The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box is a fascinating short film by English illustrator and filmmaker Temujin Doran, which was named a finalist in the 2011 Nokia Shorts Video Contest. Thousands of videos from around the world were submitted and judged over a four month period, and from those seven films were selected as finalists. The seven finalists were screened and judged at the 2011 Edinburgh International Film Festival.

Temujin’s short film has been described rather simply as the story of one boy’s escapades with a large cardboard box, which he uses as a gateway to a multitude of fantasy adventures. The film is, of course, much more than that; it is no accident that Temujin cited the Calvin and Hobbes comic strip as the main inspiration for his film. As with the major underlying theme of Calvin and Hobbes, this film can be viewed as a contemporary narrative about one young boy’s uses of a transitional object in his play and illusions as explorations of ideas about identity and the self. Ultimately, the film becomes a perfect combination of humor and melancholy loss.

The Adventures of a Cardboard Box: Humorous Play and Melancholy Loss

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Performance in Photography Since 1960: An Audience of One

Matthew Barney, Drawing Restraint 9: Shimenawa, 2005

William Pope, Foraging (The Air Itself/Dark Version), 1995

Laurel Nakadate, Lucky Tiger #151, 2009

Ai Weiwei, Study of Perspective: Eiffel Tower, 1995–2003

Performance in Photography Since 1960: An Audience of One

Staging Action: Performance in Photography Since 1960 presents a wide range of images focusing on performance art that were expressly made for the artist’s camera, which was recently on exhibition at The Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Performance art is usually experienced live, but what documents it and ensures its enduring life is, above all, photography. Yet photography plays a constitutive role, not merely a documentary one, when the performance is staged expressly for the camera (often in the absence of an audience), and the images that result are recordings of an event but also autonomous works of art. The pictures in this exhibition exemplify the complex and varied uses artists have devised for photography in the field of performance art since the 1960s.

Many artists have experimented with the camera to test the physical and psychological limits of the body. Other artists have enlisted the camera as an accomplice in experiments with identity, suggesting the plasticity or mutability of identity itself. They have engaged the production of the self as positional rather than fixed and often played with shifting ideas of gender and/or sexual identity. The exhibition also includes both off-the-cuff and staged performative gestures of political dissent, as well as explorations of the dualities of consumerism and dispossession.

Staging Action demonstrates the complex ways in which photography, confronting us with its ability to both freeze and extend a moment in time, pushes against the grain of mere documentation to create performance art as a conceptual exercise that can be appreciated in the absence of a performing body. Often the technology of the camera is able to open up new space for performance, isolating exhibitionist, arresting, spectacular and just plain wacky moments. For every strenuous performance in this collection that challenges physical and psychological limits, there’s also a very playful one.

Viewers can read more about this exhibition in The New York Times here.

Tono Stano’s Performance Photography: Sense

Slide Show: Performance in Photography Since 1960

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

Fear/Love is  a new short film directed by the veteran English street artist and urban videographer Rob Chiu, aka The Ronin.  The film was made in collaboration with an urban youth program called the I Care Revolution, which encompasses a multitude of talented artists working together to empower young people to make a difference in the lives of others.

Set against the harsh backdrop of inner city London, Fear/Love interweaves the lives of three adolescents who never really meet each other, but whose actions intersect and interpenetrate as they struggle with who they are, who they want to be and who they are becoming.  Their lives enact the central quest for the ever-evasive heuristic sense of identity, whether that means not knowing your identity, being ashamed of who you are, trying to become someone else or looking for acceptance.

Their intertwining journeys take them down paths mixing visions of potential identity with yearnings for love, wishes for intimacy that are inevitably thwarted by their fears of others.  Ultimately, decadent overindulgence gives rise to self-destructive acts, leading up to a horrible event.

Fear/Love: A Tale of Identity, Fear and Self-Destruction

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The Capacity to Be Alone, All by My Self

The Capacity to Be Alone, All by My Self

The psychological capacity to be alone, as opposed to feeling lonely, is said to be the foundation for a sense of the self or of who we are. In addition, it nourishes growth promoting introspective thought, imagination and creativity. The media composition presented here today, which is comprised of photographs, a short film and a photo-gallery, represents the beginning of developing a small composition that portrays the differing experiences of loneliness, solitude and being alone. The piece will be modified each day, with a final set of writings, photographs, a short film and a photo-gallery appearing here by January 1st.

Alone, All by My Self

The Capacity to Be Alone, All by My Self

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Girlie Show: The Solitude of the Self

Girlie Show: Edward Hopper (1882-1967)

Like most eminent artists, Edward Hopper’s paintings portray not only an image of the world, he also communicates a frame of mind.  In Hopper’s case, that state of mind is the sense that each of us is ultimately and unconditionally alone in an indifferent universe.  Nevertheless, middle-class decorum is always preserved by the people in his paintings; there are no Edvard Munch-like screams of spiritual angst in Hopper’s paintings and prints.

People are never smiling in Hopper’s paintings; in fact, they show no emotion at all. In Edward Hopper’s world, everyone is lost in an unending rut of work overtime, rattling El trains, cheap fluorescent diners, and bad dates.  Everything has fallen tensely quiet, and this anxious, disquieting mood haunts even the urban landscapes, in which the only person around is you, the viewer.   Here every man is an island. Hopper has become perhaps the most famous and beloved American artist of the past century by picturing the disquieting film noir isolation lurking within the glass-and-steel heart of our modern metropolises, the frustrating paradoxical feeling so completely alone when we’re so together.

Lonely men in shirt sleeves sit on the curb outside vacant stores and peer down at cracks in the pavement.  Or they prop themselves upright in lawn chairs, beside deserted highways and stare vacantly into the empty distance.   Are they coming close to the limit of what they can tolerate?  Or are they still looking for something out of life, something that has already passed them by, unseen?   It’s impossible to tell, for Hopper paintings tantalize, raise questions and leave us speculating about the meaning of their mute dramas.

Women are also nearly always isolated, cut off from human contact; they often appear to be just waiting.  Dressed up in what seems her best outfit, a 1920s twenty-something sips coffee alone at night in a brightly lit diner.  She has taken the table closest to the door, kept on her hat and coat, and only removed the glove from the hand that lifts her cup.  There is no one else around. Has she been stood up by her date, or is she, in the old phrase, all dressed up with no place to go?

The figures in Hopper’s paintings simply cannot connect, make connections or emotionally relate to each other.  Hopper painted the feeling that is familiar to most of us, the state of melancholy sadness embedded in existence, in our intimate knowledge of the solitude of the self.  In one picture, a young husband is hunched over his newspaper, while his wife who looks elegantly dressed for a night out on the town, distractedly looks away, fingering the keys of an upright piano.

In Hopper, even the strutting burlesque club stripper of Girlie Show (1941), garishly festooned with pasties, G-string, and heavily rouged cheeks, looks vacantly into the air rather than at the faces of her unseen clientele.

Michael Dirda has written a more extensive piece about Hopper’s work in The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription).

Interested readers can look through The Edward Hooper Scrapbook, compiled by the Smithsonian American Art museum.

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Articles from Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Anton Corbijn’s new film, Control, is the story of Ian Curtis, lead singer of the esteemed English post-punk band “Joy Division.” Curtis killed himself in 1980, just two days before the band’s first tour in the U.S.

This article describes his life and presents stunning photographs, two music videos, the movie trailer and a photo-gallery.

[tags: Control, movie, Ian Curtis, Joy Division, music, video, photographs]

There has been increasing alarm that technological advances have changed not only our everyday lives, but also the very nature of our sense of humanity. Others say that surging technology hasn’t had the ruinous impact that some have anticipated.

The article presents both perspectives, as well as very attractive, memorable photographs and a photo-gallery.

[tags: technology, science, technology and humanity, self, humanity, photographs, celebrities]

See the Rest of My Articles at Blue Dot

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