Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Postmodernism Readings

"A Pair of Boots" By Vincent Van Gogh
Based on the three readings on Postmodernsim, the post modern age is the blending of the world's cultures. Today, people no longer live in a world with one set of morals, customs, and culture. Instead the world's cultures are "intermixing like a smorgasbord in a earthquake" (Postmodernism Introduction 3). It is normal to understand and be exposed to a variety of cultures from our own. In fact, it is difficult to imagine a world where you only know your own culture. The integration of technology, such as the internet, has contributed to this "intermixing". People "[attempt] to map the contours of our rapidly changing Postmodern world" (Postmodernism Introduction 4). According to Jameson, there are three cultural periods, the first being the age of realism, then the age of modernism, when individuals expressed dissatisfaction with their world, and finally the age of postmodernism in which "cultural forms reflect the dislocation and fragmentation of language communities" (Postmodernism Introduction 6).
I found it particularly interesting when Andy Warhol's "Diamond Dust Shoes" and Vincent Van Gogh's "A Pair of Boots" were compared. While Van Gogh's shoes represented the peasant class's poverty and misery, Warhol's represented "depthlessness with no link to any reality" (Postmodernism Introdcution 7). In addition, Warhol's shoes, when compared to Van Gogh's, appear flat due to the black and white color scheme and angle. As Jameson states, Warhol's image displays "a new kind of superficiality"(Jameson 9). After looking at both images, Van Gogh's painting conveys a larger message about the struggles of the peasant class, while Warhol's represents the commercial, materialistic focus of the culture.

"Diamond Dust Shoes" By Andy Warhol
Postmodernism focuses on hypereality, which is found in places like Hollywood or Disneyland. Disneyland is located in California where, according to the Jean Baudrillard, "all Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation" (Baudrillard). This hyperreality "is not the unreal, but has replaced 'reality'" (Postmodernism Introduction 58). Disneyland is an example of this where "the real is no longer real" (Baudrillard). In a culture obsessed with perfection, I do agree with the larger idea that the United States has become a hyperrealistic nation overall. Instead, like Los Angeles, it is full of "fabulous proportions, but without space or dimensions" (Baudrillard).  The Postmodernism movement reflects the increasingly interconnectedness and changes of the world today.

Monday, March 27, 2017

George Kubler Reading Response

I found two parts of the George Kubler reading particularly interesting. The first was when Kubler discusses the history of and limitations of artist biographies. One such limitation is how these biographies "confine the value of the history of art" in a way that makes it "easy to overlook the continuous nature of artistic traditions" (4).  According to Kubler, these biographies are"confined" in this way because the biographer's goals are solely focused on the particular artist's life and his or her works. I had not previously thought about biographies in this light before. I found Kubler's metaphor comparing using the life of an individual artist as way to study the history of art to that of accurately describing the railroads of a certain country helpful. It makes sense that focusing on a single artist's life as a way to explain art history is too narrow just as would be studying one railroad traveler.
Another section of the reading that I found particularly interesting was the section discussing the terms "talent" and "genius". In my own life, I have noticed how people immediately associate famous artists as being geniuses who have almost superhuman amounts of talent. Kubler argues that this is not the case, but that an artist's "entrance and position in sequence" are as influential as his or her talent (6). Kubler cites a few artists to support this idea. One is Leonardo da Vinci and another is Bernardino Luini. The fact that Kubler does not need to even mention da Vinci's last name for the reader to recognize who he is referencing supports his argument. Kubler explained that Luini was talented just like da Vinci, but "came late when the feast was over" (6). If I were to show the two photos pictured below, people who know very little about art would probably recognize the piece on the left as opposed to the other piece. 

Kubler describes modern views of the idea of genius as being a "congenital disposition" instead of "a fortuitous keying together of disposition and situation into an exceptionally efficient entity" (6). When I read that, I thought about Hollywood and how there are so many actors and actresses that are just as talented as the A list celebrities, but have not had the same luck. Kubler's points about an artist's biography and how famous artists did not solely possess talent stood out to me and made me think about how I had been previously viewing these two ideas in my own life.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Blog Post: Escaping Flatland/The Art of Data Visualization

Both the chapter, "Escaping Flatland", and the video, The Art of Data Visualization, discuss the power of displaying and conveying information using different visual techniques. The chapter addressed, how though as humans we live in a three-dimensional world, we are presented with two-dimensional data on paper or a screen. In the reading, I found it particularly interesting when it described a specific type of data visualization referred to as "stereo illustrations"(17). These illustrations "deliver vivid three-dimensional scenes by means of paired images (one for each eye), which are then fused mentally by viewers" (17). This reminded me of a toy (pictured below) I had when I was younger that was a viewfinder that used this type of illustration to give two-dimensional images depth.
In the Youtube video, they discussed how data visualization's beginnings were showing information through cartography and later with science. Galileo's own depiction of the sunspots he saw is an example of this science. In addition, during the video one individual lays out three aspects to keep in mind when creating data visualization. The first of these being you as the creator, second the audience or readers with their own biases and unique backgrounds, and finally the data itself. One image that displayed during the video particularly stood out to me. It was the image below of the distances to the nearest McDonalds in the United States. I think this image, though simple, is incredibly powerful and shocking. Lastly, I liked how in the video one individual discusses what makes these visual displays of data successful. They specified how successful data visualizations convey a story and make complicated information into something more simple and able to be interpreted.  After watching this video and reading the chapter, I became much more aware of different data visualization techniques I have encountered in my own life.