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Saturday, January 24, 2015

Miltos Manetas

Copyright, Jim Lane                           
Tribute to Pollock and Manetas, 2015, Jim Lane                                 
Painting under the influence of Jackson Pollock,
Venice, 2013
Jackson Pollock was one of the most influential artists of the 20th-century, despite his early demise in a 1956 automobile accident. When we were in Venice a couple years ago, at the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, I encountered a group of Italian school children painting under the influence of Jackson Pollock. Now, before that makes you shudder in horror in even contemplating the mess such a juvenile painting activity would encompass, let me add that they were, in fact painting outside in the courtyard, under careful encouragement (and most of all, supervision) of what appeared to be two very attentive art teachers. Probably painting with tempera, what mess they might have made could easily be contained. Today, I too did some painting under the influence of "Jack the Dripper" (above). And while it might look like something of a messy undertaking, it wasn't. You see, I was using an ingenious website painting tool found at: Pollock-org. The work took all of about five minutes, but the method of painting (though using a mouse) was quite similar in many ways to the gestural painting movements of Pollock (though less physical). Try it. It's addicting. [Moving the mouse slowly creates broad strokes or puddles, quick movements create slender lines. Left clicking randomly changes the color.] The site was developed by the Greek artist, Miltos Manetas, who, needless to say, is a great admirer of Jackson Pollock.
Pollock poses with painting.
Gestural painting. At times Pollock
appeared to dance about all that wet paint.
Of course Miltos Manetas, myself, or even the children of Venice. aren't the first artists to be influenced by Pollock. Both his paintings (above) and his method of creating them (right) have become iconic in the history of Modern Art. In more recent years, Manetas has hooked up his Pollock painting program to a whiteboard, and tuned pre-kindergarten kids loose to emulate Pollock with even less concern about runs, drips, and errors than the brave elementary art teachers of Venice. Click on the video below. It's as fun to watch as it is fascinating in noting the gestural painting movements (though vertical in this case) so similar to those of Pollock. (The video itself is a work of art.) I wonder if he had as much fun as the little boy near the end of the video.

Miltos Manetas
Moreover, where Manetas is concerned, painting like Pollock is just the tip of an creative iceberg spanning more than some twenty-five years. Born in Athens in 1964, Manetas worked and studied during the 1980s in Milan, joining several performance art groups and creating various site-specific works. Then around 1995 Manetas gave up such aging art forms, reaching out, embracing the growing popularity of video games, cell phones, and home computers, at first not in using them, but in painting them. In general he enjoyed painting others using them as well as their peripherals--cables, joysticks, recording media, etc. as seen in his My Floor (below) from 1998. When Blackberry visual communication devices arrived, Manetas indulged in the painting of "invisible" paintings--small, black and white cell phone images apparently being hand painted. Eventually, as the internet evolved, so did his in art association with it, especially the unusual website designs similar to the ones discussed earlier.

My Floor, 1998, Miltos Manetas
Peripherals (Madonna and Child), Liltos Manetas
It was about this time, (around 2000) that Manetas started an art movement in California he called "Neen" which means "right now" in Greek. Shortly thereafter Manetas also started a company he called The Electronic Orphanage by hiring young graphic designers and computer "geeks" to explore Website design "outside the box." His Jackson Pollock tribute site mentioned at the top evolved from this. You might also want to check out his Thank You Andy Warhol website but be ready to leave quickly, this one can really get on your nerves in a hurry. Another Electronic Orphanage Website, Man in the Dark is fun to play with (for about thirty seconds). [Left-click your mouse as you move it every so often.] The Website, Lucio Fontana, explores the art of drawing without curves. [Click on the tiny introductive paragraph then wait a moment before holding down your left mouse button to draw.] It's kind of a "Weightwatcher's" version of the Pollock Website.

Blackberry art. All you need is a phone and a steady hand (no paint required).
I may have to call these guys, my Website hasn't been updated significantly in the past decade or so. The only problem is, Electronic Orphanage is so radically different and amazing, probably no one would notice my paintings. However, right now I couldn't update it if I wanted to. You see, it's been so long since I've done so...well...I've forgotten the passwords.

If Jackson Pollock had done home furnishings, they might have looked like this. Manetas' Pollock painting software designs can be transferred to vases, carpet, and other items.


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