Sunday, April 26, 2015

Lawton Hall Visit Response

Profile picture for Lawton Hall
Lawton Hall  (profile picture on vimeo)
Even though I am not actually pursuing art as a major or minor, I find listening to different Lawrence alumni talk about their experiences after graduation inspiring. The downside of that is, when I see other people successfully doing the thing they love to do, it makes me somewhat lament not pursuing certain passions of mine (theatre) here at Lawrence.

When discussing his installation piece, This Place is No Place, Lawton talked about trying to evoke nostalgia and the idea that nostalgia isn't yearning for childhood, it is yearning to go back to a place. I have read before that my generation is more prone to nostalgia ("only 90s kids will remember this" type of mentality) because technology and the digital world are developing so fast that the world changes more drastically in a shorter amount of time than it ever has before. That is why the combination of old slides and projectors with vague, old-fashioned images is so effective. It reminded me of a line De Certeau wrote about memory, "like those birds that lay their eggs only in other species' nests, memory produces in a place that does not belong to it. It receives its form and its implantation from external circumstances... memory derives its interventionary force from its very capacity to be altered - unmoored, mobile, lacking any fixed position" (86). 

 This Place is No Place by Lawton Hall

My favorite piece that Lawton played for us was the Zeke Suite he did with the band Holy Sheboygan (link below). I love how he blended so many different types of music into real songs that are woven together. The band seems like a lot of fun. I wish we'd had the chance to listen to more of it while he was visiting.

Zeke Suite by Lawton Hall - Performed by Holy Sheboygan

Monday, April 20, 2015

Art 340 Project 2: Between Two Doors

"These [walkers] make use of spaces that cannot be seen; their knowledge of them is as blind as that of lovers in each other's arms. The paths that correspond in this intertwining, unrecognized poems in which each body is an element signed by many others, elude legibility. It is as though the practices organizing the bustling city were characterized by their blindness. The networks of these moving, intersecting writings compose a manifold of story that has neither author nor spectator, shaped out of fragments of trajectories and alterations of spaces: in relation to representations, it remains daily and indefinitely other (De Certeau 93). 

Though Appleton isn't really a "bustling city," I wanted to explore De Certeau's idea of "the walkers" blindly creating stories and rhythms that they themselves are blind to. I ended up taking the idea of "the in-between" pretty literally. I sat in the Warch vestibule between the two doors dividing the outside and the inside. It takes about three or four seconds to open one door, walk across the vestibule, and open the other door. I sat there for maybe an hour total taking footage of people walking in and out of the building. Those three or four seconds give you just enough time to think, "Where is this person going? Why are they going in? Why are they going out? What kind of person are they?" and then they are gone. Some people appear numerous times in the video, giving you just a few more seconds of insight into their lives. But all of these people find this path so routine that they fail to see the rhythms they are creating. Most of them didn't even notice me, and the ones who did just kept going.  It becomes an unnoticed habit and sounds like indistinct noise to one the more one does it, as the video shows by growing louder and faster. It isn't until something makes you pause in the vestibule that you are forced to pay attention. Though the action of walking through some doors is incredibly mundane, I found watching how different people walk, cross the vestibule, open the doors, and/or interact with others increasingly interesting as I really started paying attention.

Monday, April 13, 2015

ART 340 Project 1: Cosmetics

In The Practice of Everyday Life, De Certeau explores the relationship between "production" and "consumers" and states that consumption is "devious, it is dispersed, but it insinuates itself everywhere, silently and almost invisibility, because it does not manifest itself through its own products, but rather through its ways of using the products imposed by a dominant economic order" (xii-xiii). De Certeau is not only interested in why consumers buy things, but how they choose to use those things.

This made me think of cosmetics and my conflicting feelings about them. While makeup can give women confidence and make them feel beautiful, the reason women think they need makeup to be beautiful in the first place is because American culture has been telling them so for decades. Women invest ridiculous amounts of money into products that shape and color their faces so that they can feel pretty. It is a twisted way to make money that relies on constantly telling half of the population that they are not good enough. And yet, despite knowing all of this, I still wear makeup almost every day. It makes me feel confident and it gives me control over how I look and how I present myself to the world.

This film is an attempt to illustrate these mixed feelings. I used an audio clip and screenshot from a 1950s Maybelline commercial I found that is incredibly sexist (link below) to illustrate that the negative messages we've been sending women about their looks are basically the same as they were 60 years ago. I made the shots of the makeup products highly saturated to emphasize their power and appeal, then contrasted it with black and white shots of me as I used the products to do my makeup. The black and white also reflects the old gender roles that makeup reenforces, but the last shot in color questions that with a glimpse at a modern, positive view of it. Then it is called back into question by the parallel of the final shot of my face and the shot of the girl in Maybelline commercial. I used an upbeat ragtime song ("Sunflower Slow Drag" by Scott Joplin) to emphasize the theatricality of doing makeup and the idea that it is preparation for a performance. I also included quick flashes of the price of each product, with a total of money invested before the final shot. Though my short film is critical of the cosmetic world, I hope it also provides some hints of another point-of-view. Enjoy!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Intermediate Digital Processes Project 1 Proposal

In "The Practice of Everyday Life," De Certeau discusses the relationship between "production" and "consumers" and states that consumption is "devious, it is dispersed, but it insinuates itself everywhere, silently and almost invisibility, because it does not manifest itself through its own products, but rather through its ways of using the products imposed by a dominant economic order" (xii-xiii). When thinking about mundane everyday actions combined with consumerism, I thought of putting on makeup. Putting on makeup is something that I usually do everyday and I have always had a rather love-hate relationship with it. While I know that makeup is a product of capitalism and the media trying to control women and distort their body images, I also think putting on makeup gives people confidence and control over how they look and how they present themselves. I want to explore this contradiction through an experimental video that will have someone putting on makeup with flashing images of the prices of the products and how the makeup makes them feel throughout the film. I might incorporate sound clips of interviews with people about why they wear makeup. I haven't decided on how to end it yet, but I hope an idea will come to me while working on my film.