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. 

A Simpler, Freer Life - Lauren's Article

This article, written by Samuel Alexander, is an insight on Thoreau's philosophy on the average human life in our country and how we have created complexity and stress through striving for luxury when a simpler life may indeed be freer. No man is poor if they believe they have anything they might ever want or need, or they are content with what they have. As soon as you start wanting more, you're suddenly poor until your desires are fulfilled. That, and there's the fact that we spend so many of our daylight hours working in a week that we're hardly left free to our own devices, constantly struggling to 'make a living'.  

I've been aware of many of these ideas, and I often try to go for the lifestyle of being pleased with what I have. It's not easy though when you're downright miserable with what you got. I'm not talking about material possessions however. I'm talking about circumstances. I, for instance, do not want to live with my parents when I'm done with school. If it means living in a cheap, roach-infested place, I'll buy enough Raid to poison Beetlejuice and deal with it. I don't need to have luxury, but at the same time, I need to have a suitable degree of comfort to be satisfied. To live on my own is to be free of stress. My family often struggles with debt and I don't enjoy sharing their stress. I find my own to be exhausting enough. I don't readily consider myself to be free however. Living on my own means paying expenses. For the apartment, for the car, and for myself--I'll see no end to it for as long as I live. But I don't need to have a car forever. I don't need to pay rent forever {not if I end up owning the place, I'll simply have utilities}. I'm going to keep working until I can reach a plateau of reasonable comfort. And to me, there's freedom to that. Some people can't even work for money if they need to. I can. I have the freedom to decide to give it all up too, but at the expense of my comfort and sanity if I stay with mom or dad until I'm forty or so. I'm not willing to do that, nor will I ever be.

So I won't say that I'm a slave to the economy. I'm more of an indentured servant. I'm agreeing to be the economy's bitch for the first twenty to thirty years after graduation so I can spend the older half of my life with little to worry about. And it DOES seem like a waste, pushing my prime with labor and leaving the freedom to an older, frailer me. And there's no guarantee that when I'm forty or fifty I'll be healthy. I might even have cancer like practically everyone else does in the previous generation. But to have a simpler life now, right now when I'm in my twenties and graduating from college with some hefty debt...I just don't see it. I'd love to work maybe twenty hours a week and be able to live in a quiet and cozy little place without worrying about a thing, but it's just not going to happen. I'm still indebted. 

I tried downloading the questions, or at least I think they were, from Lauren, but the file was unreadable on my computer. The converter wasn't even working on it and I've never seen a filetype like it before so I had no idea what to make of it. But if it helps, I guess I can pose a question or two for myself to answer.

Is the technological prowess our society is making a part of the problem when it comes to our freedom? I believe so. Every time there's a new discovery, or a new product, people are encouraged to work for it. That also goes with new mannerisms and new standards that people feel the need to oblige to. For instance, and I take this example from experience, texting. Once phones were provided with the option for texting, more people began to go with it. At first, it was annoying to be the receiver when you're not used to it. Every one is texting you all of a sudden and the rate increases when new phones with bigger keypads are released. Then you're pressured to get a phone that can handle texting just as well. That, or you decide to call up the person in a fit of stubborn rage only to find out their phones are silenced because they're at a meeting. Why are you texting during your meetings then? To make the non-texting folk feel just a little foolish and completely incompetent. Chances are, you're not. You have no idea that you're putting this pressure on others, but it's there. And maybe this isn't the best example because I didn't go out and upgrade my phone, but I have become more adept at texting with a 1 through 0 keypad. On a larger scale however, these sorts of things happen. Hybrid cars to conquer the issue of rising gas prices and handheld devices with internet reception are starting to becoming nearly necessary--so eventually people will feel the need to make the jump. If not they're left behind in a life too simple. One I'm fine with, but not just everyone. Who likes to be left out of the loop?

Also, what does this have to do with my art? I'm not sure, to be honest. Really, I'm not. I make work whether or not I have the money to do so, whether I'm buying materials to build something or drawing on some napkins and placemats at the local IHOP. I don't need to be rich with cash to do what I do. Where there are means, I find a way. I never set out for great inconvenience though, but I usually get things done.