellnoone.co.uk/  Oh! Did I say “experiments?”  You mean there is a relationship between this post and the last?  I think Maddi knew that.
Making a Shell:              http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sw6qe1EdQkk
Also check out the related YouTube®/Guggenheim video below.
Another interesting approach to narrative…

Monday, January 31, 2011

Sometimes the Palette is More Interesting than the Painting

Experimenting with materials is one thing all artists do. It’s as natural and playful as a child rolling down a grassy hill. They dip their hands into the plaster, they squeeze the clay until it expands between their fingers, or they stir the intense colors on their palette making spiral swirls and then stub their brush on the paper printing fuzzy multicolored blotches.  As I read Faye Hirsch’s interview with Roland Flexner in September’s Art in America I couldn’t help but think of the visual importance of exploring a medium’s limitations.  Flexner suspends india ink, water-soluble graphite, or sumi ink in water on paper creating a marbleized blot full of variably contrasting values.  Sometimes he manipulates the dark medium with his breath (not unlike what you did with a drinking straw as a kid) and other times he lets chance dictate the results by transferring the image to another paper like a monoprint.  The resulting images have fluid and atmospheric qualities resembling textures from a coral reef.   
In high school we spend a lot of time practicing or learning to control a medium.  Countless hours are spent trying to get uniform gradations, or to make flexible clay appear flat, smooth, and ridged.  Disciplined control of a medium is an important lesson, but often young artists ignore the natural qualities of a medium.  In batik the wax is runny and drippy.  Lines from a tjanting tool are naturally high quality by their varied thickness.  Wouldn’t it be better to choose a composition or subject that exploits those loose drippy characteristics rather than making a batik look like a painting?   The same holds true for the natural flexibility of clay.  Look at the hands-on pinching and tooling on Giacometti or DeKooning sculptures.  What do they know?
So although control is an integral part of what students do when learning artistic techniques, one cannot ignore the visual purity of splashy, bleeding watercolor washes or the jewel-like waterfalls that occur when one glaze flows into another. The powerful dark mark a stick of soft charcoal makes as opposed to a pen or pencil brings a different reaction from a viewer.  These are the attributes of a medium that need to be explored at an advanced level.  Often, media based artists like Roland Flexner present the visual characteristics of a tool or technique without a subject at all, as pure abstractions.  And at the same time the way a medium is used might enhance or suggest a subject as Flexner’s sometimes suggest crystalline landscapes.  The amount of time you spend experimenting with a medium or technique may be the thing that makes a picture or ceramic pot look like art.