Sunday, June 9, 2019

The World Before Your Feet

Jeremy Workman
Matt Green, Jason Eppink, Garnette Cadogan, Daniel Fleischer, Bill Helmreich, Miriam Green, Barry Green, Jonathan Green, Nicky Rodriguez, Carolyn Bricklin-Small.
Release Date:
Nov 21, 2018
1 hour 35 minutes

An engaging documentary about one man's quest to walk every block — and park, and bridge, et al. — of New York City’s five boroughs.

by Dennis Harvey

An engaging illustration of the difference between merely looking and really seeing, Jeremy Workman’s “The World Before Your Feet” profiles Matt Green, whose current occupation is walking every block (and park, and bridge, etc.) of New York City. It’s a labor of love that’s already consumed years, with no end yet in sight — but then, Green is most definitely an “It’s the journey, not the destination” type. This portrait of one man’s eccentric yet appealing, even enviable quest is a gently philosophical exercise in armchair travel that underlines how much of our own immediate “world” we take for granted.

The thirtysomething Green is a former civil engineer who at some point decided a desk job — or any conventional employment — was not for him, and for whom this isn’t his first such rodeo (in 2010 he walked across the United States, from Rockaway Beach, N.Y., to Rockaway Beach, Ore.). But that coast-to-coast journey took just five months. Green’s subsequent, ongoing task may end up covering three times that 3,000-mile length, despite being limited to New York City’s five boroughs. It’s further elongated by his compulsive research on the history and fascinating trivia behind each tiny slice of the Big Apple — some of which he posts on his walking blog/journal. But he’s running way behind on that, too.

This vocation no doubt conjures images of our protagonist chin-wagging with colorful, gregarious “melting pot” types on the teeming urban streets. And indeed, there’s a certain amount of that, not least because Green is an affable sort always happy to explain his purpose to curious passers-by. But as he pads across the farthest reaches of Governor’s Island, The Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island, et al. in weather both fair and very foul, one is struck by how much open, abandoned and just plain obscure space exists even in the nation’s most densely populated (8.5 million) city.

Workman (“Magical Kingdom,” “Who is Henry Jaglom?”) creates a sort of semi-bucolic “city symphony” film out of his subject’s very diverse days on foot. There are amusing digressive montages taking note of Green’s favorite recurrent details, including “churchogogues” (former synagogues converted into churches by shifting neighborhood demographics), hidden edible plantlife, barber shop signs spelled with Z’s (e.g. “Klassic Kutz”), 9/11 memorials, community gardens, and so forth.

We also get a wee fraction of the historical errata he digs up, much of which isn’t in the standard guidebooks. There’s the site of the city’s erstwhile Municipal Slave Market (which closed a full century before the Civil War), as well as Malcolm X’s assassination and the first U.S. birth control clinic. Exploration of cemeteries reveals graves for luminaries from Houdini to painter Basquiat and salsa queen Celia Cruz. Toward the end, he tracks down an approximately 400-year-old tree, the region’s oldest, which was “born” before the earliest Dutch settlement laid claim to what would later become New York.

As ingratiating as he is, Green is also something of a blank — less a deep well than an absorbent surface, like many people who obsessively devote themselves to a singular pursuit. He survives on about $15 a day, crashing on friends’ couches or occasionally cat-sitting. The question he most frequently has to fend off is why he does this — no one can believe there isn’t “some kind of revenue stream” as an end-goal, like becoming a paid guide or publishing a book. But such things don’t interest Green, who shrugs “The point of it all … Well, I don’t really know what the point is.” Like the concurrent “Free Solo,” this is a documentary about a protagonist whose devotion to one thing leaves very little room for anything (or anyone) else — as two politely disappointed ex-girlfriends confirm here.

“The World Before Your Feet” fully exploits the geographic, thematic, and human-interest variety of its subject’s grand project, while Workman’s cinematography and editing achieve impressive textural variations in themselves. His assembly echoes the observation that the “random pieces of a puzzle” Green assembles on his endless tour reveal “the parts are greater than the whole.” In other words, a city’s real depth of meaning lies in its accumulated minutiae, not in the surface glitter of imposing monuments, headline-making events, or even the oft-oblivious routine of everyday experience.

While some more skeptical strangers seem to think Green is wasting his time, “World” makes it easy to admire the logic of his explanation that “It’s just about the value of paying attention to something.”

Read More:


Thursday, May 9, 2019

Lucie Blissett

'Self Portraits of My Gendered Objects,' is a series developed during writing my dissertation this year. The photographs are examining my own material culture. The belongings I own display my female gender through colour, texture, and the relation it has to society's expectations of gender roles. The color pink represents the feminine. Each photograph shows my own objects taken from my home and placed in a studio environment. The investigation is to question how femininity is seen in our contemporary society and how it still hasn't changed. 

Source link here.

Vivian Maier

Maier’s massive body of work would come to light when in 2007 her work was discovered at a local thrift auction house on Chicago’s Northwest Side. From there, it would eventually impact the world over and change the life of the man who championed her work and brought it to the public eye, John Maloof.

Our class assignment asks that you do not include yourself (or another person) in your self-portrait. The examples below, although include the artist, can offer inspiration for the class assignment. 

I encourage you to learn more about Vivian Maier. Website link below. Also, you can find a documentary on Vivian Maier. Her story offers wonderful insight to how each of us perceive the world around us. 


Was streaming on Netflix

Vivian Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer born in New York City. Although born in the U.S., it was in France that Maier spent most of her youth. Maier returned to the U.S. in 1951 where she took up work as a nanny and care-giver for the rest of her life. In her leisure however, Maier had begun to venture into the art of photography. Consistently taking photos over the course of five decades, she would ultimately leave over 100,000 negatives, most of them shot in Chicago and New York City. Vivian would further indulge in her passionate devotion to documenting the world around her through homemade films, recordings and collections, assembling one of the most fascinating windows into American life in the second half of the twentieth century.

Michael Farrell

Wing Man,” with a column topped by an airplane atop the box, is something of a self-portrait, rooted in the notion that a TV producer works behind the scenes helping others. It's anchored by a shovel that had belonged to his grandfather.

“During the past 15 years since I last exhibited a significant amount of this type of work, I’ve been using these old wooden boxes and objects as arenas in which to confront the complex emotions, self-judgments, remorseful thoughts, tender moments, hopes for the future and grief over a life that no longer is and yet continues and evolves into something new and unknown as long as breath remains." 

Link here to read more about this artist. 

Pedro Hidalgo

Pedro Hidalgo, a Cuban blind photographer uses still objects used in daily life to narrate the story of his life.

“The shoe at the bottom going all the way up to the top of the head with the hat is a representation of my life. I have the self-portrait moving up the stairs, which for me is symbolic of growth. The self-portrait begins at childhood and moving up from the bottom are small baby shoes. This represents my childhood growing up in Cuba as I did. Always had my visual disability from birth, and as you move up the stairs you see all the different objects, the cameras, the glasses, magnifying glass that have been crucial in my life and my growth. Cameras have always been a way for me to see. It has always helped me to view the world and to be able to capture the world so I could see it better. The drum and the music, the cigar-smoking figurine there indicates the culture that I come from, from Cuba. I grew up during the Cuban Revolution and this was a difficult time there. The photograph of the eyeball signifies war, as you see inside there is a soldier, the saint with the rosary beads signifies my background also, but also talks about the meaning of spirituality for me today. It has been an integral part of my growth as a person and as an artist.”

Frida Kahlo, Self-Portraits

ArtistFrida Kahlo
TypeOil on canvas
Dimensions91 cm × 70.5 cm (36 in × 27.75 in)
LocationCollection of Daniel FilipacchiParis
Learn about this image. 

Frida Kahlo's Bathroom
Source link Caravan Magazine.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

Formal Analysis

The link below contains a video that can help you write a formal analysis.

The following information will also help. 

  • What types of linear mark-making are shown (thick; thin; short; long; soft; bold; delicate; feathery; indistinct; faint; irregular; intermittent; freehand; ruled; mechanical; expressive; loose; blurred; dashing; cross-hatching; meandering; gestural, fluid; flowing; jagged; spiky; sharp)? What atmosphere, moods, emotions or ideas do these evoke?
  • Are there any interrupted, suggested or implied lines (i.e. lines that can’t literally be seen, but the viewer’s brain connects the dots between separate elements)?
  • Where are the dominating lines in the composition and what is the effect of these? Can you overlay tracing paper upon an artwork to illustrate some of the important lines?
    • Repeating lines: may simulate material qualities, texture, pattern or rhythm;
    • Boundary lines: may segment, divide or separate different areas;
    • Leading lines: may manipulate the viewer’s gaze, directing vision or lead the eye to focal points (eye tracking studies indicate that our eyes leap from one point of interest to another, rather than move smoothly or predictably along leading lines9. Lines may nonetheless help to establish emphasis by ‘pointing’ towards certain items);
    • Parallel lines: may create a sense of depth or movement through space within a landscape;
    • Horizontal lines: may create a sense of stability and permanence;
    • Vertical lines: may suggest height, reaching upwards or falling;
    • Intersecting perpendicular lines: may suggest rigidity, strength;
    • Abstract lines: may balance the composition, create contrast or emphasis;
    • Angular / diagonal lines: may suggest tension or unease;
    • Chaotic lines: may suggest a sense of agitation or panic;
    • Underdrawing, construction lines or contour lines: describe form (learn more about contour lines in our article about line drawing);
    • Curving / organic lines: may suggest nature, peace, movement or energy.

These artworks by James Gurney (author of Imaginative Realism9) illustrate a concept he has called ‘spokewheeling’ – where leading lines converge towards a focal point, helping to direct the viewer’s attention. Images © of James Gurney.

Shape and form
  • How are the edges of forms treated (i.e. do they fade away or blur at the edges, as if melting into the page; ripped or torn; distinct and hard-edged; or, in the words of James Gurney9, do they ‘dissolve into sketchy lines, paint strokes or drips’)?
  • Is there a variety or repetition of shapes/forms? What effect does this have (i.e. repetition may reinforce ideas, balance composition and/or create harmony / visual unity; variety may create visual interest or overwhelm the viewer with chaos)?
  • How are shapes organised in relation to each other, or with the frame of the artwork (i.e. grouped; overlapping; repeated; echoed; fused edges; touching at tangents; contrasts in scale or size; distracting or awkward junctions)?
Value / tone / light
  • Has a wide tonal range been used in the artwork? For example, a broad range of darks, highlights and mid-tones has been used. Or is the tonal range limited to pale and faint? Is there high contrast? 
  • Where are the light sources within the artwork or scene? Is there a single consistent light source or multiple sources of light? What is the effect of these choices? (i.e. mimics natural lighting conditions at a certain time of day or night; figures lit from the side to clarify form; contrasting background or spot-lighting used to accentuate a focal area; soft and diffused lighting used to mute contrasts and minimize harsh shadows; dappled lighting to signal sunshine broken by surrounding leaves; chiaroscuro used to exaggerate theatrical drama and impact; areas cloaked in darkness to minimize visual complexity; to enhance our understanding of narrative, mood or meaning)
Color / hue
  • Which color schemes have been used within the artwork (i.e. harmonious; complementary; primary; monochrome; earthy; warm; cool/cold)? Has the artist used a broad or limited color palette (i.e. variety or unity)? Which colors dominate?
  • How would you describe the intensity of the colors (vibrant; bright; vivid; glowing; pure; saturated; strong; dull; muted; pale; subdued; bleached; diluted)?
  • Has color contrast been used within the artwork (i.e. extreme contrasts; juxtaposition of complementary colors; garish / clashing / jarring)? Are there any abrupt color changes or unexpected uses of color?
  • What is the effect of these color choices (i.e. expressing symbolic or thematic ideas; descriptive or realistic depiction of local color; emphasizing focal areas; creating the illusion of aerial perspective; relationships with colors in surrounding environment; creating balance; creating rhythm/pattern/repetition; unity and variety within the artwork; lack of color places emphasis upon shape, detail and form)? What kind of atmosphere do these colors create?

Texture / surface / pattern

  • How are textural or patterned elements positioned and what effect does this have (i.e. used intermittently to provide variety; repeating pattern creates rhythm; patterns broken create focal points; textured areas create visual links and unity between separate areas of the artwork; balance between detailed/textured areas and simpler areas; glossy surface creates a sense of luxury; imitation of texture conveys information about a subject, i.e. softness of fur or strands of hair)?
  • Is the pictorial space shallow or deep? How does the artwork create the illusion of depth (i.e. layering of foreground, middle-ground, backgroundoverlapping of objects; use of shadows to anchor objects; positioning of items in relationship to the horizon line.
  • Has an unusual viewpoint been used (i.e. worm’s view; aerial view, looking out a window or through a doorway; a scene reflected in a mirror or shiny surface; looking through leaves; multiple viewpoints combined)? What is the effect of this viewpoint (i.e. allows certain parts of the scene to be dominant and overpowering or squashed, condensed and foreshortened; or suggests a narrative between two separate spaces; provides more information about a space than would normally be seen)?
  • How densely arranged are components within the artwork or picture plane? What is the relationship between object and surrounding space (i.e. compact / crowded / busy / densely populated, with little surrounding space; spacious; careful interplay between positive and negative space; objects clustered to create areas of visual interest)? What is the effect of this (i.e. creates a sense of emptiness or isolation; business / visual clutter creates a feeling of chaos or claustrophobia)?