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December 22, 2011

the evil tool

Just taking peer at the work of Nik Hanselmann of Oakland, CA.
Brought me to thoughts of the computers role in making art. It plays a roll if you allow it. Once you bring it into your work it becomes a part of it. It is initiative followed by the action. If you choose to draw you must have a drawing utensil. Maybe one could argue that they could "draw with their brain," but I would argue that the brain is the one tool all humans have in common. The brain is part of human existence.

Now...going back to the idea of the tool. As an artist we use tools. Tools to help us create and interpret our vision. Without these tools, art would be hard to create. The dancers tool is their body. The photographers tool is the camera. The illustrator tool is a mark making device. Say...the illustrator takes a nicely sharpened, long pencil to the number of their desire. An anti-art character comes along and snags the pencil from the illustrator and snaps it in half. Though the pencil is snapped in half, there is still the chance for it to once again be sharpened and used. Unfortunately depending on the capability of the artist, the tool may have been ideal at its original length. Now the work is compromised due to the compromised tool.

Same goes for a computer. If your computer is your tool, and it has been compromised in some way, whether over the wear and tear of time, or an instantaneous attack such as a virus or physical damage, the work coming being made with this tool is also compromised.

Moral of the story...

Computers are expensive so if your going to make the computer your tool, think twice or have lots of money.

(I should of stuck with illustration)
Still enlightened.

No limitations : Tania Mouraud

Tania Mouraud has been creating art since the 1960's. Her work has ventured through multiple mediums over the years. These different mediums are relevant to the times upon she chose to create. Once upon a time she burned her old paintings and called it Autodafe, created novel installations with electronics and sound, designed posters and public art, organized visual storytelling in photography, and today she uses common technology – technology accessible by most people. She has always been smart, and current in her time. Her art seems to reflect an interest in a generation, where the idea is key.
Autodafe 1969

Interested in her eventual use of video and sound, I was able speak with Tania Mouraud about her choices as an artist.

Her work seems to be molding with technology, or possibly transforming with technology. She acknowledges that she is “usually changing.”

"When it becomes too easy for me I get bored and I try to change."

Her process has much to do with the analytical process.

"When you are an artist and you think, you analyze how it is done, and doing that concerns me, it becomes part of your function."

Mouraud wears her shoes as an artist proudly, with confidence. She accepts herself, and accepts her "moments" of epiphany. Artistry allows her to "express a kind of philosophical gaze about the human condition, to show things ‐ and the viewer makes what he or she wants with it. I am allowing myself to be emotional, to convey emotions about what I see about the state of the world."
The computer has allowed her to move into mediums that weren't easily accessible in the past. Her interest in making moving image artistry has truly allowed her to continue this vision of her work. For instance, an interest in creating video and music has become manifested in her use of technology. Technology is merely a tool. When Mouraud shoots a video she shoots with a hand held camera. Nothing fancy.

"I don't believe in professional camera because I am not working for the TV or film industry. I don't want my work to be too technical."

It is important for her viewers to see the image and imagine they could have done the same. She wants to erase the distance between the viewer and the specialist. A camera set on automatic mode is preferred, to presume the importance of what is purely seen in the composition.

"I don't want to be concerned with pressing all the buttons. If it is complicated then I am fed up. That is what I like in digital."

In order to compensate for her lack of "sharpness" within the image, she focuses on image color and composition, similar to a painter. This painterly approach is instinctual, rooting from first hand accounts of attending the Louvre as a young girl, on the weekends as part of her history program in school. Digital tools have made this process "easy," and with her artistic outlook, the work becomes. She criticizes her ability to use Final Cut Pro, saying we may be "horrified" of how she uses it ‐ lightheartedly. Her process may be complicated, or simple, but the result and conveyed concept of the work is her main concern.
A spontaneous (or long‐desired) interest in creating music rooted in the early 90's. Mouraud expressed her desire to her class at the time, and they returned to the college with a variety of music making machines ‐ mostly electronic. Mouraud, whom had never been one to play a real instrument, took this opportunity to the next level, and began to make music on her own. She has dived into the production and performance of electronic music, sampling from a plethora of sources, and combining sounds in mindful ways. Live performance of these musical ventures has been her most recent adventure. Her sound performances are "experimental" with little to some planning. She often combines her sound performances with video. Sometimes subliminal messages are spoken into the microphone.

Though this recent infatuation seems to be the contemporary work of Mouraud, she is still working in other mediums. Video is still a primary choice, and will be the medium of an upcoming, in‐process work, to be showed at the Nuit Blanche in Toronto, Canada for Fall 2012. Her work will be a part of the main projects for this sleepless night in the city dedicated to contemporary art. She will present a video of wood logging in Canada. The piece will be projected on Toronto's City Hall at 600 feet in length and 286 feet tall. The juxtaposition of wood logging in the core of the city will have a certain insinuation. It will become a monumental installation amongst the buildings as the infrastructure itself will become part of the piece. To the viewer, it will be their interpretation, but an overall idea is ever present and looming.

"The perception is very important. Mastery of perception to convey your message and the possibility of a reaction. I believe in humanity."

Tania Mouraud's work, especially in video, has a certain power that can mesmerize you. Her approach is so subtle, with her concept penetrating the viewer at their deepest subjection. As an artist of so many mediums, it is evident that her professionalism in all forms of art truly comes from within. She follows her instinct, and allows the medium to be her tool. With a refreshing outlook on making art, with a core interest in the project, Mouraud "plays" and thus learns new ways.

December 12, 2011

Monet Clark at Krowswork

Ventured to see Monet Clark's : California Girl - A Retrospective Debut this Saturday at Krowswork. An artist seemingly in mid-career, with The Look Book series created in the present year - there is a sense of progression as you meander through the exhibit. To view a retrospective of a performance artist, takes on a different kind of journey versus the likes of painter. As a performance artist, she is directly present in her work. Using video as her recording medium, you experience her "performances" as if behind the camera lens. You are the onlooker of a sacred world that is the artist's.
If you know the gallery Krowswork, it may seem atypical to begin in the pew room, then make your way to the file room. This gallery paradigm serves Clark's work on a perceptive journey through her creative life as a practicing artist. Make your way to the projecting Compulsive Stripper, then to the petite photo album sized photographs documenting the rare Environmental Disease, which conflicted her life immensely, to the project room where you find a "relic" of stacked VHS tapes indicated to contain "women on TV." In 12 Frames of Isolation you begin to get a sense of Clark's source of inspiration.

[12 Frames of Isolation]
Her collection feeds an obsession of filling blank tapes with gathered material, serving as studies of the female performer.
Exit this room and you find the Look Book series,

[Muse from the Look Book Series]
created in 2011, displaying five separate television screens portrait oriented, each holding an archetype of American culture. She confronts the perception of differing women characters that are perceived in our contemporary world.
[Daikini from the Look Book Series]
The last video of the series is Daikini portraying the female embodiment of mindful power and spiritual connectedness. Clark asks the viewer to participate in this ritualistic experience, as she performs satirical movements accompanied with inserted text that guides the viewer. This unique approach allows the viewer to become involved in the work. They are no longer only a viewer, but a participator, actively and directly becoming involved in the work. It is an odd feeling, as you wonder who is the serious one, as you fall into a serious roll.
You wonder, throughout the cuts and takes in this 25 minute piece, if she has to take a break to refocus herself to a serious roll she plays herself. Clark draws you in through text, and stares into the camera lens, appearing as if she is focusing directly on you. With the use of cheesy props, mystical symbolism, and ceremonial gestures you can't help but sense falseness and spirituality simultaneously.
As a collective whole, these works are accompanied with irony and mockery, that provide a sense of truth. As the viewer she challenges you with serious subject matter, and entangles it in glitz and glamour, allowing you to choose your perception throughout. She is a performer, director, editor, and entertainer. We try to read the visual language she provides, and with that attempt, we are confronted with her ability to disguise and deceive her own messages. Brilliant.

(photos credited to