member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Looking for Spooky? Travel No Further...

Looking for Spooky? Travel no Further...
Chris Anthony

I Put A Spell On You - Nina Simone

In 2007, Chris Anthony did a series of photographs called "Victims and Avengers," for which he won a 2007 Lucie Award nomination for Deeper Perspectives, the 2007 Grand Prize Winner American Photo's Images of the Year:

"Basically these pictures deal with domestic violence," at the point of "the final straw. They've taken vengeance and have murdered their husbands or fathers." The audience is viewing the "moment of release, like the calm after the storm."
Domestic violence "is something I grew up with," he says. "I saw it and heard it as a little kid. It's been with me all my life—The uncomfortable and horrific situations that you're in as a victim or a witness."

Emily and Zooey Deschanel are the models in most of this series. Here is Zooey singing "I Put a Spell on You." ("You better stop the things you do....No, I ain't lyin...")

I Put A Spell On You - Zooey Deschanel

(Zooey Deschanel)

Curator Hannah Sloan included Anthony in a group show titled "Queen of the Night: Women Under the Influence 1963–2006" at Berman Turner Projects in Los Angeles this past spring. "I wanted to do a theme about women on the border of reality and fantasy," says Sloan.

She saw the series as "a gruesome fairytale, which I thought [was] a good way to talk about domestic violence."

Anthony usually exhibits his images as large prints, usually 4 x 7 feet, in order "to have a lot of negative space...[and for] the viewer to feel these big, ominous, daunting rooms," he says.

As for technique:
His favorite is large format photography, using film and then scanning and printing using inkjet. "I've been buying really old lenses — like from the turn of the century — and using them with my 5×7 and 8×10 cameras. Everything old is new again.” Once he's taken the photos, he scans them into the computer, stitches bits and pieces together, and then prints using the 24-inch Epson 7800 Stylus Pro ink-jet printer. "I've settled on working with William Turner paper by Hahnemühle. It's a very thick, cotton paper, with a little bit of texture. I love the feel of the paper."

I started shooting bands when I was pretty young, like twelve or thirteen. I was living in Sweden, had a fanzine, and I shot shows and stuff like that. I was really not interested in photography as much as the music business, but photography was a way to get access to all of that. Over the next couple of years, I got better at it, and when I was fourteen or fifteen I was actually doing it semi-professionally. I moved to Italy to study art history, and at one point I stopped cold with photography and went into film– for the next eleven or twelve years, I worked in film and was a director. That really formed the way I like make pictures these days—with a certain narrative quality I think they have – each one feels like it could be a still frame from a scene from a film. I like to create a little world with characters as opposed to doing straightforward portraiture or shooting models or that sort of things. About four or five years ago, I picked up on photography again. I had found a new passion for it, and came at it very much influenced by what I had learned and done in film.

In an interview with F Stop magazine, he addressed a few aspects of his style:
F STOP: It seems like all these images have a vintage look to them, what interests you about that style?

Anthony: I guess it’s a set of aesthetics or tastes that’s derived from many things. I was born and raised in the countryside in Sweden. I lived in Stockholm. We lived in the south of Spain. I lived in Morocco, then in New York, then back to Sweden. Of course, I went to study art history in Italy. I think this helped me appreciate a lot of European history and the aesthetics of certain time periods since I was really young. I was never really interested in modern, like 20th century art, or modern architecture; somehow that other Victorian time period really appealed to me always. I almost wish I lived in that world; it’s definitely very much a part of me. Of course when it comes to the two dimensional art that I like, it’s derived from the mid 19th century British painters and pre-Raphaelites and the symbolists. I love that. I love the Renaissance. I’m also more influenced and inspired by painters than other photographers. It’s a feeling that really appeals to me. I guess it’s natural that it finds its way into what I try to do myself.

(Speaking of a different series):
F STOP: Where did you come up with the idea for using the little people in this series?

Anthony: It’s really just something from when I was a kid, I was kind of obsessed miniaturization. I could just sit there and stare at mundane objects on the table top, like an ashtray, a book, a pencil or something, and imagine myself being a few inches tall and how I would relate to the normal world being so little. Hours could go by where I would dream about that sort of stuff. It was always fascinating to me when I was a kid. It kind of stuck with me always. The idea to actually do it in a picture occurred to me last year at some point. It was really just going to be one little set of small people that were the main characters that you were going to follow through different photographs, but I threw that idea out. The idea of sticking with the little people, though, that was kind of fantastic, and also a little funny, with a little humor and not quite as dark and serious as the Victims and Avengers stuff.

He's also won several awards for his commercial work with bands and products. For example, the 2007 International Photography Awards: Professional Photographer of the Year in Advertising/ Music; 1st Place: My Chemical Romance "Black Parade" and the PDN 2007 Photo Annual: Winner in the Corporate category for My Chemical Romance "The Black Parade" Winner in the Advertising category for Sony Playstation 3 "The White Room Series."

"Black Parade"

and the Black Book Raw 20 Photographers 2008
Go Indie Photo Contest/ PDN Stock Photo Guide 2007 Professional Grand Prize Winner and Category Winner for "I'm the Most Normal Person I Know"

This was the show opener:

"Too Few Virgins"

Another recent series, and his first to use the outdoors as a backdrop, is Venice. He says:
“Venice is a metaphor for a sinking city, deserving of nature’s wrath, leaving its citizens to tread water and explore new ways to sustain life on aquatic earth.”

(Click on the photo and enlarge to see her face...)

The man seems ready for the time of reckoning and punishment, which makes him a good medium for ghosts, hauntings, and half-drawn children standing awkwardly in huge empty rooms as if abandoned suddenly by their maker:

Other images I couldn't manage to "borrow" are here:

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Reasoned Juxtaposition Part III

The Art of Janda Zdenek, the Ars Memoria of Giordano Bruno, and Dream Theory

Zdenek Janda
"Beauty and the Beast"

Zdenek Janda
"Gothics in Bohemia"

Zdenek Janda

Janda Zdenek is a painter, born in Louny Czechoslovakia in 1953.

Zdenek Janda
"Adoration of the Three Magi"

"At the Beginning There Was Stone...
Words from the artist:

I painted two stones as a study into a sudden flash of thought I received . I painted them, one hanging above the other. Oh dear, my inspiration. These stones were different from the heavy lying ones. There will forever be tension between them. Stones levitate. It was my first stimulus and it needed to be considered. From stones still life emanates, from stones human drama can be created. By arranging stones and other various components into mutual combinations, chords of feeling can be created. These cords of feeling radiate the human experience."

I create new shapes with my fantasy and onto empty stages I place the players of dramatic experience; puppets; stony mountains; sand; wood; metal...myself the scenarist, costume designer, lighting technician, director. My own Commedia dell Mundo."

Zdenek Janda
"Giordano Bruno"

It's interesting that Janda Zdenek describes his work as being a placing together of disparate objects to give them new life and meaning...Girodano Bruno (painted above) had a similar process through which he developed the Ars Memoria, or Memory Arts. Above, he is painted with many objects sailing around his head; in his right hand, he holds a pointer which he directs towards a disembodied head. The whole universe is there, emanating from his brain. To have the whole universe at one's fingertips, like that, was the goal of the memory arts. The process of the art was (loosely) to create symbols to represent ideas and facts and hypotheses and arguments, symbols that were meaningful to you, the creator, but were "funny" in some way--odd in their juxtaposition with the idea to be remembered, because it was understood that things that were funny (or violent or sexual) were easier to remember. Verbal puns (for example) on the words or ideas to be remembered would be visually expressed and then the visual symbol would be "placed" in a particular corner of a particular room of a particular floor of a house (or a place in a garden), which was your memory castle, or your memory garden. You, the Mnemonist would then be able to stroll through the house or the garden (or the castle or the library) in your mind, and with each item you passed, recall a different aspect of the speech, or the list of medical facts, or the arguments of a proof, that you were trying to memorize.
Your first step was to create the house or garden. Your second step was to decide upon the symbols you would use for each letter of the alphabet and for the numbers 0-9. Then you were ready to begin.

John Michael Greer gives this example:
"For instance, if-to choose an example wholly at random-one needed to memorize the fact that streptococcus bacteria cause scarlet fever, rheumatic fever, and streptococcal sore throat, the first task would be the invention of an image for the word "streptococcus." One approach might be to turn this word into "strapped to carcass," and visualize the figure who represents the letter S with a carcass strapped to his or her back by large, highly visible straps. For scarlet fever-perhaps "Scarlett fever" -a videotape labeled "Gone With The Wind" with a large thermometer sticking out of it and an ice pack on top would serve, while rheumatic fever-perhaps "room attic fever" -- could be symbolized by a small model of a house, similarly burdened, with the thermometer sticking out of the window of an attic room ; both of these would be held by the original figure, whose throat might be red and inflamed to indicate the sore throat. Again, this takes much longer to explain, or even to describe, than it does to carry out in practice."

There was a secondary purpose to this process, and that was of a more alchemical nature. The Hermetic magicians of the Renaissance (and Giordano Bruno himself) felt that if you could organize an image of the universe from your memory (holding always the Platonic view that all "learning" was really just memories from before you were born into human form), you would attain the key to universal knowledge. Your mind works in images and puns (think here of the odd scenes of your dreams, which reorganize the occurrences of your day into short story form to help you understand them), and your mind knows more than you are aware of (more than you have yet “remembered”). If you access that image-producing, pun-producing part of your brain, regularly storing all the knowledge you come across that way, then you will (according to this school of thought) come to a point where you can begin to have an effect on the outer, physical world by moving around those symbolic images in your mind. This may seem like a ridiculous claim, but it reminds me of the current dream theories, which posit that since your subconscious mind works in images and puns (!), it is much easier to change a deeply-held fear or other weakness by using the visual representations of that fear provided by your dream than it is to try to logically reason away that fear. The most common example: if you are dreaming of a dark monster chasing you down the stairs every night, then the task set out for you is to stop running, turn around, and ask the monster what it wants, exactly. According to dream theory, the monster, like every other being that shows up in your dreams (including your cheating husband and your mother-in-law) is only an aspect of yourself. It is something you are creating that is holding you down by terrorizing you. Once you turn around to face it, once you talk to it, once you touch it, refuse to be afraid of it, it will stop chasing you, and then big changes are set to occur in your waking life. Opportunities will pop up unexpectedly, because you will be ready to move forward. (It is important, here, to feel the things that are happening in this dream, so that your body is fooled into believing it is an actual experience.) This practice, by the way, is also called alchemy.

So, returning to the memory castles, the idea becomes that you can address a problem symbolically. You create a visual representation of all the knowledge you have on the problem, all the problematical aspects, and then think about what you hope to gain by solving it. Move things around in an effort to get to that resolution, and... voila, the world changes. It's not a joke to say that most of the bigger problems of the world are often solved by looking at the issue sideways or upside down; this is the same kind of idea.

Zdenek Janda
"Psychoanalysis on the Bridge"

Note the bird, the Jungian symbol of transcendence, waiting to be released from the cage of the mind. The horse drinks from the glass-encased brain of the man behind her--a man composed only of legs and head, drive and will; the horse seems to be sucking everything out of the man's mind. In dreams, a favorite source of materials for analysts, animals symbolize your instincts. Horses represent some sort of passion. Here it seems as though that passion is perhaps sucking the juice out of its owner, making him behave like a dummy? A bridge would be symbolic of a crossing, a transition from one land to another; maybe bridging a gap (speaking of puns), or an age transition-- it is at this transition that the psychoanalysis occurs. Note that the uber-passionate male is not looking where he's going in that transition, and he's barely on the bridge. It will not take much to cause him to drown-- which, by the way, is another symbolic act, as water mostly represents emotions, and thus the over-passionate male, blinded by his passion, is overwhelmed by his passion, "drowns" in it.

Zdenek Janda
"Surrealist Sailing"

The Surrealist movement, of course, was based on the idea of juxtaposing seemingly disparate objects, especially as would be formulated in a dream. Salvador Dali, here painted right behind the figurehead, referred to Sigmund Freud as his "father" for most of his professional life, and painted many canvases that seemed driven by the same bizarre logic as a dream. The Tree of Knowledge in the biblical Garden of Eden has often been represented as a pear tree, so it could be that the pear here is the fruit that the "automatic," (and thus subconscious) bizarre pairings that occur in a surrealist painting strive to capture--the ultimate knowledge, that same ultimate knowledge the practitioners of the Hermetic Arts strove for.
For the meaning of the egg on the head of the last member of the party, I looked to, where it states:
"According to Rulandus' 17th century Alchemical Lexicon, the "Ovum Philosophicum," which can be translated as the Philosophical or Hermetic Egg, is the principal vessel used in alchemical operations...The alchemists would seal the subject of their work, the substance that would be transformed through the alchemical operations, in the egg. During the alchemical process, the subject, Hermetically sealed in the Egg, would go through a symbolic death and rebirth. When the Egg was cracked, a new mystical substance emerged which was an elixir that prolonged life and acted as a catalyst capable of improving any substance that it came in contact with. This substance, called the Philosopher's Stone, could change lead into gold and change an ordinary person into an enlightened master."

Back to Janda Zdenek:
"The frame provides the psychological distance by surrounding the picture. Consequently, the frame protects the soft painting in the middle with its massiveness physically. From the very beginning, my intention was to create a unique frame for every picture, and after several failed attempts from specialists, I came up with the conclusion that I must create the whole frame by myself. Only the artist by himself can, if he is capable, complete the unity of his work. Into the frame I enclosed not only various shapes and kinds of wood, stone and other natural materials connected to the pictures, but I also enclosed my careful artwork and my own personal fantasy."

Zdenek Janda
"Legend of the Warrior"

Zdenek Janda
"Angel in the Rocks"

Zdenek describes the above painting on his website. Parts of that description are copied here:
"The Angel in the Rocks is about faith, not just faith in the sense of religion, but in the belief of the idea of faith in general. The test of faith comes when you can't see the horizon, yet you believe if you follow the light, your conviction in faith will protect you.

The composition of The Angel in the Rocks is divided into three meaningful settings. The left part of the composition (allowing for the sense of movement of figures in the foreground) a messenger of the truth is walking -the Angel. She is leading a group of men and women, showing them the way through a difficult part of life - the rocks..."
“From the head of the Angel the light of truth is waving like hair over those in the middle part of the composition. These are the faithful, the believers in the idea. The first figure is walking with steadfast confidence and has no doubt in his belief....
“The last part of the composition belongs to the undecided ones. The fourth figure has not yet recognized his direction. His eyes are covered by a velvet ribbon, which prevents him from properly seeing the illuminated path. His mouth, closed by a medieval wooden pear prevents him from speaking. The figure is blind and mute and must through the power of his mind break his psychosis and find the right direction. If he doesn't, he will fall into the depths . The fifth and last figure, with his hand cupped around his ear, is listening. Atop his rounded head a fragile bottle is balancing. Though the bottle is still closed and not able to accept the light of truth, the figure is beginning to feel the beneficial influence of faith.”

For more from John Michael Greer on the Ars Memoria, see:


sorry, silent (on my part) post for now. i'm sure it'll come up later, though.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chris Berens

chris berens

chris berens
"Darkest Hour Before the Dawn"

Chris Berens was born in 1976 in Oss, Netherlands. He lives and works in Amsterdam, where he is represented by Jaski Art Gallery.

chris berens

He uses only ink, for its transparency. He puts the ink on glossy inkjet paper. The smooth plastic surface allows him to adjust the ink in a way that paper wouldn't while the ink is wet--and it stays wet for a couple of days. When the ink is almost dry, he takes a blow dryer to his image, which heats the plastic and pushes the ink into it, blurring the image out slightly, and erasing any brush strokes. He also makes several copies of each part of the image, and when they are dry, he peels the glossy coating off the paper, cuts out each image, and layers them over each other to further erase any hint of brush stroke-- this is what gives the image the "blurred photograph" look and its depth. When he cuts them out, he cuts off the edges of the drawings, removing the part where the ink is weakest. He collages all the pieces together with bookbinder's glue.

chris berens
"Welcome to the Great Below"

"What I make is not a distortion or reshaping of the reality which everyone sees around them, or of events which actually happen. That is not what my work is about. I simply try to paint the world inside my head. This world has been with me since I was a child. It is populated by people and animals and is filled with landscapes, villages, cities and scenes. All kinds of things happen in this world and various stories unfold. But it's not the ‘normal’ world, and they are not the things that happen in the regular world."

chris berens
"The Gift"

“I treat every painting as I would a diary, in which I, instead of using words – because they are just too straightforward – draw and paint my thoughts and feelings," Berens says. “Naming a painting feels like closing a case. To me, a title is the affirmation of something I have suspected all along. Peace at last.”

From Juxtapoz: "Creating in a fashion akin to automatic surrealistic style, Chris’ compositions are never planned beforehand, but rather grow organically from section to section. He says that anytime he plans something out or has a specific thing he wants to create it never turns out, and that when he finds himself actively thinking he quickly has to stop working. "

chris berens
"Royal Transport"

His page is lovely...

chris berens
"Graceful Rain"

He says on it:
"Chris Berens paints visions of his internal universe as if he sees it through an ancient handmade lens which warps and obscures his view of that curious place in unpredictable ways. His kaleidoscopic mirror world, inhabited by an exotic menagerie of beasts, mysterious Madonnas and lost children, is richly represented with color palettes, environments, and themes reminiscent of Golden Age Dutch painters like Vermeer and Rembrandt, yet its overall effect is vaguely disturbing, in the manner of Rosamond Wolff Purcell and the Brothers Quay."

chris berens
"The Chase"

chris berens
"Meet the Andersons"

chris berens

Note: for those of you close by, Chris Berens and Mia Araujo will both have works in the Lush Life show at Roq La Rue in Seattle, Washington, from this Friday (May 8) until June 2. Mia Araujo's work can be seen in yesterday's post.

chris berens
"Out of the Blue Into the White"

chris berens
"The Wind Blows West"