Friday, October 29, 2010

Frank Lewis lecture

The way of documentation is not just about recording in text, photography is a more permeable and collective way of documentation. I was really intrigued when Frank Lewis talked about the idea of Taylorism. According to Lewis, Taylorism was originally set to document every stage of a consecutive movement to achieve better management. For example, it is like we are watching a film frame by frame and then we can discuss or criticize it. In my understanding, Taylor-ism can also be applied to the documentation of history. The comparison between them is pretty obvious, one is documenting all the steps in a single movement, the other is documenting the development through history. Through photograph, we can easily see the actual history back then without imagining it with our own perceptional color, thus it is more permeable, understandable, and fair to view the history of labor-ism through photography. People could  view this history in a clearer way after they organized and lined up the works of all the great photographers like Eugene Smith, Henri Catier Bresson, Robert Frank, etc. Their works was organized like what Lewis said in the lecture, frame by frame, so we can analyze and delve into the development of labor-ism. So this photo essay of history needs effort from collaborative works of artists though they may not know at the time that their work would contribute to the future history analysis when they took those pictures for other purposes.

Pittsburgh Steeler-Eugene Smith

In this lecture, I learnt that photo journalism or photo essay is a permeable and collective way of documentation. It has this Taylorism style that brings us back to the time frame by frame.

Here is a video about the history of management.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Artists, Technology, and Society

In Raymond Williams' article  "The Technology and Society", the relationship between technology and society is entangled and ambiguous in my understanding. From his description of the important role of television in our society,  I can assume that society incites the birth of technology while technology impels the growth of society. Williams mentioned in the article that inventions are accidental throughout the social development. In my opinion, the impact that the new technology brings is inevitable. One can never tell the cause and effect between them, however, the improvement that our technology brings to society is enormous. Since the invention of television, it shortened the distance between human-beings themselves and the world. In addition, our perspectives are always manipulated and altered by the content of televisions. So technology is powerful and the society is gradually overpowered by it. 
                         Here's Daft Punk's television rules the nation.

Also, the development of technology gives many artist more space to explore the world of art. William Wegman utilized the technology of film to create lots of experimenting clips of randomness in life. From the "crooked stick" to that "I own" clip, I can see that Wegman was fully exploring and expressing his own style of art, even though he's more interested in dog pictures.
William Wegman-Hansel und Gretel

Anthony Goicolea's Amphibians is also a good example of experimental film. From his work I can see his interests in multiplication. With the editing technique, he created multiple same characters running around in the same frame in Amphibians.

In general, society stimulates the development of technology, while technology improves society providing more and more space for artists to experiment and create.

Friday, October 15, 2010

The Art of Collage

After reading William S. Burrughs The Cut-Up Method of Brion Gysin, I got inspired by the idea that not only can you make a collage of pictures or films, texts can also be rearranged and made into something new. As the article stated, "The cut-up method brings writers the collage, which has been used by painters for 50 years," the actual cut-up poem is exactly the art of collage. I found this cut-up poem from blogger Anna Lea's blog, people can grasp the idea of the relationship between cut-up poems and collage.
cut-up poems 4 by Anna Lea

The art of collage relates tightly to the art of found material. The idea brought collage to the modern media level. Bill Morrison's Decasia is an example of transforming random found material into art. Bill Morrison expressed his obsession to melted film by putting pieces of melted film together and transforming the mass into a whole new theatrical  experience. Judging from the entertaining aspect of the movie, I personally think Decasia is a piece of crap. It brought no enjoyment and excitement to me when I saw it, instead it made me want to escape from the theater and take a long drag of smoke to shake off the terrible disturbing image in my head. However, if you look at the film from the perspective of an artist, it actually expressed Morrison's fond for the art of decaying and fully reached its aesthetic purpose for himself. It is a nicely done piece of collage on film.

Because the art of collage involves a large amount of found material, copyright issues are inevitable in modern society. Personally I don't think art could be restrained by any of those commercialized titles like copyright or terms of fair use. However in reality, relative cases in regarding to copyright issues happened all the time. In 2005, a Chinese college student made a parody of the movie The Promise by director Chen Kaige with large amount of actual footage from the film. The parody got popular over the night, it seemed like every Chinese people who had an Internet accessible computer had heard of or seen it. The director ended up suing the student for copyright violation because it actually got more popular than the film. People ended up just watching the parody but not the film to get a sense of The Promise. I think the parody itself should be categorized as an independent piece of art because it was conveying a different idea. However, in the commercialized filed of film in China, it still could not be accepted by professional filmmakers.

Here is the parody of The Promise. ( it is in Chinese, but just get a sense of what it is)

Also I found this super hilarious Friday the 13th Parody on YouTube. It has the original footage of the movie, in addition, the artist has added sitcom laugh soundtrack in it. It is a total comedy now. Enjoy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Panopticon&The Still Image Reflection

The theme for my project is Paranormal Universe. I got inspred by all the eerie claimed haunted pictures online and the movie Paranormal Activity, thinking there could be something unsual and not mundane that could be captured by surveilance cameras. (My flickr page:

Photoshop is a big part in this project, I had to make an usual picture to look like a surveilance or hidden camera image. So desaturation, the adjustion of hue and color, and the adjustion of exposure are the major function of Photoshop I was using.

Here are some examples of how I made my pictures.

 First I took a picture of an empty hall way (picture a). Then I took a picture of the figure in the hallway (picture b). After adjusting the hue and saturation, with corping and feathuring the edge I put the figure in the hall way becoming (picture c). After taking a picture of the person in different position (picture d), I put picture d and c together. So picture e is the final product.

Of coruse I didn't use a fancy lens to create the surveillance still effect. It was just a normal Sony Digital Camera




Friday, October 8, 2010

Professional content still dominates, while Web 2.0 hones our skill leading us to becoming professional

After reading Air after Web 2.0 by Lev Manovich, I agree with Manovich’s opinion that even though the internet is democratized and used as a giant stage for everyone who has access to it, professional produced content still dominates people’s sources of news and media. People still watch fox and CNN news, go to movie theaters watching big budget movies in 3D, and listen to trashy shitty main stream pop songs by singers like Miley Cyrus and Beyonce. However, there are some exceptions, people got famous from sharing their content on internet in Web 2.0 age. Perez Hilton got famous with the power of his Youtube video channels and his sassy Hollywood celebrity gossip website And there are numerous democratized celebrities on Youtube who are those online stars and famous bloggers whose face are still mysteries for their audiences. Whereas, as the article stated, according to 2007statistics, only between o.5-1.5 percent of users of the most popular social media sites contributed content on the internet. This means the chance we ourselves become professionals and dominate the source is still pretty tiny.

Except social communication and content sharing, we can totally utilize the internet nowadays to hone our skills in our interested domain. I got really inspired by Rachel Crowl’s lecture about social media and artist. The part where she talked about how she practices her photography skills was really inspiring. I’m interested in film making, according to Rachel, I can just join any film forum that shares and discuses films online and upload my works for other people’s advices. This is a fast and easy way to gain more knowledge and get feedbacks. Actually, I started practicing my editing skills by doing music video editing just like the fan made AMV stated in the article Air after Web 2.0, and post it on Chinese video website and sent the link to the forum I was in to share insights and get feedbacks. Personally I thought  it was really helpful.

Here is one of the fake AMV I made years ago.

Friday, October 1, 2010

It's all about to be there at the right time

Just like the rest of most undergraduate students, Dan Leer had no idea where his future would go when he just got into college.  In his lecture From Lawrence to New York Art World, he showed us his way of fumbling in order to reach his career goal. I think his success in his career has a lot to do with capturing the right direction of where he wanted to go at certain period of time. It also has something to do with the non-stop exploring of what's in front of him. Nothing can be planed, you just have to be there at the right moment. Just like Henri Cartier Bresson's works, they were all captured at the certain moment at the right time. In his lecture, he spent a large portion of time talking about Henri Cartier Bresson, who travelled all around the world documenting what he saw with photographs. Bresson captured lots of historical scene including the communism invading Shanghai in China during the time he was in China. One of the most famous works is the decisive moment, which shows the moment a man jumping over a pond. I think capturing the right moment is what photo journalism all about. 

Cartier Bresson The Decisive Moment

I also found this montage about Bresson's prints when he was in America, from the video you can see that he is a master at capturing random and decisive moments.


Dan Leer first started developing his interest in the medieval art from the ancient illuminated manuscript from his class. After he took a intership in an art museum in New York in Junior year college he discovered more passion for medieval art. When he went back to Lawrence, he had an independent study studying ancient Greek coinage. He realized that photography and art history are what he wanted to do in the future. So he took photography and made a great thematic series of prints called Blue Collar Bullshit depicting his anger about people being rude to construction workers. By the time he finished Lawrence University, he left Appleton for Portland, Oregon. Shortly after that, he got a job in the museum of city of New York as a photo collector. By this time he realized that he needed to study more to get a better job in a bigger museum, so he enrolled in a program in Columbia College. During this time, he finished another great project about dating basket in the supermarket. Just when he was unsure about what job he can get after graduation, Museum of Modern Art offered him a job the day he got his diploma.

From all his experience I can see how important it is to keep exploring and be ready to capture what is in front of you. The philosophy is extremely similar to the essence of Cartier bresson's works. Later after Dan Leer started working in Museum of Modern Art, he curated both traditional and contemporary photography.