Monday, February 21, 2011

Nature of Existence - Steven's Article/Movie

I didn't have a chance to see the whole movie before Megavideo cut me off, but I did read the whole of the article. Both the movie and article focus around life and death, and the nature of both. What comes after death? What awaits us? What is the meaning of our lives? And of course, any point of view that can be investigated {any within the scope of the director's imagination at least} in order to give insight on the various answers to these questions. Not everyone believes in a god, or that there is even just one of them. Everyone has their own opinions of what they'd like to see and what they'd rather not, or how they feel they should live their lives while they're still living.

I'd rather not talk about what I think, because I honestly try not to think about it. I'd rather just live, and as long as there's no hell I don't care what the afterlife is. If it's nothing, that's actually just fine. It's like when you go to sleep but you don't have a dream. I'm always tired and I always have that strong desire to go back even if there was nothing there. Nothing isn't BAD. It isn't paradise, but at the same time, there's no strife. I don't see why nothingness is such a dreadful thing. What, you want to be able to see all the ones you've lost when you died? You won't care when you get there. And why worry it about it now. Live! Live while /you/ still can. Because it won't be long before you reach the end. 

As for heaven, I felt pretty much like that one seventh grade girl felt about it. Going to a place that would constantly promote and support happiness is not my idea of paradise. I remember the first time I thought about it too. I was watching The Matrix and Mr. Smith talks to Morpheus about the matrix program, and how the first simulation they created was a utopia, but it was a total failure. No one in the program could be fooled by it. There had to be some strife in order for these people to be pleased; in order for them to accept it as reality. So the remade the matrix into the world it was there, which is supposed to be a reflection of pre-9/11 America or something. I think heaven would end up failing for the same reasons too. People there just wouldn't be satisfied with a picture perfect life. It would leave something undesired. Once you add any of the taint of strife to the picture, it's just not heaven anymore. It's not afterlife. It's 'Life - the Extended Edition'. 

1. I don't think a 2-hour documentary could ever cover the magnitude of the debate, to be honest. I'm not sure any length shorter than 24 hours could come close. There's a lot more to the picture. There always will be. But I'm not going to take offense to it or anything. It was a good try.

2. Sometimes I do, yeah. I try not to let it get in the way of my work though, because I try to remove any religious aspects from it. But I wonder what it is to make work about zombie invasions, alien attacks, forces of nature, nuclear war, and other man/nature end-of-the-world ventures when I'm a bit Christian. Am I...going to be in trouble with my beliefs because I'm investigating what isn't considered the 'true' apocalypse, according to the book? Isn't it okay to have a slightly different opinion on some matters considering that the bible was written by man, whether or not it is the word of God? 

3. It does. I've only watched enough horror movies to pass a horror-based game of Jeopardy with. A lot of my memories are reflected in my work, if not personal experiences but second-hand ones from watching films and such. 

4. I think everyone should think there's some humor to mortality. The fact that we're dying from the moment we're born is pretty ironic. I don't think life is worth living if you can't laugh at death once in a while, because being utterly afraid of the end is kind of silly. It's going to happen. Sometimes, you might accept it without really thinking about it, and you'll only struggle with it when you're so close to it. I think that's fine. 

My work deals with a lot of mortality, but I'm usually pitching a bit of humor the same way to make my work less grim. I don't want the end to be grim; I want it to simply be romantic. Like something tragic, yet ours at the same time. Let's not seek it out, but let us not spend our short time alive only fearing it.

Adrian Piper - Terese's Article

This article briefly reviews the art and messages behind Adrian Piper's work. Working with a political and personal approach to stereotypes of race, class, and gender, she refuses to censor herself to keep the integrity of her art alive. She has enacted the stereotypes, juxtaposing them with images, text, or sounds that comment on the nature of true, personal identity. 

While reading about this work is interesting, I'd much prefer to see it for myself. Until then I have a hard time figuring out what might offend others so much about her work by the description alone. It's just stating a message of awareness, not one of hatred, at least from what I could gather from reading all this. Then again, I've never been the sort to get easily offended. If I had a gallery of my own, I'd make a habit out of going out of my way to show work that brings up controversy. Why? Because I think the most powerful statements are those that get people to be passionate, even in a negative sense. 

1. I guess I'd identify with the sheltered white girl stereotype. You know. Sandra D from Grease. Yeah, that's me. Only I didn't conform in order to be cool for my boyfriend and his greaser buddies. 

2. I feel most masculine when I'm playing a video game that involves lots of killing. I get enraged, start yelling and cursing, having 'you're gonna die' macho moments and a random craving for beer. First person shooters are the most fun to play when I'm a little tipsy. I stop getting stressed and empty bullets into things without a hint of remorse.

3. Er...taking care of my sister? It used to be my brother, but now I act like I'm more of his pal than I used to because he's older. My sister is 2, I think. 3? Oh crap, I can't remember. But in any case, she's still a baby/toddler. So when I take care of her, I'm like mother goose or something. I'm always making sure she doesn't fall over and crack her skull and such.

4. Sure? I don't know how you'd get the feminine one. Maybe bring a little kid to me and I'll play with him/her. I used to hate kids, but I just found out I'm not fond of taking care of babies. Kids are fun. And bring me a tequila and Fallout 3--I'll show you the other side of the coin.

5. I think that's both stupid and screwed up. The problem is if she makes a fuss about it, she's likelier to have her name on that list permanently. It's not very fair for her though. I can't understand why they'd do that when she hasn't done anything remotely to deserve it.

6. I don't know. It depends on how bad things are where I'm at. Unless the world around me is on fire, or someone needs me in the US, I might make the same decision.

7. I think her work is intriguing, and like I said before, I'd love to see it in person. If the message is powerful enough to get it banned out of a few galleries, I need to behold such a thing.

In my art, I don't tend to explore any controversial material. I'm dealing with the end of the world, but not in its eschatological forms which deal with religious perspectives on the end. I didn't want to get into that because I had a hard time believing in the possibility of the world being ended by some supernatural force. I either thought it would come upon us because of the fault of man or cosmic forces. They seemed a lot more likely, and these are themes often repeated in film, which may not be reality itself, but resembles it enough to make an impact. If not, audiences wouldn't be able to sit through it. So because of the fact that I'm ignoring one of the most controversial subjects of all time--religion--I've managed to avoid something that could raise a ton of questions I don't care to answer. But the problem then is, what is the message? If the power of controversy is gone, what strength is my work left with? Effects aside, what message does the material convey?

Conceptual Art - Shane's Article

Shane's reading was an article found on eHow that walks one through some arts-and-crafts reminiscent steps in order to create conceptual art. It was actually pretty painful and amusing to read. It was practically in the same format as those step-by-step instructions you get to make a potato clock or start a science project for middle school. I never wanted to think of art that way, especially because now I'm pursuing it as a serious career. The way this article explains what conceptual art is and how it's made makes it seem like just about anyone can do it. If I read this aloud to my six year old brother, he tries it, and successfully follows the criteria, does that mean he can sell his work for what...a hundred bucks at the very least? 

Now I'm the last person to say that I think only art schooled persons could ever become artists, but I don't think everyone under the sun has what it takes. A lot of people that I know who can't draw to save their life don't even have much of an imagination to support them. Yet they're good at other things I can't grasp well, like business or social politics. Things that maybe with time I /could/ do, but never do well.

I can't help but be reminded of that movie with the chef-rat. I can't spell it right now and I don't feel like googling it, {holy crap, 'googling' is a word!} but in the movie one of the messages in the story is that 'everyone can cook, but not everyone should'. I don't remember who it was that said this, but I apply this to art all the time. Everyone can have ideas, or make a drawing even if it sucks by higher art standards, but not everyone should try to make a living with art. It's not just the execution, but the executor. I know people who can paint and draw. My mom is one of them. But she never pursued a career in art in the slightest. It just didn't appeal to her. She might have had what it took when it came to talent and imagination, but personally she wasn't fit for it. So I say, if you can't make 'high art', if you can't draw or paint or print or sculpt, but you have an idea, you can still make it into art if you really care to do so. It'll rip all the patience out of you, but it's not impossible. You just came into the game at a disadvantage, but the lifestyle isn't necessarily beyond you.

1. I don't think conceptual art is as simple as this article puts it, because if it was, it wouldn't be so hard to make. That, or they don't really go through the painful details such as the fact that, even when you do reach that one idea that's important to you, you need to think of every single element you add to your work and how the message can either get lost or misinterpreted  because of the variety amongst the audience. Good conceptual art has a clear message that everyone can understand, and the execution of this message has to have a certain power to it in order to get anyone's attention in the first place. This is practically impossible in its purest form. A lot of things in western cultures, especially signs, symbols, colors, and the most basic elements commonly used in art, mean something different to other cultures. And since the art world is, as it eludes to being, a 'world', there are folks from every background imaginable that will be judging your piece and seeking the meaning behind it, only to come up with different answers than the next guy.

2. eHow's description was simply disappointing to me. It felt like the bare, optimistic, skeletal description of what conceptual art really is. It didn't really change how I feel about conceptual art, it just made me pity those who actually find the article to be utterly legitimate.

3. Hardly any difference between the article and Bob Ross's shows. Ross made it sound like just about anyone could paint the pretty little trees and pretty little clouds to make 'art', but even if someone could match his level of skill, is it really art when you're practically painting by numbers? The strife is missing. The actual self-discovery is being left out of the picture. In both articles, it's not really about you. It's 'HOW TO MAKE ART FOR DUMMIES'. Make a pretty picture. Do something that makes someone else /think/. It's so simple, but it's missing the most important ingredients of all. The soul. The pain. The frustration. And the reconciliation.

4. High Art might survive in the modern world, but like it's done in the past thousand years or so, it'll need to undergo more plastic surgery. The definition of high art will probably change by a word or two, and suddenly it'll have another few years left of it until the license requires further renewal. 

How this applies to my work? I'm only half sure. I have an idea, and I chose how I want to execute it. But there's a lot of process, the journey's unforgiving, the quests are hard, and the final bosses are a bitch. In the end I turn something out after trying to make sure all my bases are covered only to find out there's one fatal flaw in the works that I completely glanced over and it's nearly too late to hash it out. Will YouTube ruin my stop-motion pieces? I've seen the internet as both enthralling and cruel. The people who would view my video can either appreciate it or turn some few seconds of it into a pop-culture internet reference. In the end, that's what keeps me from uploading to such a host. Ever seen 'Interior Semiotics'? LOOK IT UP. NOW. You'll feel the nostalgia kick in immediately. Sophomore and Junior year all over again. And many on the internet now find it both a joke and the epitome of all that is Hipster. Yet when you look at it as an artist, trying to forget that just about everyone else is having a laugh, how do you feel? Ohohoho...I think I know what my article is going to be.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Entropy - Nathan's Article

In this article, 'Entropy Made Visible', Robert Smithson discusses entropy--for what it is, for what it might look like and the forms it has taken, and how we as human beings tend to deal with it.

I can't say that I found this interview to be particularly interesting. Do you know what it's like to read about something you barely think about, subconsciously know, and find yourself just feeling mildly validated by the information you read up on it? That's kind of what I underwent. On a positive note, the interview did succeed in making the meaning of the word clearer to me. I always believed that entropy was a wearing away, when really it's more of a collapse or spread, like the shells of an egg that's dropped from a countertop or a bag of marbles that's fallen over.

But humans always seem to be fighting entropy, whether it's the erosion at the beaches or the collapse of old historical monuments. People have this fascination with preservation. I still find it funny that some of the dead here are pumped full of embalming fluid to keep them from rotting for at least a few more days. What's so wrong with letting things crumble to sand again? It only provides more material for what's to follow. Like mentioned in class, it's the circle of life. What is must cease to be in order to make way for what will be. Entropy is the cosmic fashion of natural balance. 

So I guess that would help to answer Nathan's first question, but only partly. When it comes to creation towards completion, it's something a lot of people consider. Whether you're making art work or constructing a building, you're always thinking about what will become of it when it's completed. The moment a human being is born, they are dying. So as humans, we are well aware of mortality and the ephemeral nature of things considering how long everything has been around up to this point. I believe it's important to be aware of these things, so we don't waste time trying to save something that has been trying to waste away for years. Think of what you're preventing when you do. Something else is trying to be born from the chaos, but you're busy trying to keep the pieces together. 

And as for the energy crisis and the floundering housing projects, I do believe they're effected by the cultural climate in both the unavoidable and ubiquitous form. Every action we make effects something in turn, even at the slightest. Then there's the Niagra Falls, which people intend to sculpt into something that looks less manmade. Just about anyone who reads that would have a laugh. It's another example of how people are often trying to outfox entropy. 

Why is it that entropy is something that must be beaten at every turn? What do we fear about it? Does it have to do with our own fear of passing on, or does something else play into it? Are we just naturally inclined to organize rather than destroy?

I find myself fighting it all the time, even in my work. When something doesn't turn out right, I try to fix it. When I stepped on one of my tiny sculptures the other day by accident, breaking its ears, I tried to fix it to no avail because a shard was missing. And I was so frustrated, but when I stopped to think about it, I could just make a better one instead now that I've had more time to work with the medium since then. Still, I try to recycle. I hope the house I grew up in doesn't come crashing down in the next hurricane season. There are some things that can't be replaced, and when I think about it, I can see why entropy is viewed as this demon or devil, thwarting you at every turn.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Mediated - Kim's Article

"When people {or whatever they are} look back on our time, all this will appear as a single development. It will be called something like the "Information Revolution," and the lesson of that revolution will be this: what counts is the code."

I singled this quote out of the article. It pretty much summarizes what I've believed in the past five years to be a true possibility. 

But this article tells us something we all might know. We live in a day, place, and age of nearly infinite options. The line between what is real and what is representational is thinning. Media, technology, advertising, and industry demand our attentions, and we can choose whether or not, and if so how much attention we pay them in return. We either realize when something has been processed for our approval or live in a state of eternal suspect towards the mediated world, where we can simply shrug and move on to the next option on a constant basis. We've become desensitized to it all, just as much as we might be about some horrible disease often spoken of or pictures of people dying on battlefields when we've seen just about every wartime movie imaginable. So the author makes up this metaphor of a Blob to represent the media and postmodern world and describes to us how everything beyond it is eventually eaten up and crushed into mainstream proportions, like a cell digesting foreign contaminants and turning whatever it can into some useful sustenance. Then the article eventually leads to the discussion of whether or not this mediation is a good thing, using the bike/helmet scenario and a more extreme, hypothetical example involving clones for harvesting organs.

Now, I've learned to live in a mediated world, and I'd have to admit, I can be pretty bipolar about it. Sometimes, I can't imagine what it'd be like to live without all the options that I have, or in some world where it all doesn't exist. How would I manage to communicate without a phone, or a mailbox, or transportation? Yet that didn't stop some tribes from using smoke signals, now did it? We just have more convenient options available to us here and now. And how did people have fun without games, movies, and books to fuel their imaginations? I'm sure they had old stories to tell about ancestors, or anecdotes and folklore to share. But here, it's much easier to just pull up a ROM of Pokemon FireRed and go on an adventure for three hours straight without having to exert myself. 

Other times, I want it all to just go away. In fact, my thesis is practically a testament to that. I want the mediated world to burst into flames, until the ashes are burnt to ashes and nothing of it remains. The people can stay alive, but everything they created would be destroyed. The towering effigy of Mickey Mouse and Ronald McDonald crushed beyond all recognition. Every computer, television, or what-have-you just crumbling away until every speck of data is lost. And the article says we always have options. But do we really have a choice when it's all around us? If I wanted to live in a non-mediated world, how lonely would I be? Who'd leave it all behind with me? And where exactly would we go where the hand of mediation hasn't passed over? 

Having all these options in their infinite splendor is indeed stressful. We live with a multitude of options, but it just seems like some grand illusion to me. We can do whatever we'd like, just as long as we do whatever we'd like. All we have to do is know what it is. It's a lot tougher than you think. I don't know what I'd like, but I keep making my choices every day because they're there and that part is pretty easy. But it's all just material, a convenience, or a complete waste of time. 

In response to Kim's questions {to the best of my abilities}:

What is optional is all around us. We can choose whether or not we want to take advantage of our advances, or which product and brand we'll be shopping for on any given day. What is real is relative to what moves you. Playing an intensive horor-based video game in the dark and the resulting changes in your physiology as you play is just as real as freaking out in a bus when a man is holding a gun to you and demanding your money. Mediation is what you get when the world around you has been touched by the Blob and reconfigured into the airbrushed, photoshopped, 500mb file in the hard drive of life your 8bit self happens to inhabit. My constructed identity and lifestyle is that of the Ringling College attending student with a knack for Nintendo games, an addiction to her Macbook computer, a fondness for her Chevy Trailblazer, and an affinity towards Zephyrhills water by the gallon. I also happen to be a Dark Elf in D&D and I've saved the world about thirty-eight times from certain doom on various planets as various heroes with various powers. I'm sure there are people who don't realize the distinction between reality and representation is diminishing, but I don't know any in particular. I do know people who are in denial about it, but they know. They just don't want to think about it. It wasn't a new idea to me for the past four or five years, and I feel rather neutral about it, if not often frustrated or enthused depending on my overall mood. I can hardly imagine how one can get outside of the mediated environment these days. Mediation might not be in every crevasse of the world, but even if one of us managed to slip away, how long would we last? I know I wouldn't last very long. And once again, how lonely would it be? I imagine it would be quite lonely.

I wonder how a mediated America will look at my work? I mean, some average joe off the street who knows dick about art. Will they see recovered footage from the dropping of various hydrogen bomb testings? Will they see Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines? Will they see Day of the Dead, or 28 Weeks Later? I wouldn't doubt it. Because I come from a mediated society, that very same media has been my inspiration. I wonder why that is the reason artists should try to draw more experience and inspiration from art rather than entertainment? I bet it is, come to think of it...

Past Critiques

Alright, I didn't jot down this information. This is pretty much based on memory. I'm probably missing a group critique though. I remember I was short on one of the two.

I believe I've had Kim and Nathan stop by for individual critiques last semester. I believe I've called in Kim a second time, so I think that counts as three.

And I had one group critique between me, Justine, and Arun. This was about a week or so before we had to set up for our show.

Just putting this up because I forgot to do so over break.