Sunday, March 7, 2010

James Turrell

is essentially a light artist who's most famous for his Skyspaces. I've always had a personal affinity for him, and recently decided to try to learn more about him.

James Turrell, "Light Reign," permanent installation at UW's Henry Art Gallery, image courtesy of Hankblog

I read the Geometry of Light of catalog, and decided to pick up (read: borrow from the library) the Craig Adcock book that pretty much every author referenced, James Turrell: The Art of Light and Space.

As I read through the introduction and the first chapter, both of which include some biographical info meant to establish the development of his interests, I had one of those personal ah-ha moments.

Turrell's work deals with the fundamental building block of perception - light - and how we perceive. It encourages us to fully experience, and then contemplate, the manner in which we form our worlds through exposing us to something that feels like raw perception. His early background was, unsurprisingly, in perceptual psychology.

I started college as a psych major, interested in the science of perceptual psychology (think neuropsych meets cognitive psych), and ended an art history major. I suppose it seems obvious that the connection was my interest in the formation of our mental worlds vis-à-vis the active interpretation of our visual worlds, but I'd never successfully articulated that until I started reading Craig Adcock's descriptions of James Turrell's work.

I'm beginning to think that another aspect of my intensely personal/visceral attraction to Turrell's work (and Rothko's color fields, actually) is the particular sense of timelessness that I attach to the experience of his work (at least, the one Skyspace I've encountered- it's easier to view Rothko's work in person, and I've been lucky enough to visit the Rothko chapel). I was raised utterly without religion and have grown to be a fundamentally non-spiritual person, my general agnosticism aside. Faith is a feeling I simply haven't experienced, but the overwhelming sense of timelessness that I've experienced at certain natural phenomena and (on a more mentally engaging but equally visceral level) certain art seems to me to approximate what I imagine faith must feel like. Feel being the operative word that I think creates this profound personal connection for me, and also ties to my interest in perception - because something that engages me to think about how I construct my own world (this world that seems so very solid) begins to engage and problematize the mystical faith that consciousness relies upon to parse its (our) own world.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Ok, clearly this isn't working

Employment picked up and I lost my will to wonder on the Internet. (Those around me may wish I'd lost my will to wonder out loud.)

I do want to start a food blog, even more for my own edification. Recipes I've tried, changes I'd make, things I want to remember, things I want to never try again.

To start with: the delectable Mulled Wine Cranberry Sauce I made for Thanksgiving. (Follow the link for the detailed recipe.) This was a definite winner, cooked a night ahead, served on 11-26.

Changes I made:
-Use tawny port instead of red wine.
-Cut the orange slices into 1/3s (smaller chunks, I held out some orange slices to taste).
-It takes closer to ~40mins to burst all of the cranberries. Don't worry about the last few berries.

Changes I would have made:
-A little more brown sugar, it came out slightly too tart.

Pictures to come. Probably another location for this blog too.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fair Use

A note on the ongoing Shepard Fairey Obama poster fair use debate:

Earlier this week, the Art Law blog posted the following question:
...This relates to a question I've been meaning to put to those who believe Fairey's was a fair use because of its "transformative purpose": would the argument work in the other direction? That is, assume a well-known photographer creates an image the purpose of which is to move people, express some idea, touch our souls. Now along comes a crass commercial artist who makes modest changes to the image along the lines of what Fairey did here, and then starts mass producing and selling posters of it. Now we have a totally different purpose -- to make boatloads of money. Fair use? Or is "transformation" a one-way street?

Shepard Fairey's MLK courtesy of theworldsbestever
Shepard Fairey, *"MLK," 2007?

I do believe that transformation is an important element of fair use, although I suspect that I'm more liberal with my threshold for sufficiently transformed. However, I don't think it's a two-way street. Why not? Because, in my admittedly limited understanding, fair use exists to allow non-commercial uses of works without paying a fee. The sticking point for me is not really the issue of transformative, it's the issue of defining non-commercial intent. It seems obvious that someone selling mass produced "schwag" is there purely for commercial intent, but the line gets blurrier when you deal with an artist who is reusing images or sounds and might want to sell their work to a collector. Or, in the case of successful mash up artists like Girl Talk, thousands of fans.

Are we stuck, then, in that seemingly obvious yet logically indefensible realm, the arbitration of taste?

*I chose this image because you have all seen the Obama poster by now. This much more transformative and subtler image predates it.

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