As second semester approaches, I need to start pulling together my curriculum for my online classes. Ideas for Arts History have been stewing away for weeks, and where I approached first semester chronologically from the Middle Ages through turn-of-the-century Realism, second semester will be broken down by function of the arts. The unit I'm most inspired to explore right now is the idea of "Art as Play." I've already reflected on this some with artists Oliver Herring
and Leo Villareal
. But because this is an arts
history class, I need resources from across the spectrum, and here's what's stewing as of now:Artists:Oliver Herring:
Using TASK to construct a creative, productive play time. Interactive, ever-evolving. It's never the same experience twice. The people involved set the tasks and choose how to execute them. I also want to look at his paint splat portraits. Who's playing in that situation? Herring? The participant? In what way is the viewer playing by viewing the artwork? Because it draws out a chuckle? Because the narrative told by the portrait is so spontaneous and silly and absurd? Is it about the inter"play" between the artist, the subject, the work, and the viewer?
Leo Villareal: His works are a feast for the eyes. They’re spectacles. Why view them? Because they’re fun, indulgent, transporting, etc. They draw you in. Sharing a space with a Villareal work is like playing. It’s like a circus or night club or light show. And all his works are are lights and colors and shapes and the sequence that things light up. But they’re so much more than that. It makes me question our emotional attachment to light and color and how Villareal “plays” to that. His works definitely create a mood, but he seems deliberate in creating a fanciful, playful mood for his viewers to frolic through.
assume vivid astro focus – This team uses bright, bold colors and neons. It uses sexually imagery in a playful, cheeky way without it being offensive or obscene. They “play” with taboo much like Shakespeare and other wordsmiths “play” with language and innuendo and puns and double-entendres. avaf creates works that are festival-party-show-events and bring in the public to participate and bask in the spectacle of colors, lights, sounds, and performances. They create these worlds for people to play in. The viewer moves from spectator to player in these universes avaf creates.
assume vivid astro focus
assume vivid astro focus
What about artists who make more political statements…who play with norms and turn them on their heads? In other words – artists who work in the carnivalesque. How about Walton Ford who takes Audobon imagery and “corrupts” it with violent imagery? He’s playing with traditional depictions of nature that are so sterile or neutral or peaceful and turns them on their head by inserting Hobbes-like references to the brutality and savagery of nature.
Kara Walker does something similar with her depictions of the Antebellum south. She takes this traditional imagery of charm and grace and genteelism and inserts violence and troubling sexual imagery. Her images play – though darkly – with how media “remembers” Southern history.
Cao Fei is another artist who deals with play, though she did so literally by playing Second Life and creating this other, virtual life for herself. Looking at video games as play is something to think about as well…
Next, I need to consider literature, architecture, and music. Things to keep cooking in that brain of mine: Shakespeare; puns and slippery language (look at book titles and propaganda); Rosencrantz and Gildenstern are Dead; Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me (rhymes, news quiz); and John Stewart and Steven Colbert and how they play with politics.