Category Archives: AVT 105 PROJECT ZERO

Land Art

Land art is to be understood as an artistic protest against the perceived artificiality, plastic aesthetics and ruthless commercialization of art at the end of the 1960s in America. Exponents of land art rejected the museum or gallery as the setting of artistic activity and developed monumental landscape projects which were beyond the reach of traditional transportable sculpture and the commercial art market. Land art was inspired by minimal art and concept art but also by modern and minimal movements such as De Stijl, cubism, minimalism and the work of Constantin Brancusi and Joseph Beuys. Many of the artists associated with land art had been involved with minimal art and conceptual art. Isamu Noguchi’s 1941 design for Contoured Playground in New York is sometimes interpreted as an important early piece of land art even though the artist himself never called his work “land art” but simply “sculpture”. His influence on contemporary land art, landscape architecture and environmental sculpture is evident in many works today.

The movement began in October 1968 with the group exhibition “Earthworks” at the Dwan Gallery in New York. In February 1969, Willoughby Sharp curated the “Earth Art” exhibition at the Andrew Dickson White Museum of Art at Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. The artists included were Walter De Maria, Jan Dibbets, Hans Haacke, Michael Heizer, Neil Jenney, Richard Long, David Medalla, Robert Morris, Dennis Oppenheim, Robert Smithson, and Gunther Uecker. The exhibition was directed by Thomas W. Leavitt. Gordon Matta-Clark, who lived in Ithaca at the time, was invited by Sharp to help the artists in “Earth Art” with the on-site execution of their works for the exhibition.

‘Land Artists’ have tended to be American, with other prominent artists in this field including, Carl Andre, Alice Aycock, Walter De Maria, Hans Haacke, Michael Heizer, Nancy Holt, Dennis Oppenheim, Andrew Rogers, Robert Smithson, Alan Sonfist, and James Turrell. Turrell began work in 1972 on possibly the largest piece of land art thus far, reshaping the earth surrounding the extinct Roden Crater volcano in Arizona. Perhaps the most prominent non-American land artists are the British Chris Drury, Andy Goldsworthy, Richard Long and the Australian Andrew Rogers.

Some projects by the artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude (who are famous for wrapping monuments, buildings and landscapes in fabric) have also been considered land art by some, though the artists themselves consider this incorrect. Joseph Beuys’ concept of ‘social sculpture’ influenced ‘Land art’ and his ’7000 Eichen’ project of 1972 to plant 7000 Oak trees has many similarities to ‘Land art’ processes. Rogers’ “Rhythms of Life” project is the largest contemporary land-art undertaking in the world, forming a chain of stone sculptures, or geoglyphs, around the globe – 12 sites – in disparate exotic locations (from below sea level and up to altitudes of 4,300 m/14,107 ft). Up to three geoglyphs (ranging in size up to 40,000 sq m/430,560 sq ft) are located in each site.

Land artists in America relied mostly on wealthy patrons and private foundations to fund their often costly projects. With the sudden economic down turn of the mid 1970s funds from these sources largely stopped. With the death of Robert Smithson in a plane crash in 1973 the movement lost one of its most important figureheads and faded out. James Turrell continues to work on the Roden Crater project. In most respects ‘Land Art’ has become part of mainstream public art and in many cases the term “Land Art” is misused to label any kind of art in nature even though conceptually not related to the avant-garde works by the pioneers of Land Art.

Land Art can be found in virtually every country in Europe and America. In Africa it’s a growing form of art with Strijdom van der Merwe from South Africa in the forefront. One of the Land Art in South Africa objects grounded in ancient history is ‘Mama Africa’ which is part of a privately owned botanical garden near Robertson in the Western Cape. This man made Earthwork is 3 meters high, 16 meters long and 7 meters wide.

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Web Art

There is an unbelievable amount of material for this- there is an incredible amount of art on the internet, most of it created digitally. Here is one of the more detailed examples of fantasty landscape art.

                                                                                       ……and my “web art”

Superflat

Superflat is a postmodern art movement, founded by the artist Takashi Murakami, which is influenced by manga and anime. It is also the name of a 2001 art exhibition, curated by Murakami, that toured West Hollywood, Minneapolis and Seattle.

Superflat is used by Murakami to refer to various flattened forms in Japanese graphic art, animation, pop culture and fine arts, as well as the “shallow emptiness of Japanese consumer culture.”A self-proclaimed art movement, it was a successful piece of niche marketing, a branded art phenomenon designed for Western audiences.

In addition to Murakami, artists whose work is acknowledged to be “Superflat” include Chiho Aoshima, Mahomi Kunikata, Sayuri Michima, Yoshitomo Nara, Tatsuyuki Tanaka, and Aya Takano. In addition, some animators within anime and some mangaka are considered Superflat, especially Koji Morimoto (and much of the output of his animation studio Studio 4°C), and the work of Hitoshi Tomizawa, author of Alien 9 and Milk Closet.

Murakami defines Superflat in broad terms, so the subject matter is very diverse. Often the works take a critical look at the consumerism and sexual fetishism that is prevalent in post-war Japanese culture. One target of this criticism is lolicon art, which is satirized by works such as those by Henmaru Machino. These works are an exploration of otaku sexuality through grotesque and/or distorted images. Other works are more concerned with a fear of growing up. For example, Yoshitomo Nara’s work often features playful graffiti on old Japanese ukiyo-e executed in a childish manner. And some works focus on the structure and underlying desires that comprise otaku and overall post-war Japanese culture.  

Relational Aesthetics

Relational Art or Relational Aesthetics is a mode or tendency in fine art practice originally observed and highlighted by French art critic Nicolas Bourriaud. Bourriaud defined the approach simply as, “a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.”

One of the first attempts to analyze and categorize art from the 1990s, the idea of Relational Art was developed by Nicolas Bourriaud in 1998 in his book Esthétique relationnelle (Relational Aesthetics). The term was first used in 1996, in the catalogue for the exhibition Traffic curated by Bourriaud at CAPC musée d’art contemporain de Bordeaux. Traffic included the artists that Bourriaud would continue to refer to throughout the 1990s, such as Henry Bond, Vanessa Beecroft, Maurizio Cattelan, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Liam Gillick, Christine Hil, Carsten Höller, Pierre Huyghe, Miltos Manetas, Philippe Parreno, Jorge Pardo and Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Bourriaud wishes to approach art in a way that ceases “to take shelter behind Sixties art history”, and instead seeks to offer different criteria by which to analyse the often opaque and open-ended works of art of the 1990s. To achieve this, Bourriaud imports the language of the 1990s internet boom, using terminology such as user-friendliness, interactivity and DIY (do-it-yourself). In his 2002 book Postproduction: Culture as Screenplay: How Art Reprograms the World, Bourriaud describes Relational Aesthetics as a book addressing works that take as their point of departure the changing mental space opened by the internet.

Bourriaud explores this notion of relational aesthetics through examples of what he calls Relational Art. According to Bourriaud, Relational Art encompasses “a set of artistic practices which take as their theoretical and practical point of departure the whole of human relations and their social context, rather than an independent and private space.”

The artwork creates a social environment in which people come together to participate in a shared activity. Bourriaud claims “the role of artworks is no longer to form imaginary and utopian realities, but to actually be ways of living and models of action within the existing real, whatever scale chosen by the artist.”

Site Specific Art

Site-specific art is created to exist in a certain place. Typically, the artist takes the location into account while planning and creating the artwork. The actual term was promoted and refined by Californian artist Robert Irwin, but it was actually first used in the mid-1970s by young sculptors who had started executing public commissions for large urban sites.

This week the book took a trip to its eventual resting place– the recycle center. This center recycles everything you can name that is not a hazardous material. Several times per year they take special items, including computers and other electronics. They even recycle fabric and clothing too far gone for Goodwill and Amvets. Good for them. Good for the book!

Negative Space

Negative space, in art, is the space around and between the subject of an image. Negative space may be most evident when the space around a subject, and not the subject itself, forms an interesting or artistically relevant shape, and such space is occasionally used to artistic effect as the “real” subject of an image. The use of negative space is a key element of artistic composition. The Japanese word “ma” is sometimes used for this concept, for example in garden design.

In a two-tone, black-and-white image, a subject is normally depicted in black and the space around it is left blank (white), thereby forming a silhouette of the subject. However, reversing the tones so that the space around the subject is printed black and the subject itself is left blank causes the negative space to be apparent as it forms shapes around the subject, called figure-ground reversal.

In the book project, I used the negative space surrounding the flowers in the picture to emphasize the cool palette of the scene minus the warm tones of the flowers.

AUTOMATISM

In the arts, an act of creation which either allows chance to play a major role or which draws on the unconscious mind through free association, states of trance, or dreams. Automatism was fundamental to surrealism, whose practitioners experimented with automatic writing and automatic drawing, producing streams of words or doodles from the unconscious. It has been taken up by other abstract painters, such as the Canadian Automatistes, a group working in Montréal in the 1940s, and the abstract expressionist Jackson Pollock

Here is the photo of the Automatism in Project Zero– random words were blocked out and a new sententence replaces the old one: