Friday, January 27, 2012


I visited the Crane House today to check out our fellow classmate, Marcus Siu's installation.  His installation was complemented by a gallery of his father's, Siu Hao-ming.  Siu Hao-ming's gallery consisted of long exposure photography transferred on to aluminum.  Marcus's intstallation was in a room of a considerable size with the floor covered in packed down dirt.  Towards the center of the room, pine needles were inserted into the dirt to look like grass.  My initial reaction was to run my fingers through the blades of "grass".  The pine needles didn't feel as sharp as most do.  I remembered what Marcus had said about wanting his audience to walk on the "grass", so i walked on it.  If I wasn't afraid of looking like a total weirdo, I would've liked to take my shoes and socks off so i could walk on the grass with my bare feet.  I then began to wonder about all of the dirt.  It was packed down to create a surface resembling one found in nature, much like the way the pine needles were arranged to create the illusion of grass.

Before seeing Marcus's piece in person, I had ideas about his use of pine needles and the meaning behind the choice.  The pine needle's ability to maintain the chlorophyll in their leaves for quite some time after being removed from a tree makes the leaves a perfect candidate to imitate real, living grass.  At first, I thought the choice to use pine needles and the transporting of dirt indoors suggested that this piece dealt with illusions.  Upon my visit to the Crane House, I began to wonder about the artists's desire for people to walk on his work.  I was also curious to know the purpose of all of the dirt surrounding the grass that one must walk on to get an up close look of the pine needles.   I began to consider the coniferous tree's ability to adapt to extreme weather conditions, as well.

The title Lineage and the inclusion of artwork by both father and son makes me wonder how this piece might tell a story about the artist's generation or heritage.  The barren dirt surrounding the grass could express rough conditions for development.  Perhaps the coniferous leaves' resistance against both very cold and very hot weather  relates to the personal adaptations people make in unwelcoming territory.  Marcus's and his father's works share a common theme of nature.  The adaptive quality of coniferous leaves and the manipulation of these leaves and dirt could refer to the ways that we, as artists, adapt or alter nature into works of art.  The shared aspect of nature explored by two generations of artists might tell of changes in artistic approaches nature are over time.

Marcus's will that his work be stepped on may mean that even though he worked hard to capture an essence of nature with his art, he doesn't want the work to be treated any differently than a naturally occurring patch of grass would be treated.  The act recreating a nature scene indoors might also refer to the disconnect that occurs when comparing man-made things to things that occur naturally.  With so many different concepts that could underly Marcus's work, perhaps he is interested in the cognitive dissonance that happens when we encounter his piece.

Thanks for the art and food for thought, Marcus!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Entry #3

My first philosophy class at U of L was Intro to Philosophy, taught by Professor Arthur Johnson (a.k.a.: A.T.J.)*.  As those who introduce you to something you grow to love often do, ATJ left a lasting impression on me.  Before learning about influential philosophers, like Nietzsche,  ATJ would often start his lecture by saying something along the lines of, "There could be an entire class taught on this philosopher, but since we only have 50 minutes today...".
*If you have an interest in philosophy and can handle an 8:00 a.m. class (this is the only time that his class is offered) I highly recommend that you take Professor Johnson's course!!  It is PHIL 

Why, you might ask, am I talking about a teacher a had a year ago? Today, after having the oppurtunity to attend Osborne Wiggins' lecture on Nietzsche's Birth of Tragedy, A.T.J.'s quote was validated.  I could spend a whole academic year in a class about Nietzsche and the thinkers who followed his lead, continuing the dialogue we now refer to as existentialism.  I took a great interest in the lecture today and wished that it had lasted longer.  I am excited to take classes with Professor Wiggins in the future!

Nietzsche approaches art with hermeneutics of suspicion and asks the question; what is this art a symptom of?  As we've seen in class, it is beyond difficult to define art, because art is constantly evolving.  Nietzsche's curiosity towards the artist's condition of life reminds me of a quote by Edwin J. DeLattre that I can't find on the internet to save my life.  To paraphrase DeLattre's simplistic definition of art; art's goal should be to repair, change, improve, or express a someone's life.  Nietzsche holds that all is flux and their is no concrete truth to be found due to constant change.  I find this idea relatable to the changes we face in life, the ever changing definition of art, and the artwork produced as a result of these changes.

Alan Watts- Reality, Art, and Illusion

I have learned a little bit about of eastern philosophy, mostly from reading the Tao Te Ching and listening to Alan Watts' lectures online.  I made connections between some of eastern philosophies' general ideas and Nietzsche.  Nietzsche's Apollo and Dionysus have very different characteristics, but both figures are used to explain illusions and appearances.  Dionysus is the god of wine, revelry, and chaos.  Apollo is the god of forms, dreams, and music.  While the two may seem to form a dualism, Apollo and Dionysus are really different aspects of life that form a whole.

Eastern philosophies' emphasis on the difference between reality and appearances share similarities with Nietzsche's conflict between Apollo and Dionysus. The video above is a lengthy lecture by Alan Watts discussing both eastern and western thoughts on the nature of reality as well as art.  Buddhism's goal of enlightenment involves removing the veil that the human experience creates.  This veil is dualistic exchange between the self and all things external to the self.  To overcome these illusions reinforced by what we are taught is to see yourself, all aspects of life, and the entire universe as one.

Nietzsche's idea of the internal return is one that caught my attention.  The internal return is to ask yourself if you would be satisfied living your life, exactly the way it is, over and over again.  This exercise reminds us that we must to take no moment for granted.  Doing so entails appreciating life's ups and downs and accepting that there may not be any redemption after death.

Because drawing or painting from life is what I tend to revert to for my weekly artwork, I'm going to spend time some time contemplating ways to branch out.  Last semester in Scott Massey's 3-D foundations class, it was awesome to have such freedom in our choice of medium.  Now I have that same freedom in this class and I should be taking advantage of it.  Philosophy can be stressful and confusing, for there are no definite answers, only only logical arguments.  As mentioned in my previous post, creating art is a way for me to relax.  I want to start breaking out of this comfort zone and making things that require critical thinking.  I am not quite sure what I will make this week but for the next day or so I will be brainstorming to come up with an idea I'd like to develop, and experimental ways I can do so.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Entry #2

"when we perceive a thing to be beautiful, it is because we instinctively recognize the rightness of the thing. this means we have revealed to us a glimpse of something essentially of the fibre of our own nature... a flash of truth stimulates us, and we have a vision of harmonies not understood to-day, though perhaps to be to-morrow."

Frank Lloyd Wright


Perhaps art's inability to be defined is a part of its definition.  Art can serve many purposes.  It can teach, explore, heal, or simply put a smile on your face.  Wright's quote about beauty relates to the ideas of formalism and form.  Form deals with the compositional elements of art such as line, shape, color and texture.  A formalist approach is one way of understanding the characteristics and goals of art.  The formalist school of thought teaches that the most important aspect of a piece is the initial aesthetic response experienced by the viewer.  From a this point of view, other information such as the context of the artwork or historical references, are irrelevant.  The artist is to be removed from the audience's interpretations of their work.  The idea of formalism finds its roots in the writings of  Plato.  Plato taught that all forms we see in the physical realm are merely representational of a form's true essence.  The choice of medium or mindset of the artist are tools to translate subject matter in order to express a true essence of a thing.  Throughout history others have contributed to the dialogue on formalism.  Clive Bell referred to form as the use of material and process in order to capture the inner essence of a thing, as opposed to Plato's view that a form's essence exists outside of the physical realm.  The feelings conveyed through art are more important than an attempt to duplicate the subject matter.  Structuralists, very closely related to formalists, were less concerned with the aesthetics of an art piece and more focused on communication.  Structuralists were more deliberate when it came to what materials were used, and in what way.  Structuralists used ideas of traditional formalism to validate abstractions as art, but instead of placing the importance on essence, their main concern was sending a specific message.

Carl Andre

Formalism is a term most commonly applied to abstract art.  After watching the film about abstract artists in class, I took a special interest in the sculptor, Carl Andre.  I loved the ways that children reacted to Andre's art.  Andre doesn't alter any of the substances he uses in his sculptures, he only arranges and adheres units to one another.  Andre called himself a matterist, he is only concerned with the materials that he uses and how he places them.  Andre was most concerned with sculpture as place, an idea that I find particularly interesting.  I have an interest in interior design and the ways in which arrangement can affect the feeling of a place, so Andre's sculpture really intrigues me.  The use of raw materials to cut into a space is a unique art form that can be appreciated (as shown by the young children in Andre's exhibit) for the simplest of reasons.  What I took away from Andre's art is the importance of appreciating things for what they are and understanding how the space an object occupies can alter an object just as effectively as carving tools can.    


I have a lot to learn about the topic of post-feminism, but the social movement is a topic that I possibly want to address in my final project.  The post-modern era in general intrigues me.  I intend to read more about post-modern issues concerning not only sexism, but also racism, as well as ethical and moral standards.

The image to the right is the first project I have completed in Intro to Painting class with Mark Priest.  Dealing with light, form, and perspective while painting is a highly theraputic process for me.  Translating visual information onto canvas is an escape from loud and conflicting ideas that typically occupy my mind.   This idea of escape from my normally philosophical mindset, via focusing on forms, is an idea I can develop through other less tradition methods of making art.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Entry #1

The fashion of an artist is a subject I ponder often. Whether or not an artist is fashion conscious, it’s safe to say most of us non-nudists have to make decisions about whatever it is we cover ourselves in to face the day. The PBS video I watched had a series short interviews with a diverse group of artists about their style. WK Interact, an artist working in NYC, chooses to wear mostly black because he feels the color suits his "black and white city". Wearing only black is a simple way to dress, but this style choice still reflects Interact's attraction to functionality. Interact’s involvement in street art is apparent in influences his outfits, or as he likes to call them, "his gear". Dressing in black is a way for Interact to blend in with his surroundings and go unnoticed while creating his illegal art. I was really excited to see Tara McPherson talk about her fashion in comparison to her art. I am attracted to Tara's painting style because it is so idealistic. She talks about her interest in the precision of applying make-up and how it directly relates to her painting style. 

After watching Tara McPherson talk about her art and how it relates to her fashion, I thought that I would experiment with her painting style for my piece this week. I always liked Tara's paintings because even if the subject matter is disturbing at first glance, her images are always pretty. Tara's cartoon-like quality and imaginative colors make me happy just because they do. I related to Tara's comments on fashion and surrounding herself with beautiful things. My usual painting style isn't much like hers, so it was fun to play with arbitrary colors and subtle value work.

If you are like me, you use your outward appearance as a creative outlet. Having fun with clothes and accessories is, in my opinion, the easiest form of self-expression. Of course if you aren’t confident it shows, but that is a whole other issue. While skimming over the philosophy of aesthetics provided in the link above I took a primary interest in the theories on expression. These theories, being of the philosophical nature, have flaws. They also have logical arguments that resonate with my own thoughts on the subject. Listening to music is the best scenario I can put myself in to imagine exactly what happens to the music on its journey through my cognitive processes. When an individual listens to music they can feel the intended emotions even though these reactions are filtered through their own experiences. The listener doesn’t have to know the life of the artist to experience an emotion that the artist intended to produce. The example of music’s expressive qualities was by far the most popular in the dialogue on expression. Perhaps it is the passage of time involved with musical pieces that intrigues me.
The meanings of words change over time in a culture. The top words of 2011 mentioned in Toure’s article were occupy, winning, humblebrag, and tebowing. Occupy and winning were definitely the words that I came in most contact with. I work less than a block away from Occupy Louisville. Customers that come into our deli are usually business-types with their suits and expensive umbrellas or they are cops. The opinions of our customers were mostly the same; the “hobos” were bothersome and they weren’t accomplishing anything. The police and the surrounding offices’ employees weren’t happy with occupy, but no one was furious. Occupy was a joke in the beginning and eventually no one cared to talk about the movement at all. There is a serious problem with our economy and the movement to fight the existing system. Another serious problem is Charlie Sheen’s drug addiction and manic-depressive behavior, but don’t worry. We made a joke out of his problems too. “Winning!” popped up somewhere on my newsfeed often, usually in a sarcastic complaint. Maybe to overuse of these words reveals a trend of laziness. Certainly it takes much less energy to laugh off issues instead of seriously considering solutions.