Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Summary 5 (6 & 7)

Slavoj Zizek's essay Rumsfeld's Unknown Known is about America's hypocrisy in dealing with war crimes. Zizek specifically focuses on the Abu Ghraib torture photographs. He compares the torture to performance art and American hazing rituals. He points out many of the American government's obvious lies and weird defensive tactics. Zizek contrasts America and Iraq, saying that Iraq is brutal and direct where America hides under the guise of defending itself.

I actually thought this was an interesting article even though I'm not interested in politics. Torture is interesting. It is also interesting to point out how these issues are responded to by the government. Politics are definitely a performance.

The next essay is "Among the Inept" by Erica Goode, which is about a study showing that people who do badly at things being more confident than people who do things well. It basically just goes down the list of things. It was pretty funny, it reminded me of a lot of people here at school, probably myself included.

I honestly had trouble watching the Frontline Digital Nation video. A bunch of regular people talking about their technology addiction on camera was too embarrassingly hilarious for me to handle.

Summary 4

Walter Benjamin's 1936 essay, "Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction" is about the affects of mechanical reproduction on art. This means an art object can be viewed where it is actually not physically present. Benjamin says that this causes the actual object to lose the aura it once had. Benjamin talks at length about the role of film and photography in this.

Reading this now is quite strange considering that mechanical reproduction seems like the only way most people see anything. I do relate to his idea of a work losing its aura once it is reproduced, it definitely can't compare to seeing in person.

1. Does mechanical reproduction make artwork lose its aura?
2. How would a current essay on this topic be different?
3. Is this something artists should care about now?

Summary 3

Roland Barthes' 1977 essay, "Death of the Author" is against literary works being interpreted based on their author. Barthes believes that work should be looked at without having to directly connect it with the author. This essay reminded me of "Against Interpretation" in that each article suggests that work should be able to stand on its own without being reduced to the interpretations of others.

I personally think it is impossible to completely separate the creator from their creation, but they are not the same thing. I don't think it is necessary to know an artist to be able to appreciate or understand their art. Works of art should be able to stand without the artist who made them. I trust a work of art more than an artist.

1. What if all art was anonymous?
2. Is it possible to separate an artist from their work?
3. Should we care who work is created by?

Summary 2

In the interview from 1997 Agnes Martin says that the only think you need to know is what you want. She says that she doesn't have any ideas, just inspiration. She says that art today has too many ideas. She thinks that education is wrong because the focus is on being superior, capable, and ambitious instead of what you are actually doing. She says that everyone knows that art comes from inspiration but they try to make it seem more complex. She says that music is the highest form of art, purely abstract and not intellectual. She doesn't think there is anything you can say about art. She says that you have to be modest. She doesn't think that artists deserve any credit. She says the worst thing you can think about is yourself.

I think it's very refreshing to see an artist that's been working forever speak the way she spoke in this interview. She really seemed to have found a lot of peace and understanding with herself. It was nice to see her completely downplay and reject the importance of ideas, conceptualism, and intellectualism. I agree that art is too focused on too many ideas. I too agree that the ideas and origins behind art are much more simple than most artists would like to make it seem.

1. Have ideas replaced art?
2. Are most artists liars?
3. What is the difference between an idea and inspiration?

Summary 1

In the 1964 essay Against Interpretation, Susan Sontag argues that art should not be interpreted. Sontag is against the idea of interpretation because she believes that the true meaning of art is the art itself. Sontag believes that interpretation takes people's minds off of the art. She doesn't agree with the idea that art is something that must be translated into a clear idea. Sontag seems to believe that when people interpret art, they only believe the interpretation and not the art. Sontag argues that in art, interpretation has always failed. Sontag believes that we should see art for what it is, not what we think it is.

I have never had the urge to interpret artwork. I appreciated this article because I think that too much emphasis is put on the ideas behind artwork. I certainly don't think about interpretation while I'm creating my work.

1. Why do people feel the urge to interpret artwork?
2. Can art exist without interpretation?
3. Why are the ideas more important than the work itself?