To be or not to be: that’s the question of Liu Bolin

Posted in art, photography with tags , , , , on December 15, 2010 by artodisiac

36-year-old Liu Bolin, from Shandong, China is a talented invisible man creating more than just startling images with his works. His images make a statement about his place in society. He sees himself as an outsider whose artistic efforts are not always valued, especially in his native country. Standing silently in front of his chosen scene, in locations all around the world, he uses himself as a blank canvas. Then, with a little help from an assistant, he paints his body to merge as seamlessly as possible with what is behind him. His work requires a lot of patience with him having to pose and work on his photographs for more than ten hours at a time to get it just right. Meanwhile, people walking by while he is carrying out his performances often have no idea he is nearby until he begins to move.

Bolin claims that he wants to show how city surroundings affected people living in them. The inspiration behind his work offers a sense of not fitting in to modern society and seems as a silent protest against the persecution of artists.

In one of his interviews, he says:

‘Some people call me the invisible man, but for me it’s what is not seen in a picture which is really what tells the story. After graduating from school I couldn’t find suitable work and I felt there was no place for me in society. I experienced the dark side of society, without social relations, and had a feeling that no one cared about me, I felt myself unnecessary in this world. From that time, my attitude turned from dependence into revolting against the system.’

When the Chinese authorities shut down his art studio in Beijing in 2005, he was further pushed on with his work. He said:

‘At that time, contemporary art was in quick development in Beijing, but the government decided it did not want artists like us to gather and live together. Also many exhibitions were forced to close. The situation for artists in China is very difficult and the forced removal of the artist’s studio is in fact my direct inspiration of this series of photoshop-free photographs, Hiding In The City.’


Liu Bolin’s works are reminders of the existing ‘invisible’ problems trying to question the community we live in and make us become aware of the hidden problems that are covered on purpose and tried to be kept invisible by most of the governments in our modern world..

Doubt is better than certainty

Posted in art, design, Milton Glaser on November 17, 2010 by artodisiac

“Certainty is a closing of the mind. To create the new, requires doubt.” writes Milton Glaser in one of his essays, Ten Things I Have Learned written in 2001 as a part of AIGA Talk in London. Being one of the most influential and celebrated graphic designers in the United States, Glaser is still in doubt and at 81, he is still creating significant design at full capacity. I would like to quote a part of his essay below and strongly recommend you to read the full version from here.

Doubt is Better Than Certainty

by Milton Glaser

Everyone always talks about confidence in believing what you do. I remember once going to a class in yoga where the teacher said that, spirituality speaking, if you believed that you had achieved enlightenment you have merely arrived at your limitation. I think that is also true in a practical sense. Deeply held beliefs of any kind prevent you from being open to experience, which is why I find all firmly held ideological positions questionable. It makes me nervous when someone believes too deeply or too much. I think that being sceptical and questioning all deeply held beliefs is essential. Of course we must know the difference between scepticism and cynicism because cynicism is as much a restriction of one’s openness to the world as passionate belief is. They are sort of twins. And then in a very real way, solving any problem is more important than being right. There is a significant sense of self-righteousness in both the art and design world. Perhaps it begins at school. Art school often begins with the Ayn Rand model of the single personality resisting the ideas of the surrounding culture. The theory of the avant garde is that as an individual you can transform the world, which is true up to a point. One of the signs of a damaged ego is absolute certainty.
Schools encourage the idea of not compromising and defending your work at all costs. Well, the issue at work is usually all about the nature of compromise. You just have to know what to compromise. Blind pursuit of your own ends which excludes the possibility that others may be right does not allow for the fact that in design we are always dealing with a triad – the client, the audience and you.

Ideally, making everyone win through acts of accommodation is desirable. But self-righteousness is often the enemy. Self-righteousness and narcissism generally come out of some sort of childhood trauma, which we do not have to go into. It is a consistently difficult thing in human affairs. Some years ago I read a most remarkable thing about love, that also applies to the nature of co-existing with others. It was a quotation from Iris Murdoch in her obituary. It read ‘ Love is the extremely difficult realisation that something other than oneself is real.’ Isn’t that fantastic! The best insight on the subject of love that one can imagine…

Virtual Barbershop: an auditory illusion of the binaural recording

Posted in music with tags , , on November 5, 2010 by artodisiac

Binaural Recording is a special way of recording audio which basically uses a special microphone arrangement at a specific distance which approximates the position of an average human’s ears. Binaural recoding is different from stereo recoding in a way that conventional stereo recordings do not factor in natural ear spacing or “head-shadow” of the head and ears, since these things happen naturally as a person listens. A typical binaural recording unit has two high-fidelity microphones mounted in a dummy head, inset in ear-shaped molds to fully capture all of the audio frequency adjustments that happen naturally as sound wraps around the human head and is “shaped” by the form of the outer and inner ear.

Binaural recordings can very convincingly reproduce location of sound behind, ahead, above, or wherever else the sound actually came from during recording. Virtual haircut or virtual barbershop is one of the most famous binaural recordings of all times:

(Before listening to it, make sure that you have your headphones on)

Welcome to the desert of the real…

Posted in art, philosopy with tags , , , , , , on October 17, 2010 by artodisiac

The simulacrum is never that which conceals the truth;

it is the truth which conceals that there is none.

The simulacrum is true.

Jean Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard is one of the most influential and important figures for postmodern theorists and artists. In our current postmodern condition, Baudrillard argues that we have lost contact with the “real” in various ways, that we have nothing left but a continuing fascination with its disappearance. In Baudrillard’s version of postmodernity, there is hardly any space for opposition or resistance because of the supreme hegemony of the controlling system. The uncomfortable truth! When I was reading the ‘Simulacra and Simulations’ -quite a tough and thoughtful article that I need to reread several times to digest-, I realized how my own reality has been abstracted, even abolished with the hyperreality of communication and meaning. More real than real (Douglas Kellner), that is how the real is abolished…

Baudrillard’s concepts, simulacra and simulation, explains how our models for the real have taken over the place of the real in postmodern society. What has happened in postmodern culture is that our society has become so reliant on models and maps that we have lost all contact with the real world that preceded the map. Reality itself has begun merely to imitate the model, which now precedes and determines the real world: ‘The territory no longer precedes the map, nor does it survive it. It is nevertheless the map that precedes the territory—precession of simulacra—that engenders the territory’. According to Baudrillard, when it comes to postmodern simulation and simulacra: ‘It is no longer a question of imitation, nor duplication, nor even parody. It is a question of substituting the signs of the real for the real’.

Baudrillard is not merely suggesting that postmodern culture is artificial, because the concept of artificiality still requires some sense of reality against which to recognize the artifice. His point, rather, is that we have lost all ability to make sense of the distinction between nature and artifice. To clarify his point, he argues that there are three “orders of simulacra”: 1) in the first order of simulacra, which he associates with the pre-modern period, the image is a clear counterfeit of the real; the image is recognized as just an illusion, a place marker for the real; 2) in the second order of simulacra, which Baudrillard associates with the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century, the distinctions between the image and the representation begin to break down because of mass production and the proliferation of copies. Such production misrepresents and masks an underlying reality by imitating it so well, thus threatening to replace it (e.g. in photography or ideology); however, there is still a belief that, through critique or effective political action, one can still access the hidden fact of the real; 3) in the third order of simulacra, which is associated with the postmodern age, we are confronted with a precession of simulacra; that is, the representation precedes and determines the real. There is no longer any distinction between reality and its representation; there is only the simulacrum.

Here is a video on the philosophy lying behind the Matrix movie by Wachowski brothers, a movie that was inspired by all these issues (although numerous sources report Baudrillard saying that the movie ‘stemmed mostly from misunderstandings’ of his work).

I just added the part about Baudrillard, but highly recommend you to watch the whole series..

Lost in Hildurness

Posted in art, music, musical instruments with tags , , , , , , on October 9, 2010 by artodisiac

I have been Lost in Hildurness (her album) since I had watched Hildur Gudnadottir in Konzerthaus Dortmund during ISEA 2010. She was playing her new halldorophone, an electro-acoustic string instrument in development by Halldór Úlfarsson. The instrument is loosely based on a cello allowing the player to color the sound of what is being played by feeding the vibrations of each string back into the body of the instrument:

Zerodb [against music torture]

Posted in music with tags , , on October 9, 2010 by artodisiac

join the silent protest against ear splitting music torture via zerodb


Musical roads…

Posted in music, Uncategorized with tags , on October 8, 2010 by artodisiac

In our last sound class, I have learned another thing I haven’t heard of before. The musical roads…What a great idea. I wish we had the same here in Istanbul so I wouldn’t get bored while driving. But the car has to be moving to listen to them, so I guess it seems impossible for Istanbul with all this traffic jam, but it can be possible for the roads of outer town.  The technique to transform the roads into vinyls seems easy. Voices and music are encoded into the road surface using parallel corrugations at specific intervals (like the groove of a record stretched out) picked up by the vibrations in the wheel of the car. I did a little research and learned that this phenomena was discovered during the 1950′s. And you have to have a constant speed, have your windows shut for a better experience and be careful not to enjoy too much causing an accident:)

Here are some youtube videos of musical roads, explaining the technique and giving the example of the road singing ‘mary had a little lamb’ which was also the first recorded song by Thomas Edison via phonograph back in 1877…