NOTHING - Week 8: Visit to the Whitney

Of the three exhibitions, I definitely enjoyed Lauren Poitras' the most. I began on the first floor at the Flatlands exhibition and worked my way up.

While I enjoyed some, though not all, of the work that was part of Flatlands, it didn't evoke the same kind of reaction as the other two.  I have several friends back home who earn their living as illustrators.  I admire and respect all of them, as each of them is incredibly talented, but some of their work highlights what I'd call current "trends" in illustration. I have no doubt it's incredibly difficult, if not impossible at this point, to possess a truly unique "style" as an artist.  It also makes sense that artists of a given time are influenced by the current "movement" of which they might, or might not, be considered a part of.

The intentional aesthetic choices of the flatlands artists served to remind me more of my own issues with the art world as a whole than it did convey any greater meaning.  Nina Chanel Abney's work was the only piece that I felt employed such as style to compliment the message her work was portraying.

I entered Heizer's Actual Size knowing next to nothing about the artist or the work on show. Comparatively speaking I spent the most time at this piece, as I think the sheer volume of open space compelled me to stay longer, in an attempt to grasp the deeper meaning of what is an intentionally captivating sensory experience created by such a large wide open space.  After some time, I grew frustrated and disappointed that I was unable to infer for myself what the piece was supposed to say to me.  After reading up about it, while sitting on one of the sofa's, I couldn't help but associate my own feelings of frustration with artist's intention of portraying depression in a deeper, more engaging way.

As I mentioned before, Astro Noise was definitely more thought-provoking.  As a non-American, I imagine my feelings differ somewhat from others.  It's possible that being in this position allows me to be more critical, or perhaps forces me to be, because I don't have anything "invested".  I've long been interested in Wikileaks and the story of Edward Snowden, and was surprised at how visceral my own reaction to seeing hardcopies of Top Secret documents and other physical artifacts was.  I also feel that being at ITP puts us in a unique position, as we probably know more about, or are simply more aware of, the type of digital surveillance that takes place.  

I was particularly interested in the infrared camera image displayed near the exit of the exhibition.  For me, this is a powerful example of the type of technology that's used by the US government in its "war on terror".  Despite being aware of the existence of tools like this, it was still unnerving to see the results of surveillance taking place in real-time, in an environment I was not expecting to be surveilled in. My first thought when seeing the projection of the night sky was something along the lines of "this is just a novel way to show some content of the sky, real clever, they get people to lie on their backs.  It becomes an 'engaging' experience".  However, after seeing the heat map of the room, I have no doubt it was intentional that they put you in a position of comfort, looking at the ceiling (the sky), without even subconsciously thinking that someone is watching.  Seeing that image of the heat map is a harrowing reminder that just because you can't see something, it doesn't mean it isn't there.

It's unfortunate that I missed out on the in situ discussion that would've taken place during the field trip, and I look forward to hearing the thoughts of others during the class.