Saturday, October 10, 2009

Choi Jeong Hwa - Soft Power

One of South Korea's leading contemporary artists, Choi Jeong Hwa, often creates colorful installations that are highly politicized but never lose their playful flare.


If you'd like to see more of Choi Jeong-Hwa's work, click here

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Stylites - Beijing Street Fashion


This post is of a somewhat different flavor from the other entries this far. Despite my fact that my primary interest is in art, it doesn't stop me from occasionally straying to different subjects. This fashion blog in particular has managed to find its way onto my daily ritual of sites to visit.

Stylites is surprisingly unprejudiced in its selections of models. Ranging from a raging fashionista to an elderly man wearing updated Manchu style robes. The only defining criteria is that they are walking the streets of Beijing and of course, have a clearly defined sense of style. Go take a look at this wildly successful, yet humble blog - I promise you'll learn something new, and if not, it will at least be an interesting read nonetheless.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Daito Manabe

Daito Manabe is a composer, DJ, computer programmer, hacker, and performance artist based out of Tokyo. Even more impressive than his list of skills, is Manabe's extraordinary ability to fuse all of these media and skills into a single entity. Most of his pieces work between the area of new media and performance art. Using his computer-prowess, Manabe is able to create connections between technology and the human body in a way that most would consider impossible. His playful videos are often infused with beats or tones that openly display his interest in music and sound.

"Face Visualizer"

Manabe's Face Visualizer series was the first piece of work that I saw of his. Most have seen the facial twitches featured in the video, (which in this case are forced by an electrical current) as individuals, but when a series of mouth, eye, and nose spasms are done simultaneously it creates a singular alien movement. The image of it appears so foreign that it even seems to be a form of computer graphics, but this isn't the case with Daito Manabe.

Here is another video which Manabe tests an LED light with sound in his mouth. Like Face Visualizer, this video is just a test; which is arguably more intriguing than the actual works themselves. Its so rare in the art community, especially for new media and more computer-based artists, to share their processes and tests with the general public. For this reason it really is a blessing that Manabe shows his process in a public venue for those of us who aren't as computer-savvy. If you would like to see more of his youtube videos please click here for his official youtube page. And for exhibition information, blog, and biography, his personal website.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Justine Lai - Join Or Die

Justine Lai

Justine Lai's series 'Join or Die' is a series of paintings featuring herself having sex with previous presidents of the United States. Her work forces the viewer to consider their own perceptions of formality; American political icons into a completely new perspective. Because of the obscure content of her paintings your first reaction feels as if it should be shock, but Lai's paintings have a whimsical quality to them that makes the viewer completely comfortable. Both technically and conceptually her work is memorable, and we're sure to see more. She is painting the presidents in chronological order, and is only up to number 18.

Justine Lai

If you'd like to see more images from Justine Lai's website, click here

Monday, April 27, 2009

Otaku: Japan's Database Animals

Hiroki Azuma is one of the premier cultural and literary critics of Japan. Up until recently his career has been focused on the postmodern style of literature until the late 90's, when he began to apply similar theories to Japanese pop culture. Azuma has recieved plenty of criticism for his transition from literature to the otaku cultural phenomenon, but that small loss is our gain. 

This translated study, and in some ways a critique of the Otaku subculture gives English speaking audiences a rare glimpse of this emerging realm of academia of Japanese pop-subcultures. Azuma attempts to theorize and conceptualize what it is to be Otaku - why and how this has become a purely Japanese phenomenon. To Azuma the Otaku subculture is one of a sort of blind and unpredictable consumerism. From just the title one could make the assumption that this will be a strong cultural critique against Otaku, and while Azuma does indeed refer to them as "Database Animals" (His reasoning I will leave you to decipher) it is quite neutral and sometimes even positive.
I highly suggest this book for anyone interested in contemporary East Asian studies, its a simple read and you'll be left satisfied.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Miyanaga Aiko - 宮永愛子

miyanaga aiko

Similar to the last post, Miyanaga Aiko just received her MA and is plowing into the international art scene. The bulk of her work consists of objects casted in Naphthalene; the same material used to create mothballs.
Naphthalene has an ethereal and temporary material. Because the medium is so fragile her sculptures begin to fade and decay within days of their installation. I chose to use a somewhat dated image from her Uncertainty of Warmth (2003) series because it depicts the transition day to day with these Naphthalene casted butterflies. Every day for three months she casted one of these butterflies - when displayed the viewer can see a narrative of the transient material, unlike her other works where only the current state is viewable.


If you would like to see more work by Miyanaga Aiko visit her official website in English or Japanese here

Monday, April 20, 2009

Cheng-Ta Yu's Ventriloquists

Cheng-Ta Yu in his series Ventriloquists questions identity and communication, managing to display both the chaotic mood as well as the humor that can be birthed from language barriers. In this series Cheng works with expats living in Taipei with little to no working knowledge of Mandarin. The artist dresses in black and stands directly behind the figurative 'puppet,' and goes through a lesson plan Cheng designed himself. Once the 'ventriloquist' says a word or phrase, the 'puppet' to the best of their ability, attempts to copy the words and tones that they just heard.

Going through the small video posted on Cheng-Ta Yu's website one cannot help but be amused at the absurdity of it. Some of the expats are better than others, but it's  everyone struggles with Cheng's carefully crafted soliloquies that range in content from phoenixes to Taiwanese girls' skirts. The work is indeed comedic, but it also caries a stronger and more serious of identity and the reliance on language.

cheng-ya tu

Visually, Cheng-Ta Yu allows the audience a very intimate one-on-one experience with generously spread out LCD screens complete with headphones so one can hear the audio. Each tape is complete with subtitles (another interest of Cheng's) in both Chinese and English. Cheng, Dressed in all black and tactfully standing behind the expat is ever-present. He exists as a non-entity throughout the work, and yet is using each of these people as a mere tool, or as Cheng explains in his blog, instruments. Cheng's use of humor, visuals, and innovation proves to us that this very recent M.F.A graduate will continue to create intriguing work that will spark international attention.

If you would like to learn more about Cheng-Ta Yu and his other works please visit his blog and personal website here