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Fine Arts Cultural Studies
FACS 1900
Robert Gill

FACS 1900 C Arts and Ideas Instructor: Robert Gill Room: ACW 206 for lecture, ACE 006 for tutorial Time: Friday 11:30 to 1:30 PM for lecture, 2:30 to 3:30 for tutorial February 05, 2009 Many of you are very familiar with the post strike remediation environment at York. What do we need to know to get this course back on track? In terms of the environment it is the same as it was last term. It will be based on the three principles in operation already. Number one, we want an atmosphere of fairness for students, evaluate you in as fair a way as possible. Number two, we want a learning environment for everyone based in respect. We are coming from different places, philosophies, ways of understanding the world. I may disagree with you but I am going to treat you with a minimum of respect. The final thing is we want to establish a mutually supportive environment with each other and the relationship of teacher and students. We are going to support you in finishing this course and in having the feelings that you have about the course and the process. The most important thing we have to do is getting this course back on track and doing the work that needs to get done so you have a good experience and not get caught up in other things. Fairness, respect and mutual support make up the environment we want to establish. What is it that you really want to know? For this course there will only be two classes. Next Friday will be the last class for the first term of FACS 1900. There is no test next Friday. Test will be held on March 6 , the first day of classes of the second term for this course. The winter term begins on March 4 . The first test will be held on March 6, same format, same weighting. No additional work, no change in evaluation. There is only one week less than there would have been last term. There will be no new content in the course and you are not required to read any new material as of the end of last year. Whatever you have done up to that point is the material included on the test. Today and next Friday we will put significant highlights back on the table. As was originally planned the test for this course will be written in this room on March 6 based on a take home exam that we will give you next week. We will give you a set of study questions that you will prepare between next week and March 6. Then when you come in two of those questions will appear on that exam. Two short essay length questions. Next Friday we will give you a handout with four questions. 1 You will prepare for all four, when you come in on the 6 you will answer two of them. Those four questions will be interrelated very closely. It’s all important and you can draw from all the material you’ve studied. Be as patient as you can, if there was something that didn’t get resolved last term, everything will be fine. No problems in terms of deadlines still in play will be unresolved. No need to be anxious or upset about anything, we are committed to resolving any issues that are outstanding. Don’t assume something is going to be a problem, assume something is going to be resolved. In terms of tutorials, they will be primarily focused on review. You will spend some time in tutorials talking about strategies for answering the questions. Also next Friday you will receive your essays back from the TAs. I need to take a big breath and we will be talking to you about the test based on what we have learned about you after your first essay. How you can strategize to address some of those problems as you prepare for the test on March th 6 . The email protocol is the same as last term. If you have significant questions about the test, post those questions to the discussion boards and we will discuss them so that everybody can see the answer. We will address specific questions universally as much as we can. Mutual respect and support clause, we’re still getting things off the ground and we are committed to making sure you get back on track. If your email is not responded in 48 hours look at the discussion board. Alternative exams will proceed as usual. Freeland, you can use any materials that you have on the test but she is not a requirement due to the interruption of the strike. We will shift her to the beginning of next term. ---are we still going to cover aesthetics on the exam? Yes. There has been an uneven use of Freeland up to this point. I will leave it up to the TA to make a decision. Your TAs are the evaluators of your written work. Tests are based on lecture materials, written materials and materials discussed in tutorials. That still holds. You are welcome to use Freeland in your test though. You still have to use material in a way that shows us that you understand the relationships between aesthetics and power. For now I believe that when we look at test questions and format, it will allow you to raise questions and concerns you have at the time. Questions and concerns about what I have already discussed? ---how are aesthetics and power related? I will talk about that today. If you have a concern, make a habit of writing it down. Send questions to WebCT. Come and talk to me after class. 2 How to restart something after three months? I’ve said enough about the general concept of culture. It will be a significant term for the end of term test. Today I will re-screen Orozco first, the first couple of segments. I will revisit the concept of language today in some detail, specifically the relationship between language and space, a very basic thing. Space will become an important thing for us to look at in next term. Aesthetics and power, what is the relationship? Then I will re-screen some of the material on Cara Walker. She is challenging our ideas about aesthetics and about art and what it does. There are materials for you to review on Go to Google, type in art21, it will give you the link, there are various learning materials on each of the artists. You can do that to refresh your memory on the artists. Orozco video • I like to work here, I like to walk. It wakes me up. Just a few blocks of walking, there can happen many things. I like to walk and enjoy them. The camera is an instrument I use as an excuse to look at these things. The camera is a way of awareness. Even when I was a kid walking from house to school I could remember all the puddles in between and the cracks in the sidewalk. • I don’t have a studio, a studio is an isolated place, an artificial place like a bubble. You have to be confronted with reality all the time, being outdoors I try to be intimate with everything I can. To be intimate you have to be open and to trust what is around you. Then other people can have the same kind of relationship with the world. • I don’t have a technique, I have many different ways to work. When I finish something I need to invent something else in a different medium in a different play. The Citroen is a cultural object. Also a machine with a function. We worked for a month in a garage with a mechanic. On one side you see like a normal car, but when you walk around you have the perspective distorted. I called it Transport system beyond the vanishing point. • Orozco’s partner: He had to come to the supermarket with me and started playing with the food. He realized what a perfect world a supermarket is and when you don’t put a thing in the same place you generate chaos. He put the cat food with water melons. He has curiosity about these things that you take for granted. • Orozco: A game is a thing on its own. You have a little world on a board designed to perfection so you can play in a landscape. When you have a normal ping pong game you have a net. A net is closed space. Here the net is open and you have a new space. Where the net was I decided to make a pond. If you want you can relate it with the lotus flower and the beginning of the universe and the pond as the center of the universe in Aztec mythology. 3 One of the challenges of teaching FACS 1900 is the question how do you teach an introduction course to musicians, studio artists, conceptual artists, multimedia artists, designers, how do you teach a foundation course that addresses everyone’s interests and concerns. The thing that is common to all artists today is space. Space is something that in different ways all creative people are struggling with. Artists can also learn a lot from understanding this thing called language. In lots of ways each of you in your individual practices are addressing language in the sense that you are addressing the language that you speak with. You are addressing a language of visual culture in the society that you are in. You are addressing a language of bodies. You are addressing a language within your own discipline itself. Someone like Orozco is trying to understand reality in a basic way. The medium that he uses is reality itself. He is interested in understanding how we make sense of this reality through language. He has taken for instance the language of the supermarket where it’s a very ordered universe. It has a grammar, a logic, the way everything is laid out. He is thinking about the way we order the universe around us and then disrupts that. In this case he put cat food and melons to create a surprising condition. Orozco then explores what lies between these two objects. The explores interstitiality, the place between two things that is hard to sense, to grasp. Cat food is not supposed to be on top on watermelons, that is the tension. As soon our society tells you something should not be a certain way and you confront something like that as an artist, that’s where you go. That’s where you have the capacity for something new to happen. Artists often are attracted to “though shalt not.” He is interested in creating new things and new spaces for experience. It’s very philosophically rich what he is doing but it is also very simple. He is exploring this rich philosophical concept in everyday life. He walks through the streets of Paris with his camera documenting what normally would be taken for granted. This way of thinking about the world is an extraordinary gift for an artist. Historically artists have been given the task to be geniuses and come up with things nobody thought of before. Orozco’s approach is to say, life itself that is around you is full of things. The universe is full of things, all you have to do is reach and pick something up and you can start. The idea that it is something hard to understand the world the way it is because of the way we already think about it. Internally you’re always working against the idea that someone is telling you, this is how things work, this is how things are set up. It’s an incredible skill to develop the capacity to see how things work, the systems at play around you to make it an ordered universe and then you do new things. Orozco is an artist who is playing with reality, observing reality, and then making a new reality by bringing different realities together to play against each other. There will be a show on surrealism at AGO this summer. This space in between, this pond that is not supposed to be between ping pong tables is the generative idea. 4 Orozco is interested in the in between space. That space in between is the place we feel uncomfortable, we don’t understand it. It’s also the place that allows us to move forward. This course has been so far about setting up a framework for thinking about culture in a critical way. The world around you is structured in a certain way and it has an impact on you and how you think, how you can imagine yourself and the kinds of creative things that you can do. We come into art schools thinking we are so unique and crazy. Be a crazy creative person but do it with a set of guiding principles. Do crazy process work but then present it in a way that someone can see the process. Understanding the structure of the universe around us is a foundational thing for doing creative work. Everything in my PP presentation today is already in your notes. I’m just di
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