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Episode 4
Author Dr. Noah Charney and Video Artist Andrew Huang

  • 2 min read

Episode Description

1:14 - Author Dr. Noah Charney discusses his new book “The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock, and Rivalry Shaped the Art World” which examines the counterintuitive nature of the art world. The things that would surely ruin a person’s career in any other field appear to actually enable success in the world of art.

24:11 - Video artist Andrew Huang talks about his growing body of work in visual art, music videos and feature films. Huang, whose work has been exhibited at institutions like MoMA, has gained notoriety for his visually captivating music videos for artists like Bjork and FKA Twigs. We discuss his background, his process and the progress he is making towards the release of his first feature film.

48:03 - The week’s top art headlines


Craig: [00:00:10] This is Art Sense, a podcast focused on educating and informing listeners about the past, present and future of art. I'm Craig Gould. First up this week is my conversation with best selling author Noah Charney regarding his new book "The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock and Rivalry Shape the Art World" which examines the counterintuitive nature of the art world, the things that would surely ruin a person's career in any other field appeared to actually enable success in the art world in segment two. I speak to video artist Andrew Huang about his growing body of work in visual art, music videos and feature films. Huang, whose work has been exhibited at institutions like MoMA, has gained notoriety for his visually captivating music videos for artists like Bjork and FKA Twigs. We discuss his background, his process and the progress he's making towards the release of his first feature film. At the end of the episode, I'll be wrapping things up with some of the week's top art headlines, but first up, scandal, shock and rivalry.

Craig: [00:01:23] Dr. Noah Charney, you're the author of "The Devil in the Gallery: How Scandals, Shark and Rivalry Shape the Art World". Maybe you could just briefly describe for us a little bit about it.

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Noah: [00:01:35] So many years ago, I had this debate with some colleagues about whether there are some things that are inherently negative in terms of careers and almost all fields that we might argue were actually beneficial to other fields. And I was thinking in terms of the history of art and particularly when it comes to the fact that career disasters in one field actually seem to be the making of many artists. And I was thinking of a number of examples. I think the foremost was over the career of Caravaggio, who has done everything bad you could possibly imagine. He murdered someone. He would beat up waiters if they served him overcooked artichokes. He was really a very unpleasant man, but he was a wonderful artist. And some of his unpleasant behavior got him into legal trouble. But I think that we could argue in a convincing way that it improved his art and altered the course of art history for the better. And then I took a step back and I said, Well, if that's possible for him, can we say that more generally, because how many artists have made their name through being involved in a scandal to the point where some artists have actually courted scandal? So then when I had this concept, I tried to map it out and look at various case studies, and I was able to divide it into three categories of things that are inherently negative to most careers but have benefited the arts, and one is scandal. One is shock, which I differentiate from scandal because it's intentionally kicked off. So a scandal is something that happens as a byproduct, is something you do without intending it to be scandal and shock is something that you're doing in order to cause a scandal and then rivalry, which is perhaps the most common and rivalry in economic terms we know promotes a capitalist market and requires competing companies or service providers to offer something better than their rivals. So you'll pick them. And in terms of art rivalry, I think that was the case as well, and I wound up putting all of those together in my latest book.

Craig: [00:03:41] It's interesting that you start with Caravaggio, because when I think of cardiology, I think of him not only as having a scandalous personal life, but I feel like in many ways his work, either intentionally or unintentionally, I probably think intentionally, was shocking to those who recognized some of the figures he used as models. I think particularly of like "Death of the Virgin,"

Noah: [00:04:05] That's a very good example. And I would say that that's all intentional and it's very hard for us to look back in time and project intentionality unless you find some sort of diary entry or something that says, "Dear Diary. Today, I tried to cause a stir by doing the following", But he really made a habit of it. And the "Death of the Virgin" example is a classic one where he literally used as a model for the dead body of the Virgin Mary, a corpse of a prostitute that had been dragged out of the Tiber River. And there are a number of examples like that where as soon as we understand which model he chose because he lived in such an insular community, we think of Rome is a big city now, and it was big back around 1600 when he was working there. But he lived in a very finite neighborhood where everybody knew each other, and he would use as models people like a prostitute who would stand on the corner of a certain street outside the Church of Saint D'Agostino. And then he used that very model as the Virgin Mary and an altar piece for that church and everybody who from the neighborhood would walk past her and then go into church and see her on the altar.

Noah: [00:05:15] And so that was really, absolutely courting scandal. But there's some thought that he did this not only because he was just that kind of guy, but that he was proactively strategizing from an economic perspective that he would try to get a commission for which he would get an advance. And then he would create something that the people who commissioned the painting, usually the church would consider indecorous. And that's a kind of funny term, but that's the translation of the Italian that they would have used. Basically, it didn't look like they expected it to, or it was somehow morally problematic the version he gave, and they would reject it. But he had a number of very wealthy patrons, particularly two cardinals, who would buy things of his with enthusiasm and sometimes pay more than the church was offering. So he wound up keeping the advance, perhaps intentionally getting the work rejected and then selling it to someone else privately for more money.

Craig: [00:06:15] Oh wow. I feel like there is a certain amount of capitalism at the root of a lot of this isn't there.

Noah: [00:06:21] Sure, I think that's inherently part of it. The capitalist side, there are a couple angles to it. One is to to try to outdo your competition when there's a selection available for people willing to pay for something by doing things better or faster or cheaper. And we see all of those in fact, with with our historical case studies. So, for example, one of the objections that Italian painters had in the first half of the 17th century was that a group of foreign painters, most of them Dutch, were in Rome, selling paintings that were smaller and less expensive than what Italian painters were doing. And this caused friction because there was a rising middle class market that was not exclusively the uber wealthy clergy and aristocracy that still wanted to commission art either for their own homes or as public commissions. And this was less expensive if they went with one of these Dutch painters who was part of a group living in Rome. And it got to the point that sounds kind of like a cartoon to us. But there were there was a gang of Dutch painters and a gang of Italian painters, and they would literally have fights in the streets of Rome, like the Sharks and the Jets and West Side Story. And this was over pricing was part of it. And the speed with which works were completed was another way that one artist could have an advantage over another for a commission. And then, of course, the skill and the ingenuity of the work itself. That's the more traditional method where you would have rival painters or sculptors in a city who would be chasing the same commissions, and they would try to come up with bigger and better and more elaborate ideas to get their works chosen over the competition.

Craig: [00:08:08] Are the Italians more prone to these rivalries? Because it seems like a lot of the examples that come up, you know, happen to be Italian?

Noah: [00:08:19] Yeah, I would say so. I mean, if you know anything about Italians, even today, they're colorful and charming and take life personally for the good and the bad. So they're immediately dear friends, and I think that they can very quickly become bitter, bitter rivals. And there's lots of historical examples of this. I mean, we have some cliches thanks to stories like Romeo and Juliet. But the idea of these vendettas between families that pass on their hate for each other through the generations is real. Historically and often leading families in individual cities like my family has a house in Orvieto outside of Rome, and that had a pair of aristocratic families in the Middle Ages that just hated each other. And they were the two wealthy, powerful families in the city and they would always be fighting. And it went was handed down from the generations. If you look at a place like Bologna or even Florence in the Middle Ages, these cities had dozens of towers. The skyline was punctuated with these towers that would look today kind of like chimneys to us. And each one was owned by a wealthy family, and they were places of residence and storage and business. But they also you would retreat into them when there were street fights, which would happen quite often. And because there were so many of these street fights between rival families, they wound up abolishing those towers. And that's why not so many of them exist anymore. But this is a real thing, and it is an Italian peculiarity. That's not to say it's strictly Italian, right? These sort of like colorful rivalries, you're going to find more in Italian history than elsewhere.

Craig: [00:09:59] I think one of the examples that you point to in the book is the rivalry between Rafael and Michelangelo.

Noah: [00:10:05] That's an important one.

Craig: [00:10:06] Can you give us a snapshot of how they were at each other's throats, or perhaps just didn't care for each other?

Noah: [00:10:13] Well, it's a good story because there was a time this is, let's say, circa 1510 or so where there was a four way rivalry among great artists in central Italy. And it was Rafael, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Titian. The Ninja Turtles from my youth got it wrong. Donatella is the fourth Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, and he lived about a hundred years before the others. So it should have been Titian as the fourth one, and they were vying for each other with each other for the most choice commissions, particularly by the leaders of city states like Milan and Florence and the Pope in Rome and Rafael was very important to the course of how artists were treated because prior to Rafael and a few other artists who were roughly his contemporaries, artists tend to be considered like generic craftsmen, so like a cobbler or a carpenter. They had no higher social status. And Rafael was very eloquent, very handsome. He was an aristocratic bearing and his. Personal, his personal exuberance and elegance helped elevate the status of what artists could become and how they were considered socially, so he was very influential with the pope. He came from Urbino and then moved to Rome and he was threatened by Michelangelo. And Michelangelo was a very different type of character who was quite morose and grumpy and kept to himself.

Noah: [00:11:48] And he much preferred sculpture. He had very little time for this painting business. And there's a story that turns out is almost certainly apocryphal, but it's one that has colored art history. And the fact that it probably didn't actually happen because the dates don't quite line up is probably just it was a hyper extrapolation from a real dynamic that they had. And the story is that Rafael and Bramante his buddy in the Vatican rigged it so that Michelangelo would get the commission for the Sistine Chapel ceiling, knowing that he had never worked in frescoes before and assuming he would make a mess of it and his reputation would be ruined. Now, there's no documentary proof that that actually happened, and the dates don't quite line up. But the fact that the story has come down to us and it has been taught as fact for many generations, is indicative of the rivalry that they did have. And one of the things that's important to keep in mind is they had very different styles, and Rafael was the king of high renaissance, a sort of classical approach where all of the faces look generically beautiful and idealized. There's very balanced forms. There's no stress in looking at his paintings.

Noah: [00:13:07] In fact, he has the happiest crucifixion paintings you could possibly imagine. Everyone's just hanging out, and they're very graceful and harmonious. And the idea was he was showing a preview of the perfection that must exist in heaven. And it's kind of a twist on Plato's idea of the cave. Where he is an artist is creating this shadow of reality that's more perfect and cleaned up and beautiful than reality ever could be that we can see, thanks to the ingenuity of his brush. And Michelangelo comes along and isn't really interested in painting at all. He can do it, but he likes sculpture. He's fascinated with human anatomy. He and Leonardo were the first two artists we know of who proactively and illegally dissected human cadavers in the hospital of Santo Spirito by night in Florence in order to study anatomy and musculature. And then Michelangelo, interestingly, chose to hyper extend and add muscles to his painted and sculpted figures that don't exist in reality. He's taking reality and saying, Well, we can do reality. What can I do? That's more than reality that is going to have a dramatic effect. And the followers of the style that he established were called the Mannerists, and they were the next wave of important artists towards the end of Michelangelo's Life.

Noah: [00:14:30] And the first mannerist work is Michelangelo Sistine Chapel Ceiling. And we see it in his last judgment, also in the Sistine Chapel, and it features figures that are bent in ways that only, you know, a Cirque du Soleil acrobat could bend. Then you have these people twisted around. He used the term figura serpentinata, meaning a snake like form that he thought was very beautiful. So sort of people twisted in an s-shape and they have an eight pack instead of a six pack of stomach muscles and their bodies are defying the laws of gravity. And he did this because he thought it was just more elegant and beautiful than reality. And Rafael sees this, and he admires it, but it's very different from his style. And there's one painting by Rafael called Fire in the Borgo that has an inside joke in it, where a third of the painting is Rafael painting Michelangelo's style but to a cartoonish effect someone who has so many muscles on their muscles that it looks like they're inhuman and made of stone. And then two thirds that are Raphael painting Rafale style, and it's basically him saying, Look, I can do Michelangelo style, but who would want to, mine is far more elegant.

Craig: [00:15:42] So that being said, I read once that Rafael snuck into the Sistine Chapel while it was still in the process of being painted and was so taken aback by what Michelangelo was accomplishing that he went back to the Church of Saint Agostino, scraped off frescoes he had been working on and started over. Do you think there's any truth in that?

Noah: [00:16:03] That's one I've heard, too, but I have a feeling that that is one of the similarly apocryphal stories that may have happened, but there's no documentary evidence of it, and a lot of these stories are passed down through Vasari. Vasari is subject of my 2017 book, "The Collector of Lives", and we have a lot of questionable stories that come through him. He was, as your listeners may know, he was a Renaissance artist and architect. He was very good friends with Michelangelo and was one of the mannerists, one of the people who carried on his tradition in the middle part of the 16th century. But he's best known for having written a biography of artists called "Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects." And this was a huge bestseller, and it really colored the way we think about art and artists. And he researched by asking people to write or tell him stories about these artists, many of whom had died decades ago, if not more, some of whom he knew. But he basically put together biographies based on gossip, and a lot of it is incorrect. And then a lot of his stories also were extrapolated upon, and there's rival biographies of Michelangelo, one that's an official one and several that are unofficial and they tend to not agree on stories. So this one, you mention, is probably apocryphal, but the dynamic of rivalry was certainly real.

Craig: [00:17:42] So shock as a component really comes to the forefront in the 20th century, especially, well, I would say the later half of the 20th century, but we can go back to Duchamp's urinal. How did we get to a place where shock became such a large part of contemporary art?

Noah: [00:17:59] That's a great question, and I'm thinking back in my head as we talk what's the earliest example of of shock art, and I'll have to get back to on what the earliest example I can think of is. It's probably something by Corbet  like "L'Origine du monde", right, is something intended to shock so that people will talk about you. I think it has to do a couple of things. One is some tempestuous personalities really get into this. This is fun for them. It's like an adrenaline rush to try to do something that is going to be shocking, that'll get people to talk about them. It's an attempt to grab attention. It can be. It can have sort of an ideological or political motivation to it. But if it were only that, then you might do something subversive, but you wouldn't try to make a high profile event out of it. So it really is a call for attention, and it can be something to do with the subject that you create so "L'Origine du monde" is very overt female genitalia and nothing else. And so this was something by Corbet that was certainly meant to shock and sort of in the most overt possible way, emphasize the fraudulent prudery of his contemporaries. And there was a lot of comment on rampant prostitution in French society that nobody talked about, but everyone was engaged in. And you also get Manet's "Le Déjeuner sur l'herbe" with an entirely naked woman surrounded by entirely clothed men having a similar commentary.

Noah: [00:19:47] So that might be one of the earlier ones that I would point to. And then I think it has to do also with the media and the media's coverage of it. If media didn't cover shocking art, then I don't think people would do it or people would very rarely do it. It's the fact that it is the best way to get your media coverage to do something that people say, Oh my goodness, can you believe this person did X, Y and Z? And whether or not someone's interested in the art and sometimes because they're not interested in the art and they can't believe that people are that helps up the ante when it comes to the shock. And so that's why we see it really in the newspaper era and the cases I mentioned even Corbet that's the early days of newspapers, Manet as well. And then, of course, in the 20th century you get newspaper media and then the second half you get television media and recently you get internet media where you have a sense increasingly, that shock value is given precedence over the quality of the artwork. In many cases, it's almost you have this feeling that there's some artists who are thinking, "What can I do that's going to get me attention?" And what the art is is just sort of an afterthought.

Craig: [00:21:03] Dr. Tania, really appreciate your time this morning. The book "The Devil and the Gallery: How Scandal, Shock and Rivalry Shaped the Art World". Is it available now? Can people find it?

Noah: [00:21:15] Available for preorder? It will be available in July. And if I may, I have. One other book also coming out with the same publisher will be available in August. It's called "Making It: The Artist's Survival Guide". And I wrote this with my best friend, who is a successful contemporary European conceptual artist, and it is something that I think would be of interest to any art student or aspiring younger artist. It's a behind the scenes tour of how to make it as an artist and how to survive the trials and tribulations. So I would encourage people to check out both books. They'll both be available as of August.

Craig: [00:21:54] Great. Doctor Charney, I really appreciate your time. And if folks wanted to keep track of of your work, do you have a website where people can follow you or Instagram or?

Noah: [00:22:05] Sure. Of course, people can find me at, on Instagram and Facebook, and they're welcome to join in and write to me if they have any questions. And thank you so much for hosting me.

Craig: [00:22:17] Wonderful. Well, I really appreciate it.

Speaker1: [00:22:26] Something we'll be talking more about in future episodes of this program is NFT's. Some of you may own NFTs, and some of you may actually be artists minting your own NFTs. If you've never heard of the term, NFT stands for a non-fungible token, which is a way of certifying ownership of a digital asset on the blockchain. Many people might be able to view a particular artwork or collectible online, but the NFT tracks and guarantees that there is only one owner of that asset. There's been an explosion in the purchase of NFTs this year, with prices ranging from the hundreds of dollars up to $69 million for people's first five thousand days when it was auctioned at Christie's earlier this year. It seems like everyone has been buying NFTs. But what do you do with them? Who wants to buy art that's trapped in your computer or on your phone? Art, at its core, is meant to be displayed, and that's why Canvia is the first commercially available digital art frame to provide a fully integrated solution for securely displaying NFTs directly from a user's crypto wallet. Regardless of whether your NFT is portrait or landscape static or video, you can sync your MetaMask or other crypto wallet and immediately start displaying your NFTs on your Canvia. If you want to learn more about Canvia and its NFT display solutions, head over to and check it out. And now my conversation with artist and filmmaker Andrew Huang.

Craig: [00:23:58] Andrew, thank you for being willing to sit down today and talk about your work and your vision. Man, when I look at your work as a visual artist, as a painter, I am just amazed and inspired by your creativity. Maybe we could start with where your journey started.

Andrew: [00:24:20] I guess my journey started with art, like drawing and painting. That was my major in college and but I also just grew up making things with my hands. I was really into puppetry. Actually, I was like a huge fan of Jim Henson and Star Wars, and I would watch all the behind the scenes, and I think I really wanted to get into effects. And I knew that my way into that world was through my drawing and the art world, and I ended up studying fine art at USC so I could be near the film program and help out and stuff on film productions. And I thought for a while I was going to go into effects, but I think I soon realized that I already had the tools at my disposal to make my own films, and I think I was interested in using like Hollywood level tools to make stories that we haven't seen, or more indie level storytelling. So I think that's why I didn't really get into effects because I wanted I think I got into effect initially because I wasn't sure which direction I was going to go, but I think I soon chose directing and making my own films, and I think I just used my skill set as a way to make my work look higher budget and also use my skill set to tell stories that lived outside of social realism. So that's kind of how I got started, really with making short films on my own and then putting them on the internet

Craig: [00:26:02] From the very beginning. Has the pathways been pointed towards feature films for you? Has that always been the goal?

Andrew: [00:26:10] You know, it has always been the goal, but I admit that I think when I first graduated, I, you know, because I was more of a visual person. I didn't have a screenplay ready and I tried writing when I first started out. But I just don't think I was mature enough yet, frankly. And I also think I was more interested in some of the visual directors from the nineties who I admired growing up like Chris Cunningham and Spike Jonze. And I thought, Well, maybe I'll go that route and make commercials and music videos to kind of break into making movies. So I started making commercials and music videos when I first graduated and I cut my teeth, but I don't think things really clicked until five years later when I just needed to kind of turn everything off and make another personal film that was non narrative and purely visual, and so I did it again, and it kind of propelled me in this more experimental direction, which I really enjoyed. But it took me another five years after that, even, I think, you know, to really start writing again and really honing in on what I wanted to say. So I mean, feature films have always been the goal for me, but I think it's been circuitous trying to find what to say, how to say it. So I'm working on that now.

Craig: [00:27:44] So those experimental non narrative films, the purely visual films, they're kind of mind bending and they kind of pay no regard to the laws of physics or what we think of as the natural realm. Do you intend on taking that with you into narrative moviemaking? Do you intend on having that come alongside?

Andrew: [00:28:08] That's a good question. I think that there will be elements for sure of what I've done in the past, but I think that I feel very strongly now that with the current saturation of content on the internet and in entertainment, that especially considering just where we are as a society, I feel like to make work, to make a film is very expensive, and I do feel a kind of maybe accountability that I'm going to make someone sit and watch my work for two hours. I want to make sure that they're laughing or crying by the end. And I do think that I've had to. We learn a bit about filmmaking and what it means to really connect with people, and I do think that it is a discipline to evoke dramatic effect, to have a dramatic effect on people. And I think that a lot of that experimental work I've done, I'm proud of and I I do believe that sometimes I guess we as artists have a certain way of communicating and sometimes we're not so good at words, which is why why I think it's great to be able to communicate in nonverbal or non-dialog visual ways. And so I'm going to keep some of that. But I also think that if I can make people feel something while I'm at it and have it make dramatic sense, then I think that everyone wins at the end of the day, if you can do that, you know. So I do think I'm trying to do a more traditional narrative for my first film,

Craig: [00:29:54] "Kiss of the Rabbit God". It seems like there's a place where, you know, there's not a lot of heavy narrative, but I mean, there's not a lot of heavy dialog, but there's definitely a narrative, and there's still a huge visual component that's being used to communicate without relying real heavily on dialog.

Andrew: [00:30:16] Yeah, certainly. Yeah, I think that was a prototype.

Craig: [00:30:20] And so right now, what is what is the status of "Tiger Girl"?

Andrew: [00:30:25] "Tiger Girl" is we just finished the ninth draft, so we're quite late in development now. I co-wrote the latest draft with an author. I'm very excited about earning this coming Chang. She wrote a book called Beast Cherry, which was recently a New York Times editor's pick. And I just felt like there's so much similarity between our work. I was really excited to partner with her on the very last draft, and we actually just literally like yesterday, started working with our casting director, who we just brought on. Her name is Jenny Joo. She did films like "Inglorious Basterds","Okja", "Snowpiercer'. So she's really excited to work with her, and we're literally just putting casting calls out like today. Awesome.

Craig: [00:31:19] Well, congratulations.

Andrew: [00:31:21] Yeah, thanks. Once we cast them, we can start raising money and, you know, movies take a long time. I've been working. I've been writing this since 2016. I had the idea in 2010. So it's been a long time. And, you know, making a movie, making it an independent movie is a lot like starting a business. You know, it's not. It's not like. It's not like the music video commercial world where you do a gig, you put it online. You go home like it's this is something that lives with you. And so it's been a long journey. But you know, we did the Sundance, I did the Sundance Labs last year and the film Independent Labs before that. So I've learned a lot. I've had a lot of great mentors on this. And if we're lucky, I hope to be shooting next year.

Craig: [00:32:16] So the short film "Lily Chan and the Doom Girls"? Was that like a workshopping for "Tiger Girl" or are they interrelated?

Andrew: [00:32:26] Yeah. Yes, they are. In fact, "Lily Chan in the Doom Girls" is actually a scene from the script, and it was a chance to just test it out. What had happened was Google Pixel, I guess, to promote their new smartphone. They they give out the phone and ask people, influencers, artists online to shoot stuff with their phone. And so they gave me a small pocket of money and I thought, Well, why not shoot this on the phone and get a bunch of actresses to read for the part? And so, so yeah, we did it. We just shot them playing the characters in the film, and I chose the scene because it was more self-contained. Sure, then, than other parts in the movie. But this is also a subplot in the movie. It's not the main plot of the movie, but it is an important chapter in this character's journey. So I did it as a test and kind of release to other short to kind of whet people's palate.

Craig: [00:33:33] The visual esthetic of it really feels like a washed out Polaroid that you would find in your parents photo album, right? So I think the color, you've really hit something. I mean, your use of color is just in all of your work is just really spot on and pervasive. Thank you. And so do you still paint or is everything pretty much digital these days?

Speaker5: [00:34:01] I wish I like my closet is filled with all my paints from college and high school, and they're all dried out, right? I mean, I miss painting. I do paint in Photoshop a lot and I do keep a sketchbook. I feel like I'm always drawing for work all the time. In fact, you know, I do my own storyboards, but I do often work purely digitally. So a short answer is yes, I'm painting. It's just mostly, you know, digital, although I have occasionally I have some friends that have occasionally asked me to paint portraits of them and their pets. So sometimes you bust out the paint, but a lot of it is not having studio space and I think drawing and painting for film, there is an efficiency that I need to just kind of pump stuff out. And it's because there are communication tools. At the end of the day, it's easier for me to draw, draw out the framing I want or the staging then than using my words sometimes. So I continue, I think drawing and painting has been such an asset for me.

Craig: [00:35:09] It's nothing that Tim Burton didn't do back in his days. I mean, right? It's just if you have the skills to sketch out your own storyboard, I mean, what what you're making at the end of the day, there's absolutely no doubt it's art, right? And art is art. You know, some people get hung up on paint being put on canvas or graphite on paper or whatever. But I think we're at a point where the world is really appreciating digital media and digital art in ways that it hasn't before. Right? Which brings up another question given the current market conditions with NFTs, has anybody approached you about making something as a non-fungible token?

Andrew: [00:35:51] Yeah, constantly. It's been such a whirlwind of a year for everyone trying to navigate this new space. I'm keeping a close eye on it. And you know what? I'm open to it. I'm in fact, I technically am minting my first digital work soon for this gallery show. How opening this week. But. But I, you know, I'm slow to move because I think that I guess it's more my instinct to kind of sit back and like, you know, what it is, is I don't want to make work for the technology, right? I want to make the technology work for me. And so I have a backlog of digital art I'm sure I could capitalize on. I have work I could make, but I don't want to spend my time mp4s, you know, like I want to. I want to make my movie and there's only so much time in the day. And so if there's a way for the work I'm already doing for my movie to be sold or say for another artist, if I'm making a music video, like sometimes you come out with sculptures or pieces that are like, I think that I just don't want to stop what I'm already doing to serve this new blockchain technology.

Andrew: [00:37:13] I. So that's why I haven't rushed into it. But I very much. I think it is changing our landscape rapidly, and I think it is here to stay. And, you know, I am also concerned about I do want everything to move over to a proof of stake system. I do believe that the carbon impact of this is worth noting, perhaps at times inflated or maybe misconstrued, but like exactly how much it is proportionally to other things. But I think that's kind of I think that either way, we're making work. Think art is important. It is also things that people technically don't need. So I don't want to sell a JPEG for like the carbon cost of launching a rocket into space. I want to do this ethically. So and I do think that we're at a time where there's great wealth disparity in the world. So if I'm going to do it, I want to try and do it on my terms and do it the right way. So I'm still it's happening and I will participate. I think I'm trying to figure out how and when

Craig: [00:38:22] When you work on these projects for, for example, a music video and you're brought to the table. What is the collaboration process like? Are there instances where you're kind of given free rein to interpret it? Or is it always a collaboration with the musical artist in terms of kind of what their vision was? Or is it somewhere in between?

Andrew: [00:38:43] Vastly varies artist to artist. The funny thing is that I have found that the artists who are much more experienced like artists later in their careers actually give me a lot more freedom. And I think that has to do with the fact that they are established and that therefore they have less to lose, frankly, because they've already established their repertoire, their brand, if you will. You know, my collaborations with Bjork have been very open. But then there are also times where maybe the artist is trying to formulate what they're trying to say real time. And so in which case, I do have to be more receptive to their input because they're trying to figure it out. While I can't make the visuals until the artist knows. You know, there's a degree to which I am also reactive to what they're trying to say with their music. And if they don't know, then it's kind of I have to kind of be nimble and I did. I do find that sometimes the younger artists are more controlling because they have more to lose because they have less output. And so that single image they release of themselves right off the bat is more. All encompassing of their brand image and what they're trying to say, and so you I think that sometimes younger artists require more trust or trust management, I should say. So I try to be flexible and you know, there are times where I am very much drawing. Yeah, it's honestly, it's not a really single answer. I have to. I think collaboration has taught me a lot. It's why I continue to do it and I think I also care very much about fostering relationships, so to me, the most rewarding collaborations are truly a give and take. You know, neutral to a kind of conversation.

Craig: [00:40:54] Tell me about conventional effects versus digital. And how do you choose, how do you? It seems like there are lots of choices that you need to make in trying to decide where to use something that's real in scale versus something that's purely digital and how the two interact. Sometimes just come down to a matter of how you want the specific texture to be, or is it a matter of cost? How do you make choices like that?

Andrew: [00:41:22] That's a great question. I think for me, I try to use effects only when they're necessary. And I think that, I guess maybe I've personally been thinking a lot about filmmaking as this one time act where you see the actual process of being on set is quite short, but it's like the kind of ritual act of being together, photographing something. And you've either got work on the front end where you're preparing to shoot something on camera, whether that's rehearsing or storyboarding or creating a physical effects that you capture in camera with smoke and mirrors and pulling strings and puppets and whatnot. And then you have the after the fact post-production effects where you are manipulating the images afterwards. And I think that effects kind of fall into those either before you film or after a bit of both, right for the twigs video. I planned that whole video shot for shot. And so the front end with a lot of visualization that was animated and storyboarded very heavily, which meant which made the shoot go really smoothly and made it feel very seamless editorially. And then we had certain post-production that just there's no way to make a flying sphinx without. I mean, we could have made a puppet, I suppose, but I wanted it to feel digital. So it was digital, but I needed it to have. I'd like a glimpse we needed to have something real in there, so the creature's eyes are hers that we photographed. So it's like I try to always have some kind of analog input to make it breathe, to make the effects breathe and feel real. But I don't like to add effects for effects sake. I find effects laborious, painful, and it's a broken industry, and I. But I do it a lot because I am very committed to fantasy, I think and I think if there's a way to achieve effects in camera, I always try and do that. Yeah, I think effects are like anything else in film, like ask why you're doing it and what purpose does it serve?

Craig: [00:43:45] And so, you know, it was interesting in your response there you were talking about photographing her eyes to use in the Sphinx, and that was one of the notes in preparation for our conversation. Was this thought of the uncanny valley and how sometimes effects don't connect with someone in a lot of times. That's when it's specific to the eyes. And so it's really interesting that, you know of all of that you generated with the Sphinx that you chose to use her real eyes in there. And so is. Is that something you're conscious of? Is trying to avoid that uncanny valley where "Mars Needs Moms", where it's like all these? All these characters sound great, but there's something odd in every one of these faces.

Andrew: [00:44:31] I think having interned and freelanced at so many animation companies and coming from that world, I am very sensitive to. Uh, yeah, some of the the artifice of of doing. I'm not a fan. What I should say is I'm a fan when I don't know when I see it work and I don't know how it was done. And I usually find that if I'm looking at something, I don't know how it was done, it's because it involves some hybrid technique. And so I think hybridity in our workflow is really important. You know, it's too easy sometimes, in my opinion, to stay in a to build, to build world fully from the ground up purely in CG. Again, if the project requires it, then let's do that. But if I'm trying to evoke an emotional reaction, then I do find that sometimes you need a human input. And I think that it's not just her eyes that we captured, but it's her head tilt the way she was. There was performance there of how she looks at us and you feel the real head move. Her real head movement is basically been in motion capture in there, and I think you do need real human performance to give something life. And maybe that is my puppetry influence. I think that if we if we did it purely CGI, it would just feel a bit empty. And then if we did it purely live action, it might feel also kind of boring. So I just like hybrid techniques as a process. I think it's just how I've always worked, and I like it when I see it in movies. And yeah, that's just kind of my thought process.

Craig: [00:46:13] So Andrew, how would people follow you? Where can they see your work right now and where can they go to keep track?

Andrew: [00:46:21] Well, there's always my Instagram, which is my full name, Andrew Thomas Huang. That's my handle. But I also have a link tree there where I go to my website, Andrew Thomas dot com. You can also follow me on Twitter. You can see my link tree. I can send it to you, but I don't know. I try. I do try and share my process on social media just so people know what I'm up to and. Yeah, I'm also on TikTok, which I don't use very much, but I am occasionally posting videos there and my pictures.

Craig: [00:46:55] Well, Andrew, it's a real honor to talk to you. You're a magician. I really appreciate you taking time out of your day to have a conversation with me.

Andrew: [00:47:05] Thank you so much. It's an honor to speak with you. And yeah, thank you.

Craig: [00:47:18] And now the news. This past Friday, CNN reported that conservationists at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London believe they found Michelangelo's fingerprint on a sculpture in its collection. The particular sculpture is what artists referred to as a maquette, which means it was a small, preliminary sculpture that helped sort out the shape of things and identify any problems before going big. Because these are often quick sketches, the artist uses materials that are easy to quickly work with. In this case, the maquette was made out of wax because of a recent heat wave. The conservators wanted to move the wax sculpture to a cooler location to be safe. They believe the fluctuating temperature caused a chemical change in the material, which revealed the fingerprint. Senior curator Peta Motture told the BBC. Such marks would suggest the physical presence of the creative process of an artist. It is where mind and hands somehow come together. A fingerprint would be a direct connection with the artist. Finding fingerprints and paintings is not unusual. Whether it's a da Vinci or Pollock, painters have a tendency to sometimes resort to smearing with the fingertip to get that certain effect. But it's really exciting to find a fingerprint for someone famous for carving marble. Have you been to an immersive Van Gogh experience this summer? If not, you've probably at least seen the ads for the immersive display of Van Gogh paintings that flood the floors and walls of exhibit spaces. But did you know that there is upwards of seven different companies vying for your immersive Van Gogh dollar because the artwork predates copyright laws and the projection technology is readily available? There really no barriers to entry.

Craig: [00:49:08] Artnet News has written a couple of articles trying to compare and contrast who is out there and how they experiences differ from one another. The two most popular are Immersive van Gogh and Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience. Confusing? Yes. Both provide identical visual experiences with the exception of maybe a reproduction of Van Gogh's bedroom in Arles or what's in a particular gift shop. Whether that's the starry night beach hat or Van Gogh lollipops, the one thing that Immersive van Gogh can brag about is that it was the experience featured in the Netflix series Emily in Paris, and they don't want you to forget it. They even have a video greeting from the show star Lily Collins welcoming you to the experience. Rock legend Jerry Garcia will be posthumously releasing NFTs of his digital artwork from the last years of his life. The Rock and Roll Hall of Famer had studied art at the San Francisco Art Institute in the late '50s and maintained painting and drawing as an additional creative release. Now, twenty six years after Garcia's passing his estate along with the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in the NFT marketplace Yellow Heart is releasing NFTs of digital files taken from Garcia's Mac that he had created in his final days. The three part collection, titled An Odd Little Place: The Digital Works of Jerry Garcia 1992-1995 features 20 digital art pieces, as well as tickets to an art exhibit of the same title at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Craig: [00:50:42] An article in Billboard magazine states that the estate was excited about the prospect of releasing the artwork as NFTs, but they were hesitant to move forward until they found the right partner. Enter Josh Katz, lifelong Deadhead and Founder CEO of Yellow Hart, whose marketplace runs on a more environmentally friendly blockchain, which was an important feature to Garcia's daughter Trixie. Yellow Heart's Josh Katz is quoted,"to work with the legacy of Jerry Garcia is an honor and a privilege. I hold art sacred above anything else, and this is as high art as it possibly gets for me." I think there's a pun there.

Craig: [00:51:31] That's all the time we have for this week. You've been listening to art since you can find the show on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher Radio, Spotify or your favorite podcast app. If you've enjoyed this podcast, be sure to subscribe. And while you're there, please rates show and leave a quick review. Your feedback is the key to other folks finding us. If you'd like to see images related to the conversation, read a transcript and find other bonus features. You can go to and click on the podcast tab. If you'd like to reach out to me, you can email me at Thanks for listening.

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