What We Feel and What We Mean
Random header image... Refresh for more!

I Met Faust in a Modern Template.

The opportunity to see the new production premiere of Charles Gounod’s Faust at the Metropolitan Opera was truly a treasure, especially for a musician who has performed in opera productions but has never enjoyed one as an audience member. That night was also the gala premiere and that made the experience even more magical. I entered the Metropolitan Opera House and couldn’t help but notice the starburst chandeliers, made of almost 50,000 Swarovski crystals. They were so brilliant that my eyes were almost straining from their shininess.  Add that to all the men and women dressed in formal suits and evening gowns, sipping on their wine, and socializing with each other. It certainly felt great to be a part of the grandeur.

Although we sat all the way up in the Family Circle, it did not hinder my experience of watching Faust. I was still able to see the stage clearly, and I had a very nice view of the pit orchestra as well. I was in awe at how well the singers’ voices projected throughout the theatre without the use of microphones or some kind of amplification. The Metropolitan Orchestra certainly did an excellent job, but to me, that is no surprise because I know the musicians in that orchestra are at the top of their profession, and nevertheless to say that they work with one of the most acclaimed and respected music directors, James Levine.

Besides the different time setting of the entire opera, I also liked how they incorporated different technology and special effects to make this interpretation more modern and interesting. The sparks definitely caught my attention and probably everyone else’s. The characters’ faces such as of Faust and Marguerite on the big screen right after and before every scene began were new touches and approaches to the opera. Personally, they gave me an eerie feeling.

I really appreciated the subtitles that were so conveniently in front of me. I’m not sure if I would have really understood the opera well without the subtitles even though I was informed of the plot beforehand.

Last but not least, I would always prefer seeing a live performance than a broadcast of it any day because the experience of watching the same show through two different mediums is so different. As Maria Callas, one of the most renowned opera singers of the 20th century, once said, “An opera begins long before the curtain goes up and ends long after it has come down. It starts in my imagination, it becomes my life, and it stays part of my life after I’ve left the opera house.”

December 21, 2011   No Comments

Invited to the Dinner Party at the Brooklyn Museum

In my opinion, one of the most impressive and memorable artworks at the Brooklyn Museum was The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago. It is considered an icon of feminist art, representing 1,038 women in history, with 39 women represented by place settings and another 999 represented by their inscribed name in the Heritage Floor. I was also impressed on how well kept it was despite its creation 32 years ago, in 1979. One would have to go see it for him or her to truly appreciate this masterpiece.

Before I even entered the isolated room of The Dinner Party, I noticed six woven banners hanging in procession. I thought it was a great way to introduce visitors to it. They consisted of the red, black, and gold tones and common motifs in the actual work such as triangular, floral and abstracted butterfly forms. On the banners, a series of phrases were woven into it, to convey Chicago’s vision for an equalized world of the genders.

Below are four of the six woven banners:





Afterwards, I entered the room to see the principal component of The Dinner Party, a massive ceremonial banquet arranged in the shape of an open equilateral triangle- a symbol of equality- measuring 48 feet on each side.  I was struck by the grandeur of piece, and the focused lighting made the artwork that much more heavenly. The way the “guests of honor” were commemorated on the table was so extravagant, each place setting with intricately embroidered runners, a gold ceramic chalice and utensils, a napkin with an embroidered edge, and the most appealing, the china-painted plate. The first place setting I saw was the Primordial Goddess:

I did not think much of the colors and design on the plates until I continued walking around the triangular table. I realized that the place settings were placed in chronological order and the design on the plates was getting more graphic as we climbed upwards the historical ladder.  I was taken back a little when I saw Caroline Herschel’s plate, the first one I saw that literally popped out. I had no idea that what I was about to see as I proceeded would be even more intense- that being a way to put it.

Here is Caroline Herschel’s plate:

I started wondering and convincing myself that these are vulvar forms on the plates. It made sense being that a female’s vulva is the main distinction between the sexes and a symbol of femininity. I thought it was very clever how Chicago decided to make every succeeding plate more protrusive, to show that women are breaking out and taking more control for themselves. They are getting more rebellious as I sensed from the plates. Honestly,  I was a little freaked out, maybe even a little disturbed, even though I am a woman myself to see female genitalia expressed this way.

Below is Virginia Woolf’s plate- notice how much more ‘swollen’ the ‘vulva’ has become compared to Herschel’s:

I felt sympathy for accomplished women after seeing The Dinner Party because I know women in history would have never been truly able to celebrate their achievements, especially in the form of such a fancy dinner party. It is upsetting that women were looked down upon when they fought so hard, perhaps even harder than men, to have the same status as the rest of society. I’m happy to see that women are increasingly more recognized as years go on, and that women’s history and perspectives are being integrated in almost all aspects of human civilization.

(Note: I was the photographer for all of the photos shown above.)

December 21, 2011   No Comments

Thinking about Snapshot Day

Below is the photo I submitted for Snapshot Day:

Why I Chose This Particular Photo:

I.B.M’s “Think” exhibition by Lincoln Center in Manhattan uses the word ‘think’ as the slogan that I believe applies to everyone and everything in the city that never sleeps. The constant commotion sometimes makes it difficult for us to stop and think about what is really going on around us. This particular exhibition focuses on the matters that are far more harder to define but those that affect us all as New Yorkers, such as reduced crime, improved energy usage, healthier rivers, better air quality, and safer food. At the exhibition, people watch visually striking representations of complex phenomena that cause them to think of their personal involvement in what they are viewing.

Some Thoughts on the Snapshot Day Exhibit:

I really enjoyed looking at the creative presentations of all the photos. I can tell that the curators and others involved in setting this up put a lot of effort and thought in arranging and categorizing all the photos. The neat way the photos were put up made it that much more interesting to observe. We can see all the photos as a whole and how they relate to each other rather than one photo and then another photo, and so on. My favorite section was the one that had the water-related photographs. What was intriguing to see was how the photos themselves were placed in water, just to highlight their message and significance even more.

December 21, 2011   No Comments

My NYC: Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island, & Bronx

Having lived in New York City all my life, my NYC isn’t just the commercialized Times Square with all the bright lights, heavy commotion, and “I ♥ NY” T-shirts. To start off, I can’t imagine NYC without its complex and historical public transit system of the one and only Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA). I have learned and explored so much of NYC thanks to the easy accessibility to subways and buses. Ever since I was little, my dad would take me to various places in the five boroughs so I have come to appreciate the unique characteristics of each borough. Because my family doesn’t own a car, we have adapted to using public transportation for much of our traveling.

There are a myriad of exquisite landmarks and attractions all over NYC. In Brooklyn, there’s the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. In Manhattan, there’s the famous Central Park, and some of my other personal favorites include the High Line and Battery Park. Speaking of Battery Park, I have been on the Staten Island Ferry countless times. I have even been on Ellis Island to see the Statue of Liberty up close. From where the Staten Island Ferry terminal station is, you can also take a ferry to Governor’s Island, where we had our Macaulay Outward Bound Orientation. There’s nothing like a mixture of colonial history around you while taking a walk or bike riding. I can’t forget about the museums and zoos either. There’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, Museum of Natural History, Guggenheim and so many more. In the Bronx, there’s the Bronx Zoo and of course there’s always the Central Park Zoo, Prospect Park Zoo and Coney Island Aquarium. All of these things give NYC its own unique identity.

After attending LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts, which is right by the Julliard School of Music, Lincoln Center, Metropolitan Opera House, and Carnegie Hall, there’s no way that these places do not come to mind when I think of NYC. Arts thrive in NYC, and that is no surprise when you have some of the world’s best institutions and performance venues in direct sight.

I believe one of the best things about NYC is its cultural diversity. To this day, NYC is a melting pot. For example, we all know of Chinatown, Manhattan and Flushing, Queens, which highlight Asian communities and cultures. Next to Chinatown, there’s Little Italy, where Italian restaurants occupy the streets. Recently, I visited La Maison du Macaron, a French-style bakery that specializes in macarons- thin, flavorful meringue cookies that are sandwiched together with some kind of filling. It is rare to find good macarons being sold outside of France, but of course in NYC, the chance is just that much greater. I am depicting NYC’s cultural diffusion in terms of food because I think that is one of the easiest ways of showing what NYC has that other cities, etc. cannot offer.

December 21, 2011   No Comments

Meet the Artist: “Performing Langston Hughes”

I saw the works of Langston Hughes in a new light after watching David Mills’s amusing performance of various Hughes pieces.  Actually, before this performance, I was unaware that Hughes has also written 47 plays in addition to his poetry that I am more familiar with. I really enjoyed how Mills chose to put a several of Hughes’s short stories together into one big performance. He began the show in an unusual way- beginning before the audience even sees him on stage. Afterwards, the true art of David Mills and Langston Hughes is heard and seen. To enjoy the performance to the fullest, I believe that one has to listen closely to the various inflections, tones and pitches Mills carried with his voice. After all, he is a one-man show who has to portray a wide range of characters. He was very expressive in his acting and that in effect created the lack of need to have a different person for each different role. It was clever of Mills to perform one of his own works, “Great Adventure,” to juxtapose against Hughes’s “Merry Go Round.” Both works are related to segregation and racism, but Mills’s work is a more modern day interpretation of this social issue compared to Hughes’s piece. We see how that there are still difficulties for certain people to enjoy something as common as amusement park rides just because of racial prejudice. In this way, maybe Mills is also trying to say that Hughes has a profound impact on how societal issues are viewed in the past and present. What’s special about having particularly David Mills perform Langston Hughes is the kind of deeper understanding Mills has about Hughes’s life since Mills lived in Hughes’s old apartment for three years. Therefore, he could easily have seen Hughes’s life through his own eyes.

December 20, 2011   No Comments

Dia: Beacon, a Medley of Contemporary Art

The Dia: Beacon museum was like no other museum I have been to before. Even before arriving at the museum, I admired the art I saw. On the Amtrak, I looked over the beautiful Hudson River, and the colorful trees responding to the changing season. As we headed closer to Beacon, the environment became more spacious and open, and I only imagined how the museum would be like- vast and roomy enough to let endless types of art take life in the exhibits. When looking at the museum from the outside, its size may not seem that impressive, but when I walked inside, boy, did I feel small, as if I were a little child again, fascinated by pieces of art that enveloped my being.  There were so many different exhibits of contemporary art, but I will only talk about a few of them here.

One of the first exhibits I saw was Blinky Palermo’s ‘Retrospective’. It was very unique of him to choose basic colors such as black, red, yellow and green in all his pieces, and create a myriad of works by just arranging and grouping those colors differently, in colors and shapes. None of the designing was elaborate at all, and perhaps that is why he called this particular exhibition ‘retrospective.’ As we look backwards in life, things gradually get simpler, eventually reduced to our simple mentality during our early childhood years. The medium of all his works at the museum was acrylic paint on aluminum or steel, some kind of canvas. Palermo displayed unconventional painting as a vanguard art form.

Another interesting exhibit was the Sol LeWitt Drawing Series. It was almost purely mathematical when I saw the brief calculations for every line design. The monumental wall drawings were so precise. There were patterns of lines in all four directions (vertical, horizontal, left and right diagonal), straight and not straight, touching and not touching, solid and broken, gridded and arced, as well as those most basic of geometric figures, the circle, square, and triangle. LeWitt stated, “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work” and “All decisions are made beforehand, so execution becomes a perfunctory affair.” He really brought out the meaning of Conceptualism, focusing on a different kind of aesthetic that we don’t normally think of as art.

The interactive exhibit in Dia: Beacon was Franz Erhard Walther’s ‘Work as Action’. It was fun to be able to participate in making the art that Walther wanted us to see by taking fabric materials such as cloth to replicate what he had in mind. I was with a few of our colleagues to follow the instructions listed for every different activity. I did not quite understand Walther’s message of having the viewers act to the art until I learned that he said, “I kept trying to show that what I was offering was not real action relationships but rather demonstration situations. Practice situations.”

Last but not least, the creepiest part of the entire museum was definitely the basement. The atmosphere to begin with was dark and eerie. One of the first things I came upon was something I still have with me right now- Bruce Nauman’s giant long pink sheet of paper titled “Body Pressure” that gives step-by-step instruction on what to do. It reminded me of the Walther ‘Work as Action’ exhibit, but this was definitely on a more intimate level. The first step is “Press as much of the front surface of your body (palms in or out, left or right cheek) against the wall as possible,” while the last step is “Concentrate on tension in the muscles, pain where bones meet, fleshy deformations that occur under pressure; consider body hair, perspiration, odors (smells).” The last sentence at the very bottom is “This may become very exotic exercise.” Till this day, I still haven’t tried it because I’m honestly a bit freaked out at what this exercise would do to me. As for the rest of the basement, I was so glad to have Joey and Adrian with me because everywhere, you see spooky broadcastings of different sorts, as if you were in a scary movie or haunted house. Yet it was so fantastic to feel this way in a museum.

December 20, 2011   No Comments

The Stages of the American Dream on the Walls of ICP

During our class visit to the International Center of Photography, I decided to focus on the Peter Sekaer exhibit called “Signs of Life.” Sekaer was a Depression-era photographer who had spent a good part of his photographic career as a documentarian committed to social change. I noticed that the unknown and unrecognized who populate his images appear quite natural and at ease in front of his camera. To some, the photographs can appear quite boring, their documentary style capturing neither drama nor contemplation. However, that is the point Sekaer wanted to bring out through his art. I believe he wanted his audience to reflect upon the dismal state of the American dream amidst a failure of capitalism. The precise details of poverty and lack of poetic intrusions demonstrate what this failure looks like. One of the photographs that I felt brought out Sekaer’s style and intention was “Anniston, Alabama, 1936.” You see four African-American men standing around a movie theater’s outside stairwell. The stairs are marked in large white letters with the word “colored;” a movie poster for the latest Tarzan film during that time, “Call of the Savage” is mounted to the brick wall and hovers over the men. I appreciate how astutely Sekaer juxtaposes poverty and social injustice, presenting Technicolor Hollywood and working classmen in the same setting. I also thought about how Sekaer may be hinting at underlying traces of racial prejudice that became a huge issue in the later decades by capturing African-American men standing next to a sign that says, “COLORED” that people often associate with African-Americans.

While walking around the different exhibits, I took note of the placement of each exhibit, particularly of “Signs of Life” and “Harper’s Bazaar A Decade of Style.” The main floor represented the state of the American dream. I was walking through Sekaer’s black-and-white photographs, mounted on dark green walls, to arrive at the bright pink and white walls that feature more flamboyant and exotic statements of design and social status. From one footstep to the next, I traveled from the poverty of the 1930s to the celebrity dreams that fill so much of our public life today. It is as if I were standing on a thin threshold between the past and present of what makes up the American society.

December 20, 2011   No Comments

United We Stand, Divided We Fall.

When the massive towers of the World Trade Center fell on September 11, 2001, America was brought to her knees. Immediately thereafter, we joined together. Patriotism and love for our country was at its best.

The construction of the 9/11 memorial demonstrates that the patriotism and love for our country are still as strong as they were ten years ago. This tragic event will never be forgotten.

Although the 9/11 memorial is not completely built yet, what is already finished says a lot to those who have been affected physically and emotionally by the doings of the terrorists, and to those who do not recall any impact on them from the attack.

As I was nearing the 9/11 memorial site, I saw a lot of people waiting for entry. From there I knew that this wasn’t just any memorial. I didn’t expect there to be such heavy security. To me, the metal scanners that we had to pass through symbolized America’s great value and how we can’t let our country be caught off-guard to harm ever again. It felt a bit like as if I was going through airport security in order to board a plane, which also became much stricter after 9/11.  As I headed out of the security center, I noticed a huge board on the wall filled with photos of people from all over the world mourning with us. It showed us that 9/11 isn’t just significant to America, but many other foreign countries have felt the impact too.

When I officially entered the memorial, I was surprised and amazed at how simple and tranquil it was. Even though the place was filled with trees, benches, people, etc., I still felt the openness and emptiness. It strangely resembled the High Line Park. Despite the noisy construction surrounding the site, the open space still gave me the ability to reflect upon the reason why this memorial exists. I reminisced the day when I was picked up from school by my parents to go home and find out that the World Trade Center doesn’t exist anymore and that many innocent lives have perished into the flames and debris. Many families with young children were there too. Of course, the children were more carefree, and you could hear their laughter from time to time. I didn’t find this response to be particularly disrespectful, but it’s just that life goes on. Our job now is to remember the dead, but keep the living alive and hope that they’ll never see what happened ten years ago reoccur in their lives.

The North and South Pools were certainly exquisite. The huge and deep water falling from every side of the pools were so aesthetically pleasing. In the center of the pool, there is another waterfall effect. No one can ever see the end of the pools. Do they ever come to an end? Where does the water stop flowing? I believe that the falling water represents all the tears that have fallen for those who have passed away and suffered from the 9/11 attacks, and that those tears are never-ending because those we have lost from that unfortunate day will never leave our hearts. The myriad of names engraved on the stones that perimeter each pool are the souls our continuous tears are for.

October 18, 2011   No Comments

NYC Art Everywhere!

In a city that’s so lively, creative, artistic and multi-talented, there is no doubt that one will be able to sight public art around the five boroughs in various forms. There are so many aesthetically pleasing and intriguing things located in New York City, but one can only post so much about them. Last Saturday, I went out to Manhattan from Brooklyn and captured a few of the myriad of artsy objects I observed that day. Enjoy!

Let’s start off with something we are all familiar with:

Not only is the old-fashioned library's exterior a work of art itself, but the library's bell tower fills the campus with sonorous chimes at different time intervals of the day.

As I was heading towards a very nice art store in the Columbus Circle area, I noticed this replica of the Mona Lisa on the wall of the building. What do you think about a famous piece of art used as a form of advertisement for something that embodies art?


One of the other most exquisite aspects of New York City is the architecture of its buildings. The Hearst Tower is a 42-story glass and metal skinned tower characterized by a large diagonal grid in Manhattan, emphasized by vertically alternating recessed and projecting multistory corner triangles. It sits atop the six-story cast-stone building Hearst Company headquarters, and in a way serves to greatly contrast with the headquarters, bearing neither stylistic nor material relationship to the high-rise above.

Below is a short clip of a man acting as if he was an inanimate object rotating on his small square platform in very slow motion. He was at the 59th Street- Columbus Circle train station, and he is one of the many public live arts one can see in New York City subway stations that make New York City all that much more unique.

October 3, 2011   No Comments

Camera Obscura: The Magic Mirror of Life

Hi everyone, I believe that even the effect of simple physics can be very beautiful. Camera obscura is Latin for ‘dark room’. It is given its name because the beauty that emerges takes place in a very dark room with a tiny hole that allows a very small beam of light to enter the room. Then, this camera obscura goes under a huge wonderful transformation, similarly to how a caterpillar metamorphoses into a butterfly,but except almost immediately. In full color and movement, you will see the outside world exactly as it is but upside down! This phenomenon is explained by light traveling in a straight line and some of the light reflecting through the small hole in thin material such as a curtain but the light particles do not scatter; instead, they cross and reform as an upside down image on a flat surface which is the walls held parallel to the hole. It is amazing how the law of optics can make something already aesthetically pleasing into something even more beautiful and magical.

The process of creating a camera obscura and the end result is shown and explained in BBC’s documentary called “Genius of Photography”. I highly recommend watching the entire video to the end- you won’t be disappointed! 🙂


This is the classic demonstration of what camera obscura is. It is just like an old-fashioned pinhole camera. Take a notice at the lightbulb or...lightbulbs?
















Can you believe what you see here used to be just a regular extremely dark room? You don't even need to look directly outside to see how the outside world looks like!

September 19, 2011   2 Comments