Category Archives: Digital Communications

From Paul Virilio’s Open Sky to Brian Carrol’s Legal Landscape

My Highlights of Paul Virilio’s Open Sky 

I’m not going to lie, my understanding of Paul Virilio’s Open Sky is a little shaky, but I do appreciate his myriad of references to art and art history. Here are my favorites:

  • Vincent Van Gogh: “If anyone thinks I paint too fast, the are watching me too fast” (26).
  • August Rodin: “No, it is art that tells the truth and photography that lies, for in reality time does not stand still” (27)
  • When someone told Edgar Degas that “a landscape is a state of mind,” he replied “no, it’s not! it’s a state of eye!” (41)

It seems that Virilio utilizes these references to show the changing ways in which we percieve the world. The photograph is no longer the still frame it once was. Our changing technologies have enabled us to see and communicate more than ever before. So how has this changed the way we interact with each other?

Carroll’s “Legal Landscape”

In Writing for Digital Media, Brian Carroll highlights the legal contexts in which web content creaters operate under. The chapter analyzes the limits on their freedoms and how these laws have changed over time. These laws have created much tension and conflict. One such conflict is a result of copyright and intellectual property issues, which include the following:

  1. Patents
  2. Trademarks
  3. Plagiarism
  4. Copyright

Let’s focus on copyright, which initially served to protect only printers and not artists, but has since shifted to include all created authors. Copyright can most notably be limited by fair use, which essentially means the work must be transformative and not negatively affect the original. So where is the line with art? If Andy Warhol had painted his Campbell’s Soup Cans under today’s laws, would they be considered fair use? 

Andy Warhol

Making your Website a Masterpiece

It’s all about the audience 

According to Reddish, “writing successful web content doesn’t start with typing words. It starts with finding out about your audience and their needs.” So, in order to make a successful website, we must understand our audience. To do this, we must focus on who’s coming and why. We must “let go” of our words, and start using words that mean something to our audience. Helpful strategies to accomplish this is to list your major audiences and gather and define characteristics, questions, tasks, and goals. Focusing on the audience and their needs will enable you to better develop your website.

Connecting with the Homepage:  

GIving your website a great home page allows your audience to find what the need, and act based on the understanding they achieve. Redish outlines five functions crucial to maintaining a successful homepage:

  • Identifying the site and establishing a brand
  • Setting a tone and personality
  • Providing a sense of what the site is about
  • Letting people start key tasks immediately
  • Sending people in the right direction efficiently

Homepage Case Study: Jen Ramos’ Cocoa and Hearts

To exemplify the features of a successful website, let’s look at artist Jen Ramos and her website, Cocoa and Hearts and see if it reflects the five functions.

1. The site clearly is clearly defined with the name “Cocoa and Hearts” and tagline “Orginal Art by Jen Ramos.” The audience can clearly identify the brand of the site, especially the way her artwork comes to represent her logo, specifically by putting her famously bright and colorful brushstrokes by the tagline.

2. The artist successfully sets the tone and personality of the site through consistent style, color, typography, and writing style. The text is typically a light brown or black, and the main typing is a georgia/times new roman font, with cursive header links. The simple text is a nice contrast to the brightly colored paintings

3. The homepage provides a sense of what the site is about by establishing it’s an art website where the audience can buy art and learn more about the artist. These aspects are made clear with header links and social media links to the right. She also provides this sense with a slideshow of her work, which quickly shows the style of her work to the audience.

4. The homepage allows viewers to start key tasks immediately. The links quickly direct the audience to what they are coming for and, make it easily accessible. The viewer can quickly click to the gallery, blog, etc. The homepage also has a box for the viewer to add themselves to a mailing list.

5. The website is also great about sending people in the right way efficiently. The artist does this best by using your visitors’ words throughout her website, and creating good, recognizable links for them to click on. As a result, the audience has a clear understanding of how to navigate the homepage.

Learning from Lulie Wallace’s Website

What’s most important when analyzing a website? In “Online Editing, Designing, and Publishing,” Carroll presents a general guideline to follow when managing a website. Understanding and adhering to an approach similar to Carroll is crucial for today’s “content producer.” This especially holds true for artists. The new opportunities brought by media convergence invite artists to showcase their work in novel ways. However, “getting it right” is also a challenge.

“Each and every element on a Web page should be scrutinized”–Brian Carroll

With every element in web design and editing held up to criticism, Carroll’s guidelines become an invaluable tool. His approach encompasses three crucial components:

  • Identifying with your readers
  • Clear and consistent structure and organization
  • Edit, edit, edit!

These can be demonstrated through the website of Lulie Wallace, who paints the beautiful and funky flowers always being pinned on pinterest.

Lulie Wallace’s Popular Flower Paintings

Case Study: Lulie Wallace

Carroll argues we must be concerned about the readers need. To have a successful website you must know and reach out to your readers. I think Lulie achieves this through her blog, which is directed at her audience. This shows who the artist is behind the paintings.

Second, Carroll emphasizes the importance of developing content that is organized and easy to navigate. The reader must have a clear sense of how to get through the page. A key way to accomplish this is through consistency, especially in headlines and in templates. Lulie best does this through her flowers, which is what she primarily sells. Her audience can expect that in her work, but it’s also a design element on her website, which ties it all together. I also like how she uses the same fonts throughout the page. Her homepage is clearly organized with her name in large letters, and smaller headlines to lead to different links. This offers a clear and readable structure for the viewer.

Lastly, Carroll stresses the importance of editing; editing content, structure, navigation, links, writing, and visual design. In other words, everything. This can best be achieved by editing content in chunks at a random order as if you were a first time viewer. This “culture of editing” includes proof reading content for spelling and grammatical errors and analyzing the flow of stories. However, since Lulie only has a tumblr, she is limited on how much she can text. Do you think this hinders the success of her website? Or do you find its visual orientation satisfying? Would incorporating multimedia would enhance her website as well? If so, how can artists incorporate this?

Seeing Eye to Eye: How Attitudes Alter the Point of View

Point of View

“Point of View” introduces perspective as a narrative device that can primarily be defined in three ways:

  • POV Shots
  • The Perspective of the Storyteller
  • Character Perspective and Attitude

For writers, this can change the way their story unfolds. But what about for artists? Can the point of view taken by the artist have the same effects as it does for writers? The author points out that literary devices allow for a much wider variety of perspectives than that of film, which is much more limited and less obvious to the audience. I would think it would be even more limited and less obvious in art. Do you think this is true? To explore this, I brainstormed examples to exemplify how point of view is a powerful component for both writers and artists. I found the use of perspective in art most clearly relevant in terms of the influence of attitudes and behavior.

Point of View: The Role of Attitudes 

The author argues that the set of attitudes ultimately shapes the perception. This can be most evident when you watch the depictions of icons and analyze how the vary from decade to decade.

“Each ground would bring very different points of view, and by this we mean the concerns and opinions that would mold the film” (39)

Concerns and opinions “mold” art as well. The cultural contexts influence the way the author depicts an image and how the audience percieves them. One icon that demonstrates this point is the eye. In the Surrealist art movement, this eye evolves into a dominant symbol.  To respond to the effects of modernization and the first world wars, artists surpass the traditional representations of the eye with novel statements regarding modern vision.

The series of the eye in art most notabley commences with Symbolist Odilon Redon. Studying Redon’s The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Towards Anatomy exemplifies his accurate representations of the eye. The way his eyes typically look upward proves Redon wants the viewer to look up and beyond the facade of reality. Redon wants the viewer, the modern world, to look for a higher truth. His lithograph reflects how Redon intended for the eye to emphasize this broader significance of vision.

Odilon Redon,The Eye Like a Strange Balloon Mounts Towards Anatomy, 1882

However, at the turn of the 20th century, the effects of modernization and of WWI puts the credibility and morality of the modern world in question. Noting the surrounding irrationalities and corrupt visions, Surrealist artists doubt this vision that Redon magnified. This shows how the change of attitude and behaviors can alter the way an icon, in this case the eye, is seen. Consistently, the Surrealist artists attempt to undermine and challenge the role of sight; thus, the eye ultimately represents the mechanized and debased vision of the modern world. The most memorable (and, quite frankly, disgusting) example of this is Salvador Dali’s Un Chein Andalou (watch 30 second in to see what I’m referring to….). Because of the changes in attitudes over time, the surrealists and symbolists cannot see eye to eye.

Magritte, False Mirror, 1928
This image of the eye represents how the modern world has a “clouded,” or unaccurate, vision.

The Art of Listening

Radio as a Window to the Imagination 

“The Zen of Listening” delves into the infuence of radio from the 1920’s radio boom into the modern century. Since its development, radio consistently establishes a deep connection with the listener by enhancing our imagination. Radio achieves this in ways similar to that of oral storytelling. More specifically, music stations evoke particular moods that enable an emotional response from the listener. Marshall McLuhan describes this “magic” of radio as “a subliminal echo chamber of magical power to touch remote and forgotten cords.” By igniting our imagination, hearing becomes deeper than seeing.

As I was reading, I kept asking myself how this relates to the visual arts. According to the article, looking at art does not allow us to imagine the same way listening to radio does; listening pulls us into the world, while looking separates us from the world. When we look at art: we’re looking at what someone else’s imagination, and don’t get the chance to imagine for ourselves.

How Listening Inspires Artists 

However, what about what ignites the artists’ imagination? After all, they’re inspired by a myraid of factors: color, landscape, people, and, most relevantly, music. Artists are often inspired by listening to music. As I’ve been visiting art studios this fall, I’ve noticed one thing all of these artists have in common: they all had i-pods, speakers, or computers from which they play music. It inspires and evokes moods and feeling into their art work.

Delaunay, Simultaneous Disks, 1912

This instantly made me think of symbolist Robert Delaunay, an artist I first learned about in my modern art class. For him, musical rhythm is a driving element in his work. Delaunay evened coined the term orphism, the idea of music creating a sensation. Music inspired him so much that he attempted to recreate the sensation and rhythm in his work by placing colors next to each other in an attempt to create a push and pull movement. The best example of this is his painting, Simultaneous Disks. In all of his art, you can see his attempts to re-create the feelings and sensation he hears from listening to music.

Georgia O’Keefe, Pink and Blue No. 2, 1918

This holds true for many modern artists during radio’s development. According to the Whitney Museum of American Art, Georgia O’Keefe was also inspired by listening to music, and this is evident in the colorful and harmonious forms within her flowers. Wassily Kandinsky also found inspiration in listening to music. The way these incredible artists were so inspired by music supports this article’s claim that listening enhances our imagination.