Tuesday, May 30, 2017

If we talked about design the way we talk about writing

I am looking a piece of artwork, perhaps a panel for a comic or a work for sale. Perhaps this scene takes place online in a forum or at a local gallery. Maybe the location doesn't matter. The artwork being discussed is a symbol which I chose for its relevance to a strongly visual society. 

We don't tolerate anything that offends our eyes. Our ears and our intellect? That's another story.

Me: Hey, what's up with the shadows? The light source is clearly on the left but the shadows are on the left too. Shouldn't they be on the right?

Rando: Huh, I never noticed that. I don't think it looks weird, though. I don't really pay attention to the light source when I'm drawing shadows. It's too complicated to keep track of anyway.

Me: But doesn't it look weird to you? Like the person in the picture isn't in the same place as the light source?

Rando: I dunno. She looks like she's there to me. I don't really have a problem with it. I do, however, have a problem with the privileging of literalist art. Art by definition is non-representational. It never follows the rules of physics exactly, and it never should.

Me: I get that if the artist is trying to create an unsettling effect, but everything else in the picture is much more standard. So for me it's weird that she shadows are in the wrong place. I just end up thinking about the shadows instead of what's going on in the rest of the picture.

Rando: It must be so miserable to nitpick the little details all the time instead of just enjoying art.

Me: Um....I think perspective is hard but ultimately rewarding because it can really make your art pop and add depth.

Rando: Your insistence on the classical rules of art is inherently classist because it discriminates against artists who never had the money for art school or who come from non-western traditions. African art, for example, doesn't use perspective but it is as valid as any system that does because it adheres to its own internal logic. You're also racist against black people.

Me: Didn't I just say I don't mind breaking the rules if it's done intentionally to create a specific effect? But you sort of have to know the rules before you know when to break them, right?

Rando: You obviously need to check your privilege before you engage in these discussions. Did not your upbringing give you ample opportunity to learn the unfair and arbitrary rules placed on what is considered "correct" design, created by society with the implicit purpose of oppressing the working class and minorities?

Me: So my two degrees and years of work experience make me less qualified to talk about design?

Rando: I see you concede my point.

Me: No, you don't have a point because it's not like minorities are some hive mind that all draw the same way.

Rando: You're twisting my words now, and I don't have time for these rabbit trails. I've made my point several times and you keep dodging the question.

Me: The shadows are stupid!

Rando: You're more stupider!

Me: More stupider isn't a word!

Rando: It is in some dialects! A word means exactly what a bunch of people say it does!

Me: You will always get judged during job interviews and you'll never know why!

Rando: Capitalism is the devil!

Me: Whatevs. I bet you've never drawn in the African tradition in your life. You just patronize the poor ignorant coloreds because you think it's cute.

Rando: I am so blocking you! Block Block Block!

 Some time passes.

Me: Huh. He's gone. Did that even happen?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why I lost interest in atheism

I tend to get super interested in things in phases. It's usually something I don't like or I'm not comfortable around and usually avoid. Then the thing appears in a new and different light and I want to learn more. Then I LEARN ALL THE DETAILS AND HISTORY EVAH. Then the obsession wears off and I get into something else.

For a while I was into learning about people who had no religion and didn't believe in any spiritual beings. I'm very into fantasy and not-material things so I didn't think I could relate to that mindset. But in some ways I relate a lot because I tend to be very cynical and prefer a rational explanation instead of a supernatural one.

Even when I was at a Christian college, I was always thinking, "You really heard the voice of God telling you to study abroad? Really? Because it sure sounds like you just really want to study abroad. Just freakin' own it already!"

I'm really glad I learned about atheists because the stereotypes about them are THE TOTAL OPPOSITE OF TRUE. I cringe now when I read any piece by a religious person describing what "atheists" believe.

They aren't angry at God. FIRST BECAUSE THEY DON'T BELIEVE IN DEITIES LIKE THAT'S BASICALLY THE DEFINITION OF ATHEISM DUH. However, they might object very strongly to belief systems that revere a character who's actions are petty and vengeful.

They do believe very strongly in morality. They just draw their morals from history and what we know about human behavior. Also, the Bible is not the only place or even the greatest place to go for morality.


Those are just some of the things I learned about atheists. But I don't think it's a belief system that really describes the way I feel.

Eventually I got bored with learning about atheism, but for a reason that probably makes a lot of sense to most atheists. All atheism is is a lack of belief in a deity or deities. It doesn't tell you anything about what a person is like, if they're nice or mean or boring or whatever. There are misogynist atheist trolls, and totally nice atheists out there.

So I don't think most of the important questions in life can be answered by deciding whether or not to believe in a deity. No matter how you answer the question, you still have to decide whether you're going to be a jerk to the person next to you. If you want to be a jerk, you can probably justify it either way. Either God hates the people you hate, or no God means you'll never get caught.

Overall I'm more interested in if you're a nice person and why you believe what you believe rather than what specific religion you follow. Or lack thereof.

Monday, May 8, 2017

My Review Porfolio

Hello! This is collection of links to my reviews for the Reviewing the Arts Class.

Art Museum Review 

Restaurant Review

Movie Review (Cinequest)

Movie Review (Just for me)

Not a review but a piece I'd like to feature this at the student showcase.

Thanks for reading!

San Jose Museum of Art Review

I was a teen the last time I visited the San Jose Museum of art, and I only remembered the Chihulys hanging in the entryway. Back then I lived in Fremont and only came to San Jose on rare outings. Now I’m a San Jose native. I can walk to the art museum in fifteen minutes, but somehow I never made it over there until my class scheduled a trip. The spring weather was clear, breezy and mild. A perfect morning not to spend in a dim classroom.

It almost made up for missing our trip to the Cinequest festival, which had to be scheduled during my evening class. I still haven’t forgiven everyone for that.

The San Jose Museum of Art is a community effort. In 1969 a group of citizens saved the condemned building (previously a post office and then a library) from being torn down by converting it into a local museum. Their vision crosses the boundaries between different cultures and classes, between science and art, and between the new and the old.

From both the website and the galleries, you can see the focus is modern art pieces that break genres and highlight political and cultural issues. Their mission statement reads, “The Museum fosters awareness of artists’ broad contributions to society and engages audiences with the art of our time and the vitality of the creative process.”

The exhibits change every few months, but on the day I made the trip, the gallery on the first floor was showing “Fragile Waters,” a photography exhibition containing the work of Ansel Adams, Ernest Brooks, and Dorothy Monnelly. Designed to explore the scarcity and pollution of water, the exhibition was put together by Adams’ daughter-in-law Jeanne after an oil rig explosion in 2010.

Instead of descriptions, each photo is accompanied by a relevant quote from one of the photographers or a famous author to give the gallery a more contemplative feel. I spotted lines on water from both Antoine De Saint-Exupery and Robinson Jeffers. 

There are even original glass plate negatives from when Adams was a teen, and a Deardorff camera Adams used to take some of his iconic photos of Yosemite Valley. Seeing this huge bulky camera made me remember how hard it was to get these photos and develop them back in the day. That's part of the journey too.

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Some call Adams' photography "fanciful," but that's not necessarily a bad thing. His photographs look to me the way landscapes look inside my head but never in my photos. He is sharing a vision with the audience, and that's not easy to do.

Upstairs, the meditative gallery, “Your Mind, This Moment” helps visitors slow down enough to really take in what they’re seeing. I had more fun observing my classmates than the displays. Several of my class were fascinated by a spot of light projected on the wall. From my point of view off to the side, they were looking at a half moon. When I moved over to their position I saw that they were looking at a disk of light hovering in front of the wall.

The upstairs also housed “Darkened Mirror: Global Perspectives on Water,” “Beta Space” by Victor Cartagena, and Diana Al Hadid’s “Liquid City.” Everyone in my group seemed most impressed by the last. The giant sculpture felt half desert cathedral, half limestone cave full of stalagmites—echoing both the natural and human worlds.

The basement level always has an educational gallery that connects art to another discipline, such as science or mathematics. Fittingly, I saw a crowd of junior high students investigating the displays. So I only took a quick look around before heading to the gift shop.

It’s hard to recommend the museum because all the displays we saw were temporary, so if I go back later everything might look entirely different. I felt a little gypped when I saw the much more extensive permanent collection on the website. I started wondering, “Did they have some galleries in the back I missed?”

But the location won’t change. I wholeheartedly recommend a visit as part of a trip to downtown San Jose. The gorgeous old building faces the Plaza De Caesar Chavez with its iconic fountains (and in December, the Christmas fair). You can get through the museum in two hours and head across the plaza to Tech Museum afterward—or hang out at one of the many local restaurants or coffee shops. (I recommend Bijan Bakery because they have awesome cakes.)

Admission is $10 for adults, $6 for students, $5 for kids 7-17, and free for kids under six. Getting the student admission is worth it, but the cost isn’t prohibitive even for broke Millennials or families with kids.

Even though the galleries in the San Jose Museum of Art are constantly changing, the museum does have its own distinct identity. By focusing on modern, multicultural, and political art, it feels like the right museum to represent Silicon Valley.

A video of our experience:

Youtube Link:

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Maggies Banquet

So last Friday and Saturday, April 28-29, I was in LA!

I haven't been there for so long! I think I went there a grand total of once after graduation. But because SHiFT Magazine was included in the magazines entered, Miranda and I got to go to the banquet and network with other magazine people.

I'm disappointed that I didn't plan the trip a bit better so I could do more touristy stuff on the weekend. We got in Friday afternoon and left early Saturday morning. So we basically came for the event and nothing else.

In fact, we got to the hotel a mere 20 minutes before the speaker part of the event started, so we had to dash upstairs and make ourselves look like we hadn't just stepped off an airplane in about 15 minutes. Under the circumstances, we did a good job. I'm a fan of RuPaul's drag race, and now i feel like I can sympathize more with some of the challenges.

Our American Eagle Airplane

Our room at the Sheraton

Miranda with the student magazines--before they got messed up and stolen by the guests (including us)

Us dressed up all fancy

selfie at the banquet

Us at the photo booth

Jane Silbering presenting the awards

There was this cool slide show at the end with all the different magazine covers.

After the dinner, Miranda and I ran back to the tables with all the magazines and stole all the ones that looked interesting (especially the student ones). Then we figured out that the hotel had a hot tub, so we changed into our swimsuits and hung out there for an hour. The weather in LA was balmy and perfect to be outside at night.

So we had a great time overall and got some new contact, but the best part was the hot tub.