Monday, December 19, 2011


Waafa Bilal Lecture

Wafaa Bilal is an Iraqi artist, and an Arts Professor in New York. I was somewhat familiar with his work before, having heard about his exhibition where he locked himself in an apartment in which people could shoot paintballs at him over the internet. He spoke about his different works over the years. He is an interactive and video artist. He is known for his controversial work Domestic Tension, or “Shoot an Iraqi,” which was the interactive installation that I had recognized his name from. The piece consisted of a paintball gun that could be controlled by people who logged into the internet. Bilal lived in the gallery in Chicago for a 30 day period and people could shoot at him with the gun 24 hours a day. The point of the work was for Bilal to experience what a regular Iraqi does in time of war, which is just about every day now. Bilal also spoke about another controversial work called Virtual Jihadi. In it, Bilal took a computer game called Quest for Saddam and altered it. The game was called The Night of Bush Capturing: A Virtual Jihadi. In the game Bilal made himself a suicide bomber and is recruited on a mission to find former President Bush. The work was pointed at bringing attention to the Iraq war and racist and stereotypes in video games.
Bilal spoke about his latest piece called and it was very interesting. He has took a camera and surgically implanted it into the back of his head. The camera is set up to take a picture every minute and upload it online. He did this work for a year beginning on December 15, 2010. He captured photos of what was behind him. In this work he tried to express the issue of privacy. The photos were uploaded online and his location was shown on the website by GPS. This was interesting because he turned himself into somewhat of a cyborg voluntarily. It shows how we are connected to technology, and in the future we are going to be connected with technology physically whether we like it or not.

Lecture : Miss Representation

Jennifer Siebel Newsom’s film Miss Representation was an informational documentary about the current state of feminism in the United States and the representation of women in the media. The first thing that came up on the screen during the movie was “the media is the message and the messenger” which set the tone for the entire film. Statistics presented in the film, like that fact that of 78% of women hate their bodies and spend between 12 to 15 thousand dollars a year in beauty products tie in perfectly which what we have been learning about in this class for the entire semester. 
The documentary made apparent to young girls, “you can’t be what you can’t see,” referring to the lack of women in upper level jobs. The film said that women have to work twice as hard and earn half as much as a man while doing jobs twice as difficult. As a male with a prior understanding of the situation from my Race, Gender and Media clas, Miss Representation was an informational awareness video to the public about feminism in the United States. It was really an abbreviated crash course into what we looked at through the entire semester in class in my other class, with pictures and videos. The public has turned women to believing they can only be beautiful in a specific way and successful in life with certain career limitations. Women are unfairly treated in the United States and when given the opportunity to be on television, they are forced to present themselves in a sexually revealing way in order to appeal to the male audience. Overall I thought the film was very well made and reinforced the ideas that I was already introduced to by applying them to real people. 

Exhibition: The View Without

Morgan McAuslan's exhibit at UNR's Sheppard Fine Arts Gallery was very interesting. He took common items like colored plexiglas, small motors, some metal and the inside layer of old thermoses to make a very unique and interesting installation. With the use of the motors, he allowed the materials to interact with one another to create an interesting and unique sound art aspect to the piece. Upon walking into the gallery, the first thing that grabbed me was the constant but light sound of the installation. A mix between wind chimes, a xylophone and a steel drum, the sound had a calming effect that filled up the entire room, but was light enough not to over power anyones talking or thoughts. 
The main structure of the exhibiting consisted of a couple dozen neon multicolored plexiglass arrangements, which when powered by the rotating motor within, caused them to spin like a clock and eventually cause a series of connected small wooden hammers to make contact with the chromed thermos components. It was a very visually stimulating interaction of color and motion followed by sound. I really liked how he turned common stuff that everyone has access too like the plexiglass and miniature motors and combined it with the interesting thermos "bells" to make something all his own.
It was very obvious that the artist put a lot of though into the exhibition despite the look of chaos on the walls. When examined closely, each of the separate contraptions had dozens of little pieces that looked like they required a bit a precision to align in the right way to make it work as a whole. Another small thing that caught my eye was his use of all red extension cords to power the individual pieces. First off, I've never seen a red extension cord so I was a little taken aback at first and thought he might have painted them. They were, however, really red extension cords that were arranged and installed very neatly adding to the piece as a whole themselves.
Overall I though the installation was very interesting and a good use of the space. The constant sound coupled with the motion, color and composition of the piece made it interesting to the eyes and ears and showed very creative use of somewhat common materials. This exhibition really showed that with a little creativity you can make just about anything into a compelling piece that is sound related, but much different than anything I would have thought of regarding sound art. 

Jan Svankmajer Artist Profile

Dan Conroy
Dec 7, 2011
Art 345
Final Paper

Jan Svankmajer is a Czechoslovakian film maker who is most famous for his work with stop motion animation. His work is firmly rooted in surrealism, both through his involvement with the Czechoslovak Surrealist Group and the surreal aspects of his films, and he is regarded as “the only major film maker who’s work fully belongs to surrealism,” (Richardson, 11). Svankmajer’s work is very recognizable and intriguing to me. I really like the way he uses common materials like clay and food to tell stories and get his message across, often without any words. Though I have never tried stop motion, it has always had an aesthetic that has appealed to me and I would definitely like to try it in the future, especially after watching more of Jan Svankmajer’s work.
Svankmajer was born in Prauge, Czechoslovakia in 1939. On his eighth birthday he recieved a small puppetry theatre which would lead to his first venture into the world of fantasy and art. Later on in life, his fascination with marionettes continued as he attended the college of Applied Arts in the Puppetry Department. This is also where Svankmajer was first introduced to surrealist art forms which would later become the backbone of his work and life surrounding it, (Rogers).
Prague was both a place of birth and a source of inspiration for Svankmajer. Jan Uhde wrote that “It would be hard to imagine Svankmajer without Prague” in his essay entitled “Jan Svankmajer: Genus Loci As A Source Of Surrealist Inspiration. His interest in Prague is not that of contemporary society, however. Svankmajer and his work focus on the city’s old quarters, legends and ancient castle ruins. Svankmajer himself lives in one of Prague’s most ancient areas, just outside the Prague Castle walls. It is this connection to the the city and historical core which binds him and his art to the area. Many of his films were made in surrounding ruins, (Harper, 64), and one piece was even filmed at the Sedlec Ossuary, which contains the bones of some 70 thousand people, which had been buried there since the plauge’s of the Middle Ages, (Uhde). His fascination for such locations and morbid themes has been a theme since his school days when he was “criticized for a certain morbidity, sickness, negativism, and pessimism,” (French, 188). Regardless of early criticism, Svankmajer is a product of his environment and continues to use his surroundings and their history to shape his work and make it uniquely his own.
While Prague and the Bohemian region surrounding it are ever present in Svankmajer’s work and life, the communist government which ruled the country until 1989, did as much as they could to stifle his artistic productivity. From 1972 to 1979, he was banned from making films by the Czech Government as a result of his criticism of the regime in many of his films. Many of his other films during the period which were not banned were suppressed by the government and as a result, his work was largely unknown in the West until the 1980’s, (Rogers). The government was so against his work that his piece, Dimensions In Dialogue, “was used by the Czechoslovakian authorities as an object lesson in what was politically unacceptable,” (French, 188). In regard to the political stance in many of his films, Svankmajer said:
"I would like to say that I consider all of my films to be very politcally engaged. But I never narrowed it down to a totalitarian system, the way, for example, the artist dissident would. Because I realize that civilization does allow for the creation or existence of something as sick as Fascism or Stalinism, then the entire civilization itself is very ill, something is wrong," (Jackson).
It is this critique of society as a whole, based on his experiences with the communist regime in Czechoslovakia, that have garnered Svankmajer such acclaimed while at the same time addressing the issues and shortcomings of the communist regime in his homeland. Even after the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Svankmajer still finds issue with politics and they way society is run as a whole, not limiting his rebellion to a fallen regime. “For Svankmajer, Stalinism was nothing but a particular emanation of the sickness of modern civilisation: the fact that consumerism has come to replace Stalinism does not reflect any improvement in the structure of society,” (Richardson, 133). His ability to adapt his art to the times is a key testament to his longevity in the art world and the success of his work.
Svankmajer’s work is unargueably surrealist, though he himself does not consider surrealism itself an art form. Instead he says, “Surrealism is psychology, it is philosophy, it is a spiritual way, but it is not an aesthetic. Surrealism is not interested in actually creating any kind of aesthetic,” (Jackson). This stance on surrealism and it’s connection to art is unabashedly surrealist in itself, as one of the major facets of surrealists is to “regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the works being and artifact,” (Surrealism Wiki).
I really appreciate the depth of Svankmajer’s work. His films are intriguing to me on many levels. The first one I saw, Meat Love, is a short, simple film involving two slices of meat interacting, eventually making love, and then being thrown into a pan full of hot oil. His stop motion style is instantly recognizable and refined, each shot obviously well thought out and presented as a small fraction of the whole. Like many of his works, the subject is food and it’s ultimate destruction. To Svankmajer, “the action of eating - and by implication of the act of creation itself - is ultimately destructive,” (Richardson, 126). This destruction a a thread that permeates many of his films, from the clay figures eating themselves and tearing each other apart in Dimensions In Dialogue, to decaying human made of fruit and vegetables in Flora.
Most of Svankmajer’s videos are very simple. He uses clay, marionettes, fruit, people and more as subjects, and through his stop motion, brings them to life in order to tell his story. I really admire his ability to make very accesable objects come alive. Most of his films also have a deep underlying sense of humor. He makes fun of his subjects, be they monkey puppets or clay humans, in order to poke fun at society as a whole. Though they may be tearing each other to pieces or jumping into frying pans, it is hard not to laugh at clay humans eating on their partners extremities or slices of red meat dancing on a cutting board.
I often have ideas for art floating in my head, but can never seem to put them into action exactly the way I want too. According to Svankmajer this is a result of an artistic block. “The artist is able to reach their resources, and overcome the block. But a clerk who sits in the office, obviously, has his blockage and cannot. This so-called ‘professionalism’, is much more a matter of technique, or skill than creativity. You can see that in naive art, or folk art, if an individual wants to express him or herself, they find a way to do it if they really want to. It is really inside me, what's going to come out. The way I see it, each individual accumulates in his or her lifetime. That which accumulates inside him or her needs to find a way out. Basically, everybody can do that, but most people do not find a way of releasing it, they have certain blockage. There is no such thing as talent" (Jackson). To be able to combine the techniques and skills that I have learned in this program with the creativity that is lodged in the back of my brain is one of my goals for this course and for all art I attempt to create.
What really draws me to Svankmajer’s work is his style. The quirky puppets and subjects, the humor and the dark undertones all work together and make for interesting pieces as a whole. His work has levels of political scrutiny, dark comedy and his own creativity that make them very unique and interesting on many levels. I really respect his ability to combine these themes into his films and make them work so well together. Though Svankmajer’s films usually deal with the oppressive government and now the rise of capitalism and consumerism, he makes them interesting on a different level and then allows the viewer to infer his real meaning behind the work. Though I will never have a communist regime to rebel against in my art, I would like to think that with time and thought I can address things that are going on around me in my future work.


French, Karl. Art by Film Directors. London: Octopus Publishing, 2004

Harper, Graeme; Stone, Rob. The Unsilvered Screen: Surrealism on Film, by Jan Uhde. London: Wallflower, 2007

Jackson, Wendy. “The Surrealist Conspirator: An Interview With Jan Svankmajer.” June, 1997. Animation World Magazine. Dec 6, 2011.

Richardson, Michael. Surrealism and Cinema. Berg: New York, 2006.

Rogers, Pam. “The Works Of Jan Svankmajer.” 2002. Rosewood Graphics. Dec 6, 2011.

Voorhies, James. “Surrealism: Thematic Essay.” 2010. Metropolitan Museum of Art. Dec 6, 2011.

Wikipedia. “Surrealism.” Dec, 2011. Wikipedia. Dec 6, 2011.

Uhde. “The Bare Bones of Horror.” 2011. Kinoeye: New Perspectives on European Film. Dec 6, 2011.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Video Triptych

I am fed up with television, especially "Reality TV." The only TV we have at my house doesn't get any channels, cable or otherwise, so when I was assigned to watch some new TV's shows for another class I got fed up. I made this triptych to urge people to get up off their couches, go outside and do something. There are so many good, productive things to be done away from our TV's and I think that people forget that these days.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Assignment #1 - Video Self Portrait

Continuing with the idea of found objects that I used to make my instrument and audio self portrait, I went the route of using mostly random found footage from youtube. My audio track is pretty chaotic, more so when I combined the random track with the intentional track, and I wanted to represent that visually through found footage. The first clip was shot randomly this morning when I woke up to find it snowing outside. I didn't expect it to snow so the surprise of it got me to go outside and take a little video of it. I think the randomness of this fit perfect with the rest of my clips. I just started typing things into youtube and seeing what videos popped up in the search, and then just selected pieces of those clips and went to the clips related to those to find more videos. For my editing I randomly dropped clips onto my timeline and then clipped them to make them fit to tempo changes and the time constraint. Everything fit together really well and sticks to the random, found idea of my project.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Video assignment #1

For my video assignment I want to emulate the look of found footage videos. I think that since my audio self portrait has so many different sounds in it ranging from loud fuzzy chaos to soft clinking bottles I will be able to create a visual version of my sound in video using an assortment of found footage and video I shoot on my own. Also, since everything I used to make my instrument I found in my neighbors and my own trash and recycling cans, it will add to the theme of my project. When looking at other found video artists I came across Joseph Cornell and really liked the way he used all the old film spliced together to make his pieces. The coolest one I found was "Jack's Dream," but I am sure there are other good ones as well. Im looking forward to finding clips to match to my audio as well as film things that I come across as well. I was thinking of walking through the woods in the day and night and filming that to ad different representations of nature to my video.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Barbara London Lecture Review

I attended Barbara London's lecture on April 28th when she came to UNR to be a guest curator for the student show. She currently works as the Video and Media curator at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. In her lecture she talked about many artists I have heard of before, both through Digital Media classes and art I've been interested in outside of school. A few names that really stood out were Nam June Paik, David Bowie, Laurie Anderson and Captain Beefheart. She also discussed her most recent work, "Looking at Music 3.0." She went in detail about Paik's work with TV's how he essentially created the first music video. She said that Paik's work was really a commentary on information presented to us on the TV and how we process and interact with it. Her exhibit, "Looking at Music 3.0" dives into the appropriation in music during the 80's and 90's and music's influence on visual arts, mainly in the NYC area. I really liked her lecture because of how she tied in music with digital art. I'm a huge fan of all sorts of music and the culture associated with it in many different time periods and it was very interesting to hear her take on it and see how she represented it.

Final Hotwheels Mini Golf

For my mini golf hole I chose to make a Hot wheels theme in order to incorporate a loop.  I ran into some problems with pepakura printing two sides for everything, but I eventually figured it out and made the shape of my loop, jumps and hole in 3D. I also wanted to create more than just a hole by itself so I made buildings in pepakura in order to give the hole a city theme to relate to the cars in Hotwheels. The hole is playable and both myself and Denver have made it in the hole in 2 strokes, though there has yet to be a hole in one. I added some more decoration to go with the theme by putting Hotwheels logos everywhere, putting actually Hotwheels cars on the streets and adding checkered flags to go with the race theme to indicate the start and finish of the hole. Overall I had a good time using the pepakura even though it was frustrating at times. It is a very cool program that I can see myself using in the future for 3D modeling because of how easy it is to create a template from the computer to the paper. I'm really proud of how well it came out and especially happy that myself and someone else made the marble in the hole. If it were bigger and at a real mini golf course I think the hole would be a hit!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011


Not knowing what to expect from this video I was pleasantly surprised and found most of the points made very interesting and true. As someone that uses technology on a day to day basis, I know firsthand how much easier it has made my life and so many others. I can't even imagine how we used to get ahold of each other without cell phones and I didn't even own one until I was 20, which seems pretty rare these days. The part about multitasking really touched close to home. We don't even consider it multitasking anymore, but just about all of us at least check the time on our phones while doing just about everything else. I don't have a smartphone, but when I do eventually upgrade, I'm sure the allure of checking email and the internet at my fingertips will make it that much harder to get things done.

The section on South Korea's addiction to technology was very interesting and almost sickens me. I think that since I'm older than most people in my classes and wasn't raised with much more than a TV with a "bunny ear" antennae, I am a little more skeptical of all the technology and can appreciate simplicity and realize when it is being taken to far. The gaming relationships section also reminded me of the documentary on WOW we watched in class and how out of touch those people are with reality. I for one could never take it to that point, I don't even like video games, and personally think that people that into games and gaming relationships need to get help, even if it is not showing any effects of harming them or people around them. Overall I thought it was a very interesting video and it gave a good overview of where we are currently with technology and the places it might take us in the future, both good and bad.

Lecture Review : Joan Narthrup on Leo Villeoreal at the Nevada Museum of Art

Art seeing the Leo Villareal's exhibition of Animating Light at the Nevada Museum of Art the previous week, I was really interested in Villareal's work as it was unlike anything I had seen before. I saw when I was there that Joan Narthrup was giving a lecture about Villareal so I figured it would be a great chance to learn more about him and his work.

She did a very good job as she sped through his life and what he did before his work with lights. One interesting thing that she pointed out which I had not noticed the week before was that each of the works were presented in chronological order. After the lecture I went through the exhibit again and it was very interesting to see how much more complicated the pieces had gotten the more he learned about working with the lights and code and gave me even more respect for the work that went into it.

Narthrup also addressed the how the rumor that I'd heard from Elliot about Villareal coming up with the idea of flashing lights after getting lost at Burning Man. It turns out that he was not aimlessly wandering through the desert hallucinating on who knows what like I had thought, but instead he just got lost in the crowds and was unable to find his van amidst the sea of people. Though I have never been to Burning Man I have a lot of friends who have and through their patchy recollections, I can imagine how hard it might be to find your site no matter what mental condition you may be in. The lecture was very informative and gave me more insight into an artist that I had become very interested in and I would recommend it to anyone, especially those interested in Digital Media.

Exhibition Review: Leo Villareal - Animating Light

I attended Leo Villareal's exhibition of Animating Light with Elliott at the Nevada Museum of Art. When Elliott told me that a friend of his that worked there told him that Villareal first had the idea to make the light sculptures after he got lost in the desert at Burning Man I couldn't stop laughing and knew I had to go see the show. Knowing only that the show involved lights, I was excited to see how he used them and was very impressed as soon as I walked into the museum. His piece entitled Star blinked and pulsated over my head almost instantly and I could see how his work was a direct influence of his experience at Burning Man.

Of all his different pieces at the show, my favorite was Diamond Sea. The way the lights moved across the grid and the interplay of them with reflections off the mirror made it hard for me to take my eyes off it. With the mirror involved, it made the me and the other people looking at it a part of the piece while the lights did their own thing.

 My first experience with programming anything was in my CS281 class this semester and I realized how much work the coding of Villareal's work must have taken him. Every different piece uses different code and they all work so well, both together in the exhibit and as individual works. Its really amazing that something which started out as a functional idea can turn into such an original and beautiful collection of work and still hold its own at a place like Burning Man where it was originally conceived. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Hot Wheels Mini Golf!!!!!!

I modeled this hole after Hot Wheels racing tracks. It starts out with a loop and goes right into a double jump. Its possible to make a hole in one, but only for the most die hard of mini golfers. The Hot Wheels hole will give Tiger Woods a run for his money!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Miniature Golf Course Concept

For my mini golf course I plan to build a 3D Hot Wheels car track and make it functional as a golf hole. When I was younger I used to play with Hot Wheels and I always had a lot of fun making tracks with all sorts of loops and jumps. When thinking of a mini golf idea, the first thing that came to mind was the form of a loop and I instantly got the idea to imitate a Hot Wheels track. I plan to add some buildings and other cars around the hole to make it look more realistic.

Pepakura Object

The Pepakura was a little intimidating at first. For me it was hard to see how the folds would line up to make the object, but as I got further into it, the shape began to take form and got a little easier. I chose this Glock 9mm because it looked fun. Something about a paper gun was funny to me and I think the fact that I could hold it when it was done and it actually felt like the shape of a handgun made it really cool. Im looking forward to using Pepakura more for our mini golf holes and making more challenging objects.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

3D Modeling Project Parts 1 and 2

For part one of this project I used ten different Harley-Davidson motorcycle models I found on the Google Sketchup 3D Warehouse to recreate my version of the Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. I've never been there before but every time I see pictures of it I always think its really interesting and would be cool to see in real life. With spring on the way I've been wanted to get out on my motorcycle so that is the inspiration for this.


Harley Ranch

For part two I used Google Sketchup to make a skateboard halfpipe. After some trial and error I the shape I was hoping for and I was then able to import a wood siding for the ramp and give the Google girl her own skateboard that I found in the Sketchup Warehouse.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Second Life Performance Idea

I think it would be cool and interesting to have the whole class give their avatars zombie skin and have us walk around Second Life as a group. From what I have seen in Second Life, everyone dresses their avatars up to match their fantasies, be it furries, princesses, tall masculine men or other things along those lines. No one that I have seen has a scary avatar and they do not crowd around in a pack or like bodied scary avatars. I think it would cause a cool reaction within Second Life and it would be very interesting to hear what people would say when a horde of zombies invades their club or area.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Create an Object in Second Life

This is the coffee table I made in Second Life. I had never worked with any type of 3D modeling and though I don't think I used it to it's full potential, I had a good time playing around with the tools and orienting myself with the controls. I decided to paint the table with a southwest pattern to spice it up a little bit and complete my first object build in Second Life.

Second Life self-portraiture

Here are a couple pictures of my avatar in Second Life as well as a picture of me taken tonight. I've grown a little bit of facial hair since I took the picture for my Second Life skin, but otherwise I think it's pretty spot on. I spent a lot of time in photoshop trying to get my skin to line up with the avatar and I think it turned out good. I want to work on the skin tone and some other small things when I get time and have my avatar perfect.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Reading Questions February 2nd 2011

Questions based on the reading of

1. Where are the highest concentrations of Second Life users in the world and what is the most common sex and race of these users?

2. Is Second Life a world of fantasy for most residents or merely an extension of their real lives?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


For my HUD I decided to center the display around a picture I took while riding my motorcycle. I thought it worked perfectly and looked exactly like a HUD from a driving game. Surrounding the frame are icons for what I normally do in a day. Up top are a snowboard and skateboard representing my normal exercise activities given the time of year. Below that is a cell phone because none of us can live without them anymore. On the top right is a slice of pizza representing the food I need to eat. Below the pizza are a stack of books representing schoolwork and finally there is a bed for sleep, something i don't seem to get enough of!