Thursday, May 7, 2015

Joel Swanson Artist Lecture Spring 2015 UNR

Joel Swanson                                                                                              Jake Peck
Thursday, Jan. 22nd 5:30pm

Joel had heavy influences through his art pertaining to literature and the meaning of words. I really appreciated his work along with his influences, although not heavily influenced by words but appreciate their meaning and symbolism; how he expressed words and literature had an impact on him and his work. I also really was intrigued by his multifaceted range of work, from just text (using just the ampersand symbol to completely canvas an entire gallery wall) to sculpture where he created a larger than life sculpture of the “greater than” symbol and hung it so it was constantly rotating, giving it meaning of greater or lesser than at all moments. It was interesting his fascination with palindromes and how he worked with neon lighting to express that. Also how he would use words that had prefixes that could be not illuminated and still function as proper grammar. His work definitely brings more attention to the American language and how we use it. I find the use of his text more intriguing as he uses it as art work and also interested how he focussed on how artists use text to describe and title their work next to their art; very cool spin to use the actual text itself as the art work.
Words play such a major role in our world of art as well as our everyday life’s from communicating to one another that it is interesting to focus on this as a subject matter for art. Joel had a very minimalistic approach to his art that i wonder if he could have stretched this a bit to give the material more meaning. As the viewer i understood his concept and meaning but couldn’t help but feel a little a little lack luster with some of his pieces. For instance i was left perplexed with his Lady Gaga Twitter feed light; as it seemed to have no corellation to his other pieces that directly related to american language. It was a rather simple piece of a small light that was constantly blinking from feeds off of Lady Gaga’s twitter account. Was he trying to express how important Lady Gaga was at the time? Or how an app such as Twitter, that uses the american language is so popular yet restricts the use of characters through a set amount of characters allowed in each tweet; therefor creating another symbolic language through acronyms? He didn’t reference that in his talk but i feel he could have taken it in that direction with the popularity of Lady Gaga paired with Twitter, which uses the American language but on steroids, and spun that off into something more substantial with his work. The light itself was interesting for a second but only really made me think of what was being tweeted and how that related to his work with literature and it’s symbolism.   
Joel’s work also seemed to have a tinge of vanity, focusing on his piece where he signed his signature over and over again to display any difference in his signature over repetition. It was kind of interesting but i can't say i got much out of it. I see where he was trying to display the differences of his signed name but that was about it, so it did not resonate with me and left feeling a bit blank.
But with his Blinking Cursor piece i found great depth with because we ALL have experienced that cursor and with it being such a widely known image but yet not famous, it is just a cursor but we all experience it on a daily basis and give it no thought. And then to have it just blinking and perform no other action i think was pretty brilliant, due to the emotion it evoked. Waiting there for text or for it to simply move would create such anxiety in anybody viewing it. Im not sure if the piece could grow or if he had plans to but i would definitely be interested to see this and many others of his work in person. It really isn't the process but more so the actual product. Some artists rely too heavily on the process and the product lacts or the other way around, and i think Joel might rely too heavily on his product. His work is interesting but for me i did not find it too fascinating to draw me in and question more. I worry the same about my work and being able to see this in Joel makes me look at myself and how i interact with my work to make it more than just pretty or fascinating to myself.

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