Pipilotti Rist puts the pop in pop culture art

Pipilotti Rist puts the pop in pop culture art

Pipilotti Rist is one of the most vibrant artists we have studied. Her installation art is quirky yet powerful. It is fun yet unnerving, and always surprising. She mixes video and audio with a pop culture feel. While her art carries strong messages about sexuality and popular culture, it does so in a way that provokes thought and reaction in a positive way more than the more militant political statements we have seen this semester.

•        The New Yorker critic Peter Schjeldahl has described Rist as an “evangelist of happiness”. She is more than that. Her work is seriously crafted and paced, as generous as it is dangerous. We are, she has said, “permanently juicy machines” – and you can’t really argue with that.



So what do we learn from this artist? She makes bold vibrant messages from bold vibrant material. She may be seen as crossing the line, but isn’t pushing the borders really what art in the digital age is all about?

John Blatter – Which came first? The method or the message?

John Blatter – Which came first? The method or the message?

“A successful artist is able to put idea and concept above style, genre or medium by utilizing an expanded studio practice. This expanded studio practice could include: collaboration both within and beyond their field of experience; exploration of new ideas, mediums and technology; criticism, discussion and writing.” – from teachers statement

Moments is a 44 channel audio installation constructed from stories collected. Each story evolves around a moment in which the story teller felt a moment of pause and singularity brought about from an intense experience, emotion or thought.


Lesson Plan #19 was created for the SMart Multi-Media Festival sponsored collectively by the city of Grand Rapids, Open Concept Gallery and various arts organizations throughout Grand Rapids. The 4 channel work was conceived for the four story atrium of the Applied Technologies building of Grand Rapids Community College and used course information of the classes offered within the building as the starting point for the work.

“My use of video and sound within the installations are not because I am a media artist, but because it is the best medium in which to convey the ideas within the work.” – Blatter


“Technology has created a perverse sense of reality” – Blatter

In my life, the most intimate thoughts and emotions are kept to myself, as not to expose or reveal any weakness or vulnerability to those around me. I do however have one companion that I turn to, my diary. In Diary, this most private of possessions, is placed upon a shelf as the sound of my voice reading it aloud, resonates outward from within the shelf. While my internal struggles may be personal, they are not unique, which creates compassion among all through shared experiences.

So to my usual question? What ingredient could Rosemary be adding to the brain soup with this artist? I would dare to  guess that exploring new ideas by focusing on the idea, statement, or feeling you are trying to evoke is the foundation for the work and  the techniques or methods should build from that, as opposed to having technique, medium, etc be the foundation and the message is secondary to that.

Nam June Paik….don’t get lost on the superhighway

Nam June Paik….don’t get lost on the superhighway

Nam June Paik has been called the father of video art.  Many of his works combine video, music, and performance. He has been around since he early 60’s pushing the limits on technology and art. He is also said to have coined the term “electronic super highway” in reference to telecommunications; he went on to make a human sized robot that could walk, and to build a garden consisting mostly of televisions. He made a scale map of the USA out of masses of TV monitors and neon, that according to the Smithsonian exhibition text “proposes that electronic media [provides] us with what we used to leave home to discover”.







Nam June Paik_ Venus


Paik’s work would have a profound and sustained impact on the media culture of the late twentieth century; his remarkable career witnessed and influenced the redefinition of broadcast television and transformation of video into an artist’s medium. – John Handhardt.




  • “Our life is half natural and half technological. Half-and-half is good. You cannot deny that high-tech is progress. We need it for jobs. Yet if you make only high-tech, you make war. So we must have a strong human element to keep modesty and natural life.” -Paik


in an “accident” staged in front of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1982. Paik removed his remote-controlled robot from his retrospective exhibition at the Whitney and guided it up the sidewalk along Madison Avenue. As the robot crossed the avenue, it was struck by a car and fell to the ground. Paik declared this to represent a “catastrophe of technology in the twentieth century,” stating that the lesson to be gained from these tentative technological steps is that “we are learning to cope with it.” Paik’s staged event drew attention to the fragility of humankind and of technology itself. Paik took this playful moment as an opportunity to recall the need to understand technology and make sure that it does not control us.











So what is the darling Rosemary prodding our minds to wrap around this week? Obviously there is the idea of foraging a new path in the art world that is evolving at the superspeed of technology. I think we can add to it Paik’s own warning to use these digital formats (Hail to digiart) but not to become so consumed in the technology that we loose the art.


So this week I walk away with the message to always explore and evolve and try new ways of doing things, but do not loose the fundamentals or the essence or the SOUL and SPIRIT of the art itself.

Out of Gas

Out of Gas










































































































Bill Viola

Bill Viola

Our artist this week is Bill Viola. He takes us on a whole new journey of video and sound. Totally unlike any other artists, he uses technology to explore big ideas like life and death. He also uses a theme of “Dualism” light and dark, stress and calm, to evoke a response through his art.


In “Oceans without a shore” people appear to produce waterfalls . This might reference rebirth.











The “Tristan Project” shows people doing some sort of ritual purification before plunging themselves in to water, assuming they will die they show their true emotions.


Viola says that this piece is about how the dead are undead. That once they get through the water they are conscious again.











So what would Rosemary have us take as a lesson from this artist? I think we can again push technology to new heights of creativity. Also we can see art themes that are extremely broad and complex yet as simple as light and dark.

Alec Soth – A picture is worth more than….

Alec Soth – A picture is worth more than….

Alec Soth shows an  “America exhausted, battered, bruised and down on its luck after a decade of meandering in the wrong direction.”  While he isn’t actually working on a campaign, his political views are stated clearly in a way mere words coild not hope to portray












In his project “From Here to There” captures beauty in the overlooked. This theme is prevalent in the artists chosen by the dear Rosemary in our digiarts class.


Are we to laugh at these folks, who of course can no more disappear from society than a lone wolf can leave the woods? Or are we to speculate, as curiously as Soth approached these folks, about their motives? Why we’ve always produced such impulses, and what our own might be? -TIM GIHRING