Week 6 Reflection on Learning

I think so far, the most interesting aspect of this paper has been the concept of ideology and the way it has influenced art and social practices, as well as being able to incorporate the views of indigenous studies into my A2 question.

I enjoy the blogging method in this paper, as it allows me to collate the information in a good, organised way, as well as keeping a workbook with my notes. I think these methods and the mind-map has allowed me to keep organised while gathering large amounts of source material. I also think the tasks have forced me to think about things a bit more, and record my thoughts about them which I can come back to in my writing later, though sometimes the thoughts aren’t of great quality. Often I can’t be bothered and my blog posts suffer, but mostly they’re OK.

Blogging has changed the way I work. Before, i never used a computer to collate information, only workbooks. But I think combining the two is a good middle-ground that allows great organisation. Also researching climate change has forced me to become very aware of the effects me and the people around me have had on the environment, and my actions after this. I’ve become more knowledgable about a number of concepts and ways of thinking, especially.

I think the aspects of thinking critically and the working methods I have had to use, like researching and blogging, will be useful in all aspects of life, and the way I have learnt to look at visual texts will inform my opinions better and aid my art practice.

Although i have difficulty with this paper, and it is a definite love/hate relationship, it can be interesting and is definitely relevant and necessary to becoming an informed, well-learned member of the art world.

237.130 Week 6 TASK 4 – Video Responses

This is in response to the video The Land Owns Us. https://youtu.be/w0sWIVR1hXw

Bob Randall, native of Uluru, talks firstly about being part of the stolen generation, and having his cultural rights removed as part of the conquest of indigenous peoples in Australia, a bid to assimilate the natives. He then addresses the aborigine way of living with the land, as apart of the land, rather than as owner of the land. They believe in a connection or family in all things. He says “the land owns us” (Randall 2:40). For me, this is an interesting parallel to the way I’ve been brought up to value things, and land, but I also come from a culture with the same values and concepts. It makes me wonder about the role these concepts had, and the differences between European and Indigenous concepts of land ownership and rights, in the conquest of nature and the conquest of indigenous peoples (which are integrally linked). This is a point I am particularly interested in raising in my essay, and I think it’s an important thing to consider. For too long the world has worked on these dominant ideologies about ownership, but they’ve gotten us into hot water, as a result of the conquest of nature. Maybe it’s time to rethink these concepts, and artists and designers can be the ones to re frame that conversation.

237.130 Week 6 TASK 3 – Ideology

Define Ideology

Ideology is the ideas (often subconscious) behind actions, social arrangements, images, social movements, relationships, and almost everything we encounter in everyday life. Ideology can be subtle, and influence the way power relationships work within society, or the way the composition of an image is arranged. Ideologies can be used to subtly control or suggest, or it can be used to spark thought or change.

Ideology in Visual Text

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Eliasson, Olafur. Your Waste of Time.  Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Photograph of installation. 2006.

I think Olafur Eliasson doesn’t so much play into ideologies as play against, or question them. One of the ideologies that I recognized could be at play is the human idea that nature will always be there to sustain us, and that climate change won’t touch us, so long as we ignore it. This ideology is apparent in that our actions do not reflect a true fear of the impending climate change, particularly rising sea levels due to ice caps melting. In placing ice fragments in this environment, and showing that these old, old things can in fact melt, and that they can be affected by human actions. \

Reflection

I think in being forced to think about how the visual text relates to ideology, I uncovered new meaning about the work. I will definitely use the new insights into the image, and relate it back to ideology.

237.130 Week 6 TASK 2 – Online Resources

  1. John Mohawks lecture transcript from the 17th Annual E.F. Schumacher Lectures, 1997. http://www.centerforneweconomics.org/publications/lectures/Mohawk/John/How-the-Conquest-of-Indigenous-Peoples-Parallels-the-Conquest-of-Nature

  2. Reddit thread regarding the idea of ‘Terra Nullius’, colonization, and concepts of land ownership. Shows how the conqeust of nature and conquest of indigenous peoples was linked, as well as the means by which European settlers carried out the conquest of nature. https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/1g8v2t/how_accurate_is_the_popular_us_perception_that/


  3. Huffington Post article about climate change-inspired artists, who are using their art to start discussions about climate change and environmetnal change. Used quite a few of these artists for my resources/visual texts. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/07/15/environmental-art_n_5585288.html


  4. TEDx Talk by Dan Miller about climate change. Good points in the middle regarding why people don’t want to take action regarding climate change. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0k2-SzlDGko


  5. David Puttnam talk about climate change. “A disregard of human suffering in the pursuit of profit.” Great talk, highly relevant.               https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBjtO-0tbKU

New Artist Ideas for Essay

  1. Agnes Denes
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Agnes Denes’ ‘Wheatfields – A Confrontation’ 1982.

Agnes Denes brought wheat fields to an abandoned plot near Wall Street, Manhattan. The plot had previously been a landfill site. The work for me is about questioning what nature is – she seems to have brought nature into this built landscape of manhattan and yet this landscape is completely cultivated by her own hand – expressing the conquest of nature???

Taken from her website – “Planting and harvesting a field of wheat on land worth $4.5 billion created a powerful paradox. Wheatfield was a symbol, a universal concept; it represented food, energy, commerce, world trade, and economics. It referred to mismanagement, waste, world hunger and ecological concerns. It called attention to our misplaced priorities. The harvested grain traveled to twenty-eight cities around the world in an exhibition called “The International Art Show for the End of World Hunger”, organized by the Minnesota Museum of Art (1987-90). The seeds were carried away by people who planted them in many parts of the globe.”

The work is also about the distribution of food and the way America wastes food while the world is hungry.


2. Rachel Sussman

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Rachel Sussman’s work is about the longevity of these organisms in comparison to the period humans have been around for – the anthropocene is an extremely short period compared to the rest of the planet. A reminder of how temporary we are? How the planet has always found a way to survive. Sussman describes the work as “underscored by an existential incursion into Deep Time.”.


3. Olafur Eliasson

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Eliasson, Olafur. Your waste of time. Neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Installation. 2006

“For me, the idea of time becomes especially abstract when we consider the history of our universe, the vast time of deep cosmology, the geological time in the history of the planet, the history of the atmosphere, the history of mountains. Vatnajökull, the glacier from which the blocks of ice in Your waste of time come, formed some 2,500 years ago; the oldest ice that still exists in it is from around AD 1200. This span of time lies at the limits of comprehension.
But it is possible to stretch our frame of reference. When we touch these blocks of ice with our hands, we are not just struck by the chill; we are struck by the world itself. We take time from the glacier by touching it. In a sense, Your waste of time is a ‘waste of time’ because I shipped the ice across the world for it to be on view for a short period of time, after which it melts away – a nanosecond in the life of the glacier.” – Olafur Eliasson, from his website.


4. David Maisel

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Maisel, David. The Mining Project (Inspiration, Arizona 4), 1989. 

“Metals extracted from the Earth by open pit mining are used to manufacture products that we global citizens employ on a daily basis. The mines and their surrounding expanse of tailings ponds and cyanide leaching fields are byproducts of the developed nations’ culture of consumption.” – David Maisel, from his website.

The series The Mining Project is about the effects the mining industry and the conquest of nature have on the environment.

237.130 Week 5 TASK 4 – Contextual Analysis Writing

 

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Sammy Baloji, Untitled, C Print Photograph, 2006.

 

Baloji’s photo montage depicts a post-colonial Belgian Congo slave, shackled and prison-clothed, presented in front of abandoned modern-day Katanga infrastructure. This work by Sammy Baloji is a representation of the conquest of nature. If representation is the process by which we construct the meaning of things (Sturken & Cartwright 12), then Baloji’s work all at once aims to construct a view of the past, present, and future of Katanga, and how the conquest of nature have defined them. In 1920, Belgian colonists began heavily exploiting the region of Katanga for its rich mineral deposits, particularly copper, and often using slave labour (Mirzoeff 246). Modern-day Lubumbashi was built on the wealth of this mining industry, and in a way the ‘conquest of nature’ (Mirzoeff 220), but the mines now sit abandoned. Baloji’s use of landscapes in the background harks back to Mirzoeff’s idea that landscapes are a representation of the conquest of nature (Mirzoeff 220); they show man’s destructive use of the landscape, but also the consequent collapse of the industry. The figure in the foreground is a Belgian Congo slave, one of many exploited during that time. Within the relationship between the figure and the landscape Baloji shows the Congolese peoples’ connections and disconnections with the recent past.

Works Cited

  1. “Representation” 13-16. Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics”. Practices Of Looking: An Introduction To Visual Culture.: New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 9-48. Print.
  2. “The Changing World” Mirzoeff, Nicholas. How to See the World. London, Pelican. 2015. 215-252. Print

237.130 Week 5 TASK 3 – Essay Topic Research

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This process helped refine my essay topic in that I now know what concerns/talking points this image relates to, and how it can aid my purpose. I’ve also related the image to specific Mirzoeff quotes or other points of research to begin thinking about how I will integrate it into my essay.

In researching the context of visual texts it is important to consider the following: artist’s reasoning, why they created the series; artist’s background, place and date of birth, race, societal standing; intended audience and how they received the work; the intended medium of the work; the intended meaning of interpretation of the art; the events surrounding or leading up to the artwork; historical and artistic influences; the composition in relation to the purpose. Everything that has gone into creating, framing and refining the ideas and the artwork.

I think picking apart an artwork and they way it was thought out and composed is key for any artist or designer to apply to their own work. Often it’s easy to get sucked in and stop seeing your own artwork subjectively, and undertaking these kinds of processes allows you to pick apart your own work and assess its value and relevance.

237.130 Week 5 TASK 2 – Contextual Understanding

In response to Sturken, Marita, and Lisa Cartwright. “Images, Power and Politics”. Practives of Looking: An Introduction To Visual Culture.: New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. 9-11. Print.

What I found interesting in this reading is the idea that “looking involves relationships of power” (Sturken, Cartwright 9). The authors explain this in terms of the actions of looking: being made ot look, being seen looking, choosing not to look, etc. And each of these actions expresses the viewer’s power. It creates a politics within images as well as in viewing them. Sturken and Cartwright call this the economy of looking (Sturken, Cartwright 9). This idea is exemplified in Weegee’s The First Murder, where the audience is observing this group of people looking at an event in different ways, and each way they’re looking describes something different about their relationship to the subject. The children are unashamedly staring at the murder, while one woman maturely looks away.

237.130 Week 5 TASK 1 – Video Presentation Response

This is in response to ‘The power to tell the difference: Visual literacy in a visual age’, TED Talk by Don Levy. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f09ybYDJoSE

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Claude Monet. Impression: Sun Rising, 1872. Oil on canvas, 48 x 63cm

In Levy’s talk he mentioned the way that imagery can blur the line between fact and fiction: “The more convincing the imagery, the gap between fact and fiction blurs”. In terms of Monet, and the Mirzoeff reading, Impression: Sun Rising could easily be shown to blur the gap between fact in fiction in terms of the anesthetic: In beautifying the pollution, Monet blurred the reality of what people perceived as good and bad. The facts (that pollution harmed the environment and people) were blurred by the perceived beauty of the image.