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« Information on how to use your flash strobes | Main | Blaise Aguera y Arcas: Jaw-dropping Photosynth demo »

September 03, 2007

Comments

Jenn Gohlke

Artist Show Paper
Art 476, Fall 17
Sonja Thomsen
in the space of elsewhere

This piece had caught my eye from outside the Museum of Contemporary Art a couple of times before I actually went in to explore. The piece itself is amazing and expansive, starting from the front corner of them museum and spanning multiple areas and floors. At first, one might think it is decoration from the museum staff, but once you investigate further, you can see the distinct purpose and planning of each piece. The piece includes a mural that spans multiple floors on the back wall and a collection of mirrors and triangular pieces that play with the way light bounces.
I was very interested to see what the statement for this piece discussed. It talked about the desire to use light from both surrounding areas and the museum to change conceptions about what light does. When you look at a triangle hanging on the glass wall, it takes a second to realize what you are seeing. Sometimes it’s a reflection of what is behind you outside, other times it’s the floor, and other times it is another piece of the installation.
This piece also does a great job of drawing people in to the museum. It captures your attention from outside and piques your interest. I was excited to find out that it spanned multiple floors. I think this is a great technique not only to make the piece more expansive, but also to push people to keep wandering through the museum. This piece plays with the idea of the unknown and curiosity, which fits well with its positioning throughout the museum. Aesthetically, it’s a beautiful piece and pleasing to look at and wonder about.
I enjoy how specifically this installation must have had to be put together. The angles are essential to what you’re seeing and there is something great about knowing how calculated this was. I love the use of space in the museum and I will definitely come back soon to check out what piece is in this area next.

Chenyuan Zhang

I watched Chris Orwig’s lecture “Narrative Portraiture: Foundations of Portraiture” on Lynda.com. In his engaging lecture, he talked about his understanding of portraiture as a branch of photography, how to create connections with subjects, consideration of lighting, compositions and gear.
As a portraiture photography student myself, I was blown away by Chris’s presentation when he mentioned what makes a portrait good: the narrative. In his portrait work, I immediate felt that connection with the subject in the frame and was intrigued by their own personal stories behand the frame. One of his portrait is a black and white world champion surfer by the ocean. It is a stunning portrait of a successful athlete showing his strength and confidence but through his eyes I could sense a subtle trace of sadness. Then Chris told us that this famous athlete just lost his 18-year-old son in a car accident and that is the story behind his eyes. Suddenly I realized the power of narrative portraiture. It is like a poem. What a poet says in a few words, a novelist could write thousands of words. When I see a narrative portraiture, I not only appreciate the decent composition and lighting of the frame, but also want to explore what is the backstory of the subject. “It reduces, simplifies and deepens” like Chris said himself. For me, that reminds me of the moment I chose to shoot portraitures rather than other branches like architecture or landscape because I am fascinated by that extra layer from the portraiture, the connection. Till today I come to the realization that the connection could be interpreted as the narrative.
Chris also talks about his choice of gear especially his use of shallow depth of field. He explained that by using a 1.2-2.0 lens, he could narrow the focus point to the eyes of the subject so that viewers could immediate go to the eyes once they see the photo. Since eyes are the key expression of a person, the narrative (connection) would be intensified. I completely agree with that. I always think the portrait photography is all about the people and even there are environmental portraiture, the surroundings are just add-ons to the subject. I apply this methodology in my shooting as well. Every time I take portrait shoots, most of times I would use extremely shallow depth of field to blur the background and focus on the eyes.

XIAOYUE PU

Review of a photo show
Review of Generation Wealth
Xiaoyue Pu
Professor: Tom Jones
Course No: Photography 576
2017 Fall


During the second weekend of October, I got a chance to see the photography show in International Center of Photography in NYC: Generation Wealth created by Lauren Greenfield. The two-floor photo center exhibited more than 200 documentary photos, which intents to show the public the authentic lifestyles lived by generation wealth. The artists used photography, interviews and film footage to show her judgments of these ongoing fancies.

Most photographs in Generation Wealth were portraits within fantasy contexts: Rich housewives all wore shiny dresses and luxurious handbags in front of the camera flash; young woman with sunglasses stood in a well-furniture room playing indoor golf; children’s rooms were filled with toys and they all dressed up like princes/princesses; business corruption was going, in which a official threw the money in people’s face to express his impatience …… Those photos were very straight forward. They exposed the life of generation wealth in front of the public without modification and covering. The exhibition included nearly all aspects of their life: their struggles, their luxurious fantasy, their peaks and even their ends. I was amazed: I was amazed how close the artist was with those people to get those photo shoots; I was amazed those people allowed the artist to publish these photos which had their faces in; I was amazed at the huge amount of time (25 years) and efforts Lauren Greenfield spent on this project travelling to different countries and documenting different “representatives” of generation wealth. This project showed me perfectly how much work there would be for a long-term photo project, and how considerate, persistent and firm each photographer needed to be.

All photographs in this show spoke for themselves. Each picture individually showed a different aspect of the lifestyle of generation wealth. However, this was not enough. To help visitors better understand the situations and stories behind these photos, Lauren Greenfield also attached a description along each photo. Some texts were pure facts and others were quotes from the person in the photos. I remembered a quote along with a young man’s portrait. Without the text, I would understand nothing. But through reading the words, I knew that this young man grew up as one of the generation wealth. In the quote, he recalled how frustrated he was when he turned 21 and his father, instead of giving a birthday gift, gave him dozens of bill he needed to pay back, which each cost a huge amount of money. I also remembered stories along photos of big abandoned houses. The stories stated many people borrowed millions dollars to buy large villas but ended up as not being able to pay the banks back. Then people were put into jails and their houses were left behind, taken by banks.

I think the photo show Generation Wealth did a great job on drawing public’s attention to this minority group-the most wealth group in the world and leading people to understand this population within a wide social context and in a more comprehensive way. The series also increases people’s awareness of being an individual in the society. At least to me, those photos served very practical and positive functions, reminding me who I am, what kind of life that I do not want to live and what type of role I want to play in this world. More importantly, seeing this show get me to know how powerful a photographer could be: to confidently speak out and loud to the world and also make others aware of their minds too.

Robert Lundberg

Oct. 23, 2017

The Inscribed Studio Portrait as Self-image: Photographing a New Self in Early Twentieth-Century China.

Wu Hung, Professor in the Departments of Art History and East Asian Languages and Civilizations at the University of Chicago, delivered an engaging lecture on the potential hybrid space between portrait and self-portrait through the lens of the early 20th Century “queue-cutting” movement in China. He termed these particular images, which bear first-person inscriptions from the subject, “I-portraits”. Hung artfully linked these images to the sociopolitical realities of late 19th/early 20th Century China, though his presentation of connections to photographic influences from other traditions and parts of the globe felt comparatively meager.
I found Hung’s presentation of four images of Chinese men standing in such a way as to capture both the subject and the subject’s reflection in a full-length mirror very intriguing. The photo’s all documents each man just before he cut off his “queue”, the hairstyle of a shaved front portion of the head with the top/back of the hair worn in a long braid down the back. This was the government-mandated haircut for Chinese men under the Qing dynasty, which ended in 1912. However, for several decades leading up to this, political reformers, artists, and other progressive elements of Chinese male society began cutting their queues. Interestingly, with the establishment of a Chinese republic in 1912, the law was reversed, outlawing the queue haircut and forcing men to cut it off. All of the four images are from some time in 1912, though at least some document the men cutting their queue after the new republican law took effect. Hung did not mention this explicitly, but I wondered whether the relatively affluent status all the subjects seemed to hold allowed them more leeway in adjusting to the new Chinese order. Hung’s focus was instead on the inscriptions the men wrote on the back of the photographs, commemorating the cutting of their queue, and, Hung argues, thereby creating an “I-portrait” which is a unique object that transcends the duplicability of a simple commercial photographic print.
Hung, limited by time in his lecture, was not able to dive as deeply into linkages he saw with prior traditions of photographing women in front of full-length mirrors. I did find fascinating, however, his point stating that the female subjects were always anonymous and photographed simply to document their fantastic hairstyles (the mirror allowing multiple angles to be captured) and traditional clothing. Conversely, the photographs of male subjects were inscribed by the subjects themselves, not only documenting their names, but showing that they commissioned the images taken for their own purposes, unlike those of the women. The strongest carry over, though, was the central and explicit use of the mirror to show the hair, though in the men’s case it takes on a much more poetic effect, capturing something thus far central to their lives which was soon-to-be-lost. Additionally, the mirror seems to allow both their pre- and post- haircut identities to briefly (yet enduringly) coexist.
Hung also linked the use of mirrors in the images to Britain, the US and the then-Kingdom of Siam. While he hinted at many interesting additional layers of gender, racial, and class complexities, there clearly was not time within this lecture to unpack these facets. I hope in further writing or presentations he is able to do so, as these examples seemed rich with potential.

Aida Ebrahimi

Exhibition Review: Reconfigured Reality at MMOCA

The current exhibition was a selection of photographs from contemporary artists from Midwest and elsewhere dated from 1970 and forward. In this collection one can see the development and changes in the contemporary photography, both conceptual and technical. Each image offered a new and unique perspective on contemporary photography. Some used creativity in framing and print size, and JoAnn Verburg's image stood out to me in that regard. Her large print of a man laying down was broken into two sections and each were framed individually but mounted next to each other. This style created a separation within the image and a distortion that helped with the concept of the series. Another creative yet simple example is an image by Paul Baker Prindle. His image was not framed and was simply pinned to the wall. This type of mounting complimented the concept of the image and turned the photograph into a court evidence, or rather an investigative image.

Some artists in this exhibition manipulated old techniques to create contemporary images. For example J. Shimon and J. Lindemann used Ambrotype and 19th century techniques to visualize their concept of decay. The exhibition also offered a development in the concept of photography and presenting unique perspectives. Lori Novak used ghosting and double exposure, Kenneth Josephson photographed a photography, and Thomas Barrow distorted his negative to highlight his concept. Each of these artists adopted their own technical signatures to aid their concept.

All images in the exhibition leave the viewer with some ambiguity and mysteriousness using conceptual and technical manipulations. Rober Von Sternberg's photo played with the composition to create a conceptual distortion and leading the eye to a black void, while Thomas Barrow physically manipulated his photos by scratching the negatives to create the same ambiguity. The collections shows how much contemporary photography has evolved over years and how artists used pre- or post-production techniques to manipulate photos. These techniques turn a simple image and scene into a much greater work of art that engages the viewer.

Quinn Paskus

Exhibition Review: Corrections by Zora Murff

Zora Murff's photo exhibition, Corrections, was on display at the Memorial Union 2nd floor gallery. Corrections is a series of photographs that examine, "youth experience in the system, the role images play in defining someone who is deemed a criminal, and how the concepts of privacy and control may affect their future." For three years Murff worked as a tracker for Linn County Juvenile Detention and Diversion Services in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. Her work involves helping juveniles who believe they have done nothing wrong, are the victims of circumstance, or do not understand that they have not committed a crime. Understanding that these factors are in play, it can sometimes be hard to work with these youth. The images presented depicted subjects whom seemed broken and beat down by the system. Scattered throughout the gallery are mugshots of individuals who were brought to the juvenile detention center in Iowa. Contrasting these portraits were images of the neighborhoods these individuals grew up in, which helped paint a picture and better reflect what these individuals had experienced throughout their lives. The images are stark, colorful, and rich in their meaning.

Quinn Paskus

Artist Lecture: Annu Palakunnathu Matthew

I found Palakunnathu's series on Majority Minority quite fascinating. She states that by the year 2050 the minority populations in the US will become the majority, which is then reflected in her photographic work through images of immigrants through a generational lens. I found her use of transitional video in these pieces inspiring, and kept me wanting more. She explains that the purpose of these transitional pieces is to show the public that immigrants of years ago are no different than the immigrants today. Many of the people shown in these videos that represent the current generation are young and innocent. Palakunnathu makes the argument that the subjects shown in the slides are no different from one another, and therefor our biases towards immigrants should be no different than our reading of the young innocent individual shown at the end of each video. This technique was borrowed from one of her earlier works, ReGeneration, where she used the same video effect to cast her subjects in a generational light.

Palakunnathu then exhibited her most famous works, Open Wound - Stories of Partition from both India and Pakistan. These images cover the travesty families sustained during the partition of India in 1947. She argues that even though the Partition displaced 12 million people, and at least 1 million died, the Partition has not gotten a memorial even close to other events such as the Holocaust. Her work in this series is to show light onto the families that were effected, and create a memorial they deserve. She uses old photographs to reignite old memories of those who lived through the Partition. This work also makes use of video transition to help tell its story. I found this particular series fascinating, and enjoyed the artists level of respect and attention to detail when it came to meeting with the families.

Louisa Solarz

I went to the photo show Duality by Erica Hererra. The concept that the artist explored was the idea of her alter ego. This alter ego is “the buffalo,” a figure that is a representation of the quest to belong and a bridge between Hererra’s mental space. The context she gave stated her struggle growing up in a culturally split household. She is an American but her upbringing in a Mexican household is a large part of her. This is where the inspiration for the show came from: this split she had to face in her life.
As I viewed the series of images, the first thing I realized was that Duality was a perfectly fitting title for the collection for multiple reasons. Firstly, I noticed that some of the images were a bit blurred, creating an effect where the branches of trees were duplicated or the ground was moved in a way that it overlapped itself. Whether or not this was purposeful or the effect of a long exposure, it worked to the artist’s advantage. Secondly, there are two figures in every photograph. These were, again, the artist herself and her alter ego, “the buffalo.” The buffalo’s looming presence brought a fantastical element to the collection of work for me, because it always appeared as a ghostly figure, distinct from all else. The fantasy aspect leads me to the last reason why the title is so fitting. Hererra talked about how she wanted to show her mental space and I could truly feel this in her work. The images themselves were not sharp nor highly contrasted. The subtle grayness paired with the looming figures made me feel like I was watching a dream sequence. Therefore, I could see the split between reality and fantasy and there were elements of both. The forest setting was the perfect choice for this project, because it looked very untouched. There was no evidence of human exploration, technology or time. This allowed it to be the perfect backdrop for either reality or the dream space—the final duality.
Overall, this photography show was a very enjoyable experience for me. The artist statement was essential in understanding the artist’s ideas and I think that it was very gracefully written. I especially liked that Hererra introduced a difficult struggle of her life, but met it with acceptance. I could see that she was facing a personal struggle head on, so the show made me feel empowered for her. I also think that each image was very well executed. It is clear to see that although Hererra has her own technique for enlarging photographs, she is very skilled. Each image was well thought out and worked with the others to complete a full body of work. I would love to see more from her in different styles. Lastly, it was unique to be able to step into another person’s shoes to understand what their life has been like. This is why I feel art is such a fantastic medium for any expression, because it has the ability to invoke emotion and relatability to another human being. Although I cannot fully comprehend the split Hererra has gone through, there are parts of myself that are split as well.

Kyle Zhou

Exhibition Review: Corrections by Zora Murff

Zora Murff works as Tracker for a Juvenile Detention service in Iowa. His job is to record and be in contact with Juveniles who have convicted crimes and been asked to be electronically tracker, do community services, or stay in detention facilities.
The series includes photos of the environment of the detention facility, the belongings of the Juveniles, or the juveniles themselves (blurred face or face not shown). The series looks really impressive since the environment looks like a prison but the clothes and age of the juveniles make it hard to believe that it is a prison.
Photos of the detention facility environment look like they were taken in an abandoned place with a strong sense of loneliness as everything is either old or broken. Many photos from the series look like a combination of a prison and a normal environment from the juveniles' daily life.
The most interesting thing about this series is that every single image has different style and can even be taken out and put in some other photo series, but when combined there's a strong sense of unity that can give audience a detailed description of the lives of these juveniles in detention.

Kyle Zhou

Art Lecture by Professor Annu Palakunnathu Matthew

Professor Matthew presented her series with the theme of "Present speaks to the past". She said that some of the series she did aim to make people "reconsider history". Most of her work achieve such goal through comparison of two sets of images or animations of present images gradually fading in old images (using photoshop). The timing of fading in is perfectly designed so the audience will first be surprised by the change but still have enough time to compare the differences.
The first series presented was "An Indian from India", which present images of Native Americans and Indian in the same background and pose. The series was inspired by her experience as an immigrant from India, as the word "Indian" can also refer to Native Americans and cause confusion. Through the images, the series show some similarity between the two groups other than their names.
One series is named "ReGeneration", which presents family photos of different generations through animations on the same background. Three generations fade in and out within one images, showing not only the changes in family members but also the different history and culture behind each generations.
The next series is called "Open Wound - Stories of Partition". In this series, the event -- Partition of Inida is presented by the memories of people from India and Pakistan. The technique of animations is used once again to present the impact of such historical event. In addition, the subjects in the series also gave quotes regarding their memory about what happened during that period. The series presents both India and Pakistan people, give the audience a chance to "reconsider history" beyond what is documented in books.
To Majority Minority is another series that focus on the immigrants in the U.S. As Professor Matthew points out, the minority group in the U.S. will become the majority in 2050. The multi-culture characteristic of the U.S. is well presented by this series with diverse background subjects.

Sam Molinaro

Sam Molinaro

Artist Lecture: Annu Palakunnathu Matthew


Annnu’s lecture centered around her photography and her experiences formulating each series. All series’ had a theme of indian and american cultural history combined with memory. One series included portraits of indian-american’s paired alongside old photos of native-americans. She compared the traditional “indian” to the contemporary indian to show the confusion and similarities between identities.
Regeneration was another series presented consisting of 3 generations of family photographs stitched together in a time lapse video. It’s presented in a way to mimic phone tablet screens to show the current generation and the power we have now to present 100 years of history so simply.
Another series she presented compared cultural traumas through generations. Emphasizing that every family has a story, and that these stories often are forgotten. Open Wound is a series that commemorated the Partition of India and Pakistan. She met families and connected with them through old family photos. After spending time with them and finding a favorite photo, they reenacted them as a current generation commemorating the last.

Sam Molinaro

Exhibition Review: Duality by Erika Herrera


Erika created a series of black and white 16x20 silver gelatin prints, all with a slightly soft focus and most notably very grey. I later learned that these were pinhole camera photographs which purposefully got flashed to darken all of the whites.These are self-portraits of her coexisting with her alter ego, “the buffalo” which she feels coexists with her at all times. Buffalos are constantly traveling and live a nomadic lifestyle and Erika feels as if her Mexican heritage and American upbringing leave her without a place to call home.
I learned some of these photos were taken in Mexico while others taken in Wisconsin but I would never have known. I think it’s interesting how the settings look the same even though they’re located in two very different places, It felt like a merge between cultures.
In the statement, she describes how the Buffalo has became part of her identity; without it she isn’t complete. Acknowledging this sense of “the other” and embracing it as a strength instead of a weakness is very important in finding self identity and I loved how she represented this in her work.
The exposures in the pinhole camera were long enough where she could exist both as her and the buffalo in the same image. With this long of an exposure the subjects are semi-transparent and bring this very ghostly effect that shows the mystic nature of an alter ego. A being that always exists with you but is never manifested physically, but rather emotionally. These ethereal self portraits bring the emotional to the physical and I love that.

Louisa Solarz

On February 2nd, Professor Annu Palakunnathu Matthew from the University of Rhode Island came to speak about her work. She was born in England, raised in India and now lives in Rhode Island. Before she presented her various projects, she told the audience about what her photographs were about. Professor Matthew does much of her work in order to raise socio-political questions and challenge the viewer’s assumptions. She stated that to do so, she looks inwards and outwards, connecting her own emotion to those of others.
The first project of hers that she presented was entitled “ReGeneration” in which she utilized time lapse photography to display family photographs and how they are changing. She created the time lapse by picturing individual images to create photo animations. In one specific example, she pictured three generations of women. The first image is a posed picture of a young woman standing alone. Before the viewer’s eyes, she turns into an older version of herself and then is accompanied by the addition of a daughter and then a granddaughter. For me, this animation was very powerful, because it represented the movement of time and the changes of culture. It also showed the connection between the women and felt very empowering. Matthew said that at first, she was picturing solely Indian families, but soon expanded the project to Vietnam and Israel as well. She worked closely with families to find significant photos and develop ways to alter them. The finished products were displayed with the use of iPads.
The next project she spoke about was entitled “Open Wound.” Matthew focused on the time in history of the partition of British colonial India. I barely knew anything about the partition before she spoke and was shocked to hear about the violent and horrific period. She worked with those who faced the partition, now in their 80’s and 90’s. Her main goal was to honor the survivors and anyone passed who was affected by the historical event. Similar to her technique with the “ReGeneration” project, Matthew collaborated with the families to find old photos and recreate them. This way, she could give them something to put back into their new photo albums. She went to the homes of Indian, Pakistan and Bangladesh families who were willing to open their door to her. The technique was as it was before with the use of photo animations. This time, they were presented in the gallery inside a hollowed-out encyclopedia with the iPad’s inside.
The final project Annu Palakunnathu Matthew presented was entitled “To Majority Minority,” focusing on the love hate relationships much of the country has with immigrants. After 9/11 there were new levels of mistrust and fear in the hearts of American’s towards those who didn’t look like them. In order to deal with this, Matthew wanted to show how and why people came to this country to create more empathy. In the first part of her project, she interviewed immigrant people to learn their stories and created more short animations. These animations were extremely powerful, because they showed the struggles of immigrants that many people might not know about. In fact, much of the times immigrants are the strongest and hardest working people, because they must build a life for themselves against all odds. Still focusing on these people, the second part of the project focused on those affected after the events on 9/11 and judged on their race. Her project used close-up images of eyes and finger prints so that the viewer could not tell the ethnicity of the subject. For me, this makes a grand statement about how we are all human beings, no matter origin, skin tone, etc. When you view an image of a hand or an eye, you can’t tell the race and therefore you cannot judge-- something that happens too often.
At the end of the lecture, Professor Matthew stated that all her work is about herself, but also echoes the stories of those that are like her. The larger themes are very significant to her own personal life and her overall goal is to create an understanding for Americans who look different. I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture and would love to go to one of her shows in the future.

Caitlin Shogren

Saiyna Bashir's lecture was both culturally informative and inspiring for my future projects. The lecture began with a project that she pursued after the Orlando Pulse shooting in collaboration with her editor at the Cap Times and the Muslim community.

Her lecture touched not only on the Muslim community's perspective from the shooting but also how it was viewed in the city's community at large and provided a way to start conversations about the Muslim community in Madison. I found her angle of incorporating the global aspect of the Muslim community by putting photos of her attendance at a summit for the Muslim community. She was very educated about the different types of nationalities that were represented at this summit and how the different style of dress were shown throughout the group. The familiarity she had with the group also allowed us to see a different side of the community, through gender. Learning about how the religion seperated the two genders but allowing her to take a few photos of the men's side was a great way to show the difference between the sects of traditionalism that the different churches incorporated within themselves.

Her other projects and stills with the paper were also interesting to learn about when going through various struggles with corporations, the community in Madison and the political atmosphere that had been at a forefront of her photography experiences within the last few months. When talking about the political rallies that she had attended, it was nerve wracking as a member of the community and with background in the journalism field with how she was respected/disrepected.

Her work on acid burn victims within Pakistan was really different. Her collection was in black and white which I thought relevant to our projects but I wished she had also shown these in color as she had told us about how vibrant and colorful they were originally. I think seeing the different ways to portray them would have been a good representation on how to display the photos and how the editing decision to play the colors down would have been educational and really helpful to those in the room.

Caitlin Shogren

Kevin Miyazaki's Perimeter exhibition in Milwaukee portrayed the vast diversity of Lake Michigan's shoreline along with the portraits of the inhabitants closest to the surrounding shoreline. With one side of the space taken up with the various shorelines, lined precisely on the horizon line, and the other showcasing the "contemporary" portraits, the exhibition is very linear and easy to go through much like a beach environment should be.

The horizons range from beautiful to gloomy, night to high noon. I'm not much for the beach but add a little sand beneath your feet and go outside and you might as well imagine yourself going along the shoreline. I would have loved the photos to be a bit bigger, if the space had allowed, to experience them more. Just to see the details in the wide shots that he took. I think that would have given more emphasis to the people that surrounded the shoreline.

The portraits were gorgeously taken. I love the stark contrast of the people with the black background. The various depth that Miyazaki also displays in the photos helps continue to grab the attention of the viewer. The variance of the portrait helps also show how much detail different people need for the portrait. An example would be a closer face depiction for a coast guard member compared to a family out for a picnic or stroll that requires a larger frame to display them all. I think it was a great way to utilize a different view of portraiture compared to the horizons, where it is consistent throughout. There's also a good range of ages and depictions of the portraits which help show the diversity that he wants to depict in his objective.

Jing Luo

I went to the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art for the Wisconsin Triennial 2016. This exhibition started from September 23 and ends on January 8, 2017. “In the 2016 Wisconsin Triennial, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art presents a survey of our state’s of-the-moment art science through selected works by Wisconsin artists.”

The most impressive work to me is the Brave New World (Red Shan Shui) by Xiaohong Zhang, probably mainly because it was done by a Chinese artist. Zhang takes paper cutting, a traditional art of Chinese, and digital technology together in this piece. I can see from Zhang’s work that she uses a lot of photos taken in China, since there are a lots of Chinese characters in them. She collects and collage those photos, and combine them with paper cutting to construct a bigger “picture”. The title of this piece works really well with the context, in my opinion. Various of small pieces of photos together creating a bigger figure is a form of “brand new world.” One thing I do think could be improved is that the choices of photos can be paid more attention to. I found out that there are serval repetitive photos and some of them don’t have much meaning. I like seeing details in art work, so I think this piece can be much more successful with better choices of photos.

Another piece that draw attention to me is The Fascist Hag and a Plowshare Oddity by Chirs Rowley. Rowley is actually my professor for Art 107 last year, and I saw him doing the same series in his studio once, so I have this unique experience of seeing the artist doing his work and seeing the piece he finished at a museum! It’s also quite special to me to see an art work formed by rug-hooking, a late nineteenth-century craft technique. I like the color choice of this piece and the way Rowley design the shape.

Carly Streling

Matika Wilbur Review

What made this lecture so inspiring and interesting was first of all, Matika herself, but also her ability of great storytelling and confidence in speaking. Also, I think the most important aspect of her work is the stories of these Native Americans along with their portraits. Hearing about their lives makes them real to her audience. If she wasn’t telling their stories her photographs would not be nearly as powerful.

During her lecture she barely spoke about her processes of photographing these people other than how she speaks to them first and then asks them where they would like to be photographed. I think this is a great idea and I will most likely take this approach on work in the future. Although, I really wanted to hear more about her photography work. I feel like I didn’t actually go to an artist lecture, but rather a political discussion about modern issues. I truly enjoyed the lecture and hearing about the perspective of all these different groups of Native Americans throughout the nation. Also, listening to Matika discuss the issues surrounding women especially opened my eyes to a completely different perspective and really made me want to fight for these people and their rights.

I think she accomplished spreading her message about applying her Native practices to all parts of life in order to help stop the injustices these people are facing. But what I wanted to hear more about was her work as an artist and not just as an advocate.

Overall, I thought she was a wonderful and moving speaker and she made me want to help her in her fight to help all those who face injustice. She also inspired me to find a topic that I am just as passionate about and use my photography skills to help spread awareness about the topic or issue. Matika truly was an inspiration.

Nada Kiki Arthur

Exhibition Review (2):

Reconfigured Reality, Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art hosted an exhibition titled Reconfigured Reality: Contemporary Photography from the Permanent Collection. The purpose of this exhibit is to provide us with a conglomerate of developments since the 1970’s that have helped us to define the meaning of contemporary art using pieces from the museum’s permanent collection as well as from other collections. Though I wasn’t able dedicated as much time as I wanted on each piece there were pieces that particularly stood out to me. For example, a film still from 1979 by Cindy Sherman was of my favorited pieces used in the exhibit. It was a gelatin silver print that came from the museums personal collection. The image is of young woman with bruises around her eyes and on her face. The expression on her face is one of shock but it seems to be that this isn’t something she hasn’t endured before. The bruises seem old but fairly recent. I loved the darkness and mystery of the image. It’s fairly indistinctive. The lack of color in the piece could allude to it being older but I think it’s fairly relatable to women now. I thought it was a great piece to add to the exhibit. For me, it was one of the few that kind of helped me draw a bridge into contemporary art.

Nada Kiki Arthur

Exhibition Review: Facades, Markus Brunetti

From September 2nd until the 31st of December the Chazen Museum will be hosting a body of work by the German artist Markus Brunetti. This body of work is titled Facades. It is composed of at least 15 largely scaled portraits of grand cathedrals based in Europe. Walking into the space, I loved how simple and minimal the exhibit felt. I was not overwhelmed with busyness but Instead I was able to get lost in the beauty of his photographs. The largeness of the room and the images themselves made me feel as though I was there when these images were taken. It was one thing to look at these images from a far than to look at them up close. From far, the images almost didn’t seem like photographs to me. They seemed fabricated and in some way quite animated but the closer and closer I got to them, the more apparent the details in the photos became.

From a far, the first thing you notice are the churches themselves and the large open sky in these images. I believe this added to illusion that these images were edited in some way. I was amazed by how clean and crisp the images were. They seemed almost too perfect. But as you come closer, little details in the architecture of the cathedrals become more and more evident. Stain glass windows from the smallest sections of the images were captured in full detail. The textures of the brick and designs in the very tips of the towers were able to be seen. To me that was the most impressive part of these images. There were no areas in any image where felt that I was not seeing the real thing.

My favorite piece in the entire show was Wells, Cathedral Church of St Andrews. I absolutely lost myself in this piece. It was in this particular image that I felt the 3-dimensional aspect of his images the most. There are parts of the cathedral that are closer to the viewer than other.
Brunetti did a perfect job of illustrating this. This could have been due to the angle at which the camera was at or the presence of slight shadows that can be seen in the corners of where the two particular walls meet. I also feel like the detail in this particular piece of work was astonishing. It seems to be one of the more elaborately adorned cathedrals every single part of was dead on.

This is definitely an exhibit that I will be going to see again. These are places that I would love to see in person and I think Brunetti was successful and making his viewers feel like maybe just for a split second, they were there.

Jing Luo

Artist Talk Review: I watched a documentary called "Ai Weiwei, Without Fear or Favor".

One thing that surprised me is his work Sunflower Seeds. While I thought those sunflower seeds are real sunflower seeds, that I was still curious why would those be called art. In fact, in his Sunflower Seeds, first, he and his team pick a number of real sunflower seeds to make mode. Then they make ceramic copies of those modes. Afterwards, they have to pick those qualified ones and have workers paint all of them by hands. In a word, Ai Weiwei actually hired more than 1600 workers in China and made a total of 100,000,000 seeds, with a total weight of 150 tons. And the whole process of making those seeds took them about 2.5 years. The whole project is actually really unbelievable in my opinion.

Two important principles in his art work are rhythm and repetition. He usually uses the same kind of objects repeatedly to make a whole piece and at the same time make some adjustment to some of them. For example, he chose a limited number of real sunflower seeds to make tons of copies of those in his work Sunflower Seeds. Another examples is his work Grapes, which is a cluster of wooden stools from Qing Dynasty(1644-1911). The wooden stools have nothing special if we put them in separate, but Ai Weiwei put them in a way that seems to have some meaning. And all the old stuffs from hundred years ago being put together looks like a brand new piece, which is very interesting as I see.

Ai Weiwei is influenced by Marcel Duchamp in making art. He tries to make art using materials that are already there, that are always things that we can find in our everyday lives. Grapes is a perfect example, he uses wooden stools from the old times and rearrange them to become his new work.

Collin Miller

Exhibition Review: Reconfigured Reality
The day after it opened, I got the chance to look at Reconfigured Reality, a photo exhibition at the MMoca. It was kind of sad how out of the way the show was but I was pleased with the photographs in the show. There were definitely some pieces that stuck in my mind.
To me, Reconfigured Reality seemed to take the perspective approach of photography. The camera is a tool that can show others the world through the photographers eyes. I got the feeling that many photos were trying to do just that. Some tried to show a topic from a specific point of view. Others depicted realities that only the artist could portray. Some did things I don’t think I fully understand. Regardless, the title of the show goes with the work.
There are two pieces that really stuck out to me. Alec Sloth’s Sleeping By the Mississippi was one of these such pieces. The photograph depicts a night landscape with a gas station in the foreground, a cemetery behind that, and a small mountain in the background. It was very striking to have something like a gas station, with all the connotations it holds, right next to a cemetery. The mountain behind that scene adds a nature aspect to the photo but juxtaposes both previous features as well. A holy mountain, a cemetery, and a gas station make for quite the photograph it seems.
The second piece is the collection of Andy Warhol polaroids. I couldn’t turn the pages because it was in a glass case but I liked the photos that were visible. They, along with the description on the pedestal, portrayed simple and candid photographs of Andy Warhol and those around him. It was interesting to see such a prominent celebrity having a normal dinner with friends and there’s something about a candid polaroid photograph that adds to the human aspect of such a shot.

Collin Miller

Lecture Review: Façades by Markus Brunetti
I got the chance to listen to Markus Brunetti’s lecture on his and his wife’s work Façades. I had seen the exhibition prior to this lecture and was looking forward to the story behind these pieces. Overall, I enjoyed the lecture and got some insight on what it’s like to drop everything and chase your dream.
Markus and his wife dropped their well paying job to follow their artistic vision. They built an RV that doubles as a lab and set off on a journey. The RV didn’t sound cheap but it was a home on wheels and could accommodate for everything the two photographers would need for their expedition. On their trip, they photographed sacred buildings all over Europe. They’ve been shooting for 11 years so far. They plan to travel the Middle East and photograph the sacred buildings there.
The photos themselves are massive and incredibly detailed. Markus described the file sizes being so huge that it pushed the limits of the computers they had. I bet Apple customer service knows them pretty well by now. They would take many, many photographs of a single building and stich the images together to create these immense photos. The photoshopping itself is impressive as sometimes they’d have to deal with trees and other obstructions that are in the way of the building.
Their tale was pretty inspiring and made me feel that running after your artistic vision won’t be so difficult as many think. However, not everyone had such a great job to afford to drop everything and set off on an 11 year road trip. Also, I found it odd that Markus’s wife didn’t get a chance to speak. She made some comments from the audience but I would have wanted to hear her experience too.

Sam Molinaro

Sam Molinaro
Markus Brunetti: Facades

I went to Markus’ talk introducing his series Facades, which are very large composite images of churches and cathedrals from all over Europe. His profession has been a photographers assistant along side working as a freelance artist. He lived and worked in a trailer for years working on his showcase, and taking commissions from companies. He also explained how his upbringing in architecture gave him his interest in churches. He grew up around architecture because of his grandfather who designed churches. Markus explained how his images stood somewhere in-between a photograph and a painting. They are huge, and composed of many smaller images creating immense detail and no depth of field; mimicking a blueprint, and even a painting. He worked to replicate that “ideal view” of the facade, like that of planning architecture. He made sure the scene had neutral light, the space was free of people or activity, and the weather had to be cloudy with no shadows.
He mentioned how the style of a church is always different as a result of cultures and the skills of individual designers and workers, but the function is always the same. Each church is very unique, and they are not in any way “assembly line products”. He emphasized how this series shouldn’t be a church encyclopedia but rather a story of how each region and culture designed their churches differently. He found and decided to photograph each church by visiting with locals in different cities and towns in Europe. He noticed when talking to locals that they live with their churches, they love them.

Rachael Brzycki

This semester I attended Natalie’s show, “Clothing the Gender Gap”. This series was based around self-identifying males or considered male by society in front of a simple black background. I absolutely loved this series for a multiple of reasons. One of these was that the technical aspect was absolutely amazing. The lighting was well executed along with the framing and composition of each photograph. The message behind the show was, however, the thing that intrigued me the most. I thought having identified males dressing in “female” based clothes was a interesting concept. The fact that most males dressing in female clothing, such as crop tops, skirts, leggings, etc are frowned upon by society since it is considered abnormal. Overall, I thought the photography itself was very well executed along with the message Natalie was trying to get across.

Jessi Havens

For my exhibition review I went to see Facades by Markus Burnetti at the Chazen Museum. The gallery space had a very tall ceiling which complimented the large size of the canvas hanging on the walls. On these canvas were photographs of churches and cathedrals around Europe. Photographer Markus Burnetti has been traveling Europe for the past few years documenting the facades and exterior architecture of some of the continent's most visited and photographed landmarks.
There are 12 cathedrals within the gallery and they hang on the walls in intentional patterns. For example, the three cathedrals with pointed towers are hung side by side and the four with more square naves occupy the same wall. From far away Burnetti's photos just seem like well edited images of churches, without the common herds of tourists. However, after staring at one of the photographs for an extended period of time the decorative details of the cathedral's façade begin to pop and appear three-dimensional. The smallest of details such as stone patterning and tiny stain glass windows are still able to be seen in high-definition.
Angular and lens distortion is not present in Burnetti's photos, which makes me wondering if he took numerous photographs of the same church zoomed in and then stitched them all together. The perspective Burnetti provides viewers is not one they could get if they visited the site in person. Instead of being a small figure on the group looking up, the viewer seeing the entire building at eye level. Looking at one of the cathedrals makes one feels a sense of unease because the normal hustle and bustle of the city life around these landmarks have been removed. They stand alone with nothing but sky as their background and context. As a viewer one feels as if they are interacting with this ginormous holy place alone.

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