Troy

•October 11, 2009 • 3 Comments

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The 2004 film Troy starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom, Brian Cox, Diane Kruger, and Sean Bean is one of my personal favorite movies. The epic/action film was directed by Wolfgang Petersen, and its cinematography was done by Paul Bond and Roger Pratt. Troy was first released on May 14, 2004 in the U.S., however it made most its profits outside of the U.S. The film is ranked as one of the most expensive films in modern cinema with an estimated production cost of 185 million dollars.

This epic movie is about the Trojan War and is based on Homer’s Illiad. The war between Greece and Troy starts because young Prince Paris of Troy (Orlando Bloom) has a love affair with Queen Helen of Sparta (Diane Kruger), and takes her with him back to Troy. King Menelaus of Sparta, infuriated with his wife’s disappearance, and his brother Agamemnon, use this as an excuse to invade and finally try to conquer Troy. Achilles (Brad Pitt), as one of the great immortal warriors of the time, is called by the Greek army to fight for Greece. Hector, Paris’s older brother, serves as the leader of the Trojan army, and leads his people to battle. In the end, Achilles kills Prince Hector, and is able lead the Greeks to victory by infiltrating the Trojan wall with the famous wooden Trojan horse. As a back story there is Achilles’ love story with Briseis, a member of the Trojan royal family he is holding captive. While the Greeks are destroying the city of Troy, Paris sees Achilles with Briseis and shoots an arrow at him hitting his legendary heel. After a few more arrows, the great Achilles dies.

I have always found Greek mythology very interesting, and I think this movie does a great job at bringing these ancient times back to life. Its amazing how the producers were able to reproduced every single detail and everything, even Troy, seem so real. I also love the superstition in the movie and the way the fate of every character is predestined based on honor, pride, and braveness. The love stories in the movie are very moving, and show completely different sides of the fierce characters. I think the film’s plot keeps you interested throughout the whole movie and in the end has a great epic ending. 

Here is a trailor of Troy:

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Business Card

•October 4, 2009 • 1 Comment

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I did my business card based on a vivid and exotic mood. The picture I used for the background combines a variety of vivid colors: red, bright green, and blue; all surrounded by a black that makes the colors stand out. The figures are originally peacock’s feathers in a painting. The undefined shapes can be associated with rareness of this exotic animal. The font used for my initials, RF, on the front of the business card communicates movement and energy. On the backside, I used the same color scheme and alternated the colors of the font. At the same time I tried to keep it simple to balance the rich and busy front side.

Newseum-Pulitzer Prize Gallery/Ethics Center

•September 26, 2009 • 1 Comment

 

Memorial Day- Anthony Suau 1984

Memorial Day- Anthony Suau 1984

 

Anthony Suau was awarded the 1984 Pulitzer prize in photography for his Memorial Day picture. The picture shows a woman hugging her diseased husband’s gravestone. This powerful image uses this single widow to represent the grief of thousands of people who lost their loved ones in the battlefield. “Memorial Day” and “Defending the Barricade” are very similar in the way they bring attention to their focus. Behind the widow, he gravestones emulate an army of men who once fought as passionately for a cause, as the crowd in “Defending the Barricade.” The army of men is a mass disappearing into the horizon, just like the gravestones fade in the background. There is a brave person in each of these pictures; however, one is in the height of her battle, while the other has perished. “Defending the Barricade” is teeming with action, as opposed to the peaceful and dormant scene portrayed in “Memorial Day.” The widows body language openly communicates her grief in a raw and transparent way. Also, the blurred background highlights the focus of the picture which is the woman and the gravestone she is hugging.

 

Famine Crisis in Sudan

Famine Crisis in Sudan

The Ethics Center at the Newseum gives its visitors the chance to make interesting ethnical decisions. Some of these decisions are really hard to make because the outcome of your decision will not only affect you, but it might have a drastic effect on many other people. The decision of whether to take the “Famine in Sudan” picture showing a helpless child trying to survive while a vulture is waiting to eat her, was heartbreaking. I agree with one of the journalist that pointed out how it is so much easier to talk about this situation, than to actually be in the spot of having to make this life-changing decision. On one hand, you want to help this child, but on the other hand you are told to keep away from this people because of dangerous diseases. Is it worth it to risk your own life, and the opportunity to show the world this horrible scenario? I agree with the journalist who said “Journalist have the obligation to let the public know what is going on,” but in a situation like this how can you not help this powerless child? This picture brought a lot mote attention and aid to the famine in Sudan, however for the photographer, taking the picture was as bad as not helping the child. Kevin Carter committed suicide months after taking this picture. 

 

Civil War

Civil War

I also made the decision of whether to stage a photograph like Brady did back in 1863 with his famous Civil War picture, or just take images of war as it is. I would simply take pictures of what the authentic battlefield looked like because these pictures would be more powerful in the sense that they would portray reality. I understand Brady’s reasons for staging the picture because he wanted to “glorify a scene” and technology back then was not suitable to take the best pictures he could take. Maybe back then, I would have staged a photograph just if there was no other way to show the public what was really happening in the war.  Nowadays, this would a very easy decision to make because new technology makes it possible for photographer to catch great live moments.

Pulitzer Image

•September 16, 2009 • 2 Comments

 

Oded Balilty, “Defending the Barricade”, 2007

Oded Balilty, “Defending the Barricade”, 2007

Oded Balilty, “Defending the Barricade”, 2007

            This moving photograph captures a woman in a heroic moment fighting a losing battle. Balilty uses the crowds of bystanders in the background to frame the image, and the onslaught of militia serve as leading lines to the focus the viewers attention on the woman defending the barricade. The rule of thirds is used in this phtotograph as the troops of black-clad soldiers, a seemingly unstoppable force, grow steadily larger directed toward the main focal point of the photograph which is the woman situated to the right of the photograph. These soldiers disappear in on the right side of the photo, giving the viewer a sense that the strength of their numbers is endless and inexhaustible force. Balilty also uses color as a main component to directing the viewer’s attention to the woman in defense. The white skirt she wears stands out against the sea of black, and almost acts as beacon of light reflecting off her attackers. The actual barricade resembles a fragile piece of glass, and mirrors the white in the woman’s skirt. The juxtaposition of the image is arresting—the left side of the photograph is darker, giving it a menacing feel, while the right side is brighter, with a clear and open skyline. In essence, the photograph resembles a dark wave reaching its’ peak, hovering, in this moment Balilty captured, over a defenseless woman as she so vigilantly guards in solitude what will momentarily, and inevitably be destroyed.

The historical and political context of this photograph can be attributed to the age-old turmoil between Israel and Palestine. The Israeli government ordered nine homes, which were built on private Palestinian land to be destroyed. This settlement, Amona, was located on the West Bank. Jewish settlers appealed to the Israeli Supreme Court to save their homes, which were eventually destroyed as seen in this upsetting photograph. The picture portrays one of the innumerable battles and conflicts between the Israelis and Palestinians.

The image was published in The Associated Press in 2007. Many people, even the photographer Oded Balilty, were impressed by the braveness of this woman who was trying to fight a crowed of armed policemen all by herself. Most people would not take that risk, but Nili felt driven by a greater for force she later recognized as “God” giving her the courage to stand up and fight. She was the one settler against the wave of police officers that is worth admiring. This image also impacts the viewer because it reflects the rough reality many people live daily. The uprising, the hate, the rage, and the violence are clearly encoded in this one image.

Benetton Group: Unconventional Advertising

•September 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

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Benetton’s advertising is without a doubt controversial, but at the same time it is original and successful. Many of its ad campaigns reflecting real social and political issues use beautiful images and pictures that cause a great impact on the viewer. My favorite campaigns were Toscani’s early ones portraying racial equality and world peace. I thought the pictures were very artistic and original, perfect to capture the public’s attention. I like Luciano Benetton’s unique idea of advertisement, and I think the whole idea of “communicating the company’s values” has really worked for Benetton. However, I believe its uniqueness is what makes it successful. I am not sure if Benetton’s technique and definition of advertisement would work for everyone.

Many of Benetton’s images have been banned from certain countries or forms of media because they have been considered cruel or offensive. I think Toscani uses magazines and billboards to show the world the reality they wish to avoid. He has come up with a very original way of advertisement that stands out of the bunch. They have managed to represent their brand in an unconventional way, which according to Oliviero Toscani, head of the advertising department, has been very profitable. On the other hand, it is also important for the company to show consumers what it is they sell. I knew beforehand that Benetton sold clothes, and this helped me enjoy the cleverness of its advertisement, but I am sure many people do not know what they sell.

Focus on a Work of ART

•September 13, 2009 • 1 Comment

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When I first saw the piece In the Infield was Patty Peccavi I was confused. The first part I saw of it was the metallic wall with hands holding crosses and stretching out of it. The image was creepy and I related it with death, torture, and suffering. Then I saw what was on the other side of the wall, which seemed to be a part of a dormitory.  The art piece includes so many different pieces that do not to match, but at the same time these pieces create the whole scenario of a woman on her bed, looking out the window.  The women sitting on the bed looks sad, and I felt she was trying to escape from something. The window, looking like a time traveling screen, appears to be her way out.

After doing some research and reading the didactic of the piece, I found that the artists of the piece, Edward Kienholz and Nancy Reddin Kienholz, were married. According to the Whitney Museum of American Art’s website, Edward Kienholz was an important post World War II American sculptor known for addressing social and political issues in his work (Springer). Some of the recurrent subjects in his artwork were religion, sexuality, war, and social inequality (Springer). In the Infield was Patty Peccavi is one of his life-size assemblages created with a variety of found materials.  The didactic of the piece in the museum explains that the artists intended to make a “statement about birth control” with it. The birth control pill’s timeline written on pbs.org says that the use of the pill was widely spread around the United States during the 1970’s and early 1980’s. Edward and Nancy Kienholz created this piece in 1981, which shows a possible reaction to the observed effects new birth control methods were having on women.

A possible interpretation of the baseball analogy Kienholz used in the sculpture’s title of Patty Peccavi being “infield” may suggest that if women use birth control methods, they do not have to worry about “playing the game properly,” or avoiding the potential “error” of pregnancy. The sculpture’s description also explains that the word Peccavi means “I have sinned” in Latin. This is where I see religion might play a part because religion is against any unnatural way of practicing birth control. The woman’s pensive and sad expression might express her concern for the sin committed by using contraceptives.

 

References:

Springer, Carrie. “Edward Kienholz.” (2009). Retrived from: http://www.whitney.org        

/www/collection/feat_kienholz.jsp

“Timeline: The Pill.” (2002). Retrieved from: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/pill/ 

timeline/timeline2.html

Visiting the Hirshhorn Museum

•September 13, 2009 • 2 Comments

The Art Museum as a Space

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Visiting the Hirshhorn Museum for the first time was a very interesting experience for me. As I was entering the museum, a group of approximately 25 people was exiting the building. Most of them were young adults in their twenties or thirties. I guess they were art students visiting the museum for a graduate class fieldtrip or something of that sort. As I made my way through the Strange Bodies exhibit, I saw adults of all ages. I imagine that the older couples were retired people with an appreciation for art. The younger adults might be teachers, artists, anthropologists, writers, or might have other jobs related to the arts. I could tell two of the women I saw were photographers because they were using professional cameras. Some people were in the museum alone, others were in couples, and just a few were walking around in larger groups. Some people just glanced at the didactics, others read them carefully and then examined the artwork. Most of the comments I could overhear from them were related to the art. One of the couples was giving each other’s opinion about an art piece, and discussing how “expressive” it was. There was also a father who walked around reading titles and artists for his daughter with disabilities.

From what I able to understand from the Berger reading, cultural mystification is the result of using assumptions about art while looking at a work of art. The world is constantly changing, and people’s tastes, ways of living, and what they believe to be “beautiful” also change. This is why using our contemporary assumptions about art today to analyze and appreciate modern art may create this mysticism, or a confusion of impression. The Hirshhorn displays modern and cotemporary artwork that can be mystified by obscuring people’s understanding of the real meaning behind the art. Some of the paintings I saw in the upper floors were created many years ago. Interpreting them now, would never be the same as the artist’s original meaning and interpretation.