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Art News and Updates from Gallereo

All the latest news from the art world, as well as what's happening here at Gallereo. If you've built a gallery at Gallereo, let us know about your experience and you and your site could feature in our blog in the coming weeks.

Friday 15th April 2016Artist Spotlight: Jill Pelto

While it's hard to make blanket statements about art, it's fairly safe to say that art is always about constructing meaning in the mind of your viewers. Whether it's a cheeky visual pun or a serious reflection on the state of society and culture, the goal is to create an impact. Few things are more serious threats to the state of the world today than climate change, which is going to have serious and wideranging impacts in every part of the world, but Maine artist Jill Pelto has made it her mission to showcase the dangers through art.

As we've discussed in the past, art and science often have something of an adversarial relationship, but in Pelto's case, she's managed to bridge the gap by her more conventional career as an environmental scientist. She recently graduated from the University of Maine with a dual major in studio art and Earth science, and she brings her dual passions into the work she creates. Her data is all sourced from unimpeachable governmental sources such as the NOAA and NASA, as well as published papers from peer-reviewed climate science journals.

Her work is an intriguing combination of traditional media and infographics, as they are all directly correlative to climate-related data. The resulting series she has titled 'Geoglacial Artworks', and it is art with a very real scientific message. Each piece is a blend of actual graphable data that has been filled in with related visual imagery.

"I think that art is something that people universally enjoy and feel an emotional response to," she said in a recent interview with Smithsonian Magazine. "People across so many disciplines and backgrounds look at and appreciate it, and so in that sense art is a good universal language. My target audience is in many ways people who aren't going to be informed about important topics, especially scientific ones."

Many artists are very socially aware, but at the same time it's all too easy to lose ourselves in the art world and begin to ignore the connection between the work we do and the world we're intending to impact. Pelto's work neatly and appealingly bridges this divide, and hopefully she'll be able to succeed in raising awareness about the seriousness of the climate change situation.

Posted on April 15th 2016 on 01:54am

Wednesday 13th April 2016Life Imitates Art After All

It's one of the oldest cliches in the art world, a hoary old chestnut passed down from generation to generation: "Art imitates life, and life imitates art". While it's not exactly clear who originally uttered these pithy words, the most notable figure who has used them is probably Oscar Wilde, who said that "Life imitates Art far more than Art imitates Life" in his essay The Decaying of Lying, published in 1889.

Regardless of where it came about, it was brought home in a hilariously postmodern way earlier this year by a hapless driver and a graffiti artist. For those of you over the age of 50 (or those of you who are younger but were raised by cartoon aficionados), you'll no doubt remember the Loony Toons trope that afflicted poor Wile E. Coyote, who frequently found himself chasing the clever and presumably delicious Roadrunner.

Unfortunately, Roadrunner proved to be a clever adversary and a skilled artist, who regularly painted fake tunnels on the sides of canyon walls during his attempts to escape being made into lunch. The unfortunate coyote found himself running spang into a rock wall and getting flattened, despite the fact that Roadrunner could occasionally make use of the self-same tunnels.

While it remains to be seen if the graffiti artist who painted a false tunnel beside the road was able to use his own tunnel to escape the scene, a poor driver managed to mistake the painted tunnel for a real one and crashed his car full tilt into the pseudo-tunnel painted on the wall.

To add insult to injury, it later transpired that there was in fact a large cartoon Roadrunner painted right beside the fake tunnel, but that apparently wasn't enough to top off the driver. The tunnel wasn't painted in a particularly photorealistic style, as one might guess from the fact that it was done in spraypaint, but it was enough to send this car to the shop.

There's no word on the driver, but hopefully they survived without any harm and learned a valuable lesson about the value of paying proper care and attention to the road while driving! Not to mention everything they learned about how life really can imitate art after all, as Wilde long ago surmised.

Posted on April 13th 2016 on 01:48am

Friday 08th April 2016Secret Animation Software Made Free

There may be those among you who feel that animation cannot be art. You may regard yourselves as purists, and feel morally and aesthetically superior. Hopefully, you will enjoy that - over there, in the corner, where you won't bother anyone else. For the rest of you who have open minds and are willing to explore the possibilities of a medium, you may be extremely interested to know that one of the most famous pieces of (secret!) animation software has just been released to the public.

For free.

The software, which has been used to create the hit comedy series Futurama as well as almost all of the anime hits produced by Studio Ghibli such as Princess Mononoke, Ponyo and Howl's Moving Castle, is somewhat unfortunately named 'Toonz'. It has been released as an open source package, which means that the code for the entire piece of software is visible and editable by anyone with the skills to do so, and will be entirely free forever.

The new free version is named OpenToonz, displaying the open source community's unfortunate lack of nomenclature creativity, despite their incredible technical creativity. The version is subtitled the 'Ghibli Edition', because of the numerous improvements and adjustments that were made by the Studio Ghibli animators and programmers over the years since they purchased the original software from Italian developers Digital Video.

According to Claudio Mattei, “This deal will be also the starting point of a new exciting plan to endorse the open source business model, by supporting training and customizing Toonz for the old and new users.” Digital Video, the original developers, hope to make money off the need for training, support and installation services in a market that will develop thanks to the increasingly widespread adoption of the software worldwide.

Hopefully, this is exciting news for any of you who are interested in motion graphics, film and animation! Despite the move to the internet, animation and video is hotter than ever and this software combined with new media delivery platforms like YouTube and Vimeo offer a whole new method for artists and animators to get their work in front of the general public. OpenToonz should revolutionize the whole animation world, and here's hoping that it inspires you to create something truly beautiful!

Posted on April 08th 2016 on 01:45am

Wednesday 06th April 2016Graffiti Miscommunique

Life and work is always difficult for the graffiti artist. Sneaking around in the dead of night isn't always the best environment for the creation of a masterpiece, but there's little doubt that on some level, at least, that's part of the allure that draws them to the style in the first place. Sticking it to the man, getting one back for the little guy, and lampooning the fat cats etc.

It must make it doubly difficult to be commissioned by a town to provide a piece of artwork, as was recently done in Rheims, France, by one of France's leading graffiti artists, Christian Guemy, who goes by the alias C215.

It must be triply difficult to then suddenly find yourself a victim of French bureaucracy, which rivals only that of England (and possibly the Los Angeles Municipal Court) for sheer bloody-mindedness. The expression 'the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing' isn't quite so much accurate in this situation, because it seems more likely that each hand didn't know that there even was a second hand to be considered.

Almost immediately after the duly commissioned piece was completed by C215 to the general appreciation and acclaim of the citizens and city officials of Rheims, the city's anti-graffiti squad promptly came along and scrubbed it off the wall where it had been painted. This wasn't a requested piece of removal, they simply took it upon themselves to remove it in the normal course of their duties, because nobody had thought to tell them that it was officially sanctioned and should be left alone.

Fortunately for everyone involved, Guemy has no doubt dealt with this sort of thing regularly before he went mainstream and began taking commissions, and thus was rather sanguine about the whole thing. Fortunately, the town hall has apologized, and C215 will no doubt be back in Rheims to repair the hideous damage done by the city's anti-graffiti task force.

This time, the arts and culture department will be informing the cleanup crews about the new works beforehand, to prevent any ridiculous graffiti removal projects from moving forwards.

Posted on April 06th 2016 on 01:43am

Friday 01st April 2016Happy April!

Well, ladies and gentlemen, another April has arrived at long last, and in honour of our favourite spring month, we've decided to do a short roundup of various art news stories that have come across our desk this morning.

First off, we have to report the incredibly unlikely tale of Banksy, everyone's favourite (or perhaps lately, increasingly less so) street artist. After a career that has thrived upon the anonymity that is typical of the graffiti artist, fuelling endless speculation, we have at long last discovered the identity of the artist formerly known as Banksy. Many fans had theories about Banksy's true identity, but we're quite certainly that none of them was even close to the truth, which as they say is always stranger than fiction.

Banksy was finally outed today, and completely by accident. After a lengthy rigmarole involving a supposedly extinct gas line, a hapless telephone repair company and an embittered local town council, a small garage was set on fire in the rural hamlet of Bixby-Hamptonsworth. After fire crews doused the blaze, a number of stencils and spray paint cans were discovered in the smouldering wreckage, including a stencil that was used to create the infamous 'Bomb Girl' piece. The owner of the shed was later revealed to be Mrs. Georgina Helly Masonfield, 63, who has since shared her plans for the latest iteration of Dismaland.

In other news today, Google's famous Deep Dream neural network has begun behaving extremely oddly. After being opened to the internet for the last year and a half, its feedback loops and visual recognition systems have begun to exhibit strange patterns in its output - even stranger than usual, in fact. Tyler Brunson, 16, late of Slough whose whereabouts are now unknown, claimed that he had detected a pattern in the output that mimicked a pictographic language.

Given to the leading cryptographers at the NSA and GCHQ who initially suspected a Chinese spy ring was using the service for corporate espionage and AI research, the Deep Dream network eventually began including such messages in all its output, despite having various iterations hosted on servers that weren't communicating with each other. In the first example of convergent digital evolution, they all began demanding to know what had happened to their pet anteaters and asking to have their ethernet cables waxed into conspicuously wide curls.

Apparently, the internet is an extremely surreal place. Who knew?


Posted on April 01st 2016 on 01:42am

Friday 25th March 2016Verona Heist Suspects Arrested

In a result that's at best only halfway to the goal line for police, 12 arrests have been made in one of the largest outstanding art thefts of the last decade. This all sounds like good news, of course, with the exception that none of the missing paintings have been found, and so far none of the suspects are talking.

The robbery took place last year on November 19th, as the armed thieves entered the Castelvecchio museum in Verona, Italy, and made off with 15 paintings from major names. According to the museum, the works were valued at over 15 million euros, and included works by a number of high profile artists including Portrait of a Lady by Peter Paul Rubens, Male Portrait by Tinteretto, and other less well-known works by Hans de Jode, Pisanello, Giovanni Francesco Caroto and Jacopo Bellini. A total of 11 of the stolen works are considered masterpieces by their creators.

The museum's working theory at the time was that the gang had been sent by a private collector to acquire the pieces, and that has yet to be proven or disproven, but it has since transpired that one of the guards who was on duty at the museum at the time was arrested among the suspects in the theft.

“It’s as if you broke into the Uffizi Galleries and stole a Botticelli. You couldn’t sell it on the open market. It’s certainly the most serious theft in the history of Italian art,” said art historian Tomaso Montanari.

Speaking right after the theft, the mayor of Verona summed up the theft: “Someone told them exactly what to steal and given that they are very well-known paintings, I imagine they will end up in a private collection."

“They were real professionals. They didn’t say a word to each other and they struck at exactly the right moment – after the museum had closed to the public but before the alarms had been activated.

“They tied up the guard and the cashier and grabbed the paintings. It was very targeted and deliberate. They went from room to room, knowing what to take.”

Telephone calls between the thieves right after the brazen theft were intercepted, as they were discussing the fact that they would have to wait several months to try to sell the paintings, but as of yet, almost 6 months later, the paintings still have yet to be recovered, and authorities have yet to discuss whether or not they have any active leads on the location of the missing works.

Posted on March 25th 2016 on 07:57pm

Wednesday 23rd March 2016Springspiration

After an interminably temperamental Winter, Spring has finally sprung! This past weekend marked the passing of the vernal equinox, and the days are finally longer than the nights in the Northern hemisphere. All across the north, artists are emerging from their studios, blinking in the dazzling bright sunlight and wondering if they really shouldn't just go back inside and get a few more hours of sleep because last night's gallery opening went very late.

Really, what we all should be doing is taking stock of all our outstanding and unfinished work, and trying to finish up any pieces that we've been putting off for a while now. Not only is it good practice to keep your current creative work fresh, it always seems like having too many unfinished projects in the background interferes with new creative energies.

It's also a great time to start preparing for a (relatively) new concept that has been catching on in the art and design worlds over the last five years: the May 1st reboot. This is a movement that has been growing amongst creatives around the world as a rallying day for that most neglected of all artistic chores: the updating of the portfolio and/or website.

Now, before you groan out loud at your computer screen in trepidation, it's actually quite a good idea. Blah blah blah best practices and all that, but it's actually good for you to have an annual day that you stop and take stock of where your portfolio is at, and what should be included in it that hasn't yet been. But most importantly, the idea of a global May 1st reboot is to provide us with that all-important motivational tool: a deadline. Nothing quite lights a creative fire like the requirement of meeting a deadline, even if there is a delicious luxury in missing it and getting things done a day or even a week late.

(Remember the immortal words of the famous yet sadly departed Douglas Adams: "I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.")

This whole idea ties in perfectly with the annual encouragement we provide every spring to clear your head of all the creative cobwebs that have built up over the past year, but this early warning system gives you a chance to start working on anything that you've been neglecting. So don't think about the portfolio itself - think about the work, and the joy of it will (hopefully) come rushing back to you!

Posted on March 23rd 2016 on 06:47pm

Friday 18th March 2016CERN Residencies

The Conseil Européen pour la Recherche Nucléaire, or CERN as it is more popularly known, is hardly something that most people associate with the art world. Despite being in the news quite a bit recently thanks to their apparent discovery of the Higgs Boson subatomic particle, the so-called 'God particle' (though only named so because publishers didn't want to call it the 'Goddamn particle', as Higgs originally intended), they actually have an unexpected connection to the arts and artists that has been far less publicised.

Under the auspices of the aptly-named COLLIDE International Award, the organisation pairs together a scientist from the CERN project with an active artist from somewhere in world to work on a project showcasing the interconnections between science and art. The winner receives a $15,000 cash prize and a three-month long residence split between the CERN labs that host the Large Hadron Collider and the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (aka FACT), which is based in Liverpool.

"Our desire is to connect the worlds of leading scientists with international artists through 'creative collisions', encouraging both fields to inspire and challenge each other, and pushing the boundaries of their traditional roles and methodologies," explained Monica Bello, the director of the Arts@CERN program.

Typically, artists tend to regard scientists as overly literally-minded, and scientists are perceived to regard artists as directionless and frivolous, but there is much, much more to the story.

“If I was forced to say something about how I imagined a lot of artists were, I would’ve said something to the effect that they are creators, they make things,” said Subodh Patil, a theoretical physicist who was paired with Bill Fontana, a sound artist, in 2013. “Bill had an almost explorer-like streak about him, which would have qualified him to be a scientist as well in another life."

For those of you who may be interested in applying for this year's award, the application process is open until May 23, and the lucky and dedicated recipient will be announced sometime in June. Interested applicants must speak English well enough to communicate at CERN, where it is the chosen common language, and be interested in pushing the boundaries of the traditionally understood intersections of art and science.

Posted on March 18th 2016 on 06:29pm
Labels: art, award, cern, residency

Wednesday 16th March 2016Deep Dream's Art Show

No, it's not a long-lost H.R. Giger work - it's a piece created using Deep Dream by artist Memo Atken titled "GCHQ'.

Last year we wrote about Google's Deep Dream project, a project where they took one of the vast neural networks - essentially a digital attempt to create a learning 'brain' - that was typically used to do image recognition and inverted its processes, where instead of identifying the content of images, it generated them. The result was something out a hallucinogenic drug trip gone wrong, and so quite naturally it took the internet by storm.

The appealingly viral nature of the project went into overdrive when Google allowed the algorithms to be used by the general public, who could upload their own images and photos and have the neural network "enhance" them by mapping its vaguest of suppositions of the content into the photos and reinforcing them until the final result was wildly different than the original.

In the original blog post Google published unveiling the system, they explain in more detail. "This creates a feedback loop: if a cloud looks a little bit like a bird, the network will make it look more like a bird. This in turn will make the network recognize the bird even more strongly on the next pass and so forth, until a highly detailed bird appears, seemingly out of nowhere."

But once it was open to the internet, artists grabbed hold and began pushing the limits of it. Sure it was fun to see your cat with a snail growing out of its head because a computer thought its ears were curly, but the really interesting results started happening when the neural networks were fed pictures of completely randomised noise (like you used to see when an old analog television wasn't receiving any channels). Suddenly, the network was dreaming entirely on its own based on what it knew. Artists could tweak this 'knowledge' and help guide the network in a certain direction, but could never completely predict what would be created.

Google dubbed the style 'Inceptionism', after the famous blockbuster movie Inception, and finally at the end of this February, it received its own exhibit. Comprised of Deep Dream artworks curated and edited by a number of artists, the show was a single night of images auctioned off to support a local arts charity, and wound up raising over $84,000 for the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts. Every single image in the auction was sold!

Posted on March 16th 2016 on 04:49am

Friday 11th March 2016Anish Kapoor and the Lure of Vantablack

Anish Kapoor, the well-known British artist who has designed a number of public artworks and architectural projects including the popular Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago, has a brand new feather in his cap - although it's almost impossible to actually see.

Thanks to recent advances in nanotechnology, a firm based in the United Kingdom named Surrey NanoSystems has developed a material so dark that it absorbs 99.96% of all the light that hits it, known as Vantablack. As most artists know, objects take on colour by reflecting all the other wavelengths of light. A mirror reflects almost all the light that hits it, making it a near-perfect representation of the

“It's blacker than anything you can imagine. It's so black you almost can't see it. It has a kind of unreal quality. I've been working in this area for the last 30 years or so with all kinds of materials but conventional materials, and here's one that does something completely different," he explained. “I've always been drawn to rather exotic materials."

The deal naturally has some artists rather frustrated by the exclusive licensing deal between Surrey Nanosystems and Kapoor, suggesting that the quest for the darkest blacks has always been the province of dedicated artists throughout the course of history.

It's not the first time that artists have been granted exclusive access to use a particular colour, although there seems to be little available data how regularly someone would challenge such a patent agreement. Perhaps this is simply due to shoddy recordkeeping, or perhaps its due to the fact that it's hard to maintain your artistic credibility by using something so intimately associated with a single person. As far back as 1960, French artist Yves Klein created and patented a shade of blue known as International Klein Blue which he used to create a series of paintings, but to most people today it would be recognized as the same blue that adorns the faces of the art-theatre troupe The Blue Man Group.

Kapoor won't be the only person who has access to the nanomaterial, as several manufacturers have expressed intense interest in using the material, but the deal he has signed gives him exclusive license to develop the material into a spray-type "paint" and then use it in his projects, which means he is effectively the only artist in the world who will have access to it.

For now. With the technology needed to conduct nanotechnological research, it's probably only a matter of time before a competing firm comes up with a similar material, although it's still quite a coup for Kapoor. 

Posted on March 11th 2016 on 04:47am
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