Author Archives: Kait Williamson

Remix and Globalization of Street Art: Post-Modern Flair, Graffiti, and Arabic Calligraphy

Street art is a contemporary culture that is ever-growing and transitioning in significance and meaning. Many artists are flooding the streets of cities around the world, leaving their masterpieces on walls and impacting the creative environment of the metropolis. Street art is a form that is both local and global, sharing its styles, techniques, and codes as a form of communication to citizens and travelers alike in a specific location. Street art is also a unique form of expression in a world that is post-photographic.

Since street art is constantly changing within society, and society is what shapes many of the aspects of that art, the significance of street art messages are becoming more prominent in every day city life. Not only is street art becoming more hybridized and commonly used as a form of artistic expression, the documentation of street art in the forms of photographs and online presence is escalating at a rapid rate. Some artists even rely on the fact that their work is documented in such a fashion, expecting it to be demolished soon after completion. This documentation allows for an increased awareness and improved international reach of artistic work through the Internet, lending to a remix of culture, and hybridity of appropriating past rituals and traditions with the post-modern aspect of art. Because of the distinct remixes happening throughout the globe in various forms (varying depending on culture and subcultures), there are copious amounts of information and insightful lessons to be learned and deciphered.

In the Middle East, graffiti and street art has become ever more prevalent over the past years. The street art allows visitors and viewers to view not only graffiti of images and artistic pieces of objects, but to analyze written graffiti and the messages that are meant to be shared within a particular piece. Each work of street art has unique political, economic, and social factors, illustrating the messaging and content of each work.

(For example, this piece by A1one is dedicated to the struggles of a war-torn Syria)


Street art in a variety of cities in that realm of the world (including main sources such as Lebanon, Tehran, and Palestine) has taken on a common attribute of frequent Arabic script and Arabic calligraphy as the main focus of street art pieces. Coined “Calligraffiti,” this art form remixes the traditional principles of the Arabic script from years past with the post-modern perspective of nostalgia and visibility of documented works within society. Street artist El Seed has never learned traditional calligraphy. “Because of this, he prefers to define it as a form of ‘Calligraffiti’ in which the approach is much more visceral than technical: ‘Arabic script has this specific thing that gives you so much possibility in designing the letters, and I am in love with this ability to re-form and endlessly innovate.’” Furthermore, this art form is globalizing at a rapid speed, eager to take meanings and display of culture from the city of origin and disseminate it throughout major factions of the world in order to gain recognition for a specific message, movement, or unique style and implementation of street art.


Examples of Calligraffiti:

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Hest1, L’Atlas, Native & ZenTwO, and A1one


So what does this remix mean? Why is this specific remix of traditional calligraphy and post-modern art ideologies prevalent in today’s street artists in the Middle East? And why is the globalization of this art so rapid in dissemination? Remix of the traditional Arabic script with post-modern ideologies in conjunction with the globalization of this particular style of street art is due to several factors within the history of art and Arabic script as well as the ubiquitous aspect of today’s social communications, and attributes of the average consumer worldwide. Key concepts involved, include the dissection of what calligraphy is, and what in history and phonetics made it so, as well as concepts within post-modern art that are embodied within street art (and this remix of street art, graffiti, and calligraphy). Within post-modernism, the concepts of High and low forms of culture, late capitalism, nostalgia, and history within nostalgia are referenced in order to form a better understanding of the remix principles. Evidence and examples in the research interpreted include an in depth look at el Seed, a Tunisian artist raised in the suburbs of Paris. Other examples related include works of art and documentation of Palestinian graffiti as well as Beirut, Paris, London, and other cities that are a factor in the globalization of street art and calligraphy (including artists such as Hest1, L’Atlas, A1one, and Native & ZenTwO).

In order to understand how the remix occurred and what the remix of this style of street art is, it’s imperative to delve deeper into the technical aspects of the Arabic script and the components and specific attributes of the types of writing and the history (as well as the acknowledgement of the difference between flow and written scripture in different cultures).

Originally the Arabic script was responsible for shaping the visual aspects of calligraphy and representing the Islamic religion and Holy Scripture of the Koran. This calligraphy then became reproduced, appropriated and perceived as a symbol of religion and the virtue of the ways of the Islamic faith. From that usage, the script was then represented in texts that were irreligious as well as on everyday objects of architecture and appearances on structures throughout cities where Arabic script was the origin of its’ linguistic practices. The artistic expression of the scriptures throughout the cities began at the birth of the original scriptures and cities.

The Arabic script started from borrowing letters and symbols from surrounding regions, and then developed and honed into independent scripture and symbolic meaning through the influence of individuals, culture, and the effects of time. The writing system of Arabic and the alphabet it acquired was first developed around the system invented by the Phoenicians in 1300 BCE. According to Huda Smitshuijzen AbiFares, “As traders, the Phoenicians managed to spread the alphabet across their trade routes and port cities…the Arabic language spread via the Islamic conquests to neighboring nations, into what constitutes the Arab/Islamic nations of today.” The language became something that unified a region of the world, beginning the works of Islamic art through visual representation in symbolism and imagery.

From basic script alphabet to flowing calligraphy, the development took place in the first Arab empire in Iraq in the 7th century, where two styles of fully implemented, flowing calligraphy called the Naskh and Kufic styles were developed. This calligraphy became the higher art form of the 10th century calligraphic styles.

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Picture 1: different styles of Arabic script

Picture 2: Stone carved Thultuh script

The Kufic style was the oldest and most refined art form of calligraphy. This style transcribed the Holy Koran, and in it’s original form, developed into two forms: the smoother, ‘curvilinear Maghrebi’ styles of more western regions including North Africa and Spain, and the angular flair of the eastern part of the empire. This writing wasn’t completely fluid, but rather had breaks between letters and words more frequently than that of script today. Being that the Kufic style was split in half from east and western styles, the end signature of both east and west sometimes also acquired decorative end strokes (such as making the ending of a word a flower on the last stroke, or an arabesque motif). This was the beginning of physical art within the calligraphy, adding to the artistic nuance and meaning behind the calligraphic styles themselves.

Naskh style is the type of calligraphic writing that is accentuated by the fluid handwriting.  This type of calligraphy was used solely for important documents, in what grew to be calligraphic cursive script for official forms. 10th century calligrapher Ibn Muqlah gave the cursive styles of the Arabic script distinct proportions (a type of ruling and order set into place for all the different styles being used). Even though the original styles included Kufic and Naskh, others developed (such as the Thuluth, Muhaqqaq, Rayhan, Tawqii, Ruqaa, Behari, Diwani, Nastaaliq, Shikasteh, and others) they were all taken from the chaos of all these different writing forms and standardized in terms of size and structure to the wide variety of styles. This was important to the times because of the homogeneity enforced by Muglah, enabling for different styles to come together to be understood by a wider variety of individuals who spoke the tongue of Arabic.

Example of Kufic style script:


This standardized, calligraphic form also allowed flexibility for when typography became a movement of the present. Typographic printing tried to embody the most popular calligraphic styles of the time. Arabic type design used the invention of the dry-transfer type, instead of the typesetting machines of that period used by the west because of the cost and the convenience (not to mention the west used a Latin typeset and font, which was not congruent with the Arabic script or alphabet). This was changed when the Internet was invented and the keyboards could be interchanged from one language to another, creating a global world culture.

The idea of a new global world culture through the Internet was inspired from the number of stylistic inefficiencies in digital technologies of the west. Because of the Internet, cultures like Arabic could easily access a way of expressing their language rather than older forms of communication, increasing their representation of the script on digital media. This also opened a new attitude of stylistic experiments in terms of design (on and off the Internet) now that the dialogic of the script could be globalized.

“The novelty of the Arabic fonts lies in the creation of new styles that do not fit into the traditional classifications. These designs vary from the modernist approach of ‘form follows function,’ or the opposite, which puts form before any other consideration. Some type design trends include display fonts that are expressive and playful, designed for special purposes, and often inspired by popular culture. These range from personal formal experiments to representations of vernacular street art, cartoons and comic strips” (AbiFares).

The various forms of global visual communications have rapidly increased around the world. Furthermore, because of the Internet and its’ global outreach, works of art can now be documented, photographed, and dispersed across a variety of social media outlets. Street art has taken on this movement of globalization from the cities of its’ origins to the Internet and even into foreign cities, when the artists choose to further spread their artwork and ideologies behind them in other spaces of the world. The meaning of the same, but the context of the art determines the audience reached and the effectiveness of the viral ability (i.e. if viewers take pictures and uploads it to Twitter, Facebook, etc.).  For example, el Seed has taken his artwork and spread it throughout Canada, Paris, Tunisia, Syria, Palestine, Greece, and others. His work has been spread across several forms of media, by viewers and artists alike.


Watch el Seed create this ^^ masterpiece, and his reasoning for fusing cultures together, HERE.

assabah it_impossible_cape-town_south-africa jara-jolei2 kairouan melbourne

(Paris, Assabah (Tunisia), Cape Town South Africa, Tunisia, Kairouan, Melbourne)

Watch el Seed spread his talent at Harvard, discussing his roots and the meaning of the color purple in Tunisia, HERE.

This globalization and rapid movement of taking street art to new streets around the globe, as well as the idea of traditional calligraphy is implemented by a variety of artist within the Middle East. One of the most prominent artists is an individual who calls himself, “el Seed” (his work pictured above). He uses illustrative or uncommon hybrid variations of letters and the way they are displayed within a city. He takes this traditional calligraphic form of Arabic script, and has globalized it throughout several regions of the world.

The remix that occurs in conjunction of the globalization of street art includes traditional Arabic calligraphy with post-modern ideologies. One characteristic of post-modernism is the aspect of the “Global village phenomena,” or the globalization of cultures, races, images, capital and products through art. It’s is characterized by the, “dissemination of images and information across national boundaries, a sense of erosion or breakdown of national, linguistic, ethnic, and cultural identities; a sense of a global mixing of cultures on a scale unknown to pre-information era societies.” The use of the Internet for globalization has capitalized on this idea for calligraphy and street art in the Middle East to mesh. Borders have been broken, linguistic styles have been dispersed, and the cultural identities of Middle Eastern artists have been shown through their work in various places all over the globe. Although the Internet has catapulted this aspect of post-modernism, there are other aspects this remix embodies. High and low forms of culture, late capitalism, nostalgia, and history within nostalgia are all post-modern ideologies that are remixed with the principle of traditional Arabic calligraphy in order to create a new form of street art, spread across international borders.

“High” and “low” forms of culture are categorized by the type of living of individuals (and how elite that living is).  For example, high culture refers to cultural products and luxuries individuals have the opportunity to have (and those products are seen as desirable), such as the aristocracy or intelligentsia. Low culture refers to art that is part of the masses, or potentially those who aren’t as well educated as those of the elite (for example, reality TV, gossip magazines, or pop music and pop culture art).

The mixture of high and low forms of culture is a post-modern ideology formed through art. The fusion between street art and Arabic calligraphy is a prime example of the hybridization of forms and genres that combine high culture (calligraphy originally seen as an expression of religious freedom and elitism within written culture) and low culture (the idea of pop culture on the streets in plain sight for the masses to consume and then regurgitate via social media). Culture, histories, time periods, and contextual styles are all remixed within this specific form of art that incorporate high and low forms of culture across several points in history. Philosophers and anthropologists such as Ernest Gelner have acknowledged and supported the idea of high and low culture, but other art critics increasingly see it as political distinctions rather than an intellectual or defensible aesthetic. El Seed voices his opinion by saying, “’The revolution [in Tunisia] has created new street artists, and I believe this is a good thing as it is a way to democratize art and bring it to everyone.’ In his eyes, the ‘revolution’ also revolutionized art in Tunisia: “Before [the uprising] art was reserved for the bourgeoisie and the elite and to a large extent it still is today. But the fact that street art was appropriated and is associated with a grassroots movement has brought a brand new dimension to the role of art in mainstream Tunisian society” (Beneat-Donald). A mixture of high and low culture that brings a ubiquitous ability of viewership for citizens, travelers, and art connoisseurs.

Post-modernism also embodies the idea of “late capitalism,” or, “culture dominated by post-industrial, consumerist, multi- and trans-national capitalism, beginnings of globalization.” The consumer is a specific aspect of the ideology that is imperative to the generation and advancement of this type of remix of art. The consumerist in post-modern times is absorbed by materialistic motivations as well as the mass-production aspect of goods. In terms of post-modern art, consumers are now enamored by the idea of revealing infinite cultural aspects of humanities different than their own. Late capitalism in street art and calligraphy is enabled by the consumerist society because of the motivations in the market, which build the basis for globalization standards. The late capitalist environment is so fast paced and on demand, that it is warping time and history in a speedy fashion into the streets and cities all around the world.

Lastly, post-modernism includes a concept of history that is represented through nostalgia and fantasies of the past, becoming a particular style of art. This idea is integrated into street art and the Arabic calligraphic work of Middle Eastern artists. This history is represented through nostalgic means. Arabic calligraphy, as modeled earlier, has its’ origins within the ancient times of religious context. The nostalgia comes from the long time period gone without recognition and appreciation for calligraphic text of Arabic script. Similar to the term “vintage,” or how the new generations of consumers are so interested in remembering the past. The millennial generation is known to be the most nostalgic of all time. Recycling earlier genres or styles of work, images of individuals, colors, clothing, etc. can all play into the role of nostalgia and the powerful message and history it carries.

A1one’s remix of calligraphic script and post-modern ideologies

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Remix on shop signs


Remix in Palestine: 1) Old Town Jerusalem 2) Askar refugee camp (prayers and Al Kaaba drawn on  the wall) and 3) “The right to return ins a right that will never die.” West Bank separation wall (Abu Dis)

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Markings in Beirut: 1) Jisr Al Wati, Greater Beirut, lebanon 2) ASHEKMAN, Jisr Al-Basha, Greater Beirut, Lebanon

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More of El Seed’s remixes:

1) “Civilization,” Toronto, 2010     2) “Respect Our Elders,” Montreal, 2008

3) University of Exeter, UK, 2013     4) Montreal, 2010

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Coincidentally, many of the artists that are delving into historical contexts and participating in nostalgia are within a younger age group. The post-modern aspects of Middle Eastern street art and calligraphy as well as the globalization have been propelled forward by artists like el Seed and others who understand the imperative nature of the Internet, and the opportunity it holds in terms of international outreach and marketing messages through their art.

El Seed is a role model when looking for a new remix and and new type of typography for Arabic calligraphy and street art (follow him on Twitter at Because of his use of an ancient script in conjunction with post-modern ideologies and techniques, his new remix embodies the answer to why this globalization of street art  is occurring. The idea of spreading beliefs and messages (whether they be political, economic, or social) can be achieved by appealing to the historic nostalgia of the ancient Arabic script, while touching on what pleases the present day consumer (in a post-photography post-modern world) by putting these messages in different cities around the globe.

El Seed is not the only artist to achieve the success creating in street art graffiti and Arabic calligraphy, but he is one of the only artists to succeed in globalizing his message and becoming an icon for the new remix of present society. These messages are what increase awareness concerning events and ideas within a certain culture, allowing the whole world to see the messages being created behind what many people thought were closed doors of countries who often are the focus of political, economic, or social struggles.

The fusion of calligraphy in today’s street art and its’ meaning is broadcasted into the global project of all street art and artists. The true meaning and significance behind it all, is to not only create an expression of art, but to disseminate an understanding of culture (the culture of historic scripts and the meaning of calligraphy to the culture of present day occurrences within Middle Eastern society). To curb the ignorance of global stereotypes and misinformation of the struggles and events, and produce an understanding of the everyday experiences of those whose heritage lies in the Middle East and the Arabic script. Dissecting the meaning of calligraphy, the history and phonetics, concepts of the post-modern art (high low culture, late capitalism, nostalgia/history), and identifying examples of globalization and remix are ways society can strive to understand the messages and meaning of culture within this remix of street art, graffiti, and calligraphy.

Watch el Seed diminish stereotypes with his creation of a piece in Camden, Maine, HERE.

Street art’s contemporary culture will continue to transition in significance and meaning. Artists will continue to flood the streets of cities around the world, leaving their mark and works of art as an impactful tool of messaging and remix. Both local and global, the future of street art is yet to be determined, but the rise of the remix of traditional calligraphy and graffiti is on the rise. The styles, techniques, and codes continue to communicate with an audience of citizens, artists, and travelers to inform and inspire, and to begin the movement of understanding in culture from the combination of cultural roots and modern day art styles on the streets.



Works Cited

“A1one Aka تنها / Iran -Middleeast.” A1one Aka / Iran -Middleeast. N.p., May 2014. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

Balbo, Laurie. “Paris Tower “Graffed” by Arab Street Artists, Then Destroyed (VIDEO).” Green Prophet. N.p., 04 Nov. 2013. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

Beneat-Donald, Megan. “Graffiti, Meet Arabic Calligraphy.” Fair Observer°. N.p., 17 Dec. 2012. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

This piece focuses on the meaning of el Seed’s work and the reasons and motivations attached to his masterpieces. It talks of aspects of globalization and new typography in the Middle East as well as El Seed’s journey through time since he began his street artistry. Furthermore, this piece discusses the importance of expression through graffiti and street art as well as why the global aspect of this expression is imperative for others to understand the internal messaging.

“EL Seed.” EL Seed. N.p., 2013. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

“EL Seed Art Sale.” InnerCity Muslim Action Network. N.p., 2012. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

“High and Low Culture – Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2014.

Irvine, Martin. “The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture.” Georgetown University, n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. <>.

Irvine, Martin. “The Po-Mo Page: Postmodern to Post-postmodern.” The Po-Mo Page: Postmodern to Post-postmodern. Georgetown University, 2013. Web. 01 May 2014. <>.

This piece discusses the ideologies of a post-modern society. It covers a variety of aspects from modern to post-modern and the characteristics that make each classification such. This strongly correlates with the ideologies behind present day street art and the post-information, post-photographic society that frames a post-modern art world. This piece also addresses the ideas of anthropologists and philosophers alike and their viewpoints of the progression of post-modernism.

Jameson, Fredric. “Postmodernism and Consumer Society.” Http:// N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2014.

“Note.” Iranian and Arabic Graffiti and Street Art. N.p., Nov. 2013. Web. 02 May 2014. <>.

Pieterse, Jan Nederveen. Globalization and Culture: Global Mélange. 2nd ed. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. Print

Zoghbi, Pascal, Stone, and Joy Hawley. Arabic Graffiti = Gharāfītī ʻArabīyah. Beirut: From Here To Fame, 2011. Print.

This work particularly focuses on all aspects of the Arabic script and calligraphy and the meaning behind it. It touches on the historical aspects of cultural scripture and how the dissemination of this culture occurred. Furthermore, this book discusses the global aspects of graffiti and calligraphy and how many different artists use this in their work today (and how each artist differs from each other depending on the place work is created).


Cyborgs in Pop Culture and Reality: What have we already become?

In our society today, there are numerous examples of ever-changing technology and advancements that simultaneously happen alongside it. Technology is something that is becoming extremely prominent in the lives of individuals all over the world. We carry our cell phones, laptops, iPods, iPads, biometric technologies and other technological devices with us whenever and wherever we go. Try to find a young twenty-something without their cellular device on them these days – it would be a rare occasion.

We are glued to our personal technologies. So engrossed that often young folks could be the victim of what I like to call “crane neck” (bending their head down all the time like a crane’s neck in order to concentrate on their technological device on hand). So when does technology become an integrated part of human beings? Examples of this hybrid mix within popular culture and reality are apparent all around us. Two examples include, “Iron Man” in the Avengers movie, as well as a real life example of embedded technologies within individuals. This brings into question the technological condition of being human and the ideas behind morphing these individuals to have an integrated technological aspect of their being.

Iron Man is seen in several of the Marvel movies including Iron Man I and Iron Man II, Iron Man III, as well as The Avengers. Iron Man is not deemed a cyborg because he is not, “a fusion of living tissue and synthetic components. However, I understand how this isn’t deemed a “cyborg,” but Iron Man does have a chest piece that’s embedded in his body. The device is supposed to function in order to save his life, but is also capable of interacting with the armor he wears over his exterior. Within The Avengers movie, he is shown being stripped of all of his armor after he comes back from a trip, and the chest piece still remains in his body. This body-machine/computer-human combination allows him to have technological powers such as super strength, supersonic-flight capabilities and access to energy-based weapons including Stark’s repulsor-ray technology. Furthermore, Stark/ Iron Man is the one who cybernetically controls the The suit and operating system when he wears it. Below is a scene that proves his technologically embedded chest piece to be what helps him control his abilities and direct the Iron Man suit to assist him.

Watch Movie Sequence of Iron Man Suit Up

Iron Man

This creates fear in the citizens even within the movie at times because of the complex power Stark/Iron Man possesses within one being of an individual (even though that individual is a combination of human and technological processes). The idea is that this combination is unique to Iron Man because of the various super-human functions this human-machine combination provides. Within films and in reality, the unknown of this realm of technology instills a type of fear in individuals. Freud’s terminology of “Uncanny” fits this well: “a concept of an instance where something can be both familiar yet alien at the same time, resulting in a feeling of it being uncomfortably strange.” What is seen in movies as super-human and almost virtually impossible to many is actually brewing in many of the minds of scientist and tech individuals alike. This is ‘uncomfortably strange’ for many humans in today’s society.

The ways that “body-machine” and “computer-human” combinations are represented and imagined reach far into the future. An example of a technology coming to light is an embedded technology within the human body that enables the energy from a human to be transferred in order to power the technology. For example, The Energy Starved Electronics Program (partnership of the government and MIT) allows for this human energy to possibly translate into generating the power needed to make embedded technologies work.

Ideas for technologies include contact lenses that function as computer screens (University of Washington research team has already developed a prototype lens fitted with a small radio that can receive data and LED for displaying this data to the wearer). This lens within the eye has been prompted for comparison to the eyes of the cyborg in the Terminator films.

In theory, the device would convert electronic signals into information that would be displayed onto the contact lens and visible to the user or wearer. “If wirelessly connected to, say, a smartphone with voice-recognition software, a hearing-impaired person wearing such lenses might see a speaker’s words translated into captions.”


This is a comparison and the essence of hybrids of machine and organism. In a way we have already all began to become cyborgs. This technology gives us cultural pathways as well as our politics in life. It fuels our capitalism as well as the yearning to advance and simplify our actions. Many of the day to day realizations come from the innovations in technology and the consistent attachments we create to this technology. The cyborg is a condensed image of both imagination and material reality (Haraway).  This technology is progress. We are putting our thoughts and creations into machine that in turn, will twist the world as we know it in terms of cultural configuration: now and in technological advancements to come.

Steven Feiner, professor of computer science at Columbia University, says by 2050 embedded devices will allow us to immerse ourselves in a sea of computer-generated sounds and sensations (when I hear this I think of MIT’s Kismet). “‘However, I think that most people will instead have the system filter what they see,’ he says. ‘While on a walk in the woods, some folks might want to see overlaid species names.” Then again, he adds, “others will just want to turn it all off.'”


Works Cited

Belfiore, Michael. “History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian.” History, Travel, Arts, Science, People, Places | Smithsonian. N.p., Aug. 2010. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. <>.

IMDb., 2008. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. <>.

“Uncanny.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 04 Aug. 2014. Web. 15 Apr. 2014. <>.

Intertextuality of Culture in Music: Sounds of the Blues

The dialogic contexts within music have hybridized over the course of history. Each defined genre of music has been shaped by past musical compositions as well as present cultural influences. Especially within blues, bebop and rock and roll, there has been a shift that can be identified through works of music by a variety of artists. As mentioned in my last blog, genres have molded and remixed each other. Culture and history are ways of life as well as traditions that are imperative in effecting the meaning of music today. Many times the basic for an artists’ work has to do with the echoes of the past.

Delving into the depths of blues and rock and roll, there are distinct values and combinatorial vocabularies that allow the music to emerge as a unique mix, or a hybrid. This continuum of ongoing hybridization within blues is shown within the breakthrough album, “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis. Two songs that really stick out to me are “Flamenco Sketches” and “Freddie Freeloader.” I touched upon this album last week, but de-black boxing the meaning within these pieces will allow for further investigation on the formation of a different kind of blues. A blues that set the stage for experimentation and the creation of rock and roll.

To de-black box, “Flamenco Sketches,” is opening a door to the basis for rock and roll.  The layered artefacts of Miles Davis and his “Kind of Blue” album dig deep into the roots as well as present day influences of music. What’s so great about this piece is that it doesn’t have a real written melody. This is also a time period when more often than not, individuals would record their music all in one shot without cuts or sectional takes. The melody to this particular song is not prominent throughout the piece. So then how is this piece defined and deciphered?

This piece is defined by sets of chord changes within the song. But, these chord changes are improved. As mentioned last week, the chords are hovered over using modes of the major scales in various tonalities. Each musician separately chose the number of bars for each of the modal passages in his solo dependent on the key of the song at the present moment. Different “modes” or forms of the sounds within the song, are listed below:

C Ionian (natural major scale)
A♭ Mixolydian (Major with a minor 7th)
B♭ Ionian
G Harmonic Minor over D Phrygian Dominant (alternates over bass notes D and E♭)
G Dorian


Hear Flamenco Sketches Here

In the introduction, there was a slow rhythm of base notes as well as sound of the piano from Evans that sounds like chords from “Peace Piece.” The tone of the introduction is filled with low frequency sounds as well as slower tempos.

Throughout the piece the song structures a feeling of interconnectedness and flow between chords, measures and scales. The saxophone, piano, and trumpet are the three instruments that frame this “jazz” piece, and are mixed between parts. Each part has it’s own shining moment. Over the course of the song the main instrument changes from:

Trumpet – Saxophone – Saxophone – Piano – Trumpet.

Obviously these don’t go without the help of other instruments. The measures within each instrumental change throughout the song, but usually remain between combinations of measures of four and eight (an overall constant of 4/4 time is maintained). Each soloist plays a different number of bars between each mode, but there is one pattern of five modes repeated in the same order throughout the piece.

The dynamics of crescendos and decrescendos also accentuate the dynamic of this song from beginning to end. It starts with a softer sound, leading into something rising in power, and back down again by the end. Not to mention, the variation of dynamic within each instrumental as well. Lastly, the timbre is of a more gentle, rounded, flowing sound. The instruments in the background are played pianissimo while others are played mezzo-forte.

After the make of blues, and the beginnings of rock and roll, Hip hop DJs started literally remixing music in the late sixties. They took beat-mixing and turned it into beat juggling, looping and repeating sounds on two different turntables to create a unique piece. This began the literal are of appropriation through culture. As the technology grew, so did the music (and in a short time period). This began the literal copy and paste of repetitions and representations of other works of music and tweaking them a little.

This is now a prominent trait of a bulk of music created today. The repetition and representation became a common attribute of modernism, post-modernism and new media (not just music!) (Attali). This recycled use of music is what I’ve noticed to be a similar idea to the looping of bebop except across different genres. At first composers in bebop would constantly loop the same sound in a song (even some rappers are constantly doing that today). But more so now than ever, we are sampling – what seems to me an amplified form of looping – and repeating samples from renowned artists. In this way, some artists can create a unique sound by tweaking what was once a unique sound. I feel as though Davis and Evans were the stars in creating this experimental atmosphere (see Coltrane in “Giant Steps” post-Davis’ album).

The domestication of this noise and remix has moved across media so quickly due to our rapid consumption and obsession with musical intertextuality. We are now not only just remixing types of music, but by doing this we realize it is a mix of art, media, and especially culture. What we consider “Jamaican” versus what we consider “Jazz” or the sound of what society has deemed “Latino” music is all being remixed in combinatorial ways with other forms of culture and the appropriation of the noise and music of those cultures’ pasts. In essence, it’s important to pinpoint where remix started to rapidly increase and come out of it’s comfort zone, a comfort zone Davis and Evans expanded into the next musical era.

Works Cited

“” N.p., 26 Nov. 2013. Web. 08 Apr. 2014. <>.

“Listening Guide for Miles Davis.” Listening Guide for Miles Davis. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2014. <>.

“Musical Elements.” Musical Elements. N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2014. <>.

The Importance of the Blues: Stretching the Scale

Within the realm of musical genres and change, the hybridity of types of music has slowly formed and meshed into the popular music of today. Musical expression has always had a social situation and community or audience to accept the music that represents the times. As times change, so does the music, stretching itself beyond and spilling over boundaries untampered with.

With music, the genres that evolve are culturally specific and represent the events and atmosphere of different levels of culture. Some music has been inspired by what is considered to be of higher class individuals, while other music has come about through the roots of America and what is known as the lower working class. It all represents the culture specific genres within a time period, with a ‘learned collective meaning system’ involved (which sometimes has multiple subsystems within a culture).

Blues, jazz, and rock n’ roll has evolved throughout the decades into what is currently considered present day, or modern rock. Through the ages these genres have formed, molded, and remixed with each other according to their historical era, as well as previous influences and past traditions/styles learned of other lifestyles. These are the two main aspects that are imperative, effecting the contextual meaning of music today. The past and present happenings are alway imperative when forming new music or compositions, often times using what is previously created as a basis for one’s work.

Miles Davis and his friend George Russell, a composer and scholar, created the next step from jazz and blues to what would become the basis of rock n’ roll. A lot of music right before Davis’ ‘Kind of Blue’ Album came out, a common theme of chord progressions and repetitions within music was prevalent. It had distinct beats and often tempos that equally resembled each other. Russell made the sound of their music based off of scales instead of chords. Instead of the same repetition of chords over and over again with only three or four notes out of an octave, he took the whole scale and used it to make a similar sound that stretched the sounds of the music past just a few chords.

Louis Prima is another person I think of when it comes to jazz, blues, and a little bit of a different way of doing things. Some of his songs became epic cultural themes such as, “Jump, Jive, an’ Wail,” and “Oh Marie.” They too dared to bend the rules of the scale, but keeping much more of the bebop timbre. As mentioned, the change of stretching the scale was a progression that started before Davis, but that him and Russell mastered, ultimately leading to the base precedent for R&B, but I think Prima was a prime example of someone who liked to get creative in terms of tempo and range of music produced, which was the step before Davis and Russell. (See Prima’s “The Wildest!” album here)


As Russell and Davis collaborated, Russell said, “You are free to do anything,” meaning that he threw out the old rules of knowing what chords would be played next. You could tell where a lot of the chord progressions were going to go many times within other pieces of jazz or blues, and Davis and Russell didn’t want to do that anymore. Instead of repeating, they also linked chords, scales, and melodies, which created a flowing progression of music.

In a way this was a hybrid remix of the way music was played prior to Davis. Between him and Russell, they found a new way to mix musical notes to get out of the repetitive loop of bebop. Between the two of them, they hired Bill Evans to play the piano on the ‘Kind of Blues’ album. When a chord would be the sound needed in the song (say, a G Chord,) he would know how to hover around it, using the scales and notes without directly just playing the G chord. It created a flow to the music unheard of. John Coltrane was one of the saxophone players, following in Evans’ lead of relative notes and scales. Coltrane sealed the deal to this way of music by making his new album, ‘Giant Steps.’ This album was even more free than Russell’s composing or Evans’ playing which led to a wild compilation of scales chords and notes that flowed and became the beginning of a new era.

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A last note based upon the technologies used in this time period: the microphone was revolutionary and is something I feel is a little underrated now that we have mics that are extremely sensitive and can be a small bud taped to an actresses face as he/she sings the finale with ease. With the invention of the radio, microphones were mastered (after their original invention in 1876). New broadcasting microphones were created in 1942 for news purposes, and in 1964, Bell Laboratories researchers West and Sessler received their patent for an electret microphone, which offered better quality in general (lower cost, higher precision, smaller size).  The more it was worked on the better it sounded, allowing performances to be executed in a way that could really entertain larger crowds. Whether it was used in the studio for recording like with Davis or other celebrities, or in performances, it enhanced the sound of music. The mic now gave sound (and musical instruments) a chance to shine no matter its frequency, genre, or personal style.

Works Cited

“AllMusic.” AllMusic. N.p., 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. <>.

Bellis, Mary. “The History of Microphones.” Inventors., 05 Mar. 2014. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. <>.

Kaplan, Fred. “Why Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue Is so Great.” Slate Magazine. N.p., 17 Aug. 2009. Web. 01 Apr. 2014. <>.

Martin Irvine, “Popular Music as a Meaning System”


Photography and Social Index: Documentation Obsession and Progressive Themes

Throughout the development of photography as art, and genres of photographic styles, there is an ever-changing remix of mediums, and a multitude of alternative methods for promoting ones work. Pierre Bourdieu was the first to claim photography fills the function of social index. Being such, over time, photography has blossomed into an art that has a variety of uses including those more geared towards marketing on social media, strictly artistic intentions, social/political statements, etc., or a combination of uses. The publication and material context are what frame the meaning in these variety of ways, cuing the entrance of realizations in the differences in photography over time. Today, many use photography as an obsession and norm of documentation as well as a marketing tool in every aspect of life.

Two examples of photographers from different historical contexts that used photography in different ways are Cindy Sherman and Ansel Adams. Adams, born in 1902, was renowned for created masterpieces of photos including nature and the natural world around him. However, Adams was part of a group of photographers, Group f/64, that truly believed that a photograph is crafted and designed by an artist rather than simply taken or recorded by a technological device. This argument was prominent in the 1930s around Adams’ and others’ work, recognizing the real “truth value” of a photograph: constructed image or just a “picture” taken with mechanical equipment? For Adams it was all about how the photo was shot which made the photographer an artist. Looking at his photography, he has a definite style of perspective, framing, focus, angle, clarity, and the creativity in between.

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Group f/64 wanted to expose a modern aesthetic by revealing natural forms and found objects. A “purist” approach that came to be known as ‘Straight Photography’ (which was the opposite of many pictorialist photographers). This vision became widely accepted, dominating the market in a way that no longer made it controversial as it was in the 1930s. Furthermore, this method is coming full circle in today’s society, due to the amount of edited photos and photography by the average individual that alters a photo’s straight, natural form. It is now seen to be of higher caliber among the millennial generation when a photograph has #nofilter or is #allnatural on various social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, something that would please Group f/64’s efforts.

(View more of Adams’ work, click here).

In later years, Cindy Sherman, born 1954, grew to become a photographer in an era that was based on the principle of sociological effect within a photo. Many of the images she created had a series of interconnectedness with themes such as stereotypes in high culture and entertainment. The images were reproducing was had already been reproduced within entertainment industries. For example, Hollywood scenarios, TV soaps, Harlequin romances, advertising, marketing, etc. She also made herself both the subject and object of her photography many instances. What Sherman represented, was a critical parody of the times, and the trends of mass culture as well as popular culture and entertainment.

Her imitation of what sociologically was represented in present day television and film was to showcase stereotypes in a certain light. She represents the objectification of women everywhere as well as stereotypes attributed to many within the time period. This was one of the emerging photographers who used their work to make statements about sociological effects, using the photo to do so. Mass advertising is another ideology accepted and widely used starting in the mid-late twentieth century. Advertisements are now spread across several medias (including but not limited to magazines, newspapers, television, radio, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc.) and is not limited to products on the shelves. As individuals we all now have the privilege of being an “artist” through various forms of social interaction online. We are our own authors, photographers, marketing professionals, etc. It’s all about building your own brand, which Sherman very much did so herself.

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(For more of Sherman’s work, click here)

So is building your own brand and marketing yourself always a reality? Sherman’s work also touches upon the idea of Simulacral: the world of distinguishing reality and phantasm is denied. Many times, we as Americans take what’s in film, magazines, television, and media to be 100% truth. Maybe Sherman’s way of telling us differently is through her representation through art. What we watch and see via a variety of media is not the reality we may wish it to be, including ourselves.

We ritualize documenting where we are, who we are with, what we are doing, and also make it a habit of taking personal snapshots and portraits with smartphones and apps. There is social power within this representation of ourselves. But, Sherman’s photographic art still rings clear. Many of these “realities” aren’t so real. Is the girl in the photo really that pretty? Or are the filters and magnitudes of editing what make her facial structure the way she would like. Is the photo of the male model really that toned? Or did photoshop help him out around his love handles?

The quantity of ritualized documentation of every moment in our lives through photographs, as well as the sociotechnical marketing and mass production that can take place through various medias is what sometimes blurs the reality of “personal photography,” and marketing of oneself. However, throughout the arrival of modern and  post-modern photography, Bourdieu was right. Photography is filling the role of a social index, seeming imperative in the lives of many. The ideologies of creating ones own photo, societal representation, realism, and marketing/advertising still hold strong for professionals at work in the photographic art industry today.

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz



Works Cited

Douglas Crimp, “The Photographic Activity of Post-Modernism,” October 15, 1980.

Key Issues in Studying Photography: “Making a Photograph” vs. “Taking a Picture” (Irvine)

Martin Irvine, Introduction to Photography: From Optics and Photography to Post-Photography (presentation)

Rosalind Krauss, “A Note on Photography and the Simulacral,” October 31 (1984), especially pp. 55-62.

From All Cities to All Cities: Urban art in San Francisco, Visual Culture, and Free Opinion in the Streets

Within works of art, messages are conveyed through various mediums and methods of expression. Many street artists have established themselves around the globe, growing in popularity depending on the art and the messaging/themes within. Barry McGee, based in California, creates art that is rising in fame, combining different techniques and styles in order to successfully portray different messages throughout an overall theme of realism and urban life in “lower class” areas and communities. In essence, the hybrid genres and media use realism, appropriation and combination of objects common in society in order to make a statement concerning political and social regimes of thought, as well as remix of multiple genres of urban art. His art spreads messages within society, and getting those messages to be heard beyond one’s hometown with a post-photographic and post-internet style.

McGee invtented a style that, “celebrated a life of improvised urban poverty, skater and surfer attitude, graffiti struggles to claim city turf, art school punk point of view, and other youthful shenanigans” (Pritikin). The art he involved himself with, whether it be individuals or group creations, took a lot of skill and thought but was designed not to look as thought much effort was put forth. McGee used the cheapest of materials, including real life items found on a daily basis in an urban area, quick rendering of images, a variety of subjects within the photos (from “feminist heroines to the bums on the street”), and hobo train art.  Some of the elements included in his works varied from empty liquor bottles and spray paint cans, to tagged signs, to wrenches and scrap wood or metal. The compilation and remix between the various combinations of this style makes his artwork a perfect embodiment and collage of the skater/surfer atmosphere.

McGee’s street credibility and dissemination of his artwork on the web were the two main techniques that needed perfecting in order to get the messages he wished to portray past the borders of his community. The city is his art; his home environment. His artwork was solely inspired by the intimate culture and experiences throughout the city’s streets. In many of his works, McGee draws from his roots of the Mission District in San Francisco, CA, as well as punk and hip-hop styles to remix his art, and was inspired from the contemporary urban culture he knew so well and the gentrification of his hometown since the 1970s. For example, in some of his works on the street, (many used to claim his work was “vandalism), he liked to overturn cars and sometimes light them on fire, using spray-paint to color and pattern the surrounding walls of his work in the streets.



(To view more of McGee’s work, click here: McGee Images)

How I see the hybrid genres and media used by this artist in a dialogic situation is through the integration of elements from all possible interests and relatable appeal within the city. His work was one that allowed direct communication between the art world and the constituents within that area. The street art and graffiti represented on street corners and walls is a vital method of communication that keeps the two entities in touch, while conveying messages concerning social, political, or economic standpoints of living. It allows art to connect with a larger, more diverse audience in the public realm of people’s homes (rather than that of a gallery or the walls of a museum, with known intention of holding creations from various artists). This medium of communication is imperative for messaging and popular support of individuals living within those regions. For example, McGee’s “trademark icon” is that of a male caricature that has sagging eyes and bewildered expression. It is said to represent the homeless people who call the streets their home. “McGee’s characters look anguished, depressed and frustrated with the lower class urban life of which they are a part of” (Hawkins). We as humans are aware of many poverty stricken areas of the United States as well as the world. But, for someone to demonstrate it as a reminder for those who walk past it every day through art, could enlighten those who have never been to the location, and encourage others who do to take action.

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To inform, to encourage, to generate a message and visual culture that is shared by all is the goal, even if it involves a little risk-taking. When asked about the danger involved in painting his early works of street art, McGee responded, revealing a good bit of character, “I like that aspect of it. You have to get it done without getting caught. I’ve been caught so many times. I was in New York one time. I think I was writing ‘Abort Bush’ on Canal Street. I’d done three or four roll-up gates. On the fourth one – I think the Republican convention was in town, it just wasn’t the right time to be doing that – this taxicab rolled up and four cops jumped out. You just go into the system for twenty-four hours. Community service… that’s part of it.”

(To see McGee in some art-making action, watch this: McGee at Work)

These messages through street art within cities around the world are all representations of struggles, positives, negatives, movements, etc. that a group of citizens could encounter. Within the cities and complexities of visual culture in urban environments, comes an interconnected sense of thematic memorandum throughout the network of global cities. It takes the culture of each place and dematerializes it, breaking it down to represent the elements and experiences of every day life. With McGee making a statement of visual culture in the environment of his city, it prefaces the connection between his city and others, yet maintaining an identity unique to his hometown.

Street art is revolutionizing the way in that individuals are responsive to the real world, bringing to light many aspects of socio-political regimes of visibility as well as the visual construct of struggle and culture. From San Fran, to all cities located on the globe, street art is bringing the free opinion of artists to light, emphasizing the lives of urban communities through hybrid genres of expression.

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Works Cited

“Barry McGee.” Art21. Art21 Magazine, 2001. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>

Hawkins, Dannie. “Barry McGee: Street Art Becomes High Art.” The Guardsman. N.p., 2014. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>.

Martin Irvine, “The Work on the Street: Street Art and Visual Culture” (pdf). See also the thumbnail list of images cited (pdf). Chapter in The Handbook of Visual Culture, ed. Barry Sandywell and Ian Heywood. London/New York: Berg, 2012: 235-278. This is a preprint pdf of the book chapter; for personal use only. This book chapter represents a work in progress toward my own book on street art and city.

Pritikin, Renny. “Barry McGee.” Huck Magazine. N.p., 18 Mar. 2013. Web. 17 Mar. 2014. <>.

Warhol’s Mastermind Tactics in Mass Production: Endangered Species Portfolio

Andy Warhol has been credited as one of the most valued artists in history, changing the vibes of artwork to focus on what we now call pop-art. A group of related works that Warhol incorporated into this pop-art era are his Endangered Species pieces. Within Andy Warhol’s paintings of the portfolio, Endangered Species, there are many underlying meanings and a concrete process of creation. Ten colored silkscreen prints were made by Warhol in dedication to of a select group of endangered species at the time. These included the bald eagle, black rhino, African elephant, bighorn ram, giant panda, Grevy’s zebra, orangutan, Pine Barrens tree frog, Siberian tiger, and San Francisco silverspot. They were composed on Lenox Museum Board, and are 38 x 38 inches. In the lower center of each painting, they are signed and numbered by Andy Warhol. These paintings are looked as as an entire portfolio and individually in comparison to Warhol’s creations of the Marilyn Monroe, Liz Taylor, and Muhammad Ali prints (the other screen prints he created that were instantly famous). I find the readings have thoroughly depicted the exploration of character and his creation of material reality, as well as supreme advertising and mass production something prevalent throughout this portfolio’s making.

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The entire portfolio was created in 1983, which was later in the artist’s career after he mastered the idea of capitalism and production. The works have been re-located several times to picture galleries around the world (Carnegie Melon in Pittsburgh, PA, Dulwich Picture Gallery in London, etc.). “1983 April The American Museum of Natural History in new York exhibits Warhol’s editioned print portfolio Endangered Species. Warhol gifts many of the prints to charities concerned with the preservation of the natural environment” (Lowery). Since the paintings were reproduced, there is a large argument of what is considered an “authentic” Andy Warhol painting (especially since these works were done in the 1980’s). Warhol is known for working advertising and art on a large scale, learning that if his works were reproduced (even if not solely created by him) they would still be sold. The Georgetown Frame Shoppe is selling one print of each animal that is thought to be authentic. The only one that has been purchased thus far is the zebra. All others are still available, if interested. However, there is a large debate all over the world to which paintings were manufactured by workers (and potentially only signed by Warhol), or whether he actually did the work himself.

(See Georgetown Frame Shoppe Website here: Georgetown Frame Shoppe: Endangered Species)

The interpretive contexts are complex but make sense due to the time period. The paintings were made because art dealers Ronald and Frayda Feldman commissioned the portfolio after talking to Warhol about the present environmental and ecological issues in the world. Beach erosion was the main topic of conversation. Warhol was known to have a natural curiosity with animals, so he was delighted to take on the project suggested by the Feldman’s. The resulting screenprints were lively interpretations of each of the ten endangered animals. They are extremely colorful and don’t look as though they were painted, but almost printed, forming a material reality. Warhol described as “animals in make up.” Many describe his focus on each animal on its own, “puts them on a level of superstardom along with the infamous screen prints of his past” (ANDY WARHOL, Christie’s). Many remix principles are used within this portfolio because of the way the prints are made, as well as the way they look. Warhol was also using remix in terms of repetition and appropriation when mass producing them. He uses the appropriation (just like in Monroe, Taylor, and Ali’s photos) to re-create an object that is of popular culture or that has an appeal within individuals at that time (i.e. many people care about endangered species throughout the world). He knows that these items are of a completely different genre, with their grainy, slightly “out-of-register” images. Warhol himself said he wanted something that gave more of an assembly line effect. “They looked like mechanically reproduced photos in cheap tabloid newspapers” (Dorment); a combination of real people and animals with a fake, colorful vibe (or as previously mentioned, looking like they are hidden behind “make-up”). Of the ten animals in Warhol’s work, eight remain on the endangered species list. The bald eagle was taken off the endangered species list in 2007 because of a recovery within the species, and the Pine Barrens tree frog was removed in 1983 shortly after Warhol’s creation due to erroneous data on the animal. The reception of the works was generally well-received, especially since the style was similar to previous works. Furthermore, the causation and inspiration of his works were appreciated by all who wish to preserve animals throughout the planet with dwindling populations. It also created an heir of interconnectedness, since the ten species he chose were from many areas across the globe. The exploration of character, Warhol’s creation of material reality, as well as his supreme advertising and mass production are three ideas that make his work unique, and prove that Warhol was a mastermind for capitalist endeavors in for art the marketplace.

Real Footage of the Portfolio (including opinion of artwork and connection to previous works):

Works Cited

“ANDY WARHOL | Endangered Species (F. & S. II.293-302) | Prints Auction | 1980s, Prints & Multiples | Christie’s.” Christie’s, 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <>.

“Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species Three Decades on – Image 1 – New Scientist.”Gallery – Andy Warhol’s Endangered Species Three Decades on – Image 1 – New Scientist. New Scientist, June 2012. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <>.

“Andy Warhol Grevy’s Zebra.” Joseph K. Levene Fine Art Ltd. N.p., 2003. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <>.

Dorment, Richard. “What Is an Andy Warhol?” The New York Review of Books. N.p., 23 Sept. 2009. Web. 02 Mar. 2014. <>.

Jones, Jonathan. “Spilling the Soup on Andy Warhol’s Legacy.” Guardian News and Media, 24 July 2013. Web. 03 Mar. 2014 < lawsuits>.

Kish, Leigh. “Warhol’s Endangered Species Series: Collection of Andy Warhol Prints on View at Carnegie Museum of Natural History.” Carnegie Museum of Natural History. Carnegie Museum of Natural History, 21 Nov. 2011. Web. 03 Mar. 2014. <>.

Retrospect of Rauschenberg and Combinatorial Art

When doing the readings I felt compelled to write about Rauschenberg and the hybridity of his “collage”- like paintings and sculptures. It’s thanks to him that many Americans began to think that all art can be a combination of virtually any item. “It is largely, if not exclusively, thanks to Robert Rauschenberg that Americans since the 1950’s have come to think that art can be made out of anything, exist anywhere, last forever or just for a moment and serve almost any purpose or no purpose at all except to suggest that the stuff of life and the stuff of art are ultimately one and the same” (Kimmelman). Combinatorial art, appropriation, “low sources” to “high art,” real objects, and pop culture, all play a role in how pop art came to be the style of the 1960s-1980s.

Three works of his that particularly stood out to me were his, “Statue of Liberty” (1983), “Signs” (1970), and “Spring Clearance” (1961). Pop art it embodied in these three works within appropriation and combinatorial art. In all three photos you see that they aren’t items that you might think go together. For example, in “Signs,” you see JFK and an astronaut, but also Martin Luther King Jr., military officials, a group of people throwing up the peace sign, etc. It’s a combination of many people and movements that represent the time period. “Statue of Liberty,” combines different perspectives and close-ups of the statue itself (from the dress to the crown, etc.). “Spring Clearance” is more of a statement of the chaos in my opinion, of what spring clearance is like. You can make out a mixture of concrete items within the organized chaos of the painting.




“Statue of Liberty”







“Spring Clearance”


Slight appropriation is at times used within pop art in order to create something newer to the times that models previous work – many individuals have tried to capture the beauty of the statue of liberty or the profile of JFK. Rauschenberg took everyday peoples, places, landmarks, etc. and made them his own, making it seem as if he took a few pictures and put them together, rearranging the pieces.

Furthermore, many artists in this time period used basic items in their new pop art work. Like Rauschenberg used buttons, regular people, tires, animals, etc., so did other artists of the time period. By creating art with normal items that we see in everyday life, we promote these “low sources” into “high art.” For example, in Rauschenberg’s “Spring Clearance,” there are various low source items within the painting, as in many of his sculptures and other pop art creations.  I think this arrangement of discrete elements makes the art more relatable. It’s a mix of emotions that use real life events, objects, people, and basic items that adds meaning. Everyone looking at this art experiences many of these things on a day to day basis, or has experienced the event that is being portrayed within the painting. Pop art through Rauschenberg portrays real objects as things not the representation of them. It allows the audience to appreciate and see the beauty in the combinations and mixtures of simple items we see frequently. “I really feel sorry for people who think things like soap dishes or mirror or Coke bottles are ugly, because they’re surrounded by things like that all day long, and it must make them miserable.”

Hamilton also suggests that, “It [pop art] must entail a deconstructing of the mediated image-word bite that hails us from magazines, billboards, television, and now computers too. These artworks make us think; deconstructing them allows us to see the pop culture, social, political, and technological happenings of the time, that takes us away from TV, computers, etc.

Pop art came to be the style of the 1960s-1980s within Rauschenberg’s contribution of combinatorial art, appropriation, “low sources” to “high art,” real objects, and pop culture. These can all be mixed together in order to effectively create a popular art form.

Relating pop art of the 60s – 80s (as well as many other eras of art), other than Rauschenberg, a place in today’s society brings them all together and appropriates the appropriated. “Grounds for Sculpture” is a place in Trenton, NJ that showcases many paintings and sculptures of various artists. “Grounds For Sculpture was established in 1992 to promote an understanding of and appreciation for contemporary sculpture for all people…”

(Find the Grounds for Sculpture website here: Grounds for Sculpture)

The reason I find this place compelling and related to this week’s readings, is because of something Warhol said: “Pop art took the inside and put it outside, took the outside and put it inside.” Within the 42 acres of this place that is available for the public to walk around and physically experience many eras of sculptures and paintings of art, which embodies the realism and inside/outside theory that Warhol emphasized. Even though it doesn’t focus on Rauschenberg’s work, I think this is worth mentioning, since it takes real art and puts it in a setting that is relatable to every day humans. Many sculptures remind me of Manet’s paintings, who was credited with starting part of the movement of modern art, leading to the topic of discussion: pop art.

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Hal Foster, “On the First Pop Age,” New Left Review 19, January-February 2003.

Interview with Foster on the main ideas in his recent book, The First Pop Age (Princeton Univ. Press, 2011)

Martin Irvine, Dialogism and the Cultural Encyclopedia through Pop and Appropriation Art(presentation) (also for class discussion)

Michael Kimmelman, “Art Out of Anything,” Review of Robert Rauschenberg, Combines, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York Times, 12.23.2005.

“Mission.” Grounds For Sculpture. N.p., 2005. Web. 24 Feb. 2014. <>.

Original Culture in Photographic Art: the Native American Perspective

Technologies that produce images, or any photographic art have always been a form of cultural hybridity. Over time, photography in culture has allowed us to see the progression and change within certain areas or within particular groups around the world. In America, many cultural values are associated with photography, film, or video clips, and these values are effective even in today’s society.

One specific example that sets the stage for cultural values as well as a representation of hybrid beliefs within a specific society is Project 562, “A photo project dedicated to photographing Native America.” Project 562 was created and is being conducted by a Native American woman, Matika Wilbur. Wilbur’s dedication and drive to this project is explained when she says, “I have been fulfilling the project’s goal of photographing citizens of each federally recognized tribe in the United States (there are now 566)…My hope, I that when the project is complete, it will serve to educate the nation and shift the collective consciousness toward recognizing our own indigenous communities.” The number 562 came from, at the time, the number of federally recognized Tribal Nations in the United States.

(To see a video summary, Click Here: Matika Wilbur Video )

In Plato’s work, he mentioned the simulation and reproduction of images, including indexical function (a pre-existing reality outside of the image). Wilbur is the first artist and photographer to start a project like this in 100 years, reproducing images that are attempting to give Native Americans a better reputation. The cultural values she integrates and mixes together throughout her work is the modern Native American with their traditional values still in tact. Wilbur wishes to reproduce Native American images in order to show the world how Native Americans can still maintain their original culture while adapting and succeeding in today’s technological society. The wary, disliked savage is no longer the message being sent about Native Americans.

Malraux relates to reproduction and Project 562 in several theories. Malraux mentions that today we face the issue of access to cultural history because we use technologies of representation that “dislocate the objects reproduced from their historical and material contexts, and position them in a regulating narrative…” A narrative that is someone else’s idea, instead of, in Wilbur’s case, what originally took place. Furthermore, Malraux argues that in the artworks of the past are coming into view through technology – especially photography and it’s improving quality of color, clarity, and mass-produced reproductions. Photography today not only has better quality and color, but can be marketed to the masses as well as mass-produced.

Wilbur says, “Most of the time, I’ve been invited to geographically remote reservations to take portraits and hear stories from a myriad of tribes, while at other time I’ve photographed members of the 70 percent of Native Americans living in urban settings.” The cultural values associated with photography are ones of culture, societal norms, or news information. It uses visuals, for example, to show the poverty in fourth world countries or to exemplify the norms of a community. This continues to work in a digital era because it promotes different causes, issues, and opens the eyes of the people to new information. Furthermore, photography can now be unveiled through the Internet in blogs, through social media, and can also be shared by millions of people each day, throughout the world. Relating back to marketing, the Internet has allowed for marketing an artist, and his/her work through technology to become an easy feat.

Wilbur forms a positive image of the Native Americans’ heritage, race, and ways of life, unlike many people before her. She is showing what is real. This is where Baudrillard’s idea of hyperreality comes into play. Many representations of a set group of individuals can be made to seem a certain way, and people can’t understand if it’s real or fake – kind of like reality TV. Many people still squabble over whether a show like the “Jersey Shore” is using real footage or if the scenes are actually set up scene by scene. The Native Americans were portrayed through the media and through history at times as burdens to American soil and were given a bad reputation through means of stories, newspapers, and photography of old, unsuccessful tribes. The audience this information reached was unable to decipher what was real or fake. What are Native Americans really like? Wilbur has begun to spread the positive aspects of the real day in the life of Native Americans in order to diminish that hyperreality. Human intelligence on this topic will begin to cease to be artificial thoughts and preconceived notions. And like Baudrillard’s hyperreality theories, what’s seen in Wilbur’s photos is arguably more powerful through media than in one individual’s direct experience. The “realism” of her photos is becoming a social reality; in other words, visual mediation is the medium of the cultural ideology of representation.

(For a thorough representation of her work, click here: Matika Wilbur’s Blog)

Wilbur’s work is ultimately allowing for intertextuality to take place between worlds – the mix of modern ways with traditionalist values of the Native Americans. The awareness she is creating in today’s society modifies the images of the past and puts a positive spin on the changes being made of the representation of Native Americans. Malraux noticed, “a universalizing abstract idea of ‘art history’- an abstract “cultural encyclopedia” that could be instantiated and represented in art history books.” Wilbur is creating her own art history through the technology of today’s photography, upholding and attempting to tear down some of the theories of reproduction in photographic art.

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Works Cited

Brooks, Katherine. “Project 562 Aims To Photograph Every Native American Tribe In The United States.” The Huffington Post., 14 Feb. 2014. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <>.

Irvine, Martin. “Malraux: Imaginary Museum – Google Drive.” Malraux: Imaginary Museum – Google Drive. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <>.

Irvine, Martin. “Mediation and Representation: Plato to Baudrillard and Digital Media.” N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2014. <>.

Lamour, Joseph. “It’s Been Over 100 Years Since An Artist Has Done This In America. About Time Someone Did It Again.” Upworthy. N.p., n.d. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <>.

Malraux, André. The Voices of Silence. French, Les Voix du Silence, 1951. Translated by Stuart Gilbert. Garden City, NY; repr. Princeton: Doubleday; Princeton Univ. Press, 1953.

Wilbur, Matika. “Project 562 – Project 562- A Photo Project by Matika Wilbur Documenting Native America.” Project 562 Travel Log. N.p., 2013. Web. 18 Feb. 2014. <>.


Copyright Abolition & Cultural Progression: Emphasis on Political Campaigns

Copyright issues have arisen since our society has continued to become ever more technical upon our approach to law, life, and ownership. “Authorship” and “works” have been slowly but surely redefined in today’s society in many legal and social situations. These terms are becoming more public than ever with the invention of the internet and are allowing access of many works to individuals (especially young generations) across international borders. In turn, this is affecting and changing our culture as we know it, effecting many spectrums of our society including political campaigns.

Larry Lessig describes the change of copyright and says that today, digital technology is the revival of read-write user innovated content, a culture where people produce for the love of what they are doing not the money, and become available to new business endeavors. in the 2008 campaign, McCain decided he wanted to use Jackson Browne’s song, “Running On Empty,” because it complimented the strategy of his political campaign. Browne tried to sue McCain for copyright issues, claiming that he never gave McCain permission of his use.

(More information can be found here: Full Story)

It was a challenge to put art before politics when Browne is a supporter of the far left, opposite of McCain’s views. Browne’s argument was that McCain unlawfully used his music material without permission throughout the campaign. Therefore, because of this, it gave the people of the United States the impression that Browne was supporting McCain in his political endeavors. Browne claimed voice misappropriation. Browne’s lawyer also mentioned that copyright is in the constitution. McCain’s defense mostly represented the fact that his campaign – a marketing effort that includes many creative endeavors (and McCain made sure to emphasize the fact that he doesn’t make all the decisions based upon the marketing and campaign of his presidential aspirations).

So what’s to be done? Young individuals are at fault of using music for this kind of thing all the time without proper citation within music, photography, clips of films, etc. So where does this situate us in today’s society? Lessig mentions that today, legal philosophy can accommodate the state of remix culture; there needs to be a mix of proper commercial rights and allowed use in common culture.

Within every culture today there is the ability to take the work of others and use it to integrate and create something new. There is a growing “copyright abolitionism.” This is because of the Internet and newer innovations: they have given younger generations and thriving professionals like those running the McCain campaign, the means to reach a new potential; to create works and marketing techniques as well as art that is an appropriation and hybridization of previous works. Lessig mentions in a forum presentation, that “We watched TV, they make TV… We listened to music they are making music…” in reference to those avidly using the internet (geared specifically toward young professionals and generations). In order to come to a sensible agreement, we must see the hybrid of past and future laws of copyright.

Many laws will need to be taken into account. A suggestion that could potentially cure some of the lawsuits unraveling at a rapid rate today is the level and definition of success. If an artist mixes say, one of Beyonce’s songs with their own mix, and it becomes “successful” and profitable, then there is potential room for monetary compensation within the realms of copyright to original artists and stakeholders within that particular art. However, the word “success” will need to be carefully defined within each genre of expression (i.e. songs, campaigns, movies, etc.)

In his synopsis, “Digital Technology and Cultural Goods,” by Kieran Healy, he comes to the realization that, “Computer software need not only be used to prevent access to cultural goods. It can also be used to create new goods which cause trouble for existing standards of free speech…In the techno-libertarian vision of the Internet, information wants to be free and, in the long run, no-one can stop it.”

Because of this rapid innovation and unstoppable burst of creativity due to new sociotechnological forms and the Internet, revising these rules of copyright to benefit both the creators and owners of distribution. For example, approval and possible commission for Brown could possibly have put his conscience as ease when it came to McCain’s campaign. His staff picked his song because it worked for McCain’s particular marketing audience and messaging. Because all of this information is becoming more remixed, and universal across international borders (within music, film, art, photography, paintings, marketing, etc.) I think a reform of law is in order to sort out what is truly the “authorship” and “work” of an individual, and under what circumstances. It is beginning to trend into a situational type of law; each case is based upon certain circumstances. A change in culture sometimes requires a change of law as well as a change of attitude. With the innovations in technology, addressing new copyright rules in the imminent future will enable the change within the law that empowers the younger generations and the future of America.

“Barack Obama “Hope” Poster.” Wikipedia. N.p., 2008. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <>.

Horowitz, Carl. “Jackson Browne Versus John McCain: An Empty Suit.” N.p., 13 Dec. 2008. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <>.

Kieran Healy, “Digital Technology and Cultural Goods,” Journal of Political Philosophy 10, no. 4 (2002): 478–500.

“Larry Lessig: Laws That Choke Creativity.” YouTube. YouTube, 15 Nov. 2007. Web. 10 Feb. 2014. <>.

Lawrence Lessig, Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy (New York, NY: Penguin Press, 2008).