- Oct 2017
what about the increas-ingly tense background music in a lV drama, or the sounds that let us know when a computer is starling up? Whether big or small, each of these aural components conveys meaning.
In psychology, classical conditioning is a type of associative learning that links automatic behaviors with previously neutral, or unrelated, stimuli. Ivan Pavlov’s experiments on dog digestion first introduced the concept of learned associations to the psychology community by demonstrating the transformation of a neutral stimulus into a stimulus that can prompt unconscious behavior. In his experiments, Ivan Pavlov recognized that the natural, unlearned response of dogs to the presence of food was salivation. Salivation was not a learned behavior, but an automatic response to a natural stimulus (food) in the dog’s environment. In this case, food is an unconditioned stimulus because it always induces salivation, which, itself, is an unconditioned response. These two variables encompass a natural stimulus-response relationship, which Pavlov sought to infiltrate with a third variable.
Ivan Pavlov wondered if introducing a neutral stimulus before the unconditioned stimulus would cause a dog to associate both stimuli with salivation. In other words, would the dog execute the unconditioned response of salivation even before the unconditioned stimulus is presented? If this neutral stimulus, able to be perceived by the dog but not naturally associated with his experiment’s unconditioned stimulus (food), regularly preceded the arrival of the unconditioned stimulus, would the dog eventually begin salivating before the unconditioned stimulus (food) even arrived? The answer is yes. Pavlov and his fellow researches sounded a bell before presenting a dog with food for several trials. Once the food was given to the dog, the dog would salivate.
Principally, the sound of the bell was a neutral stimulus. It did not naturally cause the dog to salivate. However, through its continuous pairing with the unconditioned stimulus, food, the sound of the bell became conditioned. Acquisition took place as the dogs learned the link between the sound of the bell (the neutral stimulus) and the arrival of food. Eventually, as classical conditioning completed, the dogs salivated at the sound of the bell alone because they began to anticipate the arrival of food.
One episode of The Office demonstrates this concept of classical conditioning. Jim, a character on the show, conditions his coworker Dwight to reach for an altoid every time his computer shuts down. Because his computer emits an audible noise every time it shuts down, Jim is able to condition Dwight into associating meaning with the sound of his computer shutting down. As mentioned in the text, “small aural components convey meaning,” This clip of The Office demonstrates why and how, seemingly insignificant aural sounds like the sound of a computer turning off, can provoke unconscious or conscious meaning in our lives. In this case, every time Dwight hears the sound of a computer shutting down, he unconsciously reaches for an altoid.
The following variables are necessary to understand the following clip of The Office:
Unconditioned Stimulus: offering an altoid
Unconditioned Response: reaching to grab the altoid
Conditioned Stimulus: sound of the computer shutting down
Conditioned Response: reaching to grab the altoid
Jim Classically Conditions Dwight on The Office: https://vimeo.com/35754924
Link to photo of Ivan Pavlov: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ivan_Pavlov
A Performance Is a Multimodal Text
The supplemental text I chose to analyze is entitled “The inside story of Terminus, the new dance company by five ex-Atlanta Ballet dancers.” Author Scott Freeman details the timeline of the idealization, creation, and implementation of Terminus Modern Ballet Theater through a journal-like storytelling of events. As a writer for ArtsATL, Freeman was assigned to observe and report on the novel dance company as its members navigated strategy sessions, funding requests, and secret ambitions. Four months of weekly, private meetings between Terminus’s five dancers engendered an eloquent disclosure of the modern company’s origins and aspirations.
In September of 2015, the Atlanta Ballet declared that its artistic director, John McFall, would be leaving his position. So, Tara Lee, Christian Clark, Heath Gill, and Rachel Van Buskirk, four of Atlanta Ballet’s star dancers, were selected as members of a dance search committee; the committee would consider three finalists for artistic director, and recommend a candidate to the Atlanta Ballet’s Board of Trustees. As they contemplated the final three candidates, the aforementioned distinguished dancers imagined what an ideal dance company would look like. What would be that company’s values? How would the company’s art be shaped and presented? What would its leadership style comprise?
John Welker, the founder of Wabi Sabi, a summer arts troupe that performs modern dance numbers outdoors, was one of the candidates considered for artistic director. At the time, Welker was an established star dancer of the Atlanta Ballet. To better prepare himself for the role of artistic director, Welker completed a degree in dance at Kennesaw State University and received a master’s degree in business. Star dancers Lee, Van Buskirk, Gill, and Clark all agreed that John Welker was the best fit for the Atlanta Ballet’s position of artistic director. Unfortunately, the Atlanta Ballet already appeared to prefer another candidate, Gennadi Nedvigin. During this time, Nedvigin was retiring as principal dancer at the San Francisco Ballet.
As rumors of Nedvigin’s probable appointment began to spread, dancers Lee, Gill, Van Buskirk, and Clark jokingly considered starting their own company if Welker was not chosen as the Atlanta Ballet’s new artistic director. When Welker’s candidacy was rejected and Nedvigin became the ballet’s appointed artistic director, the four dancers, along with Welker, felt defeated. Under John McFall, the company’s repertoire presented a modern injection of dance that Lee, Gill, Van Buskirk, and Clark enjoyed immensely. However, Nedvigin was trained in classical traditional ballet at the Russian Bolshoi Ballet School; his classical roots seemed to wrap around the ballet’s modern repertoire and squeeze and diminish its presence. With Nedvigin’s appointment, the dancers felt that their “freedom [...] was being taken away” (Freeman). So, after giving Welker time to heal from his rejection and prompt retirement, Gill, Lee, Van Buskirk, and Clark approached Welker with their desire to form a new modern dance company in Atlanta.
In September of 2016, the group, including Welker, met at Kennesaw State University, which they initially saw as hosting a potential performance space for the new company. Having been taught to empower themselves by John McFall, the Atlanta Ballet’s retired artistic director, all of these dancers felt that they had a responsibility to create something they believed in. After ensuring that the four star dancers then performing with the Atlanta Ballet wanted to create meaningful art for the city of Atlanta, Welker felt convinced of the project’s hopes and worth. To Welker, it was critical that the dancers not seek to spurn and remove themselves from the Atlanta Ballet’s legacy; their careers with the Atlanta Ballet were valuable and influential. The new company’s motivation must be devoted solely to the creation of a new vision, not a competition with their past.
The five dancers kept their plans to retire from the Atlanta Ballet and form their own company secret until April of 2017, in which ArtsATL revealed that Lee, Gill, Van Buskirk, and Clark (along with nine other dancers) would be retiring from the company. In May, the retiring dancers shared details about their plans after retirement with fellow dancers in the company. Their start-up dance company, formally known as Terminus Modern Ballet Theater, presented by the Serenbe Institute in cooperation with the Westside Cultural Arts Center, would have two headquarters and five principal dancers. May saw the last performance of Lee, Gill, Van Buskirk, and Clark for the Atlanta Ballet. They performed Camino Real, which incorporates both stage acting and dance. Their time culminated in an emotional finale, yet their ending at the Atlanta Ballet marked a new beginning.
Bibliography: Freeman, Scott. “The inside story of Terminus, the new dance company by five ex-Atlanta Ballet dancers.” ArtsATL, 18 May 2017, http://artsatl.com/story-terminus-dance-company-founded-ex-atlanta-ballet-dancers/. Accessed 1 October 2017.
Like the tools in a toolbox, though, modes can sometimes be used in ways that weren't intended but that get the job done just as well (like a screwdriver being used lo pry open a can of paint).
An example of a mode being used in an unintentionally effective way would be the aural mode of Flannery O’Connor’s voice as she reads her short story “A Good Man Is Hard To Find.” Before reading the linguistic content of her story, my high school professor played an audio recording of O’Connor reading this story in a ballroom theater.
O’Connor is a Southern author from Savannah, Georgia, so one of the first characteristics I noticed of her voice was its accent. Next, I noticed the bluntness with which she spoke. Her voice sounded rather dry and sarcastic at times, which perfectly illustrated, even softened the uncomfortable humor present in the story. I became so engrossed with the aural mode of O’Connor’s short story that once the linguistic mode caught up to me, I felt shocked by the grotesqueness of the events unfolding.
The aural mode of O’Connor’s reading deceived me and lured me into a state of selective-attentiveness, however, this deception worked well to demonstrate the content of her story. “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” is, itself, an illusory and misleading narrative that culminates in a dreadful tragedy which appears quite suddenly and viciously. Until one rereads the story and recognizes the points of foreshadowing present all along, O’Connor’s voice served an unintentional purpose of misleading the (in this case) listener.
At other times, words may work better than images when we arc trying to explain an idea because words can be more descriptive and to the point. It may take too many pictures to convey the same idea quickly (see Fig. 1.18).
For the Primary Source Description assignments, students are required to make heavy use of the linguistic mode in order to communicate the imagery of the quilt. Rather than composing an essay of photographs, students must provide enough detailed and descriptive language of the quilt that potential reconstruction of the panel discussed is possible. As this quote shows, knowing when visual modes and linguistic modes are necessary for the most efficient communication will be an essential skill in our college education. Though the Primary Source Description calls for extensive use of the linguistic mode, the visual mode must also be evoked.
Careful collection and presentation of visual aids will hopefully augment the reader’s imagination of the author’s linguistic mode, instead of overpowering it. My class notes on how to execute a well-rounded Primary Source Description can be seen below, as well as on my website:
Be Specific and Comprehensive in Your Description
• Don't just focus on visual descriptions.
• Describe the texture of the panel, and even its sound.
• Does the panel feel sturdy or thin and frail with age? What is the tactile sensation you observe?
• What are some of the spatial relationships between images, objects, or other attachments on the Quilt panel?
• How much does it weigh?
Images in Your Primary Source Description
• One should include images that quote details from the panel.
• Images may help to support your description.
• You don't have to have a picture of the entire panel.
• In fact, be sure that the images you do include do not supersede the text. The text must remain relevant, so use detailed images that are subordinate to your description.
• Use pictures that help to explain certain details on the Quilt.
If there is a flower on your panel, describe how many petals there are. Use analogous language to better convey the color of an object or the size of it. "The blue is similar to the color of a robin's egg."
As Kenneth Haltman notes in the introduction to American Artifacts, the ability to recreate an object’s “visual and physical effect in words” is critical. Knowing how to use language to effectively describe and interpret visual information can even provide a more comprehensive analysis of that object.
The decision of Welker, Lee, Clark, Van Buskirk, and Gill to name their dance company Terminus was intentional and purposive. The name Terminus comprises multiple elements of symbolism through which meaning can be derived. Terminus was one of Atlanta’s original names, and it describes the former setting of the Southern city. Terminus means “end of the line,” which indicates the spirited growth of Atlanta around the railroad’s stopping point between Georgia and the Midwest. Not only is the name Terminus historically significant to the company’s homebase city, but it is also metaphorically significant.
To the dancers of Terminus, the “end of the line” simultaneously serves as the origin point of a new journey. Their inception as a dance company flourished from their conclusion with Atlanta Ballet, a significant chapter in all of these dancers’ careers. Tara Lee describes a terminus as an “intersection and meeting point of ideas” in which “people [come] together to create something new” (Freeman). She believes that this definition describes the Terminus Modern Ballet Theater dancers well. The name Terminus is multimodal because it evokes specific imagery related to the railroad as well as a symbolic interpretation critical to understanding the motivations and origin story of this ballet company. As the text demonstrates, understanding the full message of even a single word requires a multimodal analysis.
Questions one might ask:
Are there images associated with the word?
What is the word’s historical context?
How is the word presented?
Does it belong at the fore of the conversation?
Does it compete with and/or complement another mode?
Multimodal describes how we combine multiple different ways of communicating in everyday life.
Photo by Felipe Barral: The dancers of Terminus Modern Ballet Theater have built illustrious careers dancing to the beats of other artists’ inspirations. For a long time, they have confined and defined themselves by the expression of other people’s work. Yet, once the Atlanta Ballet embarked on a path that was unfit for their individual artistry, the dancers of Terminus Ballet decided to tread their own path, away from the crossroads that had come to challenge their willingness to be brave. Though these dancers are terrified of the unknown that they have plunged into, they also feel excited and invigorated by the pressure they feel. Pushed by the prospect of failure, the Terminus Modern Ballet Theater dancers are characterized by their intense motivation to introduce new modes of expression into dance. As artists, these dancers hope to experiment with their image as it is presented in all of the contexts that a new company requires.
These dancers, thus, have to be multimodal.
Tara Lee, Heath Gill, John Welker, Rachel Van Buskirk, and Christian Clark don’t only dance; they also contribute to their company’s website, design company logos, contemplate appropriate studio and performance space design, and engage in business strategy sessions. Hoping to present to their audience contemporary modern dance fused with elements of classical ballet, the dancers of Terminus Modern Ballet Theater contain a diverse set of skills, not only in dance, but also in marketing and business. Just like their style of dance cannot be categorized into a specific genre, neither can the capabilities of these performers be categorized or limited by the traditional expectations of dancers. These dancers recognize their need for a multi-modal skill-set so that they can create visual art through both their dance and their digital webpage. They will appreciate the importance of the spatial mode as they block stages for their choreography, and finalize the design of their company logo. Working on multiple interfaces (at the physical, tangible level as well as the digital level) has bolstered this dance company’s intimacy with their creative expression. Their ability to fathom multiple modes is critical to their success.
We can u-;e this mode to communicate representations of how something look~ or how someone is feeling, to instruct, to persuade, and to entertain, among other things.
As page 9 notes, "audio can also have visual impacts." This quote demonstrates the multi-modality of singular objects and subjects, a fact that exhibits the importance of multidimensional analysis. One of the panels on the AIDS Quilt contains a patch of leather, which has both a visual connotation and a distinct aural context. Leather evokes the Danny Zuko stereotype by conjuring images of enigmatic characters and inviting the sounds of rumbling motorcycles.
Cardiac monitoring, similarly, is a common image in popular media that also contains multiple influences and connotations. Cardiac monitoring is typically executed with electrocardiography, a machine that monitors a person’s cardiac rhythm. At its core, though, the sound of a heartbeat monitor relies on the heartbeat itself. Our pulse of life.
The human heartbeat is primal and intrinsic to our humanity. It betrays our fear and reveals our desires. Its visual and aural modes are ingrained within us all, for it is both a familiar sight, and a calming sound. The following short film presents the significance of our heartbeat in finding our truths, facing our fears, and embracing love. Relying heavily on visual and aural modes to encapsulate a story of heartache and romance, "In a Heartbeat" communicates a tale of love by personifying a famed motif, the heart itself.
But a visual presentation of complex information can allow readers to make quick com-parisons.
In her TEDx Talk, Amy Cuddy shared research of other scientists in her field that demonstrates the significance of body language in our conscious and unconscious judgements of others. The “quick comparisons” of “visual representation[s]” mentioned in the text can be directly related to Nalini Ambady’s research on what she termed “thin-slice judgements.” Thin-slice judgements are often unconscious, initial evaluations of another person’s character, yet they influence our perceptions and long-term impressions immensely.
Nalini Ambady’s research challenges the popular belief that human intuition is biased and inaccurate. Brief observations, such as those based on a singular photo or 2-second clip, are powerful demonstrations of “fast thinking.” Fast thinking, despite its quick judgement and conclusion, is no less significant than long-term evaluations. According to Ambady, quick comparisons shape our preference towards both job candidates and romantic partners. They even accurately predict the teaching effectiveness of college professors.
In 1993, Ambady published her first findings on the significance of nonverbal behavior in our determination of another person’s character. In this study, Ambady produced 30-second soundless clips of college lectures; she then asked participants to whom the professor was a stranger to evaluate that professor’s teaching effectiveness. Students of the professor also rated his or her teaching effectiveness, and surprisingly, independent scorers and actual students of the professor produced similar assessments of teaching effectiveness.
Even when shortened to 10 second, 6 second, and 2 second clips, brief, soundless college lectures induced similar ratings of teaching effectiveness between independent raters and actual students. Ambady’s following studies further supported her assessment of the accuracy of “thin-slice judgements, showing that nonverbal behavior (which can be taken into context as all that does not encompass the linguistic mode or the aural mode) efficiently communicates information about our environment.
Alex Todorov of Princeton University conducted a study that found that 70% of the outcomes of Senate and gubernatorial races could be predicted solely based on photos of the candidates’ faces.
Alex Todorov's Research: On the Face of It: The Psychology of Electability by Maria Konnikova
Amy Cuddy is an American social psychologist who has produced significant research on nonverbal behavior and language. In her TEDx Talk, Amy Cuddy shared research (both her own as well as that of others) that demonstrates the significance of body language and other nonverbal cues in our daily interactions and perceptions of our environment. Our emotions and our physiology are influenced by and understood through our nonverbal expressions. Nonverbal expressions of power and dominance cause humans and animals alike to make themselves bigger. When we feel powerful, we take up more space by spreading ourselves on a couch or entering a room emphatically and assertively. These expressions of power are “universal and old.” In fact, they are ingrained within us. Congenitally blind people and those born with sight perform the same gesture of pride when they win at a physical competition. It doesn't matter if they've never seen anyone do it. Both groups of people lift their arms over their head in a V shape and lift their chin - this is the posture of pride studied extensively by Jessica Tracy.
In contrast, expressions of powerlessness make the person or animal small. When we feel powerless or scared, we close in on ourselves, and wrap ourselves up. We don’t want to bump into the person next to us. As a professor at a competitive collegiate institution, Amy Cuddy has observed classic cases of alpha male gestures of dominance as well as gestures of powerlessness most often occurring within populations of women in her classes.
Some people raise their hands really high and occupy a lot of space in the classroom environment; others appear to be “collapsing in on themselves” when they enter her classroom. Correlated with gender, expressions of power engender greater participation in class; expressions of powerlessness are associated with lower participation in the classroom setting. So, even though equally qualified women and men enter the same university, they still experience differences in grades, a fact that seems to be partly attributable to participation. So Cuddy hoped to answer the question of whether or not our nonverbal expressions govern how we think, feel, and behave. She also wanted to explore if one could experience a behavioral outcome by faking confidence and enthusiastic participation.
Physiologically, those who feel more powerful are more likely to be assertive, confident, and optimistic; these people feel that they will win even at games of chance. Powerful people take more risks, and show higher levels of testosterone or the dominance hormone, and lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. For one of Cuddy’s experiments, people were made to adopt either high power poses or low power poses. First, participants spat in a cup. Then, for two minutes, participants would either adopt a high-power or low-power pose. After two minutes, participants are asked to rate how powerful they feel on a series of items. Then, they are given an opportunity gamble, and afterwards spit in another cup.
- 86% of the participants who adopted a high-power pose gambled.
- 60% of the participants who adopted a low-power pose gambled.
- People who adopted the high-power pose experienced a 20% increase in testosterone.
- People who adopted a low-power pose experienced a 10% decrease in testosterone.
- Participants who adopted a high-power pose experienced a 25% decrease in cortisol.
- Participants who adopted a low-power pose experienced a 15% increase in cortisol.
Cuddy’s results demonstrate that as little time as two minutes of power-posing can lead to hormonal changes and behavioral differences, causing us to either feel confident or stress-reactive. In order to apply the significance of body language and power posing to real life, Cuddy and fellow researchers needed to choose a situation that is comparatively evaluative and invites social threat, and other stressors. They felt the most relatable situation would be that of a job interview. Participants in this second study either adopt low-power or high-power poses and aftwerwards undergo a stressful, five-minute job interview. Participants are recorded and judged during the interview. Judges are trained in nonverbal cues, and appear with stoic expressions the entire time.
Four independent coders then evaluate the interview tapes of the study’s participants, and determine who they would hire. These coders are unaware of the hypothesis and conditions of the experiment’s participants. Participants who adopted the high-power poses were hired, and rated more positively overall. The content of the participants’ speech was not necessarily the determining factor. In other words, their linguistic communication did not significantly influence their hiring. The presence of their speech (their enthusiasm, passion, and seeming authenticity) did, all of which was influenced by their initial body language.
Amy Cuddy’s TEDx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ks-_Mh1QhMc
Although most of us arc used to hearing sound all around us every day, we don't often pay attention to how il signals information, including feelings, responses, or needed actions.
One of the activities in our class textbook, Guide to First-Year Writing (6th Edition), asks us to “consider a song as an argument” (70). This activity (activity 2.12, found in chapter two) requires the participant to locate a song that appears to make an argument and answer the activity’s given questions. For this exercise, I chose the song “Love Is Dead” by Estonian musician Kerli.
The title alone presents Kerli’s argument: love is dead. Answering the activity’s given questions, however, caused me to contemplate Kerli’s song as a complex communicative device; I soon realized that Kerli’s message is not as simplistic as the title implies. In my response, I hypothesize that Kerli is a mistress who has made the difficult decision to leave a secret relationship. By referencing lyrics that support my interpretation of the song’s argument, I was able to appreciate the narrative present in the song, and analyze its method of storytelling.
Previously, I felt most drawn to the aural mode of “Love Is Dead,” however, this activity prompted my explicit admiration of the song’s linguistic mode as well. Through the following questions, I discuss how and why the linguistic mode of the song’s argument is supported by its aural mode:
How would you describe the musical style of the song? In what ways does the style of singing and instrumentation help convey the rhetorical argument?
Here is a snippet of my response:
*The composition of the piece seems to describe the navigation of a dangerous path. It’s as if one has to look over one’s shoulder while listening to this song. By employing a sense of danger, the ballad mimics the traitorous and deceptive nature of Kerli’s secret relationship.
In the song, Kerli’s vocals are slightly distorted. She sounds as if she is singing from behind a glass wall, showing that she is both unsure of the words she is singing to herself, and afraid of being honest about her doubt of the worthiness of her relationship. The instrumentation is forceful and almost overpowers Kerli’s voice at times. One is never unaware of the thematic orchestra scoring Kerli’s ascent through perilous territory. As the song advances, however, Kerli’s angelic voice increases in power. She continuously repeats and chants variations of “love is dead, love is gone, love don’t live here anymore,” alternating between singing these words, chanting them, and crying them to the audience.*
As this article’s authors point out, the aural mode of media “signals information” even when we are not consciously aware of those signals.
At first, I only appreciated the superficiality of the composition of “Love Is Dead,” and simply recognized that it sounded good to me. I now realize, however, that the aural mode of the song also performs the deeper, more complex function of storytelling. The sound of Kerli’s song influences the emotions that I feel upon listening, and the imagery I conjure in accordance with the music.
Read the full response on my website, Postscript Reverie: My Analysis of "Love Is Dead"
- Sep 2017
Through care-ful looking, one comes to see an object as significant-as signifying; one comes to possess, to a greater or a lesser degree, a privileged historical knowledge and understanding.
This statement ties back to Haltman’s earlier classification of an object’s gerundial meaning or purpose. Material objects contain a present impact to assess and, perhaps, differentiate, from the significance of those objects in the past. After reading Lepawsky and Mather’s article on the history of the cathode ray tube, I came to know a lot more information about CRTs than I ever knew before. Their impact is astounding. For example, the cathode ray tube was instrumental in bringing television to the United States, an object our culture has since entrenched in nearly every part of society. The television is especially important for communication and media consumption; it was the television that cost Nixon the election! Not only did the cathode ray tube inspire one of the greatest cultural tools in history, it also dramatically restructured American society. Family life in the home was restructured around the television, and industry responded wholeheartedly to this rapid change. The mining industry surged in order to supply materials towards the creation of CRTs, and now CRTs leave a physical footprint in the history as they dwell, unwanted, in warehouses across the country. The CRT was a vital invention that snowballed technological infiltration and advancement of the American workplace, home life, and society. "The Day Politics and TV Changed Forever", an analysis of the 1960 election
read lustory, amt to dream hi~tury, emhedJed in-inscnhed in-objt"cts, m:hly and dynamically.
These words practically jump off the page with liveliness! This quote is a wonderful description of why objects and material culture are essential to our understanding and interpretation of society and of history. The insistence that objects are not simple, nor singular-purposed, allows readers to question the materials they have taken for granted in their own lives which likely contain a greater significance than they realize. Objects are vessels of culture, history, and story. Objects represent us; they even speak for us. Objects reveal our interests and desires - our fears and our weaknesses. What story might an object tell the next generation? Or yet, what story might an object from this lifetime tell to a generation that has no connection to this current time and place? The apocalyptic wasteland present in Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake makes apparent that humans don’t always get to consciously choose which objects are passed on through history, and which ones are not. Who knows what parts of material culture will survive, and which parts might be obliterated forever from the minds of future generations? Discussing the AIDS Quilt in the way this class plans to will ensure a connection between the historical artifact and the future.
Image of the cover of Oryx and Crake:
Description of Oryx and Crake on Amazon: Amazon's Book Description
meeting with instructor
I am excited that we not only have access to guidance from Dr. Wharton, but also the administration at the NAMES Project. For example, information about the process through which a block on the AIDS Quilt is pieced together could not be inferred by looking at the block itself. Knowing that one woman handles this creative responsibility by blasting disco music and separating panels into colors like that which is found on a paint palette, is both awe-inspiring and crucial to the context of the Quilt. The NAMES Project hosts a dedicated staff that also contribute to the storytelling of the Quilt. The emotional labor that comes with opening the world’s eyes to the beautiful stories of those whom loved ones have lost to AIDS and HIV is compelling. It is this narrative that also feeds into the life of the Quilt.
Moreover, such polarities and oppositions offer effective analytic "hooks" of use in organizing insights
Good art, in classical Greece, contained four essential qualities: vitality, beauty, sensuality, and soul (Stewart, 8). Beauty informed by geometry was best, so, symmetria, or proportion, shaped Greek ideals of beauty (Stewart, 10). The Artemision Zeus is one such object and sculpture that encapsulates the balance and control cultivated through the use of polarities or opposites (Stewart, 46). This sculpture of Zeus embodies chiasmus, a state that mirrors the Greek letter 𝛘 (chi); a state of chiasmus projects a perfect alignment of binary opposites, an ideal critical to individual and societal harmony. For example, the Artemision Zeus flexes a right arm that is tense and engaged, yet a left arm that is straight and relaxed. Zeus’s left leg is flexed and engaged, but his right leg is relaxed and straight. This “clash of opposites” establishes kosmos, or order, in the figure by rhythmically instilling poise. Zeus’s absolute authority over imbalance and discord manifests as a combination of carefully constructed proportion and impassive control over opposing features. Completely inscribed within a seven Attic foot square, the Artemision Zeus epitomizes divine discipline and order through a meticulous occupancy of space. The top of the Artemision Zeus’s penis is the midpoint of the square, from which his knees and navel measure one and a half feet. Zeus’s sternum is located one and a half feet away from his navel, and his nipples are one foot apart (Stewart, 47). As Haltman describes here, the polarities present in an object help fuel our interpretation of that object’s significance, substance, and narrative. Polarities provide a multi-layered, multi-dimensional context to an object, and require one to analyze the object from different perspectives. Link to photo of the Artemision Zeus Stewart, Andrew. Classical Greece and the Birth of Western Art. Cambridge University Press, 2008. See this text, Classical Greece and the Birth of Western Art, on Google Books
anything left out of descrip-tion is lost to interpretation forever.
Visiting the NAMES Project illuminated the importance of archiving monumental pieces of craft and storytelling such as the AIDS Quilt. To be able to recreate an object’s “visual and physical effect in words” holds much greater significance than one might think (Haltman, 4). As Dr. Wharton discussed during our first visit to the NAMES Project, our work on this long-term project will have a greater reach than its effect on our grade in this class. Our descriptions of the panels on the AIDS Quilt will contribute to an interactive database for the AIDS Quilt, thus we have a serious responsibility to preserve and honor memories, history, and life. Additionally, fully recreating a panel’s “visual and physical effect in words” prevents it from falling vulnerable to obliteration without hope of recovery. As Roddy noted, the staff at the NAMES Project have photographs of all the panels as well as other information on file about them. When a panel needs to be repaired, thus, the staff knows exactly how the fabric should link together, or what a missing piece used to be, and where it goes. As Dr. Wharton mentioned, if an item in an archive is destroyed, there must be sufficient information about that item or object to inform future generations of its significance. History must be accessible to future generations as well as to as large an audience as possible. So we must recreate an object’s “visual and physical effect” as if it may no longer exist soon thereafter; perhaps that way, we might honor the nuances, intricacies, and impact of an object rightfully and most immediately. The Names Project Luckie St. Location:
They constitute a sort of pedagogic sampler, an anthology of essays in the strictly etymological sense: experiments in or elaborations of a rigorously practical (as opposed to purely theoretical) approach to understanding things.
A practical approach towards understanding the significance of an object opens the conclusions ascertained and presented to a larger audience. Rhetoric can either include or exclude communities, depending on the language present. In A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, Mary Wollstonecraft responds to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s conviction that women are unworthy of any education that does not better their ability to attend to a man’s needs. She reveals the deceptive quality of the formal, eloquent language with which Rousseau writes. A person who is not as educated as Rousseau might not comprehend the true significance of his words given their deceptively reputable, even principled, appearance. A practical and clear-cut analysis of an object better reveals the intentions of an author as she or he makes an argument. It closes the gap of expertise between the reader and the scholar or historian. A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft: https://books.google.com/books/about/A_Vindication_of_the_Rights_of_Woman.html?id=tIo-AQAAMAAJ&printsec=frontcover&source=kp_read_button#v=snippet&q=separate&f=false
From what that you see or know or feel has your sense of your object's thematic content emerged?
The term thematic content stood out to me in this sentence. I admire the way it indicates an active possession of qualities or characteristics.Thematic content encompasses both the intentions and interpretations of an object. Though the supplemental text I read did not explicitly analyze the physical and emotional qualities of the cathode ray tube, I believe that several inferences can be made about the CRT from the information that authors Lepawsky and Mather did include. Primarily, the CRT’s life showcases the usurping nature of technological advancement. Lepawsky and Mather describe the CRT’s first burst into mainstream culture as a colonization of “new terrain [in] the home” (Lepawsky, Mather). Through the medium of television, CRTS “displac[ed] other things, like pianos, that had once been centerpieces of home life” (Lepawsky, Mather). Yet in the 90’s especially, the CRT experienced its own removal from throne. The progression of knowledge often weeds out that which is no longer suitable to the current mainstream environment; however, it is clear that Lepawsky and Mather hope readers understand that the technological products we discard do not disappear, nor are they easily recycled. Finally, though objects may be discarded, it is important to note that their remnants may still circulate - perhaps the thematic content of the CRT implies a sort of invincibility. Though the CRT is not as popular as it once was, it still “makes a living” by entertaining from old television sets or arcade consoles. It also refuses an easy demise. Full of toxic materials, the CRT cannot be landfilled and does not break down. Instead, CRTs find themselves transformed as their parts are stripped and reused in other objects. So, they live on.
Speculation, moreover, reaches beyond unitary readings to lay stress instead on recognizing the object as a site of contested meanings
In “A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube's Strange Afterlife,” authors Josh Lepawsky and Charles Mather challenge the assertion that the cathode ray tube is “dead.” In arguing against the CRT’s death, Lepawsky and Mather simultaneously question whether or not it is possible for any objects or aspects of material culture to “die.” If material culture’s physical properties signify that it is alive simply because it exists in the physical realm, then, yes, the cathode ray tube does live on. Its life is not glamorous - for many CRTs live in waste dumps or abandoned warehouses - yet they are still here. Even with all the objects that culture may shift toward (in this case, flat screen televisions), perhaps there will always be remnants of what came before. The cathode ray tube, thus, is also a “site of contested meanings.” Is the CRT a present member of material culture? Some believe not. In my opinion, the CRT does live on as a piece of material culture. Its current circulation through the waste stream and, still, the entertainment sphere is worth analyzing so that we might seek its narrative. Though quieter, CRTs nevertheless remain. That is worth talking about.
Bibliography: Lepawsky, John and Mather, Charles. “A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube's Strange Afterlife.” The Atlantic. April 29, 2014. www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/a-terminal-condition/361313/. September 4, 2017.
Descriptton provides the bridge between the realm of the material and that of concepts and ideas.
This statement will guide our future panel descriptions beautifully. It is critical that we provide the link, or evidence, of our conclusions to the panel that we are studying. Statements supported directly by the physical, tangible object are powerful because they are credible. A practical, scientific approach towards analyzing an object limits the amount of personal imagination and invention one might use to defend one’s argument. Connecting individual opinion to physical evidence and fact constitutes a strong argument. For instance, the painting Woman, I by Willem De Kooning presents a misogynistic fear of a woman’s sexuality and of her empowerment. The painting depicts a terrifying, monstrous woman, whose vacuous eyes lack humanity, and whose sharp teeth convey a sense of danger. This ugly portrait has a number of physical aspects (besides the image it portrays) that reveal the brutality of its message, and explain the horrific response of critics. De Kooning painted this woman so feverishly that parts of the canvas are coated in layers of paint, spots to which De Kooning returned to over and over, desperate to communicate the aggressive nature of the modern woman. Compared to the pin-up doll images of its time, Woman, I piles together so many colors that the image itself becomes jarring to view. The woman’s large breasts are disarmingly emphasized, whereas her smile is frightening in its mindless eroticism. Her feet appear to be hooves. Such details on the ragged texture of the canvas as well as some of its more bulging features provide a context from which a viewer cringes in disgust and horror. Who is this woman, and what is being done to her? Willem De Kooning, Woman, I These are texts that describe Woman, I and its historical context: Additional Analysis of De Kooning's painting Second Additional Analysis of De Kooning's painting This video involves a detailed discussion of the painting and its symbolism, as well as how it was made: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=208&v=y0xbZTe1JSM
Only if we slow this process down do we find ourselves enabled to recognize and so to evaluate, indeed question, the myriad conclusions we risk otherwise to draw uncritically; only thus can we control for our own-however well-intended-careless or precipitous or culturally-biased leaps to arguably wrong conclusions. Careful deduction buys at least the opportunity to consider a fuller range of possibilities.
The supplemental reading I chose to analyze is entitled “A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube's Strange Afterlife.” Authors Josh Lepawsky and Charles Mather introduce their article with a skeptical probe into the New York Times’ conviction that the “cathode ray tube is dead” (qtd. in Lepawsky and Mather). Questioning what it means for the cathode ray tube (CRT) to have lived and died, Lepawsky and Mather first discuss the origins of the CRT by informing readers of a pivotal 17th-century debate. Thomas Hobbes and Robert Boyle, a political theorist and aristocrat respectively, disputed the significance of Boyle’s vacuum pump, an apparatus Boyle passionately defended as extensive in its impact. Later in the 19th century, two experimenters fundamental to the field of electromagnetic physics demonstrated why the vacuum was an essential component of the cathode ray tube, and was thus, significant. J.J. Thompson proved that electrons passing through a vacuum form cathode rays; Karl Ferdinand Braun built vacuum tubes that contained an electron emitter and a fluorescent screen that allowed him to view electrical waveforms. These cathode ray tubes had the potential to display information on a screen, and this potential was enough to integrate the technology into the mainstream. As CRTs exited the laboratory, they swiftly found a new home and body in the television. Millions of CRTs were manufactured during the 1920’s, which required the additional mining and collection of plastic, glass, and metal, especially copper. TVs during this time only depicted static, but Americans still bought them. As this new cultural and technological phenomenon approached determinedly from the horizon, society eagerly and promptly began to reorganize itself in response. Advertisers envisioned a TV room as the new centerpiece of family life in the home, rather than a traditional piano, or even a radio. Additionally, CRT technology continued to develop with the advent of the computer in the 1950’s. Once CRTs utilizing a video display terminal (VDT) began to be introduced into the workplace, however, a number of health-related difficulties became apparent in the largely female population that worked with CRTs. High stress levels, skin damage, and miscarriages threatened the workforce. The study and revelation of CRT technology’s harms in the workplace took place in the late 1970’s and throughout the 1980’s. The discovery was an omen. Together, flat screen technology and advanced computer monitors replaced CRTs in the homes and minds of Americans. CRTs began to rapidly enter the American waste stream, but the lead located in a CRT’s glass screen as well as its other toxic components prompted U.S. states to ban the unwanted technology from their landfills. Landfilling CRTs might cause toxic materials to leach into surrounding soil or bodies of water. Unfortunately, CRTs have been abandoned in warehouses across the country. Though a CRT recovery economy has met demand in places seeking televisions or arcade consoles, the toxicity of the technology is dangerous to those hoping to strip CRTs of their valuable metals by burning them in acid baths or open flames. Are CRTs thus “dead?” Are they worthless? Authors Lepawsky and Mather ominously reference a bacterium found to thrive in toxic electronic waste as they end their article. Clearly, the remains of CRTs continue to circulate and impact, indicating that even outdated material culture does not go away easily.
Lepawsky, John and Mather, Charles. “A Terminal Condition: The Cathode Ray Tube's Strange Afterlife.” The Atlantic. April 29, 2014. www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2014/04/a-terminal-condition/361313/. September 4, 2017.