The exhibit “Looking at Music: Side 2” was about punk rock, which originated in NYC in the 1970s. It was a response to the Vietnam War and government policies. The artists of this time challenged conventions by resorting to grit, grime and garages. Their philosophies revolved around anti-establishment ideals; however, this was not reflected properly in the exhibit. The white walls and careful encasing of the artifacts reflected the submission of punk rock to established conventions.
The pieces in the exhibit itself were interesting. I especially noted the magazine clippings and interviews with the artists of the time. The style of writing and organization of the text, pictures, etc was very lax. The informality of the interviews subtly reflected the punk beliefs of anti-convention. I also really enjoyed the music clips, especially from Blondie. They contributed tremendously to the exhibit since punk rock is most commonly known in its musical form.
Mapping the punk rock establishments was fun and enlightening. Discovering that these infamous establishments (pun intended) are right here in our city, passing by them on our way to work and school, hearing their influences in the music of today and knowing that world-renowned artists lived and played in these very streets just adds to the allure of New York City.
Meeting Ramon Del Barrio was an honor and a wonderful experience. As an artist, he was very comfortable yet aware of himself and his movements. This translated into his personality and demeanor, which is very admirable in a group of clearly uncomfortable and awkward college kids. He tried to be as uninhibited as possible, which I greatly appreciated. A free lesson with a West Side Story choreographer was just another perk. Just some simple stretches and movements got the blood flowing and the energy rising. While some of the students looked annoyed and unhappy about dancing in front of the class, it was still a good (and definitely necessary) experience because we got the chance to goof around and just enjoy moving around instead of sitting at a desk writing notes. It was a very refreshing experience.
Talking to him was wonderful because he had very developed ideas about dance (despite believing deeply in free form and spontaneity in dance). It was interesting to hear his ideas on openness in form, which translates to mind. I have actually tried to take on his philosophies, starting with doing my work while sitting up straight and being ‘open’ instead of slouching and being ‘closed’. It does actually work, especially for writer’s block. I have also tried his notions on dancing when by yourself. This works even better than sitting up straight to loosen up or just to unwind. I know that whenever I need a little boost or just want to move, I put my iTunes on shuffle and dance in my room.
He also seemed truly sincere about his love for dance. He only mentioned to us that it wasn’t about the money once and didn’t bring it up again. It was admirable because one’s career should never be solely about the money and Del Barrio emulates this. His passion for dance and laid back attitude contribute greatly to his success in the dance world, and he really is a success story. Touring with and choreographing for West Side Story, performing and essentially personifying a new character in Guys and Dolls, and being a part of Sisterella, a work by the late Michael Jackson are just a few of his credits. It was a privelege to be in the presence of Ramon Del Barrio: choreographer, dancer and part-time philosopher.
1. When viewing a work of art, or listening to one, can we see the truth? Can we feel it?
I believe we cannot see nor feel truth because we don’t necessarily know what truth is. We are subject to our own perceptions, which hinders our abilities to ever see truth. Seeing (or listening to) art is attempting to view another’s ideals, but not necessarily truth. Artists can try to convey truth, but it is not possible because truth is subjective. We can see or feel emotions or thoughts, which is perhaps why they become most relevant in interpretation of art. This then implies the questions of whether or not emotions or thoughts are truth. Perhaps they are to some, but no one is ever sure because truth is abstract and undefined.
2. Medieval artists resorted to Geometry to express a spiritual truth, and Baroque composers built their cannon on a mathematical symmetry. Do these methods limit our definitions of truth and therefore of beauty?
Geometry and mathematics do not limit our definitions of truth; they elaborate them. As human beings, we find comfort and beauty in symmetry and patterns. By applying such tactics, we are satisfying our innate desires. That doesn’t mean that this application should be the only defining aspect of truth and beauty in art.
Language is defined as “communication of meaning” (according to dictionary.com). Does dance communicate meaning? I definitely believe so. Is the communication always clear? No, it is usually up for debate. However, any language is open to debate: if it is verbal, the diction and tonality are just two things that could be subjective. In body language, which dance could be included in, physical stance and movement are examined for interpretation.
Dance is a form of self-expression, therefore the dancers, the choreographers, the directors and everyone else involved in creating dance include their interpretations. Observers then put their own experiences and observations into dance and formulate their own ideas. Each dance also has its own meaning. For instance, a tango may communicate passion or fury between two partners while a classical ballet maybe communicate structure and beauty to an observer. However, these two interpretations can easily be flipped for a different observer. While the interpretations may vary, reactions are still inspired and meanings are developed.
Meeting Dante Adela was inspiring. He showed us that dance was one of his most fluent languages. He was able to use different forms (break-dancing, interpretive, modern just to name a few) to communicate certain ideas. Everyone had different reactions and ideas about the video that he showed us, which is a clear example that dance communicates meaning even if it is not consistent from one person to the next.
The Marriage of Figaro was a wonderful opera, especially for first-timers like myself. It was filled with humor, mystery and most importantly, beautiful music. The voices were all captivating and key in playing up the plot (which could have used all the help it could get). All the singers were on point with their tonality, whether they intended to show sarcasm, infatuation, flirtation or any of the other motifs of this opera. I would argue that the best singer in the opera was the Countess, portrayed by British soprano Emma Bell. She truly stole the show in her song about her husband’s infidelity and their lost passion.
Another aspect of the show that personally took my breath was the set. It was brilliantly designed to show the classical architecture and grandeur of the opera. The set was also key in the story; each set precisely reflected the characters’ standings in society. For example, Figaro’s and Susanna’s room was large, but it was also cluttered, perhaps to reflect the busy nature of their lives but also to show that the Count respects them enough to live in such a large area in his own home.
One of my main dislikes about this show was the ostentatious conductor. It was reflected in both his physical positioning as well as the music he conducted. He stood very high, so he was clearly visible during the show. He also conducted with unnecessarily powerful and flamboyant motions. His conduction of the music was also domineering; certain areas that should have focused on the singing or the actual actions onstage were overpowered by the volume and emphasis on the music.
Regardless, the opera was still brilliant. Although there were minor flaws (the rushed conclusion, the conductor, etc.) the pros definitely prevailed. This was a pleasant first encounter; it even inspired a greater appreciation for the opera. I would recommend this opera for first timers and heavy frequenters of the opera alike.
Dada and Surrealism were two movements that developed as a reaction to the confusion following World War I. Dada started in the neutral city of Zurich in Switzerland immediately following the end of the War. (Documents, 2001) Dada, however, was not intended to be a new art movement. According to Tristan Tzara, one of the founders of the movement, “The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust.” (Documents, 2001) People were confused and angry after the Great War, and their rage fueled their artistic creativity. They sought to break down conventions in the arts in order to bring forth a new, improved culture. Even the name “dada” mocked the time period because the name for the movement was decided upon by randomly choosing a word from the dictionary. (About Art History, 2003) The Dada movement made thorough use of obscenities, satire, humor, puns, and everyday objects (usually with a little tweaking) to evoke feelings of rage or shock. (About Art History, 2003) It was whimsical and original, which is perhaps why the public enjoyed the movement while it lasted. One of the most famous artists of the Dada movement was Max Ernst. One of his most famous pieces was called “Celebes,” painted in 1921. The painting is of a creature that somewhat resembles an elephant. It shows darkness (via the colors) and mockery (disfigurement of the creature), which are key aspects of Dada art. The Dada movement subsided around 1923, which gave way for a similar movement to prosper in its place: surrealism.
Surrealism was similar to the Dada movement because it was meant to defy the reason and logic in response to the seemingly unreasonable World War I. In contrast, surrealism focused on positive expression. (Surrealist, 1998) Surrealism also employed the use of subconscious and unexpected juxtapositions, especially with certain imagery, to stress the illogicality of the times. The movement shifted to include dream-like sequences, which combined aspects of subconscious thought (since dreams supposedly reveal our deeper thoughts) and irrationality (since anything can happen in a dream, even if it does not make sense in the real world). (Dada and Surrealism, 2006) Surrealism was said to have two types: automatism (Dalí) and veristic surrealism (Picasso). Automatism focused on art being abstract and less analytical because the subconscious relies on feeling, not analysis. Veristic surrealism focused on the images they created to be metaphorical, as a bridge between the feelings evoked by the image and the image’s counterpart in the real world. (Go Surreal) One prominent artist of the Surrealism movement was Salvador Dalí. One of his most famous paintings was “The Persistence of Memory,” which he painted in 1931. It shows positivity (via the bright colors), yet subconscious and dreamlike imagery through the distortion of the clocks.
1. “Documents of Dada and Surrealism: Dada and Surrealist Journals in the Mary Reynolds Collection.” Sept 23, 2009. <http://www.artic.edu/reynolds/essays/hofmann.php>
2. “Dada Art History 101 Basics.” Sept 23, 2009. <http://arthistory.about.com/cs/arthistory10one/a/dada.htm>
The two images are of Washington Arch in Washington Square Park. Both were taken along Fifth Avenue at one of the entrances to the park. The perspectives are slightly varied; Hassam was probably standing further away and had a more encompassing view. The times of the images are different as well. Hassam did this painting during spring, while I photographed it in September. It is seen in the differences of the trees; they are just in bloom in the spring, therefore they are more bare, while the photograph has a larger tree, as well as some grass behind the fence. However, there are similarities as well, such as the colors (greens, blues, greys), people (showing the bustling city streets) and the same architecture (the arch, the street, the landscape).
Art means self-expression. It is the ability to present one’s thoughts, emotions, dreams, et cetera, for other people to see and hopefully, comprehend. Art involves giving yourself up to reach others on a personal level. It is difficult to truly reveal yourself, which is why I believe art should be highly regarded.
1. What is your favorite art form?
My favorite art form is dance because it combines physical rigor and emotional expression.
2. What is your favorite historical period?
My favorite historical period was the 1920’s. It was a time of economic and cultural prosperity in the United States. Money was flowing (theoretically since everything was actually on credit) and everyone embraced the newfound richness. New fashion was also on the rise; shorter dresses, shorter hair, darker make-up and eclectic jewelry dominated the times. Literature was also changing; the “Lost Generation” was documenting their experiences after the First World War by using new styles of writing.
3. What is your academic/ non-academic strength?
My academic strengths revolve around the social sciences; I plan on majoring in psychology and am currently exploring other fields in the social sciences like cultural anthropology.
My non-academic strength is my ability to care for others. I see myself as a compassionate person and am always willing to help someone out, from minor things like giving directions to larger projects like donating clothes.
4. Do you feel comfortable with new technologies?
I live in an age where technology is a huge part of everyone’s lives. People practically live on their iPhones, Blackberries, MacBooks and Facebooks. While I feel comfortable using these technologies, I choose not to let new technology dominate my life.
5. How would you rate your writing skills?
My writing is about an 8, but I hope to improve that rating.