Monday, February 23, 2009


So I will commence my discussion on A Bird Tapestry by David S. Rubin by sharing first that I work for a gallery which represents Hunt Slonem. I have been to the studio discussed in the article and can say its insane. I will keep my personal opinions on Mr. Slonem's work to a minimum because this is the internet, however the birds have so much to do with his everyday practices and decision making. Apart form the fact that the cage described in A Bird Tapestry does exist, it in no way limits the birds from flying around in freedom within the Houston Street loft. The birds are everywhere , on the chairs, on the floor, on the ceiling, on Mr. Slonem's shoulder. At times, Spending time with Hunt outside of his studio, it is interesting hist parent like behavior towards his birds' well being. He will constantly call his assistant to check in on the birds and its borderline OCD. I wanted to share this because there is something to say about his relationship to his birds and it being almost "natural" parent child like interaction. The birds are an extension of his life of his being. The birds act as receivers of his affection and care. It brings to mind the idea aned concept of instinc in respect to the Human Nature relationship.

In A Birds Tapestry we are given a broad look at how birds are incorporated by many, many artist in so many different ways to communicate visually. The essay dives into so many possible approaches to the use of birds, it at some points gets a little long winded. However I found it interesting that the further I read, I started to realize how much birds can be incorporated into many aspects of human communication , but how visual communication is derived from connectors within nature. Also how effective this approach to visual communication could be.

One of the universal threads which was pointed out in the usage of birds was their association with freedom and liberty. I find this affiliation to freedom and liberty to come from a supernatural admiration of birds. They do something we cannot, and that is to fly. I question how much of freedom we would see in birds if we were capable of flying. I mean our airplanes look like birds in a sense, however that hardly replicates the idea of human flight. But there was an interesting point made by Rubin were he states that birds are closer to the heavens and in a sense we envy that physical attainability of such. Well this also to me is a support for the idea that we think of freedom and liberty as a means of reaching supernatural or big conceptually driven goals. For instance for a major part of human history the idea of reaching heaven at the end of life was the ultimate satisfactory prize of a life well lived. Birds then would seem as close to heaven and thus I cant help of think about religion's role in this freedom and liberty aspect of birds.

There was a section of the essay devoted to Identity and Autobiography which sparked interest in me personally. the usage of animals has always been an interest of mine to explore cultural identity. I find it interesting how to a human eye assumingly all tigers look the same or all eagles look the same, etc. This to me is a perfect example of idiosyncrasies within uniform. the idea that thou dominating uniforms exist in nature there is still distinctive traits or qualities which create individuals within a uniform. Take for instance the discussion of Roni Horn in Rubin;s writings, there is a point were he discusses Horns process in documenting birds and attaching two photographs back to back of different birds and how initially the distinction between the two different birds is not apparent. However I am willing to be there is an almost automatic differentiation process that would happen if these images were presented to other birds of the same class. In extension I guess its almost like the idea of how to us in popular media aliens are always portrayed as multiples of one aesthetic. So therefore all aliens are little green men that look exactly the same. It begs me to question how other species see humans, and if they , they being animals etc, see the differences that we make such a big fuss about in our cultural disagreements.

The idea of freedom and indentity brings to mind Feliz Gonzalez Torres bildboard works of the flying birds in a grey sky. They to me have always expressed a very quiet yet assertive message of liberation and mass communication.

This following video I'm attaching is a video work done by a friend of mine named Jared Hatch. I think it brings to thought a lot of applying human activity to animal visuals. Like how we use animal cartoon characters to relate to more easily in children s education and entertainment. It also is an interesting exploration of overlapping and blending of species.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

beyond the Fish Bowl

Aesthetics as I previously touched on are a driving force to communicate emotionally. They formulate a visual message of health and balance. I thought the concept of using Art to teach Marine Biology by J. Malcolm Shick to be plausible. I feel I want to do so much resaerch and experimentation with the quote from Prince Albert I of Monaco whom stated that there are "two directive forces of civilization:Art and Science." As a Marketing student as well I had a time when I was very conflicted between the approache sto visual communication in contrast between the fine art world and the advertising world. However with these obstacles I learned of the power of aesthetics and its ability to reach greater audiences. Like the electric fly trap. The allure creates attention, after the you have the attention, ZAP, or you communicate your message. There is power in beauty and the explorations of such can go far and beyond.

There is a mention of aquariums and these images by Kim Keever came to mind. She creates these almost mystical and majical landscapes within the confines of a fish tank. They are a perfect example to me of playing with not only the power of natural aesthetic, and the recreation of nature, but also of economical strenght in such image work as I touched on before with Bob Ross. Since I was looking at images in the carrie Secrist Gallery catalogue I stumbled upon these other works by David Lefkowitz. He has a show up at Carrie Secrist right now and I think his work is quite interesting on an approach of combining nature and architecture and man made objects.

Kim Keever

David Lefkowitz

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Getting Away from it All Never Seemed So "Natural"

After reading The Biophilia Hypothesis by Edward O. Wilson and Stephen R. Keller I began to form many questions and visualizations about natures' role in the idea of absence in human life. Biophilia is explained as the "innately emotional affiliation of human beings to other living organisms" and "...the existence of a biologically based, inherent human need to affiliate with life and lifelike processses." In both these decriptions by Keller and Wilson I read "the necessity to belong." I wanted to commence my dissection of this material with the idea of distance because I feel it is crucial to the understanding of Biophillia. I often question how intune we are with what is natural to us as human beings in the terms of rituals ( mundane everyday activity), yet according to Biophillia the knowledge is within, we've simply lost touch with it. In particular to contemporary generations, a cellphone in every pocket (Communication) , a restaraunt in every corner ( to feed), what to wear ( aesthetics), all at the end point toward basic natural needs of not only humans but of living things. It began to make much sense to me how culture mimicks or attempts to fill the void nature has left in human needs as human history and life have progressed so rapidly away from a more shall we say earthly experience.

I watch a lot of HGTV (Home and Garden Television) and it always mermerizes me how simple it is to please people when it comes to home decisions wether it be purchaisng, redecorating or selling. The title itself, of the network, references a balacne in attention to home and garden, for one can say they live in parallels. "The views are amazing from here" seems to be a common selling line. The realtors, stagers, designers, always make reference to the natural components of the space. It's as if the ultimate sense of comfort and tranquility in one's personal spaces must incorporate nature in a sense to be functional, balance. This brought me to thinking about vacations. We refer to a vacation as "getting away from it all." If there exist at present an inbalance in natural influence in our sorroundings, there i smuch to say about the kind of destinations vacations are made up of. We escape the city by going to the beach, the far and distant island, the exotic corner of the world, or the unfamiliar territory were not even our most state of the art and trcik filled PDA's and cell phones get signal. There is a trend in catching up with nature and reintroducing it back into our technology, culturally complex and synthetic lives. It can go as simple as a walk to the park or "getting some fresh air." Im going to add a painting by Bob Ross here because it to me is a perfect example of the power of the landscape aesthetics applied to simple pleassures and also it takes on a commentary on meditation and reflecting on emotion. Plus also the popularity of this kind of work and this persona is fascinating. To think that mountain scapes are the ultimate in imagery in art to so many people says a lot about our relationship to the aesthetics of nature.

Bob Ross
Within the talk of Humanistic and the idea of domestication of nature in human life in order to attain a greater or get a betetr understanding of nature by having pets or caring for house plants I thought of jeff Koon's "Puppy." the work is to me an iconic representation of the relationship between dogs as mans best friend and the nature induced relationship whcih occurs there. Also the use of the plants and it being showcased as a public destination of Aesthetical pleassure. "the Humanistic Experience of nature reflects feelings of deep emotional attachment to individual elements of the natural enviroment." Also it is interesting to me teh idea of how synthetic and "produced" Koon's work is in relation to this concept of Biophillia. When I think of Koons I dont automatically think of nature however without nature his work would have very little force. Case and point his constant use of animals as imagery. There is mention in the article a conversation on the mass production of stuffed animals and toys for that matter. The fact taht understanding and education of life to children is presented with alot of animal imagery. This being because of teh symbolic power of animals to nature. Jeff Koons therefore is referencing on these same lines. Wether it be consciously or not by the artist, in the spirit of Biophillia, this kind of natural influecne can be said to have happened intuitively.

.."the greater the knowledge, the deeper the mystery and more we seek knowledge to create new mystery....our intrinsic emotions drive us search for new habitats, to cross unexplored terrain, but we still crave this sense of a mysterious world stretching infinitely beyond." This quote from Kellert's essay the Biological Basis for Human Values of Nature made me think about the educational component of culture. To educate oneself is something that is praised and valued by most, however the thirst for knowledge is what I find fascinating. We strive so hard to know it all see the world learn everything we can yet we are still driven to excitement by surprises and adventures. I come to think of psychics and how they provide a sense of curiosity yet fear at the same time. Its as if we whant to know all that would in a sense benifit us and yet fear that the news will be simply put about death. the conclusion im driving to hear is that at the end everything is about basic living needs. The need to feed, to reproduce,to be sheltered, basically the desire and need to survive.

Monday, February 9, 2009

      Olaf Breuning , Collage Family

                                                    Olaf Breuning , Primitives

                                   Olaf Breuning, Easter Bunnies

While reading Art is Nature by George Gessert one of the first things that came to my head was a quote I had recently read by artist Olaf Breuning. It said , "..I was never someone who believed that culture and art could save human beings. The only thing I think it can do is make human beings sharper in seeing things in a different approach. Thats the beauty of art for me." It's a quote from a recent issue of Tokion Magazine. This issue, of art serving as an activist is something that has been circuling my mind recently. I have a class called art and activism which is dealing with the same issues as in Human Nature Image, however there is a studio discussion in the activism course in which the idea of art as a medium to create change is being questioned. Can art really present itself as a strong enough assertion to promote action?

Wether art can make a definite change in any one issue I think is questionable, however it is a participation in the dialogue that visual communication supplies which I think is crucial to approaching certain issues in society. Perhaps it's because I'm in the arts, but I believe in a sense with seeing is believeing.


Forbidden Fruit.

One of the things I have always struggled with is how to work a microscope appropriately. I was fascinated with microscopes when I was younger because to me they seemed like the ultimate tool of power at Toys R' Us. However no matter how hard I tried I usually ended up looking at splattered messes on my slides. I would have to satisfy my desire to explore the wilderness ( my backyard) via picking up things and making them into little bits of art.

Reading about the biological gaze in Evelyn Fox Keller's The Biological Gaze made me think about how much intrusion my attempts to use a microscope were applying to my experience of grass, flowers, trees and ants. In a sense the article itself presented an obstacle in giving me a good balance of scientific terminology I was unfamiliar with. I was reading the text but at times had to continue to read over it because I wasnt sure what I had just read. This to me was a good personal bridge to understanding what is meant by Keller in reference to the eye being an extension of the body and therefore a "touch" to what is being ovserved. It seems to me that technology at many points of life gets in the way to the actual experience of nature. Roads trips are scenic but the "nature" observed in road trips is hindered by the windows of the automobile one is in. The nature channel is called the nature channel, however its all recreations of nature and none of it is truly experienced in its full wonder by the viewer.

The conversation going on about the development about microscopes to me is the crucial point of Keller's point. It is an object made by man which stands in between man and nature. Yes it aids in viewing what the naked eye can not but it still is not a totally realistic experience. That kept reminding me of my lack of ability to use a microscope in the first place. As easy as it is suppose to make the experience of understanding biology or nature, it is an obstacle none the less. My satisfaction came from a more hands on interaction with nature itself. This is in my understanding due to it being more authentic without me disturbing nature, I was actually experiencing it.

Above I added A sketch I made in relationship to what I sense the article was stating regarding the interference of technology upon man's experience of nature. The microscope becomes an extension of the body therefore it in aiding sight also creates touch. The experience is not authentic but in regards to the gaze , it is constructed and or altered.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

"We Can Give Up Hoping To Be Eternal and Quit Fighting Dirt"

Recently I was at Borders and I stumbled upon the discounted section of random books. They ranged from books on cooking to the ever abundant romantic novels, however it was a book entitled Your Cat Interpreter:What Your Cat Is Saying To You, which I picked up and decided to browse on this day. The book explained the different ways cats communicate to their owners what they want, need, hate, etc. I remember thinking , how does anyone know that these cat's actions are language that they are communicating in any form to humans. I was making the assumption that communication should be a lot more complex to understand than my cat hates being stared at so therefore will never make eye contact. I kept thinking about this as I read Snyder's The Etiquette of Freedom, and how much Humans , me in this example, think they are so much different than other creatures. The point in the essay were Snyder says , "Language is a mind-body system that coevolved with our needs and nerves", really made me come to a connection between what this book was explaining and how communication within creatures occurs.

I find it interesting reading on how many possibilities there can be to approaching nature and wilderness. I find it even more fascinating the point in which Snyder list the Oxford Dictionary's entries for Wild simply because its all in a sense "negative" listings. It seems to me that man has tried so hard to seperate himself from "nature" with his concrete streets and his steel buildings over history that today man finds himself in a strange and unexpected position were his relationship to nature and the wild is so important both for nature and his survival. In a way the negative Oxford approaches to the word Wild are evidence of this self proclaimed human distance from "Wild", however in a time when there are issues concerning the survival of the earth and humans, man must come to terms with his inclusion in the book of nature. The mortality of man is forever not only his uncontrollable destiny but his biggest tie to nature. It is this I find fascinating with the observation of man and his game sat building eternal cities. But if life isn't forever than we can assume that nothing within is either. Man creates "eternal" cities however everything eventually becomes one with dirt.

Even TV shows such as Man Vs. Wild surround the whole concept of man attempting to out do nature. To live despite the wild's greatest attempts to put man in his place. It is not only a challenge to go out into "nature" in this show but to survive it for that requires a sense of almost supernatural technique and knowledge. (Which I will discuss further in my next post: Jesus Was A Tree Huger?)

I tried some of the things the book suggested with my own cat. He does hate getting his belly rubbed and therefore now I understand why he bites me when I do this. He also does not like being stared at so in observation I realized he does turn away from eye contact and follows those who don't look at him more ( Nobody likes being stared at). In all the cat and I have a more productive communication relationship these days. I simply began to think of it as not only do I talk to the cat, he talks to me as well.