This Tuesday night, we had our last session of the Origins lecture theories – a poster presentation of the research projects that my Origins seminar has been working on for the whole semester. We also had students from the creative artist book class to present their works. It was a celebration of the intellectual growths that we gained from past lectures and a showcase of our own work on the theme of Origins.
This week was the final week of the course. All the students had to present their research that they were working on for the whole semester. During class, we had a pre-presentation to make sure all the students’ presentations were in good order. We were advised by professors and students on what needed to be altered so that the actual presentation goes smoothly. In the actual presentation time, we had three classes all from the STS Origins theme to present on their research projects.
The projects done for our class were vastly different from the projects done by the other classes. I had a chance to look at the artist book class projects. I met one presenter named Sage Bailin, who worked on photographs of sprinters. In his book, there were photographs of him sprinting from all different angles and sprinting positions. It was interesting to see how he was able to take all the photos from different positions from different angles. Sage also had many photographs of many professional athletes, one was the notable Usain Bolt. He had a photograph of Usain doing his famous celebration pose and as well as photographs of Usain while sprinting. The photographs he took were not ordinary photos; It is noticeable that the artist wanted the photos to capture specific different angles and positions of the subjects as well as capture and focus in on the main point of the photo. Another work was relatable to me and fascinating was a work done by Stephanie. Her book contained hand drawings portraits of her friends and family, but mostly K-Pop celebrities. K-Pop celebrities are a significant part of the contemporary culture in South Korea where I am from. K-pop celebrities are a main source of entertainment for not only South Korea but Southeast Asian and East Asian countries worldwide. I am personally not a fan of K-pop. However I got to know the celebrities through my relationships with my Korean friends who were avid fans, but also, I have made personal investments in the Korean record label/entertainment/management companies that manage these Korean celebrities. Many foreigners, don’t recognize South Korea, however through a positive association with k-pop has given South Korea and its culture a worldwide recognition. It is always a pleasure to meet K-pop fans because they are usually not only a fan of the music but also deeply aware of the Korean culture as well.
The presentation day went very well; most students were able to present their project concisely and directly. It was nice to be informed about such wide-ranging topics such as financial crises, bitcoin/currency, transgression/superheroes, academic scholarships, Kenyan tribes, Chinese/ Eastern medicine, a modern form of journalism, and ethnic migration. All these topics were related to the theme of origins or the theme of order versus chaos.
The course was truly inter-disciplinary since it had students who had different fields of expertise. The course had taught me to look at ideas and concepts from a broad perspective and incorporating other disciplines into research as well.
Stephano Colangelo came to lecture about origins of contemporary poetry. He first mentions before getting into the heart of the lecture that poetry is a study of literature that produces metaphors to understanding something new about topics. He also expanded that the origins of poetry and especially contemporary poetry is difficult to trace since poetry is abstract and defined it as a state of mind. He said he would use metaphors to understand different parts of contemporary poetry.
One of the more interesting ideas he discussed was Benedetto Croce’s quote that, “art is pure intuition or pure expression.” I believe this is true for all art. There is fluidity in this statement that art is a pure intuition. When someone hears, sees, smell, taste, or feel any art form it, is the person interpreting that is giving the meaning to the art form, and it is all based on intuition without the primordial form of knowledge. You can also see this from the perspective of the artist, where the artist doesn’t have any concepts, but has an intuition and uses his art as his or her way of expression. There are ideas and concepts of the art, but there is no primordial form, and this is what art is by Croce. Croce also believes poetry as art and this intuition might be the beginning trace of origins for contemporary poetry. I think you can connect the idea of order vs. chaos in this definition of art. When art is a pure expression or intuition it gives it order because expression and intuition there is some understanding and intention behind it, however, the lack of primordial knowledge is similar to the idea of chaos where there is no understanding of where, how, and why this intuition or expression came to be.
Another significant point discussed in the lecture is the notion of relating voice, poetry, language, and body. Colangelo mentions that the multilingual poet, Paul Celan, says “poetry is timeless, and poetry can be an empty space. It doesn’t always have to be fully understood; it can be just left empty.” These components of poetry are crucial to discover some evidence to origins of poetry. However, it is also the reason I think why finding origins of poetry difficult. If poetry is timeless than it becomes more challenging to pinpoint when poetry has started because any literature with verses can become poetry from any time, but also most origins share the same characteristics of being timeless, such as origins of the universe there is no definite time when the universe started. Leaving poetry vague and incomprehensible also shares similar characteristics with the origins of universe and art. We also don’t fully understand why the universe was created and trace the origins of art. It is challenging to find origins of universe and art. For art, it is mainly due to defining what qualifies as art that makes tracing origins of art difficult, and for origins of the universe, we are not technologically and scientifically able to trace our universe at the beginning of time.
We found ourselves outside of our usual lecture space surrounded by an eclectic collection of works. These works ranged from photographs and paintings to sculptures that you have to get up close to tell what they are. I found myself wondering, how does art, especially these pieces, connect to origins? Continue reading
On Tuesday we toured the Colby College Museum of Art looking at artworks that had connections to the theme of Origins. Our guide Shalini Le Gall first talked about the Origins of art, more specifically visual art, she mentions that it is difficult to determine a specific time of the origins of art since art includes not only drawings and paintings, but also objects. Le Gall notes that many of the collections in the museum were from Maine and predominantly American art. Since there are many types of art, Shalini Le Gall, mentions it might be easier to examine the origins of abstract art or Avant-garde art.
We were asked to walk around the museum and look at some artwork. The most alluring art piece to me was the artwork called the “Wall of Lamentation XIII” by Santiago Montoya. The aesthetic appeal to this artwork was in the carefully folded rows of multiple international currencies that was cased in a stainless steel frame. Le Gall mentions that the artist intention of the artwork was to display that money was the cause of the dictatorial regimes that occurred in the countries of the currencies. Nations like DPRK, Soviet Union, Vietnam, and Uzbekistan had or still has dictator regimes where people live in fear, starvation, and lack of necessities. She mentions the artist was trying to say that money was the root of all evil and unethical behaviors. Le Gall also makes a connection to how the artist is a hypocrite because the artist, himself, is trying to sell his art for financial gains meanwhile criticizing the unethical motivation behind money and the art market.
Although I agree with the statement that Montoya tries to make with his artwork, I think there is more meaning to the artwork than saying that money is the root of all evil. Montoya’s artwork also gives meaning to the global economy and the financial system today. The endless amounts of paper bills folded in rows deliver a sense of astonishment but also uneasiness. The artwork reflected how extensive and interconnected the economy is because of globalization. Today the foreign exchange market is the largest market regarding trading volume, and the forex market affects almost all countries’ economy. The foreign exchange market has been known to be the closest example of perfect competition, however, because of the few that holds control over these financial markets, which are usually large international banks, the financial system is also fragile. The collapse of the financial system is just as dangerous as, if not more, than autocratic regimes. One country’s economy collapses this will affect other countries’ economy as well because of the world’s globalized financial system. Unlike autocratic regimes, the problem does not only pertain to the citizens of that country, but the crash of the global economy will affect billions of people all over the world. Therefore, it is imperative as we become a more global society that we have the right regulations in place, appropriate entities and agents to administer these regulations, and innovative financial institutions to pave new ways.