Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Oops, I turned it into a feminist thing // chivalry is dead

When I first learned about this term's convocation, I was apprehensive. Based on the little I knew about Appiah and his topic, I felt it would go either very well or very badly, and was leaning towards the latter.

Instead, I actually thought it was pretty unremarkable. Like many people I talked to, I thought his lecture was unfocused, and it was hard to find his thesis among long-winded, sensationalized explanations of foot-binding in China or female genital cutting. Maybe he was just expressing ideas so complex that I couldn't wrap my head around them, or maybe he had a hard time distilling his ideas into just forty minutes of content. Either way, he seemed to take a long, twisting path to get to the pretty simple idea that we have to work with different cultures' views of honor in order to negotiate common values.

What I kept thinking about was the gender dynamics going on in his speech. He spoke at length about issues relating to the violent oppression of women, and how we can use ideas of honor and cultural sensitivity to get through to people and convince them to change their ways. Now, I'm all for ending violence against women, but at the same time, I see another side of the concept of "honor" emerging– that of male chivalry or egotism. It's true, a great many cultures view personal respect as a form of honoring someone, but many cultures, western and non-western alike, have also found honor in war, imperialism, and shooting someone to death for making fun of you. All of these activities are culturally male roles, which is why I think of this type of honor as more of a male-savior complex in this age of increasing gender equality, and it can lead to an inflated sense of responsibility and entitlement among the Honorable men in change.

"Whenever hot wars are necessary these days, we conduct them in the backyards of the world with the old technologies" -McLuhan, 138

So while working within the honor code of a certain culture may certainly lead to great progress– and believe me, anything we can do to end these harmful practices is great– it is important to ask whether this other form of honor is influencing our views of who is in the right.

"Did you happen to meet any soldiers, my dear, as you came through the woods?"
-McLuhan, 140

In conclusion, I'd like to add that I know nothing and have absolutely no authority or evidence to back these claims, and you should never listen to anything I say ever. Thank you and good night.

Helpful tips related to this topic:

Monday, February 23, 2015

My Second Gallery Opening In 3 Weeks!

The opening in the Mudd Gallery Last thursday was everything fun about art openings, without all the stress or pressure of a large-scale event. Having been raised by a museum worker, I've been to plenty of events in galleries and museums, and most of my memories from them are related to being a small child and being told repeatedly not to be too loud, make a mess, or touch the art. Because of this, I sometimes get anxious at formal events like openings, because there's such a specific social code in that setting, and being surrounded by much older, much more cultured strangers doesn't help much. 

However, because of all the work our class put into this project, I think we all felt a sense of ownership of the show, and pride in both our artwork and in the event itself. For one, I think most of us were happy with our own art, so we were excited to welcome our friends and acquaintances to see our work. In addition, because of the nature of the tiny gallery, the intimate setting and the junk food served, people felt more at ease than they might in a more formal gallery setting.

I really enjoyed preparing for this show, and being part of the team behind it all made me feel capable and at home at the opening. For once, it was everyone else who had to feel slightly nervous and on edge. Now I know how the insiders feel. Maybe the people who create those formal gallery events have the right idea after all. The power is... intoxicating... . . .  .  .  .

Monday, February 16, 2015


For this project, I first  tried using several different kinds of musical instruments and various filters and effects to create the kind of "musical ghost" I wanted, but it always turned into chaos. In the end, my only two instruments were a small panda-shaped electric guitar and the popular 1960's song, "You Were On My Mind" by We Five, both played wrong.

I started by creating several tracks of static noise on the guitar by scraping the pick horizontally up and down the strings, and overlaid the song clips on top of it. I chose the song because it was stuck in my head, and the lyrics seemed to illustrate that too perfectly to pass up. Together with the guitar, it evolved into a story about distraction and disorientation- A nervous, disjointed mess created to jar the listener at every turn.

This feeling reflects my own head space as I was working on it, as well as McLuhan's ideas about order in sound. He writes about the oral storytelling tradition in ancient Greece and how "All the persuasive skills of the poetic and dramatic idiom were marshaled to insure the faithful transmission of the tradition" (McLuhan, 113). While I wanted to evoke a specific emotion or atmosphere, I chose to do that through chaos, unlike the highly controlled Greek poetry that was designed for memorization. I could hardly remember what my piece sounded like as I was making it, and I hope it becomes slippery like that to everyone, leaving only an impression, never a concrete memory of the sounds.

Monday, February 2, 2015


Instead of making a book of the photos I posted on flickr, I decided to create a bound anthology of some of my instagram photos. I'm a big fan of instagram as a sort of stream-of-consciousness medium that allows people to post whatever they want without perfectly curating everything. Most of the time I post without thinking of my audience, giving me the freedom to indulge all of my weird artistic impulses.

In this book, I decided to focus on a few of the photo series I've done on instagram. Sometimes, mostly out of boredom or curiosity, I'll end up posting a lot of photos in quick succession as a series. I think it's related to my interest in comics, and each photo in a series is one panel. In this way, I've created several mini exhibitions of related, sometimes sequential photos, and that's what I used to fill these pages. Some series are more related than others, but it should be clear, even without text, where the divisions are between sets of related images.

"Humor as a system of communications and as a probe of our environment– of what’s really going on– affords us our most appealing anti-environmental tool. It does not deal in theory, but in immediate experience, and is often the best guide to changing perceptions. Older societies thrived on purely literary plots. They demanded story lines. Today’s humor, on the contrary, has no story line– no sequence. It is usually a compressed overlay of stories."