Archive for September, 2010

art 2840: reading 5

September 20, 2010

This reading was on spectacle. Spectacle dates back to Greek tragedy, and relies on using emotional and visual ties to entrance an audience. Spectacle can be positive or negative and flows across a variety of media. With recorded technology, the way spectacle is viewed changes. The temporal and spatial effects of spectacle have changed with advent of recording technologies that allow the spectacle to be viewed across time zones. Spectacle can be used for pleasure, or for shock, as Foucault mentioned through the use of public executions as a show of power to the spectators. The spectacle seems to be more and more becoming something of a consumer item, with the use of television. So much of what we see is could possibly oversaturate us with the spectacle, with images of good things next to bad things, displayed within seconds of eachother and with such ease we hardly notice the difference.
Ummmm. Spectacle. I would suppose that I have been experiencing spectacle since April. I have been working on a part performance art piece called “The Voyage of Fatima.” It involves carrying a boat sculpture around taking photos of people and places. The experience has been significant for me in making new friends, meeting tons of people and being a source of entertainment. Physically at times it can be wearing to carrying Fatima around. She isn’t heavy but she is awkward and navigating crowds has become something of an art form. Emotionally it has brought a lot of joy to me. Every single time we go out and someone agrees to be in a photo with her before I explain her, it makes my day. The fact that people are willing to help a stranger based on “it’s an art project” warms my heart. Psychologically I may be losing it because I have grown attached to the boat and refer to Fatima as “her” and I have said “we” quite a few times in my statement. It can be overwhelming, especially when I am in a place that I cannot put her down or hide her if I get tired of the stares or questions. I hope that counts. Here’s the project: The Voyage of Fatima.
Oh and my senior project was also based on spectacle, but I am past the word limit!

art 2840: reading 4

September 9, 2010

This reading was actually a video, Lemak Bakia, by Man Ray. Our other option was Ballet Mecanique, but I found its music to be unsettling. The swing vibe or Man Ray’s piece suited my mood more. The opening is gorgeous abstraction, looking like orbs of light melting around the screen. Suddenly recognizable images appear, a man in a car, sheep, dancing legs and a banjo. At one point there is stop motion animation. As I watched the film I was wondering about the processes behind making such a film, was this story boarded or concretely planned or did this have a more random selection of objects and footage with nothing but instinct as the driving force? The illusional aspect of the shifting and spinning effect of the lens at times made me think of Barthes’ issues with the camera not providing a true image. With cinema, the subject knows they are being filmed and acts accordingly, but the act isn’t the action of making the self they want to appear, it is making the self of the persona they are putting on for the film. There’s no acting as we were would think of it now in this film but it made consider also the Benjamin from reading 3 because he specifically references the illusion afforded to film actors with the ability to act from take to take and to redo any mistake. The film can also be cut together in ways that change what it means or how it looks, providing the illusion if acting does not.

art 2840: reading 3

September 6, 2010

This reading is from Walter Benjamin’s The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility. Benjamin is making a statement about reproducibility. The opening states that objects made by humans can and were always copied by humans. In order to study and learn, we copy works that we consider important, though what was produced was limited by medium. With the introduction of lithography, the ability to copy gave design a chance to expand, to be available widely with printed media. The biggest limitation of any media is the human factor, but with photography the speed at which images could be captured and without the human limitation of skill at illustration, images could be quickly delivered to the public. Reproducing photos is also very easy and mechanical and without much if any variation between the photo and further reproductions of it.

art 2840 reading 2

September 1, 2010

Our second reading assignment is from Camera Lucida by Roland Barthes. This is a very serious piece, partially attributed to its being written after the death of his mother. I feel that maybe he takes photography too seriously but maybe he would argue that I don’t take it seriously enough. I know that I was at once struck by the sentiments of the opening paragraph in his amazement at a photograph of Napoleon’s brother:
“I am looking at eyes that looked at the Emperor.”
When I look at old photographs, I feel lots of little questions tugging at my mind: What is the context? What is this person feeling? What would it be like to live through this time? Is this candid or posed? But it had never occured to me to consider what their eyes had seen.
Another piece that particularly caught me was a section lamenting over posing. He realises his body is making itself into something that it would not were he unaware of the camera. Making what you see in the mirror match up with a piece of paper isn’t always possible and I can understand his frustration. You’ll never realise how fat you are till you see yourself in a photograph because it tells the truth (in some cases) in ways that a mirror and scale can’t but at the same time your posed photo self is still only an imitation of the self you want to project. It all becomes very complicated and intriguing.