Independent Study

This week for independent study we were asked to review videos from Resources for building a visual and contextual analysis. I watched The power to tell the difference: visual literacy in a visual age and John Berger/Ways of Seeing, Episode 1 from the section Making an analysis of a visual workโ€”Visual Literacyโ€”Contextual and Critical Analysis. In the first video I thought that the idea of โ€œthe more convincing the imagery, the gap between fact and fiction blursโ€ was very interesting. That because of all the advanced technology we now have and the way we can make a fabricated reality with visual and auditory experiences seem like actual reality is profound. Visual literacy requires critical thinking and awareness; we need anchors to be able to tie ourselves down to whatโ€™s real.

John Berger made some valid points when discussing how the invention of the camera has changed not only what we see, but how we see it. He back this idea up by stating that looking at painting used to be a unique experience, but now they can be seen in a million different places at the same time. I agree with this notion of how seeing an amazing work of art used to be a privilege only experienced by few and now you can just type it in on Google and see it for yourself at home. I think, in a way, this does detract from the experience of going into a museum and witnesses firsthand an artwork. โ€œPaintings now lend themselves to easy manipulation. They can be used to make arguments or points which may be different from their original meaning.โ€ I fully agree with this notion that people can interpret art and spin itโ€™s meaning however they want to benefit their beliefs. In our society today we are taking things that are supposed to be unique, wonderful experiences and making them easily transferable digitally for the masses to see.

From the Visual Analysis Meaning making and โ€œTruth Valueโ€ section I viewed A Photographic Truth. Photographic truth is characterized as a myth. This is because everyone has his or her own truth when looking at an image. Also, more often than we think those โ€œcandidโ€ shots that photographers are always seemingly able to capture can in fact be purposeful manipulation. I thought this video gave great insight to the process behind pictorial manipulation and why we shouldnโ€™t always take things as factual just because itโ€™s an amazing photo in a popular magazine.

Lastly, I watched World Views vs. Western World Views. I was aware of the different viewpoints from western and indigenous people, but to see the animations and facts in this video that go along with it make these two different views even more obvious. The way of thinking is opposite in almost every element, from how we think about nature, the community and the market economy. In the western market economy 40% of the Earthโ€™s resources are owned by 1% of the population. How does that make any sense? We have a terrible sense of community that is just driven by competition for personal gain. In my opinion, the indigenous people have the right idea about how to view the world.


Looking with fresh eyes: A New Endeavor

Three weeks ago I read in the course guide that we were required to attend the Cindy Sherman exhibit at the City Gallery Wellington. I typically think of exhibits as uninteresting. I pictured myself with a group of my peers standing in front of various art works, not really looking at them, just giving the illusion of analyzing the art.

On the day we were to attend the exhibit I found myself standing outside the gallery with my class, wearing a blue band that granted me all day access to the gallery. I made a decision before entering that I was going to try and let myself really experience an art exhibit for the first time.

I walked straight into the enormous mural showcasing a multitude of different characters being represented by Cindy Sherman. This main room was full of other students and visitorsย all trying to get intimate with the photographs as well as attempt to digitally capture a sole image of the photograph without any outside interference. I knew with the crowdedness I would not have an adequate amount of time to analyze the mural. In Isaac Kaplanโ€™s blog he writes about how generally as a whole we are not looking at works of art long to fully experience the work and for it all to be consumed thoughtfully (Kaplan).

I was intrigued when out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of a ridiculous photograph of what appeared to be a clown, followed by a storm of color from the room to the left of the mural. The explanation of Art the Clownsย series revealed to me that Sherman created it after the 9/11 attacks. The clownsโ€™ expressions represent the various emotions felt by everyone. These photographs ignited a memory of me leaving school early that day and my mother anxiously waiting for a phone call from New York, for my father to tell us that he was safe. The exhibit elicited a surprising amount of emotions from me as well as a new connection between the visual art and the outside world.

After the exhibit I thought of the introduction from the Mirzoeff book as well as the reading by Michael Clarke and their discussion of visual culture. Mirzoeff explains that how through social media and technology, we have altered our idea of visual culture (Mirzoeff, 13). Because I was able to personally experience the gallery I know that I would have had a much different reaction to the exhibit if I โ€˜d looked up the images online. Clarke recognizes that an interpretation is never simple and can never be conclusive (Clarke, 26). Someone will presumably interpret the Clowns series and its representation differently than I do.

Reflecting on these past three weeks since the course began I have a new perspective on how art and design can play an important role in my life, and my connection to the visual world. I am looking forward to seeing what the rest of the semester holds for this class.

cindy sherman 11

Photograph taken by Michelle Davey (myself) is part of the Clown series in Cindy Sherman exhibit at the City Gallery Wellington. I thought that this photograph most accurately showcased the many emotions felt by the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Everyone reacts to tragedy in his or her own way.


Works Cited:

Mirzoeff, Nicholas.ย How to see the world. Great Britain: Pelican, 2015. Print.

Kaplan, Isaac. “Https://Www.Artsy.Net/Article/Artsy-Editorial-Long-Work-Art-It”.ย Artsy Editorial. N.p., 2017. Print.

Clarke, Michael. โ€œLanguage and Meaning.โ€ Verbalising the Visual: Translating Art and Design into Words. Lausanne,ย Switzerland: AVA Publishing, 2007. 20-27. Print.

How to See the World: Introduction

The author, Nicholas Mirzoeff, begins the book by recounting how many people believed that seeing the image of “Blue Marble” significantly changed their lives. That they were finally able to see the world as a whole and because of this they were all linked to one another.

Later on in the introduction Mirzoeff talks about how in 2012 another photograph of the world was produced. This “Blue Marble” seems as if it was taken from one place in space like the original was, but this is not accurate. The image wasย composed of many different pictures of the earth from different angles and assembled to look as if was just one. Mirzoeff says, “It is a good metaphor of how we see the world visualized today. We assemble a world from pieces, assuming that what we see is both coherent and equivalent to reality. Until we discover it is not” (Mirzoeff, 10).

Mirzoeff goes on to explain the concept of visual culture and the mental model that we all create based off of what we previously know to be true. The world of social media and more evolved media outlets over the years has altered this concept of social media. “The difference between the concept of visual culture in 1990 and the one we have today is the difference between seeing something in a specific viewing space, such as a museum or a cinema, and in the image-dominated network society” (Mirzoeff, 13).

The introduction to this book was intriguing and I am anxious to learn more and to continue moving forward in this class.

Works Cited: Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to see the world. Great Britain: Pelican, 2015. Print.