Today, I woke up confused. Something I had read the previous night had been bothering me. It wasn’t clear what it was until I had fully transitioned into wakefulness; then I realized that while I lay there trying my hardest to start the day, a man in Oregon was patiently waiting to end his life. In less than 30 hours, he would be gone, but I would still be living, probably doing something pedestrian like checking Twitter or drinking some orange juice. With that thought, time took on a heavy physicality. I stayed in bed for a while more, letting the minutes steamroll over me. Then I got up.
I first learned of Krzysztof Wodiczko and his work when he came to speak at the MFA. A friend and I escaped the Museum School during our lunch break to hear him talk. At the time (I think it was the middle of junior year), I was having serious doubts (again) about art’s ability to make an impact on people at all and whether I would be able to do anything meaningful or relevant to society as an artist. Seeing Wodiczko’s work helped mitigate these doubts a great deal, if not put a decisive end to them.
Polish-born artist Krzysztof Wodiczko is best known for his large-scale video projections of everyday people onto monuments and other public edifices. These projections often portray these ordinary volunteers candidly telling stories of their lives and experiences, usually centered around painful ordeal or personal suffering. His work has been installed and shown in public spaces in over a dozen countries, ranging from the town squares of authoritarian governments to right here on our National Mall in D.C. Wodiczko also designs technological devices or machines worn on the body that help construct situations in which people can share their personal stories with others.
Nearly all of Wodiczko’s work follows a socio-political theme. For instance, in his monumental projections work, he chooses to film people whose lives have intersected with war, conflict, homelessness, social inequity, gang violence. In all these works, the melding of private and public spheres is immediately obvious.
This is a belated post. Saturday afternoon (pre-mochi), we actually went to see the Shepard Fairey show at the ICA. Here are my random thoughts:
By and large, it was a very predictable show. We saw an abundance of visual tropes inspired by war propaganda depicting activist/culture-jamming themes in a super-flat, high-contrast style. We also saw a preoccupation with sumptuous Asian and Middle-Eastern decorative motifs, as well as those spirograph-like things on money. But none of this is meant in a disparaging way. There were several things that I found amazing about the show.
Another great graphic designer talk from TED (they have oh so many). I like this one because Milton Glaser talks more about his process than about his higher overarching ideals. Also I enjoy his irreverant attitude.
Many times I’ve felt that same urge to humorously pontificate the “meaning” of this or that design, mostly to poke fun at designers’ tendency to take themselves too seriously. I would have if I thought I could get away with it. It must help to be an esteemed, established designer, which I am anything but. =)