I’m really pleased with The Art Assignment, a PBS Digital Studios web series hosted by contemporary art curator Sarah Urist Green, formerly of the Indianapolis Art Museum. The idea is simple: artists are approached and asked to create a work, something performative that viewers can then perform themselves. It’s a great way to make understandable the kind of art that does not hang on a wall – though by-products of the work could.
Sarah Urist Green is no stranger to the internet. Her husband John Green, best-selling author (The Fault in our Stars) and seemingly incorrigible (in a good way) video maker (Vlogbrothers with his brother Hank, educational videos of various kinds), serves as Executive Producer and, of course, appears in the videos. They seem comfortable presenting a form of art that is less well known to the general public in a way that is easy to grasp and even fun – populist, if I can say that without any negative connotations. And given that a professional curator is involved ought to help keep it from being too explanatory – that is, willing to address professional artists on their own level, without the oversimplification that can happen in educational programming.
If I can quibble very slightly, the logo they have adopted for their videos does bear some resemblance to a logo used in the second season of Space: 1999 (see below), but, as the Greens were busy, oh, being born, when that show was on, I suspect they and their designer were unaware of the similarity. It takes a hardcore geek like me to see things like that, and lends a pleasant bit of surrealism.
I have to wonder sometimes how a production designer’s mind works. For example, while we’re discussing scifi TV, during the first season of Farscape, in the episode “Rhapsody in Blue” we get to see a kind of temple used by the Delvians (below).
Somewhere along the way, the designer said, “What these blue aliens from a distant galaxy need is a nice Maxfield Parrish in their temple.” So he gave them one, specifically “Old Glen Mill,” which Parrish painted for a calendar in 1950 or so. You can see it in the background of the first image.
I just finished watching the final episode of Blood Blockade Battlefront, a good but not outstanding anime series adapted from a manga of the same name. I won’t go into the plot except to note that New York City has undergone a near-catastrophic dimensional event – essentially an alternate universe broke through and now overlaps with NYC – and the city has been renamed Hellsalem’s Lot. Why? Somebody on the show is a Stephen King fan, I suppose, adding Hell to keep in tune with the Christian symbolism present throughout the story.
Two items caught my eye – and I apologize for the not-great screen captures. First, and clearly intentional, is the sight of Robert Indiana’s iconic Love sculpture being sucked up into…somewhere (above).
Second, is this thin-legged, large chested creature briefly seen attacking people on the street. Is it me, or is this critter derived from one in Bob Clampett’s 1938 Warner Brothers cartoon, Porky in Wackyland? There is a strong resemblance – even stronger when you can see it in motion.
Keep your eyes open!