Monday, 19 December 2011

HATE: Natacha Merritt

Natacha Merrit, 'Ask me Anything,' Feb 2000

Digital Diaries (2001)

why YOU should hate Natacha Merritt...

One should really question the integrity and creditability of Taschen, having published Digital Girly's (Merritt's psuedonym) daily photos in Digital Dairies (2001). The only comment they have of Merrit's work is her use of the digital camera as a point of interest to denote the mark of technology in the participation of exploring identity.

I'm sure they also though highly of her assets to the medium of photography.

It is obvious that the photographer in question has no formal arts background, her work is akin to that of any number of girls posing and posting pictures on Facebook. Her unsuccessful attempts to de-construct the feminine archetypes is laughable, Merrit’s ‘celebration’ of female sexuality and the naturalness of sexual desire is easily criticised when we consider the preparation required to make the images: her models require release forms to be signed beforehand, the intimate use of the camera requires precise framing and the use of specifically chosen seductive lighting heightens the sensual atmosphere; with both Merrit and her model knowing that they will be viewed and an image will be created, genuine enjoyment or exploration of female sexuality is anticipated and becomes artificially created - under this guise they become no less directed or staged than pornography.

Praised as a ‘contemporary counterpart’[1] to Anaïs Nin[2] by capturing erotic desires and uninhibited sexuality in her self-portraits published online, Merritt explicitly exposes her sexuality and body as a commodity. One could argue that Merritt is in the forefront in the war on a sexually-charged, exaggerated hypersexuality but Merritt indulges in this explicit, exhibitionism - she's an attention whore.

And this is where my attention wanes.

I'm bored Merritt - you don't shock me, and sadly, you don't turn me on either.

[1] Maxim Jakubowski, The eyes of the beholder, The Guardian, 6 May 2000

[2] Anais Nin is considered the founder of female pornography, writing explicit stories and diaries about female-specific sexual desires and awakenings.

[3] Wim de Jong, Hester Scheurwater, January 20th 2011, Volkskrant Magazine, translated from Dutch,
Linsey Bell
Meg Cowell

Monday, 12 December 2011

Muff March in Harley Street
Image sourced from: The Muff March

Reminiscent of 'The Slut Walk' a few months back.

The Muff March is an attempt to readdress the growing numbers of female genital plastic surgery such as: hymen reconstruction, vaginal tightening and labiaplasty - which have tripled over the course of the last few years. Criticism has been directed at the fact that women are free to make their own choices, as consenting adults and that the health concerns assosiated with these types of surgeries are more worring than the influence of pornography in our culture.

Quoted from the above article:

"...Dr Petra Boynton, sex researcher and educator, commented: "The focus of the Muff March on porn is, I think, limiting. While porn has undoubtedly had an impact on how we view our bodies I don't think it is accurate to simply see it as the main factor driving women to have cosmetic genital surgery or remove their pubic hair. In fact I'd say the mainstream media has a far greater role to play here but is not held accountable."

I just wanted to point out that mainstream media and pornography go hand in hand - the pornography indutry is not afforded the same promotional benefits as any other business. In order to populate the mainstream, they target the media in order to promote their wares. (For example, Hugh Hefner labelled 'the granddaddy of porn,' in articles in the Guardian or highest paid adult film star Jenna Jameson featuring on Opera  and discussing how empowered she feels as a woman by making porn, Cosmopolitan headlines reading "101 ways to please him in the bedroom" - watch porn with him etc.) The PR companies promote 'porn-friendly' stories that make it into the newspaper and it normalises the attitude towards it - the rise in pole-dancing exercise classes or vajazzling are just two of many examples.

I think it's important that woman are speaking up and I don't think they are condemning women who do choose to have plastic surgery on their genitals. I think they are just trying to inflitrate the media and send out (actually empowering) positive body image messages. 

It's OK to be embarrassed about your body, but it's more empowering to not be defined by those insecurities.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

As part of ongoing research for my dissertation I would really appreciate if you could please take a moment to complete the following short survey based on internet usage: Internet Usage Survey

Please note, it is completely anonymous and no personal details will be publicised. The survey only has 10 questions and will be quick to complete but the findings will have a direct impact upon my dissertation, so please answer honestly.  

Thank you for your participation, feel free to pass the survey on to others!

Monday, 5 December 2011

Image found here.
I found this image of Hester Scheurwater's studio and I just thought it was really interesting in that her studio reflects entirely upon her work, it is clear from this shot that Scheurwater obsessively documents/collects images - something she avidly does with her 'Daily iPhone' images.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Friday, 2 December 2011

Visited GOMA and was really intrigued by their current exhibition upstairs, downstairs featured a contemporary survey of sculpture featuring Karla Black and Andrew Miller amongst others, however, the video art upstairs blew me away.

Exhibition: Videonale.13 (Festival for Contemporary Video Art 2011)

Reynolds Reynolds
Six Easy Pieces

Image still from:
Six Easy Pieces
Length: 10min
Format: 16:9

(Originally exhibited in Germany, 2010 using 3 channels of HD video transferred from 16 mm and photo stills)

Six Easy Pieces is the last part of the Secrets Trilogy; a three-part cycle exploring the imperceptible conditions that frame life. According to Reynolds Reynolds website, the work is based on the book, “Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of physics explained by its most brilliant teacher” by Richard P. Feynman
The imagery was very fluid, almost like watching dancers, which was interesting because scientific and medical imagery were quite prominent. The filming itself is fascinating, the models actually look like they're vibrating and I'm wondering if it is because each frame is made up of thousands of images? Possibly, I just can't work it out yet. Use of sound was also very significant, it was the heart beat of the piece.

Following excerpt taken from the Videonale's website

Time is the elusive entity that quietly percolates through our fingers. We have to impose a rhythmic order upon our existence – the sound of a clock, music with its beats and pauses, the ticking of machinery – since only this order allows us to sense the pulse of time as it flows. Reynold Reynolds uses “Six Easy Pieces: Essentials of Physics Explained by Its Most Brilliant Teacher”, a book by renowned physicist Richard P. Feynman as the scientific foundation for his artistic exploration of the issue of time. The artist juxtaposes imagery of scientific inquiry various measuring instruments and chemical equipment with organic matter, fish, flowers or with a human body, whose life span will inevitably come to an end, despite all of humankind’s scientific achievements. The video is inundated with traditional symbols of memento mori: mirrors that hint at the transitory nature of beauty; books that stand for the vanity of knowledge or a roulette wheel that reminds us of  the unpredictable nature of life and death.
Reynolds, a former physicist himself, mixes together imagery of transformation and decay to stimulate the viewer's contemplation of the issue of time and to show that artists and scientists often prove to be accomplices in the process of making sense of the world.


► 1. Your video has been chosen among over 1700 festival entries to participate in Videonale 13. How central the video medium to your overall artistic production? Is it complimentary to other media you use or do you work exclusively with video?

I work with 16mm film and transfer it into digital stills that exist in the computer and shoot digital stills with a stop motion technique.

► 2. Is there a particular theme, concept or problem your art addresses the most?

Time and Space and the depiction of Time and Space.

► 3. What artists do you relate to or find significant for your own art-making?

Eadweard Muybridge, Marcel Duchamp, André Breton, and Stanley Kubrick for the dead artists.
The living ones: Robert Frank, Pierre Huyghe, David Lynch, and Miloš Forman.

► 4. Do you think the video medium can address social or political issues better than other art media?

It is the best medium for propaganda.

► 5. Art can be seen as a mirror that registers and reflects life or as a tool that transforms it. Which of the two positions is close to your own art-making philosophy?

As a mirror of the maker and viewer. Art can also register dead things; machines, corpses, not just life.

► 6. How do you understand success in an art-making career?

Making work that ages well.

► 7.What is the most difficult and the most rewarding thing about making art / being an artist?

The way people look at you when you say you're an Artist.

► 8.What are your upcoming projects?

A 1930's Berlin Film.

► 9. What do you do when you don't make art?

See art shows, watch movies, fill out forms.

Thursday, 1 December 2011