Questions about the Comparative Study

I have received some questions from students about the Comparative Study, mostly – but not all – about making connections to the students’ own art-making practice. The last one dropped in as a comment on a blog posted way back in February 2018 (from Antonella). Here they are, together with my answers. 1. Hi, I figured I’d like combine my three artworks to show the connections. Can I make a painting that has bits of each to show how they have influenced ...

The Patterning Instinct

Now and again a book comes out which seems to put its finger on a central issue regarding the nature of human knowledge and its consequences. Such a book, for me, is The Patterning Instinct by Jeremy Lent (May 2017, Prometheus Books). The book’s subtitle, a cultural history of humanity’s search for meaning, encapsulates its focus, scope and ambitions. It attempts to identify the hidden patterns which have shaped human cultures and how the latter have been expressed in terms ...

Burial in China

Around 10 million people die in China each year. Of these about 50% are cremated. The Chinese authorities have looked at ways of reforming burials in China, in order to deal with the lack of space and high prices of burials in certain areas. Each cremation releases around 160 kg of carbon dioxide, so around 800,000 tons of CO2 are released into the atmosphere each year in China, as a result of cremations! As China’s population ages, this amount is likely ...

Nudes vs. Prudes

Discussions, and what is 'acceptable' I recently had a conversation that reminded me that even in my school, which I considered to be fairly enlightened and progressive, there are corners of old-fashioned, conservative and conformist thought. The discussion was about our regular figure drawing workshops for DP visual arts students, and it clearly made this person uncomfortable. Of course, if my school was located in a more conservative culture, this attitude would be predictable and understandable. But my school is located just outside ...

From the Ridiculous to the Sublime: The Visual Elaboration of Ideas

The Ridiculous (or at least, misguided) As an exhibition moderator I sometimes encounter work that seems to be based on a misinterpretation of the visual arts course. Of course the work is not really ‘ridiculous’, but let’s say it might be a little misguided. For example, in one case a student submitted (as artworks in their exhibition) a single Lego brick, and Lego ‘Batman’ and ‘Superman’ figures. Source: Wikimedia Obviously, there is no technical competence involved here: the Lego belonged to the student’s ...

BLOOD, DUST AND CULTURE

I was forced to re-evaluate my definition of culture (and perhaps the many meanings of the word 'civilization') one night in Northern Tanzania when a group of Maasai tribesmen suggested that I drink the hot blood of a freshly slaughtered goat. This is life, Jim, I thought – but not as we know it. I’d watched the killing of the goat, and the invitation to drink the blood was a generous gesture of their hospitality, but no more than that – a ...

PHOTOGRAPHY and the visual arts exhibition (and Blue Nudes in Hull?)

Blue Nudes in Hull I don’t come from Hull  (England) - or to give it its full name Kingston Upon Hull - but it’s less than 50 miles from my birthplace (using the A15 if anyone is interested), and will be UK city of culture in 2017, and is the latest place that has been part of/enjoyed the ideas of Spencer Tunick. Last month more than 3,000 people stripped naked and were painted blue to mark Hull's City of Culture next year. Hull City ...

‘Drones’ (Rosenthal US 2013): the rarest of things in popular cinema. An allegory.

This one is just a relatively quick post. More by way of recommendation than anything else. I was pleasantly surprised this week to discover a film called 'Drones' (Rosenthal US 2013). Essentially I was searching for some kind of guilty pleasure to pass a lonesome evening by, and such a contemporary take on the 'war on terror was potentially diverting. This film promised a fairly conventional low budget fare, the action being confined as it was to a simple functional box of ...

Exercise exploring film making techniques – Shot selections

The following is one in a series of simple exercises to encourage film students thinking about the mechanics of film making, and reflecting on creative choices made by film makers as conscious and intentional. My intention is that these exercises slot into the first semester of IB Film. Hopefully they will be a useful resource towards discussions leading to production portfolios, oral presentation and introducing the basic idea of supporting analytical ideas with actual examples of film language, the lingua franca ...

Globalised strategy

Globalisation measures the flow of goods, services, capital and labour between countries resulting in the closer integration of the economies, cultures, and political interests of the countries and peoples of the world. Joseph Stiglitz, economist and winner of the Nobel Prize, defined globalisation (in Globalisation and its Discontents) as: “The closer integration of the countries and peoples of the world ...brought about by the enormous reduction of costs of transportation and communication, and the breaking down of artificial barriers to the ...