This is John Baldessari

I decided to focus on A Brief History of John Baldessari for this visual analysis, because the style was very interesting. Like Baldessari’s artwork, the short made use of vibrant colors and high contrast between B+W and color. The short was also edited at a very rapid pace, increasing throughout the duration of the piece. The reason I was drawn to this presentation was the way the shots of Baldessari were cut and intertwined in the still shots of his artwork. And the way the editor used Baldessari’s voice to finish the sentences of the narrator. By connecting the dialogue of the narrator and Baldessari, it creates a humorous interaction with Baldessari and the audience. When people think of famous artist, the persona that Baldessari is showing in this piece is not what you would expect. He seems very colloquial, boring, and simple, yet the short build him up to be extremely interesting and experienced. This creates an interesting dynamic of informality between the artist and the audience.

Another strategy I saw in A Brief History of John Baldessari was the very rapid cuts. Sometimes it would even cut in the middle of Baldessari’s sentence. I noticed that when music was brought into the short, the video started cutting on the beat, making the cuts even more rapid. As a viewer, this made me pay closer attention to the piece. I had to focus on each cut to understand what was happening, and the cuts had enough variance in color and contrast that it was entertaining. An example of this is when the narrator says “John Baldessari has been called the godfather of art…” ect and the words appear full screen in different colors and typeface. This was really interesting because every shot had a unique color, a small nuanced joke, and entertaining fonts.

I think this video really shows how important and interesting it is when juxtaposed shots have a high variance of color and contrast. Had this rapid cutting video contained washed-out colors and low contrast, it would have been much more boring. I think that high-variance color is very important in making a quick video portrait. I also think that incorporating the subject’s voice within the short is very clever, the way the narrator and Baldessari had pseudo-conversation in this piece.


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