01 Nov 2009
Good morning, Mad Mafia!
So, another busy week. I am rested and back to work in the studio. Had a few critiques last week. Before I go into the actual crits, I would recommend the Critique Handbook by Buster & Crawford for some winter reading material. It is valuable as a way to help think out how to get the most out of a critique.
Often times, students waste a lot of time in a critique rambling on about nonsense and personal experiences. Tuesday, Sam and I crit’ed with Gayle, Aris and the sculpture grads. It seemed like an odd critique. I have not fully pinpointed it but will try as we move through this. Sam’s crit was, in my opinion, a bit rough. People were picking apart his work which is generally expected. Most people were concerned with the symmetrical divisions of his work in the space. It was arranged like a giant face. A tower built from air-conditioners and old tires dominated in height. It was located in between two reconstructed trees mirroring each other. Opposite this minimal composition was a train of individual sculptures leaning against the wall from one end of the gallery to the other. Everyone had their opinion that went something like: “Did you consider separating the items into groups?” or “It is too much for the space.” Or “It is not enough in the space.” I guess to some degree, these considerations can be helpful. Luckily, everyone limited their personal comments. I don’t believe that five minute speeches on how someone else would do your work is helpful. We have all heard that in crits before. As in the Critique Handbook, many opinions are productive when posed as an abstract question. i.e.: “How did you arrive at the decision to arrange the gallery symmetrically?” The oddest part was that Sam made no alterations. I applaud him for defending his work. I have watched people want to change everything that someone tells them from time to time. Sometimes, critiques move better when the artist does take a strong stance defending their work. If not, students tend to pile on like a pack of wild dogs.
After Sam, the class critiqued my Battlesapien piece. I have talked with enough people that I knew what to expect concerning technical difficulties in front of a live audience. If you were not there that night, we had some grid layout problems. So, that is technical, I am glad that we did not spend too long on that part. I knew that once it began, I would not have much chance to make any changes. I did learn two positive things about the performance. First, was the idea of not using professional actors. We are in school and we are each others most affordable performers. I am fortunate that everyone helped me see it through. The crit said that the generals were not serious enough. They were also a bit nervous and none of us knew what to expect. The crit panel also noted that it was difficult to read the crowds laughter. People I have spoken with all have their opinion on the laughter. I still am unsure of the amusement level but it did spur great questions on colors of blood, cinematography, and related ideas of perceptions of violence. I am going to research it more. Tarrantino came up and a few artists that used blood and how the color and texture of blood affects people emotionally. The most exciting thing was when Gayle asked me “what’s next?”. I am not totally sure but I decided to tackle that question backword. I will start with the result that I wish and try to build a piece or performance to guide people to the answer similar to a movie as opposed to creating the piece then altering it forward. My crit provided some good ideas on my art as a whole, instead of just a piece of it.
One of my favorite critiques is the mini-crit. I called together some of my cohorts Thursday as I was working on the Children’s Tactical Vehicle for the Seminar show. I asked them for a quick mini-crit before I started. It was just like a regular crit except I showed them the item that I planned to modify and asked them ahead of time questions like such: “how much should I paint to modify the vehicle?” “Should the piece be more practical or more artistic?” Everyone was very helpful as I could think about things ahead of time as opposed to spending ten hours working on something that I did not really have to do. So, by Friday, I got the jeep all stripped out and repainted. I also painted and modified the gun. When I first saw the Nerf Vulcan gun (which was named after a real high-rate-of-fire gun) I was taken that they make bigger badder nerf guns each year. They are testosterone laden toys that are advertised as fun to allow children to practice their killer instincts. I got online and looked for information on this gun which shoots three rounds per second through its belt fed clip. I quickly found kids of all ages modifying this gun already. One kid had a you tube video on splicing ammunition belts together. Others, made realistic sounds, some had rounds counters and a lot of people re-wired the gun to increase its rate of fire. That is the mod that I chose. They were simple instructions and hopefully, with fresh batteries, I will shoot it during the reception at a rate of 500 rounds per minute or 8.3 rounds each second. I may use this piece for some video next spring. I am not sure yet. Everyone keeps asking if the gun is real and I don’t immediately answer. I have to think for a minute while letting them contemplate its physicality. And to redeem children at an early age, I also built my Children’s Ejection Seat. That way by two years old, toddlers will be able to eject themselves from a violent society before they start taking in the violence in our culture.
I have had some studio visits with fellow students last week. I am looking forward to this Wednesday as I have a visit with Jack Damer. I will leave for now.