Monday, December 10, 2007
Tuesday, December 4, 2007
As informed by the article by Tom Junod, in the image of the Falling Man from 9-11 many people were shocked and appalled that this photograph was released to the public. I feel as this image should not have been sheltered or avoided, it was something that really happened, an aspect from a real life situation. I can see why people would have an issue with it, but just because something is shocking, in my opinion, does not mean it should be kept hidden.
Slavoj Zizek explores theories about the "real" and the "projected real" that I have often thought about. It is sometimes hard to feel real life as a shocking or phenomenal experience when we see these images depicting real life all around us, everywhere we go. In commercials, movies, video games, advertisements etc. It almost seems as if real life is no longer real. I was thinking about this lately with that new Sean Penn film, "Into the Wild" or whatever the name was, I have yet to actually see it. Anyways, I feel as if people no longer need to act on certain desires or impulses because it's so much easier to pay twelve dollars and sit and watch someone else doing the things that you thought of. With bigger and more important issues at hand, I feel as if this thought process works all the same. Take any of Michael Moore's films for instance. People often agree with his politics and concerns, everyone goes to see his films, but they never do anything! I am guilty of it too...I believe we all are. For some reason and for some people the world is easier to understand, easier to think about, just easier when your watching it on a screen.
Susan Sontag brought up many interesting points about the photo objects themselves. The important point that, "the horror of what is shown in the photographs cannot be separated from the horror that the photographs were taken-- with the perpetrators posing, gloating, over their helpless captives." And that it becomes a much more common phenomenon when one considers the amount of digital pictures in circulation through email from soldier to soldier. Her citing of the Bush administration's outrage over the matter (mirrored in the panel discussion when the host quotes Rumsfeld as having said that the worst moment in his six year run was when the Abu Ghraib pictures became public) is so telling of the government's understanding of what is really going on vs. what we all should know.
I felt that Slavoj Zizek's writing about 9/11 and the government's utilization of our Hollywood induced paranoia was a very refreshing take on the played out and over dramatized event that occurred years ago. It border-lined on a conspiracy theory with its references to the Truman Show- where we realize late in life that our whole perception of reality was some sick pervert's way of getting ratings... or keeping us in a blissful naivete. He was brilliant for exposing the culture of fear that 9/11 so easily reinforced.
And the Falling Man article, in this context, gives insight into the power of editing (like the power of the US government to open all the letters that came home from WWII and delete any unwanted information as Sontag brought up). The power of the choice between each little negative or pdf file, that can change the world (or divide it). The exploit of the ridiculous search for who the falling man was exactly, and how knowing does not change the image at all.
The point is that it is the existence of the photographs in the public sphere that can change a public perception. They do not have to be around for long and they can be ripped to shreds by public speakers, but once they have been seen they are not forgotten. As Sontag wrote in On Photography, one does not exist until they have been photographed. In our culture, we allow ourselves to live happily unknowing, despite what people say. But once we have seen something in a photograph, it enters our media history, that we care so deeply about.
if it isn't happening to americans is it happening? or i guess a better question is 'is it torture if these people are "terrorists"? i guess thats how some people see it. wheres humanity? and in the case of the smiling soldiers... what are they getting at with their smiles? the bush quotes made me even more disappointed/embarrassed... for example "i want you to know when we talk about war, we talk about peace." is he kidding? action is irreversible. humiliating these people, and torturing them was the real terror. there is no remorse on the woman's face as she smiles dumbly at the camera while posing by a prisoner. sontag brings good points up, such as stepping around words we don't want to use, like the word torture. these photos were meant to be shown. grab your camera phone! its time for a lynching! what a world.
this was about the 'falling man' photo taken on 9/11. this basically centered around peoples reactions to this photo. either the disgust and hatred of this photo, mixed with trying to identify the man who is invariably frozen in mid-air forever. some people refused to think of the possibility that this man was their own loved one. this photo is haunting to many people, you can't quite get it out of your head. it is the struggle of wanting to identify this person, and not wanting to cross the line at the same time. when is asking too much? memory or exploitation?
i think we've all had that paranoid "wow, i wonder if my life is the truman show." moment. zizek explores the real and the fantasy in this essay. zizeck writes about the way americans think attacks like 9-11 wont happen to us. they happen to other countries.. he talks about the difference between real and television. how americans are always waiting for something to happen like it does on tv, a fantasy. but when it happens they deny it. we're so blindsided by hollywood, and the appeal of the unreal.
Monday, December 3, 2007
Tom Junod discusses the falling man photo taken by Richard Drew during 9/11 of an unknown man falling from the twin towers. The image is initially described as a man who is not afraid of death, and someone who can be seen as a hero. This description seems to change when a reporter was given the job of finding out the falling man's identity. Once the reality set in, and witnesses of the 9/11 media aftermath began to realize that each falling person (who were once described to a child as possibly birds flying) actually had an identity, the perception of these images seemed to drastically change. Knowing the identity of a person jumping from one of the towers distorts thoughts and hopes of a loved one's last minutes on earth. It raises questions that we discussed in class: Is it ethically acceptable to show a person's last moments before death? What one person may see as a monument to an individual's life may seem like an insult to another. Photography allows for actual depictions of a person that can later be identified, contrasting the resemblances that can only be questioned when found in drawing, painting and sculpture.
Much how a cartoon desensitizes a child to violence, Hollywood can hamper an adults ability to recognize violence as something that is real. As Zizek mentions, the US finally received a taste of what the rest of the world has been experiencing for a long time. Until the attack was acted out on our own soil, it was difficult for many Americans to understand the real impact of violence and war.
When looking at actual images of torture, death, and war, it is important to remember that these photographs represent reality. The people in the images are real people, not cartoon or Hollywood characters who have been created to be destroyed by "the good side". This task can be difficult when living in a country that uses media to de-individuate the other and desensitize the audience. As a viewer, we must recognize the similarities between "us" and the "other", and try to find the connection of the two in order to realize that actually we are all a part of 'us".
Sontag’s article is dealing with imagery of the war. She rests solely on the power of words in the world, where "our culture of spectatorship neutralizes the moral force of photographs of atrocities". The article shows the demeanor on how the photographs reveal numerous political issues that are about both their degenerative nature as well as their possible benefit in creating a demand for social change.
The Falling Man by Tom Junod
What stuck out in my mind most when reading this article is the quote that reads “they exploited a man's death, stripped him of his dignity, invaded his privacy, turned tragedy into leering pornography. Most letters of complaint stated the obvious: that someone seeing the picture had to know who it was.” I don’t think that is what this photograph is. The identity of the man is not what comes to mind first when reading this article, but how he is a representation of what happened on 9/11. Something else that caught my attention most when reading this is how this photograph is deceiving. The falling man looks as if he is falling gracefully, straight down, when in reality, he is plummeting, out of control.
Welcome to the Desert of the Real by Slavoj Zizek
In this essay, Zizek provides his interpretation on the cultural and ideological insinuations of the terrorist attacks on the United States that took place on September 11, 2001. He compares what the American fantasy would be to different films like The Matrix, or The Truman Show, because these are movies about people living in a world they think is real but truly is not. He explains that “desert of the real” is the awareness that we live in a bubble-like reproduction of the world that creates the idea that an evil force is “threatening us all the time with total destruction”.
Zizek’s piece was about the attacks on 9-11 and the repercussions they had on American mentality. Americans seemed to be in a state of mind that was “unreal”, and he compares this state of mind to the movie The Matrix, or The Truman Show. But after 9-11, American’s suddenly woke up to the notion that this really could happen to them, and now have experienced what people around the world have experienced every day for all of history (and continue to today.) He compares this to other Hollywood films, and that 9-11 just seemed to affirm American’s destructive fantasies. He also points out that things like this do happen in the US every day in the forms of crime against other Americans, but we don’t tend to see it that way or notice it.
The Junod article was about the “Falling Man” picture taken on 9-11. It went over all the mass media surrounding the image: where it was printed, how it outraged people, the debate whether it should be shown, as well as other art being made around 9-11 and the controversy around it too. I couldn’t help but think about the other two articles and their implications about Americans and their voyeurism when it comes to violence. But this one seemed to be much more of a “train wreck” scenario: we know we shouldn’t look but we can’t help it—as opposed to the other articles where we just get off on it. The article also goes over the search for the identification of the person in the photograph, and how many people who’s son/father/brother/friend it may be are curious as to whether it is but none of them want to identify him or even want him to be the man in the photo. Junod debates whether this image is ethical or not and basically recaps all the debate around whether it is or not and whether the man should even be identified.
Here we're talking about censor from officials, not from the public, because the photographs are deemed to have a negative impact on the war in general. How can you argue with what Susan Sontag says. Of course the problem is not in the pictures. The problem is what allowed the situation to evolve to a point where these pictures could be taken.
The text by Slavoj Zizek obviously has a direct connection to Susan Sontag's text on torture as he's pointing out that reality also exist outside the U.S. and what happens here is a direct derivative on what happens elsewhere. The Iraq would by any account have increased rather than decreased the chance that we will see something similar to 9/11 happening on U.S. soil.
It also goes back to the pictures that from 9/11 and why it's deemed unacceptable to publish pictures of the jumpers. The picture of the Falling Man makes it too real to bear.
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Monday, November 26, 2007
To Bartlett criticism is a process bent towards understanding, a science in that it is best when impartial and callous. A process of breaking things apart in order to expose what they are made of and how that effects what it is. The misconception is that it is a judgment bent on staking claims of wrong and right-good and bad. The word is actually misunderstood much like the word judgmental. To be judgmental is not wrong, it is only when your judgments precede any actual interaction or effort to understand that you are stuck in the cycle of being a judgmental/critical prick(the negative connotation). To Bartlett criticism is a form of appreciation. A form of it that's not mindlessly positive nor aggressively negative.
2.How does he distinguish bad and good criticism? Can you give an example from past critiques of an example of both?
For him bad criticism involves pretension, vague arguments, and lack in point and direction. They are critiques that simply state opinion and offer no support as to where it may have come from. He speaks of a good critique as a situation in which both the artist and the critic walk away with a better understanding of how the piece presents its intention and how that intention led to a particular reaction. At least it should involve some discourse that benefits further understanding of some sort. An example of a good critique that I have experienced was when Erica came up to me and said, " Hey, Enrique! You're too fuckin lazy- go make some art." This was a good critique because it was observant, honest, to the point and clear but most importantly galvanizing. An example of a bad critique was at a portfolio review day. The line for RISD was longest but I had heard it was a good school so I went through it. After all that waiting the guy looks through my portfolio and simply asks, " have you ever thought about dressing people up and then taking pics of them?" The only conclusion I could come to is that my portfolio must have been so dull and bland that he couldn't even address it. That, or he was an idiot. Which would you guess I prefer to believe?
3. What might Bartlett argue is the point of criticism in a situation like an art school critique class?
I'm sure that he would argue that by going through the painful process of criticism in an art school critique class the students would be pushed to think about their own art and the art around them in new ways. He would say that it helps people understand the benefits of a good critique, and always looking at your own work as well as yourself with a critical mind. He would say that if an unexamined life is not worth living then neither is life without criticism in an art school critique class. He would most definitely agree that the main point is to get all our heads out our asses, and realize how much there is out there that needs criticizing/appreciating.
Below is the article from the NY Times and a link to the video found on youtube (you have to be signed in to your youtube account in order to view).
SHAMEFUL ART ATTACK
By ANDREA PEYSER
HEART OF STONE:
Eric Fischl's "Tumbling Woman" is on display in Rockefeller Center's Lower Concourse.
- Dan Brinzac
September 18, 2002 --
IS THIS art? Or assault?
As grieving New Yorkers marked the anniversary of the World Trade Center's destruction, the folks at Rockefeller Center got in your face to commemorate the terror attacks.
A violently disturbing sculpture popped up last week in the middle of Rock Center's busy underground concourse - right in front of the ice-skating rink. It depicts a naked woman, limbs flailing, face contorted, at the exact moment her head smacks pavement following her leap from the flaming World Trade Center.
The worst part about the piece is that you can't miss it. Even if you try.
Titled "Tumbling Woman," the sculpture is by '80s darling Eric Fischl.
Since it's planted in one of the city's best-traveled locations, tourists, stroller-pushing moms and office workers - many of whom lost friends and colleagues in the trade-center atrocity - are confronted daily with a larger-than-life rendition of a grotesque episode.
"It's disgusting!" said Ken Fidje, 34, who was poring over paperwork at a table facing the sculpture yesterday when he looked up and noticed it.
"I used to work at the trade center, and I know a lot of people who worked at Cantor Fitzgerald [which lost more than 600 workers]. "It's awful. It's awful!"
Images of desperate people leaping to their deaths last Sept. 11 were captured by news photographers and seared into the memories of trade-center survivors. But out of respect to families of the dead, the most brutal still and video images are rarely displayed publicly - and then, only after sensitive viewers are warned that they may want to look away.
No such warning is found anywhere near the sculpture. There is a plaque featuring a Fischl-authored poem that reads, in part:
disbelieving and helpless,
on that savage day.
People we love
helpless and in disbelief."
Fischl - who was traveling in Croatia yesterday - was not in Manhattan, but way out in the Hamptons Sept. 11 last year, and, despite the moronic poem, he did not witness the scene his work exploits.
But one Rock Center security guard, forced to endure the sculpture because of his job, said he felt as if he were being dragged against his will back to the terrible day when he actually watched human beings fall from the sky.
"I saw 70 people fall from the tower," he said. "Fall from almost 100 stories! To see a statue of people falling to the ground - it's nothing to be happy about."
He said he was considering filing a complaint.
"You have to respect other people and what trauma this will impose upon them," said Michael Cartier, who co-founded the Give Your Voice victims'-advocacy group after losing his brother, James.
The sculpture is on display through Monday. Steven Rubenstein, a spokesman for Rockefeller Center, said the work was not commissioned.
Sunday, November 25, 2007
Art and Violence
at UC Berkeley
with T.J. Clark, Thomas Laqueur, and Francine Masiello
2. View: Fernando Botero's paintings:
3. Read: Regarding the Torture of Others by Susan Sontag
4. Read "Welcome to the Desert of the Real" by Slavoj Zizek
5. Read: The Falling Man by Tom Junod
Tuesday, November 20, 2007
the honesty in Nan Goldins photographs are beautiful
The Stanford Prison Experiment
The Milgram experiment
This week, I am going to show an animated music video by Tim Reardon for the song Irene by Leyode:
Monday, November 19, 2007
This is Eleanor's Dress by David Hilliard. He has been one of my favorite photographers for some time, also quite the influence within my own work. Check out his website! http://www.davidhilliard.com/
Unfortunately I will not be in class tomorrow so I cannot show you the photograph in his book (it looks much better). I believe he captures beauty with all of his photographs, the kind of beauty that exsists in everyday life. With his strange depth of field and soft focus he connects the world through multiple images creating harmony between people, objects, and landscapes. I think its great, I think it's beautiful.
I can bring his book in next week. Hope everyone has a good Thanksgivinggg!
Tuesday, November 13, 2007
The photographer, image, and viewer all wish to help the impending disaster but there is nothing anyone or thing could do at this point. Therefore this is an example of the Helpless Gaze because there is a prevalent desire for intervention, but it is impossible. It is also an example of the Accidental Gaze because it is a witness to an important event.
Monday, November 12, 2007
So yea...everyone knows this photo I am sure. But! I thought it was a good example of two out of the six gazes from the Linda Williams article. I will discuss tomorrow!
also- heres an article that was in esquire magazine about 9-11 and a section about Richard Drew and his photograph:
Tuesday, October 30, 2007
More photos by Vincent Laforet (the one with the incredible shot of the ice skaters) be seen on his site at www.laforetvisuals.com.
Sunday, October 28, 2007
Monday, October 15, 2007
Sunday, October 14, 2007
Just a reminder, we are meeting at LACE (6522 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028) on Tues at 1 pm. Hopefully, using alternative routes from Calarts, the roads won't be too jammed (see http://calarts.edu/news/14-oct-2007/i5closureupdatefacultystudentsandstaff for updates and alternative routes.) but I will update you as necessary.
The reading Allie posted is due on Oct 23 and I will give you your homework related to that reading in the next few days. Also on Oct 23, we will be watching the video The Good Woman of Bangkok- that the essay is discussing.
More to come.
Saturday, October 13, 2007
Wednesday, October 10, 2007
Tuesday, October 9, 2007
the main website that illustrates what I'll be talking about is http://flickrvision.com
however the following websites are also relevant:
This is a commercial picture of a Prius. Highly stylized, highly retouched. A Prius seems high tech today but both the style of this picture and the object (the Prius) will seem very old soon. The technology may be a breakthrough but being among the first will mean you also seem old sooner.
Monday, October 8, 2007
I will discuss tomorrow : )
p.s I don't know how to make it so you can just click on it...sorry...i am a bad blogger.
Sunday, October 7, 2007
Tuesday, October 2, 2007
Saturday, September 29, 2007
Friday, September 28, 2007
If you are taking the van from Calarts, it is leaving at 1:30 instead of 12:30.
Please meet at the front entrance of school no later than 1:30 p.m to catch the van. All others should meet at the Hammer entrance at 2:30 p.m. We will attend the lecture at 3 p.m. and tour the show afterwards.
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
If you are riding in the van Saturday please meet at the front entrance of school no later than 12:30 p.m. All others should meet at the Hammer entrance at 1:45 p.m. We will tour the exhibition at 2 p.m. and attend the artist’s lecture at 3 p.m.
The Hammer Museum is located at the following address:
10899 Wilshire Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90024
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
In Cartier-Bresson's article about telling a story through pictures he describes some of the challenges a photographer faces on a daily basis. A photo is a selection of what we see. It's a selection of time and space. No one can or should try to capture everything but the challenge is to select the right composition at the right moment. I really liked his passage on p. 44 of the mental process to go through when the shot is not exactly what you wanted. "Was it a feeling of hesitation due to uncertainty?...etc." The second part for a picture story is the selection post production. I was surprised by how casual he describes the relationship to the "layout man" and the willingness to let someone else select the pictures for publishing and even cropping.
I have to admit that I've read Lazzlo Moholy-Nagy's article a few times now and except for parts of it and I can't follow his thought process. I will be happy to read other people's postings on this one.
The Jonas Mekas article I thought was very like, self-absorbed?? All the characters talking in the text were being random and artsy for the sake of being artsy. They were trying to be different and interesting but really just sounded like idiots. They were trendezoids! The article would have been more interesting in my mind if they had talked like regular people. The whole idea of shooting the empire state building for a long period of time is a good one. But I think maybe the length of the film is a little excess. Perhaps Warhol was trying to see how long people would stay and watch the movie, if they were trying too hard to be artsy by staying and watching the whole film. But there is also the question the viewer will ask. “What if I leave and something different happens?” so they will sit through hours of the same footage, hoping something different will happen. I wouldn’t stay through the whole film; I would leave after 3 hours.
I thought the Moholy-Nagy article was interesting I liked his thoughts about time and space in photography. I was interested in the part about motion pictures, it really made me think about my own work and how I could make it a narrative, how I can make my own still photography like a movie. I just have a hard time thinking how I could do it subtly, without being to obvious that I am purposely making a narrative piece. Something to think about…..
After reading Maholy-Nagy’s article, Bresson’s article brings about a similar idea about narrative. He suggests that a single picture should tell a story. I think this would be a very hard thing to do. The content of this picture would have to be very busy, and would have to feel emotionally charged. These two things are very hard to put together into one photograph. I think you are lucky to capture one or two emotionally charged pictures in your lifetime, never mind capture it and then have to make it busy and visually striking. I don’t know, maybe you just have to be a very skilled photographer to be able to do this. I guess it’s just something to hope for. Another part of the article I liked was about how to photograph for the consumer, you have to know who your audience is. Lately, I’ve been thinking about the context of photographs, mostly how other people present your work in a way that can askew your original meaning, or might make a mistake in displaying it, which can make the photographer look bad. Bresson talked about it but I don’t think ever came up with a solution to the problem. I guess you just have to work closely with the people handling your work and trust they know what its about and can accurately display it. I love Bresson’s articles, pictures and films so I really enjoyed this article.
Saturday, September 8, 2007
Henri Cartier- Bresson, Images a la sauvette (excerpt) (1952)
Lázlo Maholy Nagy, Space-Time and the Photographer(1942)
Jonas Mekas, Movie Journal, Warhol Shoots Empire, 30/July//1964
Sept 17 - no class
Reading assignment posts due today.
Sept 22 - Kaucyila Brooke presents work.
Readings for Saturday:
Interview with Francis Alÿs
INTERVIEW: The Celebrated Walking Blues
SATURDAY SEPT 29
1 PM meet at Calarts for van ride to Hammer Museum
2 PM view show
3 PM Artist Talk