September 19, 2007

Rape of the Wall

A few days back, we discussed rape and abduction as an iconographic theme. The Greeks had much to say about it - we spoke of various examples in Classical art. Then, sir posited an absurd question - we were to think about what can be more absurd than the rape of a hand glove (a quasi-Christian example).

We, of course, all gave examples - rape of the sanitary napkin, rape of the phone, etc. I gave the example the rape of the wall - it contained both the elements of desperation and frustration so it was arguably an example of rape. Dr. Miroy said it was very Ateneo High School - apparently, there was a famous play there, Sinta, which was/had an excerpt from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. The wall was central there - in the myth of Pyranus and Thisbe (a story similar to Romeo and Juliet).

Pyranus and Thisbe, of course, propped up in discussion again - this time in Love and Death (Eros-Thanatos) as an Iconographic theme. It just strikes me as interesting how everything seems to be tied together.


My roommate said staring at blank spaces at the wall in front of you is good for studying and concentration. At tense situations, at crunch times and at hell weeks, we see this and this, then, is the Rape of the Wall. We take it on the blank space in front of us by staring at it.

September 9, 2007

Ideas and Images

After my proposal presentation with Dr. Miroy, we (or rather I) decided to take the project on Album Art of Christian Alternative Bands although I am thinking of extending the analysis to other Alternative Bands.

Sir, I think, found most of my proposals interesting - even I find everything interesting but his main problem with one (the one about the Iconography of the Machine) is that it sounded more like a philo paper than a fine arts paper. Probably because 1. I have this tendency to use lots of terms normally associated with philosophy, cultural studies and critical theory and 2. I listed, a priori, some of the issues/ideas that I think are being tackled by depictions of the Machine in Art and Popular Culture. The thing, of course, in our class was to start with the images and draw ideas from it (not the other way around - the way I thought about my philo paper).

And I guess it seems pretty natural for me to do so - to start with ideas and sort of look for images that will support it because I am, after all, under left-brain thinking and that most are versed in thinking at the realm of words and ideas, not at the realm of images and representations. It is making the transition that is hard - which is probably the reason why I should take this class more seriously, not that I am taking it lightly.

I chose this class as a free elective over Fil 105 - Teoryang Pampanitikan under Mr. J Salazar primarily because 1. the HEAVY reading list for the latter class and 2. I figured that I wanted to explore images rather than ideas this semester. I found the latter interesting and important but I probably took this class and not Fil 105 because I wanted to make the transition from ideas to images - not necessarily at the level of production but even at the level of comprehension and analysis.

Lets see me make that transition.

August 30, 2007

Project Ideas

The remainder of the semester for this class (Iconography) will probably be devoted to our usual procedure of going through iconographies and also to our individual projects. As it is a Fine Arts class, there is no restriction - it can be academic or creative. Still, I decided implicitly to just do an academic paper - it is what I do best, I think.

We are supposed to submit 3 proposals next Monday as to what we can do and, although none of these three have materialized yet, i have the following ideas:
  • On the Evolution of the Machine as an Icon: From the Industrial Revolution to the Transformers

  • The Role of Animals in the Iconographic History of Two World Wars

  • Comparative Study: The Influence of Christian Iconography in the Album Cover Art of Christian Alternative/Rock Bands (Switchfoot, Jars of Clay, etc.)

I like all three. On the first, I want to delve on the evolution of the idea of the machine/the robot/the automatic as an icon and as a central theme in modern art and popular culture. Of course, the machination/mechanization of our society was started during the Industrial Revolution but the face and depiction of the Machine is very different now. A side issue will be the idea of creation - how man has created machine and the ironic overturning of this human dominion by this creation. Plus, I get an excuse to filmfest through Transformers, Star Wars, AI, Millenium Man and all those movies.

The second was an idea since I wanted to do an Iconography of War Symbols. Of course, the animal has been something important since the advent of zoomorphism in Primitive Iconography. But much has changed and new meaning has been appropriated - I seek to ask the question: what are the roles of animals now, as symbols and icons, in a historical period of war and turmoil? Demands real research.

The last was just an idea that came to me while shuffling through my playlist - Switchfoot, a Christian alternative band, had album covers that had subliminal Christian themese in it. And I hoped to extend it to other Christian alternative/rock groups as well - and expand my playlist in the process.

Check out/challenge my last idea and look at these cover art...

I see Christian elements in the first and the second. The third is somewhat enigmatic but it can be argued nonetheless. So in as much as Switchfoot is a Christian alternative band with some Christian themese in their music, their album art also contains hint of their Christian influence.

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My other fall back ideas...

  • Iconography of the Lady of Guadalupe: An Intersection of Faith, Science and Art (based from Sir Pope's SOSE Exchange Talk)
  • Tracing Christian Influence in Communist Iconography and Symbology

Movie Posters

[Finally, a new post... After ages...]

We just discussed movie posters a while ago - how good they were as pictorial representations and how they themselves tell a story. We were asked to bring movie posters as a homework. Two of my classmates brought the following movie posters...
Miroy said this one was easy - childish even. The story can be gleaned directly from the picture - almost like arithmetic.
This one was a tad bit more sophisticated. Indeed, it was a rich pictorial representation - I was able to glean a lot of things even if I was not familiar with the story of the Notebook.

This one was what I planned on bringing. What do you think?

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Again, according to him - nothing here is for aesthetics - or even accidental, nothing in art is. Art is all about conveying meaning - it is communicative. Art is about power. Art is about money. Not just beauty but meaning and communication.

August 23, 2007

Trinity and the Deathly Hallows

Yesterday, in class, we discussed the various trinitarian icons from both eastern and western christendom. The aeternitas caught my attention (no photo from the net) - it showed God, the father, sitting with the sun behind him and in front of him is the trinitarian combination of the circle and triangle (triangle inside the circle). Of course, the other combination (circle inside the triangle) is also regarded as a trinitarian symbol.Lately, we also saw this in the last book of the Harry Potter, in the symbol for the deathly hallows.

Harry Potter, of course, draws largely from iconographic history - primitive, greek, christian and, even, eastern. As Dr. Miroy says, Art is never original. Never mind that Ricoeur will contest this idea.

July 25, 2007

Challenge of the Gods

Phoebus Apollo of Belvedere
Venus de Milo
Pallas Athena of Athens
Zeus, Ruler of the Gods

And so they challenge me... Humble student of the arts and sciences...

Still, reason shall prevail...

July 22, 2007

Faces and Deception

Just came across a BBC show called "How Art Made the World" and it was essentially pointing out one big idea we have been talking about in class - the power of images and art; that art was all about power.

The point forwarded by the show today was how images used to depict and exercise power over the people. The best example is how Alexander the Great, who created an empire as far reaching as the Roman Empire. He was, apparently, the first to use the image of the Face in money as an insistence/reminder of who was the ruler at that time. A template to be followed by future leaders and cultures.

Likewise, in early paintings and mosaics made of him, Alexander was always depicted as the face of youth, bravery and nobility. The power of the image is more prominent when it is juxtaposed with the image of the Persian king he defeated, depicted with a face of cowardice, corruption and fear. Given the two faces of military rulers, the emergence of Alexander not just as the victor but as the popular is not surprising because of the idea depicted by the image.

Of course, the Face has inspired more than artistic reflection and interpretation as our friend Emmanuel Levinas has had discourse on its philosophical significance.

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The second segment of the show highlighted a different idea - on the power exercised through images and art and how we can manipulate the minds of the people through art.

And for this, reference is made to Emperor Augustus of Rome. His depiction not just as a peaceful, just and benevolent ruler but as the emperor who will unify the conservative and the liberal sides of Rome was a powerful image constructed/reinforced in his famous statue below. The statue also appeals to the idea that he was the ruler that the Gods vested power on - testament to how the idea of the religious is still intimately connected to the political.

But, as the show told us, it was a deception - the image told a lie that the Romans fell for. He was not as benevolent as he was depicted - he fell into the trap of corruption (power corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely). This use of art served as a template for future political leaders who fell into same rut of solitary rule and absolute power - they all made use of images that may deceive/euphemize people. Of course, our own Marcoses come to mind with the propaganda of Bagong Lipunan (or lets go argue).