Friday, December 4, 2009

Just figured I'd post images of the t-shirts I put together for our assignment (even though I'm a few weeks late in doing so).

I'll let you consider for yourselves what the messages of my altered icons may have been. If you want to know my thoughts on them, feel free to post a comment and ask.


Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Exhibition-in-a-box Proposal

I'm playing with two ideas for my exhibition-in-box.

First: I might depict the life, career & philosophy of Dr. Sigmund Freud whose ideas about delving into a person’s past in order to better understand her/him in the present were foundational to the field of psychology. Freud believed that present dysfunction could be traced back to dysfunction in early childhood relationships, specifically those between child and mother.

I chose Freud as the subject of my project because he is a very well known, recognizable figure in the world of psychology, which has had a huge place in my educational background and philosophical development. He is, therefore, representative of my own development and has had a significant impact on how I perceive myself and my world.

I will most likely select images and objects that depict various commonly-known aspects of Freud's life and career (e.g., psychotherapy couch, Id/Ego/Superego, penis envy, the Unconscious, cocaine, etc.)

To contain/transport my exhibition, I will probably try to use case files (i.e., manila folders with labels) and a briefcase to give the impression of a professional, and specifically, a therapist.

Second: I am also considering building the exhibition around my own experiences in Europe, particularly my semester in Spain and related travels. This experience was monumental in my life, as it opened up my world and (having taken an History of Spanish Art course) significantly influenced my progression away from psychology as a career and toward the finer arts.

I would display photographs, images, and objects that depict/represent some of the most influential experiences I had while abroad and likely contain it all in a suitcase.

My story would probably be told chronologically, perhaps prefaced with a look at my past education in psychology and capped with a hint at my developing education in Graphic Design.

Postmodern Musings

I must say I do enjoy conversations on postmodernism (readings on it, not as much). It's a delightfully mirky topic, forcing people to question their comfortable ideology...their complacency. Our discussion in class yesterday recalled to mind a class I took while working toward my previous psychology degree - History & Systems of Psychology. On one particular day of class, we got to talking about premodernism, modernism and postmodernism. It was interesting to see how many people in my cohort seemed to be operating in large part from a modernist framework...especially in psychology, which - on many levels - seeks to invoke and involve a much more postmodern perception of people and the world we live in. Of course, I must admit, there remains a very influential "culture" of science in psychology (and rightly so, I feel) which does necessarily look toward the modernist scientific method for greater understanding about human nature and the human condition.

But back to History & Systems...the conversation really turned into a dialog between myself and one other classmate, observed by the rest. It stemmed from what I saw as a misrepresentation of the postmodern position (namely, that it very simply is a movement of pure relativism, where there can be no tolerance for a belief in any absolutes or truths). I spoke up to offer my perspective that postmodernism allows for a person to decide to believe in some absolutes, but wards against that person feeling justified in believing that decision to be one ALL must make. Of course, the conversation continued from there, but the most poignant exchange - in my opinion - was when my classmate began expressing greater and greater frustration, remarking that, "You just can't argue with people like you, you're always right because there's no truth!" I was somewhat taken aback my the statement (though it's not an unfamiliar sentiment) and as I said to him, "It's interesting that you consider this an argument. For me, this is a conversation."

I do think postmodernism is a conversation, it's about dialoging, finding common ground, common understanding, but realizing that it is all historically-, culturally-, individually-bound. It's about the process, not the end point.

Anyway, I don't need to try to replicate the ENTIRE conversation here, but like I said at the beginning, I enjoy encountering postmodernism. Even when it's being discussed from a modern framework, it's still about people trying to step outside themselves and consider reality beyond their comfort zone.

And as I mentioned in an earlier post, I'm somewhat surprised to discover just how much the art community is engaging in this (what seems to me very cerebral) dialog...though I guess I must concede that postmodernism is so largely about EXPERIENCING the "real," about connecting on more than a cognitive level with the world around, and artists (I'd say) DO have a knack for engaging with their environments on a much more profound, more visceral, more experiential level. Something I look forward to developing further for myself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ok, so I'm not going to say this is the most intriguing image ever, but I came across it in a magazine and it made me think about how convention shapes our understanding of an image. Before I saw that it was an ad for d-CON mouse traps, I knew what the message was. The extremely simple image (a half-elipse resting edge-down on a straight line) effectively evokes both an image of a mouse hole at the base of a wall (as was so often seen in Tom & Jerry cartoons) and an image of a tomb stone with the letters R.I.P engraved on it. Of course, the two images together suggest a mouse's death, so what else would the ad be about? Anyway, like I said, perhaps not the most intriguing work of art, but I thought I'd post it, none the less.

Creative Commons

1. How does the Creative Commons (CC) project alter the way we understand ownership and copyright?

I'm not sure I entirely understand the CC project and how it differs from traditional copyrighting (other than that it appears to be a free service and you won't be finding your CC licensed work in the Library of Congress). If I am indeed gathering what I think I'm gathering from the CC case studies, it would seem that the primary purpose of pursuing a CC license is to make easier and more clear the freedoms you wish to afford viewers and users of your original work. With traditional copyrights, the copyright owner has the right to transfer elements of the copyright to another entity or to grant permissions of use, but it seems that the law is more rigid and is intended to restrict all use of an original work to its creator. This seems to serve a very defensive purpose, which may have its place, but if you hold too tightly onto your work, you might miss opportunities for a further unfolding of your works' potential. In a community of artists who - with the great array of digital media available - are becoming increasingly aware of the benefits of making their art more accessible to others for the purposes of further use, exposure and distribution, it seems that the rigidity of a traditional copyright may be stifling the potential artistic/creative gains that might accompany a much more expansive, common-use system. So, the CC project appears to be giving the license owner more freedom in making their work available to others, while still ensuring that they will receive due credit for their art. In this way, they can actively participate in that community which hopes to "share and share alike," being granted in return the luxury of lawfully appropriating others' work (or elements of it) to aid in the development of their own artistic expression. In essence, it means opening up ownership on some level to the community, rather than hoarding it for oneself, which - I seem to gather - many artists are coming to view as a detriment to their art instead of a necessary and beneficial precaution.

2. How does this project affect the subject(s) of a work?

I suppose it affords greater license to those hoping to alter the subject of a work for their own purposes, thereby forever changing the subject as it was intended to be, the meaning it was intended to embody. I cant quite force myself to view this as a bad thing, however, as the original work (and therefore the subject) will remain intact - at least as long as its original creator wishes it to; it will not be extinguished simply by the act of appropriation. In fact, I believe the subject - if used in the altered works - will be given new life, additional meaning, further purpose. Its legacy prosperity will no longer be tied entirely to that of the original artist, but will instead be sown throughout a much larger and more diverse population, with connections much more vast than could have been developed by one lone artist. As long as there remains a tie between the subject and its originator (i.e., proper credit given by would-be appropriators), I believe the subject retains its original meaning and thereby maintains its authenticity.

3. How would a CC license have altered the works in our textbook reading (Gone with the Wind (GWTW), the work of Sherrie Levine and Michael Mandiberg)?

It's a bit difficult to answer this question, as it would depend on which types of CC licenses the works had had applied to them. But it seems to me that with a CC license of any variety, the restrictions around GWTW would not have been quite so limiting. Potentially, the characters could have lived on in some capacity through others' works (e.g., movies, books, plays, t.v. shows, product lines, etc.), though with such liberty would have come a greater freedom to alter their images. I'm not very learned when it comes to matters of law and red tape, so I don't fully understand the nuanced implications of a copyright or a CC license on such works. In the case of GWTW, it doesn't really sound as though the owners of the copyright (the estate) wanted to grant greater freedoms regarding the use of the book's subjects, so I'm struggling to see what might have been different had they access to a CC license. As to the works of Sheerie Levine and Michael Mandiberg, I think a CC license would have kept them from being able to call their work simply their own; perhaps it would have been more clear that they were required to credit the original art's creator. It seems that would have undermined the purpose behind their works, however, considering the reproductions would have been made with permission and their origins would not be so ambiguous or easily overshadowed. I would like to think that, being granted permission to use another's work (in whatever manner the terms allow), an artist would be less likely to feel the need to duplicate it and call it her/his own, that all artists would feel a greater, shared sense of commonality and shared creativity, and would practice fairness and integrity when choosing to alter another's work and attribute it to their own creativity. Without such rigid law, would people be so likely to oppose those restrictions that do exist? Would they be "heard" if they did? We viewers care about their message?

4. Does the CC project afford any protection to the right of publicity (the Bela Lugosi case)?

Under "Scope of Rights Waived" in the terms of the license, the developers of CC - if I understand the text correctly - seem to explain that a CC license does not effect third-party rights related to the content of the work (e.g., publicity rights of people appearing in a photograph); that is, any third-parties who have a right to regulate the use of their images will continue to have that right under the CC license and any further use of the image must not infringe upon those rights. Again, I don't really know my way around matters of law, but it seems that this would indicate some protection in matters of publicity. Where publicity is not just a third-party issue, however, but the primary cause for legal protection, I'm not sure if and how a CC license would offer its protection. If the right of publicity provides the individual with a property right in her/his identity, it seems like it wouldn't be too far a stretch to apply to it the terms of a CC license, granting others permission to use it for their purposes. After all, it would be up to the owner of the identity whether they felt comfortable giving others that freedom, right? And if they did feel comfortable, isn't it their right to do so? Would credit have to be given to the source of the identity each time it was used? How would that be done? What would it look like? Would that affect the message the identity's use was meant to convey? For good or bad?

Movie Poster: Harmony

After finding examples of movies - and their posters - that exemplified the times in which they were made (see previous post), we were asked to come up with a brief synopsis for a movie of our creation that demonstrates some "sign of the time." My group decided to run with the popularity of online dating services like eHarmony and couple it with the cheesy-action-flick-spoof genre (which also seems to be popular now). So, our movie synopsis:

In a world where online dating is the norm, three retired and washed up action stars (Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris) find love online… but little do they know that eHarmony has matched them with the same girl, Rosa Caliente (played by Megan Fox)! Their friendship will be tested when they find themselves in a battle for her love! Unbeknownst to them, Rosa Caliente is only a digital representation, created by eHarmony’s Dr. Neil Clark Warren (played by Bob Barker) in an attempt to thwart the action heroes.

And here, to the right, is the poster I came up with. Look it over - see what you think. Based on the critique I received in class, it seems the greatest short-fall is that I wasn't as effective as I'd hoped in connecting the action-flick feel with eHarmony (perhaps if I made the eHarmony
login page less transparent, it would become more apparent...what do you think?).

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Orphan Works

I came across an interesting article in PhotoMedia magazine a few weeks ago called "Custody Battle: Who Owns Orphan Works?" and meant to blog about it at that time, but kept getting distracted. So I'll do so now, as it seems even more relevant given the topic of our recent readings, class discussions and Creative Commons research assignment.
The article deals with legislation
involving the use of works for which a copyright owner can't be found through reasonable efforts. There is, of course, more than one side to the issue: some feel that it is a necessary and overdue - if still imperfect - solution to an ever-growing problem (especially with such wide-spread digital access to media sources), while others feel it is too vague and creates opportunities for people to easily upload images to the internet without crediting the artist or author, calling them orphaned, and thereby safeguarding their free use. I'm not sure what to think, myself. Since I'm new to the field, I don't have a great deal of experience trying to use others' work in my own and acquiring permission to do so. I don't know what all it entails, but from what I've read, it can be extremely difficult to acquire rights to use orphan works, which in many cases have been historically and culturally important. Perhaps I would tend to agree with those who feel this legislation is an important step, but that revisions will need to be made. After all, doing nothing for fear of the potential for causing new problems will not promote progress. Imperfect progress is still progress, isn't it? But then, I am quite inexperienced in these matters. What do you think?