Wednesday, December 15, 2010

A Night From Hell

          Just another Thursday night, or it’s just what I am thinking sitting on my bed scrambling around to finish the art project due tomorrow. Seeming, as it is only the second week of the semester, my mind is filled with ideas that could possibly turn my night around. The project just messing with my sanity convinces me to reach over for my cell phone resting on my nightstand. Staring at the screen of my phone, I know who will be the person to call. Ring...ring…ring. “Hello, come to my room right now.” Simple as that, and within minutes I am heading over to the other side of Maple Ridge. Chelsey’s room is always my alternative place to be, seeming as being in my room can drive me wild. Her room quickly became my place of sanity. Funny thing is, I only have known Chelsey since the day I met her a few month ago over the summer as we immediately bonded complaining about orientation. Now heading over to her room, thoughts don’t even cross my mind as I feel like I have known her for years.
            Upon reaching her room, I immediately jump on the bed and as we both sit right away she says, “So, want to go to a club tonight. I’ve never been, I figured you’ve been so you would like to keep me company.” To her surprise and my own I tell her I actually never have been to a club. Thinking about the outing, I could not help but fill my mind with excitement. My night is turning around, no more homework just an adventure with one of my good friends. Seeming as me and Chelsey have a blast if we are just sitting around being silly or just driving around listening to music, whatever it is I am not worried about the fun aspect. That girl and I are just a couple of silly carefree art kids, wherever we are found we can create our own world of fun. So now it wasn’t just the both of us surrounded by the concrete walls, but a new scene, the club scene.
            Thursday night is by far the night to go clubbing in Providence, or so do the college girls say. Next thing I know we are on the highway heading to the city. Singing a long to pretty much everything that goes on the radio, our car ride turns into a party of our own as we quickly arrive in the city. Driving around the city, we are not able to keep our composures. We finally see the sign “Club Hell,” this is the place we are headed to and not until a few hours later will I find out that the name really speaks for itself. Searching for a parking place, I spot Chelsey’s friend in the red ford. Ali and Nicole jump out of the car screaming at us with excitement to get out of the car. Ali apparently is one of the girls when every Thursday night rolls around, gets all done up with her buddies and spends the whole night on the club floor. No matter what club, she will be found there going wild. She turned nineteen today, meaning I knew we were in for a trip with this party animal.
At this point Chelsey and I both feel like children clueless, exploring the unknown environment. “Leave everything in the car, no wallets, no cameras, no jackets, only your cash and phone if you can’t live without it,” said Ali, or should I say our mother for the night. Jacket less in my tank top and jeans I am ready to go, when I notice what everyone heading to the door of the nightclub is wearing. For the most part my vision is overwhelmed with the high heels and unnecessary short dresses, so short that I thought to myself what’s the point. And I am right what’s the point, as a girl dresses in booty shorts and a sparkly bra strolls by me as if there was completely nothing attention hording about her look. Quick walk to the doors, Ali leans and whispers a few words to the bouncer. He replies in an extreme loud manner to her whisper, “Happy birthday, have a great night in there.” We pass the line of people impatiently waiting to go in, as the four of as with Ali’s sweet talk manage to get us in for free. So this is it, let’s see what the night brings.
            With my first step into the club, the image in my head that I had invested in  up for the past hour quickly diminished. One look to the left, a bar with tons of bottles and old sitting stools. Look over the right another bar, even worse looking than the first. Separating the two favorite places of the boozehounds was the dance floor. How on earth is this dance floor supposed to fit more than twenty people at a time? In the back a couch area, where a few shady looking guys sit on the dirty couches sipping on their drinks already scheming and looking for girls. Let me mention this, the lighting or the lack of are the dim red light bulbs, casting an eerie feel on the entire club. One quick glance at Chelsey, and she too has this look of confusion covering her face. I could practically read her mind, and I knew what my mind was processing. Is this really it, why are we even here and where is the amazing high-class club? Maybe my mind is way too influenced by the scenes from movies.
This describes Club Hell in a nutshell.

We are here early I found out from Ali.  Yes, I guess being in a club around eleven at night is way to early. Of course she was right, as I spent the next hour hanging around talking to a few other college students the club filled with an unusual amount of bodies. The dance floor is no longer visible under the crazy crowd taken away from reality by the loud music. “We came here to dance so what the hell are we doing standing here Chels.” I grab her hand and we squeeze into the crowd. All we wanted was to dance and hear the loud music. But of course that could not just be it, it never is the simple matter of what we want. Next thing I know there is a guy on my right trying to dance with me, and as I slowly scramble to get away holding Chelsey’s arm, another one comes up to me. What is this, this is not what I came here for, but of course my mind must have just been in an oblivious state before I arrived here. As I spin out of the nearing trouble with my boyfriend on my mind, I cannot for the life of me find Chelsey. I glance over to my right, I see Chelsey in the air scrambling to get out of the grip of a tall guy holding her up and spinning her around. WHAT!?  As I finally make my way towards Chelsey, who’s feet are finally on the floor, looks angry. “We need to leave this place, all I wanted was to have a fun with you tonight. But I can’t even dance and go crazy without these creeps getting all up in my way.” Who knew people were so forward, but tonight I learn that the club scene is not the scene for us girls with the boyfriends.
 The nightclub is the scene for those wild college girls who are finally freed to do whatever they want. Through their foolishness learn as they seek for the attention that to me is highly unwanted. Tonight on a larger scale easily supports who I am. Seeming as I had what everyone can call a “wild” time in high school, tonight just proved to me more that what I used to consider fun is something I grew out of. And as I see others doing foolish things, I do not look down on them since I know it is the process of life, we will never learn until we actually try something. I am filled with those experiences, and my adventure to the club scene is something not for me anymore. As others experience their freeing experiences, I lived my last few year in a similar mindset. Tonight was a night that fully convinced me of who I was becoming, my annoyance and disappointment proved the nescience of my maturity and revealed my wanting for success. College is my road to success as I am striving to be, in the over used words, the best I can be.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Art Deserves Funding

Art and music played an enormous part in the development and origins of all nations around the globe. As cultures have been stabilized and made distinct, people slowly began to fade away from the importance of art and musical development. Such set backs can be seen globally as well as locally. Scientists argue that both art and music are enormous essentials for children in the process of learning, but ever since the 1970’s the efforts to push art and music educational programs in schools have clearly decreased. Art and music play an important role in any community’s culture and development; therefore people are in need of the government to step up and set a side funds for programs such as the one’s being cut at Quabbin Regional High School. The regional school in central Massachusetts doesn’t stand alone as the rest of the schools in country have been suffering from similar financial issues. The governments are finding the common courses more important, such as English, math, and sciences. Even though those courses are very essential, art and music education brings students to that next level of learning in those courses. The classroom time at Quabbin High School devoted to the art has been noticebly reduced as more art teachers and classes are cut each year. Reconsiderations have to be made and money has to be set aside in order to improve the schooling for the artistically driven students here in our community.
Before World War II the arts, especially music, theater, dance, and visual arts were much levier and had strong presence in school curriculum than after the war. During the first half of the century arts in schools flourished. During the war priorities took off on a different tangent in countries all over the world. The government support of the arts which helped to keep art education strong in schools visibly decreased. “Particularly after the Soviet launch of the first Sputnik in 1957, the emphasis in America and other nations school education swung dramatically towards math and science” (Walling). In the early and mid 1970s the energy crisis forced cutbacks in programs and facilities. Once again the government tried to make an effort to bring arts back to center of learning in schools. Such efforts slowly began to improve the situation, but at a very slow paste and to this day the programs in schools are not back to the way they used to be
Art and music are closely linked to multiculturalism surrounding any society. As the basics of cultures are kept, new creativeness and structures are developing. Musicians, artists, and writers contribute to the influence on the society. Artists such as Leonardo Da Vinci, are to this day popular and influencing the modern day civilization. Arts have brought humanity a long way and over generations cultural marks have been made. People express their creativity everywhere, through the different clothing designs or the buildings in a city. Music is heard all over the radio and often can influence people’s moods. Art and music is surrounds everyone on a daily basis and in ways affects their outlooks. If such basics serve such a big influence, art and music programs even in our local high school should not be taken for granted as Quabbin amongt others serves as part of the strucutr eo fht culutral movement on a larger scale. Therefore, it should be seen higher in the government’s eyes. For the past few years, the class sizes have been increasing, as more studnts have to be crammed into the limited number of courses. The choices that used to flourish the art hallway located on the thirs floor of the high school are becoming bare as some serve as math classes today. Creative thinking is much needed, and as less and less music and art programs are funded, the children that would excel in creative thinking are set back and not allowed to show their full potential in an area that could guide them to a future career.
Whenever there is a cut to be made at Quabbin, the first thing the administrations look to is the arts. By law they can’t cut language, math, science, history, along with sports, these classes are treated on a much higher level than the arts. For many administrations, cutting the art program is the easiest choice for them, an easy target. There are not many teachers running such programs, which takes an easier effort to fire them without much retaliation from their minority. They may argue that art and music don’t bring as much of honor as they should to the high school. Rather, many students are glorified for their athletic successes while the art and music performances are often ignored. “While sports programs are important, music is a learned skill that will build during a person’s life. An appreciation for something that goes well beyond the individual student life,” said a music directory from the Boston Conservatory (Williams). As the schools cuts programs one year and restore them the next as the funds decrease or increase, such acitivty does not provide for a successful program. The sequence in the classes is important, and if students loose it for a year they might not get what they should of out of their experience with the arts or they mal lose interest over all.
Years of research say that education in the artd is closely related to almost everything parents would want for their children and the schools they attend. It is linked to “academic achievement, social and emotional development, civic engagement, and equitable opportunity.” Due to such importance in the developmental stages in children, it is not fair for students to not get the most of out their education due to the lack of funds for the programs here at Quabbin. Involvement in the arts is connected to improvement in problem solving, reading, critical thinking, and verbal skills. Many children that have a stronger connection and closer availability to the arts have more motivation, concentration, confidence, and work better with others. According to a 2005 report about visual arts, “stimulation of the arts can connect people more deeply to the world and open them to new ways of seeing” (Vesta). Strong art programs  can help close the gap that is leaving many children behind in their learning ability. Without the provided arts at the high school level not many children get a good exposure to it otheriwise, not everyone can afford to take their children to a museum, to a concert, or an art show. Therefore, high school stands as the groundation of such exposure that all students at Quabbin High School should have a chance to experience.
It has become clear in education that No Child Left Behind, with its pressure to raise test scored, has reduced classroom time devoted to the arts. Decision makers among politicians and administrators don’t always believe that arts are coequal with math, reading, and science. "You have to have art and music, you don't want to end up being just an MCAS school. We have to ask how we preserve a well-rounded education," Churchill said (Williams). Art education has been now slipping for a fewyears due to tight budgets and the public sense that arts are not essential. “If they are worried about their test scores and want a way to get them higher, they need to give kids more art, not less. There is lots of evidence that kids immersed in arts do better on their academic tests” says Tom Horne, Arizona’s state superintendent of public instruction (Davis). Some polices have been enacted in order to make art requirement for kids here at Quabbin High Shcool but that still does not mean the art and music programs they are required to take are on a good level as the need for improvement is much stressed.
It is visible that the teachers at the hish schools who are pressured to meet the required test scores in math and english can’t often focus on the arts. The educators seem to take away from the creative side of the students by teaching them in such a mechanical way. The easiest way of combining arts with the core subjects would be to involve drawing or music into lessons, allowing students to be creative even in the required subjects. Some teachers say that programs should connect together in order to achieve this goal. Bill Simons, an art teacher at Qubbain discussed the connecting of programs, “It would be great to see the math classes to come in here and work with our 3-D design students. Sometimes it is great to have a few great perspectives when it comes to working on a project in class. The students that are advanced mathematically can take away from the artsy students, as well as the other way around” (Simons). Teachers in the high school have taken on the arts into their own hands in order to give the students the right opportunity, with the right funds and programs this goal would become much easier to achieve.
Over the past couple years and especially this year, students at Quabbin Hight have been feeling the effects the economic recession. As the economy raises and falls, so do the funds for the school. The government needs to try to get the right art programs back on the track. The economy is suffering and the money is low, but it is only fair for the students to get the opportunity they want in all subjects, not just the required ones. Private organizations are helping the high school with its arts programs by providing grants. Sometimes even those grants are not enough, and more money should be government sponosored. “At times there isn’t enough money for all that we need in our classes. Sometimes I find myself going out of my way and spending my own money to get the extras we need. Private grants are great, and we do apply for some but its not always easy to find and receive all that we want,” stated Bill Simons (Simons). Politically people need to realize that even with the goal for students to meet the MCAS requirements, they are taking away from students that might prosper in other areas. In many districts the arts have suffered for a long time so it will take a long time and massive investments to turn them around and make the beneficial to the students. “When you think about the purpose of education, there are three. We’re preparing kids for jobs. We’re preparing them to be citizens. And we are teaching them to be human beings who can enjoy the deeper forms of beauty. The third is as importan as the other two”(Vroon).
The challenges Quabbin Hish School faces are difficult to concur quickly. In order for a more succesful improvement the political views on art education have to be reconsidered along side of an effort to set money aside. Art and music visibly show an enormous impact on every community, even as small as the one surrounding Quabbin Hish School. It is the artists who inspires and make others around them see things in different perspectives. The arts programs at Quabbin Hgih is what allow s young adults to progress creatively and help them along the way in other areas as well. The current day level arts programs are no where near on the same level as they used to be. The programs are suffering and efforts by the government need to improve even in the small some communities inorder to make the programs successful on a larger scale. Over all, art and music serve a purpose in everyone’s life, taking away from the creative potential of many students at the high school level doesn’t lead to what the country wants for the generations of the future.

Works Cited

Simons, Bill. "Art Education at Quabbin High School." E-mail interview. 03 Dec. 2010
Davis, Hilary.  The Arizona Daily Sun, Flagstaff. "Music, art at stake in override." McClatchy - Tribune Business News. 12 Oct. 2009 eLibrary. Web. 05 Mar. 2010.
Vesta, Daniel A H; Stuhr, Patricia L; Ballengee-Morris, Christine. "Suggestions for Integrating the Arts into Curriculum." Art Education 1(2006):6. eLibrary. Web. 04 Mar. 2010.                  
Vroon, Donald R. "Critical Convictions." American Record Guide (Vol. 70, No. 2) Mar/Apr 2007: 39-41. SIRS Researcher. Web. 04 March 2010.
Walling, Donovan R. "Rethinking visual arts education: A convergence of influences." Phi Delta Kappan. 01 Apr. 2001: 626. eLibrary. Web. 04 Mar. 2010.
Williams, Harold M. "Don't Ignore the Arts." USA Today (Magazine) Sept. 1995: 66-68. SIRS Researcher. Web. 04 March 2010.


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Sing, Paint, Create; Fever Ray and Horace Pippin

No matter where the eye or ear may guide us, everything we hear or see is derived from another person’s creative thinking. Songwriting, sculpture, architecture, videos and paintings are all means of portraying the artist inspiration and message to the world. Even artist with different ideas can feel connected to one another through their artistic work. The range of personal achievements through creative talent can be seen in many types of artwork. The video “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray squeezes out its creative juice in the mystical statement of a girl dancing above a pool to the unruly vocals of Elizabeth Andersson. The painting “Lady of The Water,” by Horace Pippin takes on a similar affect, with its disorderly proportions and vibrancy of color. As the two pieces reveal themselves to the eye and ear, the connection between the two is an overwhelming surprise.
Horace Pippin originally from Pennsylvania, grew up in the hustle and bustle of New York City. As a child he attended segregated schools, the one thing that kept him sane was his constant drawing of racehorses. As his childhood passed he ended up serving during World War I where in an unfortunate accident he lost the use of his right arm due to a gunshot. After his eventful young life, he decided to strengthen his arm again. Ten years later at the age of thirty-six he began to paint. He quickly became an interesting self-taught African-American painter of the time. Pippin obtained and brought to the surface his naïve sense of style due to his lack of professional learning. Naïve art usually can be identified for its childlike simplicity in the subject matters as well as the technique of the medium used.  Through out his life, many of his paintings mainly focused on slavery and American segregation, such pieces are recognized at museums and exhibits around the country.
Lady of the Lake by Horace Pippin
            Horace Pippin out stepped his distinctive style as a painter in 1932 when he created “Lady of the Lake.” The distinctive oil painting by Horace is placed in an unusual landscape tracing back literary symbols of the Arthurian legends. The painting is his own interpretation of a character from the legends called Lady of The Lake, a Celtic goddess. She is immune to aging as well as disease; the water is her escape. In Pippin’s painting, she is portrayed at the edge of the water as her nude body is facing the sun. Looking up at the sun she naturally leans on one arm on a blanket covered in Native American symbols. On the edge of the water leans a native inspired canoe. In the left corner of the painting stands a small cabin, which by proportion could never fit the body of the sunbather. The water glistens in the sun, as in the horizon a stretch of mountains and blue sky is visible. “Pippin does have a very naive way of creating images that are not necessarily in scale… it’s the details of life that are really what’s important to him and so that’s what he puts into his art,” says Lisa Messinger who is a curator at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Gingrich). The clear exaggeration of the perspective and scale in the painting leads as a portrayal of a self-taught artist. The focus on the details is seen through the artist’s pallet at the time. His use of vibrant greens and the bright red in the lone rose in the corner draw focus to the work.
  From painting to the art of music, inspiration radiates from many especially from an artist going by the name of Fever Ray. The music video for her song “When I Grow Up” is another celebration of an artist’s expression and rise from the unknown. In her mid thirties the native of Sweden, Karin Elisabeth Dreijer Andersson, released her debut solo album in 2009 under the name of Fever Ray. Originally she was the lead singer of The Knife, an electronic duo. Straying away from straight flow of electronic beat, she added a new feel to her music. Her vocals both shrill and deep bring pitch shifting and distorted tones leading to an ambient and experimental feel to the music. “When I Grow Up” is the second song on the Fever Ray album with an intriguing vibe. The lyrics of the song can lead different paths in their meaning. The lyrics both innocent and serious at the same time, take on a child’s point of view in realizing how the world really is. When asked about her music Andersson replied, “I think its very interesting when you can remove yourself from the music, even if you are the one creating it. That’s the thing with music, it allows you the possibilities to erase yourself for certain moments”(Evers). In other words, she sees her music as an escape from reality, a way of infinite possibilities to try something unknown.

 In the song Andersson sings, “When I grow up, I want to be a forester,” singing as if from a child’s imagination. She now realizes how much she has actually grown up and wants to re-connect herself with nature once again. She brings in the idea of how her life could of been if she had taken a different path. “This song involves so many feelings. Lots of love and understanding about life, death, cycles, energy,” said a journalist from the LA News (Ohanesian). Such themes of alternate perspectives and age can be traced to most the track on her album.  She released this album after having two children, which must have also been an inspiration for this song. Maybe Andersson feels that now that she had two children she is a stranger in the new environment, but also by having two children she feels closer to the earth and the on going cycle of life. Therefore in the video, the idea is simplified to a domestic setting of a swimming pool in a backyard. A girl dressed in clothing symbolizing the Native- American culture stands on the diving board. She sings and dances while balancing on the edge. The girl in the video as many might interpret as the artist, is just an actress chosen for the part in order to play out the perfect vision of the song.  The mystic atmosphere and bubbling movement of the water make the feel more surreal as if the girl is connecting with the world and Mother Nature.
Looking at all the aspects of the music video as well as the painting, both overplay similar authenticity.  Even though the themes and era of the pieces is separated by decades, both works radiate an aura of similar nature related vibes. Leaning on the native feel, the girl in the video wears minimal clothing resembling native wear with the colors and feathers. The vocals of Andersson resemble the tones of Native American or tribal music. In the painting, the portrayal of the girls is nude and simple, while lying on a blanket resembling a native design. The revealed naked body is a simple connection to being one with nature, “This composition is simple but very direct and brings you in with its color and detail and the fancifulness of some of the images.” States Lisa Messinger about the painting (Gingrich).  The analysis by the museum creator could easily be used to describe the video as well as the painting. The simplicity of the environment in both pieces allows one to focus on the underlying meaning without much unwanted distractions.
In the song as well as the painting, the connection of the cultural appeal exemplifies the theme “being one with nature.” In the Fever Ray video, the right side of the girls face is painted with white paint while a black eye is drawn on her left palm. The eye is a symbol of all knowing in the Native American culture; in this case it might represent the idea that one has to be all knowing in order to have a stronger connection with nature. In the song she talks about being one with nature, escaping and re-connecting with the earth. She sings, “When I grow up, I want to live near the sea. 
Crab claws and bottles of rum
. That’s what I’ll have staring at the seashell. 
Waiting for it to embrace me.” In the video such energy is achieved by the unnatural effects of the pool, as if the pool was acting more as a lake or an ocean. The foggy appearance as well as the darkness surround the atmosphere in the last minute of the video, secluding the domestic environment into something completely unknown and mystifying like the earth itself. In “The Lady of the Lake,” the language of nature is literally represented through the drawn environment. The girl secluded in a natural habitat by the water, surrounded by the mountain range and trees.
As the atmosphere and the lyrics drown us in the video, the vibrant paint and simple childish appeal drowns us in the painting. An artist can originate independently in the style of their work. The most intriguing is the kind of eccentricity an individual can real out from their thinking into an art form. The art form leads viewers on a search for symbolism, leading to discoveries others might never notice. From an ambient Swedish singer to an African-American painter, the world is filled with stimulating art filled with priceless originality.

Works Cited

Cornel, West. "Horace Pippin's Challenge to Art Criticism." Race-ing Art History: Critical Readings in Race and Art History (202): 321-29. ARTbibliographies Modern. Web. 6 Nov. 2010. The source is found on a database called ARTbibliographies Modern at the Claire T Carney Library. The source is a critical look at Horace Pippin and his artwork. The author of the journal entry outlines Pippin's traits in his artwork. The source is somewhat helpful; I didn't use much information from it in my essay.
Evers, Derek. "The Mystery Of Fever Ray: An Interview With Karin Dreijer Andersson." The FADER. The Tripwire, 3 Feb. 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2010. This is source is found on The Fader, a website with articles and information on music and art. The source provides a background of Andersson with many details focusing on how she grew up and what she had been doing. The background information is a good source for the meaning of her songs. Following the background is an interesting interview by Derek Evers. The questions asked give an insight to the mystifying character of Andersson's music and her choice of genre. This source is one of the most helpful I have found, reading words that came out of the artists is the most personal source which can be accounted for most accurate.
Gingrich, Jane. "Lady of the Lake by Horace Pippin- Modern Art." The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: N.p.1982. Web. 5 Nov. 2010. The source is found on The Metropolitan Museum of Art web site. The painting "Lady of The Water" is located at the museum, therefore the source is very in formative. It provides the basic background about the artist as well as the focus and reason for the painting. I would recommend this source to anyone, it is easy to access as well as read through. Every piece of information provided is useful.
Karen, Wilkin. "The Naive & the Modern: Horace Pippin & Jacob Lawrence." New Criterion 13.7 (1995): 33-38. Art Index. Web. 6 Nov. 2010. I found this journal source on the Claire T. Carney Library research site, the database is called Art Index. The journal article provides information about Horace Pippin's naive art style, which is a major part of his artistic qualities. The focus is on the style and theme of his work which is a big part when analyzing artwork. The source had parts that were helpful as well as a lot of useless information, forcing a lot of skimming through the writing.
Ohanesian, Liz. "Five Reasons Why Karin Dreijer Andersson Is Our Pop Diva - Los Angeles Music - West Coast Sound." The LA Weekly. N.p., 2 Feb. 2010. Web. 19 Nov. 2010. The article is found on La Weekly website, and it is a current insight to Andersson. The Source provides very current attention to Fever Ray and her music. In the article, comparisons are made between Fever Ray and other artists today. Her style and creative manner is admired. The source is somewhat helpful, it is mostly opinionated not factual based.
Yates, Steve. "Fever Ray- Biography." Fever Ray. N.p., 2009. Web. 5 Nov. 2010. The information is found on the original Fever Ray website. The biography provided gives great information on Fever Ray's life and how she became such an influential artist. It talks about her music and the road to her solo album. Other parts of the website are useful as well, there are links to current news about her, tour dates, and links to her music.

The Ghost Hunters

Since the beginning of the semester television hasn’t caught much of my attention. Today, first day back at on break I realized maybe it is a good thing TV lost most my interest. Stumbling through the channels on TV, I did not find anything worth watching for more than five minutes. I finally begin to watch Ghost Hunters on the Syfy channel, mostly for the wrong reasons. A few people I know take that show seriously. Even though it was my first time watching it I could not help but laugh at the cast members and what came out of their mouths. The episode took place at the Norwich Sate Hospital. As a fan of horror and ghost stories, it thought to myself this could be quite the entertainment since the abandoned hospital building is believed to be haunted. The show Ghost Hunters quickly turned this eerie place into a humorous showing.           
            The Norwich State Hospital was opened in 1904 in Norwich, Connecticut in an isolated space looking over the Thames River. The hospital remained opened until the late 1990s; today the entire building remains abandoned.  The hospital was a mental health facility for the mentally ill as well as those sentenced guilty by law due to insanity.  The hospital started off with one single building, over the years expanding into numerous facilities. Most the facilities are connected by underground tunnels, which were used to transport the patients from one place to another. Many believe those tunnels were also used to torture patients who became uncontrollable. The place was reported haunted by members of the staff. They believe the reason for haunting is due to the speculated tortures.
            The Ghost Hunters team consisted of four main members and the camera crew. At the beginning of their arrival to the abandoned hospital they took time setting up cameras and voice recording systems in different facilities and underground tunnels. The show consisted of a good twenty minutes of exploration of the empty buildings by two teams. One team was two men, the other two women. In my opinion, the team of the two young women is set for entertainment as well as their attractive appearance. As both teams explored the dark hallways and room, the scenery and commentary seemed very repetitive without much expected excitement. The supposed sightings of figures and recordings the “moaning, footsteps, and crying voices,” never were showed to the viewer, only talked about by the cast. As I found myself following the episode, the two women with done up hair and dressed as if they did not belong in such an environment searched for unfamiliar presences. “Are you lonely, is there anywhere you would like to go, we have a car upfront. You’re not in trouble. You don’t have to be afraid of us. We are not nurses or doctors,” said one of the women trying to talk to the ghosts. At that point, I could nor help but laugh at the words that came out of her mouth.
            I’m not much of a critique, but I think television has reached a point of no turn around. As millions of people follow the ridiculous airings on TV, there is no possible way changing the networks. It is the most ridiculous reality shows or the “make-belief” dramatic series that catch the viewer’s attention while making the producers billons of dollars. I can’t imagine what the shows will entail in a few years, as only a few intelligent and worth watching shows are still intact at the moment.  

Monday, November 8, 2010

The New Freedom of Sound

            Today’s musical culture is ignited by new sounds. The European electronic influence is even touching the base with the artists on top of the charts in U.S. As the new era of dub-step and techno flows through us, DJs rise to the top as they combine extreme sounds with influential songs to produce an impactful sound daze. The thirty-two year old Lorin Ashton from San Francisco California introduced his creative intellect and love for music long before the popular era of dub-fluential and techno music. Starting of surrounded by underground music in his teenage year, he quickly learned how to move on to the top. Going by the name Bassnectar, his creation of the nineties, the freeform electronic artist began his journey as an influential DJ and producer.


            Bassnectar describes his music as "A free-form project that merges music, art, new media, social involvement, and community values; dedicated to a constantly evolving ethos of collaborative creation, self reinvention, and boundary-pushing experimentation."  One of his mixes takes on the ambient style of Fever Ray in her song “When I Grow Up.” The mix begins with a low beat bass, which sets up the structure of the song. Not many people realize that the first beat is always the most outstanding; to me it becomes the constant part of the song distinguishable amongst all others.  Following right after is a “wobble” bass, which tends to be used by many dustep musicians. The sounds start of in intervals, what come in layers that add on to create the song. I noticed that once the beat comes in, it plays throughout the whole song, in this case until the drop in the beat comes in the end.  The sound drowns you me in with the soft clapping in the background. In reality the sound appears to be too distant to distinguish without the distractions of other beats. The artist makes the addition of whistling, this sound reaches out to catch the final attention of the listener. This reminds me of something a long the lines of tribal sounds. As one sound adds on top of another, Ashton’s flawless manner of creating strange sounds appeal in an ear catching harmony. His way of speaking is in the beat; he creates the rise of emotion within us.
The songs are impossible to describe, as the sound takes on a new meaning to each and different listener. The artist makes us decide on our own. Because whatever we really think about the song, we will always merely question what Ashton thought or meant to create through it. Where lies the purpose of that artist to build up such an emotional effect in the song? Maybe the purpose is to embrace each and every sound as it first appears in the song, to allow the listeners to drown in the song as they wait till the song builds up to the climax.  Or is it to allow the listener to acknowledge how Bassnectar actually came up with the over all song, as in some kind of blueprint. Perhaps it is his master plan to create a constant, a beat that just sticks in our minds automatically. Once the beat sticks in our memory, we will always reach out to listen to such song again in order to feed what our memory craves.
As if the complete adoration to Bassnectar’s technological mix wasn’t enough, he brings in the unexpected. Vocals that seems, as they shouldn’t belong in the collaboration are added to the mix. Bassnectar explores the basic beats of the song as well as the artist’s vocals in “When I Grow Up” by Fever Ray. The song is from her first album as a solo artist back in 2009. She strays away from just allowing the lyrics to take on all the meaning.  The Swedish native places the influence of the song in her tones, which can be seen throughout her whole album. “I already know what my own voice sounds like, so I think it’s much more interesting to treat it as an instrument and treat it the same way I treat other instruments. But with the vocals I cannot only change the pitch, but the gender,” said Karin Dreijer Andersson, the lead of Fever Ray. Her vocals both shrill and deep bring pitch shifting, as well as distorted tones lead to an ambient and experimental feel to the music. In simpler words, even the artists that Bassnectar chooses to collaborate with are flawless examples of intuitive and unheard of manner of tone. He takes on the mainstream ideal of the song, but creates an uncorking of the piece of music. This not only adds energy to such song, but also creates a mass appeal that drowns many in the intoxicating sound.
My iPod is filled to the brim with music from many eras, cultures, and genres. Even after exploring Bassnectar’s music with more attention to the sound, it is hard for me to describe him in a distinctive way. From day to day, I hear music that can simply be generalized as “country” or “rap” or “pop.” Bassnectar does not achieve his music in a single solution, but rather uses multiple techniques of composition to create his collaborations. The sudden shifts in the meters, as well as speeds of electronic tempo make up the composers music. The new sounds bring me a sense of a new perspective. With new perspectives come new ideas, followed by outburst of my creativity. I advise anyone who is not afraid of the thumb of the bass and inorganic sounds to listen to what Bassnectar calls, "an amalgamation of every sound I've ever heard, mixed with ultra wicked basslines."

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Robert Mapplethorpe and His Photography

           Robert Mapplethorpe was born in New York in 1946 where his fame began. He began his studies at Pratt institute concentrating on graphic arts. His path as a graphic artist quickly came to an end as he dropped out of school without finishing his degree. After working as a fine artist for many years, his interests took a sudden turn as he developed an interest for photography. His unbelievable sense for photography seems as if it was a natural part of his everyday life.  In the mid-1970s he was edged on by many to pursue photography. Robert began his career by taking numerous photos of his friends, acquaintances, and other artists. His aesthetic took a bit of a change in the 1980s as he began to focus his photography on statuesque male and female nudes, as well as portraits of other artists and celebrities. Taking on his proud sense of homosexuality he took many chances with his artwork. His photography yet classical and stylish, it portrayed explicit homoerotic themes which both led to his fame as well as general controversy at the time. Before he passed away in 1989 he helped found the Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation. The foundation to this day helps promote his work throughout the world, as well as donates millions of dollars in the fight against AIDS and HIV infection.
            Mapplethorpe concentrated a lot of time on self-portraits to convey his messages to the public. The two photographs below are a strong example of his work. By placing the two self-portraits next to each other, the striking difference is exemplified to the viewer. At a sudden glimpse, the photographs clearly portray Robert. When paying closer attention to the detail in the pictures, there is more to them than just a common self-image. The photograph on the left portrays Robert, as the common person would call “masculine and tough.” The leather jacket, messy hair, the cigarette, and the powerful gaze give the photograph a common assumption of masculinity. In contrast, the photograph on the right has a subtle and soft appeal and generally seen as “feminine.” His hair is softly curled, eyes wide open with mascara, and the tops half of his body is bare.
             Through the two self-portraits Robert allows the viewer to see how subtle differences can portray a completely different image to the viewer. The two portraits are exceptionally prominent.  The direct eye contact is used to connect on an even tighter note with the viewer, and make us believe we know more about Robert than we actually do. The use of black and white creates a magnificent contrast between the lights and dark tints. The contrast depicts the images on a superior level while avoiding all the distractions color would bring. The background of the photographs is bare. Such a choice of background shows that Mapplethorpe wanted to mainly focus on the subject, in this case he is his own subject. The lighting in the left photo is dominating, giving it a striking look. The choice on the right is subtle lighting, making the photograph look soft and less defined.
In my opinion, though these two contrasting pieces Mapplethorpe strives to portray how just subtle differences in a masculine look can strive the people’s common assumption of feminine look or homosexuality in a man. I believe though these two photographs Robert wants to prove that just through minor changes people can perceive him as, either the “tough guy” on the left to the “soft feminine guy” on the right in just a matter of seconds. His example shows how people can be quick to judge and treat another just by their outer appearance. Paying close attention to detail, I believe Robert knew that the contrasting images would leave the impact he wanted to achieve. As an artist myself, the portrayal of the outgoing message in my artwork tends to become difficult. A photograph is such a simple idea, yet not many can achieve what they want through a simple photograph as well as Robert Mapplethorpe did though out his life. To this day Mapplethorpe remains a very important part of the world of contemporary photography.

 Mapplethorpe's  work...


Monday, October 18, 2010

By The Shore

Nature, the idea is so simple yet so complex. A part of life that is not easily replaceable. For myself nature is a getaway, a seldom run to freedom. A way to run away from the busy and complicated lives we live. There is no other feeling than being surrounded by unknown scenery, when nothing man-made is visible in the distance. As Thoreau said, “I wish to speak a word for Nature, for absolute freedom and wildness, as contrasted with a freedom and culture merely civil,--to regard man as an inhabitant, or a part and parcel of Nature, rather than a member of society.” Being secluded in a natural environment gives me a sense of solitude, rather than being a part of the human civilization as a whole. It appears to me that nothing from the outside world could possibly take away my thoughts or feelings at that given moment. When the fresh air fills up my lungs while surrounded by the sound of nature; my inner-self awakens.

September 25, 2010
As the warm mid-afternoon breeze strikes my body, I know it feels much different than earlier this month. The breeze occurs as a refreshing sensation rather than a burst of unwanted humid air. The transition from summer to autumn is simply stated in a small gust of wind bouncing off the water. Even though not yet in my sight, the water feels closer as my feet slowly dig into the sand with every step I take. The sand dunes surrounding my line of vision make the sensation of approaching the ocean even more of a pleasant surprise. The dunes vine up and down, like a line of humps resembling the Lockness monster, but in a lake filled with sand rather than water. The dunes are mostly irregularly shaped rather than taking on the perfect curves. The irregularity adds to the environment, making it seem more wild and secluded. Tall sea grass is overgrowing the slumping sides of the dunes. Some places appear greener than others depending on how dense the vegetation grows. The tips shimmer in the radiant sun, not a single cloud in sight. All the grass seems to sway in such a contained harmony. Every time the breeze tickles the sides of the flexible grass, it sways in a directed way. It appears as if the other vegetation follows the leader and sways uniformly with its neighboring grass.
Between the swaying greens appear lighter areas. From the distance, long curved lines are seen in front of my eyes. It looks as if someone took a giant pen and scribbled a sand colored line. Closer to my eyesight the scribble does not appear so out of the ordinary, but only as a man made path stretching all the way down the strip of dunes. As my feet begin to reach the top of the collapsing dune, the sensation of the ocean fells overpowering. A light smell of salt tickles my nostrils as the breeze begins to pick up at the top of the dune. This is my first time climbing over a dune, maybe not the first but I could not recall a different window in time where I had experienced such interesting wild scenery just to reach the shore. From past memories I could remember the beaches usually having parking lots and wooden paths made right into the beach. This time the expectations are lost in the breeze, what lays beyond the overgrown sand dunes appears as a mere vision of imagination and unknown. Finally the last step to the peak, nearing the top of the sand dune the view of the horizon slowly begins to come into my sight.
The reflection of the bright sun bounces off the pale waves and the seemingly endless body of water stings my eyes. Not one cloud is visible in the sky and the sun is as bright as ever spreading its rays over every part of the beach. The sun does not strike as resiliently as it did the last time I went to the beach. Just a few weeks went by since my last time here, but the difference is so signifying. The sand gleaming in the sun spreads into the distance as the water bounces around with a few waves here and there. Some spots on the surface of the water appear brighter than others in the beaming bright rays coming from above. This could easily be one of the last few days that will be enjoyed here, well at least for the next few upcoming months of cold and rainy weather. The warm environment brings together for one of the last times the last few, who tend to keep on to summer before the fall and winter months bring on entirely new color scheme and feel to the beach.

“The least movement is of importance to all nature. 

The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.”

-Blaise Pascal

October 2, 2010
On my second adventure the timing of my visit is dramatic in its appearance. I approach the dunes in the same sense of style that I had the first time. This time the travel through the dunes is a quicker adventure. The surrounding environment from a quick glance is similar to before. Rather than being vibrantly bright from the mid-day rays it seems mellowed out by the warmer tones of the late afternoon sky. The tips of the tall grass are in shades of oranges. My eyes actually feel open, not making a narrow slit while trying to squint from the bright sun. The sun is not even visible in the sky until I have the entire beach in sight. The glow of the sun is quite warm and welcoming. It guides my eyes and body closer and closer to the shore of the water. Even though the sun feels so close by, it lays far away in the distance.
The motion of the sun descending down below the horizon line appears fast, and within seconds the sun completely disappears. Gone as if though the cold water swallowed it all in one huge gulp. Now that the sun is no longer a distraction to the eye, what seemed as a bright sky before now is a welcoming array of warm electrifying colors. Near the dark horizon line lays a thin strip of purple, followed right above with an orange one. The separation between the purple and the orange is clearly defined, but after the orange tone the sky just disperses into a mellow tone of light yellow.
I spin my body around; the sky in the opposite direction is a beautiful deep blue. The two opposing sides, orange and blue, are like complimentary colors fighting to win the sky over. In the distance only a dark outline of the lifeguard chair is visible against the bright orange sky. The chair, now empty, seems more as a mere flat black line drawing than a real wooden construction. This moment on the beach means so much more to me than the first. This time, only a few passer-bys came by once in a while rather than settlers setting up permanent sites for the day on the beach. I cannot explain the amount of relief that just this quick trip to the shore brings about. With every salty deep breath through my nose a pound of stress seems to flow away with the ocean tide. The rebellion of freedom is quite possible being surrounded by such a refreshing environment.

The mystery of the beginning of all things 
is insoluble by us; 
and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.
- Charles Darwin

October 5, 2010
A day like no other recent days, one I can easily call a gloom fest. Chilly weather, rain on and off, a time to take out the rain jacket. If I hadn't explored the Horseneck shore a few times before today, I would find myself lost in the drizzly fog. The surrounding environment tends to look quite repetitive whichever direction my eyes gaze. Who finds themselves on a beach on such a disliked day, the answer to that is quite obvious; not many. The feeling of loneliness like no other, but it wasn’t a loneliness that you want to override. It is an appreciated sense of loneliness. A time for myself to feel what I want to feel, and think what I want to think, while avoiding any disruption or hesitation. There is no second-guessing here. It’s just my body, my mind, and the stillness of the surrounding gray atmosphere.
The sun is nowhere to be seen today, just a bare sky of light gray, looking as a blank canvas waiting to be painted. Perhaps waiting to be painted deep blue to bring back the beautiful dome covering the planet. There is no warm breeze, just a freezing one that leaves nothing but a bunch of goose bumps every time it dances by. This is not the conceptual view of the beach. Maybe it’s a good thing going places at unexpected times. The beauty of the beach now takes on a surprising new turn. At this instant the sun and the sky are not the main focus of my eye, the other feelings in my body feel more intact. I move my toes throughout the sand; the texture feels smoother than before. The amount of sand on the beach seems endless under my toes. The water line blends in with the beach. The grayness takes over the whole environment. The ocean water is uneasy as it splashes in every direction in the distance. Even when the small splashes reach my body they send shivers from my toes up to my spine. Some water manages to bounce in a certain way off my leg and lands on my lips. The slight taste of salt reminds me of those endless summer days when I was younger. Days spent constantly splashing around in the water, while sometimes getting an unwanted gulp of the salty ocean. The breeze coming from the direction of the cooling water hits my body forcefully, as to notify that the cold dusk is nearing. 

“My life is like a stroll on the beach...
as near to the edge as I can go.”


Butler, Judy. Oats and Fences. Digital image. Naturalistic Journal: Down The Nature Trail. 28 June 2009. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

By the Shore, Horseneck Beach. Personal photograph by author. 2010.

Darwin, Charles. "Darwin Online: Introduction to Darwin's Personal 'Journal' (1809-1881). CUL-DAR158.1-76." The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. Jan. 2006. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.

Pascal, Blaise. "Nature Quotes, Famous Nature Quotes, Nature Sayings Quotations Verses." Famous Quotes, Famous Quotations & Sayings, Great Quotes. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.

Thoreau, Henry David. "Walking." Great Literature Online. 1997-2010. Web. 14 Oct. 2010.

Unknown. Beyond the Books. Photograph. Dartmouth. Connect. Web. 15 Oct. 2010.