Intro. to blog

I would love to begin my blog discussing the latest Star Wars movie and tie this in with [a] recent Guerrilla Girls appearance on The Stephen Colbert Show, along with the SNL ‘Undercover Boss’ sketch with Adam Driver’s Kylo Ren, and, how these entertainment incidentals (the grist of our Postmodernist mill) tie in with where we are in our society with regard to Art and Culture.

But… I think I need to first identify my angle of approach in Getting Art : Now = where I simply want to discuss contemporary art in a way so that we all can try and understand it (why are Warhol’s soup cans so important?) and participate in the discussion no matter our level or background in art. How I will do this will be by looking at contemporary art shows at galleries and writing about the work shown. The art on the walls tells us a lot about where we are, and, who we are.

If the culture of a people is reflected in the art of a people, what is the 21st century artist reflecting with the visual works it comes up with?

The piece of pottery we look at in a museum of collected artifact – [with its ornamental bands painted in circular pattern] gives to us a glimpse of the culture that created it. The ornamental bands read perhaps as elements mimicking an aquatic nature; a people surrounded by the always-moving bands of water that surround them. The art object reflects the culture that creates it.

“And then I was thinking, what would the worker murals of today be like? They say we are a service economy now – that there are more people selling us hamburgers then making us steel and things. So would the huge wall murals of today be of the people sitting at computer terminals and the people at Burger King handing you your fries? Is there any way to make that look heroic? “Andy Warhol’s “America”; 1985

How is the world of Contemporary Visual Art adding or subtracting anything from the social fabric and does Visual Art have a role, responsibility, or play even a small part in making successful connections with the very same society that sponsors it?

Are those sporadically surfacing visual presentations of the contemporary gallery space doing anything to make us more aware of our current society, or, even better — is that what the assignment is for art? ———has it been? has it always?

Has art and its making become a therapeutic necessity for both artist and viewer; the isolated studio bubble for the artist’s inner peace, and, the contemporary gallery shows and exhibition spaces fulfilling the spiritual-community need like a coffee shop with Wi-Fi or a Y membership?
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My approach to Contemporary Visual Art would like to be one of discussing the work, the actual work on the wall, each piece individually, or, an artist’s direction granted to us by the whole. In doing this, maybe we can find some answers to some of the questions the art object raises.

The fact that so much is familiar to us about art and its making, and, the distance between artist and viewer lessening considerably over the past fifty years [with increased access to the whole idea of artists and making art], there’s a need for the Contemporary Art world to somehow blur the line between arcane language and elitist reading with that of a very savvy digitally-connected here-and-very-now society. This is our context.

With Modernism, we had the approach to painting (making a painting on a canvas in full regard to its tradition and history as a painting) tied to theoretical and practical advancement made within its own well-defined field. With Postmodernism, we no longer have the luxury of such a limited and tidy system of evolution. (Noted, BTW, only in retrospect.) We are no longer reducing painting until we reach the actual canvas material that’s painted on, in order to ‘end painting’, or, at least, to have tried to -Postmodernism -far more unmanageable in its scope. There’s so much here – and, we are swimming in it — our engagement now, (in Post-Postmodernism, Meta-Modernism or whatever term we are asked to apply) something that we have to use as our context for looking at any art object we now make.

The facet of contemporary art’s own tribal chanting of an Anti-Aestheticism attached to the visual art world’s response to Postmodernism makes for an interesting parallel with our conservative movement in our politics. This is what happens, socially, culturally, I guess. The larger we get  (our virtually boundary-less Google-search space) the more tribal we seemingly become; the more protective of our past only in response to an unmanageable present.

The new Star Wars movie (the one everyone is complaining didn’t give us anything new) gives us a glimpse of the culture that created it.  [The piece of pottery we look at in a museum of collected artifact – with its ornamental bands painted in circular pattern gives to us a glimpse of the culture that created it.]

The question we should be asking ourselves of Episode VII is not “why is it simply a remake of Episode IV?”- but, ……………what does remaking Episode IV actually say about us?
If all we did was add technological advancement to the original, is this not our art? Doesn’t this say a lot about our current culture? The fact that there is no new story-line, the fact that we are so eager to be reminded of the first Star Wars movie, to return to the mythical (we are all anxious to see Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher 40 years older) gives us a good indication of where we are culturally, and, where our next Star Wars installment might lead us.

12 thoughts on “Intro. to blog

  1. I really think this was a brilliant way to make an introduction on your blog. I have seen the new Star Wars, along with the previous six. The new star wars in my opinion was a carbon copy of Star Wars: A New Hope when it comes to the story. Both of the stories for the original Star Wars and the new Star Wars has a trio of main characters that you can tell you’re going to follow throughout the saga. Both the movies also have the giant star that can destroy any planet and of course there is always a flaw for these giant death stars. Even though the stories contained these key similarities the people and fans still loved the movie, with it getting an 8.3 rating on IMDB and grossing close to 1 billion dollars since its release. Did the writers who wrote this script delibrately write it being so close to the original star wars with so many key similarities? In my opinion yes. But not because they we’re being uncreative. I think that they did it on purpose. This movie had so much hype around it. It was the biggest blockbuster in years. That would be a lot of pressure. Fans are a creature of habit and don’t like change. The fans voiced their frustration with the prequels of the Star Wars series. To play it safe, JJ Abrams and the rest of the people behind the scenes changed just enough so the fans wouldn’t get upset. They then took the special effects and technology advancements to the max, and made Star Wars the fan favorite that so many people loved.

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  2. I thought that this was a very good introduction not only to this blog but to your overall opinions on movies as a whole. I also liked how you touched upon why the plot of Episode VII was similar to past Star Wars movies and what that represents instead of just complaining and criticizing the movie for it.

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  3. This is my first blog post read regarding art, its past and the future. I have to say it was very carefully written and fairly informative and I can honestly say I enjoyed reading it. I never really thought about the differences of how we interpret art compared to people decades ago. This quote, “And then I was thinking, what would the worker murals of today be like? They say we are a service economy now – that there are more people selling us hamburgers then making us steel and things. So would the huge wall murals of today be of the people sitting at computer terminals and the people at Burger King handing you your fries? Is there any way to make that look heroic? “Andy Warhol’s “America” really had me thinking. We do view things a lot differently than our grandparents may have. Do you think they may have viewed fast food restaurants or popular establishments of that nature as an art? Also, when it came to the portion of the blog regarding the new Star Wars movie I think the fact that we were all so interested in something that was exactly the same despite the quality speaks volumes. As Americans we are very lazy and as generations pass and things get easier people are easily entertained by things like a better quality version of a movie. Anything goes in today’s day and age like you said. People are impatient and if you don’t please the population companies lose money, and that’s never good. Overall I really enjoyed reading the post! Thank you for writing it! Looking forward to reading more.

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  4. Modernized Art is obviously a reflection of our culture and society. Simply put, it shows our progression through time in technology and art. For example, the previous Star Wars movie to come out before “The Force Awakens” (Revenge of the Sith), desperately lacks definition in resolution as well as special affects, in comparison to “The Force Awakens”. Given that the time span between these two movies was roughly 10 years, it still portrays the dramatic impact time has on art as a culture.

    Along with the impact time can have on art (in terms of technology and culture), there are also certain things (or objects) in a movie, museum, art gala, etc., that posses equal value but in different ways. This blog highlights this perspective, saying “The piece of pottery we look at in a museum of collected artifact gives us a glimpse of the culture that created it”. A picture is worth a thousand words, even though you only seem to be looking at one thing. The depth behind art is mysteriously terrifying. Looking at something as simple as a vase in a museum can formulate a picture in your head of when and where its significance lies.

    As positively impactful as it is, art can also have a negative affect. Displayed in words, motion, paintings, or however it may be, the interpretation of art differs based on the person observing it. This is when art can be perceived as dark or deceiving. Furthermore, a major aspect of art in our day and age, social media, can be a bit misleading. What use to be immature and uncommon 20 years ago, is now the best way for a person to become viral and praised. The music industry as well as the film making industry have changed significantly during the course of time. “True art” as one would say, is now referred to as a 6 second video called vine (just one of many example), instead of what should be referred to as the Mona Lisa or the ancient artifacts in the Smithsonian.

    Every generation has its own personal opinion about art, and although they differ, one thing is certain. Art will always have a cultural significance, no matter what date in time.

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  5. We are taught to believe that art reflects the culture of the time that it was made. While looking at this concept through the examples shown in the Star Wars series it’s easy to see that this is true. When Episode 4 was released the concepts that were depicted were seen as amazing futuristic effects. Soon after the films gained unmaintainable support because of the way the deep story lines resonated with the culture that it was made for. As time went on and our culture grew, so did the concepts used in films today. The Force Awakens has seen really good reviews however it is clearly seen in the plot that the story wasn’t as deep as the first movies. It seems that directors these days can focus more on the way the movies look than what the message is being told due to the fast paced lifestyle that our culture breeds. As a culture today, we like explosions, fast cars, beautiful women, and violence. We also as a culture can be considered at times ignorantly impatient. All of the devices and technologies in our lives are made to make things happen faster, more instant. When people go to a movie theater or put in a dvd, we simply don’t have the time nor the attention span to watch a 2.5-hour movie to get a story fully shown to us. We want our information and we want it now. The questions can always be raised about why sequels never seem to be as good as the first movies and the answer is quite simple. Movies from past cultures reflect on what the time was like when they were made, giving the viewer an immediate dose of nostalgia. Meanwhile, newer movies are made for the newer generations so these movies will not radiate nostalgia to the older crowds as others will. Would you watch some of the movies that are released in this day and age if not for the special effects? Would anyone watch the new SAW movies if not for what the name means to certain people?

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  6. If we go ahead and assume that humans are protective over the past because of the uncertain future then that would explain the new star wars movie perfectly. When movies are made they express the cultural values and norms at the time they are made. Technology has only gotten better and newer through the years adding to the visual appeal of movies. Visual appeal seems to the be the focus of today’s movies because our culture is used to the fast moving images across the screen and fast paced environment that is our society. Although I have not seen it I’ve heard that it didn’t add much to the storyline however that does not mean that it did not portray our cultural traits.

    To say that the only thing added into the star wars movie was technological advancement and it doesn’t express the artistic vision of today’s artists would be ignorant. Is that not what our society and culture is? Society today can be described as a fast paced technologically advanced society. Although our “art “may not consist of the classic painting or sculpture, technology is still art. Not only in movies, but it can be said about music as well. If an artist creates a beat on a computer are we not supposed to consider that art because it’s not on a canvas or it’s not material? I believe that art adds to the social fabric of a society, I consider art to be a way of expressing ones creativity or emotions. Different time periods will have different definitions of art based on what the norms are at the time. The movies that sell today are the ones filled with sex, drugs and violence. Viewers today look for a visually stimulating and entertaining film where as in the past viewers were interested in a good storyline and not so much the special effects.

    I believe that movies are a time period piece of art, meaning that movies express our culture at the time they are made so they may not be as well received with other generations. However, there are movies that stood the test of time if you will, and that are still well received today regardless of what the cultural values and norms were. As viewers we get a break from reality when we watch movies and it sort of gives us a taste of what life was like at the time the film was made. Movies offer up an escape from the stress of everyday life and that is what I believe the main purpose of art is regardless of the generation or time period. Art should be a place to escape for both the artist and the viewer regardless of what the cultural norms are at the time.

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    1. I think we have much to consider and define when we discuss ‘cultural values, traits, and norms” with regard to art and what art is. (or, as I like to consider, what art does.)
      ‘Traits’ of our culture are found in the fast-paced marketed sell – the special effects over the deep dialogue story-line, and it is our job as artists to examine this and figure out why this is. This is where the art should come in. We, as artists, have our material, our subject matter right here, and yet we do as you say – make classic paintings and sculpture. Why?

      As to your first point- if we are only advancing a form in ‘visual appeal’, then what does this say about us? Is the fast-paced spectacle actually appealing to us at all, visually? I find most of the movies and tv commercials, (especially, note the car commercials today — where they really do look exactly like our Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies in form, edit, slickness, and lighting. These are all formal tools used by the industry to sell cars. Sell movie tickets. Same thing. My question would be — what is it about this that is appealing to us, why we like to sit through it and be pummeled with images at such an explosive clip and yet it doesn’t seem to phase us. Or, does it? I get vertigo or a slight sense of nausea when having to look at fast-moving explosions of visual imagery.

      Things to think about and I hope to read some more of your angles on our current “slammed with stimuli” without complaint state we seem to be in.

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  7. “There may be no more original stories to tell, but we can re-map the old ones ad infinite with the help digital tools.”

    Yes, and it is HOW we map them that reflects where we are as a society/ culture.

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  8. Good question, and one that I would pose to my students: “what is the 21st century artist reflecting with the visual works it comes up with?”

    Should the art of today be more reflective of the fastest growing segment of our economy– the creative sector? Because digital technology has put the ability to “create” at the fingertips of most users– we are all contributors to “content” if we snap and share our photos, create images with digital technology, design and distribute web content– the list goes on. Critics of this age have stated that there is an over-abundance of content creation and a lack of quality. The old argument of quantity vs. quality rears its head. No sooner is this said than, new algorithms begin to explore the “more precise search,” the edification of the data stream to put us in direct contact with what we need. Instant gratification. (But I wonder, what have we edited away?)

    A.O. Scott’s recent NYT article “We are All Critics,” declares that this is where the “art of today” is found– in the commenting upon what it is that we’ve made. This is how we find out about ourselves, by the careful deconstruction and analyzing of our stories and plots. Where better to do this than the visual representations that represent us so well, in film?

    If the new Star Wars movie is a glimpse of us, and “is simply a remake of Episode IV,” perhaps it is also a comment on simply that– the 21st century, digital world ability to remake, reinvent, push the pause button, rewind, effortlessly (or seemingly so,) realign digital bits of information in new configurations to our liking. Isn’t this just us retelling the story in a different way? Because we have the ability to do so with relative ease, why not show that alternate ending? There may be no more original stories to tell, but we can re-map the old ones ad infinite with the help digital tools. The good, bad and ugly will weed themselves out over time, or time itself will fall under the knife of re-mapping, re-editing. We have left the bounds of Post Modernism and even Post-post Modernism, and entered the digital world of anything goes, until it doesn’t.

    The need for a balanced look and careful eye on what is being created is never more necessary than today. We have so much more content to sift through, to make sense of– but I often wonder who is watching? At the end of the day, I’m just as guilty as the next viewer of using Netflix, HBO, or any other means of digital streaming content, to remove myself for a time, from my reality. To get wrapped up in another world, and another time. It is upon watching a remarkable film, which tells a relevant story that I am snapped back to the present– to the comparison of a time and place different from my own with a unique and necessary point of view. But these experiences are few and far between. And I’m not sure what makes them so, other than in some way, on some level, they literally speak to me, causing me to STOP for a moment. And in that moment, to reshuffle something– and ultimately, to think.

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