pervasive art

Archaic Greek society, Nietzsche claims, is different from and superiorto the modern world because archaic Greece was an artistic culture, whereas modern culture is centred on cognition (‘science’) and ‘morality’. The culture of archaic Greece, Nietzsche claims, was not just 'artistic’ in that it produced a lot of excellent art, but it was in some sense fundamentally based on and oriented to art, not theoretical science or a formally codified morality. Art was pervasively integrated into all aspects of life and was perceived to be of fundamental significance. Art told the archaic Greeks who they were and how it was best for them to act. Children were taught not biology, geography, mathematics, and a catechism of rules for behaviour (based either on Revelation or on rational argumentation), but athletics, music, dancing, and poetry. The final standards of evaluation and approbation in more or less any area of life were aesthetic.
—  Raymond Geuss, Introduction to The Birth of Tragedy
and Other Writings
by Friedrich Nietzsche (ed. Raymond Geuss and Ronald Speirs)

Are we honestly still doing this?

One of my biggest pet peeves is science students who constantly shit on arts students, claiming that our degrees are so easy compared to theirs. I mean, I was so tempted to comment on this post, giving them some real stats, considering science students are typically place so much importance in hard numbers:

“Sixty pages per class, per week. Two thousand words per class, per semester. You can’t Wolfram Alpha your way through a 2000 word paper.”

I didn’t though. I didn’t want to give this person the attention they crave. But this is my blog so here is where I’ll spew all of my thoughts from the bus ride home, after I saw this post.

I see it in an analogy of tools. As a former math/science type, I feel somewhat able to address this, though not 100%; I haven’t done calculus in two years. Anyway, tools. From my experience in the sciences, it’s kind of like the professor says: “Here are some tools. The whole class gets the same set, to be fair. Some of you may have already used them, though they may be very new to some others of you. Here is a basic understanding of how they work. You have x amount of time to use them to complete your task.”

On the other hand, in arts it’s more like: “You will all need a set of tools to complete your task. I cannot give more than a vague idea of what they look like because your set of tools may come out looking very different than the ones that belong to the person next to you. You, yourself, must decide which direction to go searching for the tools, and figure out how all of these tools fit together.”

A degree in liberal arts can be one of the most writing and reading intensive programs you ever experience. While we don’t have “labs” per se, we have tutorials/discussion groups. And not only are you expected to complete those 60 pages/week for tutorials, but you are expected to come to class with opinions, ideas, and thoughtful questions pertaining to the topic. While this is one of the most mentally taxing aspects of a degree in liberal arts, this is one of my favourite aspects as well.

As a bit of a sidebar, some of the most deeply invested and socially/politically aware students I have ever met have belonged to the Faculty of Arts. One of the most pervasive stereotypes of arts students is the vague aspirations that we have: “I want to make a difference in the world,” for example, as opposed to “I want to be a doctor/bio-technician/engineer.” While we are so often made fun of for this very reason, I think, if asked, I will continue to use this line. Why? Because the one common tool that liberal arts students must have is the ability to think critically about the world around us. Because it is the number one reason why I believe a liberal arts degree is just as (if not more) challenging than a science degree. Because it is the reason that I switched from sciences into arts.

Believe me when I say I could have done either. Believe me when I say that I took AP Calculus simultaneously with Pre-Calculus 12. Believe me when I say that I received full AP credit for MATH 100, as well as a 97% in Pre-Calc 12.

The public school system sets us all up for science degrees. “Okay, I am finished this problem, flip to the back of the book, the book agrees with me, okay let’s move on. Don’t question it.” Unless you had some kind of extraordinary teacher, we are hardly ever taught to think critically about the world as we know it. 2 + 2 = 4. Why? Because it is. Why do we sit in rows? Because that’s the way it has always been. Why is our elementary/middle/high school experience of the liberal arts focused mainly on learning dates and memorizing minutia? Because that’s the way it has always been. The most dangerous phrase known to humankind.

A liberal arts degree teaches us to think critically about and challenge the world that we see before us. Of course the public school system would set us up for science degrees. Or else we would see all of the problems that persist in government today. Or else we would see how supposedly democratic governments, such as Canada’s, are slowly and quietly eating away at all of the things we hold dear. That Universal Healthcare that Canadians are famous for? disappearing beneath our very noses. How many people know? Not enough. 

Why pursue an arts degree if you are completely capable of a science degree? Most students care so deeply about their disciplines and the world around us that they are willing to (often) take a pay cut and deal with the ridicule to follow their dreams.

Sometimes we write entire essays because of ten seconds of reading that spark an interest. These people that surround me in my classes are some of the most inspiring and passionate individuals that I have ever met. And while I’m sure these people exist in the sciences as well, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

tl;dr - go back and read the post i s2g

[edit: find everything to this post here]


JR (b.1983, France) - Rooftop Dancers in Paris

JR began his career as a teenage graffiti artist who was by his own admission not interested in changing the world, but in making his mark on public space and society. His graffiti often targeted precarious places like rooftops and subway trains, and he enjoyed the adventure of going to and painting in these spaces. After finding a camera in the Paris Metro, JR and his friends began to document the act of his graffiti painting. At 17, he began applying photocopies of these photographs to outdoor walls. JR calls himself an “urban artivist”, he creates pervasive art that he puts up on the buildings in the Paris area projects, on the walls of the Middle East, on the broken bridges of Africa or in the favelas of Brazil. During the pasting phase, community members take part in the artistic process. In Brazil, for example, children became artists for a week. In these artistic acts, no scene separates the actors from the spectators. After having exhibited in the cities from which JR’s subjects came, the photos traveled from New York to Berlin, Amsterdam to Paris. As JR remains anonymous and does not frame his huge portraits, he leaves a space for an encounter between a subject/protagonist and a passerby/interpreter, and this is the essence of his work.

© All images courtesy of the artist

[more JR]


Celebrating “the Beauty of the Bittersweetness of Life” with @garybaseman

To see more of Gary’s animated characters, follow @garybaseman on Instagram.

“ChouChous are creatures that take away your negative energy and hate, absorb it, then ooze it as ‘Creamy Gooey Love’ out of their belly buttons,” says Gary Baseman (@garybaseman), referring to some of the recurring characters in his artwork. The Los Angeles-based artist’s work spans drawing, painting, photography, film, fashion, and art performance. He adds a disclaimer, “I don’t create these characters, they create themselves. I just draw them.” Gary’s artwork enters the public sphere in the form of television cartoons, board games, clothing, and in a retrospective exhibition that is now on display in the Shanghai K11 Art Mall.

“I believe art is how we share our lives, hopes, dreams, fears, and thoughts with others, either old friends or others in different cultures. If I had to use one sentence to describe my art it would be: to celebrate the beauty of the bittersweetness of life.”


The INSIDE OUT Project - pervasive art

“INSIDE OUT is a large-scale participatory art project that transforms messages of personal identity into pieces of artistic work. Everyone is challenged to use black and white photographic portraits to discover, reveal and share the untold stories and images of people around the world. These digitally uploaded images will be made into posters and sent back to the project’s co-creators for them to exhibit in their own communities. People can participate as an individual or in a group; posters can be placed anywhere, from a solitary image in an office window to a wall of portraits in an abandoned building or a full stadium. These exhibitions will be documented, archived and viewable virtually.”

An interesting project between the innovative artist JR, the TED Prize and YOU.

anonymous asked:

hi :) do you have anything on old nordic tattoos (I read an Islamic traveller described vikings as being heavily tattooed) or at least genuine old nordic (I don't know the proper term, since vikings is not right?) art that could feature in tattoos? thank you :)

First I’ll answer your terminology question. “Vikings” is a non-technical term that can refer to: pirates, traders or sailors (there often wasn’t much of a distinction); or people who lived during the Viking Age. The Viking Age runs from roughly 800-1050 AD, about 200 years, which is a very short time in terms of history and archaeology. I tend to use Nordic/Norse for the Scandinavian area, and Germanic to encompass the Rus and Anglo-Saxon branches.

In answer to the tattoos, I refer you to The Viking Answer Lady’s page on tattooing. To sum up what she said, we have very little idea what the tattoos may have looked like, but we do know that they were there. Ibn Fadlan (the Islamic traveler you are referencing) describes the tattooing being done in blackish-bluish ink and featuring “trees.” The Viking Answer Lady claims that these trees are likely knotwork designs, which are highly pervasive in art in this period (and earlier.)

The ink was most probably made with wood and pot ash, a very common ancient tattooing pigment. Red-brown pigments may have been obtained from red ochre, which was used extensively in mortuary practice. These may have been painted on as temporary body art (as is the case for some burials) or may have been tattooed into the skin. 

There are lots of “viking inspired” tattoo designs around the internet, but I’m guessing that’s not quite what you want. If you’re thinking of getting a tattoo yourself, I do have some advice. Firstly, if you are not Heathen yourself, you should steer clear of religious symbols out of respect. These generally include Mjolnir and the Valkunut. I would also advise against runes either singularly or as a saying for two reasons. The first is that runes are much more than the simple correspondences that are laid out in most books. There is a lot of study that goes into the complex meanings of even a single rune. (I am doing a rune study right now, and it involves history, linguistics, folklore and so much more.) The second reason is that if you’re getting a saying tattooed that has been “translated” into runes, it’s probably wrong. It’s not as bad as getting a modern language tattooed on your body that you do not speak, but it’s the same idea. 

That aside, here are some things that were common in art in the period, and may very likely have shown up as tattoos, (though this is speculation). Animal symbolism is huge in the Germanic traditions. There are particular animals that show up over and over again in art, all with their own connotations. The boar, wolf and bear all represent different styles of fighting/different kinds of warriors, and are commonly seen. Dogs are also quite common, though sometimes it is hard to tell if we are seeing dogs or wolves. Horses and cattle, given the prevalence of pastoralism in Scandinavia, are unsurprisingly commonly portrayed. Lastly birds of prey. Birds of prey (eagles, falcons and ravens mostly) are associated with death, but also with magic. Sorcerers are said to be able to take the form of such a bird and travel the world, and images of half bird-half human figures are quite common. Birds are also interpreted as something being Huginn and Muninn if they are found in pairs, particularly near a male figure.

In the ancient nordic tradition, mostly just before the start of the Viking Age proper, there appears to be no distinction between humans and animals, so often you see representations of people (or perhaps spirits) who seem to be both. In earlier traditions, jewelry and other adornments had a central image with a border around it, where as by the time of the famous Sutton Hoo find (6th Century) the art becomes more focused on symmetry. Humans with animal heads (or vise versa) are common motifs, as are humans with their arms turning into animals. There is an example here, described as being half man, half wild boar. You can clearly see eagles present both in the bulk of the belt buckle, and also at the top forming the clasp.

When it comes to human depictions, most are scenes from from various tales or myths. For style you may want to look at the Gotland Picture Stones.

I hope that helps you, good luck!