Claudia Schmacke at SLAM

April 21, 2009

A couple weeks ago I stopped at the St. Louis Art Museum to see the Currents 103: Claudia Schmacke exhibition. It is up on the third floor in the 301 and 337 galleries. The show runs until July 5th, 2009. 

Claudia Schmacke is a German artist based in Berlin who explores temporally and the perception of time.

Part of the exhibition was a sculpture made of plastic tubing, water and fluorescent dye that loops out  and stretches out across one of the walls. The water is being propelled through the tubes, thus there is a noticeable hum. This sound seems to have some importance to the piece itself so it is not just purely incidental. This particular piece is called Time reel. 

The title makes an obvious reference to film reels. In this day and age many young people may not get the reference. I remember in school being shown films from a projector and the light clicking noise that was made from the film going reel to reel. The noise sort of has that feel and the fact that the water is cycling makes that reference to the physical, mechanical motions that are involved in showing a film. I think the dye was to make the moving water more noticeable to the viewer. 

Here are some images of Time Reel:

This is nearly the whole piece

This is nearly the whole piece

 

 

detail of the loops

detail of the loops

 

detail of the wall and all the holes

detail of the wall and all the holes

  

The other part of the exhibition is made up of two videos. One is called Umbilicus and the other is called Dark Matter. Both videos were shot in LA near the La Brea Tar Pits. Both videos are looking down into drainage pipes. I only saw part of Umbilicus… it was nearly 20 minutes long. It features water being sucked down this small drainage pipe. Featured prominently are the sucking, gurgling and other sounds that can come from water going down a drain. The sounds would make young children laugh (some adults too).  I do believe she is making references between the body and structures and systems that help keep places functioning.

Also, there is that issue of time. Time being relative. Time always moves as a constant speed (seconds, minutes, hours, days, etc) but our perception of time always changes. When there is excitement time seems to fly. When there is not much going on, leading to boredom, time seems to crawl. Looking at a 20 minute video of water going down a drain seems to be a good example of the latter. The video just never seems to end. I believe the artist is not trying to bore you to death, but is keeping the viewer aware of time and how it is perceived. 

For a still image of one of the videos stop by the St. Louis Art Museum website.

Also, you can stop by the Claudia Schmacke website for more info on her work and career.

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Dada and It’s Influence

January 30, 2009

This is part two of my “history” series. It has been a little while since I last post to my blog. The snow and winter weather has been a distraction. Even though a lot of time has been spent inside, I have decided to work on some art instead of writing. Plus I have been doing some sledding and made a snowman.Well, now I am back…with a sore tailbone from sledding. Ouch, I am getting old.

So part two will be on Dada and it’s sub-movements and how they influenced visual communications/graphic design.

Dada started as a literary movement when Hugo Ball opened the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland around 1917. A huge member of this group, in addition to Hugo Ball, was Tristan Tzara, a poet. He published poetry and edited a publication called DADA. 

Example of Tristan Tzara's work

Example of Tristan Tzara's work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These literary figures were interested in sound, nonsense,  and chance poetry. This did spill out into the visual art field in the form of automatic drawing and the allowance of chance and the absurd to infiltrate too.

The Dada movement claimed to be “anti-art” and had a strong destructive and negative element. It was a rejection of tradition and the seeking of complete freedom from past traditions. This was familiar territory of the Futurists and I am sure they did have some influence. 

Also, like the Cubists, they had an interest in letter forms as concrete visual shapes. Letters were not just phonetic symbols.

The art of photo-montage was said to originate from this same movement. The most famous artist to use this was Hannah Hoch. She took found elements from printed sources and patched them together in rather random and/or absurd ways.

Example of Hannah Hoch's work

Example of Hannah Hoch's work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kurt Schwitters…not technically part of the Dada Movement.

They rejected him.

However, he did have great influence on 20th century typography. However, in the art world he is most known for his collage compositions created from printed ephemera , rubbish and other found materials. In all of his work, he combined Dada’s nonsense and chance with strong use design elements and principles. I suppose he was too structured for the Dadaists then. I suppose this is why they rejected him.

From 1923-32 he published a periodical called Merz. Typography and design were major subjects of the publication. In addition, he worked with El Lissitzky, a Russian Constructivist, and he worked with Theo Van Doesburg, a Dutch De Stijl artist who was also famous for his architectural and design/typographic work. 

Schwittters also ran a graphic design studio and the city of Hanover, Germany employed him as a typography consultant for years.

A Kurt Schwitters collage

A Kurt Schwitters collage

Example of Schwitter's work for Merz

Example of Schwitter's work for Merz

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A sub-movement of Dada were the Berlin Dadaists. Two of their most famous members were John Heartfield and George Grosz. They sought to raise public consciousness and promote social change through visual communications.

Grosz and Heartfield Design

Grosz and Heartfield Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Both were highly critical of Germany’s politics and society. Heartfield used the art of photo-montage as a propaganda weapon and innovated the way work was prepared for offset printing. He hated Hitler and Nazi Germany…so much he changed his name from Helmut Herzfelde as a protest against German militarism. 

"Adolf, The Superman" by Heartfield

"Adolf, The Superman" by Heartfield

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

George Grosz, mainly known as a visual artist who is known for his paintings and drawings. He attacked a “decadent and degenerate” society through satire and characature. He did work for several publications such as, Der Blutige Ernst. 

Grosz drawing

Grosz drawing

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eventually, Dada dissolved into rival factions in 1921-22. One faction led by Andre Breton lead to the founding of Surrealism.

Surrealism will be next. I also checked out a book about woman designers so you will probably see some stuff on that soon. As a woman, I am interested in what woman have contributed to design since it seems like, historically, that men have dominated the field.