Monday, December 7, 2009

Some art analysis

Note: Comparison co-written with my ex-bf Kyle

Pour le comité de l'exposition du musée O'Drsay( To the Exhibition committee of the museum O’Drsay), The later nineteenth century artist found an interest in the working class specifically observing the society and nature of the continued cycle of the working class. Realism was what artist wanted to depict by creating scenes of the lower class at work.  I have chosen three powerful paintings which I am summiting for an exhibition. They are as follows;  The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet, The Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet and Third Class Carriage by Honoré Daumier. These works range from the unemployed, lower working class, and to the lower middle class.

The first of these paintings is The Stone Breakers by Gustave Courbet depicting a poor youth gathering  the largest rocks he can carry and older man(possible his father) breaking the rocks into piles of gravel with a small hammer.  Their clothes have numerous holes and are extremely worn through, the young boy with only one suspender. This was intense labor that took up most of the day, we even see their cooking supplies which leads us to believe they were not close to the amenities city workers had.

The second painting is The Gleaners by Jean-François Millet shows the unfortunate women bent over in order to pick up small strands of wheat grain by grain after the farmers have completed their days harvest. It took hours in this uncomfortable position to collect enough wheat to make a single loaf of bread. Allowing these gleaners to collect the remaining wheat was considered charitable although the work was very painful and couldn’t make enough to feed the family.  This beautiful painting truly honors the unfortunate class by showing what they are able to accomplish as astonishing.

The third painting is Third Class Carriage by Honoré Daumier where lower class sits so close to the middle class yet cannot get out of the endless cycle of poverty. Daumier is deeply concerned in the underprivileged people. In this painting he particularly wants his audience to know the cycle will continue from the grandmother, mother and finally to the child. This is characteristic to Daumier’s work as the people are sort of character looking, yet it is as though you a in the scene with them. Yet it is still from his very personal feeling in the way he depicts them appearing soft and homey definitely contrasting the more middle class society behind them with their more straight lined features. He wanted to draw attention to this major aspect of life.

These three works although created by different people at different times in different places they all seem to paint a story of the struggles associated with the lower class.  People with nothing but their families to help each other survive the ordeal of poverty and to make life endurable. Out of the many possible submissions to make these works have a powerful message, that there is a cycle that keeps the few wealthy and the many poor. With the exhibition of these great works I hope for their message to spread and the cycle dampened for a more equal quality of life.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Kin with Cudgels

Note: This is a paper that I co-wrote with my ex-boyfriend Kyle

I have constantly wondered what emotions lie within a person when they are willing to duel until their or anothers death. Could somebody consider a liberal or conservative way of life so important that they would kill or die protecting it.  I was drawn to Duel with Cudgels by Francisco de Goya a Spanish artist, because it is a brutal duel until death with a twist (the two men are stuck to the earth). It is one of the famous Black Paintings recognized for having cruel, political, and dark themes. Duel with Cudgels especially brings out Goya’s inner conflict with how politics affected the principle of his society, in particular the Spanish Civil War. In1808 Charles IV the father of Ferdinand VII was being forced by a riot to give up his throne, he finally did agree but relinquished his rights to Napoleon only, this caused the 6th of May riots for the reason that the Spanish people did not accept him on the throne. The upper government did but then changed shortly after a battle when they realized that the Spanish could actually resist the French. During this entire time Ferdinand VII was kept away from Madrid by Napoleon. When finally Napoleon realized he was being defeated he agreed to let the next rightful king go back to Spain. When Ferdinand VII was to come back he had to agree to rule under the liberals’ constitution. He agreed but on his way home was convinced by conservatives to retract that by saying it wasn’t a valid constitution because it wasn’t done while he was on the throne. He then declared a new doctrine that would say he had sovereign authority. The Spanish supported him because they felt they had to but didn’t really like him. This was the battle between the liberals and conservative royalist in Spain that caused unrest for many years. The Black Paintings demonstrate a lot of Goyas heartache with what was happening in Spain. They were never meant to be viewed as they were painted on the walls of his home; they are an illustrated diary of his unrest with humanity. Goya uses line, texture, and color in Duel with Cudgels to demonstrate that the internal war of politics is creating a no win situation in Spain.

Significant in the painting is line, the downward curvy directional lines of the hills lead to the dominant point in the painting the two colossus men with cudgels. The rival’s stance makes them in the shape of triangles; they appear to have strength until you reach the bottom half of their legs which have disappeared beneath the ground below the knee. The two men represent “Bitter clashes between monarchists and liberals in northern Spain”[1] both who had significant power and influence during the time. However it seems as though Goya is implying that they are fighting a soulless, self-defeating war because although both have a chance of winning each party will be injured stuck on the land they delivered the cruelty on and will never truly prevail. 

The two men alone in the wilderness mid battle with large primitive textured sticks look merciless to the others pain. The rough, wild texture gives nature an importance in this painting. The exposed landscape “itself seems to shift and turn with each thudding blow” [2] as though the earth was colliding together with a brutal unrelenting force equal to the rhythm of the cudgels force, its only concern being spilled blood. The lack of detail in the faces, and the wrong directions of hands make it seems as though they are just playing a soulless role for the bigger picture of each political party. The harsh quality of the incoming clouds along with how the earth appears to be swallowing up each individual’s leg, feeds to the apprehension of what may happen next. The violence bothered Goya heavily as he didn’t understand how somebody could tear another person apart without selling their soul. The men’s heavy roughed faces follow them on the Black Paintings characters as they appear with hollow eyes and wide mouths, and as big as giants.

The fading light in the clouds is the only light source as it slowly diminishing into the horizon to be a sign of death,” The pale blue sky with the billowing clouds is of an earlier painting but is seamless with the later additions”[3]. The nature is slowly swallowing them whole just like when you die. The only bright color used is the blood red that drips down the man’s face as he was just bashed with a cudgel. It seems as though the shadowy figures don’t even care if the ground is swallowing them in one piece because they are so intent on killing their opponent.  

The two men are like giant factions waging war that will be felt throughout Spain politically and socially. The more this continued the more pain was felt and Goya believes the more soulless these blood thirsty fighters will become as neither will come out on top, it divided a nation and its people for many years.

This self-defeating conflict was a dark and violent time for the Spanish leading to their civil war. Goya’s painting says just that; when countrymen cannot negotiate their differences and fight to the death, all of Spain loses.   

[1] Wright, Patricia. Eyewitness Art: Goya. London: Dorling Kindersley, 1993. Print.

[2] "Francisco Goya: Paintings from the famous Spanish Artist." Painting Tips, Artist Reviews, Selling Art Online and more. Web. 07 Dec. 2009.

[3] "The Significance of Goya's Black Paintings." Ruth Dubb's Portfolio Website. Web. 07 Dec. 2009. .

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Philosophy Question

The “Bundle Theory” was found by philosopher David Hume which is the idea of being and the relations of being, and what entities exist from being. Hume said that an object consists of a collection or a bundle of properties or relations. There cannot be an object without any properties nor can one conceive of such an object. The bundle theory in relation to identity I believe would be difficult to with agree with because it would say there is no such thing as identity. Saying there is no owner of the mind which includes thoughts and experiences. That the identity would be like just a continuity of space and that would make me wonder how much I would have to experience in order to make me a person. The idea of no “I” or spirit would be a scary idea.

Plato’s theory of the soul says that there are three basic energies which enliven us and comprise our soul: the appetitive, rational, and spirited. The rational with the spirited would have more control than the appetitive which would follow. The appetitive side of the soul is what is responsible for the basic desires people have. It is the survival driven part of the soul and can be driven to extremes when stronger desires arise. The rational part of the soul wants truth and it was made to restrict the other parts of the soul. The spirited part wants love, honor, and victory. It imposes on the rational soul ensuring reason is actually followed. Anger can then be said to be the result of a frustrated spirit.  This theory is difficult for me to agree with because I don’t know exactly how to categorize the parts of the soul and I don’t believe that we have an “appetitive” part of the soul.

I would more closely associate with Plato’s theory of the soul because I believe that we do have an identity versus the theory of us not having one at all. A valid question towards the bundle theory’s idea of us having no identity would be what is holding together the thoughts in our mind. It would have to be something that possibly is a little more esoteric something along the lines of a spirit. I believe that we have a spirit and something like a soul because I know it is true by things I have experience and the fact that I know I am something greater than just my body. I have the ability to make “things” happen through my spirit and sometimes I feel like I just know I caused this or that to happen because I decided, that it would happen.

I know that I have a body, a spirit, and possibly something like a soul. My body is sort of like my container it carries my spirit through the physical universe. My spirit is what was put in my body once I was created in my mother’s womb. I believe that my spirit has probably been around since or before the creation of man although I do not know why I do not remember my past. I must have some sort of soul or identity of my spirit because there is a reason I do things the way and I do, although it has been clouded by American culture. I also believe that every person has eight dynamics which consist of: self, family, your group, plants and animals, MEST, spirit, and infinity. I know that every person has or had the urge to survive towards these eight dynamics and those dynamics make me what I am in this life.

I believe when my body dies my spirit continues onto another body although things can happen on the way to receiving another “container” I know eventually every spirit will find another body for themselves. Still I really care about this body and the time in this body because starting over in a child’s body does not sound so exciting I want to experience everything I have wanted to this time around. Being wrong about this isn’t something that worries me and maybe that because I know I am mostly right.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Ira Keller Fountain-Downtown Portland

When I first came to the Ira Keller fountain I was very young. A friend had brought me and I couldn’t believe what I saw. I was so amazed by the waterfalls stretching most of the city block. The summer light hit the water perfectly in every direction. You could tell it made Portlanders so happy by the amount of children and parents running around that I instantly fell in love with the place. It is a symbol that Portland cherishes its city enough to provide energy and space where everyone can come for free to enjoy. Unfortunately I couldn’t go to Portland alone when I was young, so I forgot about the Ira Keller fountain until recently. It was everything I remembered. The Ira Keller fountain works so perfectly in Portland due to its utility, firmness, and beauty that has lasted since its completion in 1970.

            The Ira Keller fountain has 13,000 gallons of water falling per minute that enhance the cities settings and make the fountains utility obvious. As you watch from the lower level of the fountain you can hardly see past the large concrete blocks, which the water falls, giving the appearance that it is coming straight from the city sidewalks. As Vitruvius said by utility there needs to be a “functional arrangement of the rooms and spaces so that there is no hindrance to use and so that a building is perfectly adjusted to its site”. That is exactly what the Ira Keller does. It is flawlessly adjusted so that you see no beginning or end in the.92 acres the fountain occupies in the city. The three sections all reinforce the functional use of the fountain. Its function is for Portlanders to sense or recall the wilderness of the Northwest and enjoy this man made fountain. The lower level provides steps to sit and view the structure. The middle level has cantilevers; it gives you the perception you are floating above the shallow waters with waterfalls above you. Each level is easy to get to as there are stairs on each side and walkways next to them. Finally, to the top where there are pine trees and spaces to sit to enjoy the rustling of streams as they pass you. These all strengthen the structures utility since it is easy to utilize and are flawlessly set to the Portland city block.

            Lucky for Portlanders, the designer Angela Danadjieva who was part of the Lawrence Halprin firm made it built well enough to endure Portland weather. As any Oregonian knows its rains an average of 36.3 inches per year that means the concrete was rightly made to outlast Portland rain. The concrete pieces include big red rocks and it looks aged but definitely sturdy and has weathered well. I was surprised when I really took a look at the material being used and realized it was concrete, I had even tried to look for a more sophisticated word to describe the concrete but couldn’t find one. I then realized that some of the greatest structure developed by the Romans were made of concrete and had lasted thousands of years. The materials used for the fountain worked great. They let the observer know there is firmness in the foundation and that it is solid. The materials used have allowed the structure to continue to stand for nearly 40 years.

            Now I come to the beauty that Vitruvius included in analyzing architecture. The Ira Keller had to be pleasing and in good taste for Portlanders to enjoy it. The Ira Keller appeals to senses in many ways. Through the lighting, patterns, and energy of the water you cannot help but feel calm during a quiet morning or energized during its most popular time during the summer. The feeling I first felt when I saw it brought me curiosity. I was so afraid of falling over the edge. I was amazed I was given the freedom to step on the edge of the waterfall. There were no warning signs or bars to restrict me to getting as close as I wanted. My boyfriend and I had speculated why there weren’t warning signs about falling over the edge for children in a fall that would easily crack their head open. When I recognized that nobody wanted this fountain to be decorated with bars and didn’t want the freedom of looking over the edge to be taken away. Just like they had, I made sure I was careful to not fall. I was young but still so happy to live in such a cool place like Portland where there were crazy waterfalls and pools hiding in the middle of skyscrapers. The designer Danadjieva did Portland a great service in the beauty of her structure when she didn’t just reduce the fountain to the automatic sense of the word fountain. Her idea of fountain was cascades of water from all different sizes of concrete connecting to create shallow and deep pools.  There is beauty in patterning of the different sized of concrete from where the waterfalls come and the patterning below with the cantilevers which I have yet to figure out. I can’t seem to find where they start or end below. The walkways that lead to the top give you different views of light that hits the water; it really gets to you especially on a sunny day when it’s basically blinding. It’s an experience you have never quite had before and will really amaze you. When you go to the Ira Keller during the day you will mostly find people resting in the grass in the upper level and a few people scattered between the dry edges reading book s but during the weekend summer time there will be tons of people in bathing suits laughing and running around. I really think that it’s such a great service for someone who is usually working in an office during the day to be able to have lunch there next to the rustling of the water. The waters rapid streams run all around you. If you look under the small wooden planks that interrupt the pavement you can see small streams that provide all the water .The Ira Keller definitely tells you to come in and enjoy it not stay off and observe.

The Ira Keller fountain is a city landmark. It works in Portland and you can tell by the amount of people that enjoy it every day. It makes sense in Portland; designed to be functional as a community fountain. Its firmness was essential to it lasting in Portland, which it does through its use of concrete and the beauty of the Ira Keller is something you can’t just describe but need to experience to understand. It is everything that the Northwest represents and everything that makes me love Portland. I am sure that this piece of architecture will be in use for generations to come and bring the same delight, amusement, and curiosity it brought to me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


“Why was Utilitarianism regarded as a subversive theory? What does utilitarianism propose social response to crime should be? Why? Do you agree? What is your moral perspective on the current penal system in the United States?”

The idea of utilitarianism is that the morality of actions is determinable by the amount of happiness and unhappiness they create, taking in account all the people affected, and counting them all equally. The right/moral action is that which bring the most overall happiness, greatest good for the greatest number of people. It is sort of a reductive approach to ethics where the moral worth of an action is determined by its outcome. It was regarded as a subversive theory to law and order because for an example if a man had been known to be a criminal to underground society however could not be found guilty of the charge because the witness was killed, the utilitarian might say well the greatest good for the community is to lock him up and throw away the key, however law and order say that he is innocent until proven guilty and therefore should be free. Utilitarianism could be seen as a justification for a way around the law.

A utilitarian would propose that the social response to crime would be one that only justifies punishment if it benefits the greater society, such as the only time punishment like incarceration would be moral is if it is used to prevent future crime which would have to be greater than the harm it would cause to the individual himself. It has to be a punishment that ends up having the most value as well because in order for it to be the greatest good it would have to cause the least amount of misery. They believe this because it seems like the most pragmatic solution to crime. I agree that it does seem like the best solution to imprison and rehabilitate the individual who committed the crime however some might disagree and say it hasn’t been the best solution because of the product of prisons.  However that is because we don’t live in a society that follows completely a utilitarian rule. A lot of people that are being incorrectly imprisoned and a majority of criminals are not being probably rehabilitated so that they can go on to lead healthy lives. The justice system just does not work however it is the greatest good for the society because we cannot have crimes continuing to be committed.

My view on the penal system currently in the U.S. is upsetting I think a lot of Americans feel that they are not cause over the system and cannot help change it and help it become a better place for criminals to rehabilitate themselves rather than a place of further chaos. Because I am a Scientologist I believe that Criminon which means no crime is the best solution. It is a nonprofit that looks to address the causes of criminality and restore the criminal’s self-respect through drug detoxification, education, and common sense programs. Criminon says “By making them responsible for their actions, people under the Criminal Justice system can become ethical and productive citizens.” I think it is wrong to allow the prisons to continue to be in the state of chaos and continued criminality that they are and the only way I feel cause of this current situation is to donate to Criminon which is in over 35 countries. It is a slow step but it is definitely moving in the right direction which is to help the penal system. It has to get to the point where when we send someone to prison we actually say with confidence that it will rehabilite the criminal so that they can eventually lead a healthy life.

This is where I disagree with a utilitarian, you cannot say something is moral just because it is the greatest good for the greatest number of people, such as the idea of sending someone to prison, you can say that it is moral to send someone to a facility where they have a high rate of returning for another criminal activity in the future. Sending a criminal to a facility where it is often joked about in public media that they are raped and mentally abused. You cannot say that is moral because it is the greatest good for the greatest number of people because it isn’t no matter how much they justify it.