Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Bill Gilbert's show Physiocartographies is hanging in the Tahe Gallery through October 14th. Here's a short description of the show: Using a GPS unit and a compass, New Mexico-based artist Bill Gilbert attempts to walk carefully pre-determined routes in both space and time across landscapes in the American West. His carefully-made plans are invariably disrupted by the realities of terrain and the limitations of the human body. In the tradition of British artists such as Richard Long and Chris Drury, Gilbert's "Physiocartography" performances chart the distance between the map and the terrain, and are documented in drawings, video, and audio recordings.
I had a chance to interview Bill the night of the reception -- click on the audio file below to give it a listen. You can see photos of the Physiocartographies in the slideshow below that. It was a real pleasure to talk to him -- he's a hyperarticulate person with a lot of fascinating things to say about our world, and the ways we orient ourselves to it.
Monday, September 26, 2011
He shot, produced and edited the new snowboarding flick "Was Here" -- and here's the trailer:
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
In Advanced Studio class, we recently had a discussion about value and the perception of value. Does raising the price of your art affect the viewer’s perception of its worth? It seems to; a piece marked for $2,500 has a very different impact than a similar piece marked for $25. A higher price seems to correlate with a higher status in the mind of the viewer; if it is expensive, it must be important. Later on I was discussing this with another member of the class, and we were both reminded of a perfect example, which I thought might be of interest: an experiment arranged by the Washington Post in 2007, in which Joshua Bell (one of the world’s leading violinists) appeared in the L’Enfant Plaza Station in Washington D.C. disguised as a street busker and played classical pieces on his Stradivarius for 45 minutes during rush hour. Over 1,000 people passed him by; only seven stopped to listen to his performance, and only one person fully recognized him. The perception of his worth was next to nothing. Under normal circumstances, Bell is critically acclaimed and it is difficult to see him perform due to high demand and ticket pricing.
Here’s a time-lapse video of the event:
And a very interesting article about it by Gene Weingarten of the Washington Post, which won him the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for feature writing, here.
Friday, September 16, 2011
I had always been interested in doing something like this, but assumed I didn’t have the patience or the know-how. Then I had the opportunity to set up a project for Advanced Studio, so I started putting images together. Originally, the plan was to make a book about someone trying to make a book about something trying to make a book – the images would start out very realistically rendered, and degenerate more and more into childlike scribbling. To complete the joke, I thought the person trying to make the book should very clearly be me. I started drawing up pages of self portraits in which I would argue with a dead fly on the windowsill, who would act as a sounding board for story ideas, berating any plotlines I might come up with, angry that I had swatted it. This whole book-inside-a-book plan fell through pretty quickly, and I was left with lots of drawings of myself staring down a dead housefly.
I didn’t want to just scrap them. There was something about the wordless imagery that I really liked. When the dialogue was removed, the sort of absurdist element became something more serious. It reminded me of a child poking at a dead thing, trying to wake it up and slowly realizing that it won’t happen.
Not wanting to drop the comedic angle entirely, I split the book into three short sections that address the same issue in different ways. The fly section comes first. The second section is fairly abstract; it’s meant to address the same issues as the first, but in a more internalized way.
The third section is the only one containing any dialogue. Stylistically it’s much simpler and more cartoonish than the first two, and consists of an argument between an umbrella-headed child and a dying/dead fish, which made it the most fun to work on.
Which is all to say that it’s amazing what a little encouragement from professors and a deadline can help you come up with; I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have finished this project without those elements. I’m tentatively sending it around to publishers now, but in the meantime I’m self-publishing on Lulu.com. If you are interested in filling up your eyes with sweet, sweet images, this thing is for sale here. You could also ask for a copy if you see me around campus. I'm usually somewhere around David Hall.