Monday, October 26, 2015

McLuhan says "the ear favors no particular 'point of view.' We are enveloped by sound. It forms a seamless web around us. We say, 'music shall fill the air.' We hear sound from everywhere, without ever having to focus. Where a visual space is an organized continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships."

I created this one minute sound montage by splicing twelve voice recordings taken over the past three years. I decided to focus on a sound that made me happy: laughter. It is a universal human expression that brings people together and cultivates happy and healthy environments. It symbolizes a state of freedom and loss of control. The release of laughter is raw and pure. It is liberating to let go and laugh without restrain. Hearing my friends laugh in unison is kind of overwhelming. The piece feels chaotic and untamed, but I still think the sound evokes happiness!
So, let laughter fill the air! 

Sunday, October 18, 2015

(Portrait of Philip Glass by Chuck Close) 

One of the most beautiful pieces I have heard. Take a listen and read along, if you wish (poem below narrated @ 4:10).

Two Lovers on a Park Bench

The day with its cares and perplexities is ended and the night is now upon us. The night should be a time of peace and tranquility, a time to relax and be calm. We have need of a soothing story to banish the disturbing thoughts of the day, to set at rest our troubled minds, and put at ease our ruffled spirits.

And what sort of story shall we hear? Ah, it will be a familiar story, a story that is so very, very old, and yet it is so new. It is the old, old story of love.

Two lovers sat on a park bench, with their bodies touching each other, holding hands in the moonlight.

There was silence between them. So profound was their love for each other, they needed no words to express it. And so they sat in silence, on a park bench, with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Finally she spoke. “Do you love me, John?” she asked. “You know I love you, darling,” he replied. “I love you more than tongue can tell. You are the light of my life, my sun, moon and stars. You are my everything. Without you I have no reason for being.”

Again there was silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench, their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight. Once more she spoke. “How much do you love me, John?” she asked. He answered: “How much do I love you? Count the stars in the sky. Measure the waters of the oceans with a teaspoon. Number the grains of sand on the sea shore. Impossible, you say.”

“Yes and it is just as impossible for me to say how much I love you.”

“My love for you is higher than the heavens, deeper than Hades, and broader than the earth. It has no limits, no bounds. Everything must have an ending except my love for you.”

There was more of silence as the two lovers sat on a park bench with their bodies touching, holding hands in the moonlight.

Once more her voice was heard. “Kiss me, John,” she implored. And leaning over, he pressed his lips warmly to hers in fervent osculation.

- Samuel M. Johnson

Monday, October 12, 2015

Miriam Beerman. Expressing the Chaos. Colorist. Inspired by Goya - horror people feel in their lives and existences. Abstract/German Expressionism. Grotesqueness from own experiences. Terrors and disasters of life. Sociopolitical. Expressing pain. Digging into subconscious. Harboring thoughts of pain, anger, and survival. Bloody Heads - protest against Vietnam War.
"NOT interested in pretty pictures."
First woman to have solo show in NYC - 1971. The New Humanism. Makes art because it gives her meaning. Not for marketing. Art/painting is extension of her existence. We see messages in her work that she does not always intend. Work speaks for itself. "Interpret it however you want." 
Significant: Nazi Germany and Holocaust. Represented the horror and terror of the Holocaust. Constantly protesting history and dealing with torment.
"Artwork that is 'moving' makes you feel uncomfortable."
Collages represent chaotic themes. She gets ideas while making them. Through them she is expressing chaos within herself, while not trying to find order in it, either. 
These are my notes from the film screening. Fragmented sentences, little structure, but an understanding of the overarching themes of darkness, horrors, and evil in life.
Miriam Beerman's art is haunting and unapologetic. It's a dark expressionistic representation of her world. It is an extension of her thoughts. An extension of her being. One which is tormented by the terrors of injustice. Her paintings are not silent. They are overwhelmed by movement and sound. They scream the pain caused by injustice. Beerman's works are the realest you can get to visualizing fear. I so easily feel the heaviness and the pain she created with her brushstrokes, and I am paralyzed by the anguish they transmit. While I am easily moved by art, I have never felt this shaken. I am left in awe by Beerman's ability to create beauty from terror and to convey it with such intensity and authenticity.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Project No. 3: Something is Happening Photography Series

I thought pretty long and hard about how to execute this project, and it wasn't getting me anywhere. After realizing that my thoughts were impeding me from actually doing the project, I chose to stop overthinking so damn much and just start photographing (this always happens). I chose to use the simplest and easiest device to capture my pictures: my iPhone 4S - not very high-quality/resolution and pretty "amateur", but it worked really well for my point-and-shoot technique. 
McLuhan says the way space is perceived shapes our culture. Since the Renaissance, the Western world has perceived the environment in terms of the visual (p.57). It is not to any surprise then that our environments affect our mood and well-being so much (Ed Vessel kind-of-thinking). Broadly, this is what I focused on: understanding how our environments look and how that affects us.
As I began observing the spaces around me, I wondered what they'd look like in a square frame. How would my own compositions change what these natural arrangements meant? How would it constrict their existence, but also put emphasis on their meaning and purpose in life? Did they have a purpose? My little square photographs try to make sense of the arrangements in and of the space around us, while also asking the question "why?". Why are things positioned/arranged/decorated as they are? What does that do to and for us? How does it make us feel?  

I wanted to highlight the different appearances of environments according to their purpose. While some environments are simply created to attract the eye, others are made with a specific and sometimes not-very-aesthetic purpose (mostly efficient and economical). So I chose to juxtapose the different man-made environments and their "beauty" within the structure of my album (and hopefully in someway, emphasize their beauty).  

Here is a link to my Flickr album Arrangements

Monday, October 5, 2015

Neuroaesthetics dribbble

While I am bummed out that I missed Ed Vessel's visit to our class on Thursday, I feel that I was able to learn some pretty informative stuff about his area of study (neuroaesthetics) at his lecture on Wednesday. I am interested in both of these fields separately (art/aesthetics and neuroscience/psychology), so seeing how they function together was very new and intriguing. The very basis of Vessel's lecture focused on understanding how we perceive art, what goes on in our brain when we observe art, and what are the psychological and neural aspects that cause our aesthetic responses to art (and other things that surround us like architecture, landscapes, regular everyday objects, etc.). Now, I don't know if I would consider myself an "aestheticist" but I do find myself appreciating and being attracted to "nice looking" forms around me. That sounds a little weird, but what I really mean is that I find that the way things are built/setup/constructed/or just exist around me really affect my mood. Vessel pretty much stated that this feeling is normal and that aesthetic considerations actually affect our well-being! So, surround yourself with things and places and people that you find aesthetically pleasing because, well, it will make you feel better than if you do not. Vessel also explained how environments that are isolating, confining, and extreme can cause potential risks for someone's psychological well-being. He then very quickly mentioned that this kind of setting is unlike the one of today's internet culture, in which we are never isolated and are constantly being fed information from all directions. This point, while short and not his main point, made me ponder on whether McLuhan is accurate in saying that "the medium is the massage." 
While this constant influx of new/improved technology and flow of information can be at times unnerving, it also soothes our worries about being alone or isolated by keeping us constantly connected. Is this benefiting us? Is it helping our well-being? Or is it numbing us? I think we have become desensitized to some of the anxiety we feel about technological innovation because of the aesthetic appeal of the medium itself. Every year there is some new iPhone out that's a little slimmer, a little shinier, and a whole lot of everything else that people like to see and then buy. And at the end of every year that piece of technology is deemed as old, slow, or "so last year" because we know that right around the corner a new and improved version of the same thing will be available! This hedonistic cycle is vicious, but technology keeps feeding into our aesthetic pleasures which makes us all feel good... temporarily. 
The above was a little tangential and I don't even know if it makes much sense. However, I will close this reflection off by saying that Vessel's lecture made me stop and really think about how some things can please the eyes and the senses (and even "move" us). I think that in some ways, the aestheticism that Vessel speaks of is the medium McLuhan writes about. They both massage our minds, numbing us and pleasing us, simultaneously.