I watched Jennifer Haigh read “In Other Words” via a YouTube video from the Colgate Writer’s Conference. I came across this video haphazardly—I just searched YouTube for an author reading their work, and this was the first video to appear. That being said, I’m really glad I came across it; I really loved “In Other Words”. Haigh’s heavy use of imagery and characterization was immersive, and made me not only feel apart of the story, but also made me fall in love with her characters. Furthermore, listening to her read the piece offered another aspect to the experience of the story because I was able to understand how she felt her characters sounded, through the accents that she attributed when reading dialogue, which gave the characters an extra dimension. The piece kept me involved with the constant inner conflict that the speaker battled—his infidelity to his wife, and his unrealized love of his mistress. In the resolution of this conflict, the speaker only realizes he loved his mistress after she dies from being hit by a bus while they were on a bike ride and the story ends with him growing old with his wife “the way he promised to”. When the story ended, I immediately felt the need to listen to it again, because I wasn’t ready for it to be over—I will definitely be on the lookout for more of Haigh’s work.
Bill Viola is an artist who is extremely influential in establishing video as a significant medium of contemporary art. Over the last 40 years, he has produced videotapes, architectural video installations, sounds environments, electronic music performances, flat panel video pieces, as well as pieces for TV broadcasts. His video installations are precise, simplistic environments that entirely engulf the viewer by appealing to all senses. Viola believes that through these environments he forces the viewer to attain self-knowledge through sense perception. The subjects of his work involve universal human experience and he conveys his message by focusing on thought and memory, two avenues he believes to be universal languages that allow for specific personal understanding. Because of this, he is able to communicate to wide-ranging audiences. Some of Viola’s other work includes single-channel videotapes, which are generally broadcasted to a wide-ranging audience or played cinematically. Many of his writings have also been translated so that they may be understood internationally. Kira Perov, Viola’s wife, manages his studio and acts as Editor for his work.
I found Viola’s work to be extremely expressive, and for the most part, very dark and creepy. The messages that he is trying to convey are easily read through the facial expression and body language of his models, who are often arranged in dark environments or dangerous situations. To me, it seems as though he focuses intensely on human emotion and how viewers read this through association and the images that we are provided. Partof me really wants to experiences one of his installations because I feel like it would be a really awesome and remarkable experience. On the other hand from the images I’ve seen throughout my research, I feel like it would be completely terrifying.
Robin Rhode started out as a “conventional” performance artist, primarily working with tangible materials like chalk, paint and charcoal. As he developed his technique, Rhode began assembling digital animations and photography series, and thus moved into the “digital art” classification. Although based in Germany, Rhode utilizes his work to address the social issues of South Africa, his home country, and a place he repetitively returns to create his art. Despite the fact that the situations he addresses, such as poverty and inequality, are often dire and serious, Rhode points out the social deficiencies playfully, yet effectively.
I find Rhodes work to be absolutely mesmerizing, probably because I have a large amount of respect for performance art, and the amount of planning it takes to pull off. Not only is he performing the art in a “street art fashion”, but he is able to capture its production in a series of well-planned photographs that are beautiful in themselves. I appreciate the value he has in his heritage and the ways in which he uses his work in an attempt to resolve social issues.
Alec Soth is an American photographer known for large scale photography series that are generally set in the Midwestern U.S. Most of his work seems to be in black and white, although he does have some color photographs. In on aspect, it seems as though he elevates the mundane, due to the fact that, in many cases, the subjects of his photographs are everyday scenes and/or everyday people. Soft also explores the different associations that we as viewers make with particular words and images.
I think Soth’s work is beautiful. His photographs feel like snapshots from a narrative; each one hinting at a deeper story lying beneath the surface. My favorite thing about his work, though, is the fact that the title of each series really ties together all the photographs it contains, and gives them deeper meaning. I noticed this first while viewing the project “Looking for Love”. Within this series of photographs, Soth includes a myriad of difference kinds of love, other than the stereotypical romantic kind. By doing so, he increases the viewers depth of understanding of the whole concept of what it means to love and to be loved.
Cory Arcangel describes himself as “a 34 year old artist and entrepreneur living and working in Brooklyn”. He works in a variety of art realms including, but not limited to web, fine art, music, and stand-up comedy. Arcangel also frequently uses appropriated material to create his pieces. He produces a large volume of work, with no particular them, other than the general exploration of the connections between digital technology and pop culture.
I’m still undecided about how I feel regarding Arcangel’s work. I do think he takes elevating the mundane to an extreme, however, and there is something to be said for that. I think my problem is that I can’t figure out his message, or what he’s trying to convey through his work. I think it would help if he included some kind of artist statement so that I would know what was going on in his head when he was creating his work, because then I think I would be able to appreciate it more.