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The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view
Monday, February 11, 2013
Blog posting by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production '16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
I recently had the opportunity to pick the brain of aforementioned upstate artist, Samantha Raut, whose project Art is Atrocity was displayed in FLEFF's Distributed Microtopia's Exhibition.
Taking a satirical approach through the use of tacky billboards, Raut gathered attention on the recent budget cuts that resulted in cuts to fine arts programs in the Syracuse school system. Read what the artist had to say about this project and what kind of attention it received.
KC: To start, what is some of your other work? Is it all as thought provoking as Art is Atrocity?
SR: A lot of my past work has been through storytelling and mainly animation. Usually what kind of is the core of that is I really want to take social issues or traditions that we have or go along with as a society and I end up flipping it. Art is Atrocity follows that same sort of storyline.
KC: What made you decide to take such a satirical approach to the project?
SR: I was trying to figure out what was the best way to catch people’s attention and keep it. That’s one of the most challenging aspects of doing something like this. If I took a straightforward approach, just saying, “Art is good,” I would probably just get a pat on the back and people would just move on. If I took it in the complete opposite direction of what people think, people would think it was crazy. I saw how effective satire was in other areas of media, for example, Stephen Colbert, and The Onion and decided to roll with it. It’s very, very effective.
KC: What have reactions to the project been like?
SR: Most of the reactions that I got were very negative. They didn’t outright see that it was satirical. There were a few out there that caught on the first time around and contacted me. Some contacted me with anger and hatred, but backed it up with stories about how art changed their life. When I told them, under my alias, they were very, very happy. People believed it because there are outrageous groups out there that exist.
KC: As far as you know, have there been any changes made in the Syracuse school system?
SR: As far as I know, I don’t think that there has been. I would have to probably dig a little deeper and look at their new budget. The point of this project, it’s my first almost “activist” piece, it’s very new to me, the medium was very new, my main goal was to get people to talk about the issue amongst themselves and to create a dialogue, which I think is the first step to any lasting change. The people who wrote to me after the project said that the project was circulating around their school places and work environments as a topic, which is what I wanted.
What are your reactions to Art is Atrocity?
Friday, February 8, 2013
Blog posting written by Kimberly Capehart, Documentary Studies and Production ’16, FLEFF Blogger, Cherry Hill, New Jersey
A series of controversial billboards recently caught the attention of passerbys in Syracuse, New York.
A part of FLEFF’s Distributed Microtopias Exhibition, Art is Atrocity is the latest project from upstate digital artist Samantha Raut. The project uses satire to focus on the issue of fine arts programs being cut from the Syracuse school system due to recent budget cuts.
Raut utilized billboards around the city to capture the attention of everyday people. Each bland, white billboard states “Art is Atrocity” in a standard serif font, followed by a link to the project’s website.
Upon visiting this website, users find themselves on a homepage that reminds me of the good ol’ Windows 97 days. Through exploration of the drab, archaic-looking site users can read all about director (and Samantha Raut's alias) Samuel Ruta's mission to inform the people of Syracuse about the need to remove fine art education from the local school system. Or at least it seems that way.
Guised by it’s satirical web design, the site actually provides a link to a page that reveals the truth behind the project. The aesthetics of the project, from the billboards to the website are purposely "horrendous" as Raut puts it, in order to "get people thinking about how valuable art and music is to us as a whole."
I'm a big fan of Raut's ironic usage of crude aesthetics in the project, and I think it serves well as an attention grabber and a conversation starter. Judging by the "responses" page of the website, the project has definitely sparked many responses from both angry art education-supporters who misunderstood the project as well as praise from those who understood and appreciated Raut's unique approach to presenting the issue.
Check back soon for coverage of my interview with the artist herself! Have you or anyone you know seen any of the project's billboards?