Thursday, April 30, 2009

Extra Credit!!! Artist Mark Dion Lecture Monday, May 4th

Up next in the MFA Monday Night Lecture Series is internationally-known artist Mark Dion. The lecture will be held on Monday, May 4th at 7:30 in PSU's Shattuck Annex.

Dion's work relates to our final project and extra credit will be given to ART 112 students who attend the lecture and post a blog summary.

Dion’s work examines the ways in which dominant ideologies and public institutions shape our understanding of history, knowledge, and the natural world. The job of the artist, he says, is to go against the grain of dominant culture, to challenge perception and convention. Appropriating archaeological and other scientific methods of collecting, ordering, and exhibiting objects, Dion creates works that question the distinctions between ‘objective’ (‘rational’) scientific methods and ‘subjective’ (‘irrational’) influences. The artist’s spectacular and often fantastical curiosity cabinets, modeled on Wunderkabinetts of the 16th Century, exalt atypical orderings of objects and specimens. By locating the roots of environmental politics and public policy in the construction of knowledge about nature, Mark Dion questions the authoritative role of the scientific voice in contemporary society.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Week 5: Movie Posters and Midterm Evals

I will be doing mid-term evaluations from your blogs beginning Friday, May 1. Please have everything up to date, including reflections for all assigned readings, your Image-Text Hunt, your Mail Art project and your movie poster research.)

On Tuesday we will finish our discussion of POL Chapter 4, Realism and Perspective and take a look at a couple of the "realist" movie clips mentioned in the text (see Resource Links on sidebar) and survey some of the sample movie posters you have collected.

Then we will work in small groups to brainstorm an imaginary movie that would for you embody an episteme (or two) of our time. A good way to start is to make a list of things (events, trends, issues, technology, images etc.) that you think are respresentative of the end of the first decade of the 21st century. Then use these to cobble together a brief summary or synposis of your movie. (Be democratic!) These do not need to be very long but should have basic information about plot, character, setting. Looking at the online summaries of the movies we have viewed in class may help. Synopsis due on Thursday, 4/30.

Once you have a synopsis to work from, each one of you will design your own movie poster (11"x17") to visually represent your group's proposed film. You may use collage, drawing, painting, photo, digital means or any combination. Think about what our text says about how the manner in which things are reprsented says something about the era that creates those representations.Consider how each element in your poster conveys something about your "film truth" and, by extension, the "truth" of our era.

Finished poster due Tuesday, May 5.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Week 4: Realism, Epistemes and Movie Posters

Reading for Week 4: POL Chapter 4, Realism and Perspective in the Course Reader. (Due dates for assignment at the end of this post -- note change!)

In his book, The Order of Things, Michel Foucault used the term episteme to describe the way that an inquiry into truth is organized in a given era. An episteme is an accepted dominant mode of acquiring and organizing knowledge in a given period of history. Understanding the work of signs is an important means to identifying the episteme or dominant worldview of an era. Each period of history has a different episteme--that is, a different predominant way of ordering things or of organizing and representing knowledge about things. (POL 149)

Our text discusses films such as Dziga Vertov's Man with a Movie Camera (1929), which "captured life on the streets of Russia as viewed through the eyes of this 'spinning top' [translation of the name Vertov] cinematographer," as well as examples of French Poetic Realism and Italian neorealism. These styles relied on different formal and aesthetic conventions to evoke the real. Each style of realism expressed a particular worldview that vies with other realisms and other worldviews in particular social contexts. (POL 14-149)

After viewing film clips of Vertov, Michel Carne and Vittorio de Sica in class, find at least three movies that you think carry an essence of the time in which they were made, then work in groups to write a brief movie synopsis that embodies the epistemes of our time. Once you have a synopsis to work from, each one of you will design your own movie poster (11"x17") that visually represents your group's proposed film. You may use collage, drawing, painting, photo, digital means or any combination. Think about how each element in your poster conveys something about your "film truth" and, by extension, the "truth" of our era.

Work in class on 4/23, 4/28 and 4/30. Synopses due 4/30; posters due 5/5.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Mail Art Assignment: What Are You Selling?

Reflecting on the reading, "Viewers Make Meaning," and the variety of ways that meaning is negotiated, produce and send into circulation (i.e., mail to other people) five postcards that reflect the role of the image-viewer as "manager, marketer, and bricoleur of visual culture's products. (POL 89, Course Reader)

Note that the reading goes on to state that "[t]he viewer who makes meaning does so not only through describing an experience with images but also through reordering, redisplaying, and reusing images in new and differently meaningful ways in the reordering of everyday life." (Italics added.)

With Ray Johnson and the New York Correspondence School as inspiration (see post below), appropriate, alter and redeploy culturally familiar images to "sell" something important to you. Cut-up, juxtapose, fragment, draw-on, edit-out.... Use text (questions, aphorisms, claims, slogans, exclamations) to sharpen your message. You may ask your recipients to "add to and return" as Johnson did. (Check out the new mail art resources in the resource links bar for further info.)

Scan your postcards before you send them (scanners available in the MAC Lab in Neuberger Hall, 2nd floor) and post images along with documentation of your process on your blog. Bring your finished cards and info about your mailing plans to class on 4/21. (Ask your recipients for a return response by 5/5.)

Ray Johnson, NYCS, Mail Art

In the 1960s, Ray Johnson, a consummate collage artist, pioneered what would soon come to be called mail art. Johnson would cut up pop culture images, as well as his own drawings, and send envelop-sized pieces all over the world, often asking recipients to “add-to and pass-on.” “Some altered, some added, some subtracted, some detracted, some discarded, some hoarded, and others conscientiously forwarded the materials on their appointed rounds. Ray Johnson said he didn't care what was done, that there are no rules….” (William Wilson, 1966)

To further the development of mail art, in 1962 Johnson established a network of several hundred artists—the New York Correspondance School. Johnson's non-hierarchical correspondence art was, on one hand, an institutional critique, and on the other hand, a way of bringing people together. His work has unknowingly influenced thousands of artists throughout the world who are doing mail art, creating “zines,” self-publishing, or involved in cyberspace. Artist Mark Bloch asks, “Did Ray Johnson’s first “add to and send to” in 1962 lead to the Linux “open source” operating system: given away freely, not subject to copyright, with programmers encouraged to add to and improve?” (Mark Bloch, panmodern blogspot).

from Margaret McAdams, "Hitchhikers, Parasites, and Cooties! Transforming Navigational Quests into Art Expeditions," FATE Conference, April 3, 2009.

Reading, Notes, Responses & Discussion

Unfortunately, I am underwhelmed at the responses some of you wrote for Image, Power and Politics. I was even less "whelmed" to see that a good number of you have not posted responses at all and/or have not yet given me working blog addresses.

These readings and responses are a central part of the class and a significant part of your grade. I had said that I would not collect your two-column notes on the reading assignments if your responses were decent. Since so few are, I will indeed be collecting your notes on "Viewers Make Meaning." Legible copies of these will be due on Thursday 4/16, as will your blog-posted response.

Notes and responses should adequately summarize the main points of the material. Your opinions and associations are important, but they should be anchored in the reading: quotes, definitions, examples, etc.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Week Three

Reading for week 3 will continue on with Practices of Looking, Chapter 2: Viewers Make Meaning (course reader). On Tuesday 4/14, we will discuss the chapter and work in class on a mail-art project.

Please bring at least 5 postcards (pre-printed or blank or 4x6" pieces of cardboard); images you have collected, additional collage materials (optional), gluestick, x-acto knife or scissors, and some drawing tools. Also bring in five questions or quotes related to the material we have covered so far. You will be pairing image and text, so you may want to bring in cards and/or gather images that affect the meaning of your questions/quotes.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Week Two

On Tuesday, April 7 we will meet in Room 170 of the Millar Library for a research workshop and tour by John Burchar, the art librarian. After John's tour we will spend the remainder of the class on a text and image hunt through the library's resources.

For class discussion on April 9, read Chapter 1: "Images, Power and Politics" of Sturken & Cartwright, Practice of Looking in the ART 112 Class Reader. Take two-column notes (see April 2 post below) and post a reflection. Bring a print-out of the reflection and of the library image-hunt exercise to class on this day.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Critical Note Taking: Digging into the Reading with Bloom's Taxonomy*

The two-column note-taking method basically asks you to record "what the text says" in the the left-hand column: What is the denotation? What is the sign?

The right-hand column asks you to record "what the text does or makes you think": What is the connotation? What does it signify.

Bloom's taxonomy, illustrated above, breaks cognition down into categories and is useful for ways to think about how you are reading and developing your ideas (see handout*).

* thanks to Zapoura Calvert

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

For Thursday 4/2

Read Georges Perec, "The Street," and under his inspiration, spend at least a half hour sitting and observing in a public location. Make note of what you see, then write a one-pager (post to your blog or word process and print) about your visual experience. Collect 10 images (snapshots, found images in magazines or newspaper, drawings, flyers, etc.) that somehow relate to what you observed at your location. Bring these to class along with map pins or push pins.

Also, start your personal class blog and bring me your url.