Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Interview with Dina Kelberman

Dina Kelberman is a Baltimore based artist. Her work Smoke and Fire recently opened at the New Museum.
Smoke and Fire, ongoing

Booze Clooze: With Smoke and Fire, you seem to be letting the concept determine the form and removing your "hand" from the equation. The deadpan grid presentation of the gifs and the literal connection between the title and the work seem to reject painterly concepts of craft and individuality. However, in your past work, you've demonstrated a heightened sensitivity to color and shape that indicates cultivated skill and a sophisticated connoisseurship. Some of the gifs have all-over compositions reminiscent of postwar abstraction. Is there a conflict between conceptual purity and your formal facility? How much of the composition of the gifs and the piece as a whole is a deliberate choice and how much is just determined by the conceptual parameters you set for yourself?

Dina Kelberman: i'm definitely playing a big part in what it ends up looking like.  it's not a "rule-based" piece exactly, although there are the obvious parameters.  but when going through cartoons i choose what sections i'm going to use based on my aesthetic preferences (for example, i'm mostly using smoke or fire imagery where the characters aren't pictured) and if i don't like a selection for whatever reason i won't use it.  there are plenty of gifs i've made for this piece that i'm not using because i just hate the colors or whatever.  that also goes into the arrangement, which is again, obviously following a particular course, but is also based largely on my personal preferences.  i spend a good deal of time placing the gifs in an effort not only to get them in what seems like the correct "order" according to the trajectory of the piece, but also so that i think it looks good amongst the rest.

that kind of thing is also true of other projects of mine, for example I'm Google.  the images are all chosen based on their specific resonance for me personally.

alan described this kind of work as being like a game with rules we make up for ourselves, and i think that's my favorite description of it.  and in that sense, these kinds of pieces are definitely representative of my personal playing of the game.  someone else playing the same game would probably come up with very different results.
I'm Google, ongoing

BC: Cool, good answer. So far, you are my best interview ever. Okay, number two: If you look at art history in a linear way, you can see a progression from encaustic and tempera painting to oil painting to photography to cinema. Do you put any stock into this kind of linear interpretation of art history? If so, are gifs the artform of the future?

DK: I mean, i of course think there's validity to that kind of study and comparison.  i don't know if "linear" is a great word to use because it denotes that there was just one thing following another and i think it's more complicated than that.  but i actually don't know a ton about art history and i definitely don't think about my own work within it much.  i mean i would be interested to hear what someone else would say about it, it's just not something i really think about on my own.  also, it's funny to say that "gifs are the artform of the future" because really they're pretty outdated!  but i think certainly digital media is the newest wave.

BC: Haha, yeah I guess i should have said artform of the recent past and present. I think you're definitely right that art history is messier and more complicated than a simple linear progression. Ok, one last question, you've been a really good sport so far: for the Gresham's Ghost show, you made an actual physical representation of a similar piece that hung on the wall. Smoke and Fire is web only. Would you ever want to "realize" Smoke and Fire for a gallery exhibition?
Thine Own Self (Blue Clouds), Screencap with blurred credits, 2012

DK: :)  glad i'm doin ok!

Chain of Command (Blue Clouds), Screencap with blurred credits, 2012
I'd definitely be into showing Smoke & Fire in a gallery space, and actually since i've recently been making lots more digital work this is something i've been struggling with, trying to figure out.  My art practice is pretty much all about resourcefulness and comes out of my daily life, using egalitarian materials, whatever's around.  With digital work that is all fine and good in terms of me making the work and then posting it online as a finished piece.  But then when i want to show it in a gallery suddenly it's REALLY COMPLICATED.  I have to use lots of expensive equipment, there's all kinds of troubleshooting, cords and monitors and everything and the whole thing just gets much more disconnected from me and the from the viewer i think.  I'm still figuring out how to deal with that.  

With a project like Blue Clouds (the one in Gran Prix) it's easier because essentially the piece is just still images.  With something like I'm Google it gets a lot harder, because the piece is inherently a website, the growth of the site is important to me and something i wouldn't want to not happen in a gallery. Smoke & Fire kind of falls in the middle.  Although the piece does grow, i'm more comfortable showing that in a particular state of progress offline.  But it would still need to be on a monitor or projected, i wouldn't want to show it without the animated aspects.  I guess each piece has different importance levels for me.

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