Case Study #3 – Thesis Statement

Artist: Olafur Eliasson

In this case study, I examine the environmental costs of environmental art. The investigation will center around the installation pieces Your Waste of Time, Waterfalls, and Ice Watch by Olafur Eliasson. Do the environmental costs of these works contravene the meaning they are intended to convey?

Your Waste of Time
Your Waste of Time, Olafur Eliasson, 2006
Waterfalls 2008
Waterfalls, Olafur Eliasson, 2008
Ice Watch
Ice Watch, Olafur Eliasson, 2014

 

Potential Bibliography

Anderson, K.2015. ‘Ethics, Ecology, and the Future: Art and Design Face the Anthropocene,’ Leonardo 48: 338-347.

Balzer, D. 2017. ‘The Caron Footprint of Art,’ Canadian Art  http://canadianart.ca/features/the-carbon-footprint-of-art/

Chayka, K. 2010. ‘Evaluating Installation Art, Should Environmental Cost be Considered,’ Hyperallergic  https://hyperallergic.com/11316/evaluating-installation-art-environmental-cost/

Heartney, E. 2104. ‘Art for the Anthropocene,’ Art in America, Feb 2014 Issue.

 

 

Case Study #2 – Thesis Statement

Artist: Jeff Wall

“My take has been that photography is constituted by this complex interrelationship between the documentary root, the cinematographic, and the kinship with the other, manual, depictive arts” (Wall and Blalock 2013, pg. 45)

In this case study, I will explore Jeff Wall’s process and reasoning (as much as it is discernable from written discussions and interviews) behind his creation of photographs. How does Wall’s work help us contemplate the importance of sets, staging, actors, and allegory and reality in photography?

Jeff Wall’s photographs defy easy description. Superficially, they appear to be glimpses into ordinary, everyday events. However, Wall is not interested in the photographic traditions of reportage or of street photography both of which are largely based on capturing a found “reality” in front of the camera. For his images, Wall collaborates with paid individuals (he dislikes the term actors) in very specific locations to create or to re-create an image. These “near documentary” images are of subjects suggested by Wall’s direct experience. In the making of the images he tries to recollect the experience as precisely as possible, and to reconstruct and represent that experience precisely and accurately.

While he is reluctant to discuss in detail how he makes things, because he feels it spoils the enjoyment of art, he interviews he does provide glimpses into the complicated logic behind pushing the questions of staged versus real.

Literature Cited
Wall, J. and Blalock, L. 2013. Jeff Wall: On Pictures, Aperture 210: 40-45.

Case Study #1 – Thesis Statement

Artist: Robert Adams

In this case study, I will explore Robert Adams portrayal of the landscape and of human interactions with the environment. How does Adams balance a reverence for pristine wilderness with the unavoidable impact of humans on the landscape?

Intimations of Adams approach may be found in his writings. For example, in Beauty in Photography, he ruminates on the brutality and disgust imbued in an image he made of a deer leg alongside a freeway, wondering if by trying harder he might have discovered a truth rather than condemning what was in the scene. He notes “photography that acknowledges what is wrong, is admittedly in some respects hard to bear – it has to encompass our mistakes. Yet in the long run, it is important; in order to endure our age of apocalypse, we have to be reconciled not only to avalanche and earthquake and hurricane, but to ourselves” (Adams 1996, pg. 107).

Adams makes a case against beautiful depictions of the pristine landscape, suggesting that our discouragement with such depictions emanates “from the way we have damaged the country, from what appears to be our inability now to stop, and from the fact that few of us can any longer hope to own a piece of undisturbed land. Which is to say that what bothers us about primordial beauty is that it is no longer characteristic … Given our geography – the actual, mixed one of great trees and of fields littered with Styrofoam, of still-awesome mountains and of valleys dense with tract houses – is it possible for art to be more than lies?” (Adams 1996, pg. 14).

Literature Cited
Adams, R. 1996. Beauty in Photography. Aperture, New York, New York.

Identities

I.

my body is
fragments of collapsing stars
oxygen, carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen
calcium, phosphorous, potassium, sodium, chlorine, sulfur, magnesium
traces of iron, fluorene, silicon, and manganese

my body is
self-replicating chemistry
billions of pairs
of adenine and thymine
of cytosine and guanine

my body is
twisted double-helixes of DNA
organized as thousands
of protein coding units
arranged into twenty-three bundles

my body is
many highly-differentiated cells
organized as tissues and organs
working together
to power the collective called Me

II.

my cells are
a museum
of prehistoric interactions
between single-celled organisms
competing in the primordial soup

a freak show
of ancient atrocities.
My mitochondria
bear witness to being ingested, but not digested

a symbiotic cyborg
prokaryote inside a eukaryote.
An evolved obligate codependence,
neither able to survive without the other.

my body is
a transporter
of invertebrates
and occasional seeds
when hiking in wild places.

a mobile ecosystem
and space ship for bacteria,
viruses, and fungi,
and occasionally parasites

a fuzzy boundary
between human and non-human
where a kiss is a colonization event
helping hitch hikers reach a new island

III.

I am not
what I think
not my
unreal models of reality

Perceptions are
just in my head
everything exists
in relation to other things

I am male
I am white
I am straight
I am Buddhist
I am American

I am not separate

I am not,
not self,
not I

dukkha

feelings of helplessness and despair
are abnormally acute since the election

the white, male-dominated juggernaut is in control
crushing everyone who is not of the one percent
chewing up anything peripheral to the power structure.
intolerance has bubbled up from hiding
been given a platform
endorsed by the democratic process

they forget political correctness
don’t apologize for being blinded by privilege
for lacking in compassion or empathy
remain unaware of the contradictions
of wealth acquired based on cotton farming
in the deep South during the years of Jim Crow

sure, old white males
have long held the power
but in the recent past
trickery was usually applied with subtlety
allowing the rest of us
the illusion we can participate
that the dream is not dead
that there is still a chance to make it
with hard work and a bit of luck

my state and my nation are out of control
run by fiscal fundamentalists
who value money over people.
I do not agree
with their view of the world
with their view of our nation
and the changes they propose

as a white man, it would be easy
to dissolve into this mob
to avoid making waves
to benefit from the disguise
of my external appearance

I worry I may be mistaken
for a backer of those in power
for a denier of science, data, and logic
for a supporter of racism, sexism, and misogyny

So, keep moving and changing shape
inventing new ways to ask questions
tearing at the scaffolding of the apparatus
fighting for those that cannot
even if it feels like we are going to lose