10.05.2008

"Baby's black balloon makes her fly..."

So over the weekend I went to two art shows, one of which was the first not-at-school show in a very very long time.

The first was called Activesite, and I had no intention of going to it. There were no pictures on the posters and with the way they colored IV, I thought blood was going to be involved, such as a drive or whatnot, but definitely not a sculpture show. Even if someone had said our faculty had work over there I wasn't going to go, I only knew one sculpture teacher at my school and I haven't considered him talented. Even when the Illustration Club told me to go I had no idea where the building was, since they used some title for the building "The Such-and-Such Building," rather than "where the old art museum was."

Anyway, I ended up going to the school to do work, got caught by free food for a gallery opening (which I'll get to in a moment) and was told about the Activesite show, or specifically the bar they had made of ice. I can't drink, and I had to be somewhere shortly, but I went and begged my friends to come with me and the one who agreed was someone I didn't even think liked art. So I headed over, and instantly had to look at everything. We found the bar but it wasn't quite set up, so we started going around, at one point we found a box that gave out compliments for a quarter, and since it was making an electronic hum, he put in twenty-five cents. It didn't say anything to him. There were postcards, the one that caught my eye said "You've found a 5 Rupee, it's worth 5 Rupees," but my fav involved lions... I couldn't get a decent photo of the text though. The entire show was quite interesting and we spent about an hour looking at everything. He made a joke about an ice-sculpture toilet (depicting the economy going down the crapper) being the Lich King (of WoW)'s throne, you know, a man's throne...yeah. Pictures can be found here. (password is grohl5)

Then the other art show was the one in the school. It looked mildly alright. From passing by going to class I could see a red ceramic deer and a machine that made a shoe tap. But nothing I had to rush to see. So yesterday I went to school to work on my project and decided to go in. The first artist took everyday things and made you look at them again in a new way, since everyone knows what the extraordinary is, but people take for granted enjoying the everyday things. The next artist used belts and pulleys and gears to animate household items. It made me think back to my Drafting class in high school when we learned about constructing machines. The next artist had a video of people moving in space wearing bright colors. They failed to have video of the hings on the posters, so I quickly lost interest. The next used plastic in contrast to things considered natural. His artist statement made some good points.

The last artist, William Lamson, wrote an artist statement about amateurism and masculinity. There were other words but those two I remember, particularly the latter. His exhibit was two TVs, one showing black balloons being popped (a huge understatement considering the detail I'm about to go into) and the other had colored balloons emerging from a serene lake covered in mist and floating off in the air or water. I'll get it out of the way now and say it was a nice commentary on serenity and death, and possibly the soul.

Now, it's true the first video just showed black balloons being popped in various ways, but oh the ways it was done! Ok, some if not most of the videos are on his site, so go watch them, 'cause I am going to refer to them. The one that caught my attention was him shooting at falling balloons with something that had crepe/film attached to the bullet/spike/nail/whatever and created really good visuals with the use of line and diagonals. Then the one that really kicked in the whole "masculinity" exploration had a man walk out with a bunch of balloons, then take a gun out of his holster... only it was rubber and very flaccid. He then started beating them all until they'd popped. Some were just elaborate yet simple, such as the guy jumping on a seesaw while wearing a spiky face mask and looking up to pop the balloon. One awesome video had a (white or black) can tied to a black balloon in a stark white room. The can was shot, started to leak black... and when it was light enough the balloon floated up, dripping black in a (pretty?) pattern. The problem with the entire thing though, was that I felt like I was either looking too deep, examining each element and trying to figure out symbolism -"Ah, his holster is see thru, much like a condom," and let's not forget the flaccid gun- for things that were just visually appealing (actually, they were darn hypnotizing, I sat there for at least 15 minutes straight and couldn't look away.) Either I was adding too much meaning to cool looking things, or I was diminishing the work by not looking for the hidden meaning. It was one of those things where it was either the deepest thing I'd ever looked at, or just an artist doing great things with black, white, and finding visually stunning ways to pop balloons. I mean, most artists get annoyed when you look too deeply into a picture they drew for fun or that is straight-forward (really, it's just a horse drinking water at a stream, the leg does not look like a forlorn woman,) but if a viewer doesn't pick up on the nuances, it can be equally insulting.

So basically, I have no idea what I witnessed yesterday, but you definitely need to go hypnotize yourself with the artist's work. Also, his photo of a balloon in front of a security camera? I have definitely seen it circulated around the internet, maybe even on Failblog.

Also: The other artists at the gallery exhibit were: Chad Curtis, Robin Mandel, ManosBuckius Cooperative, and Angela Pease, but not in that order. As for the Activesite show, most of the artists were from colleges surrounding and in Grand Rapids. I attend Kendall College of Art and Design.

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