This is now the second time ART 110 has successfully duped me into going outside, furthermore to the beach for a second time. And once again while I was bamboozled out of sleeping away my entire Sunday morning, I actually had a lot of fun getting to do something I wouldn’t normally think to do. This week, the goal was to paint our name (or better) on a preferably large canvas of sorts (or for extra credit, we could do it on the Venice Legal Art Walls). So even after being up until around 4 in the morning the night before, I woke up early to go buy some spray cans, muscled my way to the beach (pun intended), and met up with my friend Andy. Luckily he and I bought entirely different colors so we had 6 colors total work with.
I started strong by laying down a base purple paint for my letters and touching them up with a green edge shadow. For the letters themselves, I attempted to go for a style I used to use in my graffiti phase in middle school which just entailed some swoopy points at the ends of each letter and a little alien face on the dot of the “i”. The next step was where it started going a bit downhill unfortunately, as the cheaper white spray can I bought had a different spray range and almost required an entirely different technique to control. I rose up to the challenge however and added layers of black and yellow in attempt to make the purple and white really pop. Then as Glenn noticed it was working out, he mentioned that another common obstacle of public art wall painting is to get rid of the noise underneath your own work. I took that into account and continued with black, yellow, green, and white to fill in some of the awkward spaces I had left between my letters and the outlines.
After I was finished pretentiously admiring my own amateur work, I finally walked around to the opposite side of the wall I was painting to see an awesome character by another local artist. I really regret not asking for his name for the purpose of maybe looking up his stuff online, but I really needed to get to work shortly after that. The artist did however talk to Andy and I about a technique called cutting, which is used for achieving really fine lines and getting rid of stray paint splotches. He also said that for things like skulls, you can’t overthink the detail, just let it be cartoony and do it with a few lines. I liked this approach because it allowed his work to contain elements that required a lot of skill and advanced technique in pairing with more comfortable, easy and fun stuff.
In the end I am satisfied with my painting but I know I could’ve done better for sure. Firstly, I didn’t draw it out beforehand, which in retrospect was extremely dumb because I didn’t even think to use any of the marker drawings of my name that I actually held onto from middle school. I had them all in an accordion folder just sitting on my desk and i didn’t even think to grab it. On top of that, this was the absolute first time I’ve ever used a spray can that wasn’t an air freshener or bug spray. Had I made the time to make the trip to Home Depot earlier in the week, I could’ve at least given the cans a test run on some cardboard in the backyard. But once again, I am actually proud of my work because it was a very therapeutic process. It was a struggle that really felt worth it because one could really get the opportunity to create something physically larger than your person. Maybe not larger than life or anything but the wall itself was definitely taller than I was so that counts. Also it actually ended up being a really nice day and Glenn’s iced tea was sweetened to perfection.
On a sidenote, Andy and I will definitely be returning to the art walls with a vengeance soon to slap the Plastic Castle mark on the wall for eternity (aka for a few hours until someone decides to tag over it).
This week’s artist interview was particular enjoyable because I actually got to interview two artists at once who collaborated on a project called “Introspection”. Prior to actually knowing this, I went into the exhibit and was thoroughly impressed already with the linework and different techniques involved, but after the artists told me how the did a few paintings individually and a few collaboratively, I was beyond impressed. When I asked about the main theme of the exhibit as a whole, they said it was about expression, anxieties, and a look into the cramped and convoluted space of the mind.
I then asked each of them how they first got into art. Maggie started by saying she was originally going to study Marine Biology but she always had an interest in art. She was then inspired by her high school art teacher senior year to pursue art as her focus if she felt it was where her passion was. Yee said she had a similar experience with the field of BioChem. She’s loved art from a very young age and eventually realized it was where she was putting all of her free time. It was only logical then to redefine her focus so that her free time hobby became her actual focus.
I noticed that even though they started theit art careers similarly, they had different yet complementing personalities, so I then talked to them about the dynamic of their collaboration. They actually set up the exhibit so that one person’s individual work would be on one wall, the other on another wall, and then another wall for the there where their unique styles collide. Maggie’s pieces contain lots of triangles and structures made up of clustered triangles. She says that these triangle clusters and repeating line patterns represent rigidness and repetition in life and the stress created as a bi-product of this. Yee’s work can be more characterized by areas with either lots of space or a serious lack of space. One painting in particular included a perspective effect that she says is the different things a fishtank can represent such as entrapment. When their styles were combined (as in the picture above), one really sees how the exhibit is an expression of introspection. The paintings themselves are the aftermath of two fellow artists letting loose after being overwhelmed by the stressors of the mind.
This week I interviewed Jack Taylor, a junior here at CSULB working towards his degree in Dance Science. I knew Jack was into dance prior to this interview because the class watched his Kickstarter project to choreograph a dance routine underwater, but the actual term Dance Science was new to me. I had assumed that all dance majors were working towards an all-encompassing dance degree that covered performance and choreography but there are actually a few different subsets of the field, Dance Science being a dance degree that more heavily involves studies of anatomy and kinesiology.
Jack has been dancing since he was 12. He started with tap and to this day it is still his favorite because he says tap makes him feel the most involved with whatever music he is dancing too. This makes sense to me because while other dance styles are very connected to the music in the background, styles like tap connect on another level because the dancer actually plays the tap shoes as instrument along with the instrumentation of the music. It also makes sense that Jack would be into a more involved style of dance because he has musical parents (his dad plays a few different instruments and his mom sings). Tap is so ingrained in Jack’s life that he taps everywhere he goes and only buys shoes with soles that tap, surprisingly Toms work.
I asked what kind of music he taps to, expecting him to say ragtime or the general classic tap music. Surprisingly he taps to everything, especially the artists he most likes such as Walk the Moon, m83, Jose Gonzales and Daft Punk to name a few. The conversation then continued to progress on the subject of different types of music until eventually I asked if it were possible to mic up tap shoes for the purpose of legitimately jamming with a tap dancer as an instrumentalist. He said its definitely possible and that he’s even had an instructor who rigged his tap shoes to trigger different electronic sounds on the heel and toe of each shoe. I enjoyed talking to Jack because I learned that dance isn’t just something that one does with music in the background, but actually it’s expression that can even be involved in the music itself.
While this week’s focus was on something you would find in a traditional art appreciation class, the activity still sought to put a spin on the concept of drawing. This week we used the drawing app, French Girls, which allows users to draw each other through reproduction of selfies, hence the clever Titanic reference. This ties into the idea that you really need to look at the reference for the drawing to learn how to draw. If you draw what you know rather than what you see, then the reference becomes less significant.
The header image above is a screenshot of my selfie drawn by another user. My picture is of me looking at a Darth Vader clock in the background, so the artist decided to take a cartoony approach to it. Becuase of the availability of this app on the iphone for free, it is expected that the quality of drawings will not be amazing, however some are really good. The best ones usually come from users who can draw on an iPad or just take the time to make their drawings very original. The image above this paragraph is creative in the way that it joins the selfie and drawing frames to be one image.
This last picture is one I drew of a girl with a lip piercing. I decided to show that I was looking at the image and seeing what stood out to base the new drawing on. I don’t mean this as offense to the girl, rather I see as fun that allows lots of people to participate in. I enjoyed this activity because it reminded me that one of the best things about drawing is the ability to see something and then spin it in a new light.
One struggle of the art world nowadays is deciding how one wants to present themselves as a creator. The most common approach is to create the work and then seek to have it gain some publicity, which usually involves the creator being very active or outspoken in interviews and on the internet through various social media. Shane’s approach however, is very uncommon and even to most, offputting. I can tell as a person he is very dedicated to his work, but wants the work to be the full representation by saying few words and seeming somewhat standoffish towards interviews. To credit him though, he was still being a very good sport and taking numerous interviews after his exhibit, “Deficient” could only be half experienced by the massive ART 110 class size.
His obvious disappointment in that situation was what actually made me want to interview him because it was apparent that he had put serious work and thought into his art. Before I started the interview, I asked if the piece would be fully operational later so I could get the full effect. He let me in with the strobe clicker and I was able to be immersed in a dark room, whose contents could only be seen in the glimpse of each strobe. The quick flashes of a couch, some plants, and a dim fire inspired tension and a very pure uneasiness that was in its own way impressive.
I first asked a broad question along the lines of what makes him gravitate towards art, and he said that it bridges gaps in language and tells stories that words often can’t. He comes from a background of photography but he says his favorite medium is sculpture because of its open-endedness and characteristic of being hard to define. When I asked to elaborate more on “Deficient”, he gave me a somewhat cryptic answer but I think I’ve loosely pieced together the the ideas. He said it dealt with the way memory is mediated through perception, falsehoods in perception, and theatrics, all of which I was able to take away from the piece.
While Shane may not be the information-spewing outspokenly proud artist that we expect to interview every week, he transfers powerful ideas through his work and a key few words.
This week I had the pleasure of meeting Rachel Peng, a freshman pre-nursing student here at CSULB. It is an interesting major choice for her because she likes the idea of working with kids, a detail that made sense later on in the conversation. After our basic introductions, we started talking about what we liked. I found that while Rachel and I lead very different lives, we stumbled upon lots of unexpected overlap, such as a shared appreciation for cold gloomy weather in places like Seattle.
Some of Rachel’s interests and hobbies right off the bat are blogging and photography, her favorite type being perspective photography. Furthermore she mentioned that she is also interested in Web design, which I found interesting because I am currently a coder in training. I asked how she came to this interest and she mentioned that her first experience with code was the customization aspect of Neopets, also very interesting because it was a bit of a blast from the past.
I asked her how she likes to spend her free time and then she mentioned that she likes to be involved in her church’s youth community in Cyprus. She helps with things such as confirmation retreats because she likes the idea of kids having opportunities to participate in their faith. This sparked a connection in my mind to the nursing major, and I realized even more that Rachel is a very nice person who likes to take care of the youth, physically and spiritually. She also mentioned that she likes to mix the sound live for the church band, which is also overlap grounds because I am looking into getting into mixing and audio engineering as career path myself.
This led to the eventual conversation about music, which seemingly is never avoided with my classmate interviews. She learned to mix through friends but on her own she plays a little bit of piano, flute, and clarinet although she says she hasn’t played in a while. Overall Rachel is a great person who seems to enjoy life, so I hope I get to talk to her a lot more this semester.
While the artist wasn’t there to be interviewed, I took a particular interest in a video-compilation-esque project by Eve Luckring. The overall project is called Junicho Video Renku and is a series of “twelve tone” poems. Each one is roughly two minutes in length and consists of sound and imagery meant to both piece together and shift between different ideas.
For instance the video which features the snapshot above actually starts with a bug of some sort (no idea what it was, but it had a ton of legs and wasn’t a centipede/millipede) walking to the background of fast paced piano playing. Then it shifts to images of the surface of the moon with scary movie esque-noises. Finally it switches abruptly to the image of the luchador toy as a bell is dinged.
The format of the project forces the viewer to think “how is this all connected?”, and then from there the user pieces it together how they see fit, or at least that’s my interpretation of it. It is based off of the concept of renku, a form of collaborative Japanese poetry where participants express ideas in alternating verses. This form of poetry actually led to the birth of haiku, another very popular Japanes poetry style. I really liked this piece because I felt like the “link and shift” almost made it so that there was no real beginning or end. Yet somehow they managed to do it in a way that strings all the segments without being cyclic. I’d like to think that the story portrayed here doesn’t need a beginning or end because it constantly pieces itself and breaks apart at the same ime
This week marks the last time I will interview someone from the class that I already know, but that’s not to say interviewing some you know isn’t worth the experience as well. I’ve known him for a little over two years and I’ve come to learn that he’s got stories for days. He’s a laid back kind of guy with enough stories about messing around with his friends to write a book. Furthermore we share a common interest in music, which is always a prevalent discussion topic for us.
He’s played piano on and off for roughly 13 years, he and have jammed together on quite a few occasions. His perception of music as a whole has expanded when he started learning about music production and music making software. He’s honed his craft to the point that he is well-versed in Ableton and MIDI instruments and produces hip hop beats and loops. He names people like Art Tatum (a 1950ss jazz pianist) and Flea (bassist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers) as influences because of their dedication, uniqueness, and style within their respective genres. As for how he started playing piano, he originally wanted to learn violin but his parents said he should start with piano and move to violin after he learned music theory. The violin never happened but Amir says that if he was going to pick a new instrument nowadays, it would be something more along the lines of cello or upright bass.
We then asked questions to stray from the topic of music because we would end up going for hours, the norm conversation between two musicians. We talked about hat actors would play us in a movie and he chose Sean Connery for his voice and demeanor. I also asked him what he would do with 100 grand out of sheer curiosity expecting him to drop it all on something really cool but he actually went the smarter route. He said he’d go about it keenly investing to really make the most out of it, but if he absolutely had to spend it, he’d get a decent car, a decent apartment, and just spend his free time living comfortably.
It seems that in today’s age, identity is more important than ever. Society is pushing towards individuals who are do what they love because the want to and are proud of who they are. One of the ways one might join society in that light is by asking oneself, “Who are you?” and the answer is usually a list of interests, personality traits, and a personal history or background. But do you ever ask yourself, “Who aren’t you?”
This week the assignment was basically to turn the tables a bit and broadcast a different image than the one you put on every day on a normal basis. There are many different ways one might take this, some more subtle than others, including performing different activities and changing one’s appearance. While I didn’t do a whole to drastically change myself, I chose to experiment with just a little bit of either of those methods.
Firstly, I parted my hair in the opposite direction, which gave me bangs on one side because of the strange haircut I got recently. You can’t quite tell in the original picture but my barber left the front and top way long. I got a few compliments from people I knew and a friend of mine said it made me look “artsy”. As for changing up m everyday activities, I took the bus to class for once, which was a nice change considering how hot it was. This may not seem like much but normally my morning walk or skate to class with headphones on is how I get myself ready to face the day, a practice I developed because I hate school. I don’t mean that as an offense to teachers or students who like school but I dread having to sit in one spot and be fed information when the mast majority of it is useless in the overall big picture of life. It’s arguable that school is an entirely different experience than I might realize, so I decided to actually pay close attention in my classes for the day. Once again, this may not seem like much but I took it more as a test to see how well I could put myself in a different mindset and go against a tendency that, at this point was ingrained into my habits.
While it was nice to subtly step outside my comfort zone, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to consistently pay attention like I did that day. I’m an alright student and I get pretty decent grades with the decent involvement I have in my classes. I’m keeping the new hairstyle however because in all honesty I’m starting to think that my hair was supposed to be parted that way in the first place. Regardless, the experience has given me some perspective on myself and shed light on who I am and who I am not.