Posted inArt

On Being an Artist and a Mother

CHICAGO — What does it mean, bodily, physically, emotionally, mentally, and perhaps spiritually, to be what Simone de Beauvoir deemed “the second sex,” to be a woman and, moreover, to be a mother? These are questions that Chelsea Knight explores in her latest video work “The Breath We Took” (2013), now on view at Aspect Ratio.

Posted inOpinion

The Awkward Laughing Moment of Charles Ramsey’s Hero Tale

CHICAGO — The latest internet fodder for comment threads and message boards is Charles Ramsey, a man who helped rescue three Cleveland women who were thought dead more than a decade ago. Providing quotes to the pageview-hungry internet media (“I was eatin’ my McDonald’s.”) and others like that have helped to mark Ramsey as a total hero. As of less than 24 hours ago, Ramsey was trending #6 on whatthetrend.com. Yet watching this video calls to mind the problematic stereotype of the “hilarious black neighbor,” as noted by Slate …

Posted inOpinion

The Aesthetics of Gendered Dumbness

CHICAGO — What happens when blogs GURLDONTBEDUMB and WEIRD DUDE ENERGY face off in the reblogosphere, dueling it out in a viral battle-of-the-sexes? This post compares these two Tumblrs, both of which index hyper-gendered pop culture tropes, readily spinning off memes for the easy consumption of an A.D.D.-addled web audience.

Posted inArt

Viral Image to Real Rubbers: Pop Pope

MILWAUKEE — When a story, an image of a work of art, or an essay goes viral, it has struck a cultural nerve, somewhere, and people can’t stop passing it on. The work itself becomes freed of the space where it was first realized; it is taken over by global internet culture and social networks, co-opted by BuzzFeed, threaded on reddit, and then picked up by mainstream media outlets.

Posted inArt

Messing with Google Maps in the Suburbs

OAK PARK, Illinois — You’re driving to a suburb that you don’t know well, and you whip out your iPhone to quickly punch an address into Google Maps. In this case, that address is 704 Highland Avenue, home of Sabina Ott and John Paulett, who run Terrain Exhibitions, a once-a-month-ish, home-turned-cozy gallery experience. Every artist who shows work here must wrap it around the concept of the artist-writer couple’s home.

Posted inArt

Tavi Gevinson’s Exquisite Cadaver

CHICAGO — Tavi Gevinson took the ACT exam the same day she took the stage at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago’s Edlis Neeson Theater, joining old family friend and LA-based filmmaker Jonah Ansell to discuss their latest collaboration, “Cadaver.” In this animated short film, Ansell and Gevinson marry a playful macabre — think Edward Gorey, Tim Burton — with the voice of Tavi, a mature, old-souled 17-year-old girl. The event felt more like a family affair than anything, with Ansell and Gevinson often bringing up subject matter linked to Oak Park, where they both grew up.

Posted inArt

David in Decay, or Making the Digital Landscape an Analog Dreamscape

CHICAGO — Michelangelo’s Renaissance masterpiece “David” presents the idealized masculine body. Chiseled and exacted over a period of three years, this perfect man stands on his pedestal, head cocked to one side, proportionate and gorgeous in his porcelain pose. Centuries after its Renaissance birth, The David stands in the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence, on view for visitors. David is available on the Internet, where a digital landscape emerges from the thoughts, images, random text, and links that users generate and dump as they so desire.

Posted inArt

twohundredfiftysixcolors Flashes One GIF Too Many

CHICAGO — In the GIF world of twohundredfiftysixcolors, there is no time to process visual imagery; viewers are left with reaction options to each short GIF much like those found on a Buzzfeed post. It’s all <3, LOL, WIN, OMG, CUTE, WTF, UNBELIEVABLE, SCARY, FAIL TRASHY, OLD, EW, <heart break! or whatever and then it’s over. Even for a person who spends many hours a day at a computer, this film is torturous, and a painfully accurate experience of today’s over-saturated internet media environment. Certain gifs will keep playing over and over in your mind long after the credits role. It is a perfect portrait of the Internet world we live in.

Posted inArt

A Family Lives Out the Drama of the World

CHICAGO — Typical American movie moments of heightened tension use signal sounds in tandem with the emotions portrayed by the actors on screen. The family dog knocks over a precious antique plate, and an ominous tune rolls in to signify that the pup is about to get in trouble. Dad arrives home only to catch his adolescent daughter in the act — a sharp, shrill note strikes just as he opens the door to her bedroom. In the world of Guy Ben-Ner’s “Soundtrack” (2013), the opposite types of moments occur, representing a shift in the notions of a family “drama.”

Posted inArt

Carrying on a Political Absurdist Legacy

CHICAGO — Cartoonist Rube Goldberg (1883–1970) was best known for his depictions of “inventions” that imagined complicated contraptions with far too many moving parts built to solve the simplest of problems. These “Rube Goldberg machines” appeared in his work, and were used as devices to poke fun at the roundabout nature of American bureaucratic and political systems in the post-World War II era. Rube Goldberg’s Ghost, a large group exhibition on view at Columbia College’s small Glass Curtain Gallery (through May 4) features work by more than 20 artists who may very well be Goldberg’s companions in that they, too, enjoy laborious machinations with political undertones.