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.
Professor Aaron Hanlon opened his lecture with discussing the layout of Colby College. He touched on the fact that our school is broken up into categories. Each building has its own concentration and rarely does it stray from its specified area. Now being in my sophomore year, as friends have declared their major, I am finding this to be a very true statement. Last year, as a freshman, my friends and I would be walking all over campus for our classes, we were not confided to a single building. One day would start in Lovejoy and end in Arey while another day would start in Diamond and end in Miller. However now, as my friends have decided what interests they have chosen to pursue, they are confined to a single building for the majority of the day. My classmates who are majoring in economics will rarely cross paths with those are history majors or Spanish majors due to the layout of the school. It is for this reason that is it very easy to become isolated from those not in your daily path, in turn closing you off from those in your periphery.
This idea that Colby is very compartmentalized made me think of a statement Professor Aaron Hanlon said in regards to Francis Bacon. Hanlon stated that Bacon was the “Father of Empiricism,” a theory that all experiences is sense derives. While empiricism can be taken in a metaphorical sense, I think there is a metaphorical way in which empiricism can be viewed and applied to every day life, especially the life we live at Colby. While the literal sense of empiricism relies on the 5 major humans sense: sight, hearing, touch, taste, and sent, there is another interpretation. I think the idea of “senses” can be applied to once awareness at a place such as Colby. In our day-to-day life it is very easy to get wrapped up in our own tasks and activities and become unaware of those around us. Between classes, practices, office hours, clubs, and on campus jobs, Colby doesn’t give students the chance to slow down and realize everything that is happening around us. Therefore, we do not get to take full advantage of our senses; instead we only use the senses we feel we need to get by.
In addition we now are living in a world where people rarely rely on their natural instincts. Instead our society lets technology and social media dictate our actions. One of the best examples of this can be at a museum. Often times when one goes to a museum they are not looking directly at the art. Often times there is either a phone or a camera separating the viewer from the art. While a picture allows for one to view the art at a later time, it takes away from one of the main sense of sight. While museums are a prime example of a time in which our senses become compromised, there are many other examples. Such as live versus recorded music. Before “Itunes,” “Spotify,” “YouTube,” and other platforms music was a live experience. While it is easier to have instant access to songs, it takes away from the experience of hearing a performer live. However in today’s society, only listing to live music is an unrealistic idea.
While the idea of senses is often thoughts of as the major five human senses, there are different interpretations. Hanlon made it clear how we can take our sense for granted in our day to day life.