Monday, February 23, 2015

Convocation: Kwame Anthony Appiah

I have spent a lot of time this past week reflecting on Appiah's lecture at convocation last Tuesday. I (along with Amanda and Noah) am currently taking a course on post-colonial writers and we spent a good part of last week writing about and discussing Appiah's lecture. These are my thoughts.

Kwame Anthony Appiah is a good speaker. He clearly feels passionate about the issues he discussed in his lecture, from honor killings in Pakistan to foot binding in China. However, I found the way he spoke about the people and cultures where these issues are taking place was problematic and, to a certain extent, elitist.

Initially, Appiah seems cynical of western colonizers. When talking about what gives people the right to respect, Appiah makes a jab at white British gentlemen by stating that they get respect just for being "white British gentlemen." However, when talking about the honor killings, he made a point of stating that even the educated elite participate in the practice, as if we should expect a better moral code of the higher class than of the common people. When discussing the practice of foot binding in China, he attributed the lessening of the practice to the presence of western missionaries. He claimed that China was worried that the practice would make them "subjects of ridicule to foreigners." Each of the solutions Appiah provided in his speech involved westerners changing the way easterners think so that they reflected more western ideals. Appiah spent little time giving agency to the native people of these countries or trying to involve them in the conversations about these issues in ways that are not manipulating them.

In The Medium is the Massage, McLuhan quotes the James Joyce line "The west shall shake the east awake" (143). I would argue that it is a somewhat elitist idea that the west takes it upon themselves to "shake the east awake" instead of working with and developing along side them. I feel that the west does not have the proper respect for the history and cultures of the East, many of which date back centuries before many western nations were born.

Though the issues of violence against women across the globe that Appiah discussed are very real problems that we should be concerned about, westerners solving the problem by changing the mindset of the native people seems a little bit too pro-colonialist for my taste. I am sure Appiah has done his research and studied these issues, and I believe that this lecture was just supposed to provide a basic overview of his ideas. Maybe I would agree with his books more (but from what I have heard about them, I doubt it). I just hope there are less invasive ways we can find to help save the victims of these practices.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

"Something is Happening:" A Reflection

"Something is Happening"
This was my first time being part of an art gallery. I wasn't sure exactly what to expect during the gallery opening, but I was pleasantly surprised by how many people came and looked at our photos and flipped through our books.
"Something is Happening"
One thing I found myself thinking about during the gallery opening is how different the way I look at our photos is from how the guests look at them. Those of us in ART 240 watched one another take these photos, discuss themes, make books, and build this gallery exhibition. When I walk around the art gallery and look at the photos on display, I see the work and decisions that went into taking and selecting that specific photo. When the guests look at the photos on display, they have no background available to them and only see and experience what is in the photograph. It is reminiscent of when I used to do theatre in high school. There would be certain lines and details that held significance for my cast that had no effect on the audience. It is fun being behind-the-scenes at an event like this, but I always feel a bit sorry that the audience will never understand the photos the way my classmates and I do.

It's wild to think that these photos that I took one snowy day at the park have now been uploaded to flickr, posted on my blog, printed in a book, and placed in an art gallery for all to see. But that is what I like about art classes. You always try to do work you are proud of and want to share with others instead of just doing what is required to get an A.

I'm looking forward to continuing with Digital Processes and I can't wait to see what my classmates and I come up with in the future. Nice work everyone!

Monday, February 16, 2015

My initial idea for this project was to create a soundscape for a fairy tale, and while I was browsing through fairy tales I came across Arabian Nights. What is interesting about Arabian Nights is that the 1001 stories in it are framed within the story of Scheherazade. Scheherazade tells a new story every night for 1001 nights to her husband, the king, in order to keep herself alive. Her stories, though we as the audience read them in a book, are really told to the king verbally, using her voice and words to create worlds and images in his mind. I wanted to explore the relationship between reading a story and hearing a story. Both methods conjure images of the story, but with sound there is less structure and more room for the imagination to wander. As McLuhan says, "Until writing was invented, men lived in acoustic space: boundless, directionless, horizonless, in the dark of the mind, in the world of emotion, by primordial intuition, by terror. Speech is a social chart of that bog" (48).

This thought inspired me to alter my project idea slightly. Instead of creating a soundscape for one specific fairy tale, I created a soundscape where each turn of the page introduces the listener to a new story through the sounds they hear. Each page is a new story, but they also work together to tell an overarching narrative. I framed my project within the sound of someone sitting down to read a book, but all of the sounds I used for the stories came from Garageband. I searched the Garageband database for the most fairy tale-sounding clips I could find, then experimented with how they sounded together and the order I wanted them played in. I also used a forest soundscape in the background for atmosphere in the softer spots. I used to play around with Garageband a lot when I was a kid, so working on this project was somewhat nostalgic for me.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Trivia L Action Question: The Bacon Holder!

The Great Midwestern Trivia Contest 2015 asked teams to submit joke infomercials for a great new product.

This was our submission.