Sunday, October 25, 2015

Artist Lecture: Keith Knight

            On October 24th, the cartoonist Keith Knight had given a talk about his works and the stories behind them. As an African American artist, Knight mainly focused on social and race issues, commenting the problems directly on his strips. As Knight believed that we had to talk about reality to actually face racial issues, his comics were usually reflected to things happened around him or somewhere in the real world.
            Vet Mentoring is one of Knight's well-known comics, which questions about "don't ask don't tell" policy in military. This strip was run on the newspapers in San Diego, where a lot of military towns located, and had received many responses from soldiers and some readers about how it changed their views on this policy. Coincidence or not, the President repealed "don't ask don't tell" policy in the fall of the same year when the comic came out, and Knight showed a photo that the President was standing in his office, with the Vet Mentoring comics sitting on his desk.
            Knight had a great sense of humor which can be well seen in his comics. He believed humor made strong approach to the subjects like race issues. This talk was probably the most enjoyable speech I have ever had. He made lots of comments on social problems that I’m really agree with. Knight's comic Dog Poop showed how the racial problems were like the big pile of dog poop sitting in front of the apartment. No ones wanted to clean that poop because it seemed to be someone else's responsibility, then soon it just stayed in the same place, being ignored by people who passed through it. I think Knight had made a great metaphor to this problem that we are facing in this country. The racial issue has remained in too many years and it just keeps coming out again and again. People often ignore its existence until something happens but then forgot soon after time passes. Knight's works are not simply to be the comics that make things be humorous. They keep us in mind that there are plentiful issues still exist in this society. And they are urgent to be taken seriously and to be solved.

Vet Mentoring by Keith Knight
Dog Poop by Keith Knight

Animation Progress-2

Keep working on the animation frames for this week.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Artist Lecture: Shifting the Mainstream Narrative in American Art

            Artists can still make influence even though they are self-taught rather than a professional. The lecture was given by Leslie Umberger, the curator of folk and self-taught art Smithsonian American Art Museum. She introduced the five American outsider artists, Sabato Rodia, David Butler, Emery Blagdon, and James Hampton, and Lonnie Holley who had made contribution to the field of art and reinvented the American culture.
            Umberger began with the Italian American artist Sabato Rodia and his great achievement Watt Towers. Watt Towers regenerated the principle of architecture design. The tower had been constructed for approximately 30 years. Building materials included concrete and objects Rodia randomly found. The structure of the tower is strongly supported by its surface even though the center of the tower is completely hollow. The next one was David Butler, an African American artist. Butler's work involved 3D sculptures building by cut, shaped metal plates and paintings. Suffering from anxiety and insecurity, Butler placed hundreds of sculptures as spiritual protections in his yard. His work expressed the meaning of spirit and religion from the African American aspect.
Emery Bladgdon and James Hampton were introduced together due to their similarity in environmental installations that consisted with discrete pieces by using tin foil and found objects. Bladgdon's works were often built with electrical substances such as wire and battery. He created the piece Healing Machine and believed it could help to heal people. Healing Machine provided us a fresh, artistic way to view modern technology. James Hampton's sculpture pieces were found after he died. Similar to the Healing Machine, the Throne expressed Hampton's personal belief, but in the Christian aspects. For the African American artist Lonnie Holley, the last outsider artist in this lecture, connection is the core of his works. Holley recognizes art as a tool to evaluate identity to the reality and its challenges. He focuses on the beauty of things that people often mislabel or misunderstand.
Self-taught artists alter the idea of who and how an artist should be. Personally, I think what makes outsider artists unique is that they can often think outside the box and create artwork with various materials that we normally do not expect. Although the five artists were not art-educated, their works are still appreciable and have fully expressed the beauty of American art.

Watt Towers by Sabato Rodia
David Butler and his works
Emery Bladgdon's Healing Machine
the Throne by James Hampton was discovered after he died
Lonnie Holley's Ohio Woman

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Animation Progress-1

The Didinium animation is separated as two parts. I have finished the first part, and the second is showed as a simple sketch for now. The library source I used to import gif into Processing is called gifAnimation. I really want the application to be on my blog, but unfortunately it did not work even though I have tried many ways from the Internet. But I uploaded my work to google drive. You can download it and try to run it on your computer if you're interested in it.

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Plan for Exhibition Set-up

I want to present my project with wall screen. It will be connected to the computer to allow the audiences to interact with the animation by using mouse. The computer can be covered in someway and only show the mouse pad so it won't distract the attention of audiences. Because I plan to have at least two interactive animations, I may need two or more wall screens for each animations. The location for my project can be flexible, but ideally I want them to be on the hallway.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Animation Content

I hope to have three or two interactive animation works in my project. The first one I want to work on is the feeding behavior of Didinium. Didinium is a kind of protist that is famous for its predator-prey relationship with Paramecium. The animation will demonstrate the predation of microorganism, which normally cannot be observed without using microscope. Here is a brief sketch for the animation. A single Didinium will show on the screen and moves with the cursor. Then if the mouse is pressed, a Paramecium will appear and later be eaten by the Didinium.

Introduction of Didinium at 17:10