Saturday, August 26, 2006

semi-permanent 06 - the report

for some unknown reason, the blog's been offline for a few days - but now that we're back in business i can give you a bit of a rundown on the conference.

i had a great time, very cool being in that creative environment for a day. the event was sold-out and about 1200 people were there.

first up was genevieve gauckler from france. she has a very quirky style involving collage and recurring cartoon characters. her design process involves pain-stakingly cutting out photos in photoshop to compile on her works. needless to say, she takes loads of photos everywhere she goes. when she spoke she apologised from the start for not being able to speak english expertly, but she endeared herself to the audience. very cool stuff. here you see a cover that she did for 'flaunt' magazine. in this picture, the background is photographic with her trademark characters overlaid on top.

then it was tokyo plastic from uk. i won't bother trying to sum them up with an image. if you've never seen their website then head there now, by clicking on the link above. it was the website that launched the careers of the two man team. it is an incredible piece of flash animation - possibly the best on the internet. anyway, since then they have gone on to do a number of commercial projects, including ads for microsoft and animation work for guy ritchie. they are way out of my class and do things that i will probably never even attempt to do, but it was interesting to hear the story, and the guy who spoke was funny and well-prepared. some nice dry english humour in there.

after lunch, it was nz's own huffer. these guys have done an amazing job creating nz-designed and manufactured clothing. their stuff is often painfully cool. in fact anna and i were looking at their summer range today - very 80s, but people will lap it up no doubt. i've always been a fan and managed to score myself a rather nice huffer hoodie just the other day. as for the actual presentation at the conference, the two founders presented something which seemed to be pretty off the cuff - a style that didn't always come off. nevermind, they earn respect for doing what they've done with their company in nz. and it sounds like it would be a pretty cool place to work.

next up, michael c place. this guy was the highlight of the day for me. aesthetically i liked his style the best. he uses a lot of symbols and his work is very clean - almost like a medical label at times. he was terrified on stage but also very honest - the same tactic (if you can call it that, because it is natural) as michael leunig used the time i saw him speak. it comes from dragging creatives who are used to working alone out onto a stage in front of 1200 people in a two level auditorium. in the end he seemed reluctant to finish his slot and showed us heaps of work - all very good. have a look at his website to get an idea of his aesthetic.

after the afternoon tea break was abake. i really have no idea how to explain these guys - two french, one welsh and one japanese who live in london. they seemed (from what i could gather) to be as into performance art as design. one of their projects involves an old band rotunda in london somewhere - they are trying to restore it and hold regular community events there. their presentation was interesting as they all took turns standing in a spot light to tell us about various projects. at the end they took a video of everyone firing off their camera flashes in the darkness of the auditorium.

and then finally for the day, was taika waititi. he's the bloke responsible for the award-winning nz short film 'two cars one night'. he began his slot by showing us an incredibly funny low budget movie that involved him running around and shooting at things followed by a trademark smirk and thumbs up into the camera. his segment was like a one-man stand up comedy show and was really brilliant. including doing live drawings to illustrate his points on a wacom tablet attached to the big screen. he also showed us some of his drawings and paintings - showing that he really is an all-round creative guy. brilliant way to end the conference and keep us all awake as the day wore into early evening.

all good - i plan to be back next year.

on the headphones: 'who needs forever? (theivery corporation remix)' by astrud gilberto, from the album 'verve remixed'.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

semi-permanent 06

today i'm heading north to go the 'semi-permanent 06' design conference in auckland (and catch up with me mum and da, and me brother, and friends, and have business meetings).

this will be my first time at a design conference so should be pretty cool. the main speakers are: taika waititi, abake, tokyo plastic, michael c place, huffer, genevieve gauckler.

back sunday afternoon - so will do a bit of a write-up after that...

on the stereo: 'change down' by bonobo, from the album 'dial m for monkey'.

Monday, August 14, 2006

value of art

i'm reading a book at the moment called 'the worth of art: pricing the priceless' by judith benhamou-huet that discusses the various elements that effect the price that art is sold for.

i've come across a bit that talks how the myths surrounding an artist add to the price, and about how pieces of art are almost viewed like relics of saints.

a few months ago someone was selling the floorboards of one of colin mccahon's studios on trademe. i don't know if they sold or not, but it caused a bit of a fuss. mccahon's family saw it as bizarre. and perhaps rightly so. but i found myself thinking that i wouldn't mind having those floorboards in a room of my ideal house. why? i'm not really sure, but it is the same buzz you get by going to england and going to places that famous people lived and famous events occured. and for the same reason that jack kerouac's famed continuous roll of tyescript for 'on the road' is touring american libraries.

here are some choice morsels from 'the worth of art':

"In today's art market, an artist's work is interpreted through the prism of the myth associated with his life ... All that is asked of them is that they embody a myth. In this family of artists, figures whose 'art and life are one', Van Gogh is the absolute champion, in all catagories. Madness, the severed ear, unlucky in love, unsuccessful commercially - Vincent was no winner, and not even a moral example. But he did suffer, and that is a serious point in his favour. You can imagine the high priests of the artist cult having him replace Christ's words, 'for this is my body' with 'for this is my canvas'." [p93]

"The value of the painting is of course not just aesthetic; it is a relic, whose authenticity justifies the artist's suffering and by its presence allows us to share it." [quoted on p95]

"Ever since art was severed from its spiritual function (men have praised God through their art since time immemorial), it has been constantly in search of new justifications: beauty, sublimity, emotion, provocation, transgression. Why make art? In the end, for painters, getting rid of God as the ultimate source of inspiration led to 'art for art's sake'. But for many art lovers, and therefore buyers, art is not a sufficient reason for art. Enter the cult of money. To think in terms of 'art for money', or rather, 'art in exchange for money', is to give art a tangible criterion of value, a gold standard. It is a way of making art accessible to man, so that, for a while, man can pretend to be God." [and connect with the myth of the artist - his struggles and genius - through the one-off and original art work] [p103]

on the stereo: 'lay me down' by breaks co-op, from the album 'the sound inside'.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

modern means

i've just finished reading a book associated with an exhibition that ran at the museum of modern art new york in association with the mori art museum tokyo in 2004 called 'modern means'. in recent times galleries have moved away from displaying art in terms of chronological art 'movements', and have begun grouping pieces from disparate periods along the lines of theme etc.

i think the thematic divisions that MoMA came up with to group modern art were quite interesting. here are the definitions that david elliot (director of mori) gives for their divisions (examples are loose, as some artists fit in more than one catagory):

primal: centres on the strategy of finding energy in the primitive forces of nature and the subconscious human mind. (eg. gaugin, munch, rodin, matisse, de koonig, gorky, pollock, bacon, freud)

reductive: traces the impulse to strip away inessential elements of form to uncover the 'purity' of what lies underneath. (eg. lloyd wright, picasso, mondrian, o'keeffe, kandinsky, albers, gego)

commonplace: considers ways in which art has absorbed mass culture and media, finding new forms of beauty in them and changing their nature in the process, sometimes with socially critical intent. (eg. christo, indiana, warhol, lichtenstein, rosenquist, hamilton, johns, koons, opie)

mutable: looks at the transforming power of art, its ability to make familiar things strange and endow them with new significance, sometimes with positive but more often with profoundly disturbing results. (eg. ernst, miro, man ray, gober, sherman, hurst)

aesthetically, my favourite image in the book was the one above by edvard munch called 'the kiss IV' and dated 1897-1902. and not at all like 'the scream'.

on the headphones: 'following' by chungking, from the album 'we travel fast'.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

philosophising pt. 2

as promised, here is the next installment of my ideas about breaking down dichotomy-based thinking. see below ('sun is shining') for part 1. today, by the way, the sun is most definitely not shining. in fact, we're having continuous rain.

in part 1, i talked about how dichotomy-based thinking could potentially be broken down by going back to a "hebraic" philospohical framework, and about how this could break down our traditional view of things like metaphor. but when you look around, and indeed when you look at christian thinking, you can see that there does seem to be evidence for a dichotomy. eg. light and darkness, sin and perfection - those sorts of things. so, i wanted to look at how the dichotomy came about, and what it can mean in reality.

when we look at things from a christian perspective, i think we can break ideas down into 'pre-fall' and 'post-fall' (there's a dichotomy for you). 'pre-fall' is a reality based on the conditions that existed in the world before sin entered it - God's ideal system. 'post-fall' is the stuff that became reality as a result of sin. it doesn't 'replace' the pre-fall system (that is the system that God works towards restoring), it is a system that came into effect as an ultimately temporary solution to deal with the realities of sin in the world.

one of the primary features of sin is that it divides. when it entered the world it created polarities. so, now instead of just having wellness, we also have sickness etc. it also drove a wedge between God and nature. because of this reality, the whole system has been forced into recognising dichotomies. even my differentiation of "pre-fall" and "post-fall" is a dichotomy that we are forced to create because of that reality. humans have helped to entrench those dichotomies by coming up with such ideas as "spirtual = good, physical = bad". in many ways this has been a coping strategy. it is evident that a lot of sin stuff happens in the physical, while it seems that if we could only think more "spiritual" then we could avoid a lot of sin. so hence the dichotomy emerges.

but, regardless of this coping strategy and the realities of the post-fall world, it is important to acknowledge that God has an agenda for unity. ultimately, his aim is to destroy sin and establish perfection forever, meaning that all dichotomies cease to operate. God's agenda is a kind of "higher logic", if you will (here another dichotomy i am forced to use), or as c.s. lewis might have put it, "a deep magic". a world in which "tangible" water and "abstract" water are one and the same entity is a world in which the logic of God is operating. we will probably never be able to experience the full extent of the collapse of metaphor in this regard in this current world. so we have the promise of a new heaven and new earth.

a feature of this new world, is the merging of "physical" and "spiritual". a demonstration of this is that christ's post-resurrection body was able to pass through locked doors but also able to be touched. it was both scarred and glorified. likewise, to go back to my favourite example, there will be no difference between "spiritual" water and "physical" water - there will be one entity eminating directly from God's primary concept of water.

the beautiful thing about this restored system is that the post-fall strategy will prove not to have merely been just a holding pattern while God sorted everyting out, but will be shown to have become an integral part of the main story. Christ's scars came about because of the post-fall strategy, but they nonetheless remain on him in the restored system - bearing witness for all time that God entered the post-fall system and has the marks to prove it.

i did have more to say, but i'll leave it for the next installment. next i'll talk about what it means creatively, here on earth now, to seek to work towards God's concept of unity given the nature of a world in division, and about the creative energy that exists in aiming towards this unity.

fun with scanners

the other night i experimented with putting stuff on the scanner. i found that if i left the lid up, i ended up with this nice wine colour in the background. scanning at 300 dpi picked up a lot of detail, including dust - but also the streaks left by the glass cleaner i'd used, which look a bit like wood grain. this is the picture i did of my box brownie camera. the picture still needs some cleaning, but otherwise this is the raw form of what the scanner gave me.