Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Jenai's Statement

Whether I am primarily functioning as a student, teacher, dancer, choreographer, writer, or director, my artistic principles remain the same. I am concerned with preserving the invaluable contributions of other artists who have brought tap dance this far while simultaneously contributing in my own way to further the innovation of the form. Accessibility is of utmost importance to me in these endeavors. Not only do I want to speak to the ever-increasing tap dance community, but I also hope to reach others not so immediately connected to the form, be they dancers, musicians, or simply audience members and supporters. I am also highly concerned with sustainability. Rather than working on piece after piece for showings in one or two concerts each, I prefer to invest in work with a longer lifespan, like books, films, websites, and live shows with extended runs. In this way, the art of tap dance and my work in it can extend beyond the immediate. The general public still absorbs most of its information from the screen. In conjunction, technology is rapidly increasing the avenues we have as artists to express ourselves and dialogue with one another. By using media as a tool for connecting and communicating, educating and entertaining, I plan on finding new and different ways for the art form of tap dance to exist and thrive.
My current work with dance and technology involves researching and gathering words, images, and sounds to support all these ideas. I build modularly, in short, succinct clips that communicate one of several general ideas, in the hopes of garnering enough material to sustain several projects. A feature-length documentary is at the center of these individual explorations, all of which are accessible via the internet. In utilizing technology, this film about the tap dance community can grow right out of the tap dance community. One of the ideas I enjoy most about tap is its egalitarianism. Anyone – any age, any size, any color – can participate at any time. There is room for everyone and everyone has a voice. We interact and support each other as a family, united by a common respect for the dance as a living, evolving entity. My website is now functioning as a vessel for this, a studio space and conference room in which any person living anywhere can comment, post, create, or re-create. This is a technological twist on the best of tap dance’s traditions: cyber improvisation, online trades, digital step stealing, and jamming. In addition to the film, future projects include commercials, instructional productions for DVDs and downloads, accompaniment for live performances in concerts, interactive tools for lecture/demonstrations, press and public relations materials for fundraising, and more.
The website also serves as an educational resource. Such a medium breaks down communication barriers like language, time, and space. Because it disseminates information in a variety of ways, several learning modalities are simultaneously accommodated; highly visual thinkers might find the videos most helpful, while verbal thinkers will get the most out of text and interviews. In short, each audience member can dictate the terms in which he or she experiences the work.
Through all this, a product is being made of the process. In addition to creating new works, digital technology is a very practical way of documenting creative development. Work-in-progress material is also helpful in generating public interest and financial support. Throughout whatever artistic paths I find myself traveling in the near future, I would like to lay bare the steps I take along the way, like pulling back the wings of a stage during a performance and exposing the work behind the scenes. Opening the doors and clearing paths for others is artistry in and of itself. Many have done so for me; this is one way I can give it back.

Jon's Statement

Artist. This is a word that I have associated with since my first memories became present. Most likely the immediate familiarity was due to the fact that my mother, being an esteemed fine artist/sculptor, gave me a direct outlet and genetic disposition from an early age. As I made my way through the first stages of pre-school, kindergarten, and grade school, I noticed myself in a highly elevated position in terms of talent and creativity among my peers, making my way into the winning circle of statewide competitions and other prospects of this nature. When I entered high school my mind could only concentrate on art and a competitive need to be involved in sports. As I realized that in the larger arena my work still stood alone, my decision became final that I would pursue art as a career.
With that said, enough for tooting my own horn. My major downfall is that I never had any direct, concrete idea of exactly how I wanted to utilize my talent. I just knew that I was good at it and that it gave me immense gratification. I had always been fascinated with cinema so a major contender was one of set design or cinematography. My second major downfall struck me as I approached college. Starting as a visual communications design student I became absolutely and completely burned out on drawing or sketching of any kind when battered with the repetition of drawing the SAME DAMN THING over and over. Hastily I changed majors, moved away, “soul-searched”, bounced in and out of school with no real headway and didn’t even so much as pick up a pencil other than to write something down or perhaps maybe make a graffiti doodle on a desk. Now, as I approach my final quarter of my undergrad, having nearly completed a very stimulating major of film studies, focusing on video production and editing, I have begun to express myself once again. Not only by means of these short films that I am creating in this class and other video production courses, but also in my spare time. I have finally started to sketch and paint again for the last year or so, but I have realized that my mind is crafted toward moving imagery. This handful of classes that I feel has been the true education that I am receiving, are extremely interesting and appealing to me. Now I just need to catch up with the rest of the bunch and project my creativity into the technology.
To put it simply, I cannot remain asleep for any amount of time without my mind manifesting some form of theatrical event perceived as an audience member focusing on a screen. The truth of my life in “the dark ages” when I had no involvement with art, is that I was distraught, careless, and in some indescribable way, unhappy. With this basic personal understanding, I certainly consider myself to be an artist.

Michael's Statement

I have really never considered my self an artist until I have been taking these courses. Though out these courses I have really just tried to see what I could create out of nothing. I would consider my self mainly an experimental artist because I look at it as this is my time to do something different before I get further into the real world. So I'm going to make some different projects and if it doesn't work oh well.

Sonya's Statement

My practice utilizes digital media to express/explore a generative tension between machine logics and the often-binary ‘morality’ of the culture/s in which we live. I play with ideas of power, sexuality, and identity. My work is an effort to create a space beyond the boundaries of gender and familial conformity. I am interested in the blurring of those boundaries. I hope to reflect a kind of springboard for personal mythology, embracing an internal struggle often set in decomposing environments. I concoct worlds, which speak to the empowerment found in self-definition, personal narrative, and the existence within. Interpretations are a record of embodied knowledge. This video reel is a catalogue of states and histories holding skepticism toward binary systems such as gender, sexuality and the labels which make up that food chain.

The only thing universal is the need to create and abstract narratives, and therefore personal visual languages. ‘Society is built on a system of grand interlocking narratives.’ Our only fingerprints are our interpretations. Extracting myth, memory, and cognition from personal experiences is vital to self-awareness, and empowerment over those experiences. Coming to existence and leaving a record of change is the process.

Jennifer's Statement

I am an artist because I thrive on pushing the limits of traditional art. I continually embrace my creativity to advance my artwork. My goal as an artist is to convey my personal thoughts and emotions through artistic mediums.

Kevin's Statement

I am in art because it is what I have always wanted to do, especially animation. I made a bunch of stop action animations growing up. The animations were usually clay or toys, but when I got my own camera I started to experiment with various techniques and subjects. This eventually leading me to use my friends as the animated subjects, a form called pixilation, as in Norman Mclaren's short film "Neighbours." Art has always been something that I've done in one way or another, and I can't see myself in any other field.

Meg's Statement

I’m addicted to the half-erased, the torn, the eleventh-hour. For most of my life I have collected what’s generally uncared for. When I was very young, my mother used to drag me through antique markets for hours, and perhaps this has a lot to do with my current emotional and aesthetic attraction to things. Even now though, I tend to gravitate toward “antiques” or natural things that I find, that have more than one foot in the grave. It’s a challenge to try and evoke a sense of the object’s history through what material of the object remains. These half imaginary, half-felt (real?) possibilities inherent in an object, are what drive me often as an artist. Some days I’m embarrassed to say that I’m addicted to nostalgia because nostalgia implies Hallmark sayings and bad dried flower arrangements and new furniture that’s been “antiqued.” This embarrassment too though, serves as inspiration, because it inspires me to distance myself from such creations, and to make art that is authentic. When I’m making such art, I want to feel a little bit afraid, because of the reality it’s trying to convey. Which is loss. Which is losing and knowing it, but trying to retrieve something anyway.
I wouldn’t say that I’m not living in the present, but my attentions are very much invested in reviving and discovering the irrecoverable past. I realize the contradiction. The contradiction is what keeps me interested and obsessed. Often by using fragments of writing I will attempt to create the tone of “just missed.” The satisfaction for me becomes what can’t be satisfied.

Zuzana's Statement

Art to me is a daily act, not limited to the traditional artistic context. It is an experience, a form of behavior, an expression and emotion, a state of being and self-discovery. Art is the place of an unobscured truth. The aesthetic experience makes it possible for me to face the world as it is, with a freedom otherwise unknown. In my art practice I am interested in space, how spaces have multiplied and diversified, how today there are spaces of every kind, size, use and function, and how to live is to pass from one space to another. I want to go beyond the big events, the extra-ordinary: the front page splash, the banner headlines that speak to most people, as if life revealed itself only by the way of the spectacular. The daily papers talk of everything except the daily. What is really going on? What are we experiencing? What happens and recurs everyday: the banal, the common, the obvious, the ordinary, the background noise, the habitual? I want to speak of these ‘common things‘, how to track them down, how to give them a meaning, a tongue, to let them speak of what is, of what we are. As Georges Perec, a French writer, once wrote: ”What we need perhaps is finally to find our own anthropology, one that will speak about us. Not the exotic anymore, but the endotic.” It mattered to him and it matters to me that these questions seem trivial and futile because that is exactly what makes them just as essential.

Caitlin's Statement

I try to live by the statement "simple is good". I would say that a good 99.9% of what I try to do
starts out by taking a large idea and then going back and hacking away at it until I can see the bare essentials of what I am looking at. I think that once I am aware of the rules I have set for myself, it makes it much easier for me to crank out a stronger idea. I'd also like to think that knowing the rules to a story gives you clearance to break them. I like to build, build, build onto stories and then see what happens when something that seems essential is taken away, or something out-of-place is added. I think that knowing the essentials of what you're working with also lets you throw out anything unnecessary. Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote that "Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away". I think this is a good way to look at the creative process.
I like reading folk tales, mythology and the work of Joseph Campbell. The idea of archetypes and universal themes is really interesting to me. I think the idea of a "collective unconcious" is really strange, but also very interesting as well.
I often incorporate child-like themes into my artwork, because of it's appearance of simplicity and also because I can't draw my way out of a paper bag. With my artwork and writing, I try to build on essential themes and characters while at the same time, not allowing them to become generic.