Thursday, February 24, 2011

Is it okay to make fun of classical art?

So I was doing art history research to fill some pages in my sketchbook (it's not cheating, believe me!) and I came across this blog.

Fine Art Macros

First reaction (+0 minutes):
This is hilarious! Memes are really funny and since I know enough about this art, I can actually laugh about it with a little appreciation. I enjoy that I can understand the references that the jokes are making, both through internet memes and historical art. I had just watched a documentary about Francisco Goya, and when I saw "Saturn Devouring His Son" and the caption beside it, it gave me a new perspective about the original incredibly scared feeling I experienced when I previously viewed it.

Second reaction (+2 minutes):
Hold on, should we be making fun of these paintings? Isn't art history expansively important in the way we view our past? Isn't it really disrespectful to laugh at this? Francisco Goya was going through an enormous amount of inner torment when he painted "Saturn Devouring His Son", so who exactly are we to laugh at his pain? Could we have painted something any better than the incredible expression of feeling that these artists created? Just look at Millet's "The Gleaners". The painting is supposed to glorify the toilings of the working class and the hard work they take upon themselves every day, and it is depicted here to show them picking up candy like children.

Third reaction (+5 minutes):
Is it a possibility that the person who created this blog wanted to shine a little positive light on some bleak and dark paintings? Could it be said that enjoying a painting in whichever way we choose is better than not enjoying it at all? Perhaps there are people who did not know anything about these artists until they came across this blog and decided they wanted to know more. If that is the case, should we not rejoice in the fact that there has now spread a better understanding of where we have come from through visual representation of experience? David's "Portrait of M. Lavoisier and his Wife" may be shown here in an almost accurate rendition, concerning how men acted when courting women in those neoclassical days.

I am still not sure how I feel about the blog and the making fun of classical art in general, but I do know this:

  • I can laugh at my own art (but I am in no way comparing myself to Francisco Goya)
  • Learning about art is important and relevant to everyone (but how we learn is equally as important)
  • We mustn't take ourselves seriously all the time (good art is not made that way)
If someone who enjoys memes were to come across the blog, I would hope that they would have the motivation to understand the humour by doing some research on the paintings. That way, they are finding entertainment through the humour as well as learning about art history, which continues to be relevant even in these post-modern times. Just think, in the future, someone will certainly be making fun of the art we make today, and perhaps this question will arise again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Clown Mask = Babes(?) friend had these really good music requests for our other friend's birthday party, and I was looking them up on YouTube to see if they were worth putting on my iPod. Innocent enough, right? Wrong.

I found this little gem.

I don't know what the hell is going on here, ok. It gave me some nightmares I won't be able to shake for a while, I can tell you that. There's just something weird about mixing loud/scary (but also good) club music and computer-edited strobe lighting of you dancing alone in your room with a clown mask on. If this guy is so freaking good at mixing beats, why is he alone in his bedroom with turntables and nothing on but a wifebeater and basketball shorts? I am very confused and scared. At times he uses lame effects like colour inversion and whatever you call the thing that happens at 1:10...I guess this is meant to match the type of music he plays during that section, but there seems to be some discrepancy between audio and video. At least to me.

I still can't figure out the bedroom thing. I am constantly expecting his mother to come in (perhaps in a matching but more wrinkly clown mask) and nag him to turn the music down and take out the garbage or something. This kid looks like that quiet boy who sits by himself in the back of your math class. You don't know a thing about him, but he secretly moonlights as a bedroom dj and has a million subscribers on YouTube. We just never know, I guess.

A rundown of some interesting parts:
1:10 - Do not adjust your set and your eyes are fine, the colour spots begin.
1:30 - Let's all do the funky chicken (haus style of course)
2:50 - Running on the spot with finesse. Eric Prydz is so 2004 anyways.
4:10 - Weird space-chasm stuff. Isn't this a Photoshop filter?
6:40 - An intro to lyrical dancing 101. "When the music says "me" or "I", point to yourself!"
7:40 - Whoa! Imagine if the whole world was colour inverted. The clown mask looks a little less scary!

But as we all know, music is about what we hear and not what we see. Not knowing too much about Electro House music except for Benny Benassi, I did actually really like this mix. I am not the person to ask of whether this really is a good representation of the genre throughout 2010, but it's pretty good and I would dance to it. If it was indeed Sir Clownington mixing the beats (as he did seem a little preoccupied with dancing), I give him props for his clean beat matching and smooth sound in general. The video has a lot of views and there are others like it in his channel which are also popular, so I guess I say all the power to this dude. Right on, scary clown guy. I'll send you the bill for my psychiatry sessions.

P.s. what do you think of these alter-egos that DJs have? Anyone come to mind *cough* Deadmau5? Are weird masks the new, oh I don't know, gold $ chain necklaces? Would you be this guy for halloween? Would you DJ in a mask? Would you do your dayjob right now in a mask? All very relevant questions to our daily lives.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Finally, Interpol

Well, the first concert I attended whilst owning a blog. Never thought I would say that sentence. Or, type it. Or shout it, or yodel it, or sing it in a barbershop quartet.

A little background information as per the glorious Wikipedia,
"Interpol is American indie rock band formed in 1997 in New York City. The band's original line-up consisted of Paul Banks (vocals, guitar), Daniel Kessler (guitar, vocals), Carlos Dengler (bass guitar, keyboards) and Greg Drudy (drums, percussion). Drudy left the band in 2000 and was replaced by Sam Fogarino. In 2010, shortly after recording finished for the band's fourth album, Dengler left to pursue personal projects. While the band is officially now a trio, they have recruited David Pajo as their new bassist, and Brandon Curtis as their new keyboardist and backing vocalist for their current tour."
The fantastical Wikipedia, which we all worship, also told me that they are currently working with American music producer, DJ and electronic avant-pop artist, Matthew Dear. I was shocked to hear that, and then the epiphany came. I love Matthew Dear, especially his album entitled ASA Breed, as well as the remix craze that came with his songs. It seems that every DJ or electro-pop artist has remixed one of his songs, from Hot Chip to Fourtet. More on the epiphany later.

And a little of my personal history, I found the band through Radio Blog Club in 2007 and have been listening to their music ever since. I just can't seem to get sick of their songs, it's a little hypnotic, and when conversing with the other concert-goers, I found that other people also have experienced such hypnotism of awesomeness. I was really upset when I found out that they played Virgin Festival on Toronto Island in 2007 with two of my other favourite bands, M.I.A. and Tokyo Police Club. It's actually pretty funny that I barely cared about the headliners, as is normally the case when I attend these little festival shindigs. The smaller stages and bands are usually much more entertaining because they seem to have something to prove, more or less, and the crowds around the stage are less crowded/crazy with eternal love of the band. Therein with my small stature I can get closer to the front and slide into my rightful place as crazy girl in the front who won't stop screaming all the lyrics and looks like she will pass out soon. As it well should be.

Anyway I just went so off topic, but long story short I was super happy about Interpol coming back to Toronto and I knew that I was going to be right in front of the microphone as Paul sang those three magic words from Antics' "Length of Love." He and I sang in perfect unison (to my ears), "Combaaaaaaaat Salaaaciousssss Remooooovaaaaaallll." And when I say sang, I really mean scream. It was kind of life-changing.

Oh silly youtube user, you misspelled the song title. ><

But I am getting ahead of myself. The night started when we emerged in twilight out of Union Station to search out a cab which would take us to the Sound Academy. I hate taking the TTC buses when I have somewhere to be and time is of the essence, so don't call me spoiled. Especially when I say that I have probably sat in about 10 Toronto taxis in my life. So there. But anyway, we got into the cab and started chatting with the, oh, say 40-year-old Indian driver. Somehow we began discussing the intimate details of my friend's marriage plans with her boyfriend of seven years, and how they were to be married during a backpacking trip through Europe. The driver completely believed that both of us were the ripe old age of 29 that we proclaimed to be, and we just laughed and laughed.

We arrived at the doors of the Sound Academy at 6:20 and there were exactly five people ahead of us in line. I duly noted that the guy in front of us looked almost identical to Matthew Lillard, and time went by pretty fast until we were finally allowed into the warm depths of the concert hall. Everybody seemed pretty chills as we watched the show, and two people struck up conversations with me which was a nice surprise considering I usually initiate the conversations. I had been to the Sound Academy just two weeks prior to this show, to see the Decemberists and due to my crazy concert-going attitude, I attained the spot directly front row and center on that occasion as well as this one. T-shirt in tow (the newest addition to my apparel-formed concert history of the past five years), I was psyched for them to finally show their faces on stage.

I found myself surprisingly impressed by the filler music between sets. They played "Stillness Is The Move" by Dirty Projectors (one of my favourite songs), "Walk In The Park" by Beach House, "Cover Me (Slowly)" by Deerhunter, and a song that sounded oddly like Matthew Dear, since his voice is rather unique, to put it mildly. As I have mentioned, I now realize that I was probably right, since he and Interpol are collaborating in future. Cool! Meanwhile, I think my friend was getting annoyed that I kept guessing all the songs.

The opening band, as we later found out, was held up for some reason and couldn't make it to the show. their last-minute replacement, Low Level Flight, was not so good. A lot of loud noise and not much else, but I'll have to do some more research before I make my final judgement. Of course, sometimes bands can sound really weird when you see them live, and then totally different when you listen to them through speakers at home.

Interpol finally strolled onstage at around 10:30, looking rather dapper in their three-piece suits and rock n' roll haircuts. I noticed that Paul had cut his hair at some point between now and when I last saw a photograph of him, and it was quite a welcome change. I had mentioned to my friend earlier that none of the band members were much to look at (which of course does not matter in the slightest!) but as soon as I saw this haircut my opinion changed.

Okay, yes the picture on the right is super low quality because it was taken with my craptastic camera, but his hair was sort of like a semi-grown out mini mohawk with a mullet in the back. That sounds really gross, right? But it...just worked somehow! Or maybe I was just so happy to see the look on the left go away forever. Not sure.

So they played almost all of my favourite songs, and I was super happy that the girl beside me was really into it and dancing and screaming along with me. Ecstatic as I was, I didn't really want to be the only one making a fool of myself. Yay, random girl!

It was cool of my friend to come to the concert with me, especially since she didn't really get into the music beforehand (which may have also been attributed to a pinch of laziness on her part :P) but she knew how much the band meant to me and that was awesome. In return I agreed to take her to the Ke$ha concert in April (woo-hoo :/) but my spirits lightened a little when she compromised and said we could see Tiesto instead. The music itself is about equal to me, but I think Tiesto will be a little less crazy and less full of crazy preteen girls. My ideal show, naturally.

Stupid TTC!!! Argh! We got out of the concert at midnight and walked to the bus stop. The bus came in about 15 minutes which was not that bad, and we got to the subway pretty soon. And then, to my horror/disgust/surprise/punching the wall of the subway car with my fist, there was an announcement stating that the train would become southbound at the Eglinton stop. That meant, in order to get home, we would have to take a bus to Finch which would take way longer and furthermore, I had no idea which bus to take. Fun times considering the trains are supposed to run normally until at least 1:00 and it was 12:45. Fail. So we walked up to the buses and I gave up on the bus signage after oh, about five seconds. We got on the first bus we saw and asked if it was going to Finch. Score one for us, we were on the right bus. Score one for TTC, the bus seemed to feel the need to pull into every single subway underground bus terminal thing on the way to Finch, which seemed preposterous considering the subway was supposed to have stopped running at 12:30! Whatever. I was so tired the next day, but it was totally worth it.

And if you're wondering, yes, my concert stories usually do contain about 30% concert material and 70% adventure material. Hope you enjoyed and found it somewhat interesting.

I leave you with my favourite song off the new self-titled album.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Barbie a good role model?

Dear Barbie,

First of all, I must say that it has been a while since we last hung out. I'd like to take this time to apologize for stuffing you into a garbage bag and throwing you into the basement for a few decades. But hey, at least you have all of your friends and accessories with you to keep you warm, right? I mean, just think of all of the things you can do to pass the time, now that I'm not around to bother you! You can go back to one of your many careers as astronaut, school teacher, veterinarian, scuba diver, or one of those other things you left sadly unfinished to hang out with me. Or maybe you should work on your relationship with Ken. I know, I know, you've moved on. It's been seven years since you broke up, Barbie, and to be honest my opinion hasn't changed on the subject. You were made for each other! I hear he wants you back too, so why don't you get to the bottom of that one? For old time's sake?

Don't get me wrong, I still remember the old times. How I used to love brushing your long blonde hair, changing your Velcro and nylon outfits, and acting out your life for you. Don't you find it weird that you could never do any of those things for yourself? Perhaps because you are made of plastic and are an inanimate object!

Now that I think about it, Barbie, there was always something off about you. Something...fake. Your eyes were always so glossed over and painted-looking, kind of like there wasn't anything going on behind them. And your always had this unnatural shine to it...I've never seen anyone with hair quite like yours. And you know what, Barbie? I went and did some calculations in the time since we've been apart. I found something interesting, Barbie. Want to know what it is? Well, I'll tell you. Did you know that if you were human-size, you wouldn't even be able to support yourself with your body structure. Not to mention that you would have severe back problems from walking around all day on your tippy-toes. But don't worry, Barbie. With all of the scandalous clothes you wear, so many men will be slapping your behind that it'll make your back snap straight and you won't even mind when they look at you like a piece of meat.

You know something Barbie? When I was younger, I secretly wished to be like you. I looked at your pretty painted eyes, your long shiny hair, your slender molded body, and I though you were perfect. I thought you were what society wanted girls to look like. I looked at myself and noticed quite a few differences, Barbie.

And what's funny, Barbie, is that countless other girls, back then and now, are thinking the same things I thought. And from there, it isn't a far cry to the days of women's place being in the kitchen, only speak when you're spoken to, and who knows what else. You may believe yourself to be the best friend of young girls everywhere, but the fact is that you just haven't adapted as much as you'd like to think.

This is the 21st century, Barbie dear, and I'm going to have to be brutally honest with you. You're not a good role model. You're the reason girls with beautiful dark hair are bleaching the life out of their strands, the reason girls are puking up their dinners in the bathroom, the reason older women are injecting substances into their faces for that plastic perfection.

I'm going to give it to you straight, Barbie, if you don't keep up with the times and modern women, you're just not going to make the cut. If you want to become every little girl's best friend again, you're going to need to make some very necessary changes. Starting with your body. How about less plastic perfection, and more realism? Have some wrinkles added to that mold! Wear some respectable clothes, and maybe shorten up those legs a little. It wouldn't hurt to perhaps donate some of the heaping piles of clothes you own to a worthy charity and while you're at it, work on the relationships you have with a few choice friends for a while instead of discarding them for new ones every Christmas season. Now really, when was the last time you talked on the phone with that lovely girl Teresa? I know she probably misses you, you used to have such good times together. I don't much care for these new friends of yours, Barbie. Not much at all.

I'll check back in with you in a little while to see how you are coming along. Remember Barbie, there is a lot more riding on this than just a pink Jaguar convertible. Know what I mean?

Well, it's been a nice trip down memory lane with you, but I need to close the bag again. I hear there are some spiders down here in the basement. Eww! Well, goodnight, don't let the basement bugs bite.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Media Consumption Inventory

Just how much time in a week do I think I spend consuming electronic and print media? Well, I do love to consume some delicious here are my estimates and actuals.

Print Media Consumption                                                  Estimates                             Actual
Hours reading fiction                                                                               5                                               8
Hours reading non-fiction                                                                      1                                               0
Hours reading magazines                                                                       3                                               2
Hours reading newspapers                                                                    2                                               2
Hours reading internet sites                                                                 8                                               4

Electronic Media Consumption
Hours listening to broadcast radio                                                    2                                               1
Hours listening to web radio                                                                3                                               2
Hours listening to pre-recorded music                                         40                                            49
Hours watching broadcast T.V.¹                                                      12                                              7
Hours watching pre-recorded video²                                             3                                               4
Hours watching web video                                                                   1                                               1
Hours watching movies at a theatre                                                0                                               0
Hours surfing the internet                                                                    1                                               3
Hours on chat lines*                                                                              0                                               0
Hours using instant messaging                                                           1                                               1
Hours playing video games^                                                               1                                               0
Hours playing web games                                                                    0                                               0
Hours creating print/images, sounds, gamesº                            3                                             15
Hours using a cellphone/telephoneª                                            10                                               1
Hours using a personal digital assistant (PDA)~                         0                                               0
Totals                                                                                                       96                                        100

¹ This probably needs to stop...even though my prediction was high, doesn't television melt our brains?

² So...I watched The King's Speech on an illegally-made DVD. But it was just sitting on my coffee table, who knows how it got there! Not my fault that I didn't go to the actual movies. Which are surprisingly expensive considering the cost of having sticky goo removed from the underside of one's shoe afterwards.

* lines? What decade is this?

^ Ever notice that when we buy gaming consoles *cough* Wii *cough*, no matter how hard we work for them *cough* an entire summer job *cough*, they seem to become progressively less fun over time?

º Well I didn't realize that my YSDN Bachelor of Design Interview was on Friday! So of course Adobe Photoshop was running for about 72 hours straight.

ª I definitely don't have a Crackberry and I definitely am not addicted to my phone, but isn't texting just so darn convenient? *Insert devilish smile here*

~ Again, what decade is this?

So anyways, what have I learned from this fancy little exercise? Let us recap, children

  • When you're preparing for something of sizable importance, like, oh you know, a university interview, don't leave a bunch of stuff to the last minute and always check interview dates
  • See good movies in the theatre if you want to support the industry and keep watching good movies
  • Maybe I should stop watching so much T.V., addicting as good ol' Dr. House is
  • ...although I did hear a really cool band at the end of Grey's Anatomy this week, they're called Twin Sister
  • Should we think about how much media is good for us in a certain span of time? I.e. Did I consume enough media this week in order to keep up with current affairs? Or was I exposed to too much media and I didn't get the full extent of benefit from any of it
  • Of course most of the newspaper that I read was the Toronto Star and all this jazz about the revolt in Egypt, and of course I'm going to mention it...but all I could think about was the fact that the layout of the paper has begun to use red in their subheadings...that seems weird. Maybe it's just me.
Well, how did I do for my first post? Leave some comments if you want to be hounded down by me to further explain your comments. But, oh please do leave some.