PAUL PFEIFFER

Paul Pfeiffer creates art through number of different mediums including video, photography, and sculpture.  His art is very technical, focusing on accuracy and meticulous detail.  His subject matter is also very versatile.  He is well known for his art involving sports, especially basketball, so I was not surprised surprised when I typed “paul pfeffier artist” into google image and found numerous images of  leaping basketball players and stadiums.

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse is a series of photographs of professional basketball players, in which he uses a subtractive method and erasing all other players from the court, except for one.  This  shows how powerful the lighting is on the court, the incredible number of fans in the stadiums, and the kind of experience the athlete is having and the pressure he is under.  In an artist statement he describes it as “an overload throwing you off balance.”  The Long Count (The Rumble in the Jungle) is another example of his work where he erases Muhammad Ali from three of his most well known matches, in video form.

One of his pieces that created called “Orpheus Descending” was installed at the World Trade Center PATH Entrance the World Financial Center North Bridge.  It is set up in two different areas in two different ways: one is a small screen “resembling surveillance equipment” at the PATH train’s elevator area, and two plasma televisions at the North Bridge of the World Financial Center.  The film played 24/7, showing 10 weeks of the life cycle of chickens starting from when they were still in their eggs, then hatching, and then growing into adults on a free range farm.  It was created to be seen for a short period of time, on a daily basis, to take it in almost subconsciously.  He also thought that people seeing these images of nature, it will restore a spiritual balance.

In an interview with Art:21, he says:

I guess that’s the contradiction I feel working as an artist today. These days we live in a world of incredible image making tools and in a way it’s not even the tools themselves. It’s that you are really dealing with a system. There’s a huge machine, or a huge infrastructure that undergirds every individual image we see on TV. And for me it’s very hard to dissociate the single image from that entire network. So the question always comes up: who is using who, or who makes who? Is the image making us or do we make images? It seems really difficult to tell these days. It’s a double-edged sword.

At first I was not a huge fan of Pfeiffer’s work, mostly because everything I had seen by him was what I had thought was, illustrating sporting events, and I hadn’t really read his artist statements.  After reading some of his interviews and seeing some of his other stuff, I realized how deep his art is, and how much thought is put into each piece, which gave me a new appreciation for his art.    He plans what he will do and he really takes advantage of what can be done digitally with art.  I also really appreciate his innovation and his technical abilities.  Orpheus Descending was probably my favorite piece of his.  I liked that it was so ongoing, and that it captured nearly an entire life cycle of these birds.  It’s something that comes off as very basic and simple, but is something that we as people can kind of relate to.  We recognize what chickens are, but unless you are raising them, you don’t really know what they spend their days doing.  The contrast that he creates with the birds and their environment and where these videos are placed, and how people only really see the video in passing and maybe only pick up the images subconsciously is very interesting in my opinion.  I find it very successful.

MATT SIBER


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

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.