Monday, February 27, 2017

Oppenheimer: the father of modern war

"There are children playing in the streets who could solve some of my top problems in physics, because they have modes of sensory perception that I lost long ago." - Media is the Massage page 93

J. Robert Oppenheimer is the embodiment of rejection of groundrules and existing environment. His brilliant thought and unwillingness to accept the status quo caused a prolific shift in the way the world consumes science, violence, and the morality of war. On one hand, his defiance of the existing modes of science made possible the creation of the atomic bomb, which did ultimately end World War II. 

However, at what cost? Following the end of the war and Oppenheimer's battle with the American Government, he observes that sin is now forever tied to physics. And terms like "mutually assured destruction" are now commonplace in the language of war and violence. His work developing the bomb was shrouded in secrecy before, and afterwards he notes that knowledge should be shared, a concept which children know better than anyone else.

McLuhan chooses to include a quote from Oppenheimer because he represent a important moment in which the future of the world and humanity was, for the first time, in question. Because he broke boundaries and shifted the way that media-- and, subsequently, humankind-- consumed our own collective mortality. And to demostrate the ways in which children are the one existing force of morality and collective thought not entirely created by media-- although this does seem to be changing as technology and media is more and more accessible to younger and younger children.

Monday, February 13, 2017

A descent into the void. Recognizable beats are layered and repeated until the song loses all focus, it is taken elsewhere, the beats are lost and the result is only sound. All the sounds used in the video are preset GarageBand sounds that are meant to be catchy, easy to use and easily layered. The song begins like a real song, with beats synching up. It becomes clear that this is not a real song, and the dissolve of the beats result in a consuming sound which one cannot interpret. Not only does this project aim at challenging one's expectations of music, but also the ownership of sound. By using preexisting sounds, I aim at questioning the notion of authorship presented by McLuhan, who claims that "people are less and less convinced of the importance of self expression" (123) because of new technologies. By using pre-existing music, I am taking part in the new technologies that change what it means for something to be custom-made. I am the creator, but I am also not the creator. Does this mean that the music is void of self expression? I don't believe that is the case. It seems as though claiming authorship is a form of self expression, and one must change their views on originality to adhere to the new standards set forth by technology.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Rashaad Newsome: Explorations of identity, status and symbols

Rashaad Newsome uses what he knows-- his culture and environment, his education in art history-- to create an aesthetic that is not only representative of his own identity, but also deeply political. His ability to work in so many different medias, like video, sculpture and print, works through the collective theme of collage that runs through his pieces and ties back to his central themes. Although his pieces are heavily inundated with images of wealth, the works themselves are heavily critical of advertising and its depictions of power, beauty and wealth. Newsome's work is influenced by both Baroque art and hip-hop culture. His trilogy on the Royal College of Arms and heraldry combine the hierarchal symbols of class with the modern symbols of power and success in black American culture. His works represent the use of media to change or control one's own depiction of self, "a formula for putting on the universe-- participation mystique" (114).

His next narrative, on the legends, statements and starts found in ballroom voguing, looks at the ties between collage and movement. He heavily relies on his use of space, using repeated symbols of collage while also using dancers in the vogue world to depict how their bodies create collages. He uses the five elements of vogue performance to show how important each different movement is to the collective. I admire Newsome's respect for the culture of vogueing and the dancers he uses while simultaneously challenging the notion that depiction of body must be overt, instead using architecture as a means of representation. He is also heavily critical of the "canonized art world" which he is now a part of, and his pieces themselves are both a part of this world and challenging the previous representations seen in the high society art world. His work was born out of a lack of representation for his personal identities, which continues to be of vital importance when Newsome's creates.