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Label: genre spotlight

Friday 22nd January 2016Genre Spotlight: Virtual Reality

As you've probably already noticed this year, we've been very excited lately by the prospect of consumer-ready virtual reality and how it will affect the art world, both in terms of the artists and the viewers. Rather than focusing on any particular artist today, we're going to be exploring the possibilities and limitations of the medium itself, and where it might be going in the future.

For those of you unaware of the latest developments, a number of companies including Google, Facebook, HTC, Valve, Microsoft and Samsung are all heavily investing in virtual reality technology, whether in the form of buying startups such as Oculus (as Facebook did) or by developing their own in-house technologies. This has lead to a huge range of projects that are about to be available for the general consumer - or in the case of Oculus, were already available in time for the holiday season in 2015. Essentially, a virtual reality (VR) rig is comprised of a headset with screens placed right before the eyes, built-in headphones and accelerometers to measure how your head moves in 3D space.

This allows for an unprecedented level of immersion in a completely constructed world, where the possibilities for artistic creation are limited by nothing more than the artist's imagination (and, for the moment, the lack of a sense of smell or touch, but these two are not always common elements in artistic projects). While the technology is still fairly expensive, the prices will be dropping rapidly as the various competitors roll out their entries, and many companies are already working with content creators such as artists and video game designers to ensure there is enough VR content to meet the demand.

Another interesting take on the VR environment is something called augmented reality (AR), where the viewer isn't completely immersed an alternative environment but rather gets a blend of virtual and real world views. This may turn out to have the largest artistic potential, as the entire structure of narratives and viewpoints can literally be questioned, instead of merely intimated. Four people all looking at the same real world object could be given completely different yet related and constantly shifting viewpoints shaped by the augmented content their AR equipment shows them. Combine this with some kind of shared online space and the possibilities start to grow exponentially - and that's just one example.

Virtual and augmented reality promises to be one of the most exciting artistic developments of 2016 and onwards, and as the technology scales upwards and the cost scales down, we're going to be looking at a brave new and completely constructed world. We can hardly wait!
 

Posted on January 22nd 2016 on 12:34am
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Wednesday 01st April 2015Genre Spotlight: Abstract Expressionism

Abstract expressionism is an exciting style, quite literally: as you might guess from the'expressionism' aspect of the name, being most frequently characterized by a unique degree of physical interaction between artist and canvas. The shapes are bold and kinetic, and the colour palettes and scale of the pieces tend to bear out this initial sensation. Jackson Pollock, who we recently reviewed in our Artist Spotlight segment, is probably the most famous artist in the movement, but it had called a number of famous artists its own during its day, including Arshille Gorky, Hans Hofmann (whose painting 'The Gate' is shown to the right) and John Graham.

Abstract expressionism is one of the most visually intriguing movements to develop in the art world during the 19th century, but it has even more to its credit than beauty for the role it played in the dynamics of the art world. Before the advent of the movement in the 1940s, Paris had been widely regarded as the central hub of the Western art world. North America was regarded as something of a cultural backwater, an upstart colonial society that was still hadn't earned its creative chops. With the advent of abstract expressionism in the United States, suddenly the hottest place on the planet to be an artist was New York City, and Paris was forced by general acclaim to cede the crown (although there are no doubt still some die-hards who would place Paris above NYC, notably most Parisians).

Primarily, abstract expressionism in the painting world is broken up into two major styles, although naturally they can't cover all possible interactions of the movement, which also lent themselves well towards sculpture, thanks to the kinesthetic natural of the act of sculpting. In painting, however, the two major styles are generally recognized as action painting, which Jackson Pollock was famous for, and colour field painting, which is exemplified in the work of Hans Hoffman.

Action painting more or less does what it says on the tin, and is remarkably enjoyable to do, although difficult to do well. As Pollock said, "My painting does not come from the easel. I prefer to tack the unstretched canvas to the hard wall or the floor. I need the resistance of a hard surface. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting." By contrast, colour field painting tends to be more deliberate, and relies on the emotional reactions produced by large, bold shapes.
 

Posted on April 01st 2015 on 07:56pm
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Friday 13th March 2015Genre Spotlight: Surrealism

We're going to be starting a new recurring series here at Gallereo, in a similar vein to our Artist Spotlight series, but taking a broader view and looking at artistic genres as a whole. Our hope is that we'll be able to give a bit of a bigger picture of the movements that lie behind and surround some of the world's most popular artists, and maybe even inspire some of you to experiment with new genres that you otherwise might have ignored! To that end, we start the series today with a quick look at Surrealism, that most whimsical and mystifying of all artistic genres.

First getting started in the 1920s in Europe, Surrealism originally had two opposing parties of artists who squabbled over the usage and priority of the term. These arguments got so heated that at one point, the leaders of the two factions, Andre Breton and Yvan Goll, actually got into a physical fight in the middle of the Champs Elysee in Paris, France. Breton's faction eventually proved the stronger, though history does not seem to relate who won the fistfight.

His unique definition of Surrealism also triumphed, as he describes it:
Dictionary: Surrealism, n. Pure psychic automatism, by which one proposes to express, either verbally, in writing, or by any other manner, the real functioning of thought. Dictation of thought in the absence of all control exercised by reason, outside of all aesthetic and moral preoccupation.

Encyclopedia: Surrealism. Philosophy. Surrealism is based on the belief in the superior reality of certain forms of previously neglected associations, in the omnipotence of dream, in the disinterested play of thought. It tends to ruin once and for all other psychic mechanisms and to substitute itself for them in solving all the principal problems of life.

Some of the most famous Surrealist artists are household names, now viewed with reverence: Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Man Ray, Rene Magritte and Joan Miro, not to mention Andre Breton himself, are names that every art student has run across, and their popularity is still evident in university campuses around the world, who regularly feature shows, film festivals, and other celebrations of the Surrealist canon. Much of what we regard as postmodern has roots and themes that can be traced back to the Surrealist movement, and that leaves much of today's popular art an evolving legacy of the Surrealists. 
 

Posted on March 13th 2015 on 01:01pm
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