Monday, March 30, 2009

Wednesday's class -- what's due

1. Bring your print-ready poster file, PLUS $5 TO COVER THE COST OF PRINTING -- I'd like to have the posters printed out by the end of Wednesday's class.

2. Have a start to your "making art out of non-art" project. This will include an object of your choice, and a brief write-up of your strategy for turning that object into art.

As I said in class, since all of our projects so far have been focused in the commercial art zone -- bringing artfulness to commercial art -- this next project will be an attempt to travel in the other direction -- to take something that seems to not be art, and bring it into the zone of art. You don't have to use Warhol as a visual model, but think of how he took ordinary, everyday objects, and brought them into the realm of art. This wasn't limited to the soup cans and Brillo boxes -- it also functioned in the way he used crime scene and celebrity photos, and in the way he used film to capture or "notice" things that otherwise hadn't been noticed by art. He took things and moments that most people pass by, and made them stop and look at them in new ways. I'd like you to try and perform a similar trick (which is fundamentally a trick of re-framing) with some object or image that most people barely notice. What is something most people would not think of as "art," and how can you make art out of it?

You don't necessarily have to use digital means for this project. You could do something sculptural-- or heck, even something performative. You could use the object/image itself, or you could somehow translate or reproduce its qualities through some other means.

Part of this assignment is an exercise in "curation" -- how interesting your final project is will probably be related to how interesting a choice of object you make. Warhol in many ways was a successful curator -- it was less about creating objects, than choosing potent images that were slipping past in the stream of mass culture.

Bring the object you are intending to transform, AND A PROPOSAL FOR HOW YOU WILL MAKE THE THING INTO ART -- write up a paragraph or two explaining your strategy of "art-ification." If you want to include sketches, that would be fine, too. Make sure you're able to communicate the basic idea of your project.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

What's due on Monday, March 30

Your poster design should be print-ready by the beginning of class on Monday. So pretty it up, try out some variations, and knock my socks off.

Monday, March 23, 2009

QMO refs

Here's a past QMO poster:

Here are some Blue Note covers:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Mucha images

The "Golden Age Comic Book Stories" blog recently posted up several lovely images by Mucha -- click on the pics at the blog to see higher-res versions. It's really lovely stuff.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Moody's or Baxters

Look them up online to see aesthetics and atmosphere.
Baxters is under the northstar website.
The Musician are:

Brian Hess
Steve Saturno
Todd Holway

Monday, March 9, 2009


this is quite possibly the worst photo of these guys, but perhaps you can use it...?

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Due Monday, March Ninth, in the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand and Nine

At the beginning of Monday's class, I want to see three things.

1. A response to a reading -- the critique of the Shepard Fairey critique (see questions at the bottom of this blog post).

2. An image for the Sierra Nevada Review cover (Logan has specs below, in the previous blog post -- thanks Logan). The text for the cover is: "The Sierra Nevada Review -- Volume 20 -- 2009" and you can see more covers here. We'll kick these covers out over the course of Monday's class.

3. Visual ideas and materials for you to start work on the Quartet Minus One posters. I'll post some visual references that Brian suggested sometime soonish. You can hear some of there music on this page.

Here's the link, and the questions, for the reading:

SuperTouch's editorial "The Medium is the Message: Shepard Fairey and the Art of Appropriation" -- be sure to read Fairey's short 1990 manifesto at the end of the article. By the beginning of class, please email me your response to the following questions:

1. Are you familiar with the phrase "The Medium if the Message"? How would you explain what it means (feel free to look it up -- it was originated by Marshall MacLuhan)? If the "medium" of Fairey's art is the street poster, the sticker, and the T-Shirt, how does that shape the message? Does the medium, in this case, expand or constrict the possibilities for Fairey's message?

2. The SuperTouch editorial states: "By taking precisely the elements of an image that speak of its historical meaning and original context and incorporating them into a new image, an artist creates a visual comparison, juxtaposing new and old. Such a contrasting is inherent in the act of referencing, and the intended result is for viewers to consider the relationship of the two images and hopefully spark a dialogue..." Do you think this is a sufficient artistic aim for any act of referencing, or is it possible to distinguish between "good" referencing and "bad" referencing? What would be your criteria?

3. Are the SuperTouch editorial's defenses of the Black Panther, Rupert Garcia, and MC5 appropriations convincing or not?

4. If Fairey's work cultivates an "intentional ambiguity," does that place a limit on the sort of things his art can be about? Where do you think his art could go from here?

5. What do you think of Fairey's 1990 manifesto? Does it make a convincing case for his "Obey" strategy?

The SNC Review - Covers

So here's the scoop. The cover for the Review measures 5.5" x 8.5". If you want to include the back cover, its obviously will be the same size, but also compensate for a roughly .25" spine which typically is just text.

I'll ad the covers from past issues between last year and 2001-ish. Sorry for the questionable photos, only had my webcam.

Make sure any submissions are print-quality. 300 dpi.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Response paper due by next Wednesday's class

Here's the article on Shepard Fairey for you to read & respond to:

Obey Plagiarist Shepard Fairey, by Mark Vallen

Please answer the following questions, and send them in an email to my school email account before Wednesday's class:

1. Vallen suggests Fairey has no demonstrable drawing ability, calling his art "machine art that any second-rate art student could produce." Is this an accurate appraisal of Fairey's style? Is it a relevant critique? Explain why or why not, in each case.

2. Vallen suggests that Lichtenstein's appropriation of comic strip imagery is valid, while Fairey's is not. What is the distinction he draws between the two artists? And do you think it's a valid distinction?

3. Vallen claims that the rationale behind Fairey's "Obey Giant" campaign -- to "stimulate curiosity and bring people to question both the campaign and their relationship with their surroundings - because people are not used to seeing advertisements or propaganda for which the motive is not obvious" -- is "pointless twaddle." Does he have a point, or is this in fact a decent rationale? Why?

4. Did Fairey have any sort of responsibility to recognize the skull image from the "defiant since 89" T-shirt as an SS Skull? Why?

5. Was the use of the Koloman Moser figure for the "Obey Propaganda" poster appropriate? Did Fairey make the image his own, or does it stand too much in the shadow of the original image?

6. Is Fairey's addition of an "Obey" logo to a Black Panther's beret an act of commentary, appropriation, or something else? What does the addition of the "Obey" logo do to transform the meaning of the original image?

7. What do you think Fairey's transformation of Rupert Garcia's "Down with the Whiteness" poster ultimately means?

8. Should Fairey have issued an apology to Rene Mederos, for the use of his poster image on a T-shirt?

9. Do you think that Fairey's use of Gary Grimshaw's winged panther image violates the spirit in which it was created for the "public domain?" Grimshaw says as much: "It is an icon that people can identify with and organize around, and thus must be free of copyright restrictions and onerous ownership. That is the spirit in which the image was created. The commercial exploitation of this image is not strictly criminal because of its public domain intent, but it reeks of the very mean spirit that the image was meant to oppose." Does Grimshaw have a point, or is Fairey completely in the clear in this case?

10. Towards his conclusion, Vallen states: "The expropriation and reuse of images in art has today reached soaring heights, but that relentless mining and distortion of history will turn out to be detrimental for art, leaving it hollowed-out and meaningless in the process. When I refer to "mining" in this case I mean the hasty examination and extraction of information from our collective past as performed by individuals who do not fully comprehend it. That is precisely what Fairey is guilty of, utilizing historic images simply because he "likes" them, and not because he has any grasp of their significance as objects of art or history." Is this a vlid critique of Fairey's art? What responsibility does the artist have to the history and social context of art the imagery he/she chooses to appropriate, if any?