AB #3

I was thinking, as people do, about my parents today. Last time I spoke to my mother, she said something that I brushed off then, but my mind picked up just now: “That’s your father speaking.” She said this about me, and something I had just said. I was being practical, like my father is know for being. And now, as I lie in bed, I can’t stop thinking about this simple phrase.

What is identity? I wrote a list, just now, of traits I share with my mother and traits I share with my father. Some of the traits overlap, some of them are contradictory. But put them together, and it’s at least a half complete list of who I am (or, at least, who I consider myself to be). So who really am I? I am my father’s daughter, I am my mother’s daughter. I’m reflections of who they are, because they are the ones who raised me and they are the ones who I based my little childhood self off of. But I am more than my parents: I’m society.

As human beings, we are sponges. Our identity is a representation of the culture we live in. I speak English because I like in a culture that speaks English. I am polite because my culture is polite (this is a stereotype but it’s also the truth). I think ‘gay is okay’ because my country allows gay marriage and has for as long as I’ve known what ‘gay’ is. These are only a few examples, and none of them are particular deep, but it gets the point across. As a human being, I am a reflection of where I grew up and where I currently live. I will change as my society changes, and my society will change as I change (a beautiful contradictory, paradoxical loop).

I think this is really what Butler and Bhabha were trying to get at in their essays. Who we are is not individual but rather cultural. Personal identity is just a reflection of our world. If gender wasn’t an issue in the world, then gender wouldn’t be part of who we are. If black people were the ones who colonized the white people, then white would be the mimicking race.

Identity is more than you and I. Identity is all of us combined.

~~~

I hope you enjoyed my late night ramblings.

Advertisements

AB #2: Replicated Soldiers

In one of my other classes this semester, I’m reading the novel Regeneration by Pat Barker. While I was studying for my upcoming midterm, I came across something in my notes that really stuck with me: “people are treated as machinery of war.” I wrote that as one of the main ideas of the novel and I feel like this idea is key to this course.

war

In Barker’s novel, soldiers are sent to institutions to be “fixed” if they are mentally or physically unable to continue fighting in the war. Once they are fixed, or “cured” (as how is one ever really cured from the trauma caused by war?), they are shipped back to the battlefield and continue to fight again. The people in this novel are treated as machinery designed for fighting: fix it, and get it to resume working. Like machinery, soldiers become “mass produced”: every man able to fight becomes a soldier. Even those unable to fight are formed into soldiers (such as those who are injured or under-age). The idea of war is to manufacture android-soldiers. Through gender propaganda, men are encouraged to become the machinery of war. What I mean by gender propaganda is this idea that masculinity is related to violence and domination. To be a man is to be a machine of war. But more than that, to be a man is to be an android of war. In order to be a soldier, one must possess only the emotions programmed into him, emotions that cause the drive towards violence. Like in Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the android soldier must desire to be human; this is what causes the fighting drive. However, humanization can never be achieved because there is always a difference from those who go to war and those who don’t: war changes everything.

A soldier is a mechanized being, one of million, and one who can easily be replaced. A solider loses his identity in the war as he becomes an android of violence, manufactured by social views of masculinity and by the war itself to fight. A solider becomes a replicated android, fixed when needed, easily replaced, with no identity but one: soldier.

Just some thoughts I’d thought I’d share 🙂

“In war, there are no unwounded soldiers.” -Jose Narofsky

AB #1: Art is for the streets!

Recently, I watched Banksy’s documentary Exit Through the Gift Shop and I’ve been mildly obsessed. This documentary seems to link perfectly with the theoretical work we’ve been studying in class: the reproduction of art.

Reproduction is what street artists do. Most artists have a “trademark” or a “tag” that they paint on buildings everywhere. Shepard Fairey is known for his “Obey” image, which has not only been reproduced on walls around the world, but also has been reproduced in a shopping mall near you! (Just the other day, I was walking through campus when I spotted a man wearing a sweatshirt with the Obey image on it. Huh.) What’s interesting about the work, is what Shepard Fairey has to say about it: “the more stickers are out there, the more important it seems. The more important it is, the more people want to know what it means. They ask each other, and it gains real power from perceived power.”

obey

What Fairey is saying, then, is that the image is powerless until power is given to it. This power is given through reproduction, as reproduction makes the image appear important: if the image is everywhere, then it must mean something! This is the exact same technique that is used with 1) advertising and 2) the fetal image, according to Petchesky. The image itself is powerless, until someone out there decides to give power and meaning to it. This power, oftentimes, is given through reproduction.

This brings me to Thierry Guetta (side-note, but interesting enough: many people (as the internet would have be believe) seem to think Thierry is either a) a made-up persona or b) Bansky himself. Huh). Originally, Thierry (or Mr Brainwash (MBW)) was simply an observer of street art, which he filmed with his camera. But then, MBW became a participant as he too began to place replica images around the city. What was his tag? Why, a photo of himself of course!

mbw

“Obey” seems to have meaning; it seems to hold some hidden secret. But what is this? This is reproduction, but does it hold power?

Theirry soon became obsessed with street art; it began a production, and a job. He hired people to reproduce his image and, later, to make his art for him. He would come up with the “idea” and someone else would fabricate the art. Art, which was once an expression of thought, had now become mass reproduction. For me, the power of art is the power of expression without words. Art can convey so much that one cannot say, due to whatever reason. But production and reproduction of art removes the expression of art; all art becomes is consumerism. And this is precisely what happens with Theirry. MBW opens an art show where he sells art pieces, making millions of dollars. Even the “original” pieces of art he gives away to the first 2000 people are artificial: all these original prints are are the same image with a different paint splatter on them. Sure, they are technically original and can be marketed as so, but what is the meaning behind them? Reproduction and production; simplicity and lack-of-thought.

banksy mbwart

Can you spot the difference?

The theorists we have been studying so all agree on the dangers, or cautions, of art reproduction, and reproduction in general. One of the greatest concerns, as I’ve addressed previously, is that reproduction is preventing us from thinking and thus is forcing us to conform. I believe that street art attempts to subvert this, and attempts to push boundaries and break the reproductive-conformist role. Theirry’s art, however, appears to do just the opposite by not only copying other artists, but also by falling into capitalist and consumerist gains over true meaning and thought. I mean, what is the point of thinking and producing true art when you can get rich and famous by doing nothing at all?

“[Theirry’s] art looks quite a lot like everyone else’s…” -Banksy