Monday, February 29, 2016

Monday, February 22, 2016

Asian Art History Job talk Reflection

Let me just say, first off, that Lawrence should’ve had an Asian Art History professor years ago, but I’m thrilled that we’re getting one now! Curse these small department budgets and western priorities!!

Anyway, since I wasn’t able to attend Jennifer Angus’ talk last Friday, I’m writing about the Asian Art History professor job talk given by Christina Spiker on Thursday. I went to this because I love Asian art and I want to be In The Know with this selection process, because it’s such a big step for Lawrence. You should all come to the next candidate’s talk today at 4:30!

The title of Christina Spiker's talk was “Bumbling Tourists in the Indigenous Village: Kondō Kōichiro’s Ainu Illustrations, 1917” and I think she tackled this topic with a lot of enthusiasm and expertise . She clearly knows a lot about the early 20th century Japanese tourism illustrations she’s discussing (which makes sense if she’s writing a dissertation about it) and she also was very aware of how these very specific prints depicting the Ainu, the indigenous people of Japan, fit into a global history of imperialism and ethnic tourism implemented not only by Westerners, as people often think. I learned a lot from her talks about the Ainu people and how they are represented– and misrepresented– by these strange tourists. In addition, it was interesting to learn about early japanese newspaper printing and illustration, and this artist who both wrote and illustrated his adventures– a bit of a push and he could’ve become an early comics artist!

All in all, I think Spiker came at this subject with a lot of perspective and subtlety, and I was very impressed with her talk. It’s clear that she knows and cares a great deal about Asian art, and is equally concerned with it’s global context and relevance to today’s world, which is exactly what I, at least, want for this position. If I have time next year, I would love to take classes from her.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Final Project Action Plan

I don't actually have anything as decisive as that title yet for my project. I want the process of this to be almost stream of consciousness as I reflect on topics of celebrity, femininity, limitation, and control. I am going to create digital images– still images, animated gifs, and perhaps video as well– about celebrities and public perception of famous women. This is something I think about a lot (I even wrote a paper last term about how Marie Antoinette never existed as a real person because we know nothing of her real life or personality based on her public personas!).

I want to bring the women I study into the lens of metacognition and get people to think about how all we know about these people's lives is a media construction. Having a well-groomed public image is an essential part of commercial success for female celebrities. They must be collaborative multimedia artists. I want to bring their art out of the woodwork and make them look as flattened and constructed as they must be for a public that still can't comprehend women as complex beings.

Here is the series of mononym "icons" I showed today in class, taken from 128x128 pixel icons. They would probably look best Really Big:







Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Dolly Parton: Master Simulator

I chose to research Dolly Parton because she is often misunderstood by people unfamiliar with more than her appearance. I, too, did not know a ton about her life or work before this project, outside of a few songs and her appearances as "Aunt Dolly" on Hannah Montana. I have come to the conclusion that because of, and in spite of, her public image and physical appearance, she is one of the most unique figures in our culture, and is able to perform her public identity as extravagantly as one of her musical performances.

In my last new media class a year ago I researched Bob Dylan, and came to some interesting but disappointing conclusions about his character. In researching Dolly, I've had exactly the opposite experience. Judging solely from her meticulously curated public image, I think Dolly is an undeniable force for good in the world. She lives and embodies an attitude of humor, compassion, acceptance of difference, sex-positivity, and self-awareness that I think will be her greatest contribution to our culture, even more than her music, film, or amusement park.

Dolly with a kitten- a foolproof publicity move since forever

I think celebrities are really fascinating because of how public opinion factors into their lives and how they handle it– especially female celebrities, for whom the attention is always focused on their bodies and physical selves. Dolly Parton seems to handle it in the best way possible: She gives the public what they want until she becomes a parody of those very desires, and then continues to be just as confident and lighthearted as ever because none of it is real. She inspired me to explore how different famous women deal with their public images: How they take control over that part of their lives, how much power they have over their image and what they do with it. This will be the focus of my final project, and I thank Dolly for inspiring it. 

"Whereas representation tries to absorb simulation by interpreting it as false representation, simulation envelops the whole edifice of representation as itself a simulacrum" 

"Disneyland is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when in fact all of Los Angeles and the America surrounding it are no longer real, but of the order of the hyperreal and of simulation." ... And Dolly Parton is presented as imaginary in order to make us believe that the rest is real, when she is simply a continuation of the widespread reality of constructed, plastified femininity. No other celebrities are real either, they're just pretending.