Artist Reflection

•June 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

For this assignment, I went to the museum on campus, the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art. I went to the upstairs gallery where there were tons of black and white photos covering the walls. I chose to write about the one that really caught my eye.

Before looking at the title of the piece, I simply looked at the picture. It is a photograph of two well-dressed men in suits holding back what looks like a nicely dressed African American woman. She has long curly hair and is wearing a long coat, stockings, and heels. Looking at the photo, you can see that something is not what it seems. Then you read the title, Man Disguised as Girl Arrested.  This piece is black and white and has a dark edge to it. I would assume that the man who took the photo was a bit ahead of his time if he was taking pictures of cross-dressers. This photo is simple, yet unique. It would seem that the photographer could work for a newspaper or something along those lines since the photograph depicts what looks like a real event.

After looking at the piece, I found a post about the artist on the wall. His name was Arthur Fellig and he went by Weegee the Famous. It said that he found celebrity, crime and criminals ripe sources for his art. He was a candid news photographer who was known for his stark black and white photography and shots that documented street life in New York City. I was surprised at how accurate my initial response was. Looking at more of his shots, they were more or less like the one I discussed. More featured transvestites, some featured celebrities, while others featured circus clowns. He was definitely an original man who liked to depict crime, disasters, and personal tragedy. This piece seems to be as dark as I thought it was.

Censorship and Public Art

•May 29, 2010 • 2 Comments

In the article Out of Tune by John Frohnmayer, Supreme Court Justice William O. Douglas said that free speech, “…may indeed best serve its high purposes when it induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger…” (P. 49). This sentence singlehandedly expresses my view of the First Amendment, and this view was only reinforced after reading this article. A major part of this article was the discussion of the Alaska Experiment, where the Visual Arts Center in Anchorage, Alaska put together a symposium full of works that had been censored somewhere in the United States at one point in recent time. The controversy of the piece, “What is the Proper Way to Display a U.S. Flag?” is a perfect example as to why I agree with John Frohnmayer.

The uproar that resulted from this piece being displayed was incredible, full of arguing, disagreements, protesting, and even stealing. While this piece upset many people, including Veterans, I think it also enlightened many. Multiple people were quoted saying that they were not sure coming into this exhibit if they would stand on the flag or not, and their actions ended up surprising them. It is my belief that exhibits like these should be respected because of the messages they are sending. The point of the whole thing was not to disrespect America or any of the symbols associated with America. It gave people insight to their own beliefs and made them think about where they developed these beliefs.

Frohnmayer states later in the article, “Before a controversial artwork is to be presented, the presenter should, by a series of discussion or lectures, remind us of the First Amendment and what it means to protect unpopular ideas and how it preserves our ever-evolving democracy” (P. 48). In my opinion, this completely goes against everything the exhibit was trying to do. The message of the flag exhibit would not have been sent had the creator prepped the audience beforehand. It is unnecessary for people to spoon feed us our rights every time something controversial is presented to us.

I believe that it is important to remember that not everyone is going to agree on everything. Frohnmayer says, “A crucial distinction is that, in supporting a person’s right to speak, we can still vigorously disagree with the message” (47). I believe this battle has a profound effect on us as individuals. It triggers something deep down inside of us and brings out emotions and beliefs that are necessary in defining who we are.

Remixing Google Image Search

•May 24, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Life in the Fifth World

•May 24, 2010 • 1 Comment

In the article, Approaching the Real and the Fake: Living Life in the Fifth World, architecture critic and historian Ada Louis Huxtable states her belief that in our society, we have lost our sense of reality. The article says, “In her view, we have become so adept at synthesizing and creating surrogates that distinctions between the real and fake are diminishing” (9). Before reading this article, I never realized how true this statement is, and how much of our society is based on fakes, replicas, and synthetics. Disneyland has always been one of my favorite vacation spots, and the article lists it as an example of this fake appeal. One minute you are walking through New Orleans square, and the next you are on a cruise through the jungle. People, including me, love these kinds of fake worlds, and they are all around us. The article discusses the Otsuka Museum of Art which contains over 1,000 full sized replicas by artists such as Monet and da Vinci. The cost of this museum is about $320 million dollars, but some believe it to be well worth it. Patron Masahito Otsuka says, “The fakes are more valuable because they are more durable than the originals” (5). Taking it a step further, Boston’s new Computer Museum has fake fish. These are said to be better than real fish because you are able to program them. I can appreciate replicas for entertainment purposes among other reasons, but think it is so important to value original art forms. It will be a sad day when we are not satisfied with real living fish as pets, and must have programmed fake ones swimming around in our tanks.

Art and Technology Research

•May 23, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Article 1: Rush, Michael (2006, January 6). Virtual Reality Art: Beyond Technology. New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/06/arts/06iht-rush.html?_r=1&pagewanted=2.

The article by Michael Rush discusses the way in which this virtual world has grown so much that it is almost difficult to distinguish it from the real world. And people are counting on this, especially producers of entertainment. The article discusses the popularity of online role-playing games and chat rooms, both a virtual reality that seem to be better than the real thing. It has taken over the old-fashioned goggles and joystick virtual world once popular in the 1990’s.

Virtual reality is now relatively cheap, it is available to artists for around 3000 dollars. Software to create this kind of art can also be free when bought received from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Here, researchers have created a portable virtual reality set-up that was created specifically for artists. This being said, University of Illinois has been the force behind the Canvas. In 1992, the Cave Automatic Virtual Environment was created on this campus. It resembled the Imax or 3-D movies, but was better. Within this six walled cube created by putting on a pair of active stereo glasses, your body is engaged and your perception and sense of balance are challenged. The Canvas is similar, yet at a fraction of the cost.  This has interested many people, including multimedia artist, musician, and programmer Rose Marshack and novelist Rick Powers. They are taking this opportunity to make new art from hardware, and plan to create a 3-D emotional travelogue through the 20th Century.

 While artists are not generally interested in mimicking the real, they are interested in altering perception. The article expresses the belief that the seductions of virtual reality should be resisted until truly masterly art can emerge from it. Virtual reality affords incomparable access to light, space, sound, sensation, perception, visualization and disruption, all ingredients in contemporary art. The secret is in the concepts, the technology is just waiting to be freed.

In the article, Computer Graphics: Effects of Origins, Jones also discusses the intersection of the art world and the scientific world. She says, “Both scientific and artistic sources rely on culturally embedded patterns of reality represented by varying degrees of abstraction in symbolic and material culture” (Jones, 59). This is very similar to the discussion of the art world and the virtual world in the New York Times article. Jones also discusses the high price of technology, which she says creates tension in artists who want to use this technology. In Rush’s article, he mentions, “While cellphones with all the whistles cost as little as $99, virtual reality environments could set you back about $1.5 million” (Rush, 1) Both articles hold that it is not always simple to obtain the technology you need.

One difference in the articles is that Rush states that artists are not generally interested in mimicking the real, but instead are interested in altering perception. This seems to differ from Jones who says that many artists are interested in imitating the appearance, message, and techniques of other contemporary art forms. Whatever the artists intention is, it is clear to see that the growing popularity of technology will allow them to create virtually anything in their vision.

Article 2: Perlman, Stacy. (2005, April 18). The Art of Mobile Technology. Boston Globe. http://www.boston.com/business/globe/articles/2005/04/18/the_art_of_mobile_technology/?page=2

This article discusses the expansion of mobile technology into a more creative sphere. Cell phone uses are growing steadily and new public space art projects are using these and other mobile devices as a means to explore new ways of communicating. Yellow Arrow, for example, is an art project in New York City. Passerby’s can take a yellow sticker and place it in the shape of an arrow around the city, stating that they have something to say about the location they are placing it at. Each arrow has a unique code that can be sent as a text message so that others can read the message left. Yellowarrow.net was created to explore the hidden details of cities and to give everyone a chance to have a mini-billboard. It allows people to convey what they think is an important spot, and relationships can be established through this.

Projects such as this have adopted the cell phone so that people can view the city through the eyes of other citizens. Murmur is another project based in Canada that is similar to Yellow Arrow. When people spot the murmur sign (which is shaped like a big ear), they call a phone number, type in the signs code, and can hear a story about the location they are standing at. Through this, Shawn Micallef, the creative director of murmur, says that spaces will be changed into places. Once a narrative is told about the space, it will become a place. The Yellow Arrow project has become huge, with over 2,000 yellow arrows registered all over the world, from countries like Europe, Germany, and Norway. Now cell phones not only allow you to text, make phone calls, or play games, but they allow you to learn something about the city you may never have noticed.

In her article, Beverly Jones discusses how technology has been brought to a higher level through art. She says, “Theorists in the arts and humanities may assist scientist, engineers and technicians in directing the development of new technologies toward cultural goals before technological ones” (Jones, 52). This has a lot to do with the other article in which many cultural goals are being fulfilled through technology. Phones are not just being used in technological aspects anymore. Rather, they are being used for people to understand where they live better, or where they are visiting. It gives people a large historical context as well as cultural context as they learn about different people’s experiences in a certain location. In the article, John O’Niell, who has had a diverse career in the art world believes, “art was important not in itself but only as it affected people” (Jones, 56). I believe that this new technology will have a large effect on people, and hopefully help people to relate to others as well as their city.

Video Game Galore

•May 18, 2010 • 3 Comments

I have never been a huge fan of video games for a number of reasons. Not only can they be a huge waste of time, but many are extremely violent. The controversy surrounding violent video games and their effects has been huge in the past several years. While this is an important topic, I think that Kurt Anderson brought up a very important point on his radio show that should be addressed. Not only are video games dangerous because of the violence that they supply, but also because of the recent realistic factor. Clive Thompson spent some time explaining how sophisticated video games are becoming. People spend huge amounts of money for programmers and writers who make the video games real. So real that even big actors are getting cast as voice roles in these video games. This realistic touch is cool to all the gamers, because it shows that it isn’t some cheap game and that it is actually worth playing. However, as we heard it can have dangerous effects. Mark Nesbitt, who works on video games for 8 hours a day, experienced this danger when he got in a car accident. It all came about from his logic that since he was good at driving on video games, he would be good at driving in real life too. The fact is that people can start to see video games as real life. They start to believe that they have an enhanced ability that in reality they don’t have at all. While programmers and writers are being celebrated for making these games accurate and lifelike, I think we need to take a step back and think about the consequences this may have on our youth and society as a whole.

Creative Spirituality Reflection

•May 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

1. How do you define spirituality?

I have a difficult time defining spirituality because I don’t believe there is a set definition. Spirituality is something recognized on an individual level, therefore it means something different to everyone. For me, spirituality is something we find through self-exploration. It is one’s search for themselves in order to find meaning of themselves and the world around them. It is the development of meanings and values by which people live. In exploring yourself, one’s inner life is developed and you are able create connections with yourself and the world. I believe that through all of this, a person’s wisdom, insights, consciousness, and tolerance will be heightened.

2. Does spirituality differ from religion?

In my opinion, spirituality is completely different from religion. Spirituality is the search for yourself and for meaning through your own terms. Religion is the search for yourself and meaning through God’s terms. Religion is more of an organized system of practices and beliefs designed to bring a person closer to God. While religion is something that happens internally, it is extremely external as well. Community is a huge focus when it comes to religion, whereas spirituality is more about the self. A big difference is that spirituality stems from experience. Religion is something that is easier to be picked up since it stems in acceptance and belief.

3. How do you define creativity?

Creativity is the process of making something new or unique. A huge part of creativity is the ability to use your imagination and think outside the box. To be creative, the idea doesn’t necessarily have to be a new one. You can create something that has already been done, the creativity lies in how you make it your own. By moving past the traditional, or the norm, you are able to put your own spin on it and make something creative.

4. What is the source of creativity?

There are many different sources through which creativity comes about. For some people, creativity comes naturally. The right side of their brain is dominant. It seems to be a basic instinct for some, they just have an urge to take control and create something. I believe that experience has a lot to do with creativity as well as the environment in which you have these experiences. Children who are able to explore their surroundings and let their imaginations run wild are able to nurture this creativity. Children who are forced to follow strict guidelines all the time are not nurturing the creative parts of the brain, and probably won’t know how to be as creative.