Monday, April 25, 2011

Tarkovsky and Nietzsche - Robbie's Article

The first bit was a clip featuring Andrei Tarkovsky as he speaks about art. He talks about how art cannot exists without strife. In a perfect world, artists would not feel compelled to make work. Art would be useless in a perfect world because man would live in an ideal world without having to put the effort into creating it. Also, he discusses that a man must make his own experience; he cannot inherit his experience from another. The excerpts of Nietzsche's philosophies included where those of The madman and The meaning of our cheerfulness. The former excerpt tells of a madman who lights a lanturn in the bright morning hours and cries out for God. When spectators {supposedly though who don't believe in him} start to laugh, the man attacks one of them and pierces them with his eyes, claiming that man has killed God. How does one do it, he questions, and how does one wash their hands of it and recover? He leaves them all in astonishment as he walks away, speculating that churches are now but tombs of God. The later excerpt speaks of the idea of 'God's death' and how it came to pass, after many years of changes wrought from destruction and ruin, and how its distance from the now--far removed and relying heavily on faith alone--is starting to become its own weakness. Nietzsche sees this as an encouraging event for philosophers, as he claims it is only natural that human beings bring everything to question and this 'death of God' allows them a freedom to venture out again into other possibilities. 

I don't believe there ever could be a perfect world in our current state of mind. Humans are problematic. I know it's just a movie, but in The Matrix, Mr. Smith discusses the prototype of the Matrix to Morpheus, telling him of how they first attempted to create a utopia for humanity to keep them complacent, but it was a disaster. No one in the system could agree with it--no one could accept it as reality and outright rejected it. It needed strife to be believable. It needed pain and suffering and misery to be life. I simply can't believe that any one of us could even believe in a perfect world. It'd be the biggest cop-out heaven could ever be. I once heard someone say that she hoped heaven wasn't all white like it was in the movies. Unless our minds were manipulated into adapting to it, then it simply can't be perfect, and that would end up bringing into question whether or not we actually can ever exist in a pristine world as human beings and not as robots or zombies. Still...if we were as happy as we could ever get, we'd still make art. There is always strife. Always. As for the part on experiences, I totally agree. Our own experiences must be made. Yet...what about false experience? What about detached experience? Have you ever heard of the way modern warfare is now being fought with computers and drones? Not completely--it's still in its toddler stages, but there were actually records of the operators of these drones having PTSD, and they're hundreds of miles away from the actual site. I simply find that to be pretty sick. 

As for the excerpts, I'm not sure what to say. They were interesting and all, but I'm seriously drawing blanks.

1. Not really. I mean, the video talks about how art cannot be made without strife and the importance of getting your own experience, but the readings are talking about a madman who claims man killed God and how a dead God allows people to be more free to philosophize. It's kind of a long shot, but I suppose the idea that destruction and corruption breeds ideas could be a common link between the both of them. Oh. And the Christian/Catholic themes in the both of them {not so much in the dialogue of the video, but the images}.

2. It helps, but whether it's important or harmful depends on what tenets you're attempting to remove. I do agree that we are often held back from our full potential by old sacraments and moral codes put down years and years ago, but that could be for the better in some cases. Though humans are capable of making very tremendous advancements, they're also just as capable of causing tremendous destruction. 

3. Um...I can only really think of examples from movies, if that's not utterly pathetic. But I can't think of any specific examples from history. I /know/ there are quite a few. I'm sure about half of what we work with every day was considered by some fellow in the 19th or 18th century that everyone thought to be completely mad. 

4. Yes. When you create art, it is better and best to use your own experiences then to try and mimic those of others. For instance, wouldn't it be completely idiotic, or unethical, for me to try and make a piece about being a soldier in Vietnam based solely on the stories I remember a family member telling me when I was a kid? Maybe one or the other--unless that story kept me from sleeping for many nights and the art wasn't really about Vietnam but about the emotions I felt second hand. Overall, its much better to think of your own point of view than to assume the point of view of others.

5. Like I said in my opening statements, I don't believe there could ever be a perfect world, I can't imagine one, and so I can't imagine whether or not people will make art there. I'll lean towards 'no'--not because of the favor to live in the ideal world versus creating it--but because the only way I can imagine a human being totally content is if they have some sort of lobotomy.

6. Sort of. Like that 'Everything is going to be okay' piece you have? It can only really function in a world where no, everything is NOT okay. Or else what's the point of the statement? What's the point of making it art? So it kind of pertains to the video. I'm not sure how it pertains to the excerpts.

7. Meh. I'm not sure. I make my work because I like to keep myself busy because maybe, just maybe, I'd prefer to forget about real life for a while. So yeah, maybe I make art because of strife. But I know I've made art without it too. I've sat down at restaurants I really like, chipper as hell because I'm going to get a burger or something, and I'm drawing faces on all of the food on the paper place mat in front of me. I draw or create things whenever I feel like it, and sometimes it's far more pleasing than just having it. Like toys. I'll make things out of clay on occasion even if they already exist as toys or dolls. Why? Because I have a greater satisfaction in making my own stuff. It's not because I'm miserable. Not all the time.

8. I hope so.

Art Therapy Has Many Faces - Georgie's Video

Georgie provided us with a video on art therapy and how it can help those with disabilities and illnesses express their fear, pain, dreams, and longings through painting, drawing, and crafting. There were a few testimonials; one given by a woman who drew the moment she was conscious to make sure she still could and a boy who thought it was the best way to deal with his frustration caused by his health situation. Art therapy can be a great subconscious release, allowing the artist to express things they normally keep pent up inside.

I've always found this kind of therapy very interesting. I've known about those tests they give children sometimes--the ones in which they ask you to draw your family and the positioning and size of certain family members can reflect their living situation. It's an effective way of seeking the root of one's problems. Though I'm not sure that all art done as therapy is 'art' {by even my loosely fitting definition}, I don't think it's impossible to make art that is therapeutic. I find art therapy, in the context of expressing and discovering one's true anxieties, is not so much like the studio art we make but more as a visual map of the mind. It's a recollection, or a sensation, or some trial. It doesn't make it any less valuable than 'art', but it puts it in a completely different category. 

1. I guess art therapy would entail the process of making something, whether it's a painting, drawing, or craft, that expresses your deeper anxieties or dreams to either yourself or the person who is attempting to get to the root of your more troubling issues. Yet it can just as well provide a busy, mediative, and focused task that takes one's mind off their current strife.

2. Sometimes. Mainly when it comes to rendering my pieces, either as sketches or as drawings, I am at my most reflective. I'm at the base, primordial pool of some idea and hashing it out to make it work as an image, and during this process I can forget about all my problems pertaining to anything else other than what I'm working on and the work tends to carry on more subconscious influences reflected in either the stroke of my hand or the energy in my drawing. When I get angry I tend to draw lots of contorted things, like monsters. When I'm content, there's a lot more humor in my work.

3. It can help them to express what might trouble them and what the more ideal situations they would prefer might be. Also, there's always a very strong sense of satisfaction and pride when someone swings along and tells you how great your work looks, which can give that someone the boost in self-esteem they probably need. Art therapy is a great method for this because just about anyone can pick up a tool and draw with it, whether they have use of their hands, feet, or mouth--just about anyone can artistically express themselves. There are so many psychological factors in art as well, even down to the very use of certain colors. A painting, drawing, or object can tell a lot about the person who made it, which will make it easier for people who don't have special needs to understand those with them.

4. Yes. When I was very displeased with things going on back home, I started to make plushies. I wanted something to hug and something cute to look at that would be yet another thing to help me forget about a less than ideal situation going on hundreds of miles away. I tend to craft/sculpt more when I'm upset as well as draw monsters or characters sympathizing with me. When I'm happier, I don't tend to make a whole lot of art.

5. Eh...sort of. I mean, I sort of do. I think if helping others get over their issues with art works well enough, I ought to do something for it. But it's not everyone's bag.

6. I guess...I mean, I can see a relationship between this video and how everyone makes their work. Most if not all of us can't quite make work about something we don't care about {or we'd be in Illustration--no offense; what I mean is that they'll take commissions to do work they often don't care about at all}. But even so, other than the 90% skill that goes into our work, at least about a solid 5% reflects how you're feeling in some fashion. It could be something as subtle as the way or the speed in which you made something and not so much the final piece. 

7. To you, perhaps. With me, it's hit and miss. When you had your more atmospheric paintings, I did feel a certain calm when I looked upon them. But some others didn't have much an effect on me. Other than me trying to remember where they might be from, I'm only paying attention to how it's rendered. 

8. Yeah. I'm pretty sure all of us might start taking different directions right away, since about half of us are probably just submitting to academic standards. But if it doesn't happen right away, I know it will happen eventually. Very few artists in the past, in fact none that I can think of now, continued to make the same work after they left their educative roots for the rest of their lives. Things change, inspiration changes, skills grow, new things are learned, and old things may be forgotten.

My artwork is somewhat therapeutic. I have to admit, a year ago when I made my stop-motion piece, I found the process to be harrowing yet engaging. Now I'm beginning to suspect the last one I made might be the last for a long time. I move on from one medium to another quite often. It's not that I can't find something I like to do, but I love discovering new ways to make things. And through experience, that discovery is better made when you take a break from one media and return to it later. I still draw to occupy myself through boredom, and I make things to take my mind off of stress.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Susan Sontag and 'Le sang d'un poete' - Brittney's Contribution

So here we have an excerpt perhaps? I'm not sure. A passage written by Susan Sontag for the first  half of this discussion and a video for the second.

The passage was on photography--and boy was it pretty magical {not in a campy way}. Photographs are likened to language, allowing the collectors to own little pieces of the world. It appropriates objects the moment it's taken, like a miniature slice of reality. They manipulate the scale of things, age, reproduce, and deteriorate. They can be put anywhere, into anything. When put in books they don't lose as much quality as paintings do. They provide evidence {though these days now that we know they can be easily doctored}. They can be just as selective as paintings can, as a photographer can take images by changing the lighting, the angle, the frame, and so on. They can discard images they don't like and reach an ideal over time. The methods of taking photographs have simplified over time, changing the subject of images and the technique. With time, photography as art developed as a counter to the industrial culture, which made it possible for anyone to take a picture.

'Le Sang d'un Poete', or 'The Blood of a Poet', is a film made by Jean Cocteau in 1930. I'm not entirely sure about the overall plot. It starts with a guy who makes a drawing of a woman's face, but he smudges out her mouth when it starts to move on its own. The hand ends up on his mouth, he freaks about a bit, touches himself some {I called it--I was amused}, and then falls asleep. He wakes up and puts his hand on a statue and it comes to life, effectively ridding himself of the mouth. The statue starts to talk in French, a chair appears, and he gets on it and goes through a mirror. He falls into it, ends up in a hall of a hotel, and looks through keyholes and sees strange things like some guy getting shot over and over, some shadow hands on a stick of some sort {I couldn't recognize it}, and he's really peeking into as many keyholes as he can, holding on to the doors like he's fighting gravity. At this point I know it's experimental film but this guy had to be trippin' balls. Anyways, he's handed a gun by a disembodied arm and I guess he's being told to shoot himself or he just decides 'fuck it, this shit's wack'. But he just gets magically dressed up and comes back to life and really decides this bassackwards world is really pissing him off. He gets out of mirrorworld and gives the statue the French equivalent of 'the finger' {I think} before smashing her to bits. Suddenly the film moves outside where kids are playing in the snow and these older looking kids sit idly by. One of the kids got injured on the knee and lead away and some French is spoken. A kid is being strangled or something by some other kids and no one's doing anything bout it, really. Finally, a kid throws a damn iron ball at this other kid's face, either knocking him out or killing him. More French is spoken, the kid wakes up long enough to spit up some blood and die. Suddenly a table appears next to him with a few people at it. Some people get ready in some opera seats {you know, the really fancy overhead ones} and some alarm bell is chiming. They go back to the table and I can't stop staring at the man with the mask until he takes it off. Everyone is oblivious to the dead kid. Well, not enough to hide cards under his coat. Alarm bells chime again when we see the opera people. The lady at the poker table starts fanning herself. A man descends from the staircase and covers the dead boy up, some inverted filter is drawn over them, and they disappear. People in the stands look confused and chatty. The man comes back and takes the Ace card from the man who took it out of the boy's coat before he leaves the way he came. When the man's heart beats, his shirt twitches. He takes a gun out of his coat and shoots himself through the head and there was much rejoicing from the people in the opera stands. I think there was a man in a dress up there. I couldn't stop staring at him. Anyways, the lady who was playing cards with the dead cheater throws her cards, gets up, and takes the creepy quiet guy's coat before she walks away.

I had to describe the movie word for word because I couldn't tell what the plot was all about if there was one. I've never been keen on the insights, symbols, and meanings behind pieces like these; I just like to determine how they achieved certain techniques and effects. I've always been more into the technical aspects of things. As for the passage by Sontag, it was nice. I mean, it wasn't different from what I've already known about film--she just takes what I know and organizes it in a neat and lovely fashion. Props to her.

I think I'll go on and answer the questions now.

1. The similarities between painting/drawing and photograph revolve around subject, composition, the choice of lighting, position, and command. They both beget images and they can both be manipulated by the standards of the artist/photographer who brings the image into being. The differences may of course be attributed to speed, quality, and material. What I think of a photograph depends on its presentation. For instance, as a polaroid or in its flatter, two-dimensional form, I tend to lean towards the format of a painting or drawing--other 2d forms. But if presented in a group, in a book, in a stack, stitched together, dangling off the ceiling--essentially fitted for a three-dimensional presentation--then I can consider photographs as sculpture.

2. Doesn't that depend on the image? I'm not sure I understand what you mean. A record of experiences perhaps? Of growth? Of discovery?

3. could be? If amateurism in this case refers to an artist who cannot draw photo-realistically or has yet to reach that level, then I consider it to be nothing disadvantageous or otherwise. It depends on how inexperienced they are. If someone really can't get the anatomy down on a figure, then yeah, they're at a disadvantage. I think it's important to understand the mechanics of life enough to draw them. But it can get in the way of your inspiration if you start to think that being able to draw with ultimate precision is so important that it must be implemented in everything you make. It can consume you if you're a perfectionist, never satisfied with 'okay' and always going for 'exceptional'.

4. Oh! Well, does the part when the guy has a mouth on his hand and he's touching himself counts? I think it did end with a palm to crotch bj, but it cut out before anyone could really come to that conclusion without assuming so beforehand. Then there was the peeking through keyholes in the hotel hall locked in some kind of Gravi-tron. I'm not sure if anything sexual was going on there, but he was definitely interested in peeking through each one. I thought the movie itself {and not just the parts afore mentioned} had a relationship to photography. Hell, most movies do. Now as to appropriation...I don't know. Maybe? What was the movie appropriating, because the imagery was mostly from life, but the events were surely staged. 

5. When I saw it, I remembered something. I'm not sure if it was something we talked about in class or something I heard someone say in a movie. But I remembered that it had been pointed out before that in theater, when someone dies at the end of a play and the curtains start to close, the audience applauds. That, or a character no one really likes ends up getting killed in some ironic/comic fashion and the audience laughs. But it's really quite grim. You're laughing/applauding at death. Sure, it's just an act, but actors are emulating real life. It's a strange reaction, albeit a product of civilization; it's polite to clap after a good round of acting and expected to laugh when the annoying blonde dies in an otherwise humiliating fashion. But in this film, I expected it, so it didn't really effect me. I thought it was a nod to the whole irony of what I had mentioned before.

6. When the artistic voice is being drowned out by overstimulating images, sounds, and movements, then it starts to become spectacle. I didn't find much of this movie dipping into that territory, so I can't really think of a proper example.

7. The people in your images are people you know, so I think. They refer back to you when they present people you know--images taken from your vantage. And what these people are wearing, or what's included around them, if anything at all can refer to your time period. Then there's the media you're using, the technology you use to create it, the quality of the image, what it's printed on, how it's presented, etc. It could all provide evidence of the time it hails from.

8. Digital format is hard, pointy, edgy, and dotty. I claim to see the pixels because I've blown up one too many digital images  on my computer and I have seen them for what they are. Sometimes it bothers me. When it seems like they're trying too hard. Other times they embrace the fact that they are indeed a cluster of digital information that makes up the image they present. The film format is fuzzy, soft, smooth, and true. It's light being reflected, and it just seems more natural, yet chemical. It's not as simple to handle as the digital image and it might not even pay off at the end if mishandled. It suffers from a few more limitations but that keeps it a little farther from harm's way. 

9. It's your thing and you seem to enjoy it. The art world doesn't seem to be adverse to it either. You have the choice of whether or not you want to take it fast or take it intimately. 

10. I'd do her and I'm not even into women. xD

I have no problem with photography. I have to keep repeating that to my printmaking instructor when he notices my disdain towards making digital prints. I just like the intimacy of drawing far more than I like taking pictures. I'm not saying that photography can't be intimate--it just takes a different brand of patience. A brand I don't have and can't afford. I only take pictures when I need references, and these days I pull a good many from the internet, which is like the holy source of images ever bottomless. All I have to do is make sure they're not copyrighted. 

Why Art Cannot be Taught - Danielle's Reading

Danielle provided us with an excerpt from Elkin's book, Why Art Cannot be Taught. In this excerpt, a full chapter of his theory gives a thorough argument on why art cannot by taught {if it wasn't already pretty obvious by the title alone}. He first gives us a description of what teaching is, since it's easier than trying to describe what art is, and compares it to how teaching in an art school environment doesn't fit the definition. He offers a few different positions on the matter from both sides, favoring the later end of the group and particular theories while finding faults in them as well. He then proposes what can be taught, if not art, offering up a few ideas in that respect.  Finally he reviews the claims he made earlier in order to clarify his position and admit to a hesitation in his proposition for an ideal teaching method out of the fear that changing the current curriculum might make matters even worse than they already supposedly are.

I really like his approach to this argument because he reviews both sides of it--actually, he does one better--he reviews multiple variations of it. That makes it all seem a lot less black and white. He is very thorough yet succinct {at least in my opinion, because personally I think an argument like this could go on for the entire length of your average book}. He has this defeatist attitude towards the end however that kind of kills it, like someone who might have a really good idea but throws in the towel because he has his doubts. He made some pretty good points. But he does recognize that even though the current structure has its imperfections, it does well enough to deserve the remainder of its life. Like all methods of teaching and the knowledge that is imparted, I believe it is constantly changing. We might not see it, but hell, do you really think the classroom environment we have now is anything like it was just ten years ago? Elkin's putting himself down without mentioning this very important bit of info. Art schools have changed over the years at a rate that can only be fully comprehended in hindsight.

1. I do, though I believe the system they have here, at Ringling, is good enough. I don't think art can be taught, but I do believe that school is indeed like a bed of bacterial cultures growing with little control from instructors. It can be influenced though, like the fetus example, but it isn't heavily guided by cause and effect in the classroom. 

2. I understood that teaching happens when knowledge and information, true, false, or biased, is imparted intentionally to a student. 

3. It can foster the creation of art by providing the necessary tools, environment, culture, and inspiration required for making art, but it can inhibit it by bias, restrictions, and coddling from the outside world.

4. I don't think it can. But when it comes to teaching, I believe you can teach someone as long as their interested in the information you're giving them. If they aren't--if they're disengaged like the students mentioned near the start of the chapter--then they might not retain any of what they've learned. 

5. Sort of. I still don't feel adequately prepared for the outside world, but it's mostly my fault. They provide opportunities but I simply haven't taken any.

6. Probably not. I don't think you would have made the same work to begin with. It wouldn't have occurred to you unless you've been thinking about that body of work since before you entered that teaching environment. If you were stubborn and/or brave, you might try, but depending on how you take grades and criticism you might change just to save your own skin from bad reviews. And yes. I do believe more innovative teaching leads to non-traditional work. Sometimes. It depends on how comfortable the student is with experiments and change.

7. No. Even if they like what I make, I don't even know who I'm making it for anymore. I was making it for myself...once upon a time. Then I started making work to satisfy others, but my ideas aren't groundbreaking or anything, so galleries are probably going to laugh in my face. As for you, I'd have to say that part of it could have been your instructors, general inspiration, and the freedom thesis allows. We've also had raves for student projects that would have been frowned upon less than a decade ago, so I'm sure that was a little inspiring.

8. It probably helped. I'm a firm believer in the idea that what you learn about one thing can help you with another, whether it's obvious to you or not. 

And the second part of question 8 can be my conclusion, since it has to do with my art and this article. My art has definitely been helped by the materials we've structured our programs on. Hell, look at all the prints I've made. And the videos? I wouldn't have known dick about AfterEffects if I hadn't taken Dee Hood's class in Sophomore year. And that other guy. I feel bad about forgetting his name, but I actually had him in Freshmen year by some fluke and I made some cool vids back then. Even my stop-motion projects came from the influence of being taught how to use AfterEffects, Photoshop, and Flash. As for what I'd like to alter, I'm not sure. Like Elkin, I am a bit of a defeatist and I agree with him. I think trying to drastically change something would just make a big mess and that these sort of things just happen slowly over time. We're still an imperfect race, so we'll have our imperfect teaching methods to match.

What's Wrong with Contemporary Art? - Paul's Reading

From Peter Timms's book, What's Wrong with Contemporary Art?, we were asked to read from pages 28-33. Here, Timms discusses art and institution--focusing on the flaws of the academic approach to 'making' artists. According to Timms, universities tend to be putting more focus in art theory based in cultural studies rather than art history. Any sort of art history is geared to back up more recent artwork in order to reinforce the idea that art is about social issues, leading to a more analytical approach to all work. This strips away much of the intimacy that individual artworks might have. Timms argues on why it is important for students to be taught on what theory was because nowadays many students are graduating with a limited understanding of their own discipline's development. This restrains the artist and often sets them on the path of repeating what has already been done. He goes on to explain how students are being set up for failure, since the art world isn't as easy to get into as getting a PhD. He even argues on the validity of such paperwork, since the final thesis requires an academic approach that leaves many of the more spontaneous artists at their mercy. 

I guess I kind of agree with a few things and disagree with others. In this school, I've had to take two semesters of art history--and though it didn't feel like it was enough--I did see the works of various artists from the earliest periods to the more contemporary times. But I've always believed, especially when it comes to our subject of study, that it takes ambition on the part of the student in order for success to be a possibility. I know the art world is exclusive. I know that about 25% of it is luck, 25% percent of it is the work you make, and 50% of it is the networking you create. I might even be simplifying way too much. But I know for a fact that networking is the biggest deal, and that takes a concentrated, enthusiastic effort on part of the artist. If history is important, a student will not only take the classes, but do additional research. A school can only push you so far. Their job isn't to coddle you; and I've had instructors tell me that part of our success will be based on what we research, study, and accomplish on our own free time while the resources are readily available to us. Now I know all this, but I've never been all that ambitious. I may be one of the majority Timms speaks of that ends up graduating without much of a clue and a very introspective body of work that only I could ever care about. I still don't think art school's necessarily a waste of time. They can't be this realistic with every prospective student because it might scare them off--in that sense, it's a little bit of a hoax. But schools still provide opportunities. It's just up to the students to grasp them.

I'll start answering some questions now.

1. I don't think he's being overly simplistic, but I do believe he needs to explain himself a little more thoroughly. It's not enough to give an example or two of what you mean to say. He needs to explain why it won't work, why it hasn't worked, why it worked for some people, and why it won't work for others. He does seem to go over the first two, but not the rest. In any argument you're making against something, you should explore the arguments made for it and propose your reasoning as to why your argument is superior. 

2. Maybe. Like I said before, he doesn't give a single success story and focuses harder on the failing aspect of universities and examples of such. He strikes me as a guy who either did waste his money in an art school or knew someone closely that did.

3. Yeah, you can, but your credit will constantly be in question which will defeat your argument before you can make it half the time. Unless you can make a really good argument and appeal to people who didn't know you were paranoid and cynical before. Then they can pass it on and help you attain some form of respect.

4. I think it would be beneficial to have an assignment like that actually. We tend to think of 'group think' as something negative because of its use in Orwell's 1984 as a device that accentuates the ignorance of the people as individuals, but 'group think' creates a society based on similar ideas. It could lead to total disaster, and it often does, but it is a step closer to a social symbiosis. Something concepts of utopia are based around. It's a double-edged sword, which I believe is important to wield at least once for the experience. Humans learn best through it. Having an assignment of such a nature in a controlled environment could allow them to understand the benefits and dangers of it, ultimately leading them to a final, sound assessment.

5. I don't know, but I'll have to go with 'I don't think so'. This environment does a lot more encouraging and possesses more understanding while promoting guidance. I don't think the art world does a whole lot of that.

6. Yes. Visual expression should have more precedence.

7. Yes and no. Until the very end of the year, where thesis is demanded in the form of a solitary, pre-conceived notion, automatism is actually encouraged so that an artist may discover their individual approach to image making and/or expression.

8. It depends on what you do while you're here. Your art style and means of expression hasn't changed a whole lot visually since I first saw it. You might have already discovered your means, but that would then leave you to learning and seizing opportunities. If you aren't doing those things, then you're probably wasting your money.

9. Yeah. But I don't see nothing wrong with that.

10. You should embrace it. It's better to make work you care about than work on things you can't stand or care less about.

11. A bit. I'll have to admit, when you do work about yourself {and I'm saying this about me and anyone else who works for themselves} there are many elements that people will miss out on because everyone's individual experiences are extremely different.

I wouldn't be making the sort of art I make now if I didn't go to art school. I wouldn't have discovered the joys and trials of printmaking and I would have either been drawing or sculpting instead. That's probably the only opportunity I made an effort to seize. But I don't think it was enough--not for what I've been paying. But it's my fault, really. I still get about an e-mail every couple of days with a new scholarship or job opportunity. I have resources to tap into in order to learn everything I want to learn about art, as well as instructors I can talk to in order to bounce ideas and theories back and forth with. Bit I just haven't really done it. 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Graham Hancock - Trevor's Article

This was a video, which was more of an audio recording, of Graham Hancock explaining DNA and theory that altered states of mind are actually other worlds we transcend to. He brings up Crick, the Nobel Prize winner who discovered the double helix, and how he believed that DNA was sent to the planet rather than accidentally created by a race of intelligent beings from some place or another due to its complexity. 97% of our DNA, considered 'junk DNA', are not involved in our basic genetics and in fact cannot be linked with any certainty to anything. So Graham believes that this junk DNA is actually a series of messages that we are meant to decode someday, left to us by otherworldly beings, as well as portals to alternate planes. 

I'll have to admit, I bought very little of this. If it is true--that DNA is simply too complex to happen by accident--I'd sooner believe that God made man. Bringing an otherworldly intelligence into the picture, as well as spaceships sending out bacteria and little messages encoded in out DNA left to us by super scientists from across the universe, it all just brings up even more to question. How did /they/ get created? When did it all begin? Why does it matter? I kept thinking of The Guide while I listened to this. If these theories are correct we might very well be that super computer designed by Deep Thought to determine the meaning of life, the universe, and everything. 

I'll...just start answering questions now.

1.  Er...maybe a couple? I'll willingly accept that there is a lot to our DNA we have yet to understand. It is complex and we are still figuring it out; I watch enough videos on the subject to be aware of this. But it's pretty difficult for me to believe anything else he's saying. I still think you're just reliving a ton of repressed  and unrepressed memories when you're tripping balls--not entering a different plane of existence. If you run out into the street and get hit by a car you were trying to shake hands with because in your LSD-tripped mind you thought it was the ambassador of planet Shawnface, you're still going to be very injured or very dead when/if you wake up.

2. I tend to mellow out and focus on my work. Listen to some music. I don't really consider being calm to be an alternate reality or anything, but yeah. It's a different state of mind than my usual. I sort of tune everything else out.

3. Different. I don't know. It depends on their technology and what their worlds look like. If we saw each other's art, I'm sure we wouldn't be able to tell whether or not it is art at first. 

4. I believe its possible for them to go hand in hand if you're open minded. Quantum physics and spirituality must exist on the same plane if people are willing to go the extreme either way.

!. Maybe? Have you ever tripped out? If so, I do believe thinking about his ideas and experiencing these altered states would provide some insight that you can choose to use or not.

@. It hasn't crossed my mind before, so not that I can think of.

#. Sometimes. You know. I was there. 

$. Sort of, now that you mention it. But drawings don't possess nearly as much information as DNA does.

The Singularity of Ray Kurzweil - Rachel's Article

I decided to go with the video rather than the book.

In this video Ray Kurzwiel, a well-known futurist who made many accurate predictions in the past, discusses his belief that by 2045, humans will become one with machines. He calls this Singularity. He shows off a few graphs, and explains that this sort of change would take place slowly. He discusses virtual reality, and how the singularity wouldn't necessarily make us robots, but rather enhanced by computers and technology. Human longevity is likely to be increased according to his statistics. He believes it's important to stay healthy until people have discovered ways to keep humans alive for a much longer time. He doesn't think the current recession in the economy will effect the rate of development of technology. 

Well, they make it very obvious throughout the video that Kurzweil is pretty qualified to make these predictions by showing off his awards and accomplishments. I'm not regarding this with sarcasm--it's just an observation. I understand what he's getting at, though it's hard to believe something that isn't. People are far more programed to engage life as it happens rather than a future that sounds so vastly different and far ahead. I expected cars to be flying by now. People were predicting this sort of thing since the seventies. But how qualified were they? And how could we expect to discover something without fully understanding the problems we may encounter? I always thought it was interesting that scientists have broken down the human being into the elements it's composed of and have about a fraction of a percent that's still unaccounted for. Without it, you can't make a person. But it's still something to think about. 

I'll answer some questions now.

1. That'd be nice, but I'd like to be able to change my answer given certain circumstances. I don't want to get old. I don't want to be wrinkly, and wracked with pain and disease. I'd rather die unexpectedly, with minimal suffering. 

2. Eh...maybe. I don't think it'll be actual consciousness, but I'm sure a computer with simulated consciousness might exist around the time Kurzweil suggested. I believe the difference between humans and machines that will always be maintained is the chaotic nature of the human mind. Whereas computers always arrive to the most logical conclusion, humans do not. Even if a computer is created to randomize once in a while, it's all in the programing. It's always following orders. 

3. I think his predictions are valid, but that doesn't mean I believe him. I'll think about it, and be more aware of the changes, but I won't take his predictions too seriously.

4. Yeah. I think it's important. I'd love to see how far technology goes.

5. Yeah. It's a part of my world, so I even include that communication in my art. Hell, I use technology to make my art all the time.

6. Of course. You're making machines all the time now, and you look up these specs for these things on the computer, I'd bet. I'm not sure if you're necessarily helping the technology of the now become the technology of tomorrow, but if you continue down this route you might bring more technology and art together in the future. The same sort of thing happened with video art. 

7. I think it's important to think of the future, and predictions help to fuel the creative imagination of some. I'm not sure if artwork based on this would effect the outcome of the future. It might enlighten just the right people, if they ever get around to seeing it.

8. It is. I like to see what kind of proof people have to back up their claims and predictions of the future, and the futures they predict often keep my attention. But I like thinking of the unlikely far more than what I might find to be more likely.

In my work, I reflect on the past more than I reflect on the future, despite my thesis being what it is. I'm not predicting when the apocalypse will happen, or what exactly will happen. I'm fantasizing. I've always been that type of person. I remember all the things I like, love, and experienced and I imagine different scenarios of theatrical and personal interest to keep myself entertained. It's like I'm creating television shows in my head, and I'm the main character. It comes from my heavy exposure from movies, television, and music videos. Ever seen the video for Black Hole Sun by Soundgarden? It still haunts my memories. :c 

In a good way.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Can Fashion be Art? - Justine's Article

This article, using the Royal Academy's exhibition titled "Aware: Art Fashion Identity", investigates the differences between art and fashion, and whether or not the two could ever be synonymous. A few pieces from the show were named and described like a piece of artwork of any other medium would have been, but it is later revealed that curators found it necessary to explain these pieces as often as possible, as if defending them against the title of 'fashion'. Just like in any exhibitions, some pieces were able to work well on their own while others needed to be defended due to weakness. 

But I saw absolutely nothing off about this show. I think what is bringing up some of the confusion is the idea of clothing as fashion. Not all clothing is fashionable. The clothing we often acquaint ourselves with is practical first and foremost. Second, comes the aspect of fashion and preference. The purpose of fashion and art differ just as easily as art and decor. Whereas fashion is ephemeral, constantly dying and being reborn depending on consumer interest, art has a more immortal quality to it. As said in one of my favorite movies, "You can't kill an idea." Art is all about ideas. It's all about messages and intent and expressing those in one's own unique way. Clothing can be handled with that very purpose, but it would need to lose its commercial ties.

I think I'm already answering the first question. Er...I'll just get to them now before I end up answering them out of turn.

1. Fashion can't become art. Art requires intent. It requires the heart and soul of the artist to take on a life of its own, and it must survive regardless of how many admirers it has or doesn't have. Eh...doesn't sound like me, does it? To be honest, other than intent there's nothing else I can say in defense of that line between them. It's very thin and very blurred. I can't make a jab at mass production, because we all know Andy Warhol covered that with his prints. 

2. I think fashion is being confused with clothing. Fashion is a status--a state. Clothing, in its most basic and practical form, serves to cover up whatever must or ought to be covered. Clothing can be art, but in turn, it must cease to be clothing. It can be worn, if that is part of the piece, but once you stop considering yourself to be a part of the work and you're still wearing it, you've just defeated your own art; you've shot it dead.'s like getting the bubblegum pink I-Pod to match your purse and boots. It's an accessory that you might feel best accentuates who you are and what your tastes are. I don't see such examples under the category of art unless you start bringing up the painting you bought to match your couch and the paint job in your guest room.

3. I guess it could be, if you come up with an idea that you successfully translate into clothing and the design becomes very popular. Then it has the potential to change into fashion. But it can't go back to being art once it undergoes that change.

4. Isn't it? Whenever you go to a store and see it propped up on a mannequin, isn't it sculpture? You can't take it down and wear it right then and there--instead it's supposed to give the viewer an idea of what it might look like on their body, combined with that pair of pants or those cardigans. 

5.  I don't see why. What's feminine about tissue paper? If you're just making dresses, I'd simply assume you like making them as opposed to shirts and jeans. They're often chosen by artists when it comes to making art of clothing because they have the more aesthetically pleasing shape. 

6. They wouldn't be fashion, because the standards of fashion require wearability. They could be art, if that is what you intend. 

7. You should display them in whatever way compliments the idea behind them the most. It's the same thing you think about when you consider other kinds of art that are far more acceptable. Say you have a scroll piece. It might not make any sense to frame it, but it may be stronger just letting it unravel on a table so it could be presented like a more traditional scroll. Putting a dress on a mannequin doesn't immediately make it fashion. It could be; it has the potential. But if that's not what you made it for, then it doesn't have to be.

8. I might not see them as suits unless they share a lot of the same patterns. Suits are far more restricted in design than dresses are. I'd see them differently because I'd be looking for the motifs that suggest it is a suit. 

My art doesn't really deal with fashion, so I'm not sure how I can compare my work to this article. I mean, it is an issue I was often curious about, because there are a lot of fine lines that separate art from other means of expression. In my case, it can be animation vs art. Movies vs videos. What I believe has always set them apart before are ideas. 

Sidebar Trevor von Eeden Interview - Arun's Article

The interview was actually a piece of audio on the sidebarnation website. Trevor von Eeden is a comic book artist known best for Black Lightning, the first original black superhero in the DC Universe. He is asked questions about his origins, his recognition, and his influences in his career.

All in all, he's a cool guy. I listened to the first 45 minutes of it and Eeden seemed like he enjoyed talking about his experiences and his work just as well as he enjoyed working with Neal Adams and talking about some of the artists that influenced him and why. I've always admired comic book artists for various reasons. I've always wanted to be able to do what they could do, but I know I could never have the patience for it. I only understood this when people tell me they don't believe I have the patience to do other things, like print, shoot and edit videos, sculpt, and sew. Artists lean towards their own mediums of expression even if talent-wise they may be capable of far more. So, instead of trying to make comics, I enjoy reading them instead. I wish I could tap into that form of expression for some of the ideas I might have, but I couldn't pull it off with the same way. I don't have the drive a comic book artist needs to possess if he or she wants to be recognized.

It's very hard for comic book artists to be recognized. I've learned this from people who were interested in trying to go that route. If you're not persistent, you won't make it very far. Like any other kind of freelance art, you'll get rejected many times, and it's all a matter of finding the right people at the right time.

Anyways, I'm going to get to answering the questions:

1. I started working in black and white more often when I noticed that I pay far more attention to values and lines in my sketches and concepts than I ever do to color. Color is always a second thought, like the background in a piece where only the subject was taken into consideration. Another thing I notice in my developmental processes is my evolution of style. About ninety percent of the time I'm being influenced by a style of another artist I am recently placing the most interest in. A lot of that influence comes from games or shows; not necessarily other fine artists. I don't try to change that. Sure, I'll look at other artwork from time to time, but fine artwork was not the very basis of my interest in drawing, painting, and sculpting. All it has ever inspired me to do is develop new techniques by examining and dissecting ones used in the works of others. And I'm talking about technical things that manipulate the visual and physical presence of the work. 

2. I'm not sure anymore. If musicians count, I'd say Beck and David Bowie. If producers count, I'd say Fritz Lang and Tim Burton. I consider them artists even if they don't work in the same medium as I do. But stylistically, in their own way, they've been of great influence to me. There's William Kentridge, sure, but he came in pretty late in the game. I've seen his work in person and it was amazing to look upon, but he doesn't have the nostalgic, heroic punch that the former artists I mentioned possess to me. When I was younger, before art school, I was a fan of Salvador Dali, mainly for the detail, symbols, and the play on imagery. I've grown detached over the years however. 

3. Sometimes. I'll have to admit that making stop motion videos is extremely tedious and since my dad's less than positive reaction to the first one I made, I lost a lot of enthusiasm in making them. But the raves I got from everyone else kept me going with it, even though I've been steadily losing interest. For anything else I do, it's very hard for me to tell. I'm a chameleon; my colors change depending on the environment I'm in. The same goes for my art. Depending on the audience, where I am when I make the work, and how I feel, things change. 

4. I'm more fond of the result than the process. I've come to realize that in everything else I do, even though I try to fool myself when it comes to printmaking. No. Even then I care more about the piece than the work it took to make it. My interest in process does exist however, when I'm doing something new. If I'm trying something I haven't tried before, using a method of my own division from the observations I've made of some interesting piece of work, I get very excited about trying it out and seeing if I can make it function properly.

5. Of course. You draw from observation, ergo what you see is what you're experiencing. Sometimes whatever you're drawing may not look exactly like it does in real life, but that just informs the viewer all the more of your own state of mind vs the world around you. I see someone who's trying to sharpen their skills, who enjoys drawing and keeps doing it in hope of improving. To what means, I'm not sure, but you still try. And I know you've done drawings that don't necessarily come from observation, but they still say something about what has influenced you in the past.

6. If you're still doing drawings, making monotypes, and weighing the option of making comic book pages, then sure. A lot of experience is translated into those forms. But I do think that you should arrange experiences in a more narrative fashion. I saw nothing wrong with presenting your work in a sketchbook format. Books are one of the most classical ways of telling a narrative. 

7. Not really. I think we all get that, maybe not all the time, but I know I can't look at something I've done without seeing room for improvement. Why should I base my opinion on that if I often feel the same about my own work?

I wish I could say that I had some gleaming role models and that I came into some luck or that I developed some revolutionary technique, but I'd be lying if I tried. My work is often born from sleepless nights and indecipherable sketches and they find organization soon enough from there on out. But I've always been trying to find my own way and do whatever interests me the most. 

Monday, March 28, 2011

An Artful Environmental Impact Statement - Alex's Article

Alex's article revolves around J. Henry Fair's environmental photography, and how it leads a double life as both photographic evidence of environmental pollution caused by mankind and an homage to abstract painting do to its color and overall appearance. He takes photographs, often in aerial view, of the sort of things we weren't 'supposed to see'. He captures images of unnatural disasters caused by oil spills and industry that gives one a sense of the grand scale and spread of its influence. Yet his work has been picked through and edited for the Gerald Peters Gallery, where they are mainly interested in the abstract quality of his pictures. The issue here is whether the artist must choose at this point what his photographs should become. Are they a statement against the attacking of our own environment, or are they works of art that are to be taken as abstract details rather than depictions of destruction?

I don't think art should have to lead a double life unless the artist doesn't mind the consequences of it. If he's aware that his photographs will not have as much of an impact when it comes to what they convey and the truth behind why they were taken, then by all means, call it abstract art and make some money. But one must be prepared to live by it for a while. Once people know you're the guy who takes lovely abstract photographs, they won't know much else. 

I probably would keep any political work separate from straight-up art. Actually, since there's no danger of me going political, I can rather say that I'd keep my fine art and my illustrative/commissioned works separate from one another. Even if I have to go by a different name, I wouldn't want one to be associated with the other--then people will start looking for things that aren't there. All because I might draw twelve pictures of cats for people so I can make some money on the side and then make a piece about the apocalypse doesn't mean that the later work alludes to be being a crazy cat lady whose house is falling apart. Well...maybeI; that's not the best analogy--I've never been good at those sorts of things--but I guess you might get the point by now. It really depends on the artist's integrity. Henry could have refused to do a show at that gallery if they wouldn't include different photographs or he didn't want to settle for artsy titles that evoke the atmosphere rather than the actual event. 

Now for questions:

1. It's pretty harsh for some, and easy for others. It depends on how much the original work matters to you versus how important it is for you to change it. I couldn't do it and like the result. I would, if I were desperate enough for attention and I could live with myself by selling out my own stuff, but I wouldn't be attached to the transformed piece. It'd become a husk. Something I'd discard without much of a care. Like an old idea, I would no longer be interested in it. I would have had to be disinterested it re-hash it in the first place.

2. I choose stop motion because of the storytelling elements often found in stop motion pieces and cinema itself. I've always enjoyed moving pictures, as well as watching something real and physical move on its own accord though no life runs through it. It is the illusion of life--and something that always fascinated me like some magician's trick. I chose printmaking mainly for the ability to make duplicates and have back-up work, but secondarily because I enjoy doing it and I wanted to incorporate what I enjoyed doing into something else I liked as much. I found that making set materials for these videos would suit it well.

3. I believe it may be for all those reasons. After all, what galleries are most interested in above all is public interest. They can't gain any recognition, display and sell more work, or gain more of a reputation if there aren't enough people interested in the work that they show. They're appealing to the masses, not necessarily to the artist that shows for them. It doesn't make them evil or anything--that's just how GP operates. Artists who show there will still get recognition for themselves, but it will be on the gallery's terms.

4. Art may be considered a documentation of your ideas, feelings, and/or beliefs. It might not be as straight forward as the most serious set of records, but it does share that in common. It retains and even displays information, and like the form of documentation that it is, it often betrays that information as it changes through time. 

5. Yeah, I do, but at the same time I can't be too sure. Your paintings seem environmental to me, in the sense that they convey an atmosphere, but if I hadn't known that you were painting different locations you've visited, I wouldn't have gotten as much of the environment out of it. Only when I knew what I was looking for did I see it. But they are atmospheric. I'm not sure if that's the same animal.

6. I think they work out fine, since paint/pigment has been used to convey this and practically any image under the sun at one time or another. I don't think painting is wrong for it. I don't know what else you ought to use to make the message clearer. 

7. For your work, scale is important. Work that is larger better engulfs the viewer. If your paintings were small, they wouldn't have such an effect. They would be lost to the wall instead of coming off of it. The scale that you use now is great--it's large, but it isn't large enough to be too redundant. 

8. I'm hoping those colors are determined by your emotional response to the environments you've visited, and if that's the case, you should use the colors you feel work the best with the place. But if you're concerned about variety, perhaps you should visit a few more places. Ones you've never been in before. 

I probably would have done what Henry did in the same situation to get the recognition, but only because it's all part of a larger series of work that has to do with his documentation of these unnatural disasters. I wouldn't have done what he did with the names. They would have been named however it was that I intended them to be named. In fact, I thought his images would be more profound if their titles actually described what the image was taken of, even to abstract art enthusiasts. But I wouldn't want to show work I didn't like in a gallery because then I would feel obligated to doing something I'm not passionate about. If that's the case, what makes it any more different from work? I was told to do what I love so I wouldn't have to work a day in my life. 

Left vs Right Brain - Whitley's Article

The video that Whitley provided us with was about the right and left hemispheres of the brain, and how they differ cognitively from one another. A man who once suffered from seizures on a daily basis was subjected to the surgical separation of his hemispheres from communicating with one another. This resulted in leaving the man with 'two brains'. It doesn't seem all that remarkable at first, since we all have right and left brains in our heads, but the series of experiments show that both hemispheres operate very differently, and without the communication, one half of a person's senses is severely impaired.

I love medical sciences. I watched this video, very interested, and I found the results of these experiments to be extremely interesting. I was already aware of the fact that the right brain  is pictorially oriented while the left is detail and logic oriented. However, when both were incapable of communicating with one another, their differences became far clearer. The right brain couldn't see the text--it saw what the text represented. Meanwhile, the left brain could read the text, but if he were asked to draw it without hearing himself say it, would he be able to do so, or would he re-write the word? They didn't have him try that one, but I was curious to find out. 

Question time.~

1. I guess...It would start in my left brain, a concept, then spoken aloud would be imagined by the right brain, then drawn out by my left hand {fortunately I can kind of write with both, but it didn't look like it mattered to the man in the experiment} so that my left half could try to make out what elements would better convey the concept if something doesn't appear to work. I...don't know if that'd really work though. According to the man in the experiment, he doesn't feel different at all. He doesn't feel impaired, but he's just this guy who works at an egg carting factory and he's not an artist. I wonder if there is one with the same condition? Maybe he/she would know. Or maybe the reason why there might not be one would be the impossibility of such a thing--an artist with the communication between brains being severed.

2. Probably. I tried to make sense of what I would do if it were me, but I'm not sure it would work out. I don't know the 'rules'. This doesn't happen to every other person, and I certainly don't know of an artist with this condition. We do rely on both to come up with concepts and execute them. We have both images and messages we intend to send through our work. Even pure eye-candy has its logic. 

3. Images come first, speech second. I imagine that is why it was hard for me to take on Spanish even when I was raised by a hispanic family. I didn't know what they were talking about unless they were pointing at it, calling someone by name, or holding it in their hand. Plus, I like to think of impressive, chaotic, and ironic things, and they always hit me as an image at first.

4. It probably wouldn't have text, or I'd put text in there that wouldn't say anything just for the aesthetic quality o the text. My work would be heavy in images, rich with what I'd like to say but am incapable of saying.

5.  I usually do. I know everyone's different, especially in the way they think. My dad's side of the family has always been highly-rational and left-brain oriented while my mom's side is a little of both leaning to right. I feel like I'm leaning far right, but my left side ain't dead, it's just not easily entertained. I try to respect intellectual work by taking on a different point of view, but it doesn't come as naturally to me as suddenly appreciating something that looks very cool. But I do try. I know I ought to.

I can't imagine making my art in the absence of either one of my brains, but I let my right brain run free where my left brain mostly barges in to keep the piece going in the proper direction. They really balance each other out in the end, as I'm sure they're meant to do, but you can sometimes tell which one is more dominant, and I'm sure that title goes to the right. I prefer what looks better to whatever sounds better. Logic only seems to bring up a basis for argument which I want little to do with. 

Woody on Aesthetic Appreciation - Shellie's Article

This passage, or chapter, was written by Jason Holt in a book called Woody Allen and Philosophy. Holt explains that in order for art to be aesthetically successful, there must be a balance of intellectual and emotional content. If a work is overly intellectual, it is reduced to intellectual jargon and contradictions among different viewers, which confuses and defeats the piece where it stands without allowing it to simply be enjoyed or appreciated. When a work is under-intellectualized, or rather overwrought with emotion, it tends to be lost in its own beauty with little to discriminate it from other works of its kind.

Personally, I think the balance is ideal, but it isn't the only way a piece can succeed aesthetically. In the world, there are billions of people with infinite discrepancies in taste. Some people only like art if it engages the mind, and they might have little to no interest in what it looks like or how emotionally devoid it happens to be. Others prefer pretty pictures and have little to no interest in the intellectual content. What might be more successful overall would certainly require a blend of both however, to better please both sides. Something smart and pleasing to look at, as well as evocative, is something I'd be interested in seeing. It's something I'm sure a lot of people would be pleased to see. But when it all comes down to it, I believe there are other matters that inform a work's success. Even if something speaks intellectually and evokes emotion, it may not appeal to someone who doesn't see eye to eye with the artist. It won't appeal to someone who has an aversion to a certain material, style, or message. Art is highly subjective, as is aesthetic appreciation. 

I'll just go on to answer the questions now:

1. I've never seen any of his movies or read any of his books to be honest. I know, I'm probably missing out on something big, but Woody Allen was never a part of my life. I mostly watched or maintained interest in whatever my parents would watch when I was a kid. I thought they had good taste so that's where I came in. Then into my teenage years and onward, I only recently started to become interested in older films. But going by the quotations on the chapter, which I'm guessing might even be the best base of reference, it does sound like these quotes are rather mocking of the contemporary art world in general. I'm not sure about us. We know each other and each other's work. We know what we're all doing, so we don't have to just assume we know the message--if we're not sure, we can ask. We don't have to resort to being over-intellectual with one another because it's easy to get the information straight from the horse's mouth. I will admit however, that in Sophomore year, or around that time, it was a lot less like the way it is now. People didn't know, people didn't want to explain, and therefore people had to make assumptions. I imagine Allen does it because it is silly to over-intellectualize something and walk away thinking you know all about it. It defeats the artwork if you get it all wrong and even if you're right you're just evoking debate from those who don't get it. 

2. Sometimes. I have to start by being excited about something, or I'll never do it, so at first I'm not faking it. It's when I've started, or it's been done before, or I've gone weary of working with the same message that I'll start to pretend I'm excited. I'll do it because I don't want my work to be weak all because I don't really care about it. I want it to have value despite how I feel. If it no longer appeals to me, it should be sellable at the very least.

3. I'm not sure. I thought my art wasn't very intellectual, but when I think about it, it has a bit. I always feel as if it needs to be more obvious--without being too obvious. I believe it gains more emotional appreciation at the moment, but I do like to get clever. I guess that's where it kicks in a little. Aesthetically, I'd say my art is decent. Not amazing but it's not shit either. Like the emotion and the intellect behind it, it always seems to me like it's missing something. Like it's a piece of a greater puzzle that I'm still trying to figure out. I wonder if others feel the same.

4. I care. I really, really do. I'm very particular about how it looks. I don't step back anymore, since I've been working smaller and most of the time on plates. I don't think it becomes any less intellectual. In fact, I do it to retain my personal aesthetic without changing the script or the message. In the end that's what really counts, but I believe the delivery should be just as strong.

5. It does when I think about why you make so many pictures of wetlands. I start to think you must love them enough to attempt to preserve them in your images. And then you sell the work and donate some of it towards wetland preservation. 

6. Er...maybe 7-8? And for yours, I'd have to say around 6-7. 

7. If I should guess, I'd have to say that you want to avoid the contradictions and confusion, as well as all the intellectual jargon that might get your true intent all wrong. 

8. I agree. It's soft and it's neutral-toned, as well as detailed and meditative. Those are all traits that promote relaxation.

I might have said enough about my work in relation to this article when answering Shellie's questions. I don't think it's intellectual enough just yet {I don't want it to be too intellectual, but I don't want it to be purely emotional} and I don't believe that the emotion is strong enough just yet either. I'm working on that. My latest piece might be my more successful attempt.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Marshall McLuhan - Jeffrey's 'Article'

This audio really seems to cover a lot of information and ideas, which seem to revolve around the world of today and the world of tomorrow in regards to humans and the modern environment. McLuhan's discussion with these high school students seems heated, as the students often ask of the value of school and his response often leads to the idea that school is more of a waste of time. Structure is explained and questioned throughout.

To be honest, McLuhan's ideas and predictions are pretty valid. His ideas are intriguing. However, I'd like to hear what he has to say without the interruption of the students' questioning. He's constantly defending his ideas, well I might add, but the questions the students ask may not evoke all the information he has to divulge. I feel like he needs to talk first and then be questioned. Or that maybe we should read about his ideas and then listen to this discussion in case the students ask anything that we've been wondering about. It was just really hard for me to focus on the ideas this man had when there's a couple dozen students arguing in the background. I mean...the arguing does reveal that the students find his ideas controversial and questionable, but now I know this processing took place several decades ago and that makes plenty of sense. 

So I googled him up and decided to read about some of his philosophies without the distraction and interruption. He had quite a few remarkable ideas for his time. 

I'm just going to go ahead and answer the questions because I think I'll have more to say with something to answer. Which is kind of ironic when I consider the students in the audio distracting me from McLuhan's information. Maybe he wouldn't have been able to give it so freely without the provocation? Maybe not. Anyways, here we go:

1. The students are having trouble breaking away from the social tapestry to understand some of McLuhan's ideas. They don't want to think they've been wasting their time. They believe they need to go to school and keep busy in order to survive in today's society. They think they can get away from media when they've been processed from childhood and so forth. 

2. McLuhan finds the institution of education to be a place and time of leisure. There one is processed to become a part of society. Apparently, it's not hard {though I tend to disagree because there are people who do have trouble learning}, but when you consider that anyone can pass it with time and patience, you start to see why. School is an institution designed to shape someone into a member of the society. Learning is something you can do anywhere, but school teaches specific subjects in order to cut in anything that will benefit the society as a whole.

3. I think. Sometimes I get a little lost and I can't quite focus. I'm a better reader than a listener because when reading I have my own pace of translating text into information. If I'm right, he's revealing that humankind is being drawn together and slowly changing into a global society. Technology, media, and education are pulling everyone together. There's no way to escape it, and nature itself is no longer free from the reach of our technological prowess. I'm probably missing a ton of other ideas too, but like I said, I really had trouble being attentive.

4. Yeah, definitely. I read that he even predicted the existence of the World Wide Web several years before it existed. He noticed how media and technology started bringing everyone together. The world has become more industrialized and people are attending schools in greater numbers, seeking work in communications and being taught while they're there other languages as well as being prepared for a world of computers. In fact, I remember when my elementary school started having mandatory computer classes. They were setting us up to be compatible to a digital society. 

5. Could be either/could be both. The medium is often designed to send a specific message, but it does so through massage. A medium can be created specifically to entice the senses and nothing more, but I doubt that a medium can convey a message without the massage. Now when it comes to your work, I believe it very well could be both. It depends on the message and if you have one. The massage probably comes into play by default.

6. Hi-def can capture far more attention and become far more addicting than low-def. People seem to be more attracted to pretty, entertaining, and flashy things.

7. Yep. But it depends on where the meme is circulated and the audience that it gains. For instance, and I can only use internet memes as an example because I'm far more acquainted with them than any other kind, the internet meme starts out as an idea that comes from some sort of image or phrase. This idea blooms depending on how amusing it is and it is sent along and shared with others that might find it just as amusing. The meme itself has to be amusing however, or it won't take off. It's all a matter of interest. This pretty much goes for any kind of meme really. 

8. When looking at a drawing on a screen, there's the lack of legitimacy and the lack of authenticity to put up with. You can still admire the technical skill, but it is restricted by the size of your monitor or the colors your monitor supports. It's well lit all over, and reduced to a very flattened state. Meanwhile, the drawing is touchable. It's there and you know it exists. It was drawn and it is hanging before you and it exists in your realm. It can be lit different ways, seen for what it is, and it isn't restricted to anything other than nature itself. You feel more attachment to something of this quality. for how this relates to my work...I have no idea. I guess media has an influence on my subject, especially since media has strongly influenced the themes of the apocalypse I am most interested in. But as for how I think it plays into society/technology/and the lot...I just don't know. It's a lot easier to share; I can say that much. I can post pictures of my work on the internet and get it far more views there than it might get in it's corporeal form. 

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Defense of the Poor Image - Kris's Article

Hito Steyerl writes about the poor image; this is described as an image of low quality, low resolution, with great speed at the cost of deterioration. The poor 'image' in this case includes both still and moving. Steyerl tells us where they come from, where they go, how they get there, and what we might make of them. It all starts with an original. It's an event, the first image taken of an event, a fresh painting, or the first shooting of film or video. Then it's taken and multiplied through digital media, compressed, ripped, reedited, and reformatted. Quality is lost, whether it's the importance of an original or the lack of visual information which was lost along the way. Though it's deterioration at work, it's a resurrection. Old, forgotten images get dusted off and shared. The quality either becomes looked over, or the charm we settle for as we enjoy these reanimated pieces. The circulation continues and the imperfect cinema is born in an unlikely place. 

I never had much of a fondness for images of poor quality, but I have dealt with them, and on occasion have learned to love them. For instance, I used to watch pirated movies online {that I own now so please don't come after me you have no proof that I might have broken the law because I didn't say which movies and I do in fact own movies. =P} and I actually fell in love with a few even if the quality of the image wasn't cinema pristine. It was instant gratification; I wanted to see So and Such and I got to see it by poking around the internet. But when it comes to references, or when I want to see something as I might be able to see it in person, poor images tend to get on my nerves. I understand what they can be good, or even great for. I won't switch to the higher-priced HD television just so I could see the freckles on the news anchor's face. I don't mind losing a little information. That doesn't always make an image poor anyways. I think 'poor' is pretty subjective. If you're talking about the picture of missiles in the article that looks like a jpeg saved ten times over, then yeah, maybe it is poor quality. But what about to someone who simply wants to know what a missile from that angle looks like? They'll deal. They'll trace around it and look for a better pictures to get the details from.

But does that make their image poor quality? Once again, it's subjective. It could still look realistic to one person or another.

On to the answers:

1. I believe the author meant to pick at images that have been uploaded, ripped, saved in other formats, or generally deteriorated from the original source. It doesn't even have to be something that has been circulating for a while. A picture of a bird perched on a tree taken by your Nextel camera phone can be just as poor a quality. 

2. The contemporary heirarchy of images is in reference to quality over content. In this case, something with far more detail and clarity would be a higher-class image while something that exhibits signs of interference and lack of definition would be of a lower class. 

3. I guess work is experimental if it's approached with an idea that is yet to be tested. I liken it to a science project after you've got a hypothesis to work with. You get whatever materials you think are going to be necessary and you try out an approach you've never taken before.

4. I don't think so. I only think of an image as poor when it's failing to meet the right expectations. If I want something with detail, then anything with a lack of clarity will seem poor to me. If I just want to watch an edited video of He-Man singing 'What's Going On' in a flamboyantly camp design in his mid-80's television series for the amusement, the re-hashed edit of a complete show with a lack of detail doesn't butt into it. I'm still laughing, everyone's synced to the music, and I could care less what quality the article's author might assign to it. It's great shit.

5. The quality of a painting is traditionally judged on different terms, however, with the introduction of projectors, slides, then computers and file-sharing {etc}, something changed. Looking at a painting without seeing the physical painting is a drastically different experience. It's like how you've seen the Mona Lisa pictured in textbooks or projected against a wall about 6"x3" or something and then you go and see it at the museum and's a lot smaller. It's a lot darker/lighter. It's a lot more weathered/manicured in appearance. Seeing the image of a painting VS being in the presence of the real deal are two different experiences. 

6. Like I said before, I believe the quality of the image is ultimately determined by the individual. A 'poor' quality image to one might be just what another is looking for. In general, or in terms of digital media, it's only absolute in definition. A highly compressed jpeg that looks like a manic oil painting with random pixels breaking it up will be considered poor simply because of the file-type. But I simply measure the quality based on its use to me.

7. I like to look at reference material for a lot of my work, but the quality is only an issue if I want details that most lower quality images can't provide. And with the stop motions I've been making lately, I try to make the motions seem more professional with every trial. But I've come to love my choppier style. 

8. The human condition cuts into it a lot. Since my work is heavy on the insight, if I'm feeling any which way, my work often follows. I don't have a lot of personal qualms except for a fear of the future, and that's pretty much what my apocalyptic subject was born from. My desire to have the present cease so the future might never come to exist.

My stop-motion, when I think about all the ones I've seen, might seem low in quality by more traditional terms. It isn't fluid, the movements are awkward, and the effects are easier to decipher. When I compress the video files, I obviously don't click on the most definite save. I have a preference, and so far the digital quality of it hasn't let me down in the past. It may not be HD, but I don't need the details to be /that/ apparent. I like to leave a lot to the imagination, and I'm sure that's another charm poor quality images might have to offer.

Why Aren't Poets More Politically Active? - Jen's Article

According to an article online from a poetry magazine, poets are not as politically involved as they used to be, and this serves as a clear disappointment for the author. With their skills in speech and lyrical writing they would be well suited to striking up political discourse, influencing involvement from those that read or listen. The author of this article, whose name I couldn't find on the page with any clarity, spies a trend between American poets and the people around them. These days people are more sedate, and far more preoccupied with looking into themselves rather than paying attention to how their world is changing around them. Poetry was once a powerful way of bridging differences, which makes it perfect for matters of politics.

I guess I could agree, but as an artist of a different kind who could do the same with images and also have an unique impact with that medium of choice, I just don't care to make anything political. I can't make art about something that just doesn't matter to me unless I'm being paid, but a commission to make a character or draw a portrait you're not crazy about comes up, it hardly ever requires you to like it. When you make work of a civil nature, you need to care about it. The message is only reinforced in its top form if the person who gives that message really feels a certain way. I just haven't found any political matter that I feel that strongly about. I'm sorry. I often end up finding out that something is happening when I read it on Facebook or a friend of mine happens to bring it up. I think part of the problem is that even as a child, the people around me were distant from the idea of debate just as well as I am now. The most my parents ever do is complain about the President when there's been some bill released that will affect them. Even so, they never do anything about it. I've never seen my mom vote and my dad used to go to the library, vote, and leave. He made it a point not to tell me who he voted for, even when I asked. He thought it would teach me about how we have the right to keep our votes anonymous, but all it did was prevent me from asking questions like 'why?' and listening to all the important information I ought to consider and be concerned about when I become an adult citizen of the USA. I'll be honest and say that even though I have a voting pass, I haven't voted for anyone or anything. I just don't care. 

It might have to do, most of all, with the fact that it hasn't been necessary. I write these entries after we have class {and I'm glad that's the point} because we did discuss this. People don't tend to take action if they're content. I'm content. I might think the quality of the roads in the city I live in is poor, but unless it's so poor that my car ends up in a surprise ditch, I won't take any action against it. I'll just think about it every time I feel my car bounce out of a pothole and forget about it by the time I get home. 

I'm going to go ahead and answer Jen's questions.

1. I don't really have any political concerns. I can't really decide what side I'm on when it comes to left or right because they both make sense to me in my own, customized way. But honestly? I don't care about things unless they really start to concern me. The only thing so far that may become a concern is health care, insurance, cost of gas, finding work, and making enough money so I won't have to work until I die. Nothing that happens beyond me really bothers me anymore. My mom has been complaining of everything under the sun until I was desensitized to the concerns of others. I mean, I can still feel bad for the Japanese after all the disasters they went through, or those countries where mass genocides have taken place, but I don't send money to charity and all that just yet. I might once I'm out of college and working. You might be able to tell in my work that I don't care, or that I'm simply frightened of it altogether so I let my fear be my muse. 

2. I might not be the best person to answer this. I think artists should provide whatever insight they wish to, because ultimately they'll make the most meaningful work if they stick to what they're interested in. I know if I tried to make work about something I wasn't motivated to do, it would be /off/ in some way. I would be doing someone else's work, or just translating someone else's facts or ideas. But I know that poets and artists have a unique way to reach people with messages of human aspirations. 

3. I don't think so. A lot of the artists I've ever had interest in, or the most interest in, simply make work in ways I find fascinated. I have always been easiest to please with good aesthetics, or at the very least interesting approaches. If there is a political aspect to their work, I probably look way over it and fail to see it there in the first place. Even political satire doesn't appeal to me much. Some artists might not do it for the same reason I do, or because it just gets too complicated when you expose your political beliefs. Others might not have the right to free speech and they can't make an image public without getting it checked and approved by their government. 

4. To be politically active, in my opinion, is to actually do your duties as a citizen in an active fashion. Vote if you're an American for your elected officials and you're being politically active. Protesting a bill in Congress because it goes against your beliefs is another active pursuit. Volunteering to help run a campaign, or enlisting in the army, or supporting the soldiers already enlisted--actively doing any of these things would qualify. As long as you're /doing/ something other than just talking. 

5. I guess I might. Like the piece where you traced a bunch of newspapers from the same month? Did you consciously choose which pages to trace? Did you take only the front pages of every issue? Is the reason for that having to do with the fact that on most newspapers the cover page is often political? Newspapers in general are very socially inclusive. They let you know what's going on in your city, town, or neighborhood. Politics don't have to be large scale. And I'm not sure about the movement, aside from the whole practice itself leaning towards conceptual.

6. Make more of it?

7. It could be, if enough people make a big deal of something they think is politically related. As for me, I don't really see it unless you tell me to look for it. It could be effective, or it could be a case of 'Against Interpretation' if you know what I mean. And you do. I know you do. :D

8. I think any work does. It tells me what you care to spend your time working on, which in turn provides the information on what you might value in your work. Or, if you didn't like doing the labor at all, the idea behind it is insightful enough to tell the audience what's been on your mind.

Like I've said before, I'm not a politically active or inclined person. I'm very private and unless my personal world has been rocked by the outside, I won't shake any sticks at anyone. So my work might reflect how much I don't care or it might reflect how much I care without being aware of it. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Albert Fish - Max's Article

Max provided a Wikipedia article on Hamilton Howard "Albert" Fish, an American serial killer. He was a child rapist and cannibal, claiming to have raped, killed, or eaten many though he was only pinned for three murders where there was evidence of homicide on his behalf. He was born from a family with a history of mental disorders, sent to an orphanage after his father's death, and showed his first signs of torture fetishes when he took pleasure in the beatings he received there. He was introduced to more fetishes of socially unacceptable natures by the youth around him. Later he moved to New York City where he raped young men and even got married. Later he divorced and remarried for a short period of time, not before having a ton of kids, and he got straight into murder, rape, and cannibalism. His primary targets were the mentally retarded and the African American, but they weren't his only victims.

I found this to be a very interesting article of choice given the class and the usual topics we work with. It seems to have nothing to do with art on the surface, but when you think about it really hard, the man seemed to have a ritual. Even for an insane, and obviously wretched sort, he had a process and he likely considered his process of chopping up and roasting people up to be an art. The way he wrote it was in flowery, explicit detail, like he was trying out for the cannibal's food network. But any way you slice it {and that pun was horribly intended}, he's still sick, as was his acts. You can tell that his intelligence is embraced by insanity, which makes him all the more terrifying. He is quite aptly named the 'Boogeyman'. It was an intriguing article, and fascinating for its overviews on Fish's criminal behavior. I've always been interested by these sorts of stories, having been raised with movies about boogeymen of all sorts. While reading this article I couldn't help but think of Freddy from Nightmare on Elm Street, only this guy went a step further and raped and ate his real life. If they'd have made a movie about this guy and I saw it as a kid, and I knew it was a true story, it would have kept me from sleeping just as well as the Nightmare on Elm Street series had. The only difference between the two, after all, is that the man ACTUALLY existed. And he's even sicker than the man in the fiction. It's so much easier to deny the existence of a monster that never did exist. 

So to answer Max's questions:

1. Fish met Grace Budd when her older brother Edward put out a classified in search of a country position. Fish visited the Budd family pretending to be interested in hiring Edward and in the process ended up meeting his younger sister, Grace.

2. He was arrested for embezzlement in 1903. Before that, he had been visiting brothels frequently for the beatings and he had just run away from nearly castrating a mentally retarded lover of his.

3. His family mental illnesses went as follows: His uncle suffered from religious mania, a brother was confined in a mental hospital, another brother died of hydrocephalus and his sister had a mental affliction of a sort. Apparently three other close relatives had severe mental illnesses and his mother suffered from frequent hallucinations.

4. Wertham claimed that Fish's cannibalism was associated with communion.

5. Everyone has their own rituals when it comes to making art. I never really think of them when I go through the motions; I simply view them as steps that I take in order to make progress, and sometimes they have to change when the circumstances call for it. I can't always consider it a ritual because I'm not very consistent. Sometimes I do get drawn in, and my habit of getting into detail starting to kick into the craft. That's a ritual I can't shake. I start putting in all these details and drawing almost automatically, even if I'm trying to copy a photograph or something out of my head. I don't have a problem with it as long as I'm not wasting too much time. And when I think of Max's art, I can tell he might get preoccupied with his details just as well. But I'm not sure what his ritual is like. I don't know how he approaches his drawings or how much time he takes to do them. Or if he gets lost in them like I get lost in mind, losing track of time. 

6. When you know someone's motivations, you can better understand what they've done. Knowing that Fish was raised in a household/time/place where religion and ritual thrived, and knowing that he was from a family that harbored many a madman, I could better believe the acts he had committed. Just as well, if I knew why someone made art, I could better understand their pieces. What we gain however, or what knowing really does for us, applies on the individual. Some people don't want to know why someone did something, or it just doesn't provide any closure for them. Others are content with what they learn and are willing to accept it as closure.

7. Chance and coincidence happen, as the universe we live in is chaotic and the circumstances we live in are constantly changing. Our intentions may seem clear, but things happen. It can be small and insignificant like losing your Ipod that you like to listen to while you work, or as big as losing someone you love. Your intentions can end up either changing or being snuffed out. Maybe you'll be less ambitious because you don't have the right music to listen to, or maybe you're just going to give up what you intended because you're too locked up in your loss to care anymore. Chance and coincidence can do a number of things to your intentions. They are the variables.

8. I liked this question with this article. It really does seem to ride well alongside it. Anyways, I think the artist is more important than the specific piece of art. Just like the murderer is more important than the murder itself, it's far more important to understand why the actions occurred rather than the action itself. The artwork can only provide you with a certain amount of information. The artist is where the art was born. It couldn't have happened without the artist--not in the exact same way. It's far more important to think of the artist because they're the wellspring from which the idea emerged. They can do it again, or they've done it before, and whatever they've done or will do will be different, yet drawn together by the same individual. 

I think I've already established what this article has to do with my art in the fifth question and the last, because other than ritual or the importance of the work or the one who made it happen, I can't quite think of how else it relates.