Vito Acconci is a Brooklyn based performance and installation artist who was born in the Bronx in 1940. He received his B.A. in literature from the College of the Holy Cross and an MFA in Literature and Poetry from the University of Iowa. Although Acconci began as a literary artist, he soon moved into the realm of film and photography where he seeks to create a dialogue between the camera and the body. His work is considered a classic example of what we now consider to be conceptual art.
I am honestly not quite sure how I feel about Acconci’s work. I appreciate some of his works such as ‘City of Words’ and ‘Crash’ for their aesthetic appeal and the unique fusion of text and imagery in a composition. His video work does not strike a real chord with me, but his work in architecture really fascinates me because it seems so whimsical in nature and forward thinking.
Paul Pfeiffer is a New York based sculptor, photographer and video artist. He was born in Honolulu in 1966, yet he was raised in the Philippines. Pfeiffer attended Hunter College and the Whitney Independent Study Program. His work consists primarily of editing photographs and videos to redirect and reshape the viewer’s perceptions of his images and their own beliefs.
Pfeiffer’s work is interesting in that in some ways, it reminds me of Duchamp’s ready-mades, only without so much of Duchamp’s sense of satire. Some of his work stands on the cusp between artistic and commercial to me however. While several of his works are visually interesting, overall, I find his work to only be mildly compelling.
Matthew Ritchie is a New York based digital artist who was born in London in 1964. He earned his BFA from the Camberwell School of Art in London and also spent some time studying at Boston University as well. Ritchie seeks to encompass the entirety of the universe in his work, therefore, his work is constant and always evolving. He works primarily by drawing and then scanning his images into the computer where he can digitally altar the images further.
As a fan of abstract expressionism, I love the abstract nature of Ritchie’s work. He incorporates so many elements into each composition that his work truly becomes universal. It seems that everyone can find something of interest within each of his pieces. His work is messy and organized all at once and the fact that he also blends together a wide variety of mediums to complete his works, further supports his aim towards creating universal art.
Bill Viola is a California based video artist. He was born in New York in 1951 and received his B.A. from Syracuse University where he studied in the Experimental Studios of the College of Visual and Performing Arts. Viola’s work focuses primarily on expressing key human experiences such as life, death and love. He also infuses his work with elements and themes inspired by Zen Buddhism, Christian Mysticism and Islamic Sufism. Water is also a recurring theme within his work due to a near drowning experience he had as a youth while on a family vacation.
Water was one of the primary elements in Viola’s Ocean without a Shore presented at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. Viola’s concept for this piece is remarkable in its concept in which the figures emerging from the darkness represent shadows of dead souls returning from the dead. I think the use of technology to create an invisible wall of water is really amazing and I find the use of the wall to create a transparent symbolic “veil” between the worlds of the living and the dead is very effective. Viola makes use of technology and special effects in his work in a way that is truly groundbreaking and refreshing.
Jeff Baij is a contemporary digital artist who seems to work primarily with photo and video editing tools to break down and then reconstruct the various components of media, so that it can be viewed in a new way. Baij also creates original compositions from these same photo and video editing software.
Baij is unique in that he seems to have a very relaxed view of himself and his art. He seems to have a fantastic sense of humor; as he is currently using a umw blog entry as his bio for his website, and his work is playful, lighthearted and very accessible to the masses.What I think is great about Baij’s work is that it breaks down the boundaries of what the everyday man thinks of as “art.” Baij’s work is universal.
Robin Rhode is a South African born artist who now resides in Berlin, Germany. Rhode was born in 1976 in Cape Town and received his BA in Fine Art from Technikon Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, and his postgraduate degree from the South African School of Film, Television and Dramatic Art, also in Johannesburg. Rhode skillfully combines various media, such as performance art, drawing, film and photography, into his compositions, which he often creates in public spaces and makes with easily accessible materials. Rhode addresses social injustices in a way that brings serious awareness to the issues he tackles, yet does so without weighing down the mood of his work, which is often light, playful and whimsical.
What I really like about Rhode’s work is that it is very simple, clean and very effective. He has a wonderful mastery of visual effects and a way with trompe l’oeil that is understated, yet very convincing. His video Candle is one of my favorites by him, because of the play between the exposures of the film juxtaposed with the figure’s lighting of the candle. I also did not realize that he was the artist who created the BMW Z4 add Expression of Joy. I really found this work to be interesting, not only because of the use of a car as a means for creating art, but because of the compositional components of the final work as well. Expression of Joy is both frenzied and calm, and both organic and linear. I love how Rhode also found such a novel way of interacting with the canvas as well, using the car to fill up the whole of the picture plane.
Pipilotti Rist was born Elisabeth Charlotte Rist on June 1962 in Switzerland. She was nicknamed for the novel Pippi Longstocking. Rist studied commerical art, illustration and photography at the University of Applied Arts Vienna and would later go on to study video at the School of Design in Basel. In addition to her work as a video artist, Rist was also a member and performer in her band Les Reines Prochaines between 1988 to 1994. Rist also just recently finished her first feature film Pepperminta, which she began filming in 2005, last year. Rist’s works primarily focus on issues dealing with gender, sexuality and the human body.
Rist’s work is quite beautiful in that it exudes a very feminine, colorful and refreshing quality about it that despite its edge, makes one smile. My favorite piece is her Ever is all over video installation from the MoMA in 2007. She makes a strong feminist statement in this video, which depicts a beautiful young woman smashing in car windows with a large tulip. It is perhaps symbolic of the elevation of the female over what has been stereotypically linked to man’s sense of masculinity; his car. Sometimes, a woman scorned by a man will seek revenge by attacking his car, as it represents or contains one of his sources of pride. A man’s car is directly linked to his masculine sense of self. The female cop who smiles and ignores the protagonists destruction of property further emphasizes the feminist theme, in which the woman’s behavior is condoned. The woman smiles as she smashes the windows, skipping between cars even, which leads the viewer to believe this destruction is cathartic. The juxtaposition of the scene with the woman against a scene of flowers further solidifies the overtly feminine theme of the overall work.
Cory Arcangel is a Brooklyn based artist who was born in 1978, at the beginning of what would become the digital age. Arcangel developed artistically as a web designer, computer programmer and above all, a digital artist and his primary focus has been on exploring the connections between technology, pop culture and the public. Arcangel also creates, performs and records music in addition to working as a digital artist.
What I find the most interesting about Arcangel is his ability to add a comical context to his work, which does just enough to lift the seriousness of what we consider to be art, yet does not overpower the significance of his work. Arcangle is very much a part of the video game generation that grew up with Nintendo and Atari, and being the younger sibling of someone who played video games extensively while growing up, I have a great interest in his manipulations and modifications to what are now considered classic video games. I appreciate that he does not take his work too seriously, yet his work still inspires a social commentary about how the public consumes digital media, and how digital images influence our lives overall. He manipulates technology in such a way that is visually interesting and in a way that blurs the lines between what is purely functional and what is purely aesthetic.
(Arcangle often works within the scope of inside jokes. Here, he makes fun of the looping scenery of the early Mario video game as well as the plants that Mario used to defeat his enemies as he attempted to save the Princess)