Ning Social Network



Body as Landscape

There are a lot of artists who portray the human body as a landscape or an object in their work.

Denise Marika is a video artist who "use(s) the emotional of the landscape of the body to explore person and place, giving expression to the vulnerability, pain, and compassion that mark humanity" (Aspect).

Bisected II. 2002

Bisected II is part of a three piece video installation. All three pieces consist of videos of an unclothed woman projected on to a sheet of steel mounted on to a matted piece of fur. In each piece, the woman is in a different pose and is seen from a new angle. She struggles to lift her head over a table's edge, laboring against its weight. In one video, she struggles to hold her head up by pulling her hair then releases her head so that it bounces off the ground.

Leg. 2005.

"A leg is stretched along the length of exposed tree root. The downed tree trunk and leg are both coated in grey clay, matched in shape, color and form. Slowly the leg moves along the trunk caressing its length."

Arno Rafael Minkkinen is a photographer who for the past thirty years has taken abstracted pictures of his unclothed body in different environments around the world. In the photos, he manipulates his body so that it echoes or seems to become a part of the landscape. In a retrospective of Minkkinen's work, the curator A.D. Coleman wrote Minkkinen’s “…images comprise an account of an epic journey—both a physical adventure in the natural and urban world and a psychological voyage of the lone human spirit".

Narragansett - Rhode Island. 1988

Man Ray

Le violin de Ingres. 1924.


Sergio's project

I really enjoyed Sergio's altered gas container. I thought he did a great job creating his own label that was still believable. There are a bunch on generative topics that can be related to his work, such as the power of advertisements and the negative impact of many products. A lot of artists like Shepard Fairey and Barbara Kruger work with similar ideas about consumerism and mass media. When I was looking at lesson plans, I found one from Art 21 about art and advertising.


Generative Topic: Internet History As a Reflection of Who You Are

I found a few lesson plans that deal with students' internet use. For example, a lesson plan from PBS asks students to think about how the design of social networking websites affects peoples' use the website. In the lesson, students design their own social networking website with pen and paper. The lesson plan was part of a feature on the PBS website that went along with an episode of Frontline called "Growing Up Online". The show looked at different aspects of the internet such as predators, bullying , and social networking.

I found a similar lesson plan from the New York Times in which "students consider the impact of microblogging and engage in this type of communication in an academic context". For example, students can write Twitter statuses in the voice of characters from the books they are reading.

I also found a lesson plan that ties into the collage aspect of the internet. In the lesson plan by Oliva Gude, students create an installation from found objects that describes their school and life.


My artwork

This piece was inspired by Brian Knep and Catherine Chalmer's work with life cycles, which I explained in the previous post. I like how both artists were able to simplify a thought provoking natural process into a more straightforward manner. For example, Chamler's photo series demystified the food chain by recording each step in a chain.

In my piece, I was thinking about the life cycle and how when something dies, its remains are made into something new. No new matter is ever created. I decided to use birds in my collage to explain this idea because I am doing work with birds in my other classes.

When I was making this piece, I was thinking a lot about how to depict the passage of time in 2D artwork. I wanted my piece to be read circularly, so the viewer gets the sense that it is an ongoing process. I embroidered strips of hand-printed fabric that I previously made and thought of the organic shapes on the fabric as cells which would mark the beginning of life. I then added a bird and an upside down "dead" bird to show life and death. I also included a pile of feather that would represent decay. Although it a morbid topic, I decided to not focus on the disturbing aspects but think of the process spiritually. To me, it is comforting that our psychical beings are used to create and maintain life.

I think it is interesting that I was able to study and translate ideas from new media work into my own more traditional work.


Brian Knep

I thought visiting artist Brian Knep's work with animals done at his residency at Harvard Medical School was especially interesting because it combines biological science with art. In particular, I was drawn to his work with frogs, such as his piece Frog Time. In Frog Time, Knep projects a video of a frog that has been manipulated so the frog looks like it is swimming and simultaneously changing from a tadpole to a frog.

Frog Time 2007, non-repeating video installation, 7'x5'
computer, video projector, custom software

During his presentation, Knep explained he was interested in ideas like the life cycle, accepting death, and the spirituality of animals in this body of work. By presenting the life cycle of a frog so that time is dramatically sped up, Knep makes the viewer reflect on their own immortality and the cyclical nature of their own existence.

Knep's work with frogs reminds me of the photographer and video artist Catherine Chalmers who examines another natural process, the food chain, in her work. For example in her series, Foodchain, Chalmers photographs a caterpillar eating a tomato, then a praying mantis eating the same caterpillar, and then finally a frog eating the praying mantis. Chalmers' work is based around themes like the cycle of life and the inevitability of death.

Praying Mantis Eating a Caterpillar C-Print 40" x 60"

Like Knep, Chalmers' process is very scientific. Chalmers breeds flies, frogs, tarantulas, meal-worms, crickets, and mice in her apartment. She cares for the animals and observes them as if she was doing a case study on their behavior. Despite her close relationship with the animals, Chamlers often eventually feeds the prey to predators and watches them die. Chalmers acts like god and decides which animal will be sacrificed and which will continue living. Chalmers process reminds me of Knep's present work with worms. Knep records the movement of a worm and manipulates their movement with heat and food. I think it is interesting that artists can use biological information about animals to manipulate their behavior and create art.


Brian Knep Questions

What was it like working at George Lucas' special effects company, Industrial Light and Magic?

Have you always thought of yourself as an artist, even when you were studying computer science in college?


Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta

Complaints Choir

In Finnish, there is an expression Valituskuoro. It means "Complaints Choir" and it is used to describe situations where a lot of people are complaining simultaneously. Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen got the idea to organize literal complaint choirs and put together four initial choirs. The idea spread around the world and there have been choirs in cities such as Birmingham, St. Petersburg, Buenos Aires, Philadelphia, Hong Kong, and Jerusalem.

The Making of Utopia

From the film set: when the anarchist's car break down, the community helps to push it up the hill.

Four short, fictional films about four real utopian communities in Australia. It was written and acted by community members. The main questions the artists posed to the communities related to the ongoing conflict between utopian vision and communal reality.

Summit of Micronations

Representatives from the Legation of the Principality of Sealand, an independent state outside of Great Britain. It was established in 1967 out of a loophole in international law and has a population in the low hundreds.

"The term »micronation« has been applied to almost anything from invented kingdoms, model states, cybertopias, libertarian oases to real existing miniature states. Each micronation attempts in its own way to create a zone of autonomy. Micronations who attended the summit have proclaimed constitutions, established their own laws, and monetary systems, and possess state symbols such as passports and flags. Some of them have reached a high degree of sovereignty over a very small territory." Kalleinen and Kochta-Kalleinen organized a three day summit to give the public information about the micronations, their histories, state of affairs and policies. Some micronations even accepted applications for citizenship.


Second Life

Although I have never joined Second Life, I have played games, such as The Sims, that similarly create a virtual reality. As in Second Life, in The Sims players are able to choose every little detail about their appearance, personality, family, job, and home. For one summer, I religiously played the game. My main motivation for playing was that I wanted my character Bob to be the most accomplished Sim. The creators of The Sims designed it so you have to put in more hours to become more intelligent, have more friends, and have a house filled with all the coolest things in the game.
But eventually, Bob went from a nurse to a doctor, had an eclectic mansion, was friends with everyone in the neighborhood, and there was nothing else to achieve. I lost interest in the game. Yet, people who participate in Second Life may never reach the point where they “beat” the game because Second Life is always evolving as new people join and the land expands. But nevertheless, there is an inherent limit of new things to accomplish.
One of the reasons it was relatively easy to beat the Sims was that many of the obstacles in every day life were removed. Bob never got older, never randomly got sick, never had to deal with bad weather or natural disasters, and never had to be any where other than work or home. Second Life similarly presents a world in which a there a rarely major changes in weather and health. One of the reasons, I lost interest in The Sims was that the game was always at the same pace and nothing was every really different the more I played.