Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Art of Data Visualization

Although personally for me, the actual definition of data visualization was not as clear as it could have been in this video, I did pull some important aspects from the clip.  For instance, data visualization is apparently a "history of science" due to the fact that analyzing and depicting difficult or incomprehensive versions of natural sciences or similar conditions as pictures has been going on since the time of the caveman.  Additionally, data visualization follows the same linear process of a "few basic principles" that an ordinary individual's mind would follow when looking at or constructing a work of art:

1. the artist's perception
2. the viewer's (reader's) perception; knowing that they will be different aside from the original artist's
3. the raw truth given from the work of art (data)

Simply put, data visualization is an effective method of gathering difficult or even conflicting information, and making it as straightforward as possible through pictures, graphs, and visuals alike.

Monday, February 6, 2017

"Uncertain Passages" Loyola Maryland Art Gallery Exhibit by Jay Gould

Last Thursday, I attended a gallery opening at the Julio Fine Arts Gallery for a local artist named Jay Gould.  His work focuses on the integration of scientific topics into projects of photography.  What was interesting about this artist was that he liked to expand upon the manipulation aspects of photography.  Most, if not all of his pieces focused on the after effects one can do with a photograph once it's taken.  Additionally, it was interesting to know that he had a fascination for physics and topics surrounding phenomena that can't be explained through the extensive collision of math and science.

Mirrors are Leaks-Jay Gould

As previously mentioned, a vast amount of Gould's work demonstrated his talents through what he could do with the picture after it had already been taken.  I was drawn to the pieces where you could tell that something was missing, it was actually quite obvious, but they also had the ability to leave you feeling uneasy or unsure about why these obvious pieces were missing.

Slipping-Jay Gould
Here are some additional pieces that caught my eye:

Aggregate-Jay Gould
Tidal Passage-Jay Gould

John Berger: Ways of Seeing, Episode 1

The impact from watching this video was quite monumental.  Although everything said made complete sense, I had never thought about the reproduction of original art in the way that it was discussed.

John Berger's opening statement about how the process of seeing paintings or seeing anything at all is less spontaneous and natural than we believe was interesting.  It made me think about how I usually see things, and normally, it's a very natural process for me; most of the time it's second nature and I don't think too deeply into it.  But the emphasis on how a large part of seeing is dependent upon habit and convention, along with the explanation of how perspective is key, made me think that some things (like seeing) we definitely take for granted.

The second installment about how the invention of the camera has changed how we see things and exactly what we see..well, that's common sense.  I believe the camera was invented not only to capture images we see fleetingly, or are unable to investigate in depth, but also to be able to manipulate those images either to our liking or not.  It makes sense that the camera has now added a new dimension between the viewer and the image procured.

Although John Berger attempted to point out the good and bad aspects of the creation of the camera in the face of ancient paintings and drawings, I honestly could only stick with the "bad" aspects.  These being that the originality of a painting is almost completely lost when a camera attempts to recreate and capture its essence.  But, this can also translate to the fact that meanings that arise from original paintings remain with the authentic image, and cannot be made mobile like the camera has done to the image itself.

Additionally, the final segment on surroundings and how they impact an individual's opinion on a painting was especially intriguing.  Surroundings can be anything that can alter one's perspective on a given image once they are placed, before, during, or even after you've viewed an image.  For instance, with music, if a certain tune or song is played simultaneously while viewing an image, it allows for different interpretations, feelings, and perspectives attached to that image at that given moment.  It's similar with what a person experiences or sees before or after the focal image is placed in front of them.  The example used in the show was the image Van Gogh painted before he committed suicide.  More often than not, the viewer would not know this information beforehand, and the only information shared about the image was its description.  People tend to look at things differently once they are told different types of details about what they are looking at.

In summary, it was interesting to learn that the invention of the camera not only made images mobile, but then created different meanings for the image captured other than its original one(s).  In other words, the reproduction of art makes the meaning of works ambiguous.

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Baltimore Museum of Art Visit

For our fourth session of the semester, the entire class was able to travel to the Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA) to observe and sketch different pieces.  The museum itself could have been seen as a work of art in the way that each collection was placed around the facility and how they were presented.  One thing I noticed when I walked in was that lighting is an essential part of displaying art.  I noticed that the lighting in the African Art Collection was a lot dimmer and less apparent than in the American Collection.  I almost felt this was counterintuitive because most of the art in the African Collection consisted of dark brown, if not black, face masks and black and white paintings that would need more light shed on them in order to see the detail of the pieces.  Whereas, most art in the American collection consisted of brightly colored sculptures, paintings, and figures that had at least twice as much lighting casted on them than other exhibits.  While I took most interest in sculptures and figurines, most, if not all, paintings had so much detail in them that it was quite possible to get lost in the works.  So I decided to share my interest in sculptures rather than paintings in this post.

The first piece of art I felt I could start with was something of a familiar and very rudimentary shape.  Sculpted by Kenyan-born artist Magdalene Odundo in 2010, an orange-ish colored ceramic piece caught my eye.

"Swelling like a pregnant woman's belly, the rounded form of this ceramic vessel calls to mind the female figure."
The description from this piece mentioned that its artist 'incorporates shapes from many ancient and modern traditions', and the work 'comments on how women's bodies are "shaped" by the aesthetic values of their societies.'

The second work of art came from BMA's American Collection.  A piece by Jacques Lipchitz that did not have a brief description citing its history or background.  Entitled Half-Standing Figure, the lack of explanation gives its observer more time to contemplate what it could have been.  

"Half-Standing Figure" by Jacques Lipchitz

The final piece of art I would like to make a point of appreciating is one I came across while taking the stairs to the Modern and Contemporary exhibits of the museum.  Another seemingly simplistic piece, but when lighting caught it a certain way, there were elements revealed that gave it much more depth and interest.

"Vertical Construction No. 1" by Naum Gabo

Quite honestly, I have no idea what this piece is supposed to be, if it is to be anything in particular at all.  It caught my attention because of its sleek and abstract attributes.  Yet after looking closely, the amount of detail on the piece is mind-blowing.  As its description lets on, it is made of copper alloy and steel spring wire.  The image on the left demonstrates its uncomplicated "first look" appearance that passersby would see without stopping to analyze, while the image on the right (with the help of more light exposure from the camera) exposes its "true" detail which would be revealed once the passerby stops and inspects the piece through and through.

Briefly, the description on the piece states that the figure's Russian-born American artist produced six versions of the work in varying dimensions and used 'highly finished metal surfaces' along with two different types of steel spring wire to 'create structurally complex abstract works that evoke a futuristic machine.'

I picked this piece as my favorite because I feel it is one of the most straightforward representations of the many faces and implications of art.  To me, this piece is pretty modern and I would love to have it displayed somewhere in my home because it would fit nicely with what's already there.  Yet, it also reminds me of one of our early class discussions about how people see art differently; you can literally see this piece of art at least two different ways just by changing your footing.  While it has a fairly basic shape, the pieces that make up this overarching figure hold a greater meaning than what can be seen just by walking past.

Lastly, here are some other pieces that caught my attention during our visit:

"Trustworthy-Masked Face" by Haegue Yang