This week we turned a boring bowl of gummy candy into a fun mosaic that could be used to decorate a table a dinner party. First a little background on the subject matter.
‘The Spirit of Detroit’ is a 26 foot tall cast bronze statue by Art Deco sculptor Marshall Fredericks and it is located in downtown Detroit, Michigan. My home town. The statue was installed in 1958 and it was the largest cast bronze statue in modern times. The symbology associated with the statue is a gold globe representing god on its left hand and a family on its other hand.
To make the mosaic a template was created by using a graphic representation of the statue that was found online.
Next the graphic was blown up to a two page poster size using an online tool (www.blockposters.com). This step was necessary to increase the resolution of the final product. The gummy candy acts like a pixel. If more gummy candies are used it will make it easier to see the image. However, using fewer pixels creates a very abstract representation.
Art Deco was a major movement for architecture in the United States. Some of the best examples of this design style can be found in Detroit. The inspiration to make a brightly colored mosaic of this statue came from the brightly colored tile mosaics of the Guardian Building which is directly across the street from the statue.
During the process of deciding how to create this mosaic I experimented with pixelating photographs. It was ultimately decided that it would be a much larger undertaking than could be completed in a reasonable amount of time for this project. However, using this technique a very interesting mosaic could be created using colored stone, glass, or tile.
This pixelated version of the statue would require approximately 7600 individual elements to be placed. For this project approximately 200 gummy candies were used.
If I could do this project again with a bigger budget and a lot more time I would have made the template much larger. By doing this a much larger amount of candies could have been used to create a more representational image. Alternatively different types of food with smaller grain sizes such as rice or spices could have been used to achieve a higher resolution.
A thin veneer of beauty is painted over the harsh industrial landscapes that dot Long Beach. In a place where land use is maximized you often find parks and public use spaces squeezed in between sewage treatment and power generation facilities.
This is a place so far removed from nature that attempts have been made fully contain it. The rivers that flow from the mountains to the ocean have been cemented to prevent flooding for more than 70 years. A purely utilitarian rusted metal truss bridge allows cyclists and joggers a means to cross the cement channel. In this case some rather overweight men on small mopeds were crossing.
Its not hard to imagine the scenic wetland that used to exist here. There are many species which still occupy this space but they must share it with a maze of high voltage power lines and tall transmission towers.
Here two men fish in the discharge water stream from the power plant.
The view from the beach is of oil infrastructure that is dressed up with palm trees and a queue of dreary cargo vessels waiting to enter the port. A break water was installed here around the same time that the river was being cemented. This was to provide deep water access to the port. The calm waters caused by this created a mecca for kite surfers.
This week we were prompted with several artists to research. I would like to focus on the work of mid-20th century photographer Garry Winogrand. Most of his photographs attempt to capture the social and political climate of the times. The Fraenkel Gallery does an excellent job of displaying some of Winogrand’s photos which are arranged by topic.
The photographs that are part of “The Animals” collection are cohesive, like the other work that I have seen from this artist. The photographs seem to be an attempt to humanize the animals that are trapped in cages. The photographs in the collection fall into two main categories. The animals are looking at humans, sometimes lovers or simply looking at the camera. In other photos the animals are being fed from the hands of humans. We trap the animals there but then they begin to depend on us. We go to the zoo to watch them but these photos seems to suggest that they are actually watching us.
The next set of photos depicts the chaotic nature of the 1960’s protest culture juxtaposed with the scenes of old world aristocratic political and social elites. Societal and cultural norms were changing so quickly. This series of photos was captured in the middle of it all. While some people were attending fancy dinner parties and wearing the newest fashions, others had no need for clothes at all. The people were organizing and the only way of doing things needed to change. This series of photos did an exceptionally good job of telling the cultural story of those times.
Slightly less fun than a room full of goats!
This week the activity was to visit an art museum to compare and contrast some of the work there. We first wanted to visit the Long Beach Museum of Art but we arrived to find that the gallery was closed in preparation for their new exhibit.
Plan B was to visit the Museum of Latin American art the following day which is a few miles away and also Long Beach, CA.
I found several pieces at MOLAA that sparked my interest but I am going to try to limit my discussion to two sculptures that I enjoyed.
The first piece is by Argentinian artist Cristián Mac Entyre. The piece uses three sections of bent reflective material inside of a box to create an illusion of depth. Inside of the box there are four hanging stone globes. The colors that were used for construction materials cause the balls to blend into background and their reflections. From far away it is impossible to tell how many physical balls are inside of the box and how many are just an illusion.
The next piece is “Espacios sol y luna (Ambitos de rituales)/Sun and Moon Spaces (Ritual Areas),” by Uruguayan artist Adolfo Maslach. This marble sculpture features many small rectangular blocks that are joined together.
The first sculpture seems to depict a solar system. The four globes appear to form an orbital system with their reflections. The second sculpture is something more terrestrial. It looks like the most interesting apartment building that has never been built. The plaque next to this sculpture confirmed this idea by discussing the artists interest in modern architecture and urbanism. Paradoxically the plaque also says that this sculpture is a tribute to the ‘Sun and Moon’ which is not immediately apparent.
Here are a few more that I enjoyed. If I could do this assignment again I would compare and contrast the grim reaper skeleton with the matador skeleton.
The photograph of the room full of goats just makes me happy. I do not have an honest art critique for it but it was my favorite piece at MOLAA.
Janet Cardiff’s work brings a different experience than what I expect in a traditional “art” setting. The pieces that I concentrated on primarily focused on interesting sounds and locations. Janet Cardiff’s work has certainly made me question what a public audio experience can be.
‘The Forty Part Motet’ takes a choir and gives each performer their own microphone and speaker. In a normal concert there are few speakers which are placed close together. Giving each performer their own microphone allows you to single out the harmonies of each vocalist.
‘Forest (for a thousand years)’ brings the listener/viewer to a wooded area that has been fitted with speakers and stools. Here the artist lures a technology obsessed public back to nature with the call of prerecorded digital audio. The audio consists of low droning tones and white noise or static. Similar to the calming background noises that are typical of the woods such as rusting leaves blowing with the wind.
This piece is bizarre to watch and to think about. What questions must you ask yourself while you are sitting there? Why am I here right now and not someplace else? Who had the idea to do this and why? Does this mean anything?
Or is it just a place to sit and relax?
As a casual observer of the art world, I was aware of Andy Warhol and his most popular works. However, I was completely unaware of the films that he created. Andy Warhol made films which often featured his friends in common settings or simply sitting and looking at the camera. Warhol’s films, much like his other art are inspired by seemingly mundane objects or activities.
“Sleep” is a five hour and twenty minute film of a friend of Warhol’s sleeping nude. It is a silent film which alternates between several camera angels. This film really challenges the viewer not just because of the length but also the long stretches of time with no activity. Filming a still subject is common in Warhol’s films. The lack of movement seems boring if you think of it is a film but nobody accuses paintings of being boring for their lack of motion.
In another of his films, Warhol eats a hamburger. The film consists of him eating a Burger King value meal. Warhol has a particularly human moment in the beginning of the video where the Ketchup seems to be stuck inside of the bottle. His face breaks for just a moment before he resumes his serious character. This film also features several minutes of Warhol looking silently into the camera.
In modern cinema there is almost no silent film made. Silent films are more like paintings or photographs such that the viewer has to make up more of the story. In a normal film you are being guided through the story by the words the actors say. When Andy Warhol is looking at you while he eats a hamburger then the narrative is all your own.