Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Cultural Event #3: Warhol in Colorado


Today, I went to the Warhol exhibit at the University of Denver.  This was also my first exposure to Warhol's work.  I felt that the most striking of Andie Warhol's work was his screenprints, shown above.  The screenprints show classic figures and icons from our culture, but the altered colors and additions to the prints give each image its own new connotation.  Andie experimented with different subjects for his photography and his art, including sports photography, including screenprints of Mohammed Ali, as well as sexuality.  He became quite well known for his print of the Campbell's soup can, so much so that when he took his exhibit to the university of colorado, students brought soup can labels for Warhol to sign.  The exhibit contained many photographs and prints that were donated to the university of denver.  Besides Warhol's work, a lot of work was put into maintaining the environment as an art exhibit, but I feel that the surrounding environment took on the moods of Warhol's work.  The walls had different colors, all complimenting the brightly colored screenprints on every wall.  Overhead lighting was perfectly aligned to make each print pop out brilliantly.  Such a wonderful exhibit did not require a sign to tell people to be respectful and well mannered.  The power of the art and the environment inherently commanded respect and reverence.  The exhibit showed Warhol's work as what it truly is -- Great Art.

Cultural Event #2: Denver Public Library Photography Exhibit







       As I walked into the photo exhibit, I first noticed the location of the exhibit; it didn't look like a typical exhibit, it was just a hall between two larger rooms.  Nevertheless, it had a special feeling to it.  The overhead lights drew the gaze to the wall, and the creme walls were contrasted by the striking images on them.  There didn't seem to be much of a theme between the photos, but, as an exhibit, all of the photos complimented each other.  I think that one thing that we often overlook in art exhibits is the composition of the exhibit on the wall.  A photo could be put too high, or to low, or too close to the other photos.  Good spacings creates the professional, artistic feeling that can be found in any good art exhibit. I believe that the combination of the lighting, colors, and composition truly gave this exhibit a special feeling of its own.  I was particularly drawn to the first two photos, which seem to be a pair.  With a quick glance, it would seem to just be a still life, but be reading the second photo, it seems that the artist connects with this photo on a much deeper level.  The third photo caught my attention because of how all of the photos fit together; some are out of focus, and each photo was from a different angle, but when composed well, they all fit together.  I feel that it is crucial to go to art exhibits, partly to appreciate other works of art, but more importantly to expand one's own creativity.

Cultural Event #1: Brass Tree Session

      




       There is a piece of musical culture that my roommate from Nashville introduced me to that most Coloradans have never heard of; a thing called a 'house show'.  A typical house show features several local bands playing right from the living room of a host home of sorts.  My roommate took me to my very first house show a few weeks ago.  This house show is recurring, and it is called the Brass Tree Session.  That night, three bands played: Hot White, Thee Goochi Boiz, and Nipples N Dimes.  Although the music wasn't at all what I normally listen to, the garage rock environment was comfortable and unique, unlike any other musical venue.  It was possible to walk up and talk to the band members, and when listening to the bands play, you would be standing less then 10 feet away from the whole band.  In that environment, something special happened. Even though I didn't like the music, I started to understand what the band was feeling and what they wanted to say through the music.  It was easy to make friends in the crowd of 15 to 30 people, and between shows we would go into the backyard and engage in random conversations while sitting around a fire.  Great Art does not have to be born in music or art studios in California or New York. Great Art exists independently of whether or not it is recognized or popular.  Great Art can live in a living room, lighting up the lives of the people that attend.  Don't overlook art by unknown artists, treating it as insignificant.  All art is important, as long as it has a meaning, even if it only has a few fans.  All that matters is that it at least impacted the lives of people at all.  The Brass Tree Session opened my eyes to new types of music and a whole new culture altogether.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Digital Media: Annie Leibovitz


       Annie Leibovitz was a photographer from her childhood.  As she went on trips with her family, she would watch the world pass by as she watched through the window.  When she reflected on her childhood, she remarked that the window was the photographic frame that she viewed life through, and it influenced her photography.  As a child, all of photography that she was exposed to focused on the family image, which likewise influenced how she began to take photos as an adult.  She went to the Art Institute of San Francisco for college with the intention of teaching art in the future.  As a college student in California, she embraced the youthful movements of her generation.  She became involved in Rolling Stone when it was fresh and young, and she was a photographer for the magazine for several years.  As a result of that, she photographed the bodybuilder movement, and she went on tour with the Rolling Stones. She began to do commercial assignments for the New York Times and Vanity Fair, and she received criticism from her mentor for taking her photography to such a commercial level.  Nevertheless, Annie continues to take photos for such assignments, and one of her most famous photos was of John Lennon and Yoko Ono mere hours before Lennon was murdered.
       This documentary focused on Annie's career as a photographer and on the influences on her photography.  It was laid out as the timeline of Annie's life, showing the changes in her photography over time.  I felt that the documentary did a good job of describing Annie's life and works, but I feel like there was a lot more that needed to be shown about her life than was shown.  Some of the events in her life that were described seemed to be a bit rushed over, but that did make me interested in learning more about her on my own.  Overall, this documentary was a wonderful film that gave the inspirational life story of Annie Leibovitz, a legendary figure in the history of photography.

Digital Media: Sally Mann

       
       The documentary about Sally Mann details her journey through her career as a photographer, as well as her battle against the opinions of her audience.  The artistic spotlight first focussed on Sally's photography in the 1990s with her project "Immediate Family", which contained photos of her family, many of which were nude photos of her children.  Much of her attention was through her infamy that resulted from this project, which brought up many debates regarding the appropriateness of her photography.  Nevertheless, Sally continued to take photos on her large format camera, slowly moving away from portraits of her children to landscapes.  When her dog died, she dedicated a project to remembrance, using hair, nails, and bones from the body as symbols of the dog she loved.  When a criminal killed himself while running from the police in a forest next to Sally's farm, she went and spent some time near the spot, considering the significance of life and death.  When her husband discovered that he would have to fight muscular dystrophy, Sally made the project "Proud Flesh", documenting the weakening of his body as it submitted to the disease.  Most recently, Sally visited a forensics facility that studied characteristics of decomposition of corpses. There, she documented the bodies that were out in the open, exposed to the elements, slowly returning into the ground.  Her project focused on how how life is a cycle of life and death, and when we die we return into the ground that we walk on.
       As a movie, this documentary portrayed Sally in an objective light. It didn't focus too much on her faults or her triumphs, but instead it showed who she was as a photographer, what she has done in the artistic community, and the impact that she has made with her photography.  The movie demonstrates a sense of reverence and respect for who Sally is and what she has done.  As a photographer, I would highly recommend this movie to other artists, as I found it to be inspiring and meaningful, besides simply giving me a broader knowledge of modern photographers.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Project 4: Our Golden Calf - Time






As we sit here, time wastes away.  Like many of the other projects, I approached this one with the mentality of simply fulfilling the assignment and finishing the project.  But as I began to take the photos, I realized that I was missing the point.  Time isn't just about watches and clocks or the passing of seconds, minutes, and days.  Time is significant because of what happens when those seconds, minutes, and days.  When I took the photos above, I didn't intend for them to have the meaning that they have now for me.  The first photo exemplifies everything I have been talking about; the blurry watches deemphasizes the watches, and instead places the emphasis on what the watches represent.  The second and third photos represent how our society idolizes time.  As a high school student, I would always watch the clock, just counting the minutes until I would be done with the class. By march, I would start calculating the days, hours, and minutes until summer break.  What I never thought about was all of the time that I was wasting merely thinking about the passing of time.  I was where I was, and I should have lived in the moment.  Looking into the future can be inspirational and empowering, but we also need to make the most of the time that we have.  The final two photos represent the ways that we treat time.  When we get older, I feel that we either try to hide from the fact that our time on this earth is limited, or we might instead recognize that fact as a result of it.  Take some time to think about how you spend your time, but dont think too much. Get out there and live your life.

Project 3: Smoke and Mirrors





 






This project was meant simply to be a self portrait, to be interpreted however I decided to interpret the assignment.  Although many of the photographs are very literal in meaning, they have I secondary meaning to me that I thought of as I took the photos.  When we go through life, appearance is always something we think about, whether it is our fashion or our popularity.  When we go into public we clothe ourselves with layers of what we want others to see: our positive attributes, everything that might get us a job, find us love, or simply make more friends. It is far too easy to disguise ourselves with what we want others to see, and I tried to portray this in the photos that I took.  The first photo was my reflection in the lens of my digital slr.  This was meaningful to me because I define myself by my photography; I dress to look like a photographer, and I constantly carry my camera with me.  The camera has become somewhat of a symbol for me, and that is what I want people to notice when they first meet me.  The second and third photos similarly express this, but they also introduce the notion of emotional deception.  Our society tells us that we need to be happy on some occasions and sad on other occasions. We aren't free to be who we want to be, because as long as we abide by the rules of society, we must follow the norms.  The fourth, fifth, and sixth photos truly demonstrate the idea of layers.  Just as how we bundle up when we go outside into cold weather, we bundle up our appearance with positive attributes whenever we face society.  The final two photos are the resolution of this deception. I feel that shadows can show who we are when we are trying to be someone else. The shadow is the influence that you cast on the world, but it reflects who you truly are.  Shed these layers of deception, and show the world who you truly are.

Obey The Camera





Rule #1: The best model is the one who obeys the photographer. Good fox.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

On the Way to the Darkroom





You never know what you might see...so always take your camera.

Laughter

The Mythbusters didn't need to prove it. Laughter is contagious. And hilarious.

A Night on the Town











Is there anything more special than a night on the town with your friends, simply celebrating life and having a great time? Live a meaningful life with with the people you love, and you will regret nothing.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Project 2

The Juxtaposition Of Masculine and Feminine

A Language of Romance

Gender can be expressed in so many different ways, but in certain languages, such as Spanish, words themselves have genders.  For instance, the Spanish words novio and novia, as shown above, translate respectively into boyfriend and girlfriend.  The juxtaposition between men and women is inherent in the language. Is it possible that the language itself affects the quality of relationships?

Snow 'People'

Why is it that snow people are always referred to snowmen? What makes them male or female? As seen above, and in many christmas specials, snow people talk and act like humans do. This may seem like a trivial comparison, but isn't this what we do with gender? We often refer to a population overall with a masculine gender. For instance, "All men are created equal".  Our use of the English language excludes women; is this why women still don't have equal constitutional rights to this day?

Segregation

Yes, admittedly there are sufficient reasons for segregation in this context. But this image of a water fountain with two separate signs strongly reminds me of racial segregation and discrimination.  How do we treat gender in modern day America? Should it be discussed more than it is?

Distance

Have you ever noticed the significance of the physical distance that people place between themselves? This physical proximity says a lot about the relationship, even if you know nothing else about the people.

Contrast

From my experience, the church can have different personas. It can be warm and welcoming like a mother, or it can provide the support and security of a father.  It might be something different for each individual. I feel like the shadows and highlights in this photo give a bit of that sense of mystery and unknown.


Gender seems to be a topic that is constantly being discussed in the modern era. Similar to race, we constantly have to be aware of not generalizing genders, and instead being very intentional about our use of pronouns. Small slips of the tongue can result in debates and arguments because it is one of our society's hot topics.  I feel that we are putting too much effort into defining and characterizing the role of gender in our society and culture.  Instead we should focus on the beauty of gender and how nature defines it.  As I took the photos above, I aimed to represent gender in new ways, showing it in ways that it may not have been shown before.

Project 1 In Its Entirety

Light, Depth of Field and Motion

"Demonstrate your understanding of how shutter speeds and aperture sizes can affect the creative potential of an image."

Image Assignment #1 : Slow Shutter Speed

Image Assignment #2 : Fast Shutter Speed

Image Assignment #3 : Pan with a moving object

 Image Assignment #4 : Small Aperture, Large Depth of Field

 Image Assignment #5 : Large Aperture, Small Depth of Field


This was the very first project assigned in my intro to film photography class. I already understood many of the concepts of shutter speed and aperture sizes before taking this class, but having to apply those concepts to film required significantly more thought and practice.  When using film, "do-overs" are much less practical. Nevertheless, this project effectively helped me learn the intricacies of my film slr camera, and I would suggest this to anyone learning to use a film camera for the first time. I don't feel that I put any meaning into any of the photos that I took for this project, but making this effort has allowed me more freedom in the projects that I have done since then.

About Me

My photo
I am a sophomore in college, studying Biochemistry and math, but I am a pilgrim for knowledge. I seek neither greatness nor acknowledgment, but rather to experience and understand the complex world of ours. My desire for this experiential journey of mine is to gain knowledge and wisdom and, more importantly, to form strong bonds of friendship with the individuals around me. This journey began in December of 2008, when a friend of mine died at the age of 17. In his short life, he had changed lives in ways that I never have done. I was struck by the beauty of the life that had been lost, and I made a promise that day to reach out to people around me; to live a life not wasted. My eyes were opened. My life was changed. My journey had begun.

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