Sunday, August 29, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Andrea Oleniczak

In the age where digital photo frames are commonplace, the notion of a "video still life" only makes sense. The intent is poetic : the portrayal of a seemingly still landscape, knowing that no moment is still as the one preceding or succeeding it. The video begins with a still of a budding tree on Belle Isle and the skyline of Detroit behind it. Using a ladder, the artist fills the arms of this tree with clear glass oranges that contain fresh orange juice, leaving behind an image of the city with a fruitful tree.

Orange Tree is a nostalgic rendition of the notion of a still image in which, conventionally, time seemed to freeze up. In the video, what is invisible to us in a traditional still life or landscape painting - breeze whistling through trees, leaves fluttering on the ground, etc - are made visible to us in the frame of video. Here, the clouds pass. We see the painstaking and time-consuming process of placing objects in the landscape. The beautiful oxymoron lies in the impression of a still image despite all of this.

The addition of oranges - bright colored, tangy, juicy fruit - to the otherwise bland, bare and cold scenery speak s to a different kind of association in the artist's mind : " Detroit is a city of abandonment; abandoned production, homes, schools and industry....(I) create a more fruitful image of Detroit." Of course, the oranges are not real oranges that will perish. They are glass objects and will remain. They hung on the tree like Christmas balls, which they are not. They resemble fruit, signs of eternal hope and optimism in a colorless landscape. They, along with their smell, give the passerby (of the landscape) the opportunity to ponder their presence, in a way different from holiday decoration or plant growth.

As is common to post-glass artists, all this trouble is undertaken to create a few moments of experience. The glass oranges are recycled to become something else.
The passerby is gone with a refreshed mind. And the viewer of the episode is left with the image of a fruitful tree in her mind. The investment here, like many post-glass artists, is in time, not in object.

Exhibiting Artist : Sarah Rose Allen

Sarah Rose Allen's interest in poetic and visceral moments held within mundane acts is evident in her video installation, cup. The work animates bubbles in the simple gesture of pouring.

Studio glass is not unfamiliar with the inclusion of bubbles in glass. In fact, it is an integral part / concern to the medium's vocabulary. While many artists take extraordinary pains to avoid and remove bubbles that may be seen as aesthetically problematic, others make works out of placing bubbles intentionally within glass to create specific optical and formal effects. Either way, the dynamism of introducing bubbles and the movement of air during their creation is lost when the phenomena is frozen into the glass object.

Allen's video focusses on precisely those moments by keeping the constant creation and disappearance of bubbles alive. By a clever strategy, the cup is always only half-full, never overflowing, causing the act to never have to end. The video projection is installed in the darkened space of a closet, sometimes an alcove or corridor end, always an incidental space where the encounter of the virtual object and its phenomenon is a discovery.

The relationship between glass and video is of an interesting nature: Glass is a good memory-keeper of marks that were left behind, of ephemeral moments. But since it records time in invisible ways, it shows no memory of the act itself. Digital video on the other hand, is an excellent and accessible medium for capturing those moments, the details that are lost to a static entity of sculpture.

From the works of post-glass artists, it seems that the study of fundamental processes and appreciation for vision is leading to the use of video because it picks up where the self-contained object fails. Keeping its integrity of attending to a mundane, ephemeral moment that we encounter frequently, cup uses the ability of video to capture an overlooked gesture in the most transparent way possible : a clear medium in a clear object with neither in physical form.

Exhibiting Artist : Arun Sharma

(de)composition : self-portrait is an hour long video in which an unfired ceramic bust of the artist deteriorates in a contained pool of water. Shot through a clear glass box, the video gradually becomes foggy because of the dispersion of fine clay particles in the glass cube filled with water. A visual representation of the breakdown of the human form, (de)composition : self-portrait achieves a quiet and meditative transformation through the laws of entropy.

Entropy is essentially microscopic disorder. It describes the tendency for a contained system to go from a state of higher to lowest organization on a molecular level. We comprehend this intuitively when we melt an ice cube in a glass of water, or drop a cube of sugar into a cup of coffee. The changes always involve moving from disequilibrium or localized presence (eg. a substance) to equilibrium or dispersion (i.e. its surroundings). Thus, entropy affects the space into which a substance spreads.
The entropic goal is to erase the distinction between substance and surrounding.

This is seen clearly in Sharma's video : As the box shifts from transparency to opacity, the object within it becomes formless. As the surroundings go from invisibility to solidity, the entity goes from solidity to invisibility. The firmness rendered by the opacity of the medium means the absence of an object within it. Destruction of the substance of an earthen human form causes its surroundings, water in the box, to be full of the substance.

If the point of a closed system, like the one set up in this work, is to move from kinetic to potential energy, to the calmest state possible, then Sharma's questions run deep : How does entropy occur in a human body? Does the invisibility mean that it is dying?

Perhaps in response, are the artist's words : "The slow-falling flakes of clay and the floating tendrils of clay fog create a spiritual, calming element that I have not often associated with the idea of death. At the end of the hour long video, the falling debris creates a fog that eventually envelopes the head, signifying the way we are slowly forgotten in the memory of the living and are lost in history."

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Brett Swenson

The moving image of a face is projected onto a glass cast of the same face that is seated on a rotating pedestal. The viewer is able to turn this pedestal, thereby creating optical distortions of the digital projection. As the cast is turned, ghostly reflections of the mutated face travel along the walls, its eyes constantly moving, looking around at its environment, and often times making eye contact with the viewer.

The projection of one's self-image onto a copy of that image only to be confronted with a non-ideal, problematic or different one is a notion several post-glass video artists seem attracted to. In Dreamcast, the mirror, i.e the static object that receives one's self-image, is a three-dimensional casting, fixed in both contour and time. But the image that falls upon it, i.e. digital video from the projector, changes. Since the designated "mirror" is not reflective, no image bounces back. Instead, it is subject to distortions due to transmission of light through the clear glass cast. The evolving image of a human is trapped and mutating within his static, ideal portrait. In a disturbing encounter with a floating face, as it meets ones's eye occasionally, the mirror acts as a lens.

In this way, Swenson's work demonstrates a recurring area of interest, to be discussed later in this blog, as it emerges from several post-glass works : perceptual shifts using the materiality and metaphor of the mirror.

Exhibiting Artist : Emma Hogarth

In homage to analog methods of achieving special effects, Hogarth seeks the role of the viewing lens as both window and optical device. Compound Focus is a series of video portraits shot through a slab of glass. The glass bears a dappled texture that comes from chill marks when molten, slightly bubbled glass is poured onto cool graphite. This texture distorts the image of the subjects who picture is being shot, and like a special effects filter, gives them a painterly effect that is reminiscent of Impressionist painting styles that were highly influential on the Pictorialist movement.

The artist says, "Pictorialist photographers, active around the turn of the twentieth century, subscribed to the idea that art photography needed to emulate the painting and etching of the time. Their photographs were characterized by atmospheric effects achieved by using soft focus, special filters, lens coatings and experimental printing processes. By using the material qualities of glass to achieve a painterly effect in a digital video work," Hogarth draws our attention to the role of glass in development of optical and imaging technologies.

In an interesting flip of technological sensibility, she transfers the effect of a still camera to the context of a moving image. The subjects move very slowly and the slight shifts in light are transmitted through the glass membrane cum lens cum filter. Yet the image formed in one's mind is of still nature. In contrast to artist Betsy Dadd's video, which unpacks the moment of a the work provides an interesting connection between old, (rendered) obsolete media, materiality and new media.

Exhibiting Artist : Betsy Dadd

is a collation of several scenes, each depicting a person engaged in an activity set at a table. This stop frame animation is generated from oil painting on glass.

Painting on glass is an old and integral part of the material's history. This includes reverse painting techniques, oil, enamel and gold painting across European, Islamic and Asian cultures, in themes ranging from scenery to patterns to portraiture to story-telling. The vocabulary finds place in contemporary glass as well, with artists painstakingly airbrushing or hand-painting images of (often) personal narrative on vessel surfaces, sometime in several layers. Especially because of the invisible materiality of glass that holds no memory of its own. No matter what the outlet or form, it seems as though joy in the process lies in a basic movement - that of pushing pigment around. Playing with tactile color to form and erase lines, contours and densities. Yet the tenuous struggle between excitement and frustration, acumen and experiment, during this process is lost to the final outcome. A painted canvas reveals the artist's strokes and inclinations with a certain finality. It is static.

Dadd's video is beautiful in that it simply "un-freezes" the painted moment by bringing into view decisions of time, not just stroke. Glass, as a membrane that offers no texture of its own is the perfect substrate. The subjects in these paintings are formed, come in and out of focus, are pushed around as desired. They move and flow, meld and erase as the pigment slides on the smooth surface of glass. In a William Kentridge-esque manner of creating a figure in a story, without explosive narratives and complex agendas, Table inspires unadulterated joy of an image being formed and dissolved at front of our eyes.

While thematically centered around acts at a table, the animation is just as much about the materiality of glass as a membrane and process of mutating images on its surface.

Exhibiting Artist : Matthew MacKisack

The 1951 'Festival of Britain' was intended to encourage post-war regeneration and optimism. It was a statement of social, scientific and cultural achievement. 18 million visitors saw pioneering work in many fields including the first radio telescope and post-war housing solutions. However, the utopianism of the Festival was short-lived: a month after its closure, the Conservative party gained power and the future was re-interpreted through individualism and material aspirations.

Preview and Guide presents the Festival of Britain (FB) through quotations and pronouncements, both predictive and diagnostic. The lack of its concrete-ness is indicated by no direct representation of the festival, and the future it proposed is realized obliquely, perhaps disappointedly, in the final image of social housing in the present day.

MacKisack uses the transparency of glass to present the opacity of history. In the layering of images, we see the marks of time, instead of its flow. Glass, here, has the illusory capacity to look back through time while video helps the artist do so fluidly, without friction, only to realize that a history, or the ideas it proposed, are not fluid. Without critical awareness, one's understanding of the present is sometimes abrupt. The treatment of video in the work highlights this disjunct. Preview and Guide uses a flowing visuality to present exactly the opposite nature of history and its consequent present.

Exhibiting Artist : Charlotte Potter

The biological process of cell division in which a parent cell splits into two identical daughter cells is called Mitosis. Highly regulated and complex, errors in mitosis kill or mutate cells causing disease such as cancer. However, if seen at a more fundamental level, mitosis is part of the study of fusion, of how an entity is created and how it propagates. It is the starting point for the paradigm of "relationships" at a cellular level.

Potter uses, in a reverse sort of way, the analogy of mitosis to explore the space of fusion, for that is where she believes relationships lie, be they human or with materials like glass. In
The Opposite of Mitosis, she enacts the coming together of two molten glass bubbles through a play of their shadows.

Devoid of extraneous contextual information, and relying only on their densities of black and white as filtered by light through a screen, two dark "pods" at the end of black sticks enter the frame. Slowly, they are filled with breath. They expand, touch each other and share a common membrane. In one instance, the contact point is minimal and the weight of the individual personalities preclude a wider contact area. In another, one bubble slips away, forming a cord-like connection, only to break off (as the glass behind the screen gets cold). A bubble pushes too much air into itself or grabs the second to overwhelm the other in size. At other times, the two bubbles meld in a balanced, reciprocal manner...

The very specific process of alternately blowing air into and then sucking air out from a hot glass bubble until it cools and will expand no more, has been used to determine the lifespan of each encounter. The ultra-thin membrane between the two bubbles is then blown back and forth until the bubbles break, sometimes like a steady dying heartbeat, and at other times, like a fish gasping and struggling for breath when placed out of water. The artist's attention to dynamics from several such interactions form the exact moments of interest in
The Opposite of Mitosis.

This visceral video of the shadow of two bubbles meeting and melding into one is installed in a petridish and set on a steel table. In an attempt to engage the psychological space of fusion, one that is neither always identical nor regulated as defined by mitosis - the installation references a clinical study of relationships, the emotions surrounding them - those seductive, volatile, unequal, entanglements - and the possibility of therapy.

The Opposite of Mitosis is one of several works that use glass as a membrane, a theme of perceptual shift that will be discussed later in the blog.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Emer Lynch

is a quiet and playful exploration of the similitude between water and glass, both clear and colorless.

Open hemispheres of glass, like rimmed half bubbles, float around in a pebbled water body, sometimes alone, other times, in groups. In doing so, they assume several forms; they are activated by various phenomena; they engage with their environment in different ways - They act as lenses and magnify the pebbles underneath. It seems as though a strange suction has occurred on spots on the water's surface. A negative space that has displaced the water that would have filled otherwise. They mingle with real bubbles marking the water. They may be white rocks or floating loops of thread. Or reflections from the sky just like the trees around them. They interact with ripples formed in the water body's calm. At night, they appear like cells, with their edges glowing as though injected with a dye under a microscope.

Filmed in a location devoid of man-made intrusions, the vessels floating on the water subvert the standard orientation of the horizon, thereby exaggerating the floati-ness of both materials being explored. Against the backdrop of shifting horizon and focus, Lynch explores the flirtation between illusion and substance. This work is the artist's response to living within an urban landscape in Ireland, "seeking the natural amongst my manmade habitat".

Exhibiting Artist : Armel Hostiou

In a short narrative that transitions from representation of a figure to an abstraction, BMB (can't say goodbye) reveals a secret limit that can be passed in one direction but not in the other.

The emotion of feeling trapped is wistful and sometimes, oppressive. Hostiou uses glass, and water, a glass-like substance, to speak of invisible barriers such as time. Desiring for a view of the city, a woman is able to enter her balcony through a large, open window. But she is unable to return into the room because the open space now bears an impenetrable transparency. The only - and momentary - indication of this surface is the vapor of the actor's breath, soon replaced by streams of water running down the glass plane as though they were tears on a face. Trapped, the world behind the woman becomes dark. The subject disappears behind the torrential wall of water, only to leave behind a few streaks of water on the invisible glass pane and a few dots of light in the background.

Through this mutation and disappearance of space, location and person, Hostiou presents the notion of time as a filter for matters or actions one way but not backwards. Her work is unique in this festival for the way in which it shift the perception of glass' invisible hardness : as a one-way membrane. In doing so using video, she weaves doubt between absence and presence to represent two states of mind, time or situation.

Exhibiting Artist : Netta Bacon

features a straightforward yet enigmatic gesture : A hand is held out. It closes into a fist. A glass glove appears to encase the fisted hand like a clear casket that fixes the body in space and time.The hand opens up and reaches out of the glove, as though it were just a memory.

In her attempt to trace lines of meaning between a concrete gesture, the association and its fleeting memory, Bacon maintains a constant rhythm of adding and dropping frames. Speaking about her process, Bacon says,"Frames were printed on transparent paper. The body becomes transparent like the glass boxing glove. Frames were then piled one on top of the other, creating an accumulating image, a pack. As a few frames are added on top, one is taken from the bottom of the pile in a constant rhythm."

The hand is imparted the quality of glass by printing on transparent paper. This is merged with the appearance of the glass glove that is transparent in its materiality. A single image, yet layered. In both a material and metaphorical play of transparency.

The gesture is frozen in the physicality of the boxing glove. Only here, the shifting transparency serves as a ghost to speak of something imaginary. Is the glove, by virtue of being of a real, physical substance protecting the hand or locking it? Yet the hand escapes the glove and we are once again in the realm of an echo. Pack is an incredibly short animation developed from this incredibly intense process.

Exhibiting Artist : Kevin Kay

In this digital version of the Super 8 Black and White film Untitled, Kay pays homage to what we often describe as antiquated tools in the style of early video art, where the crossover between film and video were explored.

By nature film is a transparent membrane. Images are formed when light passes through each frame. With the aid of a film projector, television, analog video camera and VCR, this work is created by continually layering imagery. The membranes of tracing paper, the glass of the TV monitor, the image being played and VCR feedback vary the level of opacity from the re-shot projection.

The result is a collage in flux, one that may never need to have a definitive end to its process, using the television glass screen as a canvas.

Exhibiting Artist : Ted Sonnenschein

6 Berlin Views
are short segments shot aboard Berlin's commuter trains. As a train departs from, transits through and arrives at various stations, the artist focuses his camera on the visual landscape formed on the glass windows of the fast-moving container inside which he stands.

Like most non-glass makers, Sonnenschein's relationship to glass as a material is defined by its presence in everyday objects, frequently mirrors and windows. Consequently, his understanding of the material is shaped by observed phenomena : reflection and transparency. In 6 Berlin Views, he brings together the two seemingly opposite surfaces - a mirror, which is typically opaque and reflects the subject standing across from it, and a clear window, which allows the subject to see through it - onto one projection surface. This is the window of the train.

Using simple documentation of events they unfold, he removes all pretense and deliberation on his part to guide the viewer towards a specific narrative. Instead, like light diffraction patterns, he allows the viewer to go back and forth between the "mirror" and "window" aspects of the projected image. At times, the images are discerned At other times, the images merge in ghostly ways. In a sense, he describes a screen as a combination of moving image and glass, and within that, a repository to hold what lies beyond the materiality of its substance, be it shadow, reflection or scenery.

Typically, studio artists apply images of landscape on vessels through engraving, enameling, layering, sandblasting, cutting, etc. As artists, we are constantly trying to encapsulate or represent what lies beyond the confines of the vessel on its surface. What Sonnenschein does flips that relationship around and changes the scale : He sees himself as being contained within the vessel (the train) as opposed to looking at it. He creates the image onto the object's surface in real-time using the optical qualities of the object itself (the train) as opposed to manipulating the vessel's form by say, cutting into it.

We are, of course, familiar with several devices in the long history of objects - the camera obscura, magic lantern, telescope, microscope, etc - that bring the outside world into a confined space. Usually though, a device accomplishes one thing at a time. A moving train, as Sonnenschein has discovered, indulges various optical activities simultaneously. It is a vantage point, a lens or conduit for light to pass through, a projection or reception screen. Keenly experiencing these aspects during his daily commutes, the commonplace yet unique perspective Sonnenschein adopts in this work presents the train as an object he is contained in as well as a device that captures moving image . In turn, the video exposes a cinematic space that is created by a vessel onto its own walls in an ephemeral marking of passage of time.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Exhibiting Artist : Rui Sasaki

The human body discerns moving image through the eye, our biological video camera. In a short study, I Eye I captures on digital video the image that is held by the artist's eye.

The human eye lens is fascinating in nature : Its surface reflects the object it sees while its cones and rods capture details of the object at an astounding frame rate and transmits the same to the mind. It is a mirror and transparent membrane at the same time. A surface from which an image bounces back at us, also absorbs the image, allows it to pass through and projects it into the human mind. The mind in turn, becomes a sort of projection screen and its space, a camera obscura that receives an vision from outside its chamber. In this sense, our body's native video tool, the eye, brings the world that is external to our bodies, within it.

The question is, what does Sasaki's eye see that she seeks to internalize? To the artist, her studio is the space where she spends most of her time, where her ideas transfer to physical objects. They get visualized into comprehensible entities in the studio just as what our eyes see are concretized in the camera obscura-like space of the human mind. In an unspecified critique and without narrative outcome, in an act of ocular endurance, this work is Sasaki's attempt to understand what the space of her studio means by holding its image in her eyes across day and night.

Exhibiting Artist : Andrew Salgado

The Only Thing You Can Count On Is Your Family
uses the metaphor of glass in a manner of confrontation. Here is a dialogue with (homo)sexuality, homophobia and identity, especially through confrontation with the conceptual understanding of their shifting boundaries.

Salgado places his figure in the metaphorical space of the mirror to reflect an image of the Other or monstrous. By transforming from a white to black man, he evokes long-drawn discussion of racial divide. He chooses to become the religious Other when he removes the cross of Christianity from his body. As he unclothes to reveal a slender frame, shaves his head and all facial hair including his eyebrows, he moves more delicately into territory that is past heterosexuality. As he reads the contents of personal communication with his family, the artist removes every evidence that is identifiable and presumed about him in the Euro-centric world: white, christian and heterosexual. The narrative is very personal, and before our eyes, he transforms from what is socially and familially acceptable to what is not, what is questionable, alienated, disapproved and perhaps despised by some.

It is said that without reflection, gaze and shadow, we would have little understanding of ourselves as a whole entity. A child at six months lacks coordination and is unable to fully comprehend what goes where and how one part of its body fits into the other. Yet it is able to recognize itself in the mirror. This synthesis of a whole image delights the child, at the same time producing a sense of contrast with its seemingly fragmented body. From the ensuing tension begins the construction of the Ego and consequently, projections (and subjugations) of identity-related biases. The mirror phase was defined by the psychoanalyst Jaques Lacan in 1936. He proposed that Ego is the product of a fundamental misunderstanding, a false recognition, which situates the agency of the ego in a fictional direction. The child becomes alienated from itself before any sort of social determination can take place. In other words, the mirror stage introduces the baby into an imaginary order. While this idea has been criticized widely because for the infant to recognize itself in the mirror, it must already have a sense of self underway, Lacan's concept finds place in literary critique : the mirror separates us from our selves; In order to recognize myself, I have to be separate from my self. Modern media too, utilizes this infantile fascination with the reflected image, by showing us pictures into which we are invited to project ourselves.

Salgado uses our familiarity of being implicated in such projections well. He sets up an intimate cinematic space - not voyeuristic but point-blank - as if a mini-stage has been emptied of everything but his private moment. We are privy to his actions. He sets up the simple unquestioned device of a mirror for us we watch him undergo changes in physical appearance. As we listen to his words and watch, we comprehend everything he is doing step by step, as it is reflected accurately in the mirror. Yet, by the end, in the style of the impending growth of a horror film (where a bathroom mirror sucks the person into a distant land), we are returned with an image that is so far removed from the subject. We are now confronted with "the person who is not".
Along with a stark visual comes the revelation that these differences are in (social) perception. And that the unfamiliar alien, the misunderstood and distasteful Other is but one of two sides of the same coin, the coin being the self. Through "intimate and provocative portrayals,... clandestine moments for public reception", Salgado hopes that "the viewer considers the private but wholly real social politics of prejudice, sexuality, and violence."

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Exhibiting Artist: Alexandra Ben Abba

Glass Haircut is a post-glass artist's rendition of giving herself a haircut. Using fire from molten glass as her scissor, the artist burns her hair to achieve the desired length and style.

In a strange displacement from everyday life, every expression on her face is evidence to the smell of burning hair; the careful gestures of her fingers imply the hot and dangerous substance touching her body....almost. The glowing goo at the end of a metal rod looks mysterious, especially to those who are not familiar with glassblowing. It is only the smoke coming from the hair that implies what this material is.

With all external references to the immediate, physical environment removed (perhaps a glassmaking studio), the video's composition uses its reference to the "Black" or Claude Mirror well. An oddity today, the Claude Lorrain Mirror is made of black glass, slightly convex, and produces a reduced, upright reflection. It was used by landscape painters in the 18-19th centuries to concentrate on form, line and perspective by suppressing color saturation and muting tonal values. The black mirror was a pre-photographic optical instrument, a virtual reality device of sorts. It edited a natural scene in very specific ways to make it easier for the artist to focus on drawing what was important to the scene.
By removing all evidence of her immediate physical background, Ben Abba does something similar. She creates a black mirror that directs the attention of the viewer to a very specific scene. She transforms what would otherwise be read as a reflective surface to one that absorbs her image. Her reflection is now, an actor in spotlight on a stage, the subject of a "moving painting" and not someone standing plainly at front of a mirror.

In this way, she uses digital video to reclaim and manipulate the optical space of the mirror. In a sense, the mirror becomes the protagonist who captures the performer's transformation, her sense of calm and conviction in the end when she is happy with the results. As she tosses her hair about and walks off with a smile, one wonders about a curious pattern this work falls into : the tendencies of post-glass artists to subject their bodies to wierd ways of doing something normal (in this case, getting a pretty haircut).

A significant number of artists, many featured on this blog since 2009, seem to subject their bodies to strange interactions with glass. These individuals are women. Is this mere coincidence? Is there an increased engagement of feminine body politics in a field that has historically been characterized by machismo? Glass Haircut is representative of these questions while presents an awkward yet tantalizing choreography of what would otherwise be mundane and normal.

And of course, the observation made above about women post-glass artists will be discussed further in the days to come.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Exhibiting Artist :Kimberly McKinnis

Set, shot and edited in the Do-It-Yourself style of home videos, Untitled: The Shape of an Emotion II documents the process of grinding, by hand, a whole glass beer bottle into the very small pieces.

The most "visible" component of this work is, curiously, its audio track. The incessant grinding of glass against harsh concrete speaks of endurance in the same way that someone grinds their teeth in pain. Just as the sound of grinding teeth fills the head of a person, causing it to throb, the prolonged determination of the artist's action fills the screen with its non-human scream. The pitch of the grinding sound shifts higher and higher as the bottle disintegrates into smaller and smaller piece, and begs the question: when will she be done?

Even though the viewer is aware of the outcome, and the video shows no surprise otherwise, watching the video requires a certain amount of endurance on the part of the viewer, knowing that the act itself is of the same quality, and no effort is made to cloak or edit it in a prettier, more appealing fashion. In Untitled :..., the aggression assumes form of slow, non-vocal and painstaking destruction. If the bottle were to symbolize one's pain, would grinding it away relentlessly with the goal to convert it into dust - to erase completely all form - heal?

This video is also an example of a recurrent theme amongst several artists : the penchant to work with broken glass. What meaning is there, to be found or made, from the act of destroying glass? The theme will be discussed in a later post.

Exhibiting Artist : Giuseppe Di Bella

A glass bottle, once broken is not recuperable. It has lost its function and must be discarded. Its contents have spilled, are spoiled and cannot be consumed anymore. The little pieces it has broken into are dangerous: they will poke and cut, and must be collected carefully and thrown away. In the contrary spirit of optimism and hope, Healing depicts the puzzle-like reconstruction of a broken milk bottle, shard by shard, into its former whole self.

Unlike other works featured on this blog that treat breaking as an aggressive act, Di Bella's gesture in the video is one of tender care. It is a patient, calm and painstaking endeavor of a hand to put back in place every broken piece of an object that was shattered previously because of being dropped. This is particularly poignant because the object is a bottle that contained milk, a symbol of nourishment and an unconditional relationship of love. Di Bella reminds us, by example, that the hands that spill are the hands that collect. The hands that destroy are also the hands that create. And the process of healing is often slow, with much effort and attention going into which parts fit where and which do not.

Healing clearly uses a metaphor for dealing with loss and closure of a wound. The metaphor of a heart of glass is an old one. As the saying goes, " Be it a piece of glass or a heart, its finality lies in shattering to innumerable bits". By reversing the above fate, Di Bella allows the viewer to re-appropriate the metaphor in their own way; to perhaps assimilate a space within which they can reflect.

This video is also an example of a recurrent theme amongst several artists : the desire to engage broken glass. What meaning is there, to be found or made, from the act of breaking glass? Or connotations therefrom? The theme will be discussed in a later post.

Exhibiting Artist: Brett Swenson

A hooded male emerges from an elevator into a dark space. He holds a spot-heating gas torch, turns it on and directs the flame frontally, towards the viewer. The flame is small and pointed, and as the focus of the camera fades in and out, the scene appears to be from a dark, slow dream.

In a split second, however, there appears a gaping, smoking hole, suspended mid-air between the viewer and the man as he turns his torch off and disappears. Only to re-appear and repeat the action at a different spot in mid-air. Over several episodic appearances in this dream-like state that fades in and out of vision, the cinematic "space" between the artist and the viewer reveals itself to contain a large clear pane of glass.

From this point onwards, Execution begins a game of expectancy with the viewer: what will happen next? at what point will the glass break? what happens to the man when it breaks?... Impacted by bullets of heat repeatedly, the invisible glass surface is replaced by a completely opaque broken surface of tempered glass. The cinematic space that was previously transparent is now blocked by a screen. The executioner is now inaccessible and but a silhouette standing behind a hole-ridden portrait that is beautiful in its ghostly form.

This video demonstrates a recurrent theme amongst several artists : the penchant to break glass. What meaning is there, to be found or made, from the act of breaking glass? The theme will be discussed in a later post.

Exhibiting Artist : Alana Kakoyiannis

Untitled captures the straightforward moment that a Pyrex dish shatters in a sink. It is the pace at which this act unfolds, over the course of 3 minutes, that captures the viewer's attention and imagination.

We are altogether familiar with the notion of slow-motion replays during sporting moments and surveillance acts - to determine if a tennis ball touched fault line in a game at Wimbledon, if foul play ensued in a moment of soccer injury at the World cup, exactly how a person was accosted and abducted as they exited public office, or how a bank user struggled with a malfunctioning ATM machine.....Video is often used as a tool to magnify the moment that happens too fast in real time to comprehend action. Untitled does precisely this. Only that in its simplicity lies a deception of one's perception.

While using video's effectiveness as a medium to record an ephemeral act, Kakoyiannis has removed all visual cues that would cause the viewer to study the context of the violent act. Rather than lead the viewer into specific narratives, her focus seems the phenomenon of breakage itself, in a style reminiscing the early era of black and white video work. She also removes all evidence of force in the gesture through her manipulation of video frame rate. To the viewer, it seems like a glass tray is being placed in a metal sink; commonplace. Yet, suddenly, the result of this benign act is startling. The vessel breaks from touching the sink, with an all-too-familiar crashing sound. And the viewer is forced, rudely, to comprehend and reconstruct in her mind, the undisputed presence of that force.

Kakoyiannis considers force as though it were a transparent material, one that is very much part of the equation but invisible to our a pristine window made of clear glass that birds sometimes, accidentally, fly into. Or if one were to use an analogy of hotworking glass: Just as a hot, semi-molten glass object shows little evidence of the human force that go into the process of making it, the marks being visible only when it transforms into its cold, hard self, Untitled cloaks the aggression, the presence of force, till we hear the sound (like tool-marks on the object). Her work, thus, allows our minds to (mis)comprehend a transparent entity : of glass; of force.

This video is also an example of a recurrent theme amongst several artists : the penchant to break glass. What meaning is there, to be found or made, from the act of breaking glass? The theme will be discussed in a later post.

The Post-Glass Video Festival 2010 opens Sep 10 @ Heller Gallery NY

The Post-Glass Video Festival presents 20 works that expose specific relationships with glass - phenomenological, material, social and personal - through digital video. The festival indulges concepts that either trace back to the direct and mediated experience of glass, or actively investigate common perceptions and complex connotations of the material.

Working with the lens of a video camera, artists featured in the exhibition engage a wide gamut. They investigate an intimate relationship with glass, capture the poetic beauty of vulnerable moments using the metaphors of glass and implement performative acts that problematize a situation or provide insight. They explore social implications of transparency and reflectivity and create moments by unmaking the objects ... ... ... The Festival, thus, showcases a variety of short videos ranging from abstract and perceptual to narrative and process-based. In all cases, the works are manifested best through the vocabulary of video, and in some case, with an active physical/installation component.

The exhibition debuts at Heller Gallery in New York from Sep 10- 25, 2010 and travels to other locations in Seattle and Sydney Australia thereafter.

Participating artists :
Alana Kakoyiannis . Alexandra Ben Abba . Andrea Oleniczak . Andrew Salgado . Armel Hostiou . Arun Sharma . Betsy Dadd . Brett Swenson . Charlotte Potter . Emer Lynch . Emma Hogarth . Giuseppe di Bella . Kevin Kay . Kimberly McKinnes . Matthew MacKisack . Netta Bacon . Rui Sasaki . Sarah Rose Allen . Ted Sonnenschein

Over the next few weeks, this blog will present the work that will be exhibited by these artists.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Emotional Weight from the Weightlessness of Glass : 1000 halos by Hiromi Takizawa

An artist who engages specific dialogues inherent to her Japanese heritage and the subtle nuances and observable oddities of living in the “West”, Takizawa integrates observed optical phenomena - transmission, reflection and refraction of light through glass - into personal narratives. She uses shifts in perception unique to the qualities of glass, to transform emotions and cultural paradigms into experiences of concrete materiality.

In recent work, Takizawa's attention is directed specifically towards the power of a halo : the ring of aura that surround the heads of spiritual figures across both European and Asian cultures. 1000 halos transforms the artist's experience at Japan's Sanjusangen-dou temple (where an intangible aura resonates from the halo ring or disks of 1,000 Buddha statues) into a wall-based installation composed of 1000 nearly-invisible, warm-tinted glass shards, each with a hole. Light is cast through these objects, shadows are formed on the wall. The holes, like magic, are transformed into glowing halos.

"It is an amazing and stunning experience when I walked into the temple. I felt the weight of the history, and the craftsmanship of wood sculptures is very intense," Takizawa says, and in turn, recreates a similar, overwhelming emotional weight for viewers to encounter in a trans-cultural setting. In the process of doing so, she engages two conversations that are of interest to post-glass "watchers" :

* She brings to studio glass a rigorous study of "membranously" thin glass, an example of intense development of potential (technique and vocabulary) in an area previously ignored, unseen or out-of-bounds (in this case, residue or mistake). Takizawa burns through the surface of an extremely thin-skinned unshaped glass bubble by spot-heating. The rings pop out by themselves due to thermal shock in open air after a little while. Simply put, Takizawa changes the rules of glassblowing to produce rings.

* She toys with hierarchy in relationship between object and shadow by bringing the intangible shadows into poetic prominence in the installation. She doubles the concrete materiality of glass in a weightless manner. The viewers' experience towards this field of halos is based on their ability to shift perception when they encounter the installation. Notions of a finite object and self-contained beauty inherent to studio glass are transcended.

Takizawa's thousand rings embody the weightlessness, transparency, and fragility of her personal questions: to communicate the intensity she witnessed in the form a specific instance of Japanese material culture, but in a form that exceeds the physical object, remains intangible yet powerful. 1000 halos are cut out of glass, but their expression is manifest in their projection of light.

1000 halos is on view at the Robert Lehman Gallery at UrbanGlass, Brooklyn, NY Sep 15 - Dec 23 2010 and during the exhibition "Objects of Devotion and Desire" at Bertha & Karl Leubsdorf Art Gallery, NY in 2011.