Pipilotti Rist

Elisabeth Charlotte Rist, aka Pipilotti Rist has been making art since the 1980s.  She is a video artist, commercial artist, illustrator and photographer.    She is most well known for her video art, which is large, often taking up entire walls, and contains bright, often florescent like, colors. She often incorporates music into her video art, and water seems to be a reoccurring element in her pieces.  Much of her work is not only displayed in galleries and museum installations, but also publicly in bigger cities, like London and New York, on LCD screens.   Her art seems to have feministic characteristic, and sexuality and the human body.  Although many of the images appear to be beautiful, especially because of the colors, they contain disturbing and grotesque objects and ideas.

I find that her art makes me feel many different emotions at once, and although at times it makes me feel uncomfortable, i think this makes her successful.  In her video piece I’m Not The Girl Who Misses Much I couldn’t tell if I was scared, if I wanted to laugh, or if I wanted to vomit.  The combination of the high pitch sining, and the way that it was filmed, one on one, her with the camera, and a little bit fuzzy made it seem so unreal and so strange.  It also seemed very genuine, and this honesty that is present is also why it was almost frightening.  Her art is very bold, passionate, and colorful.  It’s like an explosion of emotion.


Cory Arcangel is a New York computer programmer and digital artist.  A lot of his work might remind you of that video game Super Mario Bros., probably because it is!  He hacks into different video games and alters them or changes them in some way.  He combines old and new technology, and various pop culture icons.  For example, his piece I Shot Andy Warhol, Andy Wahol, Pope John Paul II, and Flavor Flav are present, and the object of the game is to shoot them.

I would not necessarily want to put Cory Arcangel’s work on display in my living room, but I do appreciate what he has done, and his mixture of culture and technology.. I think it’s a pretty cool twist.  And it’s also very playful and colorful, and brings together culture of today, and combines it with the idea of childhood or youth.  It’s fun, and it’s new, and it’s a combination of old and new technology, and I think that there will be more art like this in the near future.


Like Jeffrey Wolin, Jenny Holzer combines words and images in her art.  She is a photographer, and her art can be viewed in the form of a photograph, or for a limited time one can see what she has photographed live, on site.  She uses bold statements and projects them on the sides of buildings, making it very visible to everyone who is in the surrounding area.  The location of these “events” is global.  Some of the messages are very emotional and others are political, but each has a dramatic feel.  Each photograph is in black and white, and it appears that these pictures were taken during the evening.

I think that it is very successful that Holzer’s art is more than just a photograph, but also a live situation (I almost want to call it a performance).  The fact that each projection is so large, and so many people can view it, and it just engulfs the building that it is hitting is very monumental and grand.  The settings make each image kind of romantic, despite what some of the statements are.


Jeffrey Wolin combines words and images, often in the form of a portrait, to illustrate people’s dramatic life experiences and struggles including immigration and the Holocaust.    Each pieces is very personal, and is very much like a narrative.    His collections include Inconvenient Stories: Vietnam War Veterans; Vietnamese Veterans: Portraits of the Other Sides; New Faces: The World in Central Indiana; Written in Memory: Stories from the Holocaust; Life at the Millennium: Family Photographs; and Ancient Provence.

I like that his photographs are of real people, in their natural settings.  The people look natural, and comfortable, and real.  I like that so many of the portraits of those who have served are wearing uniforms something that can be associated with the military.  I like that they are so personal.  I feel likes are everyday people, and so many times we take for granted the people around us.  Wolin is recording history.  He is recording these people’s lives and experiences, that may have otherwise been forgotten, and shows how extraordinary their lives really were.  I really enjoyed all of his collections.


Arthur Liou is recognized by his video art piece called “Blood Work.”  It is a combination of audio, video, and photography which tells the story of his baby daughter Vivian’s battle with leukemia.  The images are blown up microscopic pictures of the inside of the human body.  He calls the red tissuey substance “organic stuff,”  but does not specify exactly what it is.  This project was more than just an expression of how he felt during this time, or his reaction to his daughter’s illness, but also a way for him to escape the terrible reality that no parent ever wishes to face.  In an interview with Ryan Whirty from Indiana University, Liou says:

“At one point it was an escape for me, but it was a weird escape, because you get closer to reality than you think. Sometimes it is relieving when you focus on art ideas and the difficult things you have to work with. You make progress. . . .”

This exhibit shows the ups and downs of his daughter’s fight, specifically in “Hairline” which is about Vivian’s year long process of losing her hair, and then it slowly growing back.  This is symbolic of her struggles and serves as a silver lining, with the hope that she will become healthy again.

I know that is is cliche to say this, but I found Liou’s “Blood Work” to be very moving and easy to become attached to.  The story behind the project and the intensity in color and size of the piece are very strong.  The images are beautiful and captivating, and mysterious.  The viewer doesn’t know exactly what part of the body they are looking at, or if what is going on is good or bad.  The still shots are great, but I would really like to see the the video to get the full experience.  I like that he not only had the large, medical images, but also his daughter crawling around in it, surrounded by it.  She is in the “organic matter,” and the organic matter is inside of her as well.  


 Mark Klett is not only a photographer, but also a trained geologist, and a professor at Arizona State University.  Much of his subject matter is the American West, or having to do with the American West (which is interesting because he grew up and went to school in New York, although he now lives in Arizona).  Two of his well-known projects include the Rephotographic Survey Project (1977-1979) and Third View (1997-200).  In the Rephotographic Survey Project Klett worked with a team on what was a very elaborate project that involved rephotographing western landscapes that were once photographed in the 1860s and 1870s by recognized photographers such as William Henry Jackson and Timothy O’Sullivan.  Klett and his team were very specific to match the location, time of year and day, and focal lengths of the lenses to make the photographs as similar to the originals as possible.  This photograph is not only special because of the intense attention to detail and effort that was put forth to complete it, but also because it showed extreme changes of the land over time.  His work captures all sorts of relationships: those between man and nature and the past and present.  The time lapse shows the evolution of the land and how people and the earth have altered it.  His use of including a person in many of his photographs to show proportion, his precise overlapping of images that create a collage of new and old photographs meeting together as one large image, and his unique perspectives show a connection between art and science, man and nature, and essentially man and art.  His use of overlapping images in his work could be a metaphor of what he is photographing:  the land is constantly changing, there is even a significant change in the way it looks from the day to the evening, and being altered, but it is still the land.  It can be changed and weathered and built upon, but essentially it is all connected and its essence cannot be changed.  

I really like Klett’s photography, for a number of reasons.  The first being that the American West is very intriguing to me.  I was born in Mesa, AZ and although I have never returned, I remember that it was a very beautiful and alien place.  A lot of his photographs release a feeling of  solitariness and warmth, and I think that’s nice.  Secondly, I find his work to be aesthetically pleasing.   View from the tent at Pyramid Lake, Nevada the perspective is different and includes his signature element of including a person in the picture for proportion purposes.  I also like the way the tent and the pyramid compliment each other and are almost aligned with his feet as well.  Lastly, I really like the way that his work shows a progression in time, and it’s connections to the interaction between man and nature, and the deterioration nature does to itself.



Matt Siber’s art is an innovative way of sort of taking apart or disarming commercial art.  He is another Chicago native, and he uses digital editing to advertising by removing the words and leaving behind just the images.  The Untitled Project is a series of photographs of various billboard like advertisements (and other kinds as well), removes the words, and places them onto a white canvas.  The image without text is displayed to the left of the white canvas where the text has been replaced, separating the two, but still keeping them almost together.  He does this to emphasize how big a part image plays in our culture, and how our society is capable of understanding and image through the visual aspects of an image, even when text is not present.  Floating Logos is another one of his well known series, and it is comprised of photographs of signs that have the pole that holds the sign up, making the logo appear to be floating in the air.  It is something that is very common (we see signs and billboards everyday), but with the absence of the pole, and the floating logo, it appears very odd and almost supernatural.

I was a little confused when I first saw his work, and I had thought that he had just created images, on photographs, of just geometric shapes and colors… I now know that that is not even close.  I like what he is doing here.  I think that it is successful that he has a separate, white canvas for the text that he has taken away from his images, because I feel like that helps the viewer understand what he is doing, and it is also eye catching, because you don’t know exactly what is going on at first.  I feel like his style is pretty different, and pretty contemporary.  His use of digital editing is very technical, and shows his computer skills, and I think that digital approaches to fine art will only become more common as technology advances, and I think he has done a successful job at using these tools.


Ian J. Whitmore is a photographer.  Much of his art is a piece of a collection that has an underlying theme, and many  photos specifically focus on spacial elements and location.  Nowhere is a series of photographs, that looks pretty basic, of landscapes and common outdoor places.  The whole idea is that he has captured this idea that we have decorated our world with so many things that we have grown so accustomed to see everyday.  So much of it may appear to be natural, but is in fact placed there by man, and is kind of unnatural.  Channels is another series he did, where he photographed televisions in various homes.  Each photograph shows how different each home is, and in the tv screen it appears to be a reflection of the room, often with a person present (assuming the owner of the house and tv)  almost as if the television is watching the viewer, instead of the usual vise versa situation.

At first glance, I was not very interested in Whitmore’s art.  They seemed very basic, and the colors were kind of dull, but after I looked at his entire collection as a whole, I felt much differently (specifically talking about his “Nowhere” collection).  I really like the way ever photo is so simple, one or two even blurry.  It was a collection that I wanted to go back and look at a few times because it wasn’t just a photograph of random plants, they were all plants that had been placed in an urban or suburban setting. When I read his artist statement, it blew my mind.   This theme is very deep, and I really appreciate the way the photos are primarily simple in color, with mostly whites, creams, browns, and grays, because it brings your eye to the plants.


Chicago artist and photographer Jon Gitelson has a way with taking minute events or ordinary objects and making them seem monumental.  He is very resourceful, and clever with his projects.  For example, in his series Hidden Clothing, he has photographed individual pieces of clothing, on a hanger, from a wooden pool.  The setting is very clean and simple, bringing the viewers attention to the clothing, each of which is a little worn out looking.  However, something about it is intriguing, and kind of beautiful.  The Museum of Contemporary Photograph quotes Gitelson saying “Commonplace things fascinate me.”  After looking at the statement that accompanies the photographs, the viewer realizes that these articles of clothing are pieces that his girlfriend has secretly hid from him, with hopes that he will not wear them anymore.  CLEVER.  He also makes posters which are very geometric and organized, telling a story or sequence of events.  They are also humorous, and interesting, and are personal, some containing quotes.  They tell a story, and he even incorporates text so nothing gets left out.

I really like the way his photography seems very simple, but goes deeper.  I’m not a HUGE fan of contemporary art, or posters, but I like his.  The humor is great and I get a feeling that this is fun for him. I also really love the way that they are so personal.  It brings the viewer in and makes it more relatable and I think this is apart of why he is so successful.  His work almost seems like it could be put into a commercial environment, because of the aesthetics (the colors and bold lines draw you in aesthetically)  but the personal vibe it gives off makes it much more of a kind of art you would find in a gallery.  I think this makes it very versatile.  I also like the experimental aspects involved, the way his art really is an experience (especially his trash can project).