Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Beyond Art for Arts Sake

Untitled (aleph)

by Ann Hamilton

Ann Hamilton is one of the most well know large-scale installation artists that is created with deep amounts of meaning and purpose. She studies particular things to connect a historical and cultural meaning within each piece of work. She also uses a non-verbal way to portray these meanings in her artwork. Some of the unusual materials that she has used are horsehair, thousands of honey-coated pennies, beetle-infested turkey carcasses, and hundreds of pounds of work uniforms. (Ragheb)

Ann Hamilton does a great deal of practice with showing cultural symbols in her work and also stimulates the viewer to develop a sense of memory within the preconscious or the unconscious that they see in their own personal way and can relate to their own past. In her artwork, she allows the viewer to use imagination to create their own story with the image, with whichever emotion the person uses to create this story, they can still respond to the artwork with their own personal experience.

When I first saw this video in the Walker Art Center, I was absolutely appalled that it was considered art because the sight of seeing the rocks rolling around in the artists mouth made me sick to my stomach, especially hearing the sound of them clanking together. I did not understand this piece and what it could possibly represent, but after some research I found out that it was meant to represent a struggle with speech. The rocks in the mouth was to enable the person to speak, and shows an obvious struggle. As you watch closer it makes you feel as though words are trying to come out as the lips are moving, but all that is shown is struggle.

The installation that I chose to research “Untitled (aleph)” is one of four series of silent color films. These four films show an experience that has to deal with the senses of speaking and hearing. In the “Untitled (dissections... they said it was an experiment)” water is shown running down a neck. In the “Untitled (the capacity of absorption),” an ear is shown being filled with water. In “Untitled (linings),” a mouth is shown being flooded, and in “Untitled (aleph)” a mouth is shown being filled with rocks to represent struggle to speech. This is also the only video that incorporates sound. The name of the video is from the shape the mouth forms when it transitions from silence to speech. These four videos allow the viewer to experience body functions in the transition between speaking and hearing. (Discepola)

The Untitled series that she has created can be related to the phycological theory of Sigmund Freud. The three categories: the conscious “ego”, the preconscious “superego”, and the unconscious “Id”. The “Id” represents the impulse to pursue pleasure and illogical sensations (un-responsible behavior). In the Untitled series, I believe that the messages in the films represent the “Id” as they can act as a sense of memory, which brings back these memories from the unconscious state of mind, especially childhood memories. An example could be when I see the film “Untitled (dissections... they said it was an experiment” the water running down the neck reminds me a time I stood under a room and water dripped down the back of my neck, the ice cold water gave me goosebumps. (Discepola)

As Melisa Discepola states, “She seems to reflect us in her work just as photography mirrors us as individuals and collective wholes,” Ann Hamilton is able to capture a sensual image with her camera that grabs our attention and allows us to take in the message that the image is sending. The films, such as “Untitled (The Capacity of Absorption)” intensionally make the viewer feel discomfort when seeing them. It brings back memory of having to put peroxide in my ear canal; the cold liquid filling in the hole of my ear caused me to twitch with discomfort. (Discepola)

Although I was disgusted with the “Untitled (aleph)” film when I first saw it, I now have a respect for it. As I researched Ann Hamilton, I really liked the idea that she uses materials that I wouldn't even think of touching for her artworks. I like that she used the rocks to symbolize the struggle of speech because when I see it, I can actually feel and taste the dirty rocks in my mouth and it makes me afraid to swallow. I can understand how she has won many awards for her sculptures because of the significant context and meaning she puts with each piece of work. She allows the viewer to get inside the artwork, or maybe even allows the artwork to get inside the views head as they take in the meaning and relate the context to their own personal experience. I like the fact that she uses a lot of cultural symbols and realistic context in her artwork because it gives a dynamic twist to what she is selling to people. I found many of her artworks to be fascinating and odd at the same time, which I like!

Work Cited

1 comment:

  1. I loved reading about the incites into Ann Hamiltons work. When I first saw this piece, I to was disgusted. I also thought of a teacher who told me that in his speech class he would make the students talk with pebbles in their mouths, so they could learn to annunciate. Perhaps thats where Hamilton got the idea for her piece.