Jenny Holzer was born in 1950 in Gallipolis, Ohio. She attended Ohio University and the Rhode Island School of Design where she developed as an abstract artist working with paints and print making. She eventually moved on to working with text as art, projecting quotes from literature and most recently, declassified U.S. government documents about the Iraq war, onto buildings, as well as printing them on t-shirts, street signs, bronze plaques, video and the internet. She primarily works with textual compositions to express her views about often controversial themes, such as issues surrounding war, feminism, violence and sexuality, and places them within the context of public spaces.
I like the fact that Holzer takes a new approach as an artist creating art as social commentary, because she works on the large scale of projecting text on public buildings. What better way to get one’s message across to a wide audience than write it on the side of a building? However, while I appreciate her approach, I have the sense that her work is “missing something” that I can’t quite place my finger on; a spark perhaps that will inspire a “Wow” factor. The directness of her style certainly focuses one’s attention to the immediate contemplation of the textual message, however it lacks the visual interest I usually look for.
Mark Klett was born in 1952 and trained primarily as a geologist. He began to rephotograph survey images taken by 19th century explorers of the American west and combine these early survey landscapes with his own panoramic photographs.
Klett skillfully blends the old with the new in his compositions that feature images taken by 19th century explorers and his own photographs, in one seamless work. The incorporation of the 19th century photographs lends a classic quality to Keltt’s works and I especially love the compositions in which he super-imposes the photographs he has taken of specific landscapes over the 19th century illustration of that same landscape, as found in his Telescopic Views from Platform where William Holmes drew Eastern Edge of the Kalibab.
Ian Whitmore is a Chicago based photographer who captures images that speak directly to the American pop culture experience. Whitmore grew up in Nebraska and took to photography at an early age. He earned his BFA from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln in 2003 and his MFA from Indiana University in 2007, after which he traveled extensively with his friends making music and taking photographs along the way.
Whitmore’s work is very interesting in the fact that it is very simplistic and subtle, yet its subtleties speak volumes. Whitmore works a great deal with varying degrees of perspective of urban and suburban landscapes, as well as with people. What I like about Whitmore’s work is its straightforwardness. He does not capture unnecessary elements in his photographs to make the compositions “pretty,” but rather he lets his subjects speak for themselves. His Channels series is my current favorite on his website (ianwhitmore.com), because it is a commentary about American’s favorite past-time in that it could be said that while one is watching the television, at some point, the television could actually be watching its viewers as well. This series reminds me of Nam June Paik’s 1974 TV Buddah in which a Buddah sculpture sits, almost in self-contemplation of itself before a television that is set before it and recording it.
Ian Whitmore Channels
Nam June Paik TV Buddah (1974)
Jon Gitelson was born in 1975 in New York. He attended Marlboro College in Vermont where he took a liking to photography and excelled in the medium. After graduation, Gitelson traveled to Guatemala for eight months where he participated in humanitarian efforts to teach photography to impoverished children. Gitelson returned to America and settled in Chicago where he began to focus specifically on capturing the intricacies and nuances of street life.
Gitelson’s works are playful, whimsical and oftentimes hilarious. What I love most about Gitelson’s work is the fact that it is very accessible to a large audience. Some artists strive too much to instill deep, thought-provoking meaning in their work, which often leaves the viewer disinterested all together, however Gitelson has found the right balance between the literal and figurative messages in his compositions, which makes his work extremely powerful in its simplicity.
One of my favorite works by Gitelson is his poster A Boy & A Girl.
To me, digital approaches to art encompasses any use of digital media in the creation of works of art. This could span a variety of things from simply creating physical compositions and then scanning them into digital format, to actually making compositions on a computer. I think any use of a computer, digital camera, or technologically advanced piece of equipment for the purpose of creating art, can be classified as digital art