Saturday, March 27, 2010

Life as Material for Art

When using already constructed life, or a metaphoric image representing life, as material for creating art, one must be aware of what they are manipulating, and the possible consequences associated with it. When using Photoshop to combine digital images of various origins, I was cautious of how to add superficial or unnatural elements to other more organic ones. Artwork based on life, like with all art, controversy comes hand in hand with broad publication and viewing. The artist must be prepared to explain the differing components of a work as well as why they were chosen for combination.

Life, either in concrete or abstract enhances any work of art. Art is created by life. Art is inspired by life. So why can't life, too, be art?

A Cyborg Manifesto

Drawing by Elizabeth Bronwyn Wells 2002

Donna Haraway’s essay, ‘A Cyborg Manifesto: Science, Technology and Socialist Feminism in the Late Twentieth Century’ is an analysis of women and advanced technology in a postmodern world. Haraway uses various illustrations to focus on women’s relation to the technologically scientific world, she uses the metaphor of a cyborg to challenge feminists and engage in a politics beyond naturalism and essentialisms. She also uses the idea of the cyborg to offer a political strategy for the dissimilar interests of socialism and feminism. In her manifesto, Haraway describes a cyborg as a hybrid of machine and organism or a cybernetic organism, created by the advances in technology. She discusses science and the creation of cyborgs, for example, biology teaches us that a Cyborg is the combination of human and machine, many examples of this can be found in the medical field by the use of prosthetic limbs.

Tour d'Eiffel

The Eiffel Tower was erected for the World Fair and it was inaugurated by the Prince of Wales who went on to become King Edward VII later on. The tower was entrance arch into the exhibition and it was the most visited site during the fair. Now, the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of not only Paris, but France as a whole. It is one of the most recognized structures in the world and since its construction in 1889 and over 200,000,000 people have visited it, making the tower the most visited monument in the world.

Seven hundred proposals were submitted in a design competition but it was the radical design of French engineer Alexandre Gustave Eiffel that was unanimously chosen. Some 300 people signed a petition to prevent the city government from constructing the tower. They felt that the Eiffel Tower would be useless and monstrous while endangering French art and history.

La Tour d'Eiffel played an important role in capturing the infamous spy Mata Hari during World War I. After this, it gained acceptance among the French populous. Beginning of 1910, it became a part of the International Time Service and the French Radio has been using the tower since 1918. The French Television started scientifically using the height of the tower from 1957. The controversy surrounding its construction and the use of the Eiffel Tower has made it extremely famous. Today this fantastic structure of iron and rivets is iconic symbol of Paris, the city of love. People from all over the world come to Paris just to marvel at this human-made wonder.

"Monuments as Artificial Memory"

Preserving the sanctity of our nation's monuments isn't as easy as it sounds. Monuments were built as a reminder, a testament to what where we stood historically and what we have fought for. Monuments serve as snapshots of the past that illustrate one perspective of culture, an event or a person. Our memorials and monuments where built synomynously by the ruling powers to honor those who have given their lives to nationalism and patriotism. However, when monuments are commissioned by a member of the ruling class, either bourgeois or governmental, they can be illusory. In this manner, monuments are intended to glorify a piece of history to appease the masses, instead of question it.

Monuments act as bridges to tell of culture and social tradition. For example, various American Indian and indigenous tribes raised totem poles for a variety of symbolic and tactful reasons. Monumental poles were used as house frontal poles placed against the house, often serving as doorways of houses. Totem poles were also carved into the interior house as posts to support roof beams. Today, in Western society, monumental and totem poles are imagined as free standing memorial poles to honor deceased chiefs and spirit animals. While it is sometimes possible to identify different animals, such as bears, ravens, eagles, it is not possible to interpret what the pole really means without knowing the history of the pole and the family that owns it.

Monuments either question or confirm the past. But regardless of their constructors original intent, monuments serve as markers for human memory.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Hacking, Slashing and Sniping in the Empire of Signs

As an artistic person involved with student activism and the pursuit for a more democratic, equal and humane society, I was greatly interested in Mark Dery's pamphlet on Culture Jamming. I am constantly striving to fuse politics into my work. The art of "culture jamming" throws politics and subversive ideas into the face of consumer culture. Culture jamming represents activity aimed at countering the continuous, recombinant barrage of capitalist laden messages fed through the mass media. To "jam culture" is to crusade for consumer resistance and question mass media and advertising.

In contemporary social movements and protests, culture jamming adds necessary fun and laughter to extremely stressful and ominous tasks. But why and what is the meaning of art and fun in protest? Their are various meanings and uses of fun and laughter in culture jamming. Emotional ties to culture jamming is contingent upon the dominant emotional regime of capitalism where fun, too, is advertised as a key ingredient. In most social movements, activists often reject the fun of consumption and offer their own definition of a kind of fun which is real and authentic; here is where culture jamming comes to play center field. For example, fighting for freedom and equality is only "fun" when culture genuinely embodies the art of protest. Articulating the inherent tensions between 'real' and 'fake' emotions is pertinent to understanding contemporary social movements. Culture jamming is first shaped by the contemporary emotional norms, then contests them and finally reaches beyond them. "Fun" is an important expression of emotional energy because it openly invites the masses to participate. Fun is contingent upon social relationships created in organizations, collectives and other protest groups. But as emotional energy, fun in culture jamming is targeted to a field broader than just protest groups. It is aimed at the larger community and suggests that the individual and fragmented protest actions are nevertheless an expression of a loosely identified collective social identity. Culture jamming injects emotions into social movements. Culture jamming is not only part of a movement but also the driving core of any living, breathing social movement.

Tour de Chance


Materials Needed:
-digital camera

1. Beginning at Market St. and Embarcadero in San Francisco, California.
2. Flip a coin. If heads, you will frame a photograph either forward or backward of you; if tails, you will frame a photograph to your right or left. Flip again. If heads, photograph the intersection in front of you or to your right, according to the previos flip. If tails, photograph the intersection from behind or to your left, according to the previous flip.
3. Flip the coin again. Heads will determine whether you will walk ONE BLOCK North or South, while tails determines whether you will walk one block East or West. Flip again. If heads, walk either North or East, according to the previous flip. If tails, walk either South or West, according to the previous flip.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 as many times as possible within a predetermined time period. (example: 20 minutes)
5. Take your total time and divide it by the number of photographs taken. If the number is even, create a slideshow. If the number is odd, create a collage.
6. Flip a coin. Organize the intersections in either the slideshow or collage based on the number of automobiles in each frame. If heads, organize the photos from least to greatest. If tails, organize the photos from greatest to least.

~Special thanks to my blue-haired friend Juliana. She walked circles around each intersection during the process. Can you find her in each photo?
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Thursday, March 25, 2010

War on Terror Google Earth Tour

Using Google Earth, I created a global tour chronologically mapping the top ten bloodiest terrorist attacks in the world since September 11th, 2001. Eeach event occurred as a response to different stimuli, and was each performed by a different group of "rebels". My trusted Webster Dictionary defines terrorism as "the use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims." Terrorism has been practiced by a broad array of political individuals and organizations for furthering their objectives. It has been practiced by both right-wing and left-wing political parties, nationalistic groups, religious groups, revolutionaries, and ruling governments. One form is the use of violence against noncombatants, or civilians, for the purpose of gaining publicity for a group, cause, or individual.

View my tour HERE

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Take a Chance on Collage

What you need:
- a few magazines
- glue or paste
- scissors
- 8x10 piece of paper
- a penny

1. Toss a penny. Heads= cut something out of page 12 and paste on paper. Tails= cut something out of page 23 and paste on paper.
2. Toss a penny. Heads= find something blue, cut it out and paste it on paper. Tails= find something orange, cut it out and paste it on paper.
3. Toss a penny. Heads= find a plant, cut it out and paste it on paper. Tails= find an animal, cut it out and paste in on paper.
4. Toss a penny. Heads= go to page 8, find something, cut it out, and paste it on paper. Tails= go to page 19, find something, cut it out, and paste it on paper.
5. Toss a penny. Heads= find something pretty, cut it out, and paste it on paper. Tails= find something ugly, cut it out, and paste in on paper.
6. Toss a penny. Heads= go to page 17, cut in shape of heart, and paste it on paper. Tails= go to page 4, cut in shape of star, and paste it on paper.
7. Toss a penny. Heads= cut and paste enough small green images to fill the rest of paper. Tails= cut and paste enough small purple images to fill the rest of paper.

Ready? Go!

Oh Sophia!

This is my hybrid image from the Photoshop project. I combined a still of Sophia Loren, dragonfly wings and various metallic household appliances. The text says "never let the hand you hold, hold you down" and is a statement about the need for independence and liberation. Sophia, as a woman, is corseted by domestic chores and her traditional gender role of home-maker.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Sol LeWitt shoes

Check out some shoes I designed as a tribute to Sol LeWitt. You can buy them online.