Wednesday, 25 February 2009
We were given some reading about Freud's theories of dreams. I found it a bit long winded but this is what I took away from it;
Freud saw dreams as wishes or repressed wishes and even connects a lot of sexual desire and frustration with this. He also shows a connection with infancy and dreams, like our minds are quite childlike and children's minds are less repressed than adults so our dreams are places where repression doesn't exist. Anything can happen in a dream, alright they're probably influenced by daily events in our lives but dreams turn these upside down. People we know are in our dreams but often have different faces; places seem familiar but look like other places. Random animals and words are all intertwined within this mixed up rollercoaster of a ride. But the point is that no matter how much we read into them, we never really understand our subconscious. Is this the same for Surrealism??
Obviously surrealism wasn't just influenced by this one idea of dreams but it had a very big part to play. Surrealism is an art movement where the artists that par took broke down barriers leading to fragmented consciousness and the endless frustration of want and desire. Surrealists believed that the mind's imaginative powers were directly fuelled by desire; they wanted people to change their perceptions of the world and succumb to their inner thoughts. They wanted people to bring their subconscious to the waking world. They enjoyed the idea of the enigma and were greatly interested in automatism. To me surrealism is a refreshing idea; they don't take themselves too seriously unlike the Futurists before them. They disrupted conventional expectations and challenged the status quo. Juxtaposing elements that would be deemed irreconcilable was a radical idea in the 1920's but I feel that we have been desensitized by this imagery, adverts, programmes and films still use surrealist elements today. This might be a bit of a dud example but one image we see every year is a Coca-Cola advertisement where we see a polar bear drinking the soft drink from a bottle. Another example is the Subway adverts where giant talking vegetables try to bully people into eating them, these two have taken things that were know and placed them into extraordinary circumstances and as consumers we clearly enjoy and buy into this idea as they are two of the biggest corporations in the world.
One thing I have noticed about some surrealist images is the quite nightmarish objects, like dismembered body parts, influenced by the two world wars, but surely these aren't wishes or repressed wishes of sexual desire. Fear is more of a word that comes to mind but Freud sees nightmares and fear as being wish-fulfilment of a masochistic nature, the people having these have a desire to be humiliated or tortured. Now, I have had plenty of nightmares that I really would not wish upon myself in real life.
I suppose in conclusion to what I'm saying or trying to say is that I think it's easier to decipher surrealist art than it is to decipher a person’s dreams and/or nightmares, maybe we’d need to know a little about the artist’s background but surely the awoken unconsciousness is more telling than the sleeping unconsciousness. In some ways I think Freud knew what he was talking about but in others, I think even he got a bit confused.
Visage of war, 1940, Salvador Dali.
Tuesday, 24 February 2009
“We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicoloured polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervour of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung from clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with the glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.”
-Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1876-1944),
“The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism,” 20 February 1909.
Firstly from the manifesto you can tell this man was a poet, you can get caught up with the poetic wording but when looking closer it reads as quite a raw and violent piece of writing. Marinetti expresses a passionate loathing of everything old; he despised history and believed that it mustn’t have an everlasting domain; society must make way for the young. His main men whom signed this manifesto were Carlo Carra, Umberto Boccioni, Gino Severini , Giacomo Balla and Luigi Russolo. Marinetti used the newspaper to find these like-minded people which showed that he was a great manipulator of the media. The idea of Futurism was based upon violence, war, anarchy, nationalism, glorification of urban life, technology and speed and a hatred of the past and scorn of academic values. They celebrated automobiles, airplanes, machine guns and other industrial technologies and denounced moralism and feminism. They saw museums, galleries and libraries as “static institutions of an obsolete culture” and even tried to have these blown up.
Futurists used every medium of art, including sculpture, painting, architecture, theatre, literature, industrial design and even gastronomy to help with showing and enforcing their ideals. In terms of painting, it was very similar to the structure of Cubism and this gave them a means to analyse movement, industry and speed and sometimes even sound in later Futurist works. Now, writing a manifesto on the technical aspects of Futurist painting seems like a decent idea, kind of like do’s and don’ts for future Futurists but writing a manifesto on Futurist cooking shows a desire for them to control everyday life of those who agree with their beliefs and I think that is a journal entry itself.
Although, I don’t believe in the violence and hatred that Futurists believe in I do really like the art and the idea of incorporating movement and speed into what was quite a static movement before that. I am definitely going to look into Futuristic artwork more and find out more about the way Marinetti’s mind works; as one of my housemates has said that he wanted someone to kill him and overthrow him as the leader of the Futurists to fit in with his idea of rejuvenating society and ideas, out with the old and in with the new.
“A change in values-that means a change in the creators of values. He who has to be a creator has to destroy.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.
Funeral of the Anarchist Galli by Carlo Carra, 1911, oil on canvas.
Thursday, 19 February 2009
The week's CS lecture I'm talking about was about Modernism and we had some reading based on critic Clement Greenberg and the aspects of Modernism ideals. I'm not entirely sure what Modernism is but I'm aware that the beginnings of it are not really known, it's hard to pin point and maybe this is because it's such a broad idea. Some think it began with the Industrial Revolution around 1750, others think it began with Neo-classical and Romanicism. Some think it began around the time photography began to take off and paintings depicted everyday life, others think Modernism began with the avant-garde, artist like Manet pushing forward new ideas, subjects and ways of making art. Others believe it began with Cubism, by breaking things down into 3D structures such as cubes, cones and cylinders, cubist artists created a new way of making art by reconstructing these into sometimes figurative images. Maybe it confuses me because there are so many different styles of art that come under this category.
It does seem that Modernism is much bigger than an art form, it's idea of the new. New art, new media and new inventions that were meant to improve the way we lives our lifes. Modernism aims for an ideal future where form follows function, I think, I'm still not really sure but I hope that as I look at more works of art and read more literature about it I'll begin to understand it more.
My other word that I have chosen is Vanity, we have to show two different interpretations of the word, my first one is of the side of vanity where somebody loves themselves, always looking in the mirror, grooming themselves...
This particular CS lesson was about how we should go about researching and using the library to our full potential and also about referencing the things that we find. So, this is what I found in our library expedition...
Flipping open a Robert Mapplethorpe book and landing on one of his photographs of tulips, I immediately thought of the Netherlands, stereotypical I know, but it led me to find a book on Dutch flower painting in 1600-1720 and inside were some very interesting facts. I didn't realise that there was so much theory and symbolism behind this genre of art, religion played a huge part in the development of flower painting across the Netherlands. The author Paul Taylor writes "One of the most common similitudes of the seventeenth century was the comparison of the brief life of flowers with the brief life of man." Several passages from the Bible could be cited to support this notion: the most famous being Isaiah 40:6-8: 'All flesh s grass, and all the goodness thereof is as the flower of the field: the grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the Lord bloweth upon it; surely the people is grass. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the word of God shall stand forever.' This is an interesting statement as it shows how Dutch people saw life (brief and fleeting) and began to express it in their literature and paintings. The most devout of souls kept death and the shortness of life at the forefront of their minds, hence the necessity of maintaining virtue. This idea of moral goodness became evident in still life paintings, we see flowers (man's life) being surrounded by vanitas objects, skulls and corn. These juxtapositions were used to show a sense of time's fleeting nature. it was very uncommon for Dutch paintings to contain flowers and no vanitas objects.
In terms of individual flowers, this is what I found...
Symbolism of the rose was connected to the rosary and became an emblem of the Madonna in Renaissance painting. It was often used by poets for metorphorically referring to the female form and in doing so becomes something of a sin, thinking and wanting this ultimately mean you'll get stung by the thorns, or you could just remain virtuous and avoid the thorns. Lillies were emblems of the Virgin, white and pure, cleanliness of the mind. Tulips were emblematic and meaning was based around a cluster of flowers, ones that were sensitive to the sun. These flowers were to open in the morning, follow the sun through the sky and close in the evening. This produced the notion of the devout soul following God. Marigolds and Sunflowers were a part of this group and were all used as emblems of divine love and symbols of obedience to a loved one or royal. Corn was used as a symbol of man's resurrection. Carnation's were a symbol of love and betrothal.
Going back and looking at Mapplethorpe's flower photography, we see something different. It's less about the flowers symbolic meanings and more about the form and structural placment within the frame. We see complimentry colours and theatrical lighting that doesn't distract from but enhance the flowers natural beauty. Some of the photographs, like the one below can be seen as sexual or phallic and maybe this is a different form of floral symbolism but not in the way that the 17th century Dutch painters thought.
So, for this exercise I used the following two books...
Dutch Flower Painting 1600-1720. Paul Taylor. Yale University Press. London and New Haven. 1995.
Flowers, Mapplethorpe. Bulfinch Press/Little Brown and Company. Boston Toronto and London. 1990.
Whilst doing my taste shots I also had another idea using strawberry laces and these are the result...
So this is for one of our most recent projects to do with interpreting words the first word was Taste which everyone was given and this is my interpretation. My inspiration was Rene Magritte...
Wednesday, 18 February 2009
Artist, Pirate or business man?
We were given an article from The Guardian to read by Robert Hughes (Austrailian art critic), it was meant to be his explanation as to why he's taken a stand against Damien Hirst's work, and an art world where prices bear no relation to talent. Infact, what Hughes wrote was a scornful, one sided, extremely opinionated attack on Hirst's work and his fans.
First of all, Hughes calls Hirst a "pirate", now to me, a pirate is someone who robs from ships. Or, I suppose, you could see it from a copyright sense but as far as I am aware, Hirst hasn't stolen any ideas (only in the idea recycling way that every other creative does). Perhaps others have had similar ideas but spent so long dithering over whether to do it or not that Hirst has had his own idea and actually produced it.
He then goes on to call Hirst buyers "dumb (indeed, the dummer the better)" and says that "...the presence of a Hirst in a collection is a sure sign of dullness of taste." I know Hughes is a big world renowned acclaimed art critic, but who is he to say what taste should people have? Those comments even go beyond attacking Hirst and onto his fans and followers.
Hughes then goes onto call some of Hirst's works "pointless", "Simple-minded" and "sensationalist". These are really derogatory comments to publicly say about anyones work and I think there are alot of people that would argue against this. He says this is what his work is like, as though it is fact but infact he is just forcing his negative opinions upon us.
The majority of this article is attacking Hirst's work "The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living". I don't think this title is "pretentious" as Hughes suggests, I'd say the majority of people in the world have not seen a dead anything physically infront of them, nevermind a shark, and I guess this is why so many are drawn to this concept. I agree that the alleged $12m that was parted with for the decaying formaldahyde covered shark is a little steep but surely that's the buyers decision?! In my opinion, if this person liked the idea so much, they should've bought Hirst's original sketches, but maybe they have more money than sense?
"It might have had a little more point if Hirst had caught it himself". So what if he didn't catch the shark himself? It's still his work, nobody ever complains that a film or book or fashion show wasn't made by only one person, some things need more hands and heads to work on it. think of all the self-portrait photography in the world, even they need creative input of more than one peron for it to work.
Finally, I noticed Hughes mocking this work too "...a housefly is a ravening murderous beast. Maybe Hirst should pickle one, and throw in a magnifying glass or two." Is this pure contempt of Hirst or envy??
Whilst I agree with alot of Hughes' points and I myself am not a massive fan of Hirsts' work, I can see why people are. In my opinion, I think he is a better businessman than artist (many would disagree with me). I suppose the point of us reading this article is to see how not to critically analyse. In order to critisize properly we need to demonstrate that we know all of the facts, and think logically and rationally about our opinions and not fall inot a full blown rant.
Tuesday, 17 February 2009
"There are no accidental masterpieces of painting but there are accidental pieces of photography" - Chuck Close on The Genius of Photography.
Is this the most ridiculous statement or is it just me? How many artists have truely started a painting with the intention of selling it as or having the viewer see it as a masterpiece? I know that the artist Degas drew inspiration from certian aspects of photography but, he along with other artists quite despised the idea of it being called an art form. Why did they have contempt for this phenomenon that was unravelling around them? The fraction of time it takes to produce a photographic image compared to the time it took to produce a painting must've wounded the "true creatives" a little. Alright, technically it is easier and faster to produce an "accidental" photographic image but why are us photographers deemed less creative than painters or sculptors for instance? Our initail intentions and thought processes must be quite similar as the inspirational paths cross quite significantly. A photographers end result may be different and/or better than originally thought out. Is it not then pure jealously prevailing in these artists that think photographers are less creative than them? Our techincal processes may be faster but surely painters and sculptors art works differ from their original thoughts? So doesn't that make them accidental? Who knows truely what is accidental and what is set up and thought through throughly? I know a masterpiece is an artists greatest work or any extraordinary piece of work, but who decides that, surely it's in the eyes of the person viewing the work and since everyone thinks differently then most, if not all work by whoever whenever can be a masterpiece. Whether is it an accident should not come into it, a photographer, painter or sculptor can only luckily "accidentally" produce "masterpieces" for so long.
Well, hello everyone, I'm a bit late to start this thing but better late than never eh? So, I'm gonna kick off with the first project that I did at uni which was on the people and culture of Blackpool, six photographs alltogether and probably a little obvious but I focused on the tourism aspect of the seaside town. Shot on colour slide film.