On Saturday Jan. 2, a new exhibit, “LIFE as Art,” opened at the Wikoff Student Gallery on third floor of the Nott Memorial.
“LIFE as Art” is a collection of digital prints created by Arielle Singer ’18. Singer is an organizing theme major of Marketing Engineering Products with an Electrical Engineering minor. She created “LIFE as Art” in Introduction to Digital Art during the 2015 fall term.
The course, taught by Professor Fernando Orellana, was Singer’s first art class at Union. According to the Mandeville Gallery website, Singer uses “the iconic framework of LIFE magazine’s cover architecture” as a template and inspiration for her digital prints. The prints each have different unique color schemes that lend themselves to the particular images and subjects.
The Mandeville Gallery writes that Singer “creates visual criticism of both recent events, such as the current refugee crisis and life ‘since the iPod,’ as well as historical episodes deeply embedded in our cultural milieu, such as the dropping of the atomic bombs.”
According to Singer, she decided to interact with LIFE magazine as her chosen media because of the work assigned by Professor Orellana.
Singer explained, “He would give us different projects where he had old LIFE magazines as something we could use, where we would scan them in at high resolutions and get this really cool half-toned pattern. So if you look at some of the designs I’ve made, they have little dots in them, and that’s the half-toned pattern.” Singer, fascinated with this aesthetic, continued her work with the magazine.
She continued, “I became really interested in created different layers and pieces off of that with the LIFE magazines. And my initial idea was to recreate an actual LIFE magazine with just modern day topics, but that was too hard to organize. But then I thought, ‘Well what about the covers? I could do a lot with that.’ That’s kind of where the idea came from.”
Singer claimed that some of the challenges in creating her prints arose because of her desire to achieve the half-toned pattern.
“I would take a full hour to scan in a one-page print ad at 6400 dots per inch, which is very, very high resolution, the highest that our computers can go. But there’s a certain crispness when you scan it at such a high level and what not.”
Her creative process involved searching for the most effective figure or object that would allow her to ultimately explore larger themes and subjects in her prints.
“I think part of the creative process is finding my main focus for the piece. So each of my pieces have one person or object that is the main focus. For that I flipped through a lot magazines to be able to find those, I went probably about forty or fifty magazines to find these center focuses. Once I had the center focuses then I would build my background around them and try to integrate them into that piece. Then, the subjects themselves like ‘Holocaust’ or ‘Hiroshima,’ those kinds of things came later as the pieces slowly developed.”
Singer created her prints by deconstructing the LIFE magazine covers, and recreating and reassembling them using her own artistic vision. Many of Singer’s prints are informed primarily by historical events and dates, many of which are fairly provocative.
“Each one is supposed to be representative of a different event or a different cause and effect. So I have one piece for example, it’s two children without any mouths, all they have on their faces is a nose; no eyes. It has in the background circuit boards that were scanned at a very high resolution. The date on that one is the date the original iPod was released. So it’s supposed to show since that one piece of technology has been released, how has that affected later generations and how children now are so connected and in tune with technology that it’s maybe more harmful than good.”
While many of them explore the implications of historical events and global issues, there is one particular print that is quite different from the others.
Singer revealed, “There is one personal piece that’s there and that’s the one from Oct. 12, 2015 and that’s because in my life this past year I’ve had one family member pass away and two close family friends pass away. I made that one the day I found out that the third person had passed, because I was just overwhelmed with everything and I felt very attached to it.”
Singer’s prints, emotionally evocative and poignant, touch all types of contemporary thought-provoking issues using an interesting artistic medium. Her exhibit will remain on display through March 20. There will be an opening reception on Wednesday Feb. 3, at 5 p.m. in the Nott Memorial.