Art Is The Realm of the Problem

“I am troubled by how often people talk about likability when they talk about art.

I am troubled by how often our protagonists are supposed to live impeccable, sin-free lives, extolling the right virtues in the right order – when we, the audience, do not and never have, no matter what we perform for those around us.

I am troubled by the word “problematic,” mostly because of how fundamentally undescriptive it is. Tell me that something is xenophobic, condescending, clichéd, unspeakably stupid, or some other constellation of descriptors. Then I will decide whether I agree, based on the intersection of that thing with my particular set of values and aesthetics. But by saying it is problematic you are saying that it constitutes or presents a problem, to which my first instinct is to reply: I hope so.

Art is the realm of the problem. Art chews on problems, turns them over, examines them, breaks them open, breaks us open against them. Art contains a myriad of problems, dislocations, uncertainties. Doesn’t it? If not, then what?”

-Jen Silverman, “Swimming in It: Art and (Im)Morality.” macdowell.org. April 21, 2022.

The Pandemic Cyclone

“This chart shows the daily number of new Covid-19 infections in each state over time. The y-axis is the population-normalized number of new infections per day; the x-axis is the rate of transmission (Rt). Each dot is a state or territory of the US, colored by region, and the area of the dot is proportional to the estimated number of new Covid-19 infections on that day.

https://observablehq.com/@chrisjkuch/covid-hotspots

I thought this was an interesting way to visualize the time series data.

Effective Data Visualization: Transform Information into Art

“In this course, [Data illustrator Sonja Kuijpers] gives you the tools you need to transform data into captivating illustrations using colors, shapes, and images. Discover how to collect and analyze data sets, as well as how to transform them into a unique poster that tells a story. Are you ready to create your own data art?

Effective Data Visualization: Transform Information into Art

I never heard of Domestika, an online learning platform, before. This course seems awesome. Bookmarking for later.

Scarfolk Council: Plan C

Scarfolk is a town in North West England that did not progress beyond 1979. Instead, the entire decade of the 1970s loops ad infinitum. Here in Scarfolk, pagan rituals blend seamlessly with science; hauntology is a compulsory subject at school, and everyone must be in bed by 8pm because they are perpetually running a slight fever. “Visit Scarfolk today. Our number one priority is keeping rabies at bay.” For more information please reread….

….Although we can now no longer be entirely sure what Plan C consisted of, the image of a nuclear mushroom cloud offers us a clear indication of the council’s intention. Our archivists have postulated that the council might have thought it simpler and more cost effective to remove all living things than to target specific vermin and/or undesirable microscopic pathogens.”

-Scarfolk Council, “Plan C.scarfolk.blogspot.com. December 11, 2021.

Too soon for pandemic satire? Previous mention of Scarfolk Council on this site.

Phil Tippett’s Mad God

“One of Hollywood’s leading visual effects designers since the 1970s, Tippett has just spent three decades directing his first feature film: Mad God, a gruesome animated fable wherein a mysterious spy must infiltrate the lower depths on a dangerous mission. It starts with one of the shirtier quotes from Leviticus, the Bible’s angriest book, before plummeting to the depths of a gory, dripping underworld. Think Dante via Ren and Stimpy, or Pasolini with stop motion animation…

…“When I was a young film-maker, Miloš Forman gave me the best advice I ever got, which was: ‘If you want to take a good shit, you’re going to have to eat well.’”

-John Bleasdale, “‘I wouldn’t take my kids to this’: Star Wars’ Phil Tippett on his hellish animation Mad God.TheGuardian.com. August 20, 2021.

Backfilling…

“Instead, you watch this film to luxuriate in the exquisite grotesqueness Tippett dreams up and executes through a barrage of old-school filmmaking techniques: mixed media, stop-motion animation, modeling, silhouettes, and puppets—you name it. The sound design includes squishy noises as a sinister surgeon digs into intestines, and the cries of a genuine infant give voice to an alien baby in distress. Each subtle creak of our adventurer’s leather gloves and every measured breath through their gas mask sticks with you—the sound design equivalent of an earworm, I suppose. And sitting through this film on your couch (or in your theater seat for some lucky few) is like being guided through a gallery of lavish kinetic art pieces. The zoomed-out environments themselves are wallpaper-worthy whether Tippet has created a war-torn landscape midstorm, a speeding-by universe, or a room full of giants strapped to electric chairs being zapped to the point of soiling themselves incessantly. That last sequence is truly gross if you stop and think about it, but the sound design and visuals are stunning in the moment.”

-Nathan Matisse, “Mad God: What happens when the best practical VFX artist, ever, writes a film?Ars Technica. September 4 2021.