Sunday, February 28, 2010

Reflection to the Radicant Part II

by Greenberg

"... At this same party [a] friend introduced the then comparatively young art critic Clement Greenberg... Marianne seemed to be familiar with his writing and said, on shaking hands, "Oh, the fearless Mr. Greenberg."
-- Elizabeth Bishop 
in Efforts of Affection: A Memoir of Marianne Moore

This is Greenberg's breakthrough essay from 1939, written for the Partisan Review when he was twenty-nine years of age and at the time more involved with literature than with painting. He came, later, to reject much of the essay -- notably the definition of kitsch which he later believed to be ill thought out (as, indeed, it is.) Later he came to identify the threat to high art as coming from middlebrow taste, which in any event aligns much more closely with the academic than kitsch ever did or could. The essay has an air and assurance of '30s Marxism, with peculiar assumptions such as that only under socialism could the taste of the masses be raised. But for all that, the essay stakes out new territory. Although the avant-garde was an accepted fact in the '30s. Greenberg was the first to define its social and historical context and cultural import. The essay also carried within it the seeds of his notion of modernism. Despite its faults and sometimes heady prose, it stands as one of the important theoretical documents of 20th century culture.

-- Terry Fenton

Week 8 progress report

I'm in the process of editing all the photos' color for my first book, and scanning the negatives I selected from part 2.

I also went to take another 18 photos this weekend, don't know how they will come out yet...

Hopefully I can order a sample copy for Part 2 next week.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Week 7 progress report

I received the sample of my Part 1: the Shanghai Pictures last week.
But the color was off, most of the photographs in there were too red.
I will get another sample together with Part 2 when I finish it.

This was the third week for me to work on shooting photos for Part 2: the Cultural Revolution Photos, and I was planning to shoot outside. However, the weather this weekend was so bad, it was snowing on Saturday and really dark on Sunday, so I didn't go take any more photos. Instead, I was producing the negatives from last week and in the process of scanning them. Some of them came out really good, but they still hadn't reached the quality and quantity I was hoping for (30 finished photos for each section). So I will keep shooting next week, I hope the weather is nicer.

I used the new camera to take more sample photos. It seemed like that line from last photo on the wall was actually from the camera. I need to figure out how to clean the dust before loading the films.

What is your passion?

I was 16 when I first came to America through an exchange program. I even took a leave absence from high school because I thought this would be the only chance for me to see what America is like. I stayed in America for college, but I didn’t know what I wanted to become, so I studied Math and Economics because I was told that if I had no passion for anything else, Economics was the best major to find a job.

I studied one year of Calculus and took an intro course in Economics – it was awful. I instantly hated it and stopped caring about supply and demand curves. I got warnings from both professors and the school about losing my scholarship. I was not interested in becoming an investment banker, but I didn’t just want to randomly pick another major like I had picked Economics.

It was a stressful time. I had to find out what I could do and what I might be good at while worrying about my scholarships. The art class I was taking became my most relaxing time of the term. I enjoyed working on my projects no matter how long they took to be what I wanted them to be. So I thought, maybe I could be a studio art major. I went to declare it right away. So there I was, a studio art major student with no art background at all, but I had found my passion, and I was happy.

Three years later, I am about to graduate from college and I am trying to figure out where I will be next year. What I can do with a BA in Art? Will my passion save me again? After Prof. Jodi Sedlock’s lecture about changing her focus from art to biology, I feel like there are a lot of possibilities in the future, and I just need to be patient and continue to make art at the same time. When my new passion comes, I need to be ready to take it on.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Week 6 Progress Report

I shot 20 photographs last week and I'm still in the process of producing them out. Hopefully I will finish them by Monday.

So I bought this camera last week, it was like the new polariod, and I was thinking about using it for my third part of my project.
I'm still debating if I should use a regular digital camera or try this new product, so I made a sample:
I know there are a lot of dots need to be photoshoped, but this is only a sample to compare with the digital camera I used.
I used a Nikon D40x and took this photo at the same spot. (I had it at the same spot but she didn't like that one and asked me not to post that one on my it is a little different but the lighting was the same, the "polariod" forced to use flash.)
I'm still debating...the good part is I do not need to make a decision right now.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Week 5 Progress Report

Book I:
I finished the book and ordered a copy last week just to see how it comes out, there might be some changes due to the printing quality.

Book II:
I started the second part of my photo series this week, I finished producing 10 photos. I will show some of them in class on Tuesday.

I had another idea about my project last week, which will be the third part of my project. After showing my work to several artists for critique, I realized that I need to expand the project so it will not be that educational. So my Book III will be about the present time (Book I was about 1930 Shanghai and Book II is about the Cultural Revolution from 1966 to 1976), and it will not be self-portraits any more, I will take photographs  of other Chinese UNDERGRADUATE students studying in America. I am trying to get money so I could take photos of Strangers in other cities like New York City and San Francisco, because I really want to interview people I don't know and to see if they have the similar experience like mine. According to plan, I will ask for volunteers so I can stay with them for the weekend, and see how much I could know them in 2 days. I will also change the media too, I used 4x5 view camera and cyanotype printing technique for the first part of the project, I am printing black and white photos for my second part, I will print colors for the third part, I might even use a digital camera.

I'm really excited about the third part and I can't wait to go to that step. 

“Abstract impression art is real art”

Confucius said: “At fifteen I set my mind on learning. At thirty I acted on the proprieties. At forty I could make a clear distinction between benevolence and non-benevolence. At fifty I came to know the existence of the heavenly principles. At sixty, the heavenly principles were not offensive to my ears. At seventy I could do whatever I wished to without going beyond the heavenly principles.”
Andy Warhol: Self-Portrait with Skull Diptych, 1977

The late works of Andy Warhol showed how settled he was in his ideas and how clear his direction was. He knew what he wanted to do.

Andy Warhol started to look back to his old topics in the last ten years of his life, he re-examined the media and the media’s portrayal of himself. It was wonderful to see a show of Warhol’s last ten years, because compared to his early works, you can see maturity. His style was settled even though he was trying new things. He had become an icon, his art had become his business.

Is Andy Warhol too commercial? The ready-made subjects, such as soup cans, Marilyn Monroe, etc, seem so abstract in his works. They look like what you can see all over the place in your everyday life, but they have personality. You can see Andy Warhol behind them. However, I don’t think he was advertising, he was trying to explain that this is the culture we live in now and will have in the future, and the chicken soup can is just the tool he used to illustrate.

I feel Andy Warhol was pretty settled when he was 50. When he had the idea of looking back and trying to do something new with the old subjects, he was still the shiniest star of POP. I believe that, even though those works may not be as famous or mind-blowing as his early works, his late works definitely raised his art to a new level.

This is art, and you are not

The documentary about Nomi reminded me a lot of figures such as Lady Gaga, Edward Scissorhands, etc. I wonder if people from that period of time see Klaus Nomi the same as we see Lady Gaga today. I can find a lot of similar Nomi elements from Lady Gaga’s music videos.

Their cartoonish looks make them look unreal, but I understand that some people use makeup to hide what they really feel, for instance, clowns use makeup to create a generic happy character but they creep me out every time I see them.

What do you need to get famous? This was the question I have been thinking about ever since I saw Lady Gaga’s picture on the internet for the first time. Lady Gaga could sing well, there are a lot of people who can sing, but not all of them can be as well known as she is. Quality of singing is only one of the basic elements required to be a famous singer. One of the fastest ways to get public attention is by creating an outstanding different look. Both Nomi and Lady Gaga have the bizarre makeup and dream like movements and modern dance. Their unique entertainment eventually brought them fame. If you want to get famous, the earlier, the better, no matter what it takes, because the older you get, your opportunity decreases. There are a lot of artists working on a subject for their entire lives, but they didn’t get famous until they reached their 80s. I respect them, but I don’t think I would be that confident to keep doing something that doesn’t pay you back for 40 years.

Fame can make you do so many things you normally wouldn’t do. Nomi was so afraid of losing his voice, he abandoned his friends, and he didn’t trust anyone any more. Nomi started to get shots for his voice in the middle of the concert, because his voice was the only thing he could control at that time of his life. He was no longer that normal “German exchange student” who loved opera and came to New York City, so excited about his future.

Fame comes at a price, but not everyone can afford it.