Rohin Rhode

Robin Rhode is a South African artist, born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1976. He received a diploma in Fine Arts from Technikon Witwatersand, and later attended the South African School of Film, Television, and Dramatic Arts. Rhode combines tactile media with digital media: first using traditional media like charcoal, chalk, or paint, he then brings the piece to life by combining the preliminary drawing with with performance, photography, or film. Rhode’s work is thus extremely interactive, as most of his pieces involve human interaction with a drawn subject. For example, Juggla shows a figure with his back turned toward us, juggling balls drawn in chalk on a wall. In another compostition, Rhodes draws a basketball hoop on the ground, then photographs a figure in various stages of dunking to create an animation like sequence. Additionally, much of Rhode’s work is done in public places, such as streets, sidewalks, or building walls, which makes it very accessible. His compositions are also quite beautiful from an aesthetic standpoint. Rhode photographs in mostly black in white, but several of his pieces feature localized bursts of color. His drawings themselves range in style – at times very basic usage of line , they can also be very complex abstractions, or soft and delicate.

Untitled, Harvest

To put it simply, I loved Rhode’s work. I found his combination of human interaction with street drawings to be extremely creative, as well as engaging. That said, it is evident that he does not rely too heavily on human interaction to make his work effective. Rather, the quality of his drawings and photographs play an extremely important role. Untitled, Harvest stood out to me for this reason. The wall drawings, done in white chalk, remind me of dandelions before being blown away by the wind. Not only does the subtle smudging create a very soft texture, but it also has a luminous quality, as though the dandelions are actually radiating light. Black Keys was another favorite. In fact, the composition consists of only solid white prisms, whereas the black is in the negative space of the table. Still, the hands hovering over the white keys urge your eyes to fill in the missing keys, so we immediately think piano. Overall, the composition is quite elegant, which is another aspect that I enjoyed about Rhode’s work: nothing is overdone. Finally, I found the themes to be very relevant to today’s world. The Perry Rubenstein Gallery ( described his work as a comment on “urban poverty, the politics of leisure and the commodification of youth cultures”. In America, we often take our good economic standing and wealth for granted. While other countries suffer from extreme poverty, we stay isolated within the borders of our country, and are oftentimes not even aware of the hardships that are prevalent in other areas of the world. Because it is so accessible (and by accessible I mean you don’t have to work to enjoy it), I think Rhode’s work could be extremely effective in helping to bridge the gap between our society and the rest of the world, and maybe make people a little bit more aware.

Black Keys

Pipilotti Rist

Pipilotti Rist was born in 1962 in Rheintal, Switzerland. She studied at the University of Applied Arts in Vienna and the School of Design in Basel, Switzerland. Rist’s interest lies in large video/audio installations because, in her words, “they capture everything”. Rist’s main artistic focus is to use her art to expand our minds: she strives to encourage viewers to think critically about the world we live in, and hopes to “reconcile reason and instinct, to research possibilities and to destroy clichés and prejudices”. Indeed, much of her work seems to revolve around redefining the way we perceive our culture and society. In her video Selfless in the Bath of Lava, for example, Rist swims nude in a bath of lava, looking up at the camera and crying out “I am a worm and you are a flower”. The tiny video projection appears to bring into question the religious notion of damnation, while the audio component and physical size of the installation (it is projected through a tiny hole in the floor) emphasize the notion of human inferiority. The installation also highlights the importance of environment in much of Rist’s work. At one point placed at the foot of a Madonna and Child statue in Zurich, the physical environment clearly plays a key role in understanding the work.

My first impression of Rist’s work was that it appeared to be dancing on the fine line between what is art and what is not. A good portion of her art is difficult to understand – In I’m Not the Girl Who Misses Much, for instance, Rist dances around half nude singing “I’m not the girl who misses much” at an earsplitting pitch. After reading the description of what she strives to achieve in her art, however, her work became much clearer to me. I think Rist’s treatment of this line between art and not art is what makes it effective. The message is not immediately apparent, yet the provocative visual and audio components make the work impossible to overlook – I found myself trying to derive meaning long after I had viewed the video. Rist’s MoMA installation, Ever Is All Over, was especially effective in doing this. The video features a woman walking down a city street, stopping to smash in the windows of cars every once in a while. At one point a police woman stops to greet her, then passes on. I found the carefree attitude of the woman to be the most interesting component. Rist seems to encouraging us to liberate ourselves from societal norms by portraying a woman that lives according to her own rules in a world that embraces her for who she is. Ever Is All Over, like many of her other works, calls into question social prejudices and explores unfamiliar circumstances in everyday life.

Cory Arcangel

Cory Archangel is a combination computer programmer, web designer, and artist who lives in Brooklyn. His art examines the relationship between digital media and culture. Much of his work deals with the reprogramming of old video games, VCRs, Youtube videos, etc. in order to modify them in some way – essentially, he takes a digital experience and modifies it using various programming techniques to create an entirely new experience. “Experience” is a kind of vague term, but I feel like it describes the majority of his art since a good portion of it is video or audio. Drei Klavierstücke op. 11, for example, plays off of Arnold Schoenberg’s 1909 Op. 11, which set the stage for atonal music (“atonal” meaning there is no key and it breaks from western traditions of harmony). This video is a compilation of various Youtube videos of cats playing piano strung together to recreate Schoenberg’s composition. The concept sounds simple enough, but Arcangel’s description of his process reveals that it is actually a very complex procedure that required an immense amount of programming.

While Arcangel’s work is obviously extremely complex and time consuming, it took me awhile to begin to understand it. To be perfectly honest, I did not immediately like it. My initial impression was that Arcangel seemed to be more of a computer programmer than a graphic artist, especially with his Super Mario Clouds project, in which he eliminated everything but the moving clouds from an old Super Mario Nintendo game.  It struck me more as an exercise in computer programming than art. Then I considered the fact that art is a broad category – and video games are often overlooked because they are used primarily for our entertainment. However, the graphics in video games are kind of the essence of digital art – not only are they created digitally (and the result is often quite impressive), they are also experienced digitally. Archangel also has pieces that fall under the “music” category of what is considered art. In fact,  Sweet 16 was my favorite of his pieces. Arcangel creates phrasing ( by looping the intro from Sweet Child O’ Mine so that the two guitar parts are slightly off, then combines the audio footage with videos of the band. At first, I didn’t notice the phrasing – it sounds like one guitar is merely the echo of the other – but I picked up on the slight difference after several repetitions. I thought Sweet 16 was a prime example of what I liked about Archangel’s work: much of what he does deals with slight variations of something that is already widely known in our culture (in this case – a rock song). The modification, although in theory seems simple or slight, actually requires a massive amount of programming. In the end, the realization that something is just slightly off is what captures our attention, and causes us to look a little closer, or listen a little harder. I think Arcangel’s work is effective because he takes standard cultural symbols and reworks them in a way so that they essentially transcend our notions of what they mean to our society – by modifying them just so, they take on a new identity.

Link to Sweet 16:

Link to Drei Klavierstücke op. 11:

Class Vactation.

Destination: Italy.

Matt Siber

Matt Siber

Matt Siber was born in Chicago in 1972 and received a Bachelors degree in History and Geography from the University of Vermont and an MFA in Photography from Columbia College Chicago. Siber works primarily as a gallery artist today, with works in several permanent gallery collections, but has also worked as a freelance commercial photographer. His background in commercial photography is evident in the majority of his work, which focuses largely on the nature and power of advertising. In “The Untitled Project”, for example, Siber removes all text from his photographs, placing focus on

alternative forms of communication such as color, symbols, etc. Siber also gives advertising an otherworldly quality in “Floating Logos, in which he photographs tall signs and eliminates the pole holding them up, so that they appear to be literally floating in the air above out heads. Finally, Siber also focuses on advertising as a form of art in his “Pulse” project, which consists of visual advertisements that change within a matter of seconds. With this project, Siber hopes to allow for more creativity in the advertising company, and uses the metronome-like rhythm of the advertisement to capture our attention.

Siber’s work is extremely engaging in the way that he takes images that we see everyday and presents them in a way that is completely novel. Oftentimes we overlook advertisements, simply because they seem to penetrate every aspect of our lives. However, advertisement has an enormous impact on our lives, which is what Siber strives to demonstrates. I thought “Floating Logos” was especially effective in doing this:

by taking the pictures from a position right beneath the sign, looking up, Siber completely eliminates the ground and makes the logo appear as if it is hovering in midair. The logo thus takes on an otherworldly quality, which i think is meant to emphasize the power of advertising – it draws parallels between advertising and the supernatural, making it almost omnipresent. One of the main reasons why advertising is so effective is because it emphasizes a better quality of life, yet this improved life is forever unattainable, compelling us to always buy more. Siber’s logos highlights this idea since they also appear to be out of reach, yet have a presence that is immediately attractive and intriguing. In some ways, this can be compared to the reason many people pursue religion: it promises a similar result.

I also really enjoyed “Compare to…”, in which Siber photographs off-brand products in order to demonstrate the significance of brand-names in our culture: the off-brands use many of the same visual components as the name-brand, highlighting the way these brands have become standard symbols in our society. Finally, I loved the “Structures” project, particularly “Empty Signs”.

Here, Siber’s intent is to draw attention to the structures on which the advertisements are displayed, rather than the logos or words that make up the advertisement. The structures in themselves are beautiful, and compel us to wonder, “what could have been?” Overall, I found Siber’s work to be very thought-provoking in the way that it consistently forces us to re-examine an aspect of our society that has become so ingrained in our everyday lives that it is often overlooked.

Mike Wsol

Mike Wsol

"Support Mould"

Mike Wsol’s work explores both the three-dimensional and two-dimensional, and reveals a very strong background in architecture. Wsol’s work on paper is a combination of computer graphics and silk-screening. The unique combination makes the pieces look very similar to blueprints. Some of the pieces are extremely complex, such as “Compartmental Structure”, which is made up of a network of interwoven lines, forming a structure that plays with perspective – it appears to be almost three-dimensional, but at the same time maintains a certain flatness. Others are stripped down the bare essentials. With “Pool”, for example, Wsol depicts a backyard pool with just lines, but still manages to maintain all the necessary structural information and the illusion of depth. Wsol’s sculptures also possess the same architectural quality – clean lines, rigid angles, structurally sound. They remind me of models for life-size structures.

What grabbed my attention with Wsol’s work was the overall cleanness of each composition. Every line, every angle, every mark, is completely intentional. I was especially impressed with the way he handled his two-dimensional compositions – at times the subject matter is not immediately apparent, as in “Backfilled Foundation”,

"Backfilled Foundation"

but Wsol presents just enough visual information to create a piece that is interesting because it does not overpresent – he leaves you wondering what you are looking at, and why it is important. His way of economizing line is also a reference to architecture – too much detail can hide flaws, whereas a clean picture plane allows you to see if something is off. His sculptures as well are very engaging in that they are extremely precise, again referencing his background in architecture. It is apparent that Wsol’s work requires a vast amount of patience, which comes across in each of his pieces and lends to some very strong compositions.

John Gitelson

Jon Gitelson

Jon Gitelson was born in New York in 1975 and attended Marlboro College, where he received a BA in literature and photography, and later earned an MFA in photography from Columbia College. Gitelson uses photography as his most predominant medium, but also supplements the photos with videos, descriptions and decorative embellishments, as in “Dream Job”, in which Gitelson uses red and black sharpie to create a pattern around the advertisement to delineate which job correlates to the photo.


In “Car Project”, likewise, Gitelson sews thousands of flyers advertising different clubs to a car cover, then proceeds to photograph the car (with flyer covering) in front of each of the clubs as a way of demonstrating the uselessness of this type of advertising. Gitelson also uses humor in much of his work (“If I had A Girlfriend”, “Shaking Hands With Chuck O’ Luck”, “Hidden Clothes”), which actively engages viewers. However, the use of humor does not detract from the actual quality of the photos. Rather, Gitleson’s uses of lighting and compositional structure are well thought out, while at the same time the subjects seem to be captured as they are naturally, without seeming posed. Despite the sometimes awkward expressions or mundane subject matter, each photo maintains a certain sense of elegance.

What I found most impressive about Gitelson’s work was his ability to turn mundane or ordinary subject matter into something that could be considered beautiful. It is obvious that Gitelson pays a great deal of attention to the little things in life that most people would pass off as insignificant, and he strives to give meaning to them in a way that captures our attention – essentially compelling us to take the time to notice them. In “Hidden Clothing”, for example, Gitelson takes the clothes

Wigwam Socks

that his girlfriend hid so he wouldn’t wear them anymore, and creates high quality photographs. The clothes themselves should probably never be worn in public, but the photographs evoke a sense of nostalgia. Likewise, in “Scavenger Hunt”, Gitelson finds a jumbled list of errands and proceeds to embark on a scavenger hunt in which he takes Polaroids of everything on the list. In his posters, Gitelson examines events from everyday life by breaking them down into their constituent parts, then combines photography and computer graphics to create a visual narrative that reads like a comic book. Gitelson also has a knack for engaging people in conversation and using their stories as subject matter, as in “The Ballad of Carl Wilson” and “The Friend Project”. In this way, Gitelson portrays people as they actually are, and leads us to appreciate the little eccentricities that make us unique. Essentially, Gitelson uses his skill as a photographer to transform the more ordinary aspects of life into something to be noticed and appreciated.


Blue Rose Scanogram

Principles of Design

Photoshop Calisthenics. I’m new to photoshop, so bear with me. Below is my first assignment. Each of these compositions  works with one principle of design – balance, variety, proportion, and emphasis.





digital art = fine art?

What are digital approaches to fine art?

When asked to think about fine arts, my mind usually jumps straight to the classics: Michelangelo, da Vinci, Matisse, Van Gogh. Fine art becomes synonymous with those timeless masterpieces that exhibit not only great technical skill, but sheer genius.

Art today, however, has evolved in such a way that it challenges our very notion of what “art” is. On the one end of the spectrum we have fine art with all its technical skill and mastery of materials. On a different level, there’s the more conceptual – the dada movement, color theory, modern art, etc. But where on the spectrum of what is considered “art” does digital art fall?

Of course, this question is highly subjective – art is truly in the eye of the beholder. In my opinion, digital art requires just as much skill and inventiveness as the fine arts, and can also be combined with more conceptual elements, which brings us to the main question: what are digital approaches to fine art?

It makes sense that in our day and age, we would use technology for creative purposes. There exists a great variety of technology that allows us create, including photoshop for altering and enhancing digital media, webpage design, animation, and photography, to name a few. What I think it means to take a digital approach to fine art is to use that technology to create something that has aesthetic value and is meant to be experienced and enjoyed as art. This means that something that we don’t traditionally think of as art, such as animation, is just as valuable as, say, a painting because in both instances, the artist communicates with the viewer via visual media. In the end, technology is just another – newer – medium, thus it merits the same amount of recognition and appreciation as the fine arts.

So can digital art be considered fine art? My answer: absolutely. Art is less about what the medium is, but rather how that medium is applied and to what end.