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Technology And/In/Through/ Art….and Vice Versa February 19, 2009

Posted by smike97k in communication, cyborgs, poetry, technology.
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The recent study of William Blake and print making in general has really got me thinking about the connections between technology and art.  Matthew Belmonte mentioned the ideas of science and art in his story “The Yellow Raincoat,” and the distinctions between what the two intend to do.  However, I want to look at the direct connection between the tools that technology has created, and their influence on the world of art.

 

To go far back into history, we could consider the stone as a form of technology.  The stone was a way of making paint from natural sources, like fruit and berries.  By crushing these sources, one was able to create a paint like substance, to then use in recording history.  The original pen was made with a feather, and the paintbrush, from animal hair, and still used today despite advancement in art technology.  All of these items could be considered forms of technology in the aid of art, going back thousands of years.  The question is are there some forms of art that are completely dependent on forms of technology, no matter how advanced they are?  Could one be considered a “cyborg” when using the then technology of a rock?

 

The printing press was key not only to the spreading of news in the first books and newspapers, but also in the art of print making, as made evident by William Blake and so many other’s work.  The press that we used in our own class was probably an older technology, but a technology none the less, as would never have been able to create such a clean print, with contrast of black and white, without it.

 

The computer, obviously, is one of the most powerful forms of technology today.  One form of art that the computer has had a great impact on is that of photography.  The computer and digital camera have made the storing and manipulating of photographs and unbelievably easy thing to do at its most basic level.  It has helped some artist create fascinating and surreal photos.  However, as a super amateur photographer, I was originally hesitant to go digital.  I loved the process of developing film and manipulating light onto negatives to create the effect of the photo that I wanted.  This brings up another question about technology in art.  Does technology affect art in a negative way?  Does it take away from artistic creation, which is not easy on any level?  I don’t know.  I’ve questioned these thoughts in my own creations. 

 

Technology and art can be seen to go hand in hand.  The creation of a lot of different forms of art becomes possible with the aid of technology, no matter how simple.  And if you want to go even further, we need art to create technology, in sketches and the building of machinery.  The two can be intertwined in many ways and have been since the beginning of human kind.

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Response to readings February 17, 2009

Posted by jr4024 in cyborgs, monstrosity, poetry, technology, writing.
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The readings for this week were from Evocative Objects. The first story was about a woman and her bracelet. She discussed that her jewelry box is set up into different sections based on properties and categories. For example, she had shells and stones in their own separate spaces. When I first read this, I automatically made a metaphor connecting with society and how we categorize and group different people based on similar stereotypes of identities and characteristics. In addition, within these different groups lies the same definition for each “member”. We can relate this labeling to societal notions about monsters/deviants and why they are placed in the “Other” group based on appearance and with no correlation to what is considered normal. Her bracelet also had a past, which can be linked to the history of what monsters look like and are supposed to “be”. If we consider ourselves cyborgs, then why does that not make us a monster?  

            The second reading was about a man and his yellow raincoat. I found this story very interesting because I immediately linked some of the author’s ideas to those of William Blake. In the story, the yellow raincoat symbolizes his protection from the outer world and creates a sort of barrier from which he created binaries. As we have read, Blake uses this system of binaries to contrast Songs and Experience. He states, “These conflicting denials of life and death are attached to the coat.” In addition to this binary, the author mentions: self and external world, rocks and people, playing an active and inactive role, and order and chaos. His binaries also tend to have a childhood vs. adulthood aspect to them because he analyzes his raincoat as an adult looking back on what it meant to him.

Blake vs. Cyborgs February 17, 2009

Posted by ml7142 in poetry, technology, writing.
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When discussing the two contrasting works o Blake, the Lamb and the Tyger, I started to question his reasoning in writing two songs that could share so much meaning yet be so blatently apart. The binaries of a lamb and the tyger are symbolistic of good and evil yet blake is obvious in noting as well as questioning how the lamb and the tyger are created from the same. From reading these two songs, I started to realize how the exact thing that Blake questions in these songs are represented in a cyborg or cybernetic organism. A cyborg is a combination of binaries that come together for its creation. Whether these may be human/machine, good/evil etc, the toery of being created by “man” is all the same. In Blake’s song’s the innocent lamb and the aggressive tyger theoretically share a creator. The case can then be made the same for human and cyborg. Technically speaking the human and the cyborg, regardless of how endless their differences can be, share the same creator; a “man”. Since the other topic about these opposing poems talked about was the prophecy and experience piece, I also found a correlation to a cyborg within this idea. A cyborg or cybernetic organism is built upon hte idea of a functioning human. The human being though it has various different stories for how it is created, has a religious connotation for being created as a prophetic organism meant to live and prosper. The cyborg then is much like the tyger in that often times it is an aggressive afterthought that is created or understood as something that is the afterthought of the lamb. This thought process kind of made me question my original point although I hope you can try and understand what it is exactly that I am trying to say.

Blake and the Active Cyborg February 3, 2009

Posted by animatingthecyborg in class, cyborgs, gender, monstrosity, poetry, race.
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Since the next two weeks of class are broken up with travel and printmaking workshops, I just wanted to take a moment to highlight the choreography of the course and how the lecture on Blake today figures into the foundation for the rest of the semester.

Two of the key questions guiding the course, which can be found on the syllabus, are:

  1. What counts as “authentic” human experience and what does it mean to be human?
  2. How is the cyborg narrative been shaped through visual culture?

Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience call into question dominant cultural values (the hegemony of society) by creating fissures in the strict binaries by which society is organized and structured. So, when we consider what counts as authentic human experience, notions of object, personhood and citizenship are destabilized in the matrix that makes up dominant culture in 18th century Britain.

Personhood and citizenship are particularly important here as the Songs act as a prophecy or beacon where the Other has no proper place in society—and while most of you are familiar with the concept of the Other, for those of you who are not familiar with this idea: the Other is a person or group of people who are marginalized or ostracized by the dominant culture. The Other, or “boundary being” (as the Other typically survives on the fringes of society) is usually alienated along gender, race and/or class lines.

Blake shines a light on the “authenticity” or validity of the dominant culture’s binaries by introducing characters such as the Lamb, who, in the Songs of Innocence, appears to be “buying into” the organization of culture and the marginalizing of people as Other. The lamb is a familiar figure to readers (both today and in the 18th/19th century), because of both its Biblical and agricultural uses. However, by Songs of Experience, the Lamb is transformed into the Tyger (although familiar to us today, it was a creature most people in England had never seen), and the Tyger is coded as a strange and monstrous figure.

By taking something familiar and non-threatening as the Lamb and transforming it into the Tyger, Blake demonstrates that the Other is a part of us: every Lamb has the possibility of breaking from the herd, or flock, and expressing its independence as a person and thinker, thereby morphing into a Tyger—sameness (as can be seen in the images of the flock of sheep—sameness can also be read as “Innocence”), then, is abandoned for individuality (or awareness—or “Experience”), a truly scary concept in the wake of the French Revolution and the civil unrest in Britain at the time.

Exploring the binaries that govern the Songs, as well as the fissures that are created within its matrix, we can gain a better sense of how the subject position of the Other (or “boundary being”) is a monstrous concept—which aligns it not only with other monsters, but highlights the theoretical underpinnings that shape current cultural narratives of the cyborg today.

Although we cannot replicate the same relief etching process invented by Blake (which I explained earlier in class), our first project is in the spirit of William Blake’s work. You can even reduce the act of physically engraving the linoleum blocks down to the kinds of binaries that govern different embodiments of cyborgs today: encoded/decoded, full/empty, subject/object, strange/familiar.

In a similar way the cyborg is a hybrid creature (cybernetic, yet organic; constructed and programmed, yet aware and desiring an identity), this class, too, is a hybrid. We’re combining critical theory and creative expression, examining different incarnations of the cyborg in visual culture along the way. It’s a complicated dance (it’s a 300 level course, after all). Right now, we’re merely learning the steps so we can move on to more complicated movements.

So hopefully this helps highlight the diagram of the dance steps.

Fuzzyness or Clarity? January 29, 2009

Posted by ml7142 in communication, poetry.
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After reading Songs I tried to grasp a deeper understanding of why this book was chosen for us to read. When I thought about it I realized that this book is a perfect symbol for what our class is about.  The technique of storytelling throughout this is very intriguing to me.  If you were to read the text by itself without knowing what the image that stands by it was, chances are you would conjure a vision in your mind of something different than that which is portrayed by the artist.  Most often when reading a novel or poetry, the fun or beauty of the read lies in the vision you create for yourself without a previous notion of what the text is “meant” to depict.  For example when you saw Harry Potter for the first time the sudden rush of excitement or dissapointment as the images flash on the screen from a text book you had already read can either be a great thing or a nightmare.  When you read a text and simultaneously view an image that is meant to further describe it, you are somewhat set up for interpretation.  Throughout this semester the goal of this course is to look into different forms of stories and decipher how media and art play their individual roles.  This book to me was a great example of how such a simple form of image making can bring ancient words to life adding a little something extra.