Sunday, October 31, 2010

Space & Place

One of the most interested aspects of the reading was how place can become charged with meaning. One’s perception of a particular place can be dramatically altered by a significant event, or experience. Outlook and perspective can also significantly alter the way one interacts with space. One could look at a building, and notice the amount of hearth, or comfort he/she feels from that place. However, an architect may look at a building, break it down to its main components, thus interacting with the building in a completely different way. The objects within place or space can also dramatically change the space, and vice versa. If one looks at a piece of art in a gallery, he/she is more likely to take that piece of art seriously because of the connotation, and function of that particular space. Another aspect that I found interesting was the way one can physically interact with space. Muted senses, such as blurry vision can drastically alter our perception, and therefore, how we feel in/about a particular space. The negative and positive spaces of a space were also very interesting. While people seem to prefer places where there is enough room to move freely, if a room becomes to free it can be perceived as stark, and cold.

Space and Place

What struck me about the Space and Place book was the overall discussion between human interaction and space and place. Tuan says, “Space is experienced directly as having room in which to move” (12). However, space is not really just about an actual place or a denoted area, rather it is much more. Tuan develops his argument throughout the chapters how personal, human senses interact with places to give people their personal experience and meaning attached with a space and place. As humans, we all can have different interactions even with the same place. Throughout these sections, he marks the most important term or key as experience. I particularly liked the section that discussed a birds’ eye view from a human view. Birds, because of their physical location, point of site, have different experiences with space, than we do as humans.

Throughout this book, I was reminded of my Cultural Studies class. We discussed a theory about spatial text and how it is arbitrary. If a person has an interaction with a certain place or space, it is completely arbitrary because a different person can have a completely different experience, based on his or her personal senses and past experiences. The fact that a place is the same (doesn’t change for different people) but can create different meaning for people, amazes me. When we think about how we interact, as humans, with all of our senses, with our environment, it is amazing to consider how our individual differences shape our experiences in different places. For example, if we think about a place like the ARC, it could create different emotions for different people. An athlete may gain an excited feeling from the ARC, especially a basketball or volleyball player. However, if an athlete from a different sport (that does not use the ARC arena), may not get those same excited feelings. People how do not enjoy sporting events may get negative emotions when entering the ARC. Thus, though the ARC remains the same, it is different for all people, based on personal senses and past experiences.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Space and Place

One of the things that really stood out to me from the passages from Tuan's book was the idea that dead things/carrion act as a memento mori for adults and at the same time, have no effect on young children and animals. I thought this was an interesting idea, but I am not sure how much I agree with it. I think the smell of dead animals/rotting food is thought to be repulsive because they are things that are unusual, no one is really used to the sight of a dead animal or rotted food, it is unusual and people are unsure of how to handle those situations. I'm sure that some people are reminded of their own death through seeing dead animals, but it sounds sort of foolish to me to assume that people liken their own death to the death of an animal.
Another thing that I found interesting was how Tuan said that hearing could not be used to create a "spatially organized world." When thinking of this idea my mind immediately thinks of bats, who are blind or practically blind. Bats use hearing to pick up the sounds of their calls bouncing off of structures to organize themselves in their world. Of course it is a bit of a stretch to connect this to humans, but I think it is possible to use sound to help make a picture of the space around you.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


Create a separate POST FOR EACH GROUP and POST by NOON October 17, ok?


For project 02, our place was the ARC. Our group walked around the ARC to see what we had to work with, but we realized that there was not much we could use to make a work of art without getting in the way of those exercising. We thought of placing snacks and sodas from the vending machine around on the machines and rearranging the weights, but ended up creating our piece using people from the ARC.


This is the wall with the pictures of the five basketball players. Each person is striking their own pose and we thought it would be a great idea to juxtapose these 5 "macho" basketball players with 5 people (preferably of smaller stature) from the ARC.

We asked people that were working out to come pose for us. There were some rejections to our idea, but we managed to find women of smaller physique to come pose under these photographs for us. We also decided to find a guy similar to those guys in the picture as the centerpeice of our work.


For our project, we used people to create our work, so it was very temporary. As we looked for people to pose in our photographs, it was easiest to find the petite women running in the cardio room and we were able to find the male in the center in the weight room lifting. This photograph shows all five of our people lined up with the pictures. Each person copying the pose of each basketball player they are under. We purposely chose the more petite women so that it was a comical comparison of 5 of our tough basketball players and the 4 petite women. The guy in the middle was chosen also as a comparison to the women, because it is easier to see the comparison of a bigger guy in 3D rather than the photographs to the smaller women.

We often relate the gym and ARC to more masculine characteristics and the photographs of the basketball players in their tough poses do not help but support that idea. However, we found there were more women in the ARC at the time that we went. There were more women in the cardio and abs room and more males in the weight room. We find that juxtaposing the smaller women doing the same poses as the photographs as comical. It is due to the societal norms that it is strange and funny that women are acting tough and posing in manly stances.

Shoe Tree

When we were assigned the shoe tree as our site, at first we all thought our project we be a piece of cake. “This is easy. The site already has so much meaning,” we all thought. However, when we discussed how to approach dealing with the site, we soon realized that the shoe tree was actually quite difficult to deal with. There was already a sculpture there that had a huge amount of life and meaning. We couldn’t tamper with that. Instead, we needed to add to it, to expand the metaphor and meaning that was already there. So we thought about all the meanings with the tree. We discussed the long life of the tree, its connection to sex and new beginnings, its interactive role with the students, the sculpture’s ability to surpass time and generations, and the overall connection formed by putting all the shoes together in one place. Even though each pair of shoes tells a different story, they reflect the lives of the college and its students as a whole, past and present.

As we worked on our project, we began to emphasize the idea of connection between all students on campus whether they be male or female, or from the past or present. We bought long shoelaces and long white elastic bands, and tied them to old shoes that had fallen off the tree. Then, we threw the shoes back up and used them to connect the bands to the branches.

Then, we wrapped the bands around the center trunk of the tree, resulting in this branching out effect from the trunk. We connected each branch of shoes as one whole, uniting all the trees participants, and more metaphorically, uniting the sculptures meaning: life, interaction, sex, and new beginnings. From here we decided to expand on the ideas of people interacting with the tree, keeping the sculpture alive. We created cardboard footprints that we put on the trunk as if they were walking up the tree. We used cardboard from the Daily Grind to further reflect the fact that the tree represented the life of St. Mary’s.

Then, we created chalk footprints, some all the way from the dorms, some starting closer to the tree, and had them all walking towards the tree, showing its role as an interactive place, and showing its unity: all these different students came to the same place.

Finally, to really focus on the ideas that the metaphors stemmed from the whole tree, we took leaves and wrote words on them such as sex, love, life, and new and placed them at the little hole in the base of the trunk. We made it look like the leaves were spilling out to emphasize that these metaphors are so strong they literally pour out of the tree. We chose to write on the leaves because they age and change over time, just as the tree does as some shoes get old, and new ones are added.

As we finished in the late afternoon, the end effect was stunning. Our sculpture had made the tree evolve: it added to and emphasized the life that was already there. The shoe tree will always connect the students of St. Mary’s together and it will change, grow, and evolve just as they do.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Justin Bates Memorial

Danielle, Alex, Melody, and Caiti
Our place was the Justin Bates memorial. For our site specific artwork, we chose to write the words of the poem on the memorial with materials we found on-site. The materials especially lent meaning to the words "He has become one with nature," since even our representation of him was tied to nature. We decided to place all of the five lines in separate places, starting with the water next to the cross on the Point and ending at the entrance of the graveyard. The first line was in the water, and we moved across the beach, up the hill, and through the graveyard. Part of our intention was to mark the path that Justin would have walked down to the water, but in reverse. So much life passes through the graveyard, and by his memorial, that it felt appropriate to bring his words back up the path towards all of the life at St. Mary's. The full poem:
He is made one with nature: there is heard
His voice in all her music, from the moan
Of thunder to the song of night's sweet bird;
He is a presence to be felt and known
In darkness and in light, from herb and stone

Project_02: The Daily Grind

When our group thought about the grind, we thought about the feelings that go along with the environment. Because the grind (and the area in front of the campus center) is a walking area, we thought about the constant movement filled with people trying to get to their final destination. People walk by to get their mail, to the dining hall, to buy things at the campus center, or to go to the grind. Though it is filled with tables and chairs, there is a constant form of movement throughout the grind. However, because the grind is a coffee shop and because there are tables and chairs set up, there is an element to the grind that invites people to stay a while.

When creating our project we wanted to show both feelings of movement and tranquility. We wanted to express the juxtaposition of stationary and moving people. To show the movement we placed painted footprints along the walkway. At the end of the walkway, where the room separates, we put an enlarged coffee cup to show the elements of a coffee shop, where one stays and sits for some time. To attempt to slow people down we placed a quote on the “steam” of the coffee. We put a quote from Gandhi that says “There is more to life than increasing its speed.” We found this quote appropriate because it deals with the movement and speed that is gained both from the grind itself and the caffeine from the coffee.

The next day our project was gone, so we assume it was thrown out.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

Artist Talk: Heather Harvey

The work of Heather Harvey is something that goes beyond sculpture, and art in general, it morphs the line of where inspiration and meaning start and where they end. The thing that jumped out to me about Heather Harvey’s talk was her belief that her work was composed up of a “fragile interweaving of ideas”; her work is open to our own interpretation and our own ideas. However, she was quick to point out that it is dangerous for any artist to not to try and convey their own meaning behind a work. She explained that failing to provide your own meaning will invite people to give a meaning that was the complete opposite intention of the artist’s.

The way that Harvey explained how she found meaning in her work was very interesting because she explained her work in terms of meaning as being similar to poetry. She explained that poets have an initial “trigger subject” that compels the poet to begin to write, however, the poet should allow the poem to grow and shift as necessary, without doing so will cause the poem to become stale, contrived, and boring. Harvey explained that it is this “shift” in subjects, the zone between what is known and unknown, that intrigues her and helps inspire her work.

Another interesting point that Harvey brought up in her talk was of how she saw her sculptures and the wall on which they are fixed to. She said that she sees the wall as meaning to be fluid and tangible, and her sculptures, these wire-like and amorphous protrusions, portray the wall as seeping into the environment that they enclose. Also, it was interesting, and a little bit unsettling, to hear her talk about her use of materials (wax and plaster) as having a connection to the human body, by representing bones and flesh. However, this was the best way to think about the pieces because they are coming off of the wall and into a human environment, so it would make sense to see these “forms” as containing elements of what makes up a human being.

Finally, I have to admit that it was really cool to see an artist who describes some of their work as being part sculpture and part drawing; this was a combination that I had never really thought possible before. But now that I have seen examples of Heather Harvey’s work, I can see how interesting and thought provoking just such a thing is. Her work, like she said, blurs the line of what we see and what we think we are seeing.