Week 6: Creative Control

Elizabeth-Burton Jones



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Today, it seems as though everyone is “Instagramming” the latest food they had for dinner or creating an Instagram photoshoot. Currently, creative control is trickling down to the “everyman”. People are becoming more invested in how they appear on social media. Literally, people want to know how they look while being smeared across the virtual web. external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQJxsZ5HF3V-NG2KErxsCRyA5rZIdmuZCLgKKJ7kpwOcMvuZKwG

But not so long ago, people did not have this creative control. The “everyman” did not have a say in their appearance. Also, the technology was not accessible to the “everyman” (similar to the ideas from the documentary from the last class). But now, everyone has the power to distort their image in whichever way they fancy. People can stand in certain ways, add imaginary objects, and edit the flaws away. In this sense people are creating their own reality.


But, the issue is why do we care so much? Why can’t we take a picture without posing it in a certain way or smiling? Can’t we just “be” in pictures. There is always a constant review of pictures.
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To weave music into the conversation, I thought about a photo shoot that I put together. For my Christmas Album, I directed our photo shoot. While directing, I tried to have some control with how our brand was portrayed in pictures. I looked at lighting, clothing, etc. Therefore, the space that we took the pictures became a realm of our own constructed reality. When I create Youtube videos as well, I do the same thing. I try to create a realm of reality.

In regards to this "realm", I often look at what it says about a person. For instance, on Youtube, some people manage their brand very carefully. They make sure that they are in an area that describes them. But, what does an image of an area say about someone? How can people construct a brand through film and other forms of media? Also, does that brand image translate for everyone? Can that image change or transform easily? I am really interested in creative control and specifically when it involves a person's brand.

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So what kind of brand do you see? What does this video say about the person?

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Don’t take my picture:
From people taking pictures of monuments to people taking promotional pictures, it seems as though everyone is moving toward “real” pictures. How can people make their products look more accessible? How can you make the city look bustling? Add people. But, what happens when consent is not given, when you don’t want your picture taken?

There have been so many instances, where people just want that “real” factor. Just the other day, I was enjoying some Thai food at a table in downtown DC at a festival. A company had strategically placed their tissue products at each table. Since, I had the sniffles, I used one of the tissues. Then, later, when I was eating, I proceeded to use the tissues once again to remove the excess food from my face. After a while, a man came up to my table and asked if my friend and I liked the product. I started to tell him all of the things that I liked the product. After my testimonial, he took out his camera and tried to take some pictures of my friend and me. I proceeded to tell him that I didn’t want my picture taken, but my friend might want her picture taken. So he took my friends picture and went on his way. The point that I am getting at, is creative control of the image that is captured on his device. If I let him take my picture, I have no way of knowing where my image is going to be placed. I didn’t sign a legal document so what if the image was placed everywhere.

Education by simulation- The "real" history:
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In one of my undergraduate philosophy classes, the last section that we talked about
was basically the reality of the images. We discussed how images that are taken tend to represent events. The one event that we focused on was Hurricane Katrina. After various examples and great discussions, I wanted to continue to study this history of images. Which image is chosen to represent the historic event? By a single picture, can we encapsulate a whole time period?

I think this is very interesting because it shapes the way that society views people and events.











Questions (in addition to the previous questions):
Is there a limit to what should be accessible to everyone?
Should there be a limit?
Is accessibility positive or negative?
What’s beautiful?
Can true beauty be captured without editing?
What is reality based on and how will we know it when we see it?

Works Cited:
http://www.businessinsider.com/well-there-were-two-clear-lessons-in-the-first-debate-2012-10
http://www9.georgetown.edu/faculty/irvinem/theory/Baudrillard_Simulacra_and_Simulations.html
http://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/debord/society.htm








Stevie Chancellor
Week 6
Hyperreality As Video Game Genre?

Many of this week’s readings focus on movies and the moving picture. However, I wanted to look at another type of media that has really made leaps and bounds in becoming photorealistic but also addresses the issue of genre very differently than normal movies: video games!

One you get past Baudrillard’s obscurantist writing, his theory is not too hard to understand and see where it falters. Baudrillard discusses the issue of hyperreality by arguing that signs and referents have overtaken the value of reality in our mind. To Baudrillard, cultural objects that we create takes precedence over the reality we are in, ripping us away from reality and instead placing us in a hyperreality. Our symbols and signs don’t refer back to the reality which they were intended, but rather to the symbols and models that we have assembled. He references Disneyland as the ultimate simulation of perfect America – it is real, but it’s also a fiction created where people go intentionally to suspend the reality of their lives. It fictionizes the American dream and spirit, encapsulating our values in signs that really don’t point to anything realistic at all. “When the real is no longer what it was, nostalgia assumes its full meaning.”

However, Baudrillard makes his claims all-encompassing of the world around him. In regards to the Disneyland example, many of the points he makes are about areas of life purposefully organized in ways to elicit certain reactions, such as museums and governments and theme parks. Most people don’t only experience cultural objects that are hyperreal - many people live in their apartments and houses where there are dishes in the sink and the bedroom needs a good tidy to be considered hyperreal. He also neglects to discuss (at least in this section that we have read) the value of signs as referents to things that don’t really have a tangible form in reality at all, such as values, or that objects can have multiple layers of referents without losing their totality of meaning.

But what can we take from Baudrillard are the indicators of the hyperreal, where things are designed to appear realistic but aren’t, such as the CG for the fight scenes in The Matrix and its hyperviolence. What about video games, a genre that Baudrillard ignores somewhat in his analysis?

Video Games and Hyperreality
“…pretending, or dissimulating, leaves the principle of reality intact: the different is always clear, it is simply masked, whereas simulation threatens the difference between the ‘true’ and the ‘false,’ the ‘reality’ and the ‘imaginary.’” - Baudrillard

Both pretending and simulating are essential components to immersion in video games, where the player controls the main character to proceed along with a story. Unlike movies or books where the consumer watches the action unfold, the consumer literally makes actions happen in these hyperrealities. So the consumer is both pretending to be someone else by playing them in video games...

BUT...Many video games rely on pieces of reality to make them believable and then go off and create their own worlds to live in. The Half Life series by Valve takes a particle physicist on Earth and makes him fight for Earth’s survival, against humans, humanoids, and aliens; however, fans often remark on the enjoyment of realistic physics puzzles throughout. Characters are rendered as realistically as possible

Compare these two videos to each other. LA Noire is hyperreal whereas Borderlands is stylized...

However, modern advances in video game graphics and physics rendering are quickly catching the quality of video games up to speed such that photorealistic rendering is on the horizon. Since video games require both pretending and simulation, maybe there is a new genre that is emerging that forces the user to do both.

What are some qualities I imagine of the Hyperreal Genre?
  • First-person viewpoint
  • Realistic physics implementations that mimics physics on Earth
  • Graphical rendering that seeks to replicate reality
  • Human characters
  • Realistic landscaping and thematic elements
  • Elements of shifted reality – slow-motion gameplay, heightened sense of awareness of NPCs, “bullet time”, replay, etc.
  • Open worlds



Langford Wiggins
Week 6
Dark Knight Rises- Real or Sign of Real

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"In this passage to a space whose curvature is no longer that of the real, nor of truth, the age of simulation thus begins with a liquidation of all referentials - worse: by their artificial resurrection in systems of signs, … It is no longer a question of imitation, nor of reduplication, nor even of parody. It is rather a question of substituting signs of the real for the real itself." (Baudrillard) This quote provides an understanding of films today providing a hyperreal experience creating a world that represents the world where we live. “Representation starts from the principle that the sign and the real are equivalent” (Baudrillard), leading to the idea that a sign can easily be mistaken for the real.
I mention this for the purpose of understanding the role of Gotham City in the movie Dark Knight Rises. Is Gotham City a real city? Is it a simulation of a real city? Does this city have the same problems of a real city?

Dark Knight opened in theaters and IMAX July 20th this past summer. I saw the Dark Knight in IMAX and greatly enjoyed the experience but when I think of the horrifying incident with shooter James Holmes, I wonder is the movie too real?

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I first wonder, why choice the name Gotham City? According to Batman comic writer Bill Finger, “Originally I was going to call Gotham City ‘Civic City’...Then I flipped through the New York City phone book and spotted the name ‘Gotham Jewelers’ and said, ‘That’s it,’ Gotham City. We didn’t call it New York because we wanted anybody in any city to identify with it.” The purpose of naming a city and depicting the functions of a city is to create an image that can be easily recognized and relatable to the viewer. Simulation at its finest.

Most images are reflections of simple realities. Which is done successfully in the comics but once the comic turned Box Office Hit as The Dark Knight is the image of the Gotham City still relatable to all cities or does it focus mainly on the United States? I say, yes.


When looking at the trailer for the film you see certain elements that depict American society, New York City landscape, and American culture.
If you notice the pride and courage depicted in the police force of Gotham City, one can easily correlate the army of police to the highly regarded police in America.

The sky scraper buildings in the film can be seen in several major cities, however, the landscape, bridges, and specific buildings are pure simulation of New York City.

No country, besides the United States, observes American football as a highly publicized major sport, not mentioning the Super Bowl. Coincidentally, the movie’s, realistic highest villain attack from, stereotypical villain, Bain was administered at a heavily populated American football game. All of the mentioned elements bring forth the idea of “truth value of the digital image, the lack of distance from reality, and its function in rendering the hyperreal” (Baudrillard).


Questions:
Do movies, so easily relatable to one culture, impact that culture?
Does the imitation of real, make certain individuals act out negative scenarios?
Do movies need to keep a fantasy like effect to encourage the “Do Not Try At Home” cautionary idiom?

“The stylization of "Realism", utilized in photography, film, and all visual media is recognized as societal reality; its function as a code among many is obscured.” (Baudrillard)

Work Cited
http://batmangothamcity.net/origin-of-the-name-gotham/
Jean Baudrillard, "Simulacra and Simulations" (html version) (pdf version). From Simulacra and Simulation, 1981; English trans., 1988.
http://www.imax.com/about/



Week 6
"Conquering worlds"
Elisabet Diaz Sanmartin


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Fantasia. 1940. Walt Disney.


"This is not the cartoon medium, we have worlds to conquer here...Whatever the mind of man can conceive, animation can explain.” With this categorical sentence Walt Disney was challenging one of his workers when he was questioning the proper use of the “cartoon medium” for the film “Fantasia.” (Dilts 201) Certainly, “cartoon medium” was the embryo of today’s film digital effects; a medium able to transform anything devisable into “life.” Disney sensed the potential of human’s imagination as a creation tool and, the potential of technology to create new worlds. Technology has become the medium to “conquer worlds”; the medium to overcome human physical limitations by creating “worlds” that have everything except the “real” quality.
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Frame of the film. Fantasia. Walt Disney. 1940


This lack of reality has been explored by the French philosopher Baudrillard who proposes that what our culture understands as reality is actually a “combination of different models in a hyperspace without atmosphere”, in other words, reality is constituted by the sum of multiple simulacrum of realities generated by a variety of mediums. He named this phenomenon with the term “hyperreality” and states that since there is not a way to differentiate reality from a simulacrum, we take the simulacrum as real.(Baudrillard 40)


Technological advances in digital effects have enhanced the creation of “hyperrealities” and “worlds” through films. Among all the cinematographic genres the construction of the future in science-fiction films has been most fed by technological advances. Science fiction is also the genre that is becoming the most hybrid. Avatar, directed by James Cameron, is the last landmark of digital effects and visual hybridization. The goal of James Cameron was for spectators to see his fantastic creatures as emotional and real beings. Cameron attached a CGI (Computer Generated Imagery) camera to a helmet that the actors wore during the shooting; the camera recorded every facial expression, including eye movements, and as a consequence enhanced the resemblance of the creatures with the actors. The performance of the actors and the director were also improved by the fusion of different cameras allowing simultaneous merging of the digital content with the live-action performance on screen. Cameron was able to direct the real and the virtual elements at the same time. (Avatar 2010)Avatar4.jpgavatar3.jpg


Baudrillard observed that “everything is metamorphosed into its opposite to perpetuate itself in its expurgated form”. As a quality of hyperreality; Avatarreflects this paradox not only in form but also in content. To enhance realism the actors were derived of by any conventional tool that situated them in the scene, such as props, scenery, costume and make up. The actors were dressed with cables and cameras and recorded in chrome stages. Reality is reached by virtuality. In the same fashion, the film highlighted the ecological and energetic crises that the planet earth has faced in the last decades. Avatar uses the emotional nature of films to promote consciousness about ecological issues and calls for a social commitment of humanity with nature. Conversely, the movie was done by 20th Century Fox, which in turn is part of News Corporation, the gigantic media multinational owned by Rupert Murdoch and Family. This media corporation has been blamed by the scientific community for its constant mispresentation about global warming (Weinschenk 2010). Sadly, the money raised by the film is more likely preserve the interests of the corporation over the interest of ecology.




Works Cited,


Dilts,B. Robert Strategies of Genius
Vol.1 Meta Publications 1994. California.

Baudrillard, Jean Cultura y Simulacro Ed Kairós. 1978 Barcelona (spanish version)


New Technology in AVATAR- performance Capture, Fusion Camera System, and Simul-Cam
by Avatar. May 30, 2010.

http://avatarblog.typepad.com/avatar-blog/2010/05/new-technology-in-avatar-performance-capture-fusion-camera-system-and-simulcam.htm

Panic Attack: Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal Finds 16 Scientists to Push Pollutocrat Agenda With Long-Debunked Climate Lies

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/01/29/413961/panic-attack-murdoch-wall-street-journal-finds-16-scientists-long-debunked-climate-lies/?mobile=nc


Paulina Johnson
Week 6


The Perceived Reality of Reality Television

Why do we watch reality television? Many of us are aware on some level that the scenarios that occur within these shows are planned, scripted, and orchestrated, yet we still remain fascinated with the content and set our DVRs and TIVOs to record it weekly.

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There have been many speculations about the validity and verity of certain reality shows, and even about certain celebrities’ lives.


Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy










Merrin described the phenomenon well when he wrote: “they are not unreal media productions (which is, after all, what The Matrix still proposes), rather they are precessionary, coded, and materialised models that come to invade and invest all areas of our lives, experience and behaviours as the real, such that we too reproduce them as reality. Thus our entire everyday world becomes a produced, semiotically hyperrealised, mapped-out and anticipated, programmed experience. It is this production and reproduction that constitutes simulation and its effects are real.”

The mental model we construct of what certain peoples’ “reality” is, is actually programmed. With that comes the notion of how “real” someone can be if a camera is in front of them. Are we ever seeing the real side of someone who has become accustomed to cameras following them around all the time? How do we know it is real and not just the person’s identity when they are on camera?
Breaking Amish Cast
Breaking Amish Cast

TLC’s Breaking Amish stars have been supposed to have lived outside their Amish communities for longer than revealed on the show. Some of them have even been suspected of being together before the show, of having been divorced and supported by their Amish parents after having left their communities, etc.

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Everyone heard about Kristen Stewart’s cheating scandal with her director, Rupert Sanders. There have been claims that the images released showing the two of them together were just **part of a PR stunt**, and now the media tells us that **Rob and Kristen are back together.**

Do we rely on the technological convergence that Benjamin describes, along with a sense of hyperreality to be entertained? Is it the media/journalism’s fault, or is it our own for subscribing to what they give us, therefore making it a cyclical process as we are continually given what we ask for (based on high ratings, etc)?

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^ an interesting look at remix in regards to rene magritte

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Week6:
L'Oreal Paris -participating in the age of the "Spectacle"
Sagorika Sen

This week’s readings on Image and image processing techniques made me instinctively think about my time in an ad agency last year and all the work that L’Oreal Paris did n terms of communication in the beauty category. Everything within the company projects women as hyper real, as something out of the ordinary.

Walter Benjamin in the “Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” says that , “human sense and perception changes with humanity’s entire mode of existence.The Matter in which human sense /perception is organized, the medium in which it is accomplished is determined by historical circumstances”. This is to me, is extremely true in the case of L’Oreal Paris. Built on the fundamental historical company belief that all women are worth it, the company today tries to sell the L’Oreal Paris woman as being a company that women need to look upto, something that is unattainable -



In Debord’s “Society of the Spectacle” ,in tenet # 6 he states that “The spectacle grasped in its totality is both the result and the project of the existing mode of production. It is not a supplement to the real world, an additional decoration. It is the heart of the unrealism of the real society. In all its specific forms, as information or propaganda, as advertisement or direct entertainment consumption, the spectacle is the present model of socially dominant life. It is the omnipresent affirmation of the choice already made in production and its corollary consumption.”

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My Questions:

Why does the beauty category or commercials across categories lose their authenticity in their quest for “Standing out” in our capitalistic world of choice? How can image making techniques like “photoshop” & “Illustrator” not be over abused for monumental profits.? Consumers today are getting smart & proportionally a few of them can tell the difference between fake & real- does this spark the need for some more innovative image processing softwares? In our age of consumerism will we ever reach a stage where corporations won't have to distinguish between real & fake?

References:
http://www.lorealparis.com/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gJteY1iOfm8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZIBYfyuf10
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S_vVUIYOmJM





Week 6:
The Truman Show
Sara Anderson

The idea of reality is heavily layered in The Truman Show. Jim Carey plays Truman Burbank, who was adopted by a corporation and filmedwithout his knowledge 24 hours a day for his entire life. Many people make a connection between this movie and the concept of reality television. This is a very easy connection to make, but The Truman Show is unique in that nothing in Truman’s life is real. Everyone in his life is a plant, and he is manipulated into staying on set.

However, currently running reality television shows seem further from reality than this entirely constructed life. While external image images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR0Xk90Mbx7KUwigCRqpXGuhoC4WPSJNJUwxhuXanvD37akxJ_Pngeverything in Truman’s life is arranged, he believes it for a time. Reality show personalities know they are being filmed, and there is generally some theme to the program. Truman was just living his life as he knew it. They even included the advertisements in character conversation to continue 24 hour filming. He also exhibited some level of unexpected behavior, whereas reality television is more controlled

Eventually, Truman begins to realize that his life as he conceives of it is contrived by others. He develops these suspicions over time, andeventually enters “the real world”. In many ways, this relates to the concept of reality in The Matrix. Truman is being used as a commodity, and his entire world is fabricated. There are also people protesting this treatment who want to see him set free of that existence. The creator of the show tries to convince him to stay, arguing that the world Truman lives is is no less real than ours with the exception that he is safe in his own world.


Week 6

Dichotomy of Reality through Images
Meggie Schmidt

The meaning and social function of images are interpreted differently by individuals and based off many factors such as the time period in which they were created. A major component of this week’s theme is reality. Reality has been a topic among literature and art for centuries and continues into the present with film and television series. Reality’s various interpretations through art stimulates one’s emotions and will always be a topic of interest.

In one of the readings, “Simulation Reloaded,” the question between what is real and what is virtual is discussed. The film, “the Matrix” is given as an example. The viewer’s emotions are targeted by the actions scenes and in sorting through what actually exists. By bringing the viewer into a different reality, imagination is stimulated and the viewer begins to transcend them self into that reality. The Matrix movie first came out in 1999. The dichotomy between real and virtual as well as essence and appearance has similarities to the film Mission Impossible, which came out in 1996. The film Mission Impossible was based off of a popular television series. The thrill of danger, mainly from the non-stop action, stimulates the viewer’s emotions and captures their interest.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOi9hHjmYq4
around 1.30
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Cascading off of this theme, the work of Salvador Dali, such as “The Persistence of Memory,” can be compared to the theme of real/virtual and essence/appearance. Dali’s work became popular because of their emotional appeal to the viewer. There are multiple watches in this work and they appear to be melting, suggesting that time is irrelevant. When a person is asleep, time doesn’t matter, and thus is irrelevant. The only thing that continues to persist is our memories.
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Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931

In my opinion, dreaming is a component of this week’s theme through the meanings and social functions of images. Through dreams, ones desires and fears are revealed. They are a connection between conscious and unconscious, reality and imaginary. One work of art that captures the theme of dreaming is by Henry Fuseli, titled “The Nightmare.” Although this work was created centuries before Dali’s work, the underlying theme of a separate reality is created. It appeals to the viewer’s emotions, by showing another domain that is often created in one’s dreams. There are many different interpretations of this work but all of deal with a separate realm that is created through dreams and the irrelevance of time.

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Fuseli, The Nightmare, 1781

References:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salvador_Dal%C3%AD
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Nightmare
Seyda Ozturk, "Simulation Reloaded," Cinetext, August, 2003.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOi9hHjmYq4
http://www.filmhash.com/storage/post-images/Mission_Impossible_I.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1323754512778


Week 6:

The Image and Image Technologies


Lauren Jones
Helvetica


ELEPHANT
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In 1957, the Swiss created a typeface which sought to bring order and balance to the capricious world around it: Helvetica. Out of the chaos of World War II, various artistic movements emerged from Europe ill bent on the need to permeate reason and harmony around the globe, i.e. De Stijl, neoplasticism, Bauhaus, the International Style. The same sentiment was felt among typographers.

“The spectacle presents itself as something enormously positive, indisputable and inaccessible. It says nothing more than ‘that which appears is good, that which is good appears. The attitude which it demands in principle is passive acceptance which in fact it already obtained by its manner of appearing without reply, by its monopoly of appearance.’”

Over time, Helvetica is used in every corner of modern, capitalist, Western society. Its strong, clean lines and negative space enable this particular typeface to become universal and good for every occasion. It represents everything that is ‘modern’ – it is neutral and gives the appearance as if it were machine-manufactured, referencing the accomplishments and prowess of mankind.

On the other hand, there are those who find the typeface of Helvetica to be generic and boring. For many graphic designers, Helvetica exists as a default – it does not promote individualism in terms of ideals and words. When it represents a brand name, it says that this brand is safe, you are not going to stand out.




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“In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.”

In the 1970’s, an artist’s movement rose up against Helvetica where the original ideals behind the font, that of balance and order, began to stand for something corrupt and malicious. Some went as far as to link Helvetica with the Vietnam War because of the prominence of the typeface in the major corporations which funded the war.

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.”

Nowadays, Helvetica can be seen on every street corner. In advertisements, on storefronts, on our computers, etc. Despite its ubiquitousness, can a typeface truly represent a people? Can it represent an ideal, an image, an identity? What do you think? Can a typeface represent sentimentalities? Does it have the power to unite, to order, to destroy? Or is its existence as fragile as its creator’s? Does a font have permenance?


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Content based on the documentary "Helvetica".

Quatations:
Guy Debord, The Society of the Spectacle. 1967.

Images Used:
http://latereviews.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/the-office.jpg
http://www.justice.gov/enrd/4861.htm
http://www.cubancouncil.com/work/project/facebook-logo
http://www.razorianfly.com/2011/06/17/american-airlines-to-save-1-2-million-by-adopting-ipad/
http://cupcakesandranges.blogspot.com/2010/04/american-apparel-logo.html
http://instinctmagazine.com/blogs/blog/crate-barrel-ups-its-gay-game-with-new-ad?directory=100011



Arielle Orem- Week 6 Wiki
I very much enjoyed this week’s readings about images and authenticity. Sherman’s artwork, in my opinion, visually represents Benjamin’s concerns about a loss of aura/authenticity as technology continues to expand the producer/artist’s possibilities. I was also reminded of our previous in-class discussion of David LaChapelle’s artwork.
I was especially intrigued by Malraux’s suggestion that the use of reproduced images to represent great works of art has changed our experience of these works. Malraux, similar to Benjamin, is concerned with the impact that even the museum itself has on the way we experience works of art. One quote, included in Dr. Irvine’s “Overview and Excerpts” which drew my attention describes this idea, saying:
A Romanesque crucifix was not regarded by its contemporaries as a work of sculpture; nor Climbue’s Madonna as a picture. Even Pheidias’ Pallas Athene was not, primarily, a statue. So vital is the part played by the art museum in our approach to works of art to-day that we find it difficult to realize that no museums exist, none has ever existed, in lands where the civilization of modern Europe is, or was, unknown; and that, even amongst us, they have existed for barely two hundred years. They bulked so large in the nineteenth century and are so much part of our lives to-day that we forget they have imposed on the spectator a wholly new attitude towards the work of art. For they have tended to estrange the works they bring together from their original functions and to transform even portraits into “pictures”. (Voices of Silence, Part 1, Museum Without Walls, 13-14)
Malraux is alluding to the decontextualization that occurs when a work of art is placed in a museum exhibition. Benjamin and Malraux seem to agree that in much of modern art there is a loss of engagement with the artist and a lack of communal meaning-making. I think that contemporary forms of participatory art and performance art both seek to address these notions.
To illustrate participatory, performance art as a reaction to Malraux’s theories, I would like to introduce the work of Marina Abramovic as presented in the Museum of Modern Art’s retrospective exhibition featuring __Marina Abramovic: The Artist is Present__(2010). In this performance, Abramovic sat face-to-face in locked gaze with individual audience members beneath bright lighting in the museum atrium. By participating, the individual has a physical connection with the artist; she cannot escape recognizing the artist as she looks Abramovic in the eye. Another interesting aspect of this three-month-long performance was the community that developed surrounding the work. Abramovic discussed her surprise about the creation of this community in an __interview__ saying:
to expect an American to come to the Museum and sit seven hours, and not only sit for a long time but also to come back again and again, and create a community around this piece, this was very surprising. And I think especially the community—how the people actually started meeting each other around the work, how this circulated and how they continue to get into kind of a friendship situation—that was a really new thing to me.



Abramovic’s performance at MoMA in 2010 created an atmosphere where audiences not only engaged with the artist, but also with one another during the time spent waiting to sit with the artist. Some community members returned multiple times to sit with Abramovic, such as Paco Blanco. In a separate __interview__ Blanco describes why he came back twenty-one times to participate, saying:
I think Marina’s piece has a very strong magnetism. It’s hard to explain but it’s almost like you feel this force, it draws you in, like a magnet. Sitting with her is a transforming experience—it’s luminous, it’s uplifting, it has many layers, but it always comes back to being present, breathing, maintaining eye contact. It’s an amazing journey to be able to experience and participate in the piece.Also, I love meeting people in line. I’ve met a lot of people and have made a lot of new friends, many of them artists, but really all sorts of people. I keep in touch with them and we e-mail constantly to talk about our experiences. It’s like a little community of people who come to participate in the piece.
As Paco describes his experience with this performance, he indicates the two things that make Abramovic’s work unique: it is dependent on a direct experience with the artist which cannot be captured in an image, and it inspires community in a way that has been largely lost in the contemporary museum experience. In my opinion, this participatory performance addresses the concerns raised by Malraux about impact of images on the deterioration of the museum experience.