Tuesday, September 30, 2008

olafur eliasson

Ok, here he is. I'm showing a couple of images from the works using water, as a contrast to the sculptor mentioned in the last post. Eliasson does many other things with light - and water - which can be seen at his website, link below.

The images here are two of my favorite of Eliasson's works. Totally simple but at the same time enlarging spectacularly on a phenomenon that we utterly understand. That he has brought it directly into a gallery/museum setting on such an impactful scale is quite an achievement.

We've had renderings, or versions of the effects of light, in all paintings and photographs since we moved beyond the middle ages, most inventively perhaps, with the impressionists. But a photograph, or a painting of an event is not the event itself, its paint or metal oxides creating the illusion of a real thing.

Here, if we go to the museum we have the event without mediation - we experience it for ourselves.
Even looking at these images now, we understand the scale of the real event and that it would be experienced first-hand. (The scale of the installation below is the same as the above with the people - the reflection covers a wall-sized area.)

I saw a You Tube video of him dis
cussing his work which was fascinating. In it he says that he is after engagement. He doesn't want the look of the work to be too "perfumed" and pretty. For him, the beautiful visuals are secondary - he believes that beauty and pleasure catch people's attention and suggest that it is worth getting more involved with, more engaged with the artwork.

The brochure for the NY waterfalls says ".
.. at the root of his artworks... is his keen interest in the way we perceive the world around us. Eliasson's work encourages us to consider what we see, and more importantly how we see and experience our surroundings. With the New York City Waterfalls our attention is called to the riverfront and the addition of something seemingly natural - waterfalls - that have been artificially constructed".

Well, the NY river interface has been there our whole lives so we feel that IT IS natural, when lots of it really isn't. The waterfalls draw attention to the whole idea of man-made, and what it is for, what it does, what it might be for.

Not everyone has liked the waterfalls, perhaps because of the distance most people see the installation from but the photographs are interesting. It is quite a scale, even compared to the urban landscape that dwarfs it. The images (I couldn't download them) can be seen via this link to the brochure.


here you can read someone else's blog that discusses the waterfalls and some of its detractors

So William, though it may be very lovely to sit next to your fountains and beautiful ripples, Olafur appears to be infinitely more interesting.

Images shown above are from Notion Motion, 2005, at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Netherlands. See it at Eliasson's website here www.olafureliasson.net

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

looks cool but ...does it follow through?

William Pye, Aquabar, Gatwick Airport, North Terminal. 2003
This piece is in the departure lounge. The water rises and falls in programmed cycles, creating an air-core vortex . The water finally reaches the top and ripples down the sides (as with vessels on right).

Looking at different approaches to making art, following my recent posts. Well, here's an artist - I didn't know him - described by a press release as "arguably Britain's most distinguished water sculptor". He is well known, has many, many public works but to me is hugely less interesting than Eliasson. (I'll post his work next time). Why does Pye's work generally fall into the merely decorative category?

The work IS decorative - its pretty, its showy. Its spectacular in some instances, he has water walls and long, stepped tanks spilling ripples in public plazas, luscious reflections, jets etc. He has figured out the vortex and the meniscus and some interesting qualities of water. It is fabulous that those fountains and vortices make it to public places. Good for Pye, getting out there and sharing, revitalizing, gettin it done. They look interesting, beautiful, and curious. But, as a serious artist with something to say... Makes you look, makes you stare... but he doesn't ultimately go on to make you think. There is more that he could do in this direction but he chooses not to. Each to their own.

William Pye, Pole, 2001
(the central pole is just water pouring out of the tank)

Pole has a wonderful stream of water but is cluttered and distracting with its utilitarian welded steel. I know its meant to be, but it hasn't pulled it off, it still seems clumsy. The mechanisms and practicalities intrude too much, without sufficient contribution. The point is, they don't contribute - they detract. He hasn't thought that through.

I'm not sure I want to post the next two pics... they reveal Pye's feet of clay and are outside the remit of my blog. However, I think they are needed to hammer the point home.

Little Plateau, 1984

Well, this IS from years ago, but still tethered to post-war British form. Abstracted geometrics artfully arranged. It is an endearing little thing to have in your garden, I might even like to see more of them in my neighbors' gardens. But its not part of a serious artistic dialogue.

Kanagawa, 2000, currently exhibited at Sculpture at Goodwood (UK).

This one is Hokusai's wave... Ok, I know Pye means well but this deserves a craft booth at the local flower show. Sorry, Pye, but it is clumsy, turgid, and labored. And not the least bit conscious and aware of its associations and restrictions. Even THEY could have been capitalized upon at a pinch.

Make up your own mind at www.williampye.com.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

ecology of techno mind, Linz

Image and text from an article at artdaily.org newsletter. I want to see more... Searching led me to various sites where art is particularly defined not as a commodity but an exploration of ideas. Totally the most interesting part, after I've paid my mortgage, of course. More later.

Linz - Ecology of Techno Mind presents a selection of works by Slovenian artists who are deploying technology and science as a means of delving into social reality today. ...These projects do not address the notional gallery visitor in the sense of traditional consumption of art, they place him in a similar situation than a visitor to the theatre or a concert, where the entire artistic event is performed on location and the artistic object cannot be bought or taken home. ... We are as consistent as possible in being serious about artistic exploration, for we perceive contemporary art as privileged, non-linear and multisensory production of meanings that, along with theoretical and philosophical practice, makes an essential contribution to understanding the world of change.

Jurij Krpan, Curator