7.08.2014

I often attribute my interest in art to an exhibition by Jonathan Borofsky that my parents took me to in 1984 at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.  Unlike other museums that they'd dragged me to in the past, this exhibition was different.  Instead of the images of humans in various states of repose or motionless statues, of which I had no interest at the time, the exhibition was alive.  There was a ping pong table with people actually playing.  There was a painting that was singing, and giant metal men hammering.  And there may have been something like this:



 
I will love him and squeeze him and call him George.


I say 'may have been' because it was so long ago, that frankly, I don't remember - but my parents, sensing my interest, did buy me a book of Borofsky's work.  After my interest in art exploded, I constantly revisited the book of his work -and so my memories of what I saw in person vs. in the book are cloudy.  This particular piece stands out in mind, even though I can't accurately recall if I've seen one like it in person or not.

What is fascinating about this piece is that it is only looks like this from one perspective.  The parts of the face are painted on various surface of the museum walls and ceiling and only form the resulting image when you are viewing it from a single location.

To demonstrate how this works, check out the latest music video from OK GO - which takes this idea to an extreme, and like much of their earlier work is mind-bogglingly done in all one take:




Their impressive accomplishment in this endeavor becomes even more impressive after watching the behind the scenes video:


I've been thinking about how to organize something like this in my classroom for a few years- I think its time to put it into action!

7.02.2014

Patty Bode's xTED Talk, Art Education as a Civil Right has me pretty fired up about the state of Art Education in the states.  While most art teachers will nod in agreement (or perhaps flip over their desks after carefully removing the laptop from which they are watching the speech), this is a talk that is important for non-art teachers to see. In fact, this is a talk that should be seen by anyone who is interested in the importance of education, which should mean just about everyone.  She directly addresses one of the core issues of why it is difficult for me to think about coming back to the US to teach again - the passive resignation that the arts are "the first to go" as if there were nothing to be done about it.

Although-  it never really goes past there does it?  I mean, if the arts are the first to go, what goes next?  Science? English? Social Studies? No.  "The Arts are the first to go" itself is a lie we tell ourselves as if there are other disciplines that would follow.  This is not the equivalent of Niemöller's poem about the cowardice of German non-intervention in the Holocaust (First they came for the art classes, and I did not speak out because I was not an artist, then they came for the science classes but I did not speak out because I was not a scientist...).  It's not a domino effect that we risk, it's something even more critical.  The domino effect suggests that after the first domino falls we can intervene before the rest of the pieces fall.

And before you say, "but wait, schools have been cutting other important subjects as well", Ok, yes, I agree, but the domino effect isn't at play here- this is all part of the disaster created by our environment of high stakes testing. Arts get cut for testing. Arts get cut for budgets.  Arts get cut because A comes first in the alphabet. Art gets cut because it's Tuesday.  Whatever.

We may call art the 'first to go' but I doubt that many believe this to be true.  This sentiment belies a fundamental misunderstanding about the critical importance of the inclusion of art for all students.
Bode explains the necessity of an arts curriculum from a Freirian perspective. Freire believed that free and open education was the key ingredient to a free society.  Maxine Greene pulls the contribution of an arts education to this freedom into sharp focus- it is through the arts that we bring into being the possibility of that freedom, to be able to see the potential for change, through imagination.

...and this guy Neitzsche said that existence has no meaning without an understanding and appreciation for aesthetics. If art is the 'first to go' then meaning is the first to go. So there's that.

I'll end on a more hopeful note though- New York city is investing 23 Million dollars in arts education this coming school year.  Comptroller Scott Stringer says that "In New York City, the cultural capital of the world, a zip code should never determine whether a student can access arts education in their school". 

It's almost as if he watched Bode's video.  Ok, your turn:






6.23.2014


I only had the opportunity to take one class with Maxine Greene while at Teachers College, but I remember hanging on her every word, and reading The Dialectic of Freedom on more than one occasion cover to cover.  That book, more than any other, has shaped who I am as a teacher.  There is one passage in particular that always reminds me about why our jobs as art teachers carries such weight.  According to Greene, the purpose of arts education is to teach:
….the relation between freedom and the consciousness of possibility, between freedom and imagination—the ability to make present what is absent, to summon up a condition that is not yet….to seek out openings in their (students’) lived situations, to tolerate disruptions of the taken-for-granted, to try consciously to become different than they are. 


 Thank you, Maxine, for all of your inspiration.  Maxine passed away last month at the age of 96. 

6.13.2014

Rotoball 2014!


Rotoball 2014 from The Carrot Revolution on Vimeo.



Two years in the making, here is Rotoball 2014, featuring all the missing videos from 2013!  This year I decided to go with a Chemical Brothers soundtrack. In previous years I've edited the video to their music, so I decided to go with leaving their music in this time. Rotoball is released with a Creative Commons license, and is fully not for profit- so hopefully they won't mind me using their work to support some student art work.  Thanks to the many students and teachers from around the world who participated!


5.20.2014

Screenshot from Monument Valley
In an upcoming article for my School Arts Magazine column, I interview game designer and artist Ken Wong about video games as art.  If you haven't played his ridiculously addictive and beautiful iOS/android game Monument Valley yet, it definitively ends any debate as to whether or not video games can be considered art.  With very little instruction, you can wander around beautiful Escher-esque (also very Escher-iffic) architectural curiosities and find your way through a fascinating and changing maze that defies any adherence to gravity or perspective- but is incorporates a new imaginative logical process.  There can be no question, in the design of this game, the artist is present.

Which brings me to the 8-Bit game version of Marina Abromovic's The Artist is Present by artist/game designer Pippin Barr.  In this game you get to visit the artist at the Museum of Modern Art in New York as per her recent 'performance' piece.
......yawn.
Unfortunately for me, I'm on Shanghai Time, so every time I try to enter the museum in the game, it's closed.  I've been virtually sitting outside the Museum for 3 days now.  Maybe those of you in and around East Coast time will have more luck.


In 2011, street artist JR won the TED prize to use art to affect change in the world with a global art  project. Inside Out invites anyone to participate by including their faces in a global mural in which your expression reveals your feelings about your chosen cause.  The exact meaning of the project is both ephemeral and in constant flux- and therefore in line with its mission to show the true face of the global community.

Part of the project involves mobile photobooth trucks that take pictures of participants around the streets  to be included in murals around the cities they inhabit.  I was recently able to take my family to JR's Close-Up show at the Magda-Dansz gallery here in Shanghai, of which the photobooth truck and Inside Out project were a part.



Participating in the project was an amazing experience and gives you the feeling of being connected to something big.  To get a sense of what this connection means, have a look at JR's 2011 TED Talk about his wish for the world.


4.22.2014

Still LIfe

This poignant little film makes some thoughtful connections between living in the moment, experiencing life as it happens, and the creative process. There is some nourishing food for thought here, and it will only cost you two minutes.

Still Life from ZANDRAK on Vimeo.

4.11.2014

Art Show Poster



This is the best art show poster we've ever had. The Second Chance Room is for students who haven't completed work on time and the AP Art kids are totally owning it in their final celebration of their incredible work. Totally worth all the second chances! 

3.31.2014

After reading Kendra's article about Light Painting in this month's School Arts (p24) and Matt's article on the School Arts Room Blog... I have to wonder, is a sequel to  Paint the World with Light in order?



3.02.2014

Considered one of the most mysterious books in the world, the 15th century Voinich Manuscript has begun to be deciphered by professor Stephen Bax of the university of Bedfordshire.   So far, he's discovered the meaning of 10 words - it might not sound like a lot, but this is a huge in road into a book that many people thought might just be a bunch of nonsense words or even a hoax. Bax explains his process of discovery in this video. It might not be as engaging as an art history mystery as "Angels and Demons", but if you're as much as a geek as I am for stuff like this, you'll love every second.

2.26.2014

I am a bit captivated by Spherical Harmonics, this short film that is a reflection on the nature and state of CGI imagery.   Without words, this film examines the incredible reality - and artificiality of the CGI image. 


Spherical Harmonics from Alan Warburton on Vimeo.

Artist Alan Warburton discusses his ideas behind this film in this interview - touching on the nature of a new artform with a fully unique set of tools, the state of the industry, and ideas about what happens next.

Years ago I posted here about some of my struggles with CGI- its innate coldness and artificiality and a focus on the spectacle over a feeling of humanity or a sense of story.  A lot  has changed in that time.  So much in fact, that I've come to believe that when scholars look back at this time, it will be said that some of the most meaningful art will have been made with these tools.


2.16.2014

...or "Butt Music From Hell"? Either title is appropriate, as Tumblr user Chaoscontrolled123 has discovered and transcribed some music found on the backside of one of Bosch's unfortunate residents of hell.


 I'm thinking that between this and the hidden music in The Last Supper, a concept album of music hidden in great art might be in order.  Someone just needs to discover about 8 more tracks. Otherwise we just have a single and B side.  Oh! B side. See what I did there? Didn't even mean it.




2.12.2014

Artist Aparna Rau turns everything you know about art on its head in this great TED Talk.  Instead of responding to and evaluating art, her art responds and evaluates you.

2.11.2014

3D Animated Gifs

As another follow up to my November School Arts article on GIF animation, I absolutely love these 'split depth' '3D' gifs.   The white bars seem to play with your perception of space and end up with a much more satisfying 3D experience than the wigglegrams.  There doesn't seem to be too many examples of these yet, but Reddit user L77 has listed this quick tutorial on a page dedicated to making these. You'll have to find a short clip of a film to start with.
  1. Open it in Photoshop, find the animation toolbar (Window - Animation)
  2. Click on first frame in animation window and find the active layer in layers toolbar
  3. Make a new, empty layer above active layer, draw the white lines in it.
  4. Copy the white lines layers above each frame (this could be a lot)
  5. With eraser tool remove white lines from parts where [front of image] overlaps them.
  6. Make sure that the right white lines layer is activated for each frame (the eye icon next to layer)
Have fun!

2.06.2014

Rotoball 2014!

For those of you on the edge of your seats, still waiting almost a year later to find out what happened to Rotoball 2013... it never got finished.  I was overloaded with work last year, and I had less projects than in previous years, and so my goal this year is to take all the wondeful work that didn't get included and 'roll' it into Rotoball 2014.   

For those of you new to the project, Rotoball is an annual massive multiplayer art project that is made up of 15 second animations of a ball entering the screen from the left hand side and exiting in the right.  What happens in between is up to you and your students. Any form of animation is accepted, and the greater the variety the better (the name rotoball comes from the process of 'rotoscoping', but we've moved away from that limitation a few years ago).

If you'd like further information, please check out the site, and contact me to sign up!

2.05.2014

5

What is five?
What does 5 mean?   
What does it mean to you

It could be…
*   5 exposures of a photograph
*   5 related scenes of a video
*   500 words of self-expression
*   a sculpture in the 5th dimension
*   A 5 panel drawing.
…or you can shock us with your own surprising interpretation of a work of art about ‘5‘.


5 is the latest and most challenging project from The Student Creative. Projects will be due on April 1st.

12.02.2013

Last year we started buying Niji Water Brushes for the students to use with their watercolor and watercolor pencil work.  Everyone wanted a water brush after James Gurney came to our school and showed us how it was his go-to tool for doing on-the-spot paintings and sketches.

This artist has found another clever way of using the water brush.  I'm not sure which I like more, the resulting image, or watching the animated gifs over and over.


11.13.2013

In an upcoming issue of School Arts, my @r+ column focuses on using TED Talks as a way of opening up a dialogue about the nature and purpose of art with our students.  This playlist includes the videos that will be referenced in that article, as well as some others that I've used repeatedly over the past few years.  This is sort of a top ten list, if you will.  There are, in fact, 11 videos included, but our rule number one here at the revolution is that all rules must be broken.


What I think is most powerful about these talks is that they demonstrate not just the care and love of the included artists' craft, but a humor and playfulness that brings life to much of their work.

11.06.2013

Here's a useful page of plugins, assets, and tools for filmmakers


Fun assignment for filmmakers: Using footage found at archive.org (found at the bottom of the page) and the rest of the listed resources, make a short film that creates a specific message through a juxtaposition of surprising images. 

WANT

My colleague Jerry just sent me this link.  It's a little pricey right now, and it hasn't technically come out yet, but I have just realized that my life is not complete without a pixelstick.