Jack Kerouac, as Sal Paradise once said: "I like too many things and get all confused and hung-up running from one falling star to another till i drop. This is the night, what it does to you. I had nothing to offer anybody except my own confusion." And I think that's a rather apt description of my blog over the years, and perhaps the most perfect description of me in general that I've ever read. So that's what this blog is, a collection of the falling stars that are beckoning me at any time.

08 April 2006

the desert island five and smoking

I'm slacking in the proper post about the Matts' show even though I have my photos, and also on the BFA show, instead I bring you topics of cinema.

I was asked last night, during a serious-minded discussion about film, what my desert island five films were. I blame High Fidelity for this cultural obsession with narrowing everything down to five, I mean if you're really passionate about something, say film, how the hell do you narrow all the amazing things you seen over the years into five? and this question is really case in point. What's being asked is what films do you consider your all time favourites, the best, but what does that mean? The best what? Favourite what? It's a question asked in the middle of a serious discussion about film films, how well is it going to go over to say Revenge of the Nerds and still have people listen to you? I hedged, The films that I would want to have with me if I were stuck on a deserted island and could only have 5 films ever for the rest of my life are frankly not the same films I think are the greatest pieces of cinema ever made; they're the escapist, the funny, the movies. I mean if I'm stuck on a desert isle I probably don't want to be watching films about death and existenial crises no matter how brilliant they are, it's just not a desert isley kind of topic.

As for my real desert isle five (not demured so I don't look like a cinema philistine) they're all comedies by the way, it's probably the only category I could narrow down into 5 on the fly or at all even. I've watched all of these films a minimum of 20 times and never got sick of them so I think that's a good sign I could be trapped with only them on Tiki Tiki.
1. Ghostbusters
2. The Ref
3. The Life of Brian
4. Office Space
5. Revenge of the Nerds

In other cinema news .... oh dear, in imdb linking those movies, it has just come to my attention that someone is planning to do a remake of Revenge of the Nerds to be released next year. For the love of all that's good in the world, can we fucking stop making shitty remakes of movies? Also shitty big screen versions of shitty 70s tv shows that were only thought to be good in our memories becuase we were kids and hadn't developed actual taste yet? Seriously!

OK back to cinema that doesn't make me want to gouge my eyes out, I'm just back from seeing thank you for smoking which is easily one of the funniest and wittiest comedies that I've seen in years. It's one of those movies where practically every line is highly quotable and perfectly written and delivered. I miss those types of movies, maybe this will start a mini trend of smart comedy. Instead of 30 biracial buddy cop movies or neo-teen sex comedies or Will Ferrell vehicles where he plays the same dense kind of drunken slapstick punchline (and don't get me wrong Old School is great and Elf is probably the best film he'll ever do, but let's be honest for every one really funny film he or Vince Vaughn or even Ben Stiller these days makes there are 7 that suck) there can be 30 really well-written dark comedies that don't revolve around seeing someone hairy running naked. I also consider this movie ground-breaking in that the presence of Katie Holmes did not bother me, and she actually appeared to be holding her own, for the most part. I've always liked Aaron Eckhart, he always puts in a good performance and he's nothing short of perfect in this role.

07 April 2006

jun kaneko's Beyond Butterfly and Kent Bellows at the Bemis Center

untitled cast glass
Originally uploaded by sockmonkeyrevolt.
I'm thinking about using flickr to host my photos so this is a bit of a test post here. I hadn't been to the current offerings at the Bemis Center yet so when I went to revisit the Underground to take some photos I decided to stop in upstairs and check them out. Kent Bellows and Jun Kaneko have seperate shows both running until 28 May.

Kaneko's show is titled 'Beyond Butterfly' which, if you ask me, has nothing to do with anything at all other than Opera Omaha was putting on Madama Butterfly yet again this month (I have my own bone to pick about the recycle rate on the 'crowd pleasers' at Opera Omaha, but this isn't the time to do it)and the Opera commissioned Kaneko to design the sets and costumes (actually the one thing about the Opera that I'm impressed with is their willingness to take risks with the design and staging elements of their selections, even though the traditionalists that make up the critic's circle here rarely have anything positive to say about decisions like minimalist modern art Carmen sets) and I've never see so much high culture cross-marketing in my life: Sushi restaurants and Japanese Steakhouses creating Madama Butterfly 'inspired' signature dishes, a Madama Butterfly Saki shot/cocktail contest, all that's missing are plastic Pinkerton collector toys.

The works here are simple and clean. What makes the works so impressive are their giant scale. From an amazing 114x370.5 inch painting of straight and angled lines that covers an entire wall to 7 foot tall ceramic vases, to a pair of massive ceramic heads that sit in the gallery hall facing each other. In the back room are only three pieces made of stacked cast glass (one red, one yellow and one blue) sitting in their own pools of light and glowing with their colours (that's one of them in the photo there) They are my favourite pieces because they're more than just large, they're also intimate, they change based on how you approach them, where you stand and getting close to their heroic scale gives you more than just a good look at brush strokes.

The other gallery featured Kent Bellows, it's not really my kind of art. He's a painter and pencil artist (there were also a few lithographs of trees and roots which I was the most interested in of any of the numerous pieces on display) Bellows displays the kind of amazing talent at hyperrealism that I'm always left in awe of his skills if not excited by the finished pieces. His black and white pencil portraits are so expertly rendered that it's literally hard to tell they aren't photographs (and one of them is so perfect that if it weren't for the detail on the hair I would probably argue that it was a photo) Other than wishing I could draw half that well when it comes to trying to render something realistically, I didn't get much out of it. I don't really like hyper-realism when it comes to painting and drawing I'd rather just see a photograph.

05 April 2006

Fragments and details (part one)

Sometimes I think I spend more time worrying over the content of my sidebar than over the content in my actual entries, well no more, I think I've got it down now.

Friday was the opening of Fragments and Details; the bitter and the sweet at the Bemis Underground and I was quite pleasantly surprised by it, not only because I've been very under-impressed with most of the shows in the BU's short history, but because it was unlike what I would expect from Orand given the content of his thesis show last spring and because it really showed a vast improvement in execution.

(This blog doesn't go back far enough for an account of the thesis shows, but allow for this slight summary. Walker's was quite unmemorable, in fact I was only able to determine which pieces were his by process of which ones they weren't in thinking back over the Spring BFA show, though to be fair I was thoroughly not excited by that whole BFA class. Orand's was probably the most ambitious and interesting in concept, mostly video installations dealing with marketing and consumer culture exhibited in a declining shopping mall. The biggest issue for me with his thesis is that while he had a concept and a really decent piece or two, there was a total lack of actual interaction with the space in which it was installed and the space had an effect of making the viewer think 'is this all?' There was also an interesting incident at his thesis talk where he made comments to the effect of digital mediums are what art is now and everyone else was just making crafts, which I didn't hear first hand, but only in the recounting of the talk from the professor who had argued with him about the comments)

Given the installations in Orand's previous show and the alleged comments, I was really not expecting to walk down the stairs into the gallery to find a show devoid of video installations (the closest being a tv under a desk buried by a mountain of discarded clothes playing a calming blizzard of white noise snow and another piece projecting a vintage photograph of a man onto a battered rusting screendoor, very analog indeed) So I'm rather inclined to attribute the pieces in the show to Walker's aesthetic, but I really wish there was a show catalog to give me both names of the pieces and whose they are, somehow I can't imagine that every piece was a collaboration.

I always write about shows in my notebook before I start trying to write about them online, it helps me think and distill what I liked and didn't and what I've learned from an artist's standpoint from going to a show, but I've had to try to stop myself from writing about this one, it's like verbal dysentery because the longer I examine the show or its pieces the more totally confused I become about what the intentions were and whether it's good. In a way I think that that alone makes it a success, after all art is supposed to make you think even if it wasn't meant to make you ponder whether the sheer amount of contrivance and heavy-handedness in a good number of the installations was an almost Brechtian device or just the work of a pair of artists who are far too caught up in art-theory.

Overall I thought the leaps and bounds made in really considering how the environment of the gallery affects the experience of seeing the piece demonstrated the growth of both Walker and Orand as artists. While my own inner debate about how I personally interacted with each piece has sort of made me unable to decide whether they lived up to their concept or intent, I was rather taken by a few of the pieces and I think they did a bang up job creating an ambiance and a mood throughout the entire galleryspace. (I'll probably give a more indepth critique of individual pieces another day, I forgot to bring my camera with me to the gallery, so I don't have any photos, which I'd like to illustrate what I mean, so it shall have to wait)

So, if you're in the Omaha area, I suggest catching the show which runs until the 22nd 11am-5pm on fridays and saturdays (I think I'll be stopping by tomorrow with my camera. Also tomorrow is the opening of this semester's BFA Thesis show, which I'm expecting to be good (of course my friend Frances is Thesising so I'm excited for her).