A picture tells a thousand words. But there are cases where a dozen words can redefine a picture.
In his 1977 publication Image Music Text critic Roland Barthes observed how text can often become parasitical upon images. This happens both in spaces like galleries and exhibitions, where wall-mounted captions can supersede what the eye observes in an art piece, or in printed photograph captions where a description of an image can often clash with what the image actually shows. Barthes‘ theory proposes that the closer text is to an image the less more incorporated it becomes, so with image captions that sit outside an image more can possibly be inferred than by words trapped inside an image.
inter |inˈtər| verb ( -terred , -terring ) [ trans. ] (usu. be interred) place (a corpse) in a grave or tomb, typically with funeral rites
active |ˈaktiv| adjective (of a person) engaging or ready to engage in physically energetic pursuits
(The above definitions are from the Oxford English Dictionary)
A touch of housekeeping again. Just wanted to say a very quick congratulations to Built Dublin, winners of the Best Arts/Culture blog at the 2012 Blog Awards Ireland. Moon Under Water picked up a beautiful certificate for the blog’s listing as a finalist, and I enjoyed a terrific night at the awards ceremony. A new page of recommended blogs is under development – watch this space.
The term ‘interactive’ has become synonymous with technology that allows for user engagement. This includes video games, websites, mobile phone applications and other digitally-based media. However, it is becoming increasingly clear that “interactivity” is perhaps more than it seems (see the definition above), that it is the undead media-manipulated masses of dancing a morose merengue.
Consider for a moment the interactivity of the daily commute. Most people who will be reading this will have used trains, trams, subways and buses as modes of transport in recent times. However, what the average reader may not have noticed is the growing tendency for the undead to meander among them on a daily basis. Every morning coffee-deprived, bleary-eyed commuters board their local public transport contraptions, staring down into their hands at hidden devices that keep them pacified. Continue reading “Inter Active – Zombies in the machine”
It is difficult to deny that Kraftwerk have been an astoundingly influential band since their formation in 1970. Revolutionary at the time, the German quartet incorporated an almost entirely synthesised music in an attempt to foreground the oncoming new media phase. But one of the more interesting quirks about Kraftwerk is not necessarily their music itself, but the idea of time that surrounds their music. With its industrial, drum-machine-driven synth and robotic sound, the music was designed to be “music of the future” in the 70s. However, it has since dated due to the technology that they employed in making it, and has instead placed them irrevocably at a certain point in the past. They are a band that lack a temporal definition, both part of the past and part of the future.
The digital age is popularly seen as an age of infinite information. It is described using terms like “interactivity” and “new media”, and is highlighted as an era that allows for the endless access of customised information at the fingertips of every individual user. The result is often a transient relationship between the user and the information, and as a result the idea of time, and our use of time, is becoming topical in current cultural writing.
“I should like to wake up in a hundred years’ time and to have just a peep out of one eye at what is happening in science.” – protagonist Nicolai Stepanovich in Anton Chekhov’s A Dreary Story
I‘d like to just start with a little piece of housekeeping. I was delighted to learn this weekend that Moon Under Water is a finalist in the Best Arts / Culture category at the Blog Awards Ireland. Thank you to all readers and to the judges of the awards – I will notify through here and through the blog’s social media pages of the final results after the awards ceremony on October 13th. Please click here for a link to all finalists in all categories, and give all the other blogs a look over – there is some terrific stuff in there.
I recently read an article in Art Forum magazine online entitled Digital Divide by Claire Bishop. The in-depth piece deals with the shortcomings of the age of the digital within the world of contemporary art. With sound philosophical and art historical reasoning throughout, the conclusion that Bishop arrives at is rather interesting as it suggests a dichotomy of futures for the world of visual art. Echoing the 1980s doomsday art critics, the piece argues that either the digital age will herald a new dawn in the way art is viewed and produced, or it could mean the end of art altogether.
Something puzzling about the digital age that I often muse over is what trace will be left behind for future historians to mull over. Today our historical record is mostly taken from the artefacts, art, tools and architecture of past generations. It is the little grains of past civilisations that give us some form of understanding of their culture or group identities, as well as their level of technological advancement. Continue reading “Disneyland and Digital Life – What we will leave behind”
I come from a nation that spends quite a large proportion of its time running from its visual history. Irish people often disregard the “Celtic” roots, the patterns and spirals and the ancient mythic tales of wars, magic and nature as fodder for American tourists. There is an unspoken desire to “move forward”, to reflect Ireland as the technological centre of western Europe, to emphasise how we have “caught up” and become part of the modern world. “We’re not pagan bog people anymore!” we shout emphatically at anyone who will listen, “We’ve built motorways and tall buildings so Intel and Facebook and Google would come!”
There is sometimes a lack of pride in the magic and runes of the ancient history and folklore in our country. Contemporary Irish art and design often analyse global themes and use global methods. Our current artists take pride in being well-travelled and educated in the artwork of Europe and America. Irish film is polished and masked with an international professionalism. Yet regardless of our motivation the island itself has trapped our ancient culture within, and the influence of the visual arts of our country is inescapable.
Culture is endlessly intertwined with place and history. While watching modern English cinema I often think of JMW Turner and his use of muted colours and sprawling compositions. Turner’s paintings are fastidious in the foreground, containing detail and narrative. These foregrounds are often overshadowed by bleak and near-colourless skies and background imagery that consume most of the space on the canvas.
More and more frequently I seem to become engulfed in a debate about whether or not a photographic image is “authentic”. I recently had it out with a friend who works as a photographer and designer, who argued that photographic images that are manipulated by Photoshop are not as good as process-based photographs created in the field using only the camera. Personally I can’t see the difference. Continue reading “Nice Photo, If It Wasn’t Photoshopped – Authentic photography”
Public Art can be a contentious issue for several reasons. Often people find public artworks to be eyesores, as seen in the recent backlash from the completion of Anish Kapoor’s Olympic Park sculpture. At other times public art commissions are unambitious and lead to poor artworks lining roads or sitting in village greens. Much Street Art, in particular graffiti, is destroyed as quickly as it is created, and is bemoaned by many as being aggressive or just ugly.
It is little surprise that Public Art suffers some degree of outspoken criticism. While gallery art takes its own share of lambasting, it is still safely ensconced within the white cube, the traditional art space where the public visit less often. Public Art on the other hand is displayed in the public domain, most often installed as a permanent fixture. Continue reading “Inspirational Monstrosity – Is Public Art for the public?”
Poster and billboard advertising is an acute way of judging the difference between two places. In the undecorated steel and glass of airports there can be few indicators to remind a traveller who has just arrived that they have even left their original location. One of the common and decisive indicators is a change in language or tone in the advertisements that are on display.
I remember landing in London for the first time and getting the tube into the city. At the first station three escalator journeys awaited, and on the tiled wall during the slow ascent there passed identical framed advertisements spaced a little apart from one another the whole way up. This deluge of small posters is not a rare sight in the London Underground, but it seemed unusual to me initially as it did not mirror any other metro or untergrundbahn that I had previously encountered. Continue reading “This Is Your God: Orienteering by advertisements”
I am currently attending a residency in Vermont Studio Center, Vermont USA. The residency invites up to 75 writers and artists to participate in their own studio practice for a predetermined amount of time in the company of other creative practitioners. During the first week, we, the aforementioned practitioners, have engaged in introductory conversations around the dinner tables etc, spouting the usual introductory dinner-table questions, e.g. “What’s your name?”, Where are you from?” etc. One recurring question has caused me an abundance of consternation time and again. That question is “What are you?” Continue reading “What Are You? – Society’s categories and labels”
One of the most notable visual effects of the international economic crash in 2008 on the western landscape was the sudden closure of hundreds of small and large businesses, and the emergence of idle business premises in urban centres. From factories to fashion boutiques, empty spaces corrupted the urban landscape and spread like a pandemic through cities and towns in Europe and America from 2008 onward.
In town and city centres the effect was most visible as large chain stores began to go into receivership and their commercial outlet units began to shut up shop. Usually located in prime areas, these vacated properties created trails of desolate spaces in urban areas. The result was for these spaces to lie idle, in some cases for the past four years. Continue reading “Filling The Void: Art in disused urban spaces in Ireland”