What We Feel and What We Mean
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Category — What We Like

Jimi Hendrix

Opps! after doing a last check through of work done I found that I missed the artist one so he is mine!:

“Oh Say, can you really see?” was a seminar offered by the Wolfe Institute on Jimi Hendrix and his connection to escapist science fiction. Will Fulton describe the sound painting that takes place in Jimi Hendrix’s music that illustrates the science fiction aspect of the music. However, this was only the surface, as beyond the fantastic lyrics lay social subtext. Jimi Hendrix’s isolation, he says, served as an impetus for this new form of writing. Coupled with this shift in lyrical style, the 1960s technology was changing music production.

To this “Allegorical atomic science fiction” rock and artists utilized different technologies to enhance the estrangement. Multitrack allowed for addition parts to be recorded and overdubbing, which permitted further manipulation of composite sounds. Examples of these techniques were depicted by “1983… (A Merman I should turn to be” a late Hendrix Song. Several effects can be easily noted: whistling and breathing vocals through ADT delay, echo on lead vocals, flute, and bass. VFO on flextone that made the bouy sound, tape speed variation to sound the fish, panned echoes of cymbal “bubbles” echo on headphones feedback to represent seagulls, and live fade ins/out to mark transitions.
So what does this mean in retrospect? The 60’s were a time of great change, or rather an immense desire for change. However, Jimi Hendrix who often avoided much social commentary believed that “the only happiness is the kind that you hold in your mind.” As such, the only happiness to be found was not on this world but those beyond, a fantastic escape.

December 24, 2011   1 Comment

Faust: The Opera

Although I cannot call myself knowledgeable about opera as an art form, I still thought Faust was absolutely incredible. Opera was a completely new experience for me. Up until now, I had seen shows on Broadway and been to concerts, but the opera was still completely foreign to me. Part of me feels like my praise for Faust is overblown, that I enjoyed it so much simply because I had never seen opera before. While this may be somewhat true, I still loved Faust and cannot wait to see another opera.

As an art form, opera is quite obviously very strenuous for those involved. I have a lot of respect for the singers, musicians, and directors who work to put on the show. The singers must show an immense amount of dedication towards their craft to be able to perform like that on a regular basis. The performer that played Mephistopheles, especially, was wonderful. He had charisma, his singing was clear and all eyes were on him whenever he was on stage.

My favorite part of the opera was the ending by far. After the majority of the play featured Marguerite’s demise, I was happy to see her redemption in the eyes of God. The scene of her walking up the stairs to heaven was haunting, with all of the singers in white lab coats chanting about her being saved. The end scene mirroring the first scene was another nice touch by the director in my opinion, showing the story had come full circle.

Besides the opera itself, I am in love with the ambiance of the opera house. Seeing everyone dressed to the nines with champagne glasses in their hands and the plush, red carpet on the floor just gives you the feeling that you are in the presence of something grandiose. The British ushers gave me that feeling as well (why do Americans perceive the British accent as high-class?).

After thinking about the opera for a couple of days (and formulating my own opinion about it), I wanted to see what the critical opinion of it was. I was expecting it to be very different because of my lack of knowledge about opera. What I found was that critics were very harsh about Faust, something I don’t necessarily agree with. A review of Faust in the New York Times says, “The production, though rich with ideas and theatrically daring, is finally rather clinical and oppressive.” I disagree with this vehemently.  Although I do see that at times Faust seemed cold and clinical, for the most part I thought it soared with emotion. Furthermore, the review criticizes the stage layout of the stairs on both sides. I, however, thought it was smart to have it organized like that to facilitate some of the key scenes in the show. This review really demonstrated to me how differently I saw the opera than the reviewer. Here is the link to the opera review: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/01/arts/music/a-review-of-the-metropolitan-operas-faust.html

December 20, 2011   No Comments

What does it mean to have a gender?: Final Project

Here is me and Connie’s final project. We analyzed Diane Arbus’s photograph A Young Man in Curlers at Home on West 20th Street. We hope you enjoy!

December 19, 2011   No Comments

Brooklyn Museum/Dinner Party Response

My first response to “The Dinner Party,” was confusion. Personally, I thought the work would feature all prominent women from all times, not just female artists. To be completely honest, however, I did not like the work as a whole. Although I recognize that featuring the female organs will elicit a strong response from the viewers, I believe that this was the artist’s intention. Feminist art is ultimately intended to shock and surprise and I feel like “The Dinner Party” did this well. I feel like the artist did this in an ironic, tongue-in-cheek way.

Apart from “The Dinner Party,” I really enjoyed Brooklyn Museum. By far, my favorite exhibit was the Period Rooms. To be able to see through a window to the past is extraordinary. I felt like I was in “The Age of Innocence” as a young socialite in New York. It is extraordinary that you can completely restore a room in the style of what it was like 100 years ago.

I also really enjoyed the great hall with all of the white structures. Architecture is not a medium of art that I know very much about, but I really liked the exhibit nonetheless. The use of space and the lighting really made the viewing experience better. The architecture seems very modern and the color of the structures brought to mind innocence and purity, something I think was intended by the artist.

Lastly, I was surprised at how I had never heard of how beautiful the Brooklyn Museum is. I feel like the museum flies off the radar and only by going to it can you see how extraordinary the exhibits are.

December 6, 2011   1 Comment

The Brooklyn Museum

ok. so I’m just going to put this out there- I didn’t really appreciate “The Dinner Table” as much as I’m assuming I was supposed to be. I found it somewhat vulgar. I appreciate the fact that something so unconventional is titled “the dinner table” which is the iconic image of the typical familial structure against which the said exhibit is “protesting”. The motif of a family sitting around a dinner table, hands folded in their laps, awaiting the father’s leadership, either in prayer, or just plain eating, comes clearly to mind when I think of a dinner table. It’s representative of a formal and rigid structure. And the exhibit exuded this quiet solemness, only not in acknowledgement of this social structure but in appreciation of those who have struggled against it, so to speak. Unless I’m completely off (which is entirely possible), I see this and I still didn’t think it was beautiful. Strange, yes. I realize that’s my personal opinion, so no offense meant to anyone who does like it.

I’ve also been realizing that part of experiencing art is not only about the location in which it is seen but also about the people with whom it is seen. It’s a different experience to stand alone at the Met as part of a huge crowd, admiring the artwork that visiting the said museum with a friend, or a family member, or a tour guide. That being said, I had a great time exploring with Sylvia, Christina, and Aniqa.

My favorite exhibit was the period rooms. The displays mimic the psychological reality of the way people view events external to them. They (we) tend to place ourselves in the center of the action, whether we’re watching a movie or listening to a friend’s story and the period rooms allow for that in a real sense. Granted, it would be much cooler to be able to walk into the rooms and sit on the chairs, but one could get close enough to really imagine what it looked and felt like.

I can’t recall who made it but I also really liked the “piano in the tree” exhibit. I’m not entirely certain what the point is but I like it. The adjoining “man dressing up as clown” adjacent exhibit was not so appealing, though it was powerful. It’s a strong statement about racism- the black man putting on white face paint, dressing up like a clown. The fake “neon” smile is iconic to the clown, and to the frustrated African Americans who felt (feel) as if they were (are) being made to wear a mask of white dominance. It was pointed and disturbing. It reminded me of the Joker from the Batman movie. Which might have been the point….

On a general note, I really appreciated that nothing was behind glass (or at least, most exhibit weren’t). It’s refreshing and it made me feel like I had a right to be walking around and looking, almost like admiring the nice artifacts a person might have in his home, displayed for his guests to see. I suppose I felt like I was being treated like “a big kid” who doesn’t have to look from behind glass and can be trusted to appreciate and not destroy what s/he is seeing.

November 18, 2011   No Comments

Meet the Artist–David Mills/Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes

Last Tuesday, I went to the Macaulay building to see David Mills perform his interpretation of some of Langston Hughes’s works. I personally really enjoyed his performance and was interested to see how he interpreted some of Hughes’s more famous poems.

I was really amazed at his commitment to the work. To be able to perform so many of Hughes’s poems and short stories in such a short amount of time demonstrate his passion for both literature and for theatre. I was especially taken by his performance of Madam Alberta K. The whole thing, besides being funny and humorous, brought to life for me the social and economic struggles of someone like Madam. I think it is surely a testament to Mills as a performer that by his third Madam sketch, I wasn’t seeing Mills anymore. I was seeing Madam Alberta K.

I also found it really interesting to learn more about Mills as a poet and author himself. Someone in the audience asked about how influential Hughes was as a poet on his own work, both consciously and subconsciously. Mills came to the realization that one of his poems, “Great Adventures,” greatly mirrored Hughes’s own poem “Merry-Go-Round.” I found it extremely interesting that subconsciously Mills mirrored his poetry on Hughes’s, albeit with a much more modern take on the same theme.

Mills’s performance of “Great Adventures” was greatly enjoyable as well. This part really demonstrated to me the difference between text and performance. If I was to read the text of the poem, I can guarantee I would not have enjoyed it as much. Having Mills himself perform the poem gives the watchers a much more in depth look at the theme of the poem, the intentions behind some of the word choices and the meaning behind the seemingly innocuous inserts that appeared in the poem.

Lastly, I feel the biggest accomplishment of Mills was to spark my interest in Langston Hughes. In middle school, I had read his more famous works like “Dream Deferred” and “Crystal Stair.” Watching the performance introduced me to his other less-known works like the Madam stories and “Merry-Go-Round.” I am proud to write that before writing this post, I actually read some of Hughes’s poetry and short stories. I am truly in awe of Hughes’s prowess both as a poet and as a social commentator.

November 6, 2011   No Comments

Dia: Beacon Experience

In one word, the Beacon experience was mesmerizing. Even though I didn’t understand all of the art or agree with the purposes of some, I definitely appreciate the time and effort that went into the artists’ work. I also appreciated the museum itself.  The museum is able to utilize such a big space and welcome so many different aspects of modern art. It must take a lot of time and energy on the part of the museum directors to organize and maintain such a beautiful space.

That being said, in terms of the exhibits, the one that completely entranced me was the Richard Serra iron exhibitions. I loved how the artist was able to play with hard and soft, combining the intensely strong and massive figures of the iron with the soft changes in lighting that occurred at different points in the spiral. I also really enjoyed how the art was interactive in that we were able to walk through it and be active participants with the art and not just stand back and stare. Being in the iron cone, I had a realization of just how small I am as a human being. Even though I, and many others around me, may sometimes think that humans are central, the Serra’s art makes me see that there are things much bigger than we are.

On the other hand, one of the exhibits that I really could not understand was the Blinky Palermo exhibit. I am personally not a fan of the canvases with the various colors painted on it, but in my opinion, the artist did not get his point across with me. In my opinion, the purpose of great art is to have an impact on the viewer and have him/her thinking. Blinky Palermo’s exhibit did not do with it me. I felt like a little background from the museum people may have put everything in perspective for me, but as it was, I really didn’t take anything back from that portion of the museum.

Lastly, I wanted to discuss the Metro North train ride there and back. It was absolutely beautiful. The combination of the Hudson River and the fall foliage of the surrounding areas made for a gorgeous view. That in itself was a work of art for me. The train ride personally made the trip to Beacon even better.

November 1, 2011   No Comments

Dia: Beacon

The view heading North was actually one of the most striking works of art I saw today.

That being said, the following are some other notable experiences.

Sol LeWitt’s Drawing Series was amazing because of the dramatic irony. In Wall Drawing #136, the viewer thinks the scribbles (arcs, straight, not straight, and broken lines) on the wall are haphazard. Which is an interesting assumption int he first place, considering that even those who don’t appreciate modern art and its ambiguous lines and shapes cannot fail to recognize that the artist very carefully orchestrated a piece. It is not just a random assortment of lines, or if it appears so to the viewer that is only because the artist wanted it to appear so. LeWitt elevates this reality by showing the viewer exactly how precise his randomness is. The writing is (literally) on the wall. Each “random” line is numbered and each sequence planned. No one sequence is repeated.

Wall Drawing #248, too, looks random. Elementary shapes drawn on a white wall. However, LeWitt also writes exactly where each shape is placed. His “not-straight” line is not randomly but rather exactly placed. He writes so finely, one could almost miss it altogether.

Another favorite exhibit of mine was Franz Erhard Walther’s Work as Action. On first inspection, the room is strangely silly. Pieces of canvas line the walls on a raised part of the floor. They are sitting, neatly folded. It’s not art. It’s not pretty. It’s not striking. Then one reads figures out this is art waiting to be made (In my case it was Maryam who figured it out) The canvas pieces are meant to be turned into art. In doing so, the viewer becomes the creator…or the art itself. When we were re-enacting the positions and formations photographed by Walther, the other visitors to the gallery were watching us with curiosity. We were the exhibit, as novel as the item with which we were “playing”. It was a pretty powerful moment. And it was fun.

Another interesting exhibit was was the strings. It’s like the emperor’s new clothes. There’s nothing there…or is there? The outline is the artwork. Or maybe the art is the outline.

My other favorite was the twisted metal sculptures. They were made of solid metal pieces crushed as one would a piece of unwanted paper. They sit on the floor as if tossed there. The in-congruence here exists in the sturdy nature of metal and the form into which it has been molded. It is treated as if it was a flimsy notepaper.

And on to Yvonne Rainer‘s dance ….um….. (I’m not sure what to call it)


Crazy as it may sound, the most amusing part of the performance was the third “act” in which the initial performer, Patricia Hoffbauer, throws a temper tantrum replete with strangled screams and a wrestling match with a coat-covered lump of gauzy material. Everyone has a moment when s/he wants to scream like a banshee and throw a real two-year old temper tantrum. I don’t know if this was the response Rainer hoped to elicit, but I found it hysterical. Startling, granted, but then, I don’t think anyone is ever prepared for a temper tantrum.

I also found Hoffbauer’s overall performance to be very emotional and expressive. When she drags herself across the “stage” in a way that suggests she is being pulled by strings or is otherwise made of rubber, she is depicting lethargy in an explicitly tangible way. She is enacting typical ballet “moves”, butchering the exaggeratedly precise and subtly energetic nature of ballet dancing in the process.

To be honest, the silent, slow motion “dancing” (or, more accurately, movement) was interesting but far too long.

To backtrack, the stage itself was fascinating because it wasn’t actually a stage. The performance was on level ground. In fact, the only elevated object was the stands on which the viewers sat. In a funny way, that makes the viewers the viewed. They are raised on a stage, not the dancers. I cannot guess what Yvonne Rainer meant by this, nor do I think I am qualified to understand her piece in its entirety.

October 24, 2011   No Comments