January 29, 2009
Julien Audebert’s work grows out of an exploration of our visual information systems: text and image. Often an exercise in visual literacy, Audebert’s work investigates the way we “read” and understand what we see. In these works, the artist has abstracted the text of great literary and cinematic works to the point of illegibility, where the shape of the text and space between words become the only readable image. By using such well-studied texts as Walter Benjamin’s Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and Homer’s The Odyssey, Audebert plays with our notion of meaning and where it lies. Unable to be read, we can glean no meaning from the words. Because we know what the text is however, we assign meaning to the block of indecipherable lettering. Auderbet’s work reminds us that words do not inherently carry meaning, but rather we as individuals do. Audebert does the same with what he terms film-sculptures. Studio is made up of multiple film stills deriving from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1948 film, Rope. By taking these stills and laying them over each other, the artist compresses cinematic time. Rather than multiple images in sequence (which produce a moving picture and create narrative in time), multiple images come together to collapse time in one frame. The same amount of information is present in the photo sculpture as in the section of moving film, but now the narrative is condensed. Creating narrative and allegory is a long time pursuit of artists and Audebert draws on that tradition. Filmmakers have the luxury of an extra dimension, time, to develop narrative and meaning. By compressing the film section in to one image the artist has abstracted it and denied it linier progression. Like his text-based works, these film-sculptures function as a reminder that meaning is context-dependant, not inherent. The title for the exhibition Ornament and Crimes comes from the title of an essay by the early twentieth century architect Adolf Loos. In his essay, Loos argues that because styles go in and out of fashion it is not only a waste of time to decorate useful objects, but a crime. His reasoning is that as the decoration goes out of style the object is rendered obsolete, slowing the evolution of our culture. Loos favored the “smooth and precious surfaces” of modern architecture. The exhibition title is ironic, as the four works in the gallery have been relegated to the realm of ornament. All five works in this exhibition—two films, two essays, and one epic poem— reference a “crime”. The Odyssey is about a mortal’s punishment for the crime of forgetting his place in the face of the gods. In Rope, the main character presents the idea that intellectuals are above the law and therefore have the right to murder the common people as an academic exercise. The Clue (bladerunnerblowup) is taken Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner, in which biologically-engineered humanoid “replicants” are second-class citizens that can be executed with-out trial. This film-sculpture not only references a crime but is a key piece of evidence in “Blade Runner”. Appropriate to Audebert’s themes, the protagonist in the movie enlarges the photograph past the point of a readable image. However, where there should be only pigment grain the protagonist able to see details. The clue is hidden information mirror on the wall, a picture in a picture like the Jan van Eyck painting it references. Also insightful to this discussion, Benjamin’s essay lays out how mechanical reproduction extends the reach of art-works at the expense of the “aura”. The crime he writes about is the denigration of the original and the artist’s touch (aura) through our techniques mass reproduction. In his overall artistic practice, Audebert not only reproduces works, but reinterprets and re-contextualizes them. In compressing and abstracting the information, making it into ornament, our ability to discover the crimes is abated. Without context, the evidence of the crimes in these works, and his own crime are erased, leaving us with simply with ornament.
As a Museum educator I do a lot of writing about art at work. It is after all part of my job to interpret the exhibitions and write materials for the public. In essence my job is telling people what to think about art. I am careful about how I go about this and train my interns to be open ended when leading gallery tours.
I am going to start posting the tour scripts (modified for this format and with pictures) but first a little bit of background about where I work.
Introduction to CAF and Alternative art spaces
CAF was founded in 1976 by artists and art supporters to function as an alternative art space dedicated solely to the art of our time. What began as a grassroots, artist-run organization with nominal funding now serves as the premier contemporary arts venue between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
CAF is not a museum. Rather than collecting, preserving, and studying art works that have been deemed important, CAF serves as a laboratory for the creation of new work and the exploration of new ideas. As an alternative art space, CAF is a venue for innovative artwork and a center for the creation of new ideas and discourse.
With every exhibition cycle, CAF commissions a new work for the Charles Bloom Gallery and exterior glass box. With these new art commissions, Bloom Projects gives us a unique, first-look at works of art often inspired by the context of Santa Barbara.
October 18, 2008
I came across the web log Artist, Emerging and found it quite usefull.
January 30, 2008
I was walking down State street today on my lunch break and saw a man about my age in a great sports coat walking towards me. It was well-tailored, great black on black striped fabric, a beautiful garment that stood out as not some generic coat that looks like any other sports coat. I was admiring this mans taste and wishing I could afford to spend the kind of money ‘m sure he did on a single item of clothing. I don’t even know where to buy nice cloths. I shop at Macy’s. Then my envy was replaced with nausea as he turned into a building and I saw the rhinestone skull on the back of this otherwise awesome coat. My first thought was, “This is why you don’t buy cloths in South beach ” Miami is the only place I have ever seen this style on people walking the streets on any wide scale. There it makes sense. The city is full of old Jewish Grandmas. My Bubbie and her friends wear gold lame and bedazzled clothing. Some where in the last few years this trend moved to a younger demographic and got “edgy” rather than the sweaters with cat motifs featuring rhinestone eyes the in thing is skulls, but still with lots of metallic gold and sparkling facetted plastic. Next it will become popular to play mahjong or canasta and kvetch.
Exhibit A (Tacky!)
January 7, 2008
Jason and I have a few new items in our permanent collections. There is little focus in our collection other than it is all work by young living artist. One piece is satirical one is a feminist work and one is… well ridiculous
First is by Saul Gray-Hildenbrant This piece is only 7.5″ square including frame (image size if the drawing is 3.25″). It came home with Us after a bitter battle at the gift exchange portion of my office holiday party. I love this drawing because it is clever and come at a time when many colleges Like Art Center College of Design are closing there Criticism & Theory programs. Sad 😦 It is entitled “Criticism Is Dead ”
this “Pin Up Gir”l is a small sculpture by Ann-Maree Walker
December 18, 2007
Looking around it is not difficult to see how children are indoctrinated in to consumer culture in this country, especially this time of year. The strategies range from the subtler early brand recognition like Baby Gap to the more overt Play dough McDonald’s and the toys that are designed to make a game of consuming like Bratz and Barbie where girls can play shop. I find these toys obnoxious and metaphorically shake my fist at the force training America’s youth to be consumer whores. This is normally directed at faceless, capitalist culture but to day I shake my fist at Saks fifth ave. They have just released a holiday book about how snow people all look alike: Round with carrot noses and charcoal eyes. The solution to this is of cores a trip to Saks, and new noses. Because there’s no identity problem a shopping spree and rhinoplasty can’t fix! You can hear the whole story at http://www.saksfifthavenue.com/main/SnowPeople.jsp
December 9, 2007
Last nigh I and other Philip Pullman fans went to see the movie adaptation of The Golden Compass, the first in a trilogy of theology disguised as innocent fantasy fiction. With out giving any thing away about the story I can tell you the books are a daring look at organized religion, the creation story, and the western ideas of God. The book takes place in world where the church controls all government, and where there is no science, but rather experimental theology. The corrupt theocracy is committing atrocities, which prompts one main character to set out to kill “The Authority” a.k.a. God. The trilogy has prophecies, Arc Angels and a Gnostic inspired episode in which another character like Jesus frees the souls in hell. It is from the daring themes that the books in the “His Dark Materials” trilogy get their impact.
The movie, not wanting to offend anyone took out all religious content leaving an enjoyable but shallow film. It is still worth seeing, but the omitting of the central theme of the books from the movie was disappointing. Moreover, it makes me wonder how they are going to continue and finish the story.
To the credit of the film industry the main character Lyra is a strong heroine in her own right just as she is in the books. At the center of this adventure Layra is at no point a damsel in distress, nor dose she have to be made masculine to be a daring and brave character.