Who Controls Reality? Do we as individual control it? Does our society as a whole? How about our government? Can it even be boiled down to one single entity? To me, it is a mixture of all three. Reality is a combination of our surroundings and their influence as well as what we as people perceive reality to be. By looking at five different works of art by Kruger, Fairey, Banksy, Dali, and Escher this blog will attempt to decipher the different realities.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Original Artwork

This is a piece of art that I created. The eye represents how reality is open to the viewer; in other words, reality is different to everyone. The words in the tear drops, "war", "government", and "silenced", are part of what contributes to everyone's reality. The world itself is also a major part of actuality. More specifically, how people view the world changes our perception of what is real. 

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Untitled (Mind), Barbara Kruger (1994)

Barbara Kruger was born in New Jersey in 1945 into a lower middle class, Jewish family. Her family was harassed by anti-Semitics when she was younger.  Kruger uses personal pronouns, making the works interactive and personal: you, we, and I and society at large are being called into question. All the photographs Kruger uses are familiar somehow – they are taken from mass culture (Gauss, 98).
 In Surveillance is your busywork Kruger uses the large, disturbing face as a parallel to a nefarious character such as Big Brother. The bold diagonal labeled “surveillance” compounds the tone and content of the photograph. With no personalizing details the giant face seems more sinister. The work “surveillance” also suggests ominous beings and groups: espionage, secret police, and detectives. Also, “busywork” is seen as something we don’t want to be bothered with, but yet we have to do it. By combining the two words, Kruger sets up a man who would rather be doing things that are more important (more evil, perhaps), but for now he has to be bothered with keeping track and spying on people.  Kruger hints at governmental activity, as well as individual scheming, to convey her message.

I'm Gonna Kick Your Ass, Shepard Fairey (2010)

Shepard Fairey is an American contemporary artist, graphic designer, and illustrator who came out of the skateboarding scene. Fairey became involved in art in 1984 when he started placing his drawing on T-shirts and skateboard. He graduated from Idyllwild Arts Academy in 1988 and in 1992 he graduated from Rhode Island School of Design with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in illustration.  He became famous from his “Andre the Giant” sticker campaign. He helped Barack Obama in the 2008 U.S. presidential election with his “Hope” poster. (Fairey, 89)  Fairey bases all of his art on the idea of phenomenology. Phenomenology “attempts to enable people to see clearly something that is right before their eyes but obscured” (Fairey, 89). Fairey attempts to bring people to question both art and their relationship with their surroundings. By using controversial images and topics, Fairey forces his viewer to confront the realities of life.
 In this piece Shepard Fairey shows a police officer, someone who is supposed to be honorable and lawful, in a dishonorable position. Fairey makes the viewer question the intention behind the officer. In the corners the words “serve” and “protect” are written, but this officer is doing neither of these things – in fact, he is knowingly going against what is right by presumably beating up an innocent person. Fairey questions that the police force exists to serve and protect us and our reality by questioning their integrity.

Rolling Back the Wall, Banksy (2005)

Banksy is an anonymous English graffiti artist. His stenciled works can be seen on streets, walls, and bridges around the world. His works usually contain rats, apes, policemen, soldiers, children, and the elderly. His message is usually anti-war, anti-capitalist or anti-establishment. Some of Banksy’s most famous works are on the wall separating the countries of Israel and Palestine. The Israelis started building the Israel-Palestine Wall in 2003 to prevent Palestinian terrorist attacks on Israel. Many people question if the wall follows international law. Israel obtained the land from Palestine in questionable ways and has destroyed many fertile lands and villages (BBC).  
 In Banksy’s Rolling Back the Wall, Banksy makes a statement about the police. To him, the police are the keepers of reality. This picture depicts a police officer uncovering, essentially, what is on the other side of the Palestine-Israel Wall. By revealing a paradise, Banksy shows the contrast between the harsh policeman and the utopian place on the other side of the wall. He shows that while police are supposed to be protecting us and making the world safer, in reality they are causing chaos and destruction. Also, these police are usually harassing Palestinian people, and in this piece the police are being nice and friendly – showing the people a happy, peacefully place. Banksy is questioning the role of the police, whether they are here to serve and protect us, shaping the way for a better future, or if they are here to shield reality from us and make the world a scary place.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Soft Construction With Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War), Salvador Dali (1936)

Dali was born and raised in Spain. Many of his artworks show his love of Spain. Dali attended San Fernando Academy of Fine Arts in Madrid. He is best known for the striking and bizarre images in his surrealist work. His skills are attributed to the influence of Renaissance painters. In his youth, Dali embraced anarchism and communism. By the end of his life, though, his ideas were changing. Once the Spanish Civil War broke out, he fled the country and escaped to the United States, were his talent flourished(Dali Museum). 
 In this painting Dali questions what is left in humanity. He named it Premonition of Civil War. This is about the Spanish Civil War that broke out during Dali’s lifetime. In this painting, the human body has become a very strange reality due to war. Limbs no longer connect or make sense at all. The face is in pain – perhaps due to the effects of the war. This piece is very dark and pessimistic, but the whether and setting is somewhat light and warm. It is a fairly sunny, bright day, which contrasts the excruciating pain the face is making. The hands and feet in this are clenched, as if in agony. Dali is trying to show the hardships of war and how destructive war can be on people and their reality. After war it is hard to see happiness, even if it is all around you, you are constantly reminded of the pain you experienced during the war. This lingering pain and memory can be symbolized through the chest in the bottom center of the painting. You can try to hind your feelings and pain about reality into a small chest, but it doesn’t make it go away.

Relativity, M.C. Escher (1953)

Escher’s work is often classified in two groups: work done before 1937 and work done after 1937. Relativity was created in 1953. In the years leading up to 1937, Escher came into contact with Moorish mosaics and crystallography which made him conscious of many possibilities in pictorial constructions. After 1937, 1944 especially, Escher worked with creating different spatial realities. Escher’s paintings suggest that simply by having a deliberate visual system, forcing yourself to look at the painting differently, the situation presented will be logically possible – which is shown in Relativity (Escher, 5-10).
In this piece, Escher shows an unrealistic world. By drawing stairs that never go the same way and floors that are up, down, right, and left he demonstrates this strange reality. So who controls the world, and reality, in this painting? It seems that the human-like figures do. By going about their everyday business they show no desire to change it. Perhaps Escher is trying to say something about human nature. It seems as though as long as these beings can eat, walk, read, and go about their normal lives they are content to go along with the distorted world they live in, however ridiculous it is. This painting also shows what humans consider to be their everyday reality. People are indoors, cleaning, in love, eating, watching everyone else – this is what life has come to. People mindlessly are going about their lives, not paying any attention to the fact that their lives make no concrete sense. In Escher’s mind WE control reality. If we care enough to wake up and see what's going on, we will have the power to change it.