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.