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.