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Appropriation Art

After our makeup class on Friday I was thinking about appropriation art and the Sherrie Levine presentation I gave last year for my History of Contemporary Art class. At the time of the presentation I had a good understanding of appropriation art but after class today it was clear to me that I had forgotten a lot. I reviewed last years’ presentation to help me remember.

Her photo series After Walker Evans (1981) is an appropriation of photographs from the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), authored by James Agee with photographs by Walker Evans. Evans was commissioned by the government in 1936 to document the poverty of the Great Depression. The book was widely published and the photos were familiar to people at the time. Levine photographed photos in a catalog to appropriate the photos. The Evans estate saw this as copyright infringement and bought the works to prevent their sale. Now all of the photos are in the MET collection.

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Moveable Type

The New York Times headquarters building in New York City houses the digital and text-based work Moveable Type (2007). This was created by artist Ben Rubin and statistician Mark Hansen. The work was created at the request of the newspaper. The Times was looking for something “iconic and timeless” that spoke “to the 150 year history of the Times, and also to the digital future.” [2] The piece took four years to design and build.

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The Whitney’s Programmed: Rules, Codes, and Choreographies in Art (1965–2018) exhibition establishes connections between works of art involving rules or instructions. Some of the works of art were created with computers and electronics; others were fabricated with non-technological tools like paper and ink. Some of the works blurred the distinction between the two. The exhibition as a whole attempts to place digital and new media art into a historical context that is linked to the works that don’t involve contemporary technology.

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The Body / Identity

This week we visited 5 galleries in Chelsea to see shows that focused on themes of The Body and Identity. I found much of the artwork to be thought provoking and deeply moving. I'm looking forward to our discussion about this in class tomorrow.

The first show was God Made My Face: A Collective Portrait of James Baldwin at the David Zwirner gallery. James Baldwin (1924-1987) was an African American author and artist who analyzed society's power structures and its racial and class distinctions through his work. The show contains Baldwin's writing and drawings and illuminates his character, sexuality, and political views.

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Final Reflection

Project Summary

Light Pollution is a serious environmental problem that alters our ecology and our experience of the night sky. Inhabitants of major cities often cannot see more than a few stars. More than just a cosmetic issue, light pollution affects human circadian rhythms and has known health effects. Light pollution has also been shown to interfere with bird migration by diverting them from their normal flight path.

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The History and Vision of the 70's Video Art Movement

During the late 60’s and early 70’s Sony began selling a portable video camera that could be carried and operated by a single person. This new technology offered novel opportunities for ordinary people to record and distribute their own videos. Video camera proponents saw them as a revolutionary tool that could and should be used for the betterment of humankind. This dramatic vision formed on top of the countercultural revolution occurring at the time that saw itself as working to raise human consciousness by fighting against long-held cultural norms of behavior and advocating for the civil rights and antiwar movements. Although the drive to explore video camera technology was to a large extent fueled by the broader countercultural movement, the use and exploration of video cameras also contributed back to the counterculture by being a real tool for change. In time portable video cameras did in fact have a profound influence on the evolution of our culture and that influence only grew as the technology become more ubiquitous and the infrastructure to support its distribution developed into what we know today as the Internet. To a large extent the vision of the early video camera advocates has been realized today but not all of the technology’s effects on our society have been positive. Therefore, there is more work to be done if video recording by ordinary people is to continue to be a positive contribution to the further development of our culture.

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Final Presentation

Yesterday I presented my final project for this class. My presentation consisted of walking through the website I made documenting my research and project outputs: In addition to the interactive light pollution map I went birding and orienteering in an effort to learn more about birds and how they function. "Embodied Knowledge," as Marina said. Both good experiences and for me, new ways of pursuing knowledge about a subject. I see the value of this approach and I'll be looking for similar activities for future projects. My website concludes with a design of a new system that will assist migrating birds and help them avoid the dangers of light polluted areas.

I need to make a few improvements to that website and I'll take care of that in the next few days. Also, a final blog post reflecting on my process, next steps, and a summary of my critique.