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On a Sunday afternoon in 2012 while searching through Twitter, Robert Montgomery’s girlfriend came across a photograph of a tattoo reading “THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE BECOME GHOSTS INSIDE OF YOU AND LIKE THIS YOU KEEP THEM ALIVE” on the arm of a 22-year old hairdresser from Culver City, California. Just the Thursday before, Montgomery had an exhibition opening in London in which a sculpture of this text was displayed. The visitors took photographs of the textual sculptures, which they then posted on Facebook and Twitter to circulate around the web, eventually to appear on the computer screen of this woman, and then on her forearm, and then back into the Twitter feed. Over the course of three days, the text’s medium expanded from one to four – a light-based sculpture became a digital image, which became a tattoo on someone’s body, which itself became a digital image. Commenting on this sort of immediate mass-circulation of his work, Montgomery says that “it proves that first, [public installations] are a good medium for poetry, and secondly, the Internet is a really good medium for poetry” (Kaczor, 2012).

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Montgomery’s texts travel through many mediums and occupy far more locations than on the streets and in galleries. The artist uses the Internet to promote his site-specific works, and has a heavy presence on social media sites. Through these digital outlets, the artist’s texts travel into various communities of people all over the world, communities far beyond the reach of the contemporary art audience and far beyond the reach that a billboard would have in the streets of London (Simpson, 2012). His words transcend geographical and temporal location.  However, the photographs on the web are often unlabeled in circulation. The artist’s name isn’t always mentioned when his photographs are shared. His signature doesn’t appear on a tattoo. The location of the texts’ original installation is rarely specified on social media sites – they are not even given on the artist’s web page.

The artist’s digital presence acts in a way as a foil for his presence on the street. The artist’s public billboards are untitled and anonymous, so most of the public that interacts with these works does not know of Montgomery or his artistic mission. This anonymity means that the texts must stand on their own; they must contain an element of the universal, despite language/translation boundaries, so that broad audiences can relate to and understand the texts. This is also true for his works’ placement on the Internet – without cataloging from a gallery or museum, the text and poetry gain autonomy from the sphere of the art world and gain agency through their circulation.

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Through digitally collecting his global yet site-specific artworks on his website, Montgomery could in theory create a virtual map or tour of the world through his installations. He has not yet done so. The photographs on his site are not labeled with a title and do not state the location in which each text was installed; this lack of geographical designation distances his words from their context, yet they still retain impact and meaning.

Montgomery’s position as editor of Dazed & Confused Magazine provides further access to the artist’s creative and thought processes and also provides other mediums of communication and display for his text. Montgomery describes himself as a street artist, a title exemplified, if not exacerbated, by his contextually changing public identities as artist, poet, publisher, writer, Facebook user, Instagram user, and fashion designer. Montgomery’s presence within a variety of social and artistic spheres provides for him a wide and heterogeneous audience, and his use of the digital space capitalizes on the vast outlets for communication now provided by the Web.

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Kermarrec sites that the social dimension creates tremendous new opportunities for information exchange over the Internet, as exemplified by the exponential growth of social networks and collaborative platforms; Robert Montgomery has capitalized on the rise of social networks, using them as a means of promoting his art, sharing his poetry, and tracking their impact and reach (Kermarrec, 2013).

 

Montgomery’s Digital Presence

Website: http://www.robertmontgomery.org/robertmontgomery.org/ROBERT_MONTGOMERY.html

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ROBERTMONTGOMERYARTIST/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/robertmontgomerystudio/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/MontgomeryGhost?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor

Montgomery’s Contact, as provided on his website: lucyjnewman@gmail.com

 

References:

Kaczor, Eva. (2012). “Up and Coming Artist: Robert Montgomery.” Art Berlin. Berlin: Germany. http://www.artberlin.de/kuenstler/robert-montgomery/

Kermarrec, AM. 2013. Towards a personalized Internet: a case for a full decentralization. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. A 371, 20120380.

Nuvolari, Jacopo. (2012). “Preposterous/Robert Montgomery.” In 1883 Magazine. http://www.1883magazine.com/art-exhibitions/art-exhibition/preposterous-robert-montgomery

Simpson, Ashley W. (2012). “Word on the Street: Robert Montgomery.” In Interview Magazine. http://www.interviewmagazine.com/art/robert-montgomery/#_

 

 

 

LoverBoy

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I immediately recognized the blue stack of paper that stood on the floor of MUMOK’s winter exhibition To Expose, To Show, To Demonstrate, To Inform, To Offer: Artistic Practices Around 1990. I was expecting to see this work, Felix Gonzales-Torres’s Untitled (LoverBoy) 1990) here – I first learned about the artist a few years earlier while studying the political and social art of the 1990’s and remembered the artist’s key role in the New York art scene during this time upon entering the exhibition. During class, I found myself desperately wanting to see one of Gonzales-Torres’s stacks in person. I was regardless excited in my hopes of seeing the object, but was unsure whether this was due to my respect for the work or desire to own a piece of it.

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The stack was standing in the middle of the room next to another larger, similarly-colored block whose edges were lined with lightbulbs, but there was no museum text visibly accompanying the two objects. My collegiate and independent studies led me to believe that I was closely familiar with the sculpture and its meanings, an understanding literally quantified by my physical taking from it. Yet when I encountered this object, I felt unsure of both my knowledge and my, and walked around the stack of paper and got as close as I possibly could without touching it. Although I knew by wishes of the artist that I was allowed, encouraged, even, to take a sheet of paper from the top, I was still reluctant to do so, nervous that I would get in trouble for interfering with or vandalizing a precious work of art. So, instead of taking a piece of paper from
the stack, I left the object to look for MUMOK’s permission to engage with it.

 

IMG_6808.jpgDietler and Miller acknowledge the close relationship between consumption, power relations, and the shaping of identity (Dietler, 2010 and Miller, 2010). Untitled (LoverBoy) obtains many of its many of its meanings and metaphors through its depletion and consumption – each participator’s collection of the sculpture constitutes his or her role within the its biography. The fact that this consumption takes place within the museum highlights the power relations between the museum as rule-setter and its visitors as behavioral conformists. For example, most museums do not allow viewers to touch or even stand too close to its objects, and the rule-breaking behavior suggested by Untitled (LoverBoy) the authoritative, or at least dominant, role of the museum in forming the ways in which individuals interact with objects one-sided determination of object display and interaction within the art institution (Macdonald, 1998).

After my folded sheet of paper and I finished walking through thehibition, I returned to Untitled (LoverBoy) and took a second sheet of paper to give to one of my good friends who also admires the artist as a Christmas present and souvenir from my time in Austria. We both keep the sheets of paper hung in our bedrooms. Many of my friends have asked me why I decided to hang a large blank sheet of paper on my wall among postcards of other art objects. To answer this question I must explain the work of art and its metaphors, and through this explanation Untitled (LoverBoy) enters the mind and potentially life of yet another person.

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References:

Dietler, M. (2010) Consumption. In D. Hicks & M. Beaudry (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Material Culture Studies (pp. 209-228). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Guggenheim. Felix Gonzalez-Torres. Collections Online. New York, NY. Guggenheim Museum. http://www.guggenheim.org/new-york/collections/collection-online/artists/bios/793/Felix%20GonzalezTorres

Keats, Jonathon. (Aug 30, 2012). How Felix Gonzalez-Torres Continues Making Art 16 Years After His Death. Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/sites/jonathonkeats/2012/08/30/how-felix-gonzalez-torres-continues-making-art-16-years-after-his-death/#4734628963d3

Macdonad, Sharon. (1998). THe Politics of Display: Museums, Science, Culture. Lonton: Rootledge. 

https://www.mumok.at/en/events/expose-show-demonstrate-inform-offer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Our Final Poster Project: Playlist

poster 1 globettes

poster 2 wildcard

Last day of class = marathon printing party. First we brainstormed songs and created a spotify playlist. Then, using Globe Poster wood type, visual language, and ornaments, we designed two posters that could serve as promotions for the playlist–just like Globe Poster did for 80 years, with showcards that advertised everything from local carnivals and church fairs to car races and R & B, rock, funk, go-go and hip-hop concerts. As an extra challenge, each group of poster designers had to incorporate a Globe-ish word into their design: “shake” for one group, “wild” for the other.

Screen-printed backgrounds courtesy of the Globe interns… Gracias!

Our Final Book Project: A Brief and Partial History…

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A timeline of significant events, both large and small, in the history of printing and publishing in Baltimore! Our choice of events was, of course, limited by how much we could produce in just two weeks. Many of the works mentioned in the timeline we also examined in the original in class.

After a whirlwind introduction to letterpress printing with Mary Mashburn and Allison Fisher of MICA, students each set by hand several hundred characters in a typeface of their choosing (within certain parameters of size, etc.), designed a page, and printed it on MICA’s suite of sweet, sweet Vandercooks. With able assistance from the fabulous Globe interns.

This limited edition of post-bound books are available for purchase for $20 at the George Peabody Library, the Evergreen Museum & Library, and the Homewood Museum. Your purchase will support innovative, hands-on classes in Johns Hopkins’ Sheridan Libraries and University Museums… what more could you ask!