Tag Archives: abstraction

Modern Art Uncovers The Deceptive Practices of CIA

What if you found that someone used your life’s work, all those endless hours tirelessly sacrificed in the name of your occupation,to represent what it wasn’t originally meant to say? What would you do?   Would you merely shrug your shoulders? Or, protest as loudly as you could?   Worse, what if you never knew it happened?

It has happened. Mark Rothko was an artist in the same way vein as Jackson Pollack and the other great contemporaries. He was an artist in every sense of the world. He once proclaimed:

“I’m not an abstractionist. I’m not interested in the relationship of color or form or anything else. I’m interested only in expressing basic human emotions: tragedy, ecstasy, doom, and so on. And the fact that a lot of people break down and cry when confronted with my pictures shows that I can communicate those basic human emotions . . . The people who weep before my pictures are having the same religious experience I had when I painted them. And if you, as you say, are moved only by their color relationship, then you miss the point.” ― Mark Rothko

 

But how bitter would he be today if he learned that his

This image is of a drawing, painting, print, or other two-dimensional work of art. It is believed that the use of low-resolution images of works of art for critical commentary on the work in question, the artistic genre or technique of the work of art or the school to which the artist belongs qualifies as fair use under United States copyright law.
Magenta,_Black,_Green_on_Orange’,_oil_on_canvas_painting_by_Mark_Rothko,_1947,_Museum_of_Modern_Art

legacy is not the art that he loved creating so much? What if he had learned his art was a weapon of the Cold War?

According to an article in the Independent, in the 1950’s this is exactly what happened to him.   Rothko was a Jewish immigrant from Russia who became an important artist in the primitive style of art. Being a Russian living in America during in the 1950’s era of McCarthyism was not easy. But, being a popular artist made him the perfect target for the CIA.

The CIA created several shadow art foundations and worked with many of the wealthiest elitists in the country to make sure that art from the likes of Jason Pollack and Mark Rothko was not only seen but were to become incredibly famous.   Why? According to Saunders:

 “Because in the propaganda war with the Soviet Union, this new artistic movement could be held up as proof of the creativity, the intellectual freedom, and the cultural power of the US. Russian art, strapped into the communist ideological straitjacket, could not compete.”

Also,

“Abstract Expression- ism was the kind of art that made Socialist Realism look even more stylized and more rigid and confined than it was. And that relationship was exploited in some of the exhibitions.”

In an Saunders’s interview with Tom Braden, first chief of the CIA’s International Organisations Division he said :

“We wanted to unite all the people who were writers, who were musicians, who were artists, to demonstrate that the West and the United States was devoted to freedom of expression and to intellectual achievement, without any rigid barriers as to what you must write, and what you must say, and what you must do, and what you must paint, which was what was going on in the Soviet Union. I think it was the most important division that the agency had, and I think that it played an enormous role in the Cold War.”

 

There is little doubt that painters like Pollack or Rothko would still be famous names even without the help of the CIA.  Help the artists never knew they were receiving. But there is strong sign that perhaps there Abstract Expression style may not have been as popular for as long as it’s been.

Being an artist, this whole subject has me wondering. When I look at my art, What if…?  Nah….

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Are You Being Kicked?

CC BY by Reemul
CC BY by Reemul

Once upon a time, a martial artist was pondering that no one likes to get hit.  Avoid being hit because it is painful.  Being kicked is even more painful because of the power in your legs.  This is a negative experience.  Understanding this principle through lots of personal experience of being a punching bag, she asked her sifu (teacher), “Sir, what is the best way to block a kick?”  The reply was “Don’t be where the kick is. Be flexible.”

In photography and the other visual arts, negative things (kicks) will happen to you.  Simple things, like a having a scheduled shoot at the local arboretum cancelled due to an ice storm.  Or, it can even be life threatening, like realizing that there is nothing between you and that magnificent, yet very large, 800 lb. silverback gorilla. How you react to each situation will determine if you get out of it unharmed or in many tiny scattered pieces.  The secret is flexibility.  Be flexible.  Be understanding, and avoid placing blame.  You do not have time for blame when you are in a crisis.

Look at your options, very quickly if need be, and determine your best course of action. Realize that even if you do nothing to solve a crisis you are still doing something. Then do it.  Do not hesitate.  The more you make these forms of decisions the faster you become at handling the crisis quickly and efficiently.

Do you have an upset client?  Find out why and come up with solutions to fix the problem.  Did the snowstorm or ice storm destroy your plans to the photograph the local arboretum?   See if the arboretum is open and go to see what pictures you might be able to get anyway.  Take a moment to look for alternatives to your normal plans.  It is important in dealing with other people and nature that you are not only focused on the task at hand but also are flexible enough to change with your current situation. The sifu was right,  being flexible allows you to react to a crisis or otherwise negative event with a confidence and speed that will not only surprise you, but the people you work with will take note of how you handle pressure too.

Oh, and the gorilla?   I’d suggest, not looking at him in the eyes, look down, avoid putting your chest towards him and backing away slowly.  Most importantly. Listen to your trail guide very intensely.  You did bring a trail guide, didn’t you?

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6 New Abstract Shots of Water

 

Water is a fun medium to shoot during the day but at night it is a real challenge.  While the camera focused on the surface of the water it wanted  to pick up the reflections in the water and try to focus on them instead.  I took these photographs strictly for artistic flair.  The challenge was to get the light reflection in the water the way I wanted it.

1.  The focus-  The auto-focus in the camera wanted to keep up focus on the image in the water and not the water itself.  I found that by switching to a manual focus or aiming slightly above my “target” on auto-focus gave me the best results.

2.  Depth of Field  -You want a deep depth of field.  Otherwise your colors will become blurred and out of focus in the water.  You also will not see the top of the water in a continuous way.  Now, this might be your preference and I did take shots that had this quality, however, I liked the ability to tell that water was the subject of the pictures.  It’s really a personal preference.

3.  Exposure-  I used long exposures starting at 1/2 to 3″ .  I had issues with the wind.  Sometimes the wind would pick up causing waves in the pond.  The longer the exposure, the more “out of focus” the picture became.  I also tried ISO’s from 200-800.  One thing was very clear.  Using a tripod is not an option.  I also found that using the timer on the camera allowed me to take the shot without touching the camera.  It was cool in the sense that with the ever-changing environment, I sometimes did not know if I had the setting right or not because I was not looking through the eyepiece at the time of the shot.

Overall, it was an exciting shoot.  I got to work with settings on my camera that I do not normally get to play with.  The thing to remember with night shots is that it may take some experimentation to find the right settings for your camera.  But then again,  that is the fun part of working a shoot.  When was the last time you got to play and take pictures in a creative and fun way?  Why not try your own night shoot?

 

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Does Your Art (Pictures) Make Links?

 

Creating links is an extremely important part of the human experience. Indeed, One definition of culture is how a group of people creates links with their environment and each other while surviving both.  So what does this have to do with your pictures?

Well, do your pictures create links with your audience?

  • Physical Link: Is there a physical link in your photograph?  Things like water, rocks, leafs, or puppies.  People know these objects and find them in the physical world. This provides their link to the photograph.  The picture becomes an experience.

 

  • Emotional Link: Is there an emotional link in your picture?  Color causes emotion and that’s a good place to start.  Ever feel down or sleepy on a gloomy cloudy grey day?  That’s the power of color to cause an emotional response.  Show a picture of a dark hallway to cause fear or suspense or bright sunshine flowing off the petals of a beautiful flower to create happiness. A still lake with reds and blues will create calm. Emotional links in a picture is very powerful.

 

  • Spiritual Link:  This link is tricky as everyone is different and has a very personal link to the divine.  What may work for one viewer may not for another.  The subject of the picture needs to remind the viewer of a religious or personal story they have heard or believe in.  A ray of sunshine bursting through storm clouds or a rainbow may remind people of the story of Noah, or God.  This transmits a feeling of hope.  A picture of a wooden flute with a lotus flower signifies peace and meditation to a Buddhist or Lord Krishna to Hindus.  However, be careful you are not transgressing on a belief or a cultural system of laws.

 

  • Logical Link:  These are patterns and special relationships.  Use the rule of thirds or the Golden Ratio to meet this kind of mind stimulation.  The picture of a chessboard or checkers being played in a park or an ancient Go table with black and white pebbles.  These can create the images that stimulate your thoughts and the logical sides of the brain.

 

Truly great art will contain elements of all 4 links and more.  So there are 2 reasons why people might not like a piece of art.

  1. It has all the links, but your experience with one of them is a negative one.
  2. It’s missing one or more of these elements.

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The idea for this post came from reading parts of Multi-modal Intelligence and Multiple Intelligenceshttp://goo.gl/VRgYl