Week 6: artist statements & recap

Dr Charles Martin

Semester 2, 2020


assignment 2 due on Monday!

815 prelab posts this semester! Wow!

99 non-prelab posts – let’s write some more!

the more you share, the more you get back. be generous with your questions!

Assignment 2 reminders

is it an “interactive view through a window”?

does your artist statement address the prompt:

What are you trying to communicate with your interactive view through a window?

Hint: try your assignment at different window sizes

Remember that interaction should enhance the experience of your artwork.

don’t forget to:

while (improvingAssignment) {

art theory: the artist statement

what is this whole “artist statement” thing anyway?

how do you make your artist statement good?

what do we “want” to see in an artist statement?

Ad Reinhardt (1913-1967)

How to look at modern art in America

Cartoon Illustration for PM

artists regularly write about art

  • manifestos
  • treatises
  • press releases
  • artist statements

artist statements

there’s no “formula”, but artist statements have the same properties:

  • helps to build the audience relationship to the artwork
  • indicates how to look at your art
  • why did you make it?
  • how did it come about?
  • what ideas were you thinking about?
  • how does it connect to the broader world?

let’s look at some examples.

Amalia Ulman (b. 1989)

Excellences and perfections


14 month performance on Instagram

Amalia Ulman (b. 1989)

Excellences and perfections


14 month performance on Instagram

Lee Mingwei (b. 1964)

Mending Project


table, chairs, thread on mounted spools

In The Mending Project (2009), my interactive conceptual installation, I use very simple elements—thread, colour, sewing—as points of departure for gaining insight into the relationships among self, other and immediate surroundings. It also constitutes an act of sharing between a stranger and myself. Visitors initially see a long table, two chairs and a wall of colourful cone-shaped spoils of thread. During gallery hours, I am seated at that table, to which visitors can bring various damaged textile articles, choose the colour of thread they wish, and watch as I mend the article. The mended article, with thread ends still attached, is then placed on the table with previously mended items. Owners are asked to return to the gallery to collect their mended articles on the last day of the exhibition. The act of mending takes on emotional value as well, depending on how personal the damaged item is—a favourite shirt versus an old but little used tablecloth. This emotional mending is marked by the use of thread which is not the colour of the fabric around it and often colourfully at odds with that fabric, as though to commemorate the repair. Unlike a tailor who will try to hide the fact that the fabric was once damaged, my mending is done with the idea of celebrating the repair, as if to say: ‘something good was done here, a gift was given, this fabric is even better than before.’

Miranda July (b. 1974)



Custom software for smartphone


Yu Zhang



(link), (paper), (video)


As a series of interactive art, MOUNTROTHKO aims at fusing the immediacy of interaction with the qualities of traditional art pieces from artist Mark Rothko. Inspired by the specific painting techniques that Mark Rothko explored in the 1950s, MOUNTROTHKO is blending all of the background colors together meanwhile leaving hard outlines in the foreground which would visually locate the form in space. It allows visitors to shift attention, at the same time read one image quite literally through another. Through veils of images, visitors could see the overlayer and the underlayer because layers of images are transparent and overlapping each other from background towards the foreground, back and forth. The visitor will never experience a finality within this interactive artwork which is one that almost unravels in time. MOUNTROTHKO is a multi-layer rendered visual installation by using voice track and position track at the same time. White particles in this artwork have a depth of field rendering. Particles themselves are not rendered as dots but as complex composite shapes. The Kinect tracks the position of visitors and changes the theme according to the horizontal position in space. The energy of sound in space is filtered in the two-step process that determines the increment moment of the mountain starting from a randomized baseline. The energy of sound in space also controls the amount of horizontal movement of particles.

artist statement tips: dos

tell us how to get the most out of it

tell us what you think is interesting about it

tell us about the journey (process) you undertook to make your artwork (but not every detail)

comp1720/6720: address the prompt in the assignment spec!!

artist statement tips: don’ts

don’t tell us what we can already see:

  • in the code (especially)
  • in the sketch

don’t say stuff you don’t understand just to make it sound arty

but there are formulae to get you started


Paragraph 1 - Broad overview of your ideas

Paragraph 2 - Explanation of the processes and coding approaches you used

Paragraph 3 - A description of your personal philosophies explored by the work

and there are prompts to get you started

  • Write down 5 questions you’d want an interviewer to ask you, then answer those five questions.

  • Describe a memory that aligns with your work

  • Use a mind map of all the ideas, influences and processes that have gone into your work


For short written pieces, it can be 1% writing, 99% editing

  • take a zero-draft approach

  • write something today and improve it tomorrow.

  • take each sentence of your text, break it apart, and put it back together again in new ways.

what’s the difference between a written description of the work and an artist’s statement about the work?

further reading/watching

Miu Miu Women’s Tales #8 - Somebody

4 Tips for Writing a Good Artist Statement

art theory: recap

do you remember what we’ve talked about so far?

what is art?

random chance

how to think about colour

how do we judge art

interactive art

what is art?

from representation to… anything (?)

an excess of je ne sais quoi

art has context

the material of p5

art and constraint

Albert Namatjira (1902–1959)

not titled landscape (link)


Piet Mondrian (1872-1944)

Broadway Boogie Woogie


Oil on canvas, 127 x 127cm (at MOMA NY)

random chance

art and randomness

randomness and rules

randomness and variation


Jean Arp (1886-1966)



paper collage

Where's the randomness?

how to think about colour

primary colours

hue, chroma, value

colours and contrast

colour palettes

Goethe's colour wheel


symmetric colour wheel with associated symbolic qualitites


Tate Collection, UK

Munsell System (1910s)

Hue, Chroma, Value

Hue, Saturation, Brightness


how we judge art

ethical: is it good for the world ?

poetic: is it made well?

aesthetic: what do I feel when I look at it?


Portrait of an Aboriginal girl

date unknown

Union Hotel Fitzroy, Melbourne (link)

Photo by Liz Conor


Avengers Endgame (link)


Directed by Anthony Russo and Joe Russo

Caspar David Friedrich (1774-1840)

Wanderer above the Sea of Fog


Kunsthalle Hamburg

interactive art

Art where a feedback loop between participant and artwork enhances the experience.

Design: understand how the participant knows what to do.

Affordances: the action possibilities of your artwork

(not just making games)

Una visión otra: Groupe de Recherche d´Art Visuel (GRAV) 1960-1968

Una visión otra: Groupe de Recherche d´Art Visuel (GRAV) 1960-1968

Exhibition at Museo Tamayo, Mexico

video link


Kerry Simpson


Glass and sound (now movement) activated lighting

Ainslie Avenue, Canberra

(link) CC BY-NC 2.0

Strike on Stage

Chi-Hsia Lai and Charles Martin


Computer video, graphics, vision, audio

(link), (paper), (performance)