Sunday, December 14, 2008

Final Project: Photo Narrative

In my final project I did a photo narrative, inspired by two of Vermeer's paintings which I recreated through photography and photoshop adjustments and a few manipulations.

URLs to both paintings are posted below:

The Letter


Lady and Gentleman at the Virginals

Photo Narrative:

Image 1

final #1 with red scarf

Image 2

Final #2

Image 3

final #4

Image 4

Final real #4

Image 5

final #5 black filter

Image 6

final #6

Image 7

final #7


Image 1: This was the recreation of Vermeer's "The Letter" which functions as a catalyst for the narrative. Vermeer uses a lot of light and since the dorms and weather have both failed to give me a good natural light, I had to recreate most of it on the computer. However, I did try to add lighting to their faces by using a flashlight. In the male's face it turned out to be a bit extreme. On the computer I added a small adjustment of light, which is directed from the part of the room with the characters that the viewer cannot see. This is similar to how the lighting is in the painting and helps to recreate the contrast between the room where the viewer is and where the characters are interacting. I also used color balance to add more reds and yellows to the photograph because before there was too much green and blue, unlike in the painting where yellow dominates the scene. There was also a color balance done on the man's scarf in order to change its color to red. I did this because it makes more sense in the story if he receives the letter on a different day than when the woman arrives. The only way I could go back and change the character's appearance was through changing the color of his clothing.

Image 2: This photo needed minimal adjustments. I decided to leave all of my photos in the narrative in color because Vermeer's paintings, which I used two of, use a large amount of bright colors and light. I thought the feeling of the narrative would be strange if the two were the only ones with very bright coloring. Again, the dorms offered a strange lighting to my photograph that needed to be changed. I used color balance to add more yellow and a bit a red, in order to soften up the florescent white the walls had prior to the adjustment.

Image 3: I used color balance to add more yellow to the photograph. Then I selected the bottom area of the sheet, which was pink and had a brand name on it (which was not fitting to the fact that it was a male's room/house). I used curves to make a high contrast white, which I hoped would look similar enough to the comforter to blend in, and although not perfect it did make the image more believable.

Image 4: In this photograph I added warmth by using the color balance to enhance the reds and yellows that often add warmth to Vermeer's paintings.

Image 5: This photo is the recreation of Vermeer's "Lady and Gentleman at the Virginals" which served to further the plot between the two characters that are brought together by their musical talents. This photograph was very difficult to recreate and suffered a large amount of manipulations I am not sure helped the feel, but may have hurt it. I had to impose a mirror with the woman characters face in it, in order to recreate the main part of Vermeer's painting where the girl's face is looking at the male without her head being turned. This was very difficult for me to do and ended up looking slighting strange in the finished photograph. There is also a large amount of light in the painting since there is a window in which the sun is shining through. I had to use a lighting effect filter to add lighting to this photo, but I feel it was over exaggerated, and tried to minimize it's obtrusiveness without eliminating the light by adding a layer of black with the opacity of about 20. Under all of this the original image also had a reddish brown and a yellow filter added at around the opacity of 15 to change the over all color of the image.

Image 6: I used color balance in this photo as well to add warmth. The weather wasn't giving any warm colors from the sun because it happened to rain the day I did my photo shoot. Reds and yellows were enhanced.

Image 7: This photo ended up having a very high amount of reds in it. I felt it needed to be more neutralized and so I used color balance to reduce the reds, adding cyan and yellows.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Extra Credit: Phillip's Collection

The Sun and The Moon
by Elizabeth Murray


I discovered this piece at the Phillip's Collection, a short walk from Dupont Circle. When I first saw this painting, it caught my attention with its denotation of chaos. Within that chaos much is connoted about the world and the basic elements of life. The title helps to connote this idea as it names two opposites of the universe, yet two objects that simply cannot be separated. The sun and the moon are both essences of life, of existence. The artist, as I discovered, painted this piece upon her return from brain surgery and during her recovery period at home. After major surgery, life-changing surgery, living may be much different and one has to learn how to function again in basic form before anything more complex can be reintroduced into practice. This is connoted through the artist’s choice to place a human figure in the off-center of the painting that happens to appear re-stitched. The piece abstractly combines windows, which in tradition look outward to nature. The piece also includes clouds (the nature), which either are raining or are crying, or both, connoting the fear the artist had in tying to recover with no sense of where she may be going as well as to the idea of human’s primal instinct of survival. There are also what appear to be music notes, and music happens to be a way for many people to rejuvenate themselves and promote healing. The piece has obvious asymmetrical values, yet maintains an over all symmetry. This connotes the idea that though life may appear chaotic, confusing, and full of detours from the main path, there is still a path, still a place of balance and hopeful outlook. The artist happened to paint this while her brain was still learning to function again and that made the piece even more meaningful to me because not only does it connote those parts, but also the background story allows for those aspects to truly reflect the artist at time in her life where art was able to help her heal.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Ways of Seeing Essay

(Visit to the Hirshhorn’s exhibit Ways of Seeing)

1. James Rosenquist: The Light That Won't Fail I

The idea of Llight and Space Art and Conceptual Art were found in the two pieces I will talk about.
The first being James Rosenquist's The Light That Won't Fail I. When I first saw this painting it appeared much like that of a billboard: large with its own wall, much like a billboard that may have its own space in the skyline. The billboard aspect almost made it feel like an ad. It was fairly simple and bold because of the contrast the artist created by using minimal colors within green and gray scales. Within these colors he painted a collection of events that seem particular to the woman's everyday life style of whom the painting portrays. In half of the piece her face appears as she blows smoke from her noise. The moon she stares up at replaces one of her eyes. In the bottom right corner a hand holds a cigarette but appears to be a shadow against a green wall. Above this section it appears that the woman is putting on her stockings. Spanning the top of the piece a large comb is seemingly erasing the painting, as above the comb all is gray.
This painting gave the impression that these things were confining, inescapable. The woman's daily routine is represented as torture, and until she breaks away from it, there can be no purpose to her life. The piece first struck me with its inherently simple composition that begged questions of a more complex nature. At the end or the beginning (depending on which way one enters) of the exhibit there is a quote by Guiseppe Panza on his classification between Conceptual, Minimal, Light and Space, and Environmental Art. By his classifications I see this paint in particular as Conceptual. As Panza believes “philosophy had an image and became art. Art is the expression of ideas and emotions. Study of the relationship between the mind and what we do is art.” The philosophy of Rosenquist’s painting is that of an existentialist, the connotation of the piece. He reflects through his work the existentialist’s anti-system mindset. The comb is the symbol of the system and she must break from it. He shows that very relationship between what the woman does and what her mind is thinking. By the woman staring up at the moon the viewer has a sense of her confinement on earth and knows that her mind is distraught by it, while on the other hand the viewer sees her confinement in a routine that reflects her actions, the ones she has yet to change. The title is a statement that shows the woman will stay ordered just to make sure she doesn’t fail. She has not fully reached the level of an existentialist in her life. So just as the moon is on a cycle she too will continue on her cycle, the one that will not lead her to failure. Though in the sense of the existential, the cycle and the system of events in her life are her failures, and she is failing by continuing on with them.
It is relatable to Film and Media Arts as being similar to a narrative. Brushing hair is something people are expected to do every morning, just as putting on socks or stockings before putting on shoes is, and for some smoking a morning cigarette and exhaling the smoke. They are all a part of life, of its routine. Much of film and media art tell a story and contain some linear narration of events, so in this sense the painting can be reflective of the arts revolving around media and film.

The second piece was by Doug Wheeler, called Environmental Light Installation.
This installation was that of a large box or room, with a blue light enveloping the entire insides. There were many footprints on the floor that were spotted by the light, similar to that of a black light.
According to Panza, “Light and Space Art [would show] the light from the sun or from electricity [as] real, not an illusion. It is pure energy. It is matter, less material, existing in nature. One of the most beautiful entities we can see.” As the artist calls his piece “environmental” Panza has another opinion. “Our life is both inside and outside our body. Environmental art shows how this relationship works.” So according to this and in relation to media arts and film I envisioned the piece as the inside of a television.
The idea of being inside and outside the body made me evaluate the footprints on the floor. Why are they there? I came to conclude they represent the viewer’s want to be on the inside, viewed by those on the outside. The viewer wants to walk to where the light is coming from because of its beauty and so the footprints are ghosts of that reality. They are the everlasting presence of those who chose to go closer. The footprints remain ghosts because without the blue light the footprints might fade away from view, or simply not be as prevalent to the eye. The light shows the viewer new “Ways of Seeing” and initiates the viewer’s want to be perceived in a new way by others as well.
The fact that there is so little to view here, and so much space, leaves much to interpretation. There is some connotation that there may be many invisible, or semi-invisible aspects to life that people tend to over look. The light shows the possibility that it can be seen, can be recognized if looking for it. Is it on the inside or the outside of the body that these invisible aspects exists? That is a search individuals should do for ourselves. So that search may be the reason some viewers have chosen to enter the box, to get closer to the light. Could that search end up be overpowering, start to hold something over us? I found it incredibly hard to go near it, for I feared it would lose that power that it had managed to take ahold of in me. I liked the illusion of that environment. If Light and Space art is meant to defeat an illusion, prove it's reality, then the environment created by the light is the illusion and by nearing the light then the viewer can start to realize it's reality. I only now wish I had entered the box. By dirtying the floor with my own footprint I could have helped correct what is perceive as real and what is perceive as illusion.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Monday, November 3, 2008

Photo Narrative

The Day There was Only One Cherry Garcia Left

(In order from bottom to top of post.)

Response to Assignment:
This narrative intends to show a struggle between two people for the last Cherry Garcia ice cream. The ice cream is a symbol for their stress. With it, it goes away; without it, it doesn't go away. They are desperate for it. I tried to make the ice cream the brightest part of most of the photos. Sometimes I saturated the winning party or desaturated the loosing party. I struggled with the third image in my narrative and was unfortunately unable to retake it. The flash on the freezer door should never have happened, because I should have known while composing the photo that it would be reflected in the glass. I think my first two images have a Triad color scheme on the Cherry Garcia ice cream. I think having the rest of the image desaturated makes the ice cream stand out and represents the necessity of it over the other choices. It is after all representing something similar to an addiction to smoking. As a photographer I wanted to address the silent argument between the two people. I had a hard time getting my models not to smile. Though I like how in my final image of the narrative that the woman's facial expression shows her realization of how embarrassing the whole fight is and yet how much she still wants the ice cream. Here I had to choose between a final photo that showed both the two people's faces or only the woman's. I like the ambiguity of not knowing how the man feels. Since he was never the protagonist of the narrative, we never see a clear cut photograph of his face. I wanted the focus to be on the thought process of the girl. Maybe in that case I should never have shown the man's face at all?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Video Process

I filmed my linear narrative of an adaptation I made from the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson. I chose to shoot the video from the top of our campus's amphitheater. This was my master shot. It allowed me, really the camera, to focus on the stage at first not zoomed in on the people. This lets the viewer see all the people walking down the pathway one by one without the camera being only focused on the stage, with these characters simply appearing in the shot with no prologue. As the action rises, the camera begins to zoom in on the stage and denotes the urgency of situation caused by the paper that Cher has chose and holds within her hands. I like how my actors did in this shot. Zack grabs Cher's character to make sure she will not run away from her fate, they are framed in the camera in a medium close- up shot. I liked the struggle between Cher and Zack, how Cher's body wasn't completely seen as she moved around trying to escape. The issue was I think it would have been better to not zoom here and simply move the camera closer to the stage, therefor cutting to the action of struggle. The reason zoom did not work well here was when Katie enters and exits out of the frame, giving a rock to Zack, things start to look funny. I think the composition here was bad because of the angle of the camera being too high above the action I was filming and also because she was too much in the foreground, making even more close up on her than it had on Zack and Cher. I didn't think to change it until the week after we shot my video, and by then it was too late to reshoot the entire thing, which was the only way to fix it.
The ending of the narrative was just what I wanted. I like how the camera focuses on the stage but that the viewer can still see the pathway that Cher uses to escape behind the amphitheater. I like that Zack and Katie look back at the camera to see if anyone saw what has happened. Here there is the idea that the camera caught them, an inspiration from Blowup. My video obviously is more straight forward and denotes this from the beginning, lacking the slow disclosure I should have tried harder for. In blowup it is connoted through Michel's insisted obsession with every inch of the photo, and disclosed much slower, building a better thriller. I think it would have been interesting if I had done a tracking scene of Cher running away at the end, but that would have required too many camera moves. It is true that I did not use a cut; if I had used a cut it would have been because the ending would have been different. Katie and Zack would have chased after Cher and the scene would have cut to a rock flying through the air. I wish that in the beginning I had filmed a pile of rocks and then zoomed out from them, or cut from them to the camera watching the scene happening down on the stage, continuing from there.

I had never made a video before, and I was the first in my group to shoot. With this project I realized a lot of improvements I could have made after the fact, particularly in watching my group members shoot their videos. I think all I can say is, even if the video was not perfect, I learned a lot about how to improve it if I was to remake it, or ever shoot another video like this again.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Design Through Photo pt. 3 - The Design


To create this design I took three different images of the teddy bear and used them multiple times to denote the stages of falling. At first the bear is falling face down but turns to its back and then bends it's body as if desperate to find a way to stop the fall. I then had to change the color of the background from orange to orange-yellow by adjusting the color balance to add more yellow. Then I adjusted the bear's color by changing the cyan and blue and green aspects of the color balance to eliminate some of the red. This created a Split color scheme between blue-violet and yellow-orange. I chose the background pattern of this design because it could be connoted, from the fact that it is snake skin and the stuffed animal is a bear, perhaps the idea that even though (live) bears are dangerous and large in comparison to other animals, a snake's bite could still lead to a bear's downfall (although I do realize it is also ironic in the fact that teddy bears do not denote danger or largeness, but rather small and cuddliness). This composition is supposed to denote dominance and movement. Dominance is seen in the way that the bear is larger at the first stages of falling and becomes progressively tinier as it falls, denoting movement at the same time.


To create this design I used a complimentary color scheme of blue and orange. This composition denotes asymmetry in some areas, dominance between the large A and the multitude of other sized As, and rhythm in the fact that the idea of that spiral patter of movement is repeated. The two main designs I was going for in this composition were Asymmetry and Rhythm. I used an A and the snake skin because for me the A represents myself (Alex) and the snake skin represents how I am around people. A lot of times I am cold to the touch and it takes a while people to warm up to and visa versa. Snake skin is cold and connotes that, if the A represents me, my personality. I also tend to frighten people by being intense and I think snakes frighten people as well, before you've gotten to understand them. The fact that there is some dominance also seen in this composition also connotes that I like to dominate situations and leading other people to sometimes have to make me feel badly so I become a small A again, and a new person can dominate, or take control.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Assignment 3 pt. 2 The object

To be honest, photographing objects is strange and hard for me. I'm use to photographing people. So I tried to photograph objects with different lighting and from different angles but, knowing I would be assigned to manipulate a few of them to be placed on a different background, I must say I have neglected that aspect (background).

1. The Desk: Stacked Elements and Medium Close Up


I framed this cookie tin between a photograph and the internet wall plug. To light the cookie tin I shown a flash light at its lid and in the background had lighting from an open window shining into the room.


This same set up of the cookie tin was also photographed with only the natural light coming in through the window and I believe it is harder to tell that the cookie tin is the main focus, although this could be because it was taken from a slightly different angle than the other shot.

2. The Lecture Hall Chairs: Medium Long Shot


I framed the arm rest of the chairs between them and turned off my camera's flash. The overhead lights in the room lit up the arm rest but left the backs of the chairs dark. I like this shot because focuses on the row of arm rests instead of on the row of chairs as a normal shot of the chairs probably would.

3. Teddy Bear: Worm's Eye View


I left the blinds on the window open to let in light behind the stuffed animal and I think this adds to the dominence that is supposed to be felt by the worm's eye view framing in this shot. There is an added dominence also in the fact that the bear is starting to blur, which as something gets bigger and closer to our eye does not always stay in focus.

4. Teddy Bear: Bird's Eye View


I wish there had been more light shining on the front of this object, because it has turned out dark and almost like a silouette with the only light coming from the window behind. I like the position of the bear in this shot, as the bear seems to almost welcome the dominence of the camera over him, as if maybe he is waiting for a beloved child to pick him up.

Teddy Bear Extras

I simply like how the natural light fell on the bear in this photograph. I guess this would be a Long Shot since it shows the whole figure, although it is not taken a great distance away from the object.



I also like the lighting that was added to this shot by the natural sun coming from the window. The bear seems to be frammed by the book bags handle and a blue notebook.


I also experimented with the Extreme Long Shot as seen above. The bear was slightly out of focus as I pointed my camera toward the ground, showing the bear as something slightly too small and forgotten in a corner.


In a similar shot I used a beam of light that protrudes through two curtains behind me to try and frame the object and put a spot light on it. I then shot this same shot from a Bird's Eye View and received a harsh effect.


The I shot this photo below where the bear is not the focus of the light but the floor.


A similar shot gave the bear a shadow on one side because of a desk that was to the right as the light shone on the foreground.


This shot below was somewhat of a Medium Close Up from a Worm's Eye View. I like how the light is resting on his shoulder.


Overall I experimented more with how the natural light would hit the object than anything else. I wasn't sure how to reflect light or what to do it with. I know Krauss said to use colored, shiny papers, but I didn't know where to locate those from. The problem with the object I chose (the bear) for most of the shots was that is was hard to make it sit up straight, otherwise I probably would have taken it outside and experimented with the object in another setting.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Assignment 3: Background Library

(I don't know how to make this a link you can click on -- I understand how to do it... but when I set it up, it doesn't show up in the post.)

1. I like the texture of the ceiling because of how porous it looks.
2. Chose this one because the texture of this carpet is more interesting than normal carpet.
3. Although this carpet doesn't have much depth, it has several colors and reminds me of Autumn.
4. This is the inside of a jacket, but it got it blurred because the camera lense was too close.
5. Chose this because I like the design.
6. This had a nice texture, its busy but not contrasty enough to make you feel dizzy.
7. This had a busy pattern...and is very busy contrast wise.
8. Picked this because I love polaroids.
9. Liked the pattern.
10. Similar to the pattern above but this gives the depth of fabric.
11. Chose this because it sort of looks like sand when in reality its a blurry picture of a cork board.
12. I like the colors in this lamp shade.
13. Chose this because it gives the fabric depth as I positioned the camera downward as I look at my hamper.
14. Like the pattern of snake skin.
15. More bold pattern of snake skin, not as diverse as the one before.
16. This is a picture of a wall, it's a bad composition of the texture though because of the flash.
17. This is a picture of coffee, but it reminds me of fresh dirt.
18. This is a texture taken from a sweater.
19. This is the same texture as the one before in a different light.
20. This is patterned paper; thought the grid was nice.
21. This is a more desaturated picture capturing the texture of wood, without flash.
22. I liked the pleating of the fabric in this picture, but it's not perfect because it is blurry.
23. This is a blurry picture showing the pattern of plaid on a rain boot.
24. This captures the texture and depth of a towel.
25. A collection of everyday objects that can act as a background with tightly compacted into one space, similar to some examples Krause talked about.
26. This is a reflection off of tin.
27. This is a stack of bowls, up close and out of focus.
28. This is the texture of corduroy.
29. Similar to a texture at the beginning, but this one is more opaque, and from another object.
30. Woven texture.
31. I photographed this brick wall because I thought the chipping paint made a nice texture.
32. This is a weathered wooden door.
33. Wood chips.
34. Mossy bricks.
35. Stone wall.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Hirshhorn: The Cinema Effect

I’m not sure what it is about time that makes us anxious or distracted, but after a recent outing for hookah with some friends we decided that to take off the watches, to turn of our cell phones and avoid the time all together would make us that much more free and available to learning. So the next day when we all got up to attend the Cinema Effect at the Hirshhorn, and lazily wandered out the exit four and half hours later without even knowing a whole day had passed, the visit was just that much more worth it.

For me while visiting the museum it was hard to really dislike all aspects of any one of the films. I liked and disliked aspects of almost every film I watched. There were three though that stood out as my favorites:

1. Christian Jantowski – This I Played Tomorrow, 2003

This film was influenced by interviews with random people about what they would like to play in a film and if they thought cinema could offer salvation. Along side the actual movie played three small televisions containing the interviews. I liked that the film was shot in de-saturated tones, lacking vibrant colors which made the dialogue sit more heavy, made the mood more melancholy and in turn made the film seem to mean that much more about how we should learn to live our lives. What was interesting to me was that the interviews were shot of people outside of a bright orange building, contrasting as the only sense of vivid color to exist in the whole design. I liked the design of having the movie be reflected in the interviews that played along side it, believing it was starkly necessary, something I feel that without would have made the piece much less inspiring. The main film also had beautiful narrative and dialogue about life that I appreciated because it made me reconsider certain aspects of how I live my own.

2. Candice Breitz – Mother + Father, 2005

This film had a design that used 6 screens, each for one famous tv/cinema character of a mother or father. The characters had the backgrounds blacked out around them, making their reactions and movements that much more amusing because we don’t what causes them. In a way the artists almost made the characters able to interact with one and other. This was probably my favorite piece based on design and content. It was really well put together and interesting to see how all these different onscreen mothers and fathers have some type of similarity in the way they were filmed or required to act.

3. Isaac Julian – Fantome Creole, 2005

This film was designed to have four, floor to ceiling screens all next to one and other which displayed contrasting images of the barren earth in Africa and tundra in Scandinavia. There was a man in Africa who seemed to explore the ideas of African architecture, a woman from Africa who seemed to float between Africa and Scandinavia and three Eskimo type people who walked the tundra. The variation in images was beautiful and sometimes presented vast waterfalls, handfuls of ice, open dessert, and dusty highways of cars and bikes. The audio on this video was mesmerizing and had heavy bass. The room was very open as well which made the images seem to bleed off the screen and into the audience. I liked how small this film made me feel in comparison to it, in comparison to the rest of the world. I felt like the artist had completed a great feat making the film seem so much larger than it’s audience.


When it came to films that I disliked, again, I can’t say I really disliked any of them. All the films ideas were interesting to me, though there were things about them that I wasn’t sure I liked.

1. Omar Fast - Godville, 2005

This film focused on Colonial Williamsburg, interviewing a housewife, a militia man, and a slave. The artist set up two screens: on one side the projector had a slide show of images that presented the town to the audience and on the other side were his interviews. He spliced almost every other word the people said in their interviews to make them say what he wanted. I didn’t like this film because I’m not sure I agree with that, or even understand what he was trying to convey about these people by doing that, but none-the-less, it was actually interesting. The audio was so fluent, even with the incessant editing, that I had to appreciate the artist’s tediousness. Watching the interviews let you know that their words had been manipulated because you could see them changing with every cut, but if you happened to be sitting on the image projecting side (like I was at first) it fools the audience and you simply hear their voice, taking it as reality, when in fact it has been distorted. The more I write about this, the more I think that perhaps I actually like it, because it embodies the idea of realism that the exhibit was trying to convey.

2. Corinna Schnitt - Living a Beautiful Life, 2003

This piece was about interviews with 14 and 15 year olds in LA about what would constitute “a beautiful life” for them in the future. It was acted out by a man and a women in their 30’s, talking as if it was an interview about their real lives. The set up felt very staged though, and made me wonder if some of the things they said might not have been what the teenagers really said. The portrayals made it feel fake, not real. I would have liked to simply see the real interviews with the teenagers or maybe it would have been better with them being alongside the one film as in “This I Played Tomorrow”. I found it amusing that a 15-year-old boy would already be thinking about having a mistress every few months, even though he loves his wife.

3. Runa Islam – Tuin, 1998

This film showed how in another film the female and male character met, which was filmed in 360 degrees. In the center of the room there was a screen with both sides projecting the original film of them meeting. On the back wall two screens were placed and separated exactly in the middle by the original film, which as Krause talked about, centering your main object isn’t very interesting. The two screens on the back wall denote how the camera was on a circular track that moved around the two as they walked toward each other. I thought the scene in the original film was beautifully shot, but I didn’t think it was necessary to show us how it was created, because then it destroyed the mystique and the surreal qualities it held before(and yes I know the purpose of the exhibit was to make things real, but i liked it the way it was).