Happiness Is A Warm…

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Artist Pipilotti Rist will stand out as not only the first video artist I have looked at thus far — but mainly because her videos are so strange and otherworldly. Every part of her works are worth paying attention to…and are hard not to.

She uses a variety of techniques, from different views (like monochrome or fish eye) to changing speeds, and even warping colors… Rist does it and grabs your attention. Most of her subject matter is centered around women, the concept of gender, sexuality, and freedom. Her work embodies happiness with its bright palate of colors and trance-like audio.

Open My Glade

a screenshot from "Open My Glade"

At first, I was really disturbed by her works. The first that threw me for a loop was I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much, probably because the video felt like a loop, repeating the same phrase over and over and over…. I was really confused by the end of the video. I didn’t quite understand what she was trying to get across, or why I should take note of the video. But the video did lead me to the lyrics of the song “Happiness is a Warm Gun” which sent me on a wild goose chase for a deeper meaning. Needless to say, the piece had me intrigued.

Pour Your Body Out

showing of "Pour Your Body Out" by Pipilotti Rist

As I came across Rist’s more colorful works, I had begun to like her stuff. For example, in her feature length film, Pepperminta, the eponymous heroine is much like Rist herself. She is described as “an anarchist of the imagination.” And like Pipilotti Rist, Pepperminta wishes to bring the rest of the world the amazing colors that she sees. This gave me a great introduction to her other pieces… like Ever is Over All, and Pour Your Body Out. These give a natural, easy-going vibe, mesmerizing viewers with the psychedelic color trips and earthy undertones. One of the crazy but coolest displays I’ve ever seen has got to be the Open My Glade showing in Time Square. Instead of being held back by the screen, Rist literally tries to force her message through it.

And after looking, I understand why I’ve never seen work like Pipilotti Rist’s – because there’s never been anyone like her. Her methods seem pretty eccentric, but the work and the way she shows it is phenomenal.

To India

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Behind the Photo

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Matt Siber, digital artist and photographer, takes his work to the street…taking the every day and casting it in a new light. He work makes an interesting statement about society and its advertising tactics. Most of his projects are about how our culture responds to the way these messages are delivered – be it automated billboards, signs, or even the product itself. He uses photo altering techniques to change the way the product is shown. For example, his Floating Signs project was very fun to look at, and emphasized how supernatural these huge logos are, hanging stories above us.

"Jesus" from Floating Logos by Matt Siber

"Jesus" from Floating Logos by Matt Siber

His work is very different and intriguing, but for most of his works, I wasn’t interested until after reading the artist statement. When first looking at the photos, I wasn’t really impressed, but then I’d read the project info, and go back to see how it changed my view of the installation. His messages made a huge difference in my outlook, because without them, I felt like I was viewing regular snapshots. Like for instance, his Untitled Project. The special part about these photos is the words that are displayed next to them. Just looking at the picture would make you think it was a regular photograph.

"Untitled #1" from The Untitled Project by Matt Siber

But the more I think about it, the more I think that’s how the work is supposed to feel – like nothing’s special. Siber’s focus is so subtle, that I never pay attention until it’s pointed out. For example, his “Compare To… Products” project. They were just photos of different things found in a grocery store, really. That is, until Siber’s statement made me notice all the generic brands emulate the popular brands.

Siber’s art is interesting once you figure out the story behind it. At first, you’re wondering why the picture is special, but then you learn the reasoning and it really makes you think.

Digital Cloud

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Art, as we all know, is in a variety of forms. One of the coolest things about digital art is that we can combine all these different forms in a surprising and interesting way. Cory Arcangel is another artist that does exactly that. His work often gives an unusual look at the way technology and our society coincide. What’s cool about Arcangel is that he often uses software and hacks to create his art, rather than more traditional means.

One of his more popular projects are from his video game collections. With 8-bit music and an NES hack, Arcangel recreated the classic Super Mario Bros. to make a 15-minute movie. This short film was… bizarre to say the least. For a while, I was depressed watching it. Then I was weirded out. I suppose Arcangel was questioning life, but it still was strange to look at. It did make me question some things, though… like how temporary everything is…

But my favorite part is Arcangel’s method. The fact that he uses software to create the different works is really interesting. I can identify with videogame hacks, so it was neat to see unique takes on the games. Arcangel uses his computer as more than just a tool for his art, it’s basically his medium. I like that about his art, that the technology and nerd culture comes through so well.

Super Mario Clouds by Cory Arcangel

Road… in Texture

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Interestingly Awkward

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From the outside looking in, things always look a little peculiar. But how often do we get to look in on our society from a neutral point of view? Ian Whitmore, digital photographer, captures just that. He gives us an inside look at the mundane we consider universal standards.

One of his projects, aptly titled Nowhere, is a collection of photos depicting nameless locations. The portraits show cold, geometric buildings against organic plants, and truly feel as if the spot is the middle of nowhere. The vacant arrangement gives such a powerful impression of desolation… to the point that I pitied the plants for being stranded there. We expect plants to always represent the natural, that these photos are like an oxymoron. His work emphasizes the architecture we see every day, and how truly out of place plants can seem in our urban society.

Nowhere #4107

"Nowhere #4107" by Ian Whitmore

All of Whitmore’s work comes off as strange… but in a good way. Like his Channels collection – it’s really unusual to watch someone watch television. I feel like I snuck into their house, parked it on their couch, and turned on their TV… only to be caught in the act. Televisions have become such commonplace in our lives that we don’t think it’s strange to spend hours sitting in front of it. Seeing someone else sit in front of it, however, is as uncomfortable as it gets. He makes a surprising statement about how personal watching television is to Americans.

Jean T.

"Jean T." by Ian Whitmore

Ian Whitmore’s work is simple, but makes an important statement about our culture today. His approach is interestingly awkward, and does a great job of making me notice the oddities of society.

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