A Short Film Review - "Exit Through the Gift Shop"

Warning- this review is full of spoilers.....

I found myself baffled and perplexed by this documentary- a hard feat to accomplish as it is my favorite film genre. I sat and watched amazing street artists who stencil, paint, and glue their way into our visual culture and lives… and the man named Thierry Guetta who became obsessed with filming these artists in action and over time became their co-conspirator… and then drops the filming to become a street artist in his own right named Mr. Brain Wash… in some ways selling out the artists who taught and educated him on their craft and allowed him to film them because of their belief that he would help express the importance of their art and their passion… this was an interesting mind cluster of high proportions!

Thierry started filming those in his everyday world as a coping mechanism for loss and to record the movements of those around him so that they could “live forever in those moments.” Over time he started following and filming street artists beginning with ‘Invader’ and moving on through many artists to high profile street painters Shepard Fairey and Banksy. One of the important aspects of the filming of these artists and their work was his accidental documenting of a risky and short lived art form. As Banksy states, “Most art is made to last hundreds of years, but street art has a short life span… It needs to be documented.” This footage has given us the opportunity to see artwork that no longer exists and talk to some of the artists who create it and learn their motivations and desires that they put into their craft. We also see and feel some of the danger and risk of arrest that these artists accept to contribute their work to society as a whole- “I liked the danger… it made me feel good.” In a very real way, these artists create an art gallery outside in our everyday world.

Watching Thierry become an artist helped me to realize that I do ‘color’ my art with a perceived view of the artist and my understanding of their motivation/ passion. I didn’t find much of his work useful- it felt ridiculous and trendy. I didn’t really feel anything by minor interest, annoyance, or boredom looking at his copious quantity of work. I loved his motivation and success, but didn’t understand it or applaud it. I loved Banksy’s work and his desire to create but keep himself and his art anonymous from his ‘real world’ persona. I liked the way that street art “gained real power from perceived power” and how Thierry was able to help some of these artists see the reactions to their work from the public creating a true feedback loop.

Banksy said a few things that really hit home for me. One is that “there aren’t supposed to be rules.” The idea of creation is just that… taking old or miscellaneous things and remaking them into something new and different from the sum of its parts. Thinking about how making and following specific rules to mass create work a bit like a shoe factory didn’t feel right to me. Another statement was, “Maybe art is a bit of a joke…” and I think he is right. Creation of any kind creates emotion of some sort and humor/laughter should clearly be understood to be part of that creative ideal. Another way to put that is “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure”- Tyler Glenn. However the most amazing thing that I took from Banksy was his realization that as Thierry had no clue how to make a movie, maybe he (Banksy) should try… and the result is this evocative documentary.

I love the way that each person’s art builds upon those who have come before them- how even an evocative picture of Barack Obama by a street artist has become such a cultural image recognized by so many. Yet most people probably have no idea how the image came about. I love the way that Banksy helped create this documentary even though he didn’t agree with all the ways that the art in it was defined. I loved learning and watching the different techniques used to create the art… even if that art may be covered over tomorrow. Lastly, I adored watching the teachers' semi dismay over the creations of their protégée… for this is a feeling that all teachers have at some point… for they must let the student learn the principles and then let them go to create their own path. A lesson for us all.

pictures from: http://www.banksyfilm.com/


A Short Fim Review- "Marina Abramovic- The Artist is Present"

Here is my unedited initial impression of this artist and her work- I do highly recommend looking at some of her pieces either online, in the documentary or in a museum near you. I found this documentary was a bit difficult for me but was well worth the thoughts and spiritual work it provoked. Her work does contain nudity so be forewarned. :)

This documentary left me feeling raw and so vulnerable… in a place where I needed my prayer and spiritual life to hold me together, to recognize how I rush and rush and rush and even when I sacrifice, it is so little in comparison to some of the acts of others… to recognize my vulnerability and my need that I rarely show to others… and wondering what I would do if I had the opportunity to sit in front of this artist and what mirror image of myself and my feelings I would see and have to recognize.

“It takes such a long time to take you seriously…”

At one point, Ms. Abramovic laughs that she isn’t asked the question… finally… “Why is this art?” I found myself thinking this at the same moment and wondered at how it is different from acting or theatrical performance. I think it might be a sign of how much we do not understand her work or what the difference is between some forms of performance art and how thin the line can sometimes be…. How to walk that line and not break it. This artist recognizes that her body is a legitimate medium and she can use it to make many powerful statements and to reveal the humanity in human nature… for what is “art except for revealing human nature.” The work “The Artist is Present” is quite simply the most creative and thought provoking piece I have ever watched and I find myself terribly disappointed that I have not really seen it except through the lens of a camera and the potential shared experience of the artist and audience third hand… which will never convey the true experience. This particular piece really depended on her stamina, physical and mental strength and courage to complete- as one critic said, “The Artist is Present is so brave… because it can fail.”

“What is beautiful about the MOMA performance… she’s treating actually every human being she is encountered with the same attention and same respect which is pretty shocking…”

“There are many different reasons that people come to sit in front of me… some of them are angry, some of them curious, some of them just want to know what happened… some of them are really open and you feel incredible pain… so many people have so much pain. When they are sitting in front of me it’s not about me anymore because very soon I am just the mirror of their own self”

This is what I felt when I was watching her just sitting and ‘being in space’ for each person in front of her. For a brief moment she felt like my religious advisor… someone I should kneel before and open my heart to… someone with whom I have been taught to be vulnerable and honest with… and as they look into my eyes, they are supposed to hear the spirit whisper the things that I need them to know but cannot or will not find the words to express. And as I looked into her eyes for a brief moment, I felt like this was a small glimpse of what it would be like to see my Heavenly Mother in this world. To sit with an invisible boundary between us and no way to touch or talk but in those moments to recognize each other, to let our hearts and hopes do the talking and our eyes the interacting. To have her acknowledge my presence and to smile… To be that vulnerable is so difficult to behave safely in this world and its thin veneer of kindness and civilized behavior that is so easily cracked… is a brave and challenging thing for each of us to do. It is not something I do easily and to find myself feeling such vulnerability and spiritual need from her work tells me how powerfully it hit me.

There is no doubt in my mind that this is art and compelling work at that. This artist has helped me to open up my viewpoint on art and what it is and what its function might be in my life and the culture around me. I found the nudity so troubling at the beginning- I am so uncomfortable with the human body including my own- yet it felt right and appropriate by the end of the film. In fact, I found myself wanting to discover where her next exhibit is and maybe attend… no matter whether Fox news calls her a “Yugoslavian born provocateur”…. I’m hooked!

pictures from: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marina_Abramovi%C4%87,


Thoughts on Photo Apps: ZCamera

The first photo application I tried was a simple program called Prisma. This week I tried a another program called ZCamera and it is a pretty similar program. I felt like it didn't have as many options as Prisma and gave you lots of more downloadable options for borders and changes but the program itself seemed very simplistic and it took a lot more effort and thought to create any image that looked interesting. Here is the picture I choose to play with:

Here are a few of the changes:

In the end, it felt like there were fewer options using this free app. Most of the things to click were offering other services or more things to add to the app itself. Didn't feel worth keeping and it was uninstalled within 24 hours of downloading. The one benefit I saw to it was that you could make a collage with up to nine pictures that you could use for a Christmas newsletter or just for fun. Here are two examples of collage templates you can use.

Otherwise, this application really didn't do anything for me. Have you tried it? What are your thoughts?


Thoughts on Photo Apps: Prisma

Lately I have been taking a little bit of time to look at different computer applications that let me modify pictures. I am taking a studio art class this semester and I think that helped spark my interest in looking at developing some art myself. Using an application to change the colors and textures of photos I have taken isn't a lot of work and lets me play with looks and colors I don't have the guts to try on my own with a pencil or brush in my hand.

This is a pretty simple and easy to use program. After you open up the program, you can simply upload a picture into it. There are almost forty titled boxes that you can click on to modify and change the image. I intentionally chose a picture with some different shades and textures to play with. Here is my original photo:

Here are five modified pictures using different 'lenses'

This was a fun start. I loved the way the program changed the way the fur and fine details on the ferret are accentuated and brought out with the different ways of shading. What are your thoughts? This is a free app so you can play with it without a lot of extra cost. Feel free to comment with your images if you would like. :)