Rauschenberg and the Lack of Narrative

While Cindy Sherman plays with the creation of narratives, Robert Rauschenberg plays with decomposing them. Rauchenberg is known for his “combines” of the 1950s, “in which non-traditional materials and objects were employed in innovative combinations.” In these combines, Rauschenberg combines materials ranging from photographs, to newspaper articles, memorabilia, and more in three dimensional collages. Staring at the collage as a whole, the mind moves around the work trying to construct a narrative out of its many pieces, but such a satisfying resolution never comes. This is because there is no real relationship between the objects in the combine except for their mere proximity to each other.

Besides a general feeling of discomfort, for me this represents an image of our own identities, which we attempt to construct a comforting narrative about, but in reality is just a construct of random events in proximity to each other.





Cindy Sherman and the Untitled Film Stills

The post on Gregory Crewdson reminded me of an exibit I saw on Cindy Sherman, specifically her work titled “The Untitled Film Stills.” In this set of black and white photographs, “The artist poses in different roles and settings (streets, yards, pools, beaches, and interiors), producing a result reminiscent of stills typical of Italian neorealism or American film noir of the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s.” The stills have an incredible authenticity to them, drawing on clichés and classic american narratives to reflect female roles and stereotypes. Its incredibly easy to fill in the story that each still pertains to.

When I first saw the exhibit, I had never heard of Cindy Sherman and was surprised to find out that the stills were not taken from actual movies and that it was the artist posing in each iteration. She was partly my inspiration for my fourth project when I tried to compose my face that would draw on the stereotype of the “intellectual author.” Here are some examples that span the work:



Performance Art

I thought I would end my blogging binge with one final type of art: performance art. A couple years ago I saw an exhibit at the MOMA called “The Artist is Present” by Maria Abramovic. The main feature of the exhibit occured on the first floor, where the artist remain seated at a table every day for 8 hours straight while people took turns sitting across from her. People would wait in line for hours to sit across from the artist and stare into her eyes. Some people would leave crying. Its an interesting moment of intimacy, or as some people would argue, lack of intimacy. I asked one person who got up too leave what is was like. He responded, “it was life changing. She just understood me.” I was pretty surprised by his passionate response. The artist sat there everyday for three months. 

On the top floor of the museum were more of these performances. Many of them were involved nudity, violence, and were overall quite shocking/disorienting. But it was nonetheless, a very interesting exhibit unlike anything I had ever seen before. 

There’s an interesting documentary about her and this specific exhibit by HBO if anyone is interested in learning more. 




Process Art

Just a final thing that came to mind is an installation art piece I once saw in a gallery where a pile of candy was piled in the corner of the room. Next the candy a sign read, “please take one.” At first I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant, until I saw a person next to me grab a piece of candy from the pile, throw it in her mouth and walk away. This is probably the first time I saw someone physically touch and change an art piece in a gallery, but following her example, I grabbed a piece of candy, ate it and walked away (it was lemon flavored). Later that day I looked it up. It was a piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres called “Portrait of Ross in L.A.” A website describes it as “an allegorical representation of the artist’s partner, Ross Laycock, who died of an AIDS-related illness in 1991. The installation is comprised of 175 pounds of candy, corresponding to Ross’s ideal body weight. Viewers are encouraged to take a piece of candy, and the diminishing amount parallels Ross’s weight loss and suffering prior to his death.”


The idea of a diminishing art piece is pretty cool, I think. For one, it very much breaks the boundary between the audience and the art piece. Secondly, theres something very interesting about the artwork being physically ingested by the audience and spread around the world. Also, the candy tasted pretty good — I ended up taking two. 



Damien Hirst and the Case of the Spot Paintings

I read this article about Damian’s Hirst’s famous “spot paintings” and it reminded me of the some the conversations of art’s value, both intrinsically and in the art marketplace. I found this article especially interesting because the author presents the Hirst more as a cunning businessman than an “artist.” Essentially, Hirst produces these interesting spot paintings, sometimes himself and sometimes by delegating them to other workers. However, until recently he withheld how many such paintings were in existence. While originally, this allowed him to proliferate more art pieces (and therefore expand both his reputation and bank account), investors began to worry that there were too many in circulation thereby lowering their worth. To counteract the dampening of his work’s value, Hirst decided to release an official book of every spot painting he’s ever made (of which he has recorded 1,314), relieving some of the fears of his investors.

Stories like these always make me question the entire foundation of what makes art valuable.

But then things become to complicated, so I stop.


The Event of a String

I saw a cool conceptual art installation in New York called “The Event of the String” which comprised of a big room with giant swings and a curtain threaded across the middle. The interesting aspect of the piece was the participation of the audience. The artwork would essentially not exist without its participants. And so somehow, the audience member is simultaneously perceiving the artwork and a part of it.

It’s also super fun to be on a giant swing.



iOS 7

Whoever predicted that the new iOS UI would utilize a flat design was right. I watched this video about it: http://www.apple.com/ios/ios7/#video. I thought it was interesting that he specifically refers to getting rid of the “ornamentation” in order to make it more efficient and convey information more clearly. I think it looks clean but I guess I’ll find out if it will make a true difference in the user experience when I try it out in the fall.