Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Artist Lecture #1

For my first artist lecture, I went to see Matt Kenyon speak. He held his lecture on February 18th, 2016, at 5:30pm in CFA room 208. Matt Kenyon is a digital media artist, who uses a variety of media in each of his installments, though overall he stated that his medium of choice was technology. 
All of the works that he showed us examples of seemed to be trying to make a social or political statement. The first piece that he showed us was called “Spore,” and personally I thoughts that concept was intriguing. For “Spore,” Kenyon build a self contained ecosystem for a rubber plant from Home Depot. This ecosystem was connected to feed from the stock market, and would then only water the plant when the Home Depot stock rose. This installation was attempting to reveal if Home Depot’s one year guarantee policy was actually detrimental to their company value. What Kenyon did not account for at the time, however, was that he was doing this art piece in the middle of the housing bubble, and rubber trees can actually die from too over watering. I think the concept behind this piece was interesting but what was more interesting to me was that his instillation actually revealed something that was more and different that the original plan.
Another instillation the Matt Kenyon discussed with us was called “Giant Pool of Money.” For this installation he used the basis of a champagne tower being the ultimate symbol of extravagance. He then used this as a metaphor for the hierarchy of today’s society and trickle-down economics. This was an interactive installation. The first component was a fifteen foot tall tower of champagne glasses. There was also a mechanism into which the viewers could feed quarters. Inside the machine, the quarters were replaced with gallium coins that were then transported to the top and dropped into the tower. since gallium is a liquid at room temperature, as soon as the coins fell, they were turned into liquid which coated the inside of the champagne glasses and reflected back at the viewers. Because of the design of a champagne tower, it takes a great deal of overflow from the top glasses for whatever substance is being used to reach the lower glasses. I thought this pattern was a very striking visual of how trickle-down economics rarely, if ever work, and only make the wealthy weather, whereas the middle and lower classes barely reap any benefit. I though his choice of metal was interesting as well, because it created a reflective surface the glasses which reflected back into the viewers’ faces, almost as if it was silently blaming them.
The last installation that I wanted to discuss was one the Kenyon titled “The Notepad.” With this work, Kenyon was touching on the American injustice during the US invasion of Iraq. He stated that the United States keeps records of any military members who were injured or died during that invasion, but they kept no record of any Iraqi civilian casualties. With this project, Kenyon obtained records of the Iraqi casualties for the US invasion and then had them micro printed as the lines on legal pads. He is now encouraging people to take a sheet and wright to a government official on that paper. He has also given entire pads of this paper to government officials in the hopes that notes will be written on them and then these notes will be stored away in the national records. It is his intent to infiltrate the government record system with these sheets of paper so the we will fin fact have a record of all the Iraqi casualties the our militaries caused during the invasion. Matt Kenyon presented many different works during his lecture, but this one certainly seemed the most thought out, and the one that he was most passionate about. I felt that this was a very interesting installation, but it seemed outside of the norms of what might traditionally would be considered art. To me, this seemed more of an activist movement than simply an art piece.

Kenyon described his studio process as using art as a way to probe and outline what large companies and organizations are doing. He also talked about using illusions to reflect the digital age. With every installation the Kenyon talked about, he was very clear in his motives and purposes. He seemed very assured of his work and was able to clearly communicate exactly what he wanted to reveal. I think his use of media is an appropriate choice for his target audiences as well as the statement he is trying to make, however I’m not sure that it is exactly to my taste simply because everything seemed to be trying to make a social or political statement. 

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