Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I wonder

I took the poem by Claes Oldenburg, "I am for an art...", and created my own art maifesto. I twisted it a bit and made it into a poem about what I want from the art I have created and will create in the future.

My Creations:

I want to create art that doesn't know it's art.

I want to create art that moves people that means something.
I want to create art that means nothing, that has no deep meaning.
I want to create art that people hate, that frustrates people.
I want to create art that makes people think.
I want to create art that makes people cry and feel.
I want to create art that no one understands.
I want to create art that entertains and serves as an escape.
I want to create art that has a point.
I want to create art that my children will be able to understand, to play with, to have fun with.
I want to create art for myself, for friends, for family, for strangers, for animals, for no one.
I want to create art that will be in the grandest theaters across the country.
I want to create art that will be in the one dollar theaters in small towns.
I want to create art that will be successful.
I want to create art that will fail.
I want to create art that brings hope, that makes people believe.
I want to create art that is controversial.
I want to create art that combines all forms of art.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


Two Videos from Tokyoplastic:

Drum Machine - First one I ever saw (drumming starts about 2 mins in but the intro is cool)

Music Box - My personal favorite

Today I rediscovered two artists who I first remember seeing when I was sixteen at the Virgin Mobile Music Festival in Maryland. Their work came up on the screen between bands about halfway through the day. The two artists, Sam Lanyon Jones and Drew Cope collaborate together to make short films and other graphic work including commercials and prints. These two were raised by Amish foster parents and were horr
ified of television and computers until they discovered Internet porn. After leaving home and traveling they reunited in 2002 to found Tokyoplastic. Tokyoplastic was originally a 15 second claymation nano-series but is now a worldwide recognized website if you follow the Internet underground.

They’re work has come out of their underground laboratory in London, England and are recognized as vector scientists. They have won numerous awards and worked with companies including from Microsoft, Dreamworks SKG, Guy Ritchie, Toyota, etc. In 2006, their first short film called “The Drum Machine” was created. Shortly thereafter they created two more films called “Music Box” and “Opera Guy”. A while after that “The Little Fella”, a groundbreaking short video was created. These two continue to expand their company and website and push forward the boundaries of flash animation and visuals on the Internet. Toykoplastic has expanded into the market by creating Japanese inspired Geisha character, which is used in "Drum Machine” and is the icon of their work. These figures sold out immediately so they decided to make more based off of other characters in their work including Opera Guy, Awia, and Koguma.

When I first saw “Drum Machine” at Virgin Festival I was amazed and intrigued by it. They were able to meld music and animation together in a new way I had never seen before. I assumed (wrongly) that it was Japanese because of the Geisha characters. I asked around who had created the short video and my best friend told me that it was a group named Tokyoplastic. I looked them up and even their website tricked because some parts are in Japanese and the Japanese influence continues throughout the site. It’s extremely hard to navigate the first time you visit but after a while you learn how to find what you want. Every part of the site is interactive and it’s a form of audio-visual art I would have never thought of. Every film or short piece they do is extremely original, surreal, and creative and immediately captures my attention. A good amount of the work comes off as strange and unusual and sometimes dark and creepy but even the creepy things are fascinating. The level of craftsmanship with the animation is unparalleled and loving created. I love telling new people about them because I want to gauge their reactions whether they be negative or positive. These two vector scientists have created a whole new realm of flash video and animation yet they have no intention of making themselves well known. You really have to search to find them when you see their work in a commercial or one of their short films that’s not from their main site.

Here is there site for anyone who's interested in more of their work: Tokyoplastic

Things that go bump in the night

I gathered these four pieces together because they all deal with nightmares. Two nights ago I had my first nightmare since I was a child. I had a number of them in a row, each time went back to sleep I was in a new one. Now usually I don’t sleep because I’m an insomniac and when I do I only get four to five hours tops before my body wakes itself up. On Monday I was getting about six to seven hours of sleep, which is a very rare occasion. And I find it intriguing that the night I get a somewhat normal amount of sleep I also have three terrifying nightmares. One of these felt very much like a nightmare I would have had as a child, filled with abstract and bright monsters chasing after me. This one was over fairly quickly and I shrugged it off as more of a strange dream then a nightmare although it did thoroughly creep me out. My second nightmare was much more realistic and tapped into my fear of heights. I was standing on a crane for some reason with the wind blowing. I tried to make it back to the body of the crane but I fell and instead of dying I hit water but it was an ocean and it was a rough one at that. I couldn’t stay afloat and started drowning, waking up right before I died. The third nightmare I had was the most vivid and horrifying to me. I won’t go into to much detail but it dealt with robbers and people breaking into my house. I was terrified and was trying to get to my family. After a while I woke up from this nightmare covered in sweat. I looked around to find my roommate so I could make sure I was awake. But when I looked around my roommate was nowhere to be found and I see a masked figure standing in my doorway with a gun. Then I woke up again, for real and found everything in order. I didn’t go back to sleep for a while and the next night I was a bit afraid to fall asleep because of this streak of nightmares.

These paintings all deal with the realm of dreams and more specifically nightmares. The first and most famous of these is The Nightmare (1781) by Henry Fuseli. The sleeping woman lays in anguish as the nightmare plagues her sleep and comes to view in the background of the painting. The horse and incubus are two very common symbols associated with nightmares and look on as she lies in this prime pose to have such dreams. Fuseli uses chiaroscuro to create a very strong contrast between the lights and darks in the painting and the coloring is very rich and vivid. All of the other nightmare paintings draw from this one. They aren’t as realistic but they portray similar emotions. The painting of the same name by John Fitzgerald pays homage to Fuseli, changing a few details but remaining true to the painting. His is much bluer and actually plays out the nightmare in the background instead of implying it. But the woman lies in the same pose and she’s surrounded by her nightmare in the same way. Robert Lee’s Twisted face reminds me of the way I feel during the nightmare. The eyes are wide with fear, the mouth screams a silent scream all while being distorted and turned upside down. This nightmare painting has more of a surreal interpretation then the previous two and leaves almost everything to the imagination. Even so, Lee still pin points the fear of the dreamer and makes it the forefront of his work. The last nightmare work I chose is Joshua Hoffine’s Nightmare, a photograph that I think we can all relate to. A small child clutches desperately to her teddy bear as giant monstrous hands reach out from under the bed. She stays hunched toward the back of the bed hoping the hands won’t notice her and be content with the blocks on the floor. I love the play with shadows in this piece, especially the little girl’s and under the bed. The shadow under the bed is pitch black and then completely light, no transition between the two. The blocks make me curious, I’m not exactly sure what their purpose is. Maybe they were knocked over by the hands or maybe the little girl just didn’t clean them up before she got into bed. The fact that all the lights are on makes me think she’s probably afraid of the day and maybe that’s why only the hands of the monster are exposed and not the rest of it. All of these nightmare pieces grasp onto the same emotions of fear, horror, and the unknown. Combining these things can lead to a number of images and ideas just as dreams can.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


This photograph no longer exists in one piece due to an irrational decision on my part but I can still recall it quite vividly. The photograph was taken at my Grandparent’s house when I was about four years old. It’s quite simple, consisting only of my Grandpa and I. He sits in a large reclining chair in his living room in Stanton, Virginia. I sit happily on his knee looking up at him with a big grin on my face unaware of the camera only a few feet away from us while he smiles directly into the camera, a glare barely catching the bottom part of his glasses. The left edge of the photo shows half of an old lamp and wooden table with the two of us framed close to center and the right side of the photo fades into darkness.

The photographer is none other then my mother who never misses a moment to take a photo. This photograph means a lot to me because my Grandpa and I were very close. I remember being upon his knee many times. He used to give me his ice cream and call me “pug”. I love this photograph because I can see the happiness in both of our faces, mine full of wonder, and his full of content. I also love it because I am unconcerned with the camera that captures this purely innocent moment in time. I used to carry this photo around with me most of the time, kind of like a good luck charm. Naturally the photo is worn and rather beat up due to being folded and unfolded time after time. But now it sits in a safe place taped back together as best I could manage. I ripped the photo after my Grandpa’s funeral when I was seventeen. He was the first immediate family member of mine to die that I remember and it was my first funeral. I remember getting mad at myself for not being able to cry when my father told me the news. I was shocked, I’m not even sure if I responded to him. I didn’t cry until the two days when I went to his funeral in Virginia and saw the open casket. After I went back home I took the photo out of my back pocket and tore it out of anger and sorrow. I didn’t get to say goodbye and even worse, my mother didn’t, his own daughter. I don’t think the pain losing someone you love ever goes away but with time the pain dulls and you learn to move on.

I’m not sure whether I would have wanted to see him or not though. Over the two years leading up to his death, Alzheimer’s slowly took a hold of him and he could barely remember whom I was. I remember the first time he didn’t know my name; it broke my heart. If I would have been there and he didn’t remember me I don’t think I could have handled it. Minutes after destroying the photo I broke into tears and frantically searched for tape to fix my hasty mistake. Ever since then I have not been able to take the photo anywhere for fear of losing it for good.

When I look at the photo I can smell a Virginia summer’s night and picture me asleep next to my Grandpa on the swinging porch chair while he smokes and looks out into the dark. I wonder if he was ever looking for anything in particular or if he was simply looking. He had a great since of humor; he often told me jokes and would always talk about being a hooligan in his youth. The house seems so empty now when we visit my Grandmother and I know it takes a toll on her. I can’t fathom being married to someone for 56 years and then losing them. My mother grew up in that house and my brother and I have shared good memories there as well. I feel like I go back in time when I visit her in Stanton.

My Grandpa always smoked for as long as I can remember and he had no health complications due to smoking. This always amazed me because on the opposite hand smoking killed my dad’s mom. He also had dentures because he liked candy to much as a kid and boy did ever love it when he was old. He had trouble walking in the last of his years which sadly left him in his recliner most of the time but every now and again we would go to the park to feed the ducks or listen to the band in the summer evening. He loved to go on drives and get out of the house. My mom said he used to love to fish as well, he taught me how to fly fish when I was about ten but I wasn’t any good at it. Almost all of my memories with him are good ones and I am thankful for that.

This photo doesn’t help me know my Grandpa or tell me anything about him or make me remember him better. It does something more then that. It starts a chain reaction of vivid memories and smells that play like a dream in my mind. This photo helps me remember my Grandpa the way I want to remember him before he couldn’t remember me. Before he started deteriorating and having to watch helplessly, unable to do anything about it. He was a kind and gentle man. He never brought any harm to anything be it plant, animal, or human. He provided for his family and was the best husband/dad/grandfather he could be. In a way I think it’s silly that I place so much importance upon this tiny piece of ripped paper but at the same time I am glad I do because it reminds me the moment actually happened. Without it I’m sure I would remember my Grandpa the same way as I do now but it’s the only thing I have of him left in the world.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Ghouls of the Night

Dear Potato Family,

Every day you work the fields with your bare hands, even the women and children. Your bodies are tired and tattered, your faces are worn from years of hard manual labor just to put food on the table in the evenings. Each day it's the same, more and more potatoes but you don't mind. Your house is modest but enough for the family to be comfortable and provide for the elders. A cousey yet haunting place to liveYour eyes are distant and cold, black as coal and impossible to read. Maybe you imagine yourself somewhere else or perhaps you are simply grateful to have any food at all. The utensils in your hands are held softly, delicately as to not hurt your raw hands which have been digging all day long. The dirt and musk fills the atmosphere around the table. Ghoulish hands reach out from the dark for a cup of tea or some potatoes. You sit basking in the dull light of a single candle above the table, barely allowing you to see. Taking this moment to pause and relfect is well deserved. The family has worked hard today and provided well for themselves and tomorrow will be the same. Your wooden faces all relfect this fact and you accept it as your way of living, an honest living.

Goodnight potato eaters.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Tale of Love and Woe

I haven't found anything recently that really made me think or respond in any sort of way so I decided to pick an item from foundmagazine. I searched on their site for a good while and found a couple of things that sparked my interest but eventually I found an object that caught my attention and made me stop in my mental footsteps so to speak. The object is a ripped up picture that a woman found in front of an angel statue in a cemetery in Cleveland. She took the picture and put the pieces back together forming this:

To me the photo looks to have been of a bride and groom from quite a long time ago. But why was it ripped up and tossed in front of the angel? Did one of the people in this photo commit this act? If so I wonder if it was out of love and grief or out of hate. Or could the person who ripped the photo be an offsrping of the two visting the parents grave? I want to know the back story of this photo, who are these people? When was it taken?

With all unanswerable questions aside, the phot itself intigues me. The man is looking up and away from the camera and instead of being next to his bride he stands behind her. The woman on the otherhand gazes directly into the camera and appears proud and composed with part of herself in front of her husband. I adore the worn and old feeling of this photo. I feel that before it met the fate of being in pieces the photo was very loved and cared for.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

The Time is Now

There are two artists who I would use to define the times we are in right now here in 2009. The first being a filmmaker who I admire greatly and think as one of the most influential living filmmakers; Mr. Martin Scorsese. When I see his films I can really connect to them and I get the feeling that he really knows what the audience wants and what they’re interested in. He has a formula, knows it works, and uses it to his advantage. He has created such classics as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull, Casino, Goodfellas, and The Departed. He continues to take risks and excite and capture his audience in new and innovative ways. His risks for the most part are rewarded and show young; rising filmmakers such as myself that doing what you want and believing in yourself can get your movie picked up. I feel that Mr. Scorsese also goes above and beyond being a filmmaker. He is very in touch with his American-Italian roots and shows that influence in some of his films as well as outside the film industry.

Another artist that I feel captures what I would call modern is none other than Marcel Duchamp. I remember learning about him in class and the Mona Lisa with the Mustache made me literally fall out of my chair laughing. He was able to take something that people regard so highly, have fun with it, and still have people love it. He took a huge risk because he could have been shunned out of the art world instead. He also took a urinal, signed it, and called it “Fountain”. Duchamp fascinates me because he challenged the rules set before him as to what “art” is. I feel like many artists are trying to do that same thing now and I feel Duchamp was extremely successful. He was experimental, daring, and didn’t care much for convention in art or anything really. He was a driving force in surrealism in France and influenced multiple artists in the future.

Both of these artists take risks and delve into what many others were to cautious or uncaring to try. One is a filmmaker who constantly comes up with new material and new ways to stun audiences that have seen his work before. I think the only way someone could describe one of his films as being "Classic Scorcese" would be because of how crazy and cutting edge they always are. Not because they are similar. Duchamp also took chances and pushed the edges of convention. He had no patiance for rules and worrying about what art should be, he just created.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Graffiti Art

For my final commonplace entry I will be focusing on graffiti art. Specifically the graffiti art tunnel on campus just before the gates leading to center stage. While I couldn't get inside the of the tunnel itself, the art on the outside was more then enough for me to cover. I take frequent walks over to the graffiti wall when I need to think, clear my head, or if I'm looking for inspiration. And every time I've been over there the art has been changed. Nothing stays up there for more then a month or so and I often see groups of people walking over to spray over top of what's there to put up their own creations.

Now until sometime last year I didn't even know graffiti was an art form and you can believe otherwise if you so wish. However, graffiti art is very difficult. I learned this the hard way because two of my friends who are astonishing painters are also amateur graffiti artists. When I found this out I chuckled and foolishly asked "Is that really considered art?" they gasped and showed me some of what they had created and told me to give it a try. Not wanting to back down after my remarks I gave my best attempt at creating art...it was a mess. Needless to say I made a fool of myself and learned to keep my mouth shut. I later followed them to the water tower (behind my high school), which frequently falls a victim to this art form. Watching my friends execute even the simplest design amazed me. They had to get every line, swirl, loop, letter, shading, and "mistake,” correct the first time because obviously spray paint isn't erasable. Spray paint can also be very uncooperative and tough to work with as can the medium the graffiti artist chooses to work on. So from then on I became a believer in graffiti art. I have not attempted to make anymore graffiti art since my first attempt but I have the utmost respect for the artists that have taken the time to learn how to create this precise and expressive form of artwork.
After taking multiple pictures of the art that currently resides on the wall toward the back of UNCSA I decided to use this portion:

This particular piece of art has a mix of jagged, edgy lines and curved lines. The curves seem to only truly appear on arch figures in the graffiti and on the only off colored light purple part which has the largest curve in the piece. The piece mostly consists of zigzag jagged lines, which give the piece a harsh and coarse feeling. This is only the beginning of the graffiti area and covers between six to ten feet across and about three feet high. In the photo the graffiti appears to be smooth and almost glossy but in reality it has been painted on a rather rough surface of brick. I would describe this piece as symbolistic; it means something to the artists but passerbyers are left in the dark. I would call the work expressionistic as well because the painting has been created through an abstract medium in a way that many do not understand or see as vandalism rather than art. Graffiti art is imperfect and meant to be that way because it's about self expression and requires the artists to throw themselves into something that could very well be destroyed the next morning.

The majority of the graffiti is a bluish-purple color but one area is a much lighter purple that is not used anywhere else in the piece. The background is a yellow cloud outlined in red, an explosion maybe, coming from behind the main focus of the piece-the lettering. There are also three white stars bursting from the lettering. The shadows are colored in black and give another plain of depth to the work. This particular graffiti piece repeats itself you can see this by looking at the right edge of the picture where the pattern starts over. I can’t decide whether that sad smiley face on the lighter purple area was intended to be there by the original artists or added later without their knowledge. This piece bulges and pushes against itself, begging for more room so the jumbled letters can stretch out. The entire piece is outlined by a thin white line that contrasts with the black used for the shadows and fills making the painting pop from the wall.

Somehow I think the graffiti knows that people are intrigued by it and will stop to try and decipher it’s meaning. I felt like I had to stop and look at every part of this wall or I would miss something. I find this true for the photo as well. I can’t ignore it or push it aside just because I don’t know the intention or meaning of the artwork, we wouldn’t have half the art we do now if that were the case. This kind of art is truly a statement; being able to create art anywhere and everywhere is a gift. Great murals and depictions of society have been created by graffiti art.

Graffiti art would remind me most of mannerist paintings if I were to put it into a category from this term. The reason being, graffiti art delves into individualism and each piece of art, while similar, will always be different from artist to artist. The exaggerated lettering and shapes generally stay the same. But the color, curves, background, and meaning will vary from artist to artist. Graffiti varies from region to region much as paintings in the time of mannerism did. While Italy was still prominent the center or art was moving to France. Italian mannerism is not the same as French. In turn, a graffiti piece created in Detroit will not be the same as one created in Los Angeles. However, what graffiti art truly reminds me of are inscriptions such as the ones created on the French caves we studied in the fall term.

Invasion of the Crabs!

While thinking about what my focus would be for my final commonplace entry this term I remembered a strange type of art that my city has been displaying since the summer of 2005.

Back in 2005 a project was created named The Crabtown Project which raised money for Baltimore City Schools because they are drastically underfunded and in terrible condition throughout the city. The project invited local artists to take a 5X5 foot fiberglass crab and turn it into a work of art. Over 350 artists were vying for a chance to get their hands on one of them. Out of those 350, 200 where eventually chosen. After the artists had completed their creations, the crabs were unleashed upon the unsuspecting city. In the fall, all of the crabs where auctioned off and ended up raising over a million dollars for renovations to bathrooms, replacement of exterior doors and floor tiles, carpet replacement and other needs for the schools. All of the artists received a bit of money (~$1,000) but most of them agreed that the project was fun and they would have participated without payment in order to help the schools. What I found exceptionally intriguing was some of the artists asked for input from the kids, what they wanted to see and create, not only what the artist felt like making.

Most of these crabs are no longer in Baltimore City but the few that do remain stand proudly and represent the full hearts of Baltimore artists and the people and businesses of the city. Some of the crabs are in plain sight, around tourist attractions such as the inner harbor or outside of Raven's stadium. Others are hidden only seen by the Baltimore native who knows where to look. When they first appeared I thought they were around because summer was approaching, thus crab season, a promotion tactic or maybe a college school project. But when they stuck around I was determined to find out why. When I did I was truly proud to a Baltimorean knowing how our city pulled together with a public event such as this one. And to help children no less. When I see tourists and children down in the city pointing at them, playing on them, and taking pictures of them I think about how absurd they must seem to an outsider. But if they knew the story behind them they might come to mean more then just creative and beautifully decorated glass crabs. These pieces of art have a deeper hidden meaning then simply sitting by the Washington Monument or outside of the Aquarium; they represent my city. Not only because crabs are the trademark of Maryland but also because of the goodhearted and loving people who inhabit a city that as of late is only known for it's high crime rate and subpar schooling. Creating these crabs was not something these artists did for the money or their careers necessarily. They were created by people who care about creating art for a cause and helping hundreds of schools and children. If you ever have a chance to visit Charm City make sure to keep an eye out for a crab taxi or referee and take the time to stop and explore them, find out who created them. Some of the artists even give credit to the children who helped creatively and physically build these art crabs.

I don’t usually enjoy art for causes because to me the events (as well as the art) seem forced. But in this case I found the art intuitive, unique, and creative, capturing my full attention and emotion.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together."

Last week we enjoyed about two to three inches of snow fall. My friends and I immediately went outside to have a snowball fight and make snowmen. I felt like a little kid again playing in my backyard at home with my brother. The excitement and happiness overflowed and became contagious to anyone who walked by. After we had all settled down and gone back inside to drink hot chocolate and play smash bros I decided that I would go out later to enjoy the quite of the early morning. So around 3am I braved the biting cold and light snowfall to take pictures and enjoy the beauty and purity of snow. My thoughts and silence were soon broken as my eye caught a flash from another camera. I don't know why I didn't think anyone else was nuts enough to be walking around at this time in the morning taking pictures of snow covered trees and bikes but low and behold at least two other film students were outside with the same exact idea. Even after I had fulfilled my desire for pictures I remained outside to listen and appreciate nature. When such a beautiful act of nature such as snow occurs I often step back to take everything in. I wish that I could have become invisible, just observing the delicate flakes that end up brushed aside and stomped on by eager feet. I love seeing a field of undisturbed snow; no footprints, no sign of an interference. When I do come across such a field I am stopped in my tracks with aw and watch for a while without any concern for the passing time or my frozen nose and feet. A sensation washes over me, I no longer feel connected to myself or anything around me, I become an invisible eyeball. As such I neither interfere nor react, only observe and ponder the wonders of nature.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Perfect Unseen Sunset

San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk, also known as Dusk in Venice, painted by Claude Monet seems to capture all the elegance and mystery of a sunset. The church in the left upper corner melts into the warm reds and oranges of the setting sun and barely casts a reflection in the water below. And on the right you can barely make out the dome of Santa Maria Salute. The water and sky have become one to be told apart only by the gentle ripples along the water’s surface. The sunset has varying levels: the very top of the sky has not started setting while the middle has just begun to set and the horizon barely gives off any light with the disappearing sun. So bright and warm, inviting you to lose yourself in the colors and mystery of an evening in Venice. The melding of sky and water gives off a fogginess and mystery of nature but at the same time displays a beauty that can only be created by nature. Even though there is no sunset that will ever look like this, I still want to go to Venice and wait for this sunset to show up. If the world was a watercolor painting I’m convinced this sunset would be visible across the earth.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The Oscars for 2008

Well it's that time of year again folks! It's time for the Oscars! The biggest movie event of the year held in the wonderful gold filled streets of Hollywood in the Kodak Theater. As I sat on my bed watching the opening I found myself getting jittery and excited to see all of these amazing talents, both technically and acting, gathered together to honor each other.

Hugh Jackman started off the evening by singing and dancing around on stage and making fun of the nominated movies and actors. As much as I didn't want to like his opening I found myself laughing along with the audience and thoroughly enjoying myself. Now it was time for the awards to start and as usual I had favorites in each categories even in ones I didn't know such as the documentary and foreign films. I was a bit distracted because I had work to do so it was mainly in the background and surprisingly no one else on my hall was watching them for some reason or another. My friend Greg ended up knocking on my door and watching them with me.

We sat there and bet on who was going to win what and whether they actually deserved it or if it was film politics. I was happy to see Slumdog win a good amount of awards including best cinematography and director among others. Heath Ledger won supporting actor which wasn't a surprise to either of us and he definitely deserved it. In the middle they had some weird musical number that combined a bunch of old movie songs together. It was strange...I thought I was watching the Tonys for a minute instead of the Oscars. That sort of pissed me off because it had nothing to do with anything being nominated or film in general! But I digress.

Sean Penn won for best actor which I wasn't very happy about but he gave a heartfelt and a stick-it-to-the-man speech about gay marriage so I couldn't be too angry at him. The only other award I really didn't agree with was Slumdog winning best picture. (I can hear the protesting now) Now I enjoyed this movie and I think it deserved almost every award except best picture. I mean to me, compared to a movie like Benjamin Button or Frost/Nixon or Milk it seems so childish and a little bit cheesy.

Even though the Oscars didn't go exactly the way I wanted them (they never do) I thought this year was one of the best out of the past few years. The host did a decent job and wasn't making fun of politics the whole time (that really pisses me off) and most of the nominations deserved to be up there. Overall the ceremony was enjoyable and made me proud to be going into filmmaking. A who knows maybe one day I'll be up there receiving an award.

Storyboard...No Laughing

For this assignment I created a storyboard. I will get it up as soon as possible but for now I will look at the sculpture by Bernini that I based my storyboard off of. I decided upon trying to capture and recreate the story of Apollo and Daphne like Bernini did in his sculpture.

Bernini creates an astonishingly realistic and amazingly lifelike sculpture of the moment Daphane starts turning into a tree. He turns marble into flesh before your eyes and when we looked at details in class I was completely fooled into thinking they were photographs. Bernini also gives his two characters amazing expressions. Apollo is lunging and grabbing for Daphne's exposed flesh but he cannot move his hands fast enough and his touch only finds the corse bark of her new form. Daphne's face is one of horror but also of relief to be saved from Apollo's grasp. Her fingers spread and rise toward the sun as they turn into leafy twigs and her feet become roots.

I created a storyboard like I would have for film. Now while the storyboard could be a better quality, the main point of a storyboard (at least to a filmmaker) is for me to understand what it means and for it to help me visualize what I want to shoot. So while they usually end up being stick figures that my seven and eight year old nieces could draw better, they help me when I direct and that's all it needs to do.

*Storyboard will be up shortly once I get it scanned.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Story Time!

This is going to be a bit different from a lot of my posts. And yes the story is mostly sarcasm. Enjoy.

Story of The *Narcissus :

Caravaggio is not known for creating classical mythology paintings or anything resembling them. So one day he decided he was going to go mystical on every one's ass. He was tired on doing paintings for the church and being a leader of the new Baroque style. But still the dilemma was there; what myth should he tackle. Well you can bet he thought long and hard about that and when had finally picked a myth he jumped into the air in excitement and went to work right away. Of course Caravaggio didn't want to e thought of as a fool or creating something "silly" or "light hearted". No, this painting of Narcissus would be brooding, cynical, darkness, while still keeping true to the myth. Caravaggio went about painting Narcissus. After having some arguments and trouble with his model it was done and looked pretty good. The painting still captured the classical myth but was introspective, a battle of dark and light, a loop of struggle with one's self and in the end no one could really say it was silly. Also since it is said that when a painter paints he paints himself, a painter is just like Narcissus, obsessed with himself.

*Narcissus is the story of a young very handsome man who feel in love with his reflection.

Now for a bit of seriousness. I love this painting because it breaks away from Caravaggio's norm. He's not known for this type of painting but for some reason it captivated me the most out of the ones that I looked at. It could be the tender and loving look this boy stares at his reflection with. Or the sheer fact that this reflection stares right back at him in a changed form; a ragged older man. Perhaps Caravaggio meant to poke fun at the story itself because this story is associated with artists because they end up putting some of themself into their work and are therefore in love with themselves. He cleverly hides that fact but at the same time brings it to the forefront of our thoughts because he painted it thus proving the saying correct.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Midterm- Churches

For my midterm I was asked to go off campus and find a place a worship that I was inspired to write about. The church I found is called the Trinity Moravian Church. I am particularly intrigued by the stain glass windows. On the sides of the church there are stain glass windows that depict Christ and biblical figures/scenes, these windows just contain patterns. There is nothing particularly religious about these windows they just look pretty. The whole time I was looking at these in person I was trying to figure out why. Usually patterned windows are saved for small windows up high or the patterns encase the religious figures. When the light hit these windows it looked beautiful. Every color was spread across myself and the ground before me. And that’s when it hit me. The light shining there was heavenly and that’s what the purpose is. The windows show such brilliant and beautiful patterns and colors to symbolize God and his gifts and wonders. I wish I could have gone inside but no one was there. When the light shines into the church it must cast all of those colors on the congregation and look magnificent. This made me think back to other churches that might have the same patterns but no religious figures stained glass windows. After thinking about it when I got back to my dorm I remembered my grandmother’s church. It’s another small church, a presbyterian church. It has windows much like the ones shown here; there is only one window, at the alter, that depicts Christ and other biblical figures as well as angels. The other stained glass windows are all patterned and let in mellow sunlight and sparkling colors of the rainbow and spread them throughout the congregation. It’s almost as if when the light shines on the people inside it’s God peaking in to watch. That church always gives me such a safe and warm feeling and I bet the light has a lot to do with it. If they were regular windows or stained glass without patterns, it wouldn’t shine the same way. I like the idea that even though there are no religious figures present on these windows, it is an implied presence that can be seen and felt (the warmth) when the sun shines through.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

My Vision of God Creating Adam

I decided to alter what is considered the most famous detail of the Sistine Chapel's ceiling which was painted by the revered Michelangelo. I am making fun of how serious people take art and paintings sometimes, especially when they concern religion and also how much this painting influences people. But at the same time I am bringing up concerns that some have about the painting. God, the divine is giving life to Adam who is looking very majestic and laid back as if to say "well of course God would touch me" and then in the middle the idea of man being unworthy of such affection from God as is being shown.

I choose to alter this painting because I always think of The Flying Spagetti Monster when I think of God Creating Adam from the Sistine Chapel's ceiling.

Some people are very offended by this alteration to God Creating Adam. I personally find it extremely amusing. The quote underneath really adds to it as well. It really asks for an explanation to the greatness of the Sistine Chapel's Ceiling and Michelangelo as well as the importance of art to us. If he would have painted the Flying Spegetti Monster instead would it have been just as revered?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The Last Super

The Last Super by Leonardo Da Vinci has come to be one of his most studied works next to the Mona Lisa and a few others. Leonardo painted this mural because the man he worked for, Duke Ludovico Sforza, requested him to do so. It took Leonardo three years (1495-1498) to complete and since he was a known procrastinator it wouldn’t have been surprising if he left it unfinished like many of his other works. Now you might be asking yourself “Okay so it’s the Last Super, so what? Why’s it special?” This is where the painting gets really interesting. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Lets start with where the painting originates. The Last Super represents the night that Christ gathered all twelve apostles to dine with them and tell them that one of them will betray him as told in John 13:21. This scene had been painted many times before but Leonardo was the first to give each apostle very human and life like expressions. He depicted these people acting like real people instead of acting like apostles and saints. Also, Leonardo’s composition is outstanding in this painting. Every little detail in it directs your attention to the main figure of Christ. This painting has captured the minds of artists and the everyday person even today. It is one of the most reproduced paintings in the world. And many people have discovered supposedly secret messages in the painting such as the mysteriously feminine looking face to the left of Christ or that there are hidden characters. Now whether they are true are not you must decide for himself.

Kristeva: Bellini and Leonardo - Madonna and Child

I don’t know if I completely agree with the splitting theory that Kristeva suggests in her talk about maternity. I think of it as more of a bond then a split. Pregnancy is where nature and culture collide not go in opposite directions. We begin life in our mothers; she gives us an identity before we are even aware of it because of genes and DNA.
I don’t really understand the whole female Oedipus complex thing. Kristeva states that a woman wants to give birth to her father’s child and that the child’s purpose is to essentially become like the mother’s father. And all this is because the woman really wants to be a man and have a penis.

I think it’s a bit far fetched. I mean sure some families want boys but some want girls too. And almost no child wants to grow up to be EXACTLY like their parents. Children take bits and pieces of their parents and apply them to how they want to be. They say things like “I want to be like my dad in this way but not in this way”, etc. The other psychic processes of becoming a mother I pretty much agree with. There is a biological drive to give birth and keep the species going. And there is a desire to be like your mother and be a good mother to your children.

Leonardo (top) and Bellini (bottom) Madonna and Child paintings side by side.

Answers to the Questions:

1. Bellini was shaped by Byzantine influences. As it states in the reading, Bellini seemed more interested in the female form then the young male form that was popular in Italy. He was also shaped by the mere fact that he was from a city that was the high point of Art during the Renaissance that all the men in his family were painters.

2. The only things we know about Bellini are that he was married but his wife died young and his son died young as well. We also know that Bellini’s mother believes that he was an illegitimate child and did not recognize herself as his mother.

3. Leonardo’s Madonna and Childs tell us that he was confused about mothers because he had two of them. They also tell us that he was very attached to his maternal mother. In the Madonna and Childs the Mary is never looking at the baby, seemingly distracted by something else. Leonardo might have been confused as to why he needed two mothers and why he was taken from his real mother. He might think he mother didn’t want him or was distracted just as Mary is in the paintings. At the same time Mary’s face is always gentle and serene with peace and love even though she is always looking away from the baby.

4. In Leonardo’s Madonna and Childs he always has Mary looking somewhere away from the baby as if distracted or focusing on something in the distance. Bellini does almost the exact opposite. In his Madonna and Childs Mary is always focusing all of her attention on the baby.

5. Bellini uses a mixture of hot colors and cold colors. He is very big on contrast and separation. He clearly separates the different sections of his paintings yet simultaneously molds them into a cohesive whole at the same time. He attempts to make his paintings “real” by using such an abrupt and absurd color contrasts.

6. In the quoted passage Kristeva means that Christ’s Death and birth are coupled because one makes the other inevitable. With his birth Mary knew that Christ was going to die. Every mother knows this when she gives birth to her child. Even though Christ died in a unique way and for a unique reason but everyone will die because they were born.

7. The early Madonna’s are rather stone faced and cold toward the baby. The ones from 55-60 have the Madonna’s holding a struggling baby. Many have interpreted that the baby Christ was trying to get away from his mother but maybe he was just being a restless baby. To me these seem more realistic than Christ just sitting there, serene and still. From 60-64 Bellini’s Madonna’s are still grabbing at the baby but not as much and at the buttocks rather then the genitals. The Madonna also has her hands folded at the center of the painting to draw attention and center the eyes. From 75-80 Bellini focused on other paintings and broke away from the Madonna and Child. From 80-90 the Madonna and Child now have a very distinct split. Mary leans away from her child and looks as if she is about to run from the child. She looks dissatisfied and hurt somehow by the unknowing baby. From 1500-1509 Bellini’s Madonna’s have become pale and apathetic toward the baby. Almost as if it wasn’t her own and she were just holding him for someone.

8. These changes in Bellini’s Madonna’s could be attributed to the fact that later in his life he found out that he was a bastard child. He loved his mother very much and she was very caring and kind, just like the Madonna’s seem to be early on, until it was revealed that she was not in fact his mother and his father had had Bellini out of wedlock. Bellini’s mother even went as far as to cut him out of her will in the end which could be why the Madonna looks apathetic in the later paintings because that’s how his mother became toward him.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Poem For the Hunters in the Snow

Here is a short poem I wrote for the painting Hunters in the Snow by Pieter (the Elder) Bruegel. The painting is part of a a series called A Series of Months. Only four out of the collection survive today. This one grabbed my attention the most so here is my poem:

Hunters return from a long hunt in the cold of winter

They have little to show for it, catching only a small rabbit

The dogs are cold and exhausted from their long venture
The dogs and hunters shiver against the fierce cold

Down below in the town people are unaware
Some people are working a fire to keep warm
Others skate and laugh while the hunters trudge along

The land is covered in snow and ice as far as the eye can see
The mountains look down upon the land showing no signs of spring
Winter has just begun and the land lies sleeping in the soft covering of snow

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Mr. President

"The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness." (Barack Obama)

This is not part of my art history homework but I thought it deserved to be a part of my common place book.

Today, January 20th 2009, marks a very significant event in the history of the United States of America. Barack Obama was sworn in as the 44th President of the United States of America and is the first African American President in history. I, like many other Americans and fellow students of UNCSA, gathered with my close friends this morning to watch Mr. Obama be sworn into office.

I was so proud to have been apart of the unique voting process of the United States for the first time in my life even if it was with an absente ballot. It was amazing to see the crowd that turned out to see the new President take office and to see the Mr. Bush leave after a reign of eight years in office. There were over two million people that showed up outside the Capital building, bracing the traffic and the cold of D.C. and watching and waiting for the new President to be sworn in and to give his inaguration speech. Mr. Obama was sworn in after his Vice President Joe Biden. Even though Mr. Obama forgot one of his lines when taking his oath, it was amazing to see all the flags waving and the people cheering once he was offically in. Though thanks to CNN they informed us that at noon even though he had not taken the oath he was offically President according to the US Constitution.

Mr. Obama gave a very heart felt and well spoken speech. He didn't suger coat anything but at the same time gave hope to everyone in the country and many others around the world. He knows he will have an uphill battle during his term(s) and intends to fight them head on. Mr. Obama is very charasmatic and had everyone's attention the entire time. He addressed everyone; no matter what religion, race, age, ethnicity, etc and he made that a very strong point in his speech. And he ended it with a confident and deviant statement that wrapped everythign up nicely:

"America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations." (Barack Obama)

Now America looks forward and see a new generation and a new country. Citizens must help rebuild America and work alongside the President and government in Washington. Americans must seize this new sense of change and hope to get the nation back on track.

Of Popes and Presidents

The first set papal portraits make the popes look important yet gentle. They seem to contain all and knowing wisdom in their old age. Their power is implied through their posture and the deep, rich colors used in the portraits.

The one that captures my attention the most is the one of Pope Innocent X. His face is strict but has a hint of gentleness. He looks attentively out of the portrait at on lookers His posture is upright and he sits in the papal chair, knowing it is his rightful place.

The second set of portraits done by Francis Bacon give a completely different feel to the papacy. These portraits make the Popes seem very ghoulish. Their faces are green and blue and barely distinguishable. The portrait is very chaotic and hard to tell what is what in the paintings. Bacon makes the Popes seems evil and deceiving; almost the opposite of what the previous paintings were portraying.

The paintings of Franklin Roosevelt make him seem powerful and objective. He looks straight ahead with his chin up. He looks alert and bright, not rundown at all even though he dealt with so much in his time as President. He was a very proud man and an amazing President. Even in old age he looked good. His portraits look the same for the mot part except for having completely white hair when he was older. None of his portraits show him standing if below the waist or they just show his upper half. This was because he had polio yet didn’t want the country to know. When he was forced to use a wheelchair he made them film and photograph him above his waist. He didn’t want his country to feel sorry for him especially when more important things, like the Great Depression and WWII, where devastating the USA.

After reading about him, I found that for the most part I was correct. Roosevelt was quite suited to be President even though many around him doubted that fact. He led our country out of the Great Depression, one of the blackest times in our country with welfare programs and ideas that changed the role of the government forever. He also led our country through WWII another very dark time for not only our country but also the entire world. He was an amazing public speaker and very charismatic which allowed him to lead confidently and comfort his country in times of need. Roosevelt to me was the greatest American President to date. He embodied everything I think of when I think of the President of United States. He knew what his country needed even if they didn’t.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Depictions of Angels

Angels have been represented in many different ways throughout history. Sometimes they are displayed as beautiful woman. Sometimes they look plain and dull and don’t stand out much except for the wings. And sometimes they were depicted as infants or children. These are just a few examples of how Angels are depicted. Sometimes their wings are black and sometimes they are white. They often appear clothed but are also shown naked. Another difference that has shifted back and forth is whether to show them with halos or not.

I looked at three different paintings of angels and even though they were all roughly around the same time period, they are all portrayed completely differently.

The first angel here is by Leonardo da Vinci and is named Head of An Angel. The angel here is portrayed as a rather attractive lady and is soft. She has golden hair and blue eyes and very pale skin. She seems to have a glow around her but no halo and has a content look upon her face. Leonardo has given her black wings, which makes her fade into the background of the painting.

The second set of angels is by Giovanni Bellini. His painting is called Dead Christ Between Two Angels. Here the angels on either side of Christ are young boys who seem rather plain. They have halos and pale skin. You just see the angel’s wings on the left, which Bellini has decided to make a bold golden color. Both angels seem small compared to Christ (not uncommon since Christ holds the importance) and their face look concerned not serene as Leonardo’s angel did. The painting overall is dark and there is no glow to the angels. You can barely make out their halos because they are so dark.

The third painting of angels is by Caravaggio who lived at a later time than the previous two painters. His painting is called The Seven Acts of Mercy. His angels are depicted as very young boys and are not clothed. They seem more muscular than the angels in the other two paintings. Their wings are white and underneath and brown on top, which makes them look natural; like the wings of an eagle or another bird. Their faces are concerned but yet at the same time at peace as they reach down to Earth.

The Meaning of Gothic and How I would film Notre Dame

The meaning of gothic has changed over the years. Back when it was used to first describe cathedrals such as Cologne or Notre Dame, it was used as a derogatory term. It was to describe the buildings as barbaric and shamelessly over decorated. When they were first built, gothic architecture was not called gothic. And now when we think of gothic architecture we think of dark things like withes, gargoyles, bats, and other evil things. We also use the term now to apply it to a certain type of culture; we describe people as gothic. These people are usually wearing dark clothes, painted fingernails, dyed black hair, angry at the world and all that jazz. When I think of the word gothic, I think of novels like The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo, which is quite dark and mysterious as well as buildings like Notre Dame.

If I were to use Notre Dame cathedral for a film the first thing I would take advantage of would be the enormous height. Since it has flying buttresses it allowed gothic architects to build higher than before. I would get a nice low camera angle that would make Notre Dame look overbearing and intimidating. I would also take advantage of the gargoyles and other decoration on the outside by getting tight close-ups of them and inserting them somewhere in the film with jump cuts. I would definitely use the rose window and get shots from the inside and outside because it’s so beautiful and one of the key parts of a gothic cathedral. On the inside of Notre Dame I would film from the front to get the massive amount of pews in the cathedral. I would probably get a dolly shot going down the center isle and also on the outer sides of the pews looking toward the center. I would get shots looking down on the congregation from the ceiling and balconies as well as shoots from their POV up toward the high dome ceiling. Then I would get shots of the altar at the front. I would also get a close-up of the crucifix and the stain glass windows and maybe some shot of candles in the cathedral. The final shot I would get would be of the doors and the entrance archways.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Common book #1: A Pilgrimage to St. Marco's and its affects

Walking into St. Marco’s Basilica would be like arriving at the promise land for many of the people who made pilgrimages there. I agree with the line in Honor and Fleming that says, “The road to Jerusalem seemed too remote and the road to Rome was too easy.” Even though this was used as an example for Santiago de Compostela in Spain, I think it applies to all of these magnificent cathedrals and basilicas. People traveled hundreds or thousands of miles to worship in these holly places.

As a pilgrim I would’ve felt relief and complacency to make it all the way there with my fellow travelers. But at the same time I would have felt nervous and intimidated. Coming from a small town somewhere in Western Europe going to a small and conservative church and then having a huge and magnificent house of God placed before me. Everything encrusted in gold and jewels, bright colors overwhelming the senses. The building towers massively over my head. As I walk through the entrance a large and detailed mural of Christ looks down upon me. Judging but also forgiving as he watches his children enter. Inside is even more breath taking. The windows are dark and the walls are covered by all kinds of religious depictions with detail and precision like I have never seen in my life. As I look above me, the domes seem to never stop as they spiral towards the heavens. There are more images of Christ and disciples and saints on the domes. In the center there is a huge cross hanging from the ceiling that almost reaches the floor in front of me. It would be a life changing experience and when I got back to my home I would probably encourage everyone around me to make the same journey. To free their sins and clense their souls.

But even with the overwhelming feeling that St. Marco brings, it also brings a sense of peace and security to me. As I watch others around me worshiping in their own way, many of them praying, I kneel down and pray, thanking God for surviving the pilgrimage and being able to be in St. Marco’s as I know many others are not able to make this pilgrimage, I have been given a great gift from my Lord. Being in this sacred place brings all of us together even though the pilgrims are from all over Europe. As Honor and Fleming mention: “Pilgrimages were a binding force in medieval life- bringing together clergy and laity, rich and poor, different regions and languages, and culture” I think this still applies. People that go to Rome to hear the midnight mass on Christmas Eve, or to visit the Vatican, or people who travel to Jerusalem, they all end up sharing a spiritual bond that transcends all barriers. It doesn’t need to be spoken, even if you aren’t there for the same reasons it is still there. It is and felt throughout everyone who journeys to these places.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Up and Running

Hey everyone! This is my new blog space. I'll use it for Art History mainly but I'll post anything and everything I find interesting here to about movies, games, school, and life in general. Oh and as for the blog name, some of my really close friend's nicknamed me Fiend a while back so that's what I'm called a lot. Anyways my name is Alexa and I hope you all enjoy reading this because I will sure have fun writing it.
Sit back, relax and here's a picture with some words of advice:

Peace out and TGIF!