Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Fireworks as Art

We kicked off the season at home with some fireworks tonight. Here they are with commentary. Click on the images for larger views.

I especially like the warm, orange glow at the bottom and little tracers coming off the spark.

The red streamers are nice in this one.

Again, the red streamers are good, but also the strange glow of the cinderblock in the firelight.

The prickly light at the top of this firework is beautiful.

This one was just blazing!

This one went up in the air and I caught the trail in my camera. It's strangly feathery.

I caught this one during its white-hot phase.

I actually got some color in this shot.

This one looks like the end of a blowtorch.

Crazy colored hairy spider legs.

I think this is my favorite shot, because I caught the fiery launch AND the puffs of smoke.

Whenever I look at fireworks, I think of James Whistler's Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket
(1875). It is considered to be one of the first steps toward pure abstraction. It is often compared to Turner's landscapes and is considered the beginning of Whistler's influence on modern art....

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Naked World

I watched this HBO documentary the other night. It was really quite beautiful seeing the artist's process behind the scenes. He took his camera and his crew to seven continents. It was intriguing learning about the different mores regarding nudity in the models as well as the spectators in the various cultures. Some were quite surprising in this regard. Let's just say France's mores aren't what you think and neither are England's when it comes to nudity. Some people, like the Russians, put a political spin on their nudity.

Spencer Tunick is not considered a photographer or an artist by some, but rather a megalomaniac who is just trying to be famous for doing something big. One does not get that impression from the meek man you see in the film. Whether he is an artist or a photographer or not, he is doing something extremely significant and wonderful. His art exists on three major levels. 1) He makes images that possess poetic expression. 2) He brings people together in large groups for the sake of art. And most importantly, 3) he brings healing to many by emboldening the afraid, the wounded, the overweight, and the scarred by bringing them into community with others who have shed their facades. They all express "transformation" after participating -- some in respect for their bodies, some in respect for other people, and some in terms of reclaiming the ownership of their own bodies. Tunick isn't just making art or photography, he is a healer.

One of the scenes that sticks in my mind in the documentary is when a Christian fundamentalist in Melbourne interrupts a pose involving 3000+ people by getting in front of Tunick's camera with a sign urging people to repent for their sins. The police dragged him off because the city had made the event legal for the sake of art. At first I was exasperated by this man--how could he NOT see the beautiful forest of flesh and healing before him and only see the individual trees? Then, I realized he only saw himself, and that made me sad. Then, I realized the irony of the situation: I assumed he came from a faith that involved an all-nude rapture. Maybe it's wrong on the ground, but not in the air? Then I laughed.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

The Omen

One of my favorite guilty pleasures is watching horror films. I like them for entertainment value, but mainly, I like them as an act of defiance. I DARE them to scare me. I've always believed that real life terror eclipses whatever Hollywood can come up with in terms of fear, and most horror films come off as dark or tragic comedies.

I saw the remake of this film last week. It was definitely a faithful adaptation of the original (which is important to me as a purist). It's a great piece of American lore and is particularly poignant at this time with all the strife, disasters, and political upheaval--and the popularity of "end times" theology. It really is good timing to come out with this one.

The film uses the traditional horror devices without a lot of bells and whistles. Gore is really unnecessary and you don't have to MTV-up everything, if you ask me. The filmmaker uses the subtlety of light, sound, music, color, and the element of surprise. One of the most notable features is that the filmmaker puts a hint of one particular shade of blood red in some item in every single shot--thereby unifying the film's "look". The red is in stark contrast with earth colors and grays. It really is a nice aesthetic device for this particular story.

Mia Farrow returns to the Satanic horror genre with gusto. She plays the nanny and the insane devotee of Damien and insane, she is. She's hardly the mousy Rosemary in this film. Liev Schrieber amply fills the shoes of Gregory Peck (which is hard to do), but it is Julia Stiles who virtually reincarnates Lee Remick's performance, but with her own personalized style. Lest I forget the anti-Christ himself, Seamus Davey-Fitzpatrick is a boy of few words who chillingly plays the role once made famous by Harvey Stephens. This Damien is probably scarier than the original to me, but the reader will have to see for him/herself.

Overall, I would say it was a decent horror film. Mostly, it was a well-done remake. Did it scare me? No. Well, maybe when the Satanic rottweilers jumped at me. ; )

The Omen's official website

Famous Mural Mysteriously Painted Over

This is an outrage. I hope someone figures out who did it. There is a photogallery of the artist's other works on this article's page.


Here's an interesting article at the New Yorker on Picasso's famous painting.