Monday, June 3, 2013


One of the photographs from the series

This series of photographs portrays a way of life that is not so familiar to most people in the United States. our countries' big cities are booming now more than ever, and the energy, sparkle, and glamour of these metropolises are attracting the younger generation at a fast rate. That being said, the 15 photographs of this series depict where and how I grew up, and they are extremely personal. Unincorporated represents some of the people that mean the most to me, and it reflects ideas that I will forever embrace.

The photographs were taken at a variety of Wisconsin towns within the past 3 months. Ten different towns are represented including Hortonville, Oshkosh, Mountain, New London, Reedsville, Crivitz, Shantytown, Winchester, Shawano, and Readfield. At least one photograph from each of these locations is included in the series.

I should also mention that I chose to display my photographs on white pieces of cardstock with the titles handwritten. This gave my piece a more personal feel, which I was going for. The titles described who the subjects in the photos were and where they photographs were taken. All 15 photographs were layed inside of an old chest from my families tree farm.

I chose to get the photos printed from Walgreens because I had a 60% off coupon. They were printed on fujifilm crystal archive paper, and they turned out really well! Here is the link to my flickr set for you guys to check out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Dolly Parton: The Queen of Country Music

Simulation plays a significant role in Dolly Parton’s life. Her image, drag queens that long to look like her, and her theme park are some examples of how her life is related to  Jean Baudrillard’s ideas in his book, Simulations.

Dolly Parton is i country music icon who has been center stage for the past half centry. She is considered to be amongst the top 5 music artists of all time within all genres. In addition, she has been the most successful modern country performer to cross over to the mainstream of American popular culture, and her song  “Here You Come Again” was her biggest crossover hit. Dolly has written over 3,000 songs, and she has also wrote the most recorded song in history entitled “I Will Always Love You.” The star has teamed up with countless stars including Kenny Rodgers, Elvis, and Whitney Houston. Finally Dolly is a fantastic businesswoman and a devote Christian. Here is a clip of Dolly performing one of her most famous songs Jolene. The video gives you a glimpse into what her personality is like and what her voice sounds like.

Dolly Parton was born on January 19, 1946 in a small town in the Smokey Mountains in Eastern Tennessee. She was born into poverty, and she was the fourth of twelve children. She wrote her first song at age five, and when she was 18 she took off for Nashville with only her clothes in paper bags. When she arrived in Nashville she was lucky enough to get an invitation from singer, Porter Wagoner, and that is when her journey began.

Simulation and hyper reality are present in Parton's life and work. Her image is the first area in which Baurdillard's ideas are present. Dolly is arguably as famous for the way she looks as for the songs she sings. She has fake platinum blonde hair, tan skin, and her makeup is over the top. There is also quite the contreversy over her bosoms. Dolly is quoted saying, "I may look fake, but I'm real where it counts." Her is a clip f her talking about her simulated appearance. Dolly's iconic image as graced the covers of thousands of magazines, and people simply adore her. Below is an image of one of her fan's stomachs that has Dolly tatood on it.

All of Dolly's drag queens also relate to Baudrillard's ideas. The reasons for hyper reality are obvious here. All of the drag queens attempt to simulate Dolly's look. Here is just one example:
Nestled in the foothills of Tennessee lies one of Dolly’s most prized positions, Dollywood. Dollywood is the final way in which her life and work relates to Simulations. It is a place where tourists can learn about mountain life, but more importantly, about Dolly’s life. The entire theme park is a simulation of her life. There are clothes that visitors can purchase that look like Dolly's. There is a replica of her log cabin home that she grew up in. In additon, tourists can even meet some of her family members, for many of them are employed at the park. Dollywood even has it's own currency! The Tennessee theme park gets an estimated 2.5 million visitors each year which adds to Dolly's half billion dollar fortune. Here is a link to the ever-so-famous Dollywood.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Distortion of The Real

This video is my take on Jean Baudrillard's ideas of simulation. In it, I suggest that women are constantly manipulating themselves in order to appear more attractive to society. They put on a mask, as Baudrillard would say. In fact, a new survey has found that over 50% of women are not happy with their appearance without some sort of cosmetic. Nowadays it seems as if makeup is no longer used as a tool for enhancement but, rather, a security blanket that conceals negative feelings.

In my video I had originally integrated numerous clips such as cosmetic commercials, sections from the TV series Toddlers and Tiaras, and a news report that told of a mother who injected botox into her 8 year old girl. However, this was too much footage to edit down to a three minute video, plus it got to be a bit congested and choppy.

Instead, I decided to start off the video with makeup tutorials that swarm YouTube. These exist to help girls achieve certain looks that they are so desperately seeking. In addition, I also included a slideshow of female celebrities. We are constantly having images of "perfect" women thrown in our faces, so seeing these people in the media obligates us to attempt these same looks. The black and white clippings are of myself covering up what is real and putting on a mask in order to appear more attractive to society. The audio used are sections of songs by Fergie and Madonna, which I thought both fit very well. The audio that concludes the video is just a segment from one of Jenna Marbles videos in which she discusses what a girl's makeup says about her. Here's a link to Jenna's YouTube channel.

Finally, here is a link to my video which I have posted on YouTube. I should also note that the audio in this YouTube video is a bit different than the original, for some reason the audio seems a bit muffled on the clips of the female celebrities. This is not the case when I view my video in Quick Time. Hope you guys all enjoy!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Bill Viola Convocation Reflection

Although Bill Viola is like super famous, I have to admit that he was quite the let down after the Lynda Barry Convo. I guess that was to be expected though since she was so darn good and entertaining. Anyways... I will sum up my thoughts on his convocation in two words: commencement speech. It totally reminded me of the oh-so-typical talk I heard when I graduated high school, and I'm sure what I will here when I graduate from Lawrence. He kept addressing us, students and talking about our "future journeys." He gave us a lot of life advice as well, such as learning from our enemies. To me it was all just a little too much and kinda weird. I also thought he was kinda corny, for he used phrases such as, "we are all artists because we are all creative."

Fire Woman (one of his works presented at Convocation)

I don't know, maybe I am just being a little too harsh because in the end I really enjoyed the message he was portraying. I enjoyed his insight on what creativity and inspiration are, and it was neat that he informed us on what inspires him. In addition, I was attracted to Bill Viola's work, and his video that he opened with, Fire Woman, was pretty impressive. In the end, I was able to get over his cornyness (I don't think that's a word), and focus on his message and his artwork. He truly is, as Rachele stated, a leader of artistic innovation.

Here is a link to his website.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Project 1 Reaction to "Simulations"

When given the task of capturing a photograph that explores the ideas of the hyperreal as describe by Jean Baudrillard in his book, Simulations I immediately thought of how women in American culture are a perfect example of what Baudrillard was writing about. Everyday almost all women in the United States start out their day by applying make-up and doing their hair in order to look more attractive and put together. They put on a mask in order to cover up their flaws or perhaps enhance their already existent beauty. However, in either case women are distorting what is real. Baudrillard uses the term "unmasked" to signify realness, and that "realness" is exactly what I tried to capture in my final photograph.

The first step that I took was to talk a set of 100 images to simply develop and expand upon some ideas I had running through my head. Here are 15 of those photographs which I have made available through my Flickr account. The first few are more literal in that I have no make-up on and my hair is messy. However, the silhouette images are more symbolic and portray the message that every girl is kind of in the shadows, for society sets unrealistically high expectations for women and their images. We never really see what women truly look like, and that goes hand in hand with what Baudrillard discusses in Simulations.

The second step was to narrow my 15 photos down to 6 and then print them on 8x10" pieces of paper. The following 6 images are the ones that I chose to print:

Image 1

Image 2

Image 3

Image 4

 Image 5

Image 6

From here I went on to chose 2 photographs that I would print on a scale of 17x22" and present them for a classroom critique. These are the two that I chose:

17x22" print #1

17x22" print #2

After viewing these prints I was really disappointed in how they turned out, for they were extremely pixilated. In the end I decided against both of these photos and ended up picking the following photograph for what would be my final image:
30x40" print

I like this image better because not as much of my face is visible, and I really like the whole "profile" look which I steered away from in my second 17x22" print. This final image will be printed on a scale of 30x40", and I am anxious to see how it will turn out. In order to get a preview of what the quality will be like when I print the final product, I printed the below image on an 8x10" print. I was happy with how it turned out, so my hopes are high for my 30x40" print. 

 8x10" preview

I also thought I would include my original of this photograph, just so you guys could see some of the alterations I made. Well, that's a wrap for this project. I'll keep my fingers crossed to see how the final print comes out!  

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Sonja Thomsen Reflection

Sonja Thomsen creating Trace of Possibility
          Sonja Thomsen's Shifting the Frame lecture given yesterday left me with a mixture of emotions about her work. I did not enjoy parts of her work, yet most of her exhibitions really sparked my interest and were appealing to me. I liked the ideas and concepts behind her work, and I also thought that her interest in time, light, and the act of making could really lead her in a successful direction. Here are links to Sonja's blog and website.

          Sonja started of the lecture by discussing how she was influenced by Charles and Ray Eames' 1977  Powers of 10 film which depicted the relative scale of the Universe. She then went on to give the audience a brief background of herself which included informing us that she was a liberal arts student studying Science and Studio Art. After her undergrad Sonja went on to the San Fransisco Art Institute.

          Throughout her  lecture Sonja discussed several of her completed projects. The first one she mentioned was entitled, Permission to Wonder, in which she peeled away figures from a series of photographs taken by the ocean. Questions such as how small does the ocean make you feel and how long has the ocean been around ran through her mind as she made this series. As viewers approach these figures in galleries the images start to fade. Sonja argues that the same thing occurs in our daily lives.

         Sonja then went on to show a photograph taken on Lake Michigan by Harry Callahan. She mentioned that the lake "is really part of her visual consciousness" since she grew up in Milwaukee and saw it nearly every day. Ronni Horn also influenced Sonja's work. Horn's work, such as You are the Weather, take a lot of time, and Sonja feels the same way about her work. The artist then briefly talked about her photographs of mud puddles and of bodies of water. I feel as if anyone can go to Mount Rainier or Lake Michigan and take the photographs she did. These photographs were one of her projects that did not impress me.

          On the other hand, her sculpture piece entitled, Trace of Possibility did impress me. I like the materials that she took advantage of and how they felt heavy and light at the same time. It was really fascinating how the piece could be seen as both a cave and mountain, and I particularly liked how she portrayed perception and depth. Trace of Possibility was inspired by her time in Iceland which she found to be a place of contradictions. For example, she mentioned how the country is white with snow, yet black from all of the lava. This piece was impressive to me because it was Sonja's first sculptural piece and she was able to hire an assistant thanks to a grant, yet still physically engage with her own work as she completed it.

Lacuna 2009

          I will now discuss why I absolutely loved her project Lacuna. Lacuna is a collection of 75 photographs that she constructed into constellation. She mentioned that the word "lacuna" means "gap in knowledge," and that it is a metaphor about memory and aging. Throughout the piece there are images of landscapes, friends and family. My favorite aspect of the piece was that there was interaction amongst the viewers, and that the piece changed and developed as audiences came through and interacted with it. In addition, I particularly liked how she said that her favorite part of the piece was being able to take ownership of the piece. I think Lacuna is her best project for theses reasons in addition to the fact that the piece reflects her theme of relating to time and space.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Reversal of Fortune

 Wisconsin Death Trip, By Michael Lesy
Reversal of Fortune is a short, silent film created in response to the book Wisconsin Death Trip by Michael Lesy.  The book is filled with black and white photographs and newspaper articles taken from the town of Black River Falls, Wisconsin. They take place throughout the 19th century and are captured by a photographer named Charles Van Schaick. Lesy's strategic manipulations of powerful images and newspaper clippings depict several themes such as feminism, death, and everyday hardships faced by those who live in rural areas.
 Reversal of Fortune

For my silent film I decided to go with my first instinct upon paging through the book and hearing the music that would be in collaboration with my film. That first instict was a sense of eeriness and anxiety. Both of these feelings can be experienced when viewing my film. Another goal for my video was to portray the strange, dark heart of American small towns, for even if they appear to be safe and friendly, underneath their surface or somewhere in their past lie haunted stories and tremendous hardships that have been overcome.

I started out this project by looking up eerie video clips on YouTube to get some inspiration for this "eerie" aura that I wanted to depict. The blue saturated clips with creepy figures was the perfect clip to manipulate because it portrayed the thoughts racing through my mind as I was paging through the book and listening to the sample music played for us in class.

As I previously mentioned, I wanted to depict a sense of anxiety to the viewers too. I accomplished this in my film by varying the speed of the clips. For example, most of the blue saturated scenes are at a fast pace, while the water droplets are pain-painstakingly slow. The water droplets are meant to serve as a hypnotizer for the viewer. The three clips of them falling in slow motion are included to mezmorize the viewer for a few seconds, so that they can simply soak in the music that is being played and think about the clips that were just presented. The choppiness of the film also adds to the anxiety level that is supposed to be felt by the viewers. 

Although several of the clips in the film may seem random, they each reflect a vision I had as I read Wisconsin Death Trip. For example, the farm clips are meant to depict the Midwestern way of life which is what is demonstrated throughout Lesy's book. Farming in rural areas was very difficult, yet despite the struggles of that way of life, some people still choose to live this way today. My uncle is an example of one of these farmers, so several of the scenes are filmed on his land. 

In addition, I include scenes of sunny and wintery days just as the photographs in the book portray. I also mimic photographs in the book through my clips of the three children in the barn, for there are a number of youth subjects in Lesy's book. Finally, I include the dog clips because Lesy also includes a number of animals throughout his book. 

Well, I hope you all enjoyed my film. I cannot wait for the collaboration on Saturday with the musical improvisations!