Copying = Plagiarism?
I've known since the beginning of the year that this is not a question with a straight answer; it has about as much grey area as a film from the 1920's. The Venn diagram between copying and plagiarism looks more like one circle than two. What it comes down to is one's definition of copying, which can be anything from being inspired by something to creating a faithful replica. If your definition is the former, then if copying was plagiarism, just about anybody who has ever made anything ever would be a plagiarist. If it's the latter, then that still technically wouldn't be plagiarism unless you said the idea was yours. The definition of plagiarism, after all, is "the practice of taking someone else's work or ideas and passing them off as one's own." Essentially, stealing with minimum modification to the original. I think that is where the line is drawn amid the fuzziness between copying and plagiarism: modification to the original.
Reasons artist use observation
Again, this answer is rather similar to what it was at the beginning of the semester:
If there is some sort of deeper meaning here I'm missing it.
What is the point of this class?
You'll notice, apart from this one, all my answers have been essentially the same throughout the semester. That is because art class is not the only time I think about topics such as these. I can't say my opinions on complex subjects like plagiarism and the definition on art have changed much in the past few months, but I can nevertheless say that this class has had an impact on me. Because, tell you what, that class was full of people several times more skilled than me. Before I was in this class, I thought I drew some really good pictures, and now I know I only draw pretty good pictures. My jealousy fueled me to start carrying around sketchbooks and now my free time is spent drawing instead of doing twirly pencil tricks. Now I use art as a verb. I use art as a verb.
What Even Is Art though?
I've been known to have a radically inclusive definition of art (actually, I'm not known for that at all, this isn't the the sort of topic people talk to me about very often). My definition of art is "anything that is made that is not exclusively for utility." Humans have this rather unique trait of doing stuff for no logical reason (some of the more intelligent animals, like dolphins and elephants, have been known to do this, but not on the same scale). Our society has advanced to the point where not only do we not have to worry about supplying ourselves with necessities of survival, but we have to worry about oversupplying ourselves with those necessities. We do not spend the periods of time between eating and sleeping looking for means which we can eat and sleep, because we don't need to. What I think art is, is what we fill those periods of time with; either making art or taking part in it. Movies, drawing, dancing, reading, using the internet; these are all art (the internet being one of my favorite pieces). Things like martial arts, which took thousands of years to evolve from exercises based on animal movements and become an insanely complex assortment of systems with different philosophies, each giving you hundreds of ways to find a solution to a problem, are art. Not only are video games art, but some video game playthroughs can also be art. To hold our economies and lives together, we have professions, which are almost never entirely for utility, and are therefore art. Even the Wake County Public School System, which I spend a fair share of time complaining about, can be considered art (granted, a particularly underfunded piece of art), as it took a lot of people to make and plenty of its parts have no logical use. In some religious beliefs, a deity or deities created the universe as a work of art. Even Jackson Polluck paintings can be art. I don't know, maybe I'm stretching the word "art" beyond its reasonable definition. Anyway, it is this food for thought I shall close the semester with, because It is almost midnight and this accursed sea lion has been staring at me all day.
Please don't delete my entire post again Weebly
The assignment for this one was to make something observational, so I decided to observe and paint my own painting, and then this happened. Meanwhile, my table-mates were trying to institute bottles of Liquid Paper as a the new unit of tablewide currency. The last week has been a blur, I haven't played any video games yet today, my house is out of ice cream, Weebly just deleted the last paragraph the last time I tried to post this and I have rewritten all of it, I still haven't watched the series finale of Avatar, and I have one more blog post to write. woohoo
One day I was looking at The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius and I thought "Well, that's nice and all, but it hasn't got a big cat in it." And so I set out to remedy this problem.
The second inspiration I had was from one of my own cats. You see, I have giant Lego model of the Tower Bridge in London for a mantelpiece in the living room of my house because it's so great. My cat also thinks it's great, and we all know cats show their admiration by attacking things. For instance, my cat really admires feet, and everything on my mother's desk, and plastic milk rings, and laser pointers, and the strings on my hoodie, and, of course, the Lego Tower Bridge. One day I caught her with a taxi in her mouth, rubble and detached bridge pylons in her wake, and thus my idea was born.
The painting slowly progressed from being a river, then a river with a town, then a river with a town and a bridge, and then things started getting weird when people appeared on the bridge, running from seemingly nothing. And then I added a giant cat attacking the city and everything made perfect sense.
I was planning something fancy and extravagant for my destruction project, but all those plans came crashing down one winter's day.
It was as close as it possibly could be to christmas at school (note the sock-monkey-santa-hat) in the picture, the day before winter break. I was celebrating the completion of my most brilliant work yet, a painting of a certain colossal feline attacking a certain capital of England during a certain industrial era, but I shan't say too much about that. Anyway, the end of the period approached and ms. Rossi, bread-hater extraordinaire, requested of me in a tone that implied that what she was about to say was in no way a request, but a demand, that I dispose of my beautiful bread windmill. I know not why she would want to rid the room of such a thing, besides of all the totally valid reasons which would drive somebody to rid the room of such a thing, one of which was that it was about to stay in school for about two weeks without any maintenance or supervision and who knows how many art thieves would try to break in and steal my masterpiece. I decided that instead of allowing my art to be grabbed up by the grimy hands of the black market, I should destroy the art that I had worked so hard to create. I set it upon the table, said my goodbyes, and then tore it apart with my bear hands. I assembled the mangled, segmented, pulverized corpse of my creation into a new creation. A memorial, of sorts, to the fun times this piece and I had had, with a smiley face at the heart of the pile. Then I threw everything into the trash and never saw it again.
Though this story may have began and ended within five minutes, and the nature of the world is temporal and temporary, as I realized after abandoning the shards of my art in the trash and left the art room door one last time before christmas break, I may take some comfort in knowing that this story has been immortalized on this blog, like a distinctly digital Akkadian tablet that upon second thought is not so much like an ancient Akkadian tablet and more like a computer.
So I was sick for a few days and when I came back I found that Allison's face had mutated into that of a hideous monster and that Brandon had turned into a jalepeño person. And here begins the legend of the hydra.
The assignment was to create a piece of art with the entire table collaborating, so everyone knew beforehand that this project's outcome would not have a coherent aspect of any kind. We expected it to be the kind of art that if it was found one thousand years in the future by archaeologists it would generate confusion about the way citizens of this era perceived the world. The archaeologists may have previously theorized that during the information age, knowledge, literacy and intelligence in general was prevalent in the developed world, but this mysterious piece of art would throw that theory into question.
When I arrived at art class after my brief plague I saw that everybody had drawn characetures of each other in the form of disembodied heads. I watched as my peers held their own disembodied head (or embodied Jalapeño thing, as the case may be) and wondered what to do with them. To me, the solution was obvious; attach each head to the neck of a hydra. The overall consensus of the group was that it was an okay idea that they would probably go along with because no other ideas presented themselves.
I drew the body of the hydra for a while but then Allison got upset because she is an expert of hydra anatomy and I was offending her by not drawing everything properly. After a brief squabble we compromised that I shall continue drawing and that she would be the consultant of all things hyrdanatomical. Shortly afterwards she drew a giraffe neck onto the hydra.
This was followed by each contributor drawing their own neck; Ottoli's neck was a snake, which coupled with the disgusted expression on her cartoon's face formed the perfect Slytherin section of the hydra. Charlie's neck became a sort of doctor Suess style furry thing with an intermittent smiley face. Jacob's neck was a tower with arrows and Rapunzel dropping a cereal box or something. I feel like there is a story here that I'm not quite appreciating enough but I'll blame that on my phone's photo quality. Nathan's neck was actually drawn by Brandon (who does not have a neck of his own to fill in, poor lad) because Nathan was probably off frolicking in a meadow somewhere, but was not it the art room. And last but not least, my neck, naturally, was a pineapple.
After Jacob finished coloring in the background we proclaimed our masterpiece complete. After some internal strife and a lot of procrastinating, our teamwork finally payed off. Good job, wonderpets!
I'm proud to say that this is the greatest toast art I have ever made.
On the rubric for this post I have to state an obstacle I encountered on my path to creating this magical work of art. Ha. HA. HAAHA. AN obstacle? I wish the gods of artistic toast were so merciful as to give me only ONE problem. I wish they were merciful enough to give me only two, or three problems. But alas, whatever enigmatic powers it is that controls the unpredictable and chaotic result of toasting toast are either incredibly wroth or have no taste in art or toast. A list of a but fraction of my woes can bring tears to children, but I shall recite this list regardless.
1. Pain: During this project, I felt like a toddler that was always wondering what the blue fire inside of the stove felt like, except this time my parents weren't here to slap my hand away. I lost count of how many times my hands were scorched by metal rulers hot enough to create steam on contact with water. Every time it happened, I thought "Well, that was both painful and stupid, and I don't think that I shall continue this habit and hence further maim myself." I will then reach for my ruler, hold it to the heavens and assert my dominance over the petty tool, and then once again burn myself because even after all of this self-actualization it has still not cooled off. I also once held the heat gun to my face to see what it would feel like, but we don't talk about that.
2. Toast: This project consumed enough toast that I now feel guilty for the large portion of the human population that has no access to food. Even realizing that me using this bread does not actually deplete the amount of food currently circulating around the globe nearly enough to cancel out the surplus that would exist even if world hunger was nonexistent, I still feel bad.
3. Process: Here is where most of my problems lie. The process I used to burn a picture into this toast was so impressively inefficient that it makes Internet Explorer look effective. In my last post about this project, I went through all the details and woes of this process. All of the problems I mentioned in that post still existed with the overall project. In the future, when I will inevitably make another toast picture, I will use the much cleaner method of using water to mark the parts I want to not be toasted, and then just putting the toast in a toaster.
At the end of the day, I like to think of this as but mere practice in my bright future of toast art. I plan to come back to this medium and conquer it like Napoleon conquered Russia central Europe.
The prompt for this drawing was the word "smooth". Naturally, I thought of the solar system's largest gas giant, Jupiter. And even though it rains diamonds there, it at least looks smooth. Like a marble that is five hundred thousand kilometers around and floating in space and isn't actually a marble.
I remember the first day of art III like it was sixty-three days ago. My long term memory is mediocre so all I really remember is entering the room, sitting down at a table, marveling at how different the room looked from the opposite corner from the corner I used to sit at, listening briefly to somebody talk about art, and then I think I drew somebody, but that may have been the very similar sixty-two-day-ago art class.
One particular memory, however, still stands clearly in my mind. Mr. Sands, standing in the center of the room, and through some forgotten conversation, I remember that he said "I always though toast would be an interesting medium to make art with, but nobody ever does it."
I remember thinking, "challenge accepted."
Here I am, sixty-three days later, fulfilling my promise. For my self-inflicted problem, I chose to make art solely out of toast. The image in my head was millions of tiny crumbs, ranging from burnt to untoasted, arranged on the ground like a Tibetan sand painting, depicting a windmill. It didn't take me long to realize that that is just impractical. My next idea was to take a really hot stick and poke the bread with it until a windmill appeared, which was closer to reality. Testing this idea with the soldering iron, it proved only to be effective at tearing the bread into small, soldering-iron sized pieces. I also tested using water to block whatever magic toaster ovens used to toast things from hitting the bread, which worked incredibly well and is currently my plan B. My plan A is, however, way cooler: shooting beams of heat out of a handgun-like object onto the bread and making a picture.
Now, when I was thinking about what to write on this post, I planned on writing about how well this method was going, but then I realized it wasn't actually going well at all. I'll list the problems:
-Even with a stencil, the heat from the heat gun is really hard to focus on one place. The stencil, after it was coated in what I can only believe is extreme sunblock, no longer lays flat on any surface, particularly the already uneven bread canvas. Any attempts to stick the stencil to the bread either doughn't work or damage the bread. The only way I've found to hold down the stencil is to stack dozens of metal rulers on top of it. Still, the image comes out not nearly as crisp (no bun intended) as I would have liked.
-I have currently burned myself 11 times. Those rulers get hot.
-The stencil was paper, and I was going to be blasting large amounts of concentrated heat at it for a while, so I needed to make it fireproof. After searching around the room, I found a large paint bottle labeled "NOT PAINT DO NOT USE" so I figured, hey, I'll slather whatever this is all over the stencil. Turns out, whatever this non-paint substance was, it was fireproof. However, I only covered one side of the stencil with whatever it was; the side I would be pointing the heat gun at. Makes sense, right? Well, I discovered that while toasting the bread under the stencil, something was making smoke. It might have been the stale bread, the drawing board, the stencil itself, but whatever it was, it was getting trapped on the underside of the stencil. Yes, the non-fireproof side. I could only safely toast the bread for three seconds at a time before pulling the heat gun back to let everything cool down. A PSA to all future stencil toasters: slather BOTH sides of your stencil with mysterious fireproof substances.
-If you draw a windmill a certain way, it may look like a swastika. Learn from my mistakes.
-It is too tempting to use the heat gun to reach a perfect level of toastedness on some pieces of bread and one may find themselves (or others) eating their materials.
This has been Problems. Tune in next week for Solutions!
So, you know when you're making lots of art at once and then you suddenly have an existential crisis? Well, that usually happens for me, but this time it was relevant to the blogging prompt.
I was painting in the last Mongolian raider hamster when this project's existential crisis hit me. For most people experiencing existential crises, the crisis focuses on its owner. The victim will often wonder things like "why am I here? What am I for?" and other similar nonsense. At this, I laugh. I had already surpassed this meager stage by the time I was finished with the fourth stork. It was but the tip of the existential criseberg. No, my crises are not so egotistical; my existential crises are for my art. The eerie feeling of pure uncanny philosophy which had began with the final hamster had, by the time I had reached the first market stall, evolved into fully realized absurdist musings. At this point, the hysteria had already set in and proclaimed itself through the bright oranges in the bazaar picture. I greeted the existential crisis like an old friend and subsequently began to wonder why I am even bothering making groups of personified animals in the first place.
Did I really have anything to offer to the genre of groups of personified animals? I didn't invent anything in the pictures; not hamsters, not mongols, not bazaars. I simply took these elements and put them together. That is why I say that the primary merit of this series is directly proportional to the value of the visual puns they represent. It is not often one sees a group of animal becoming their collective noun literally, and if I had attempted to be purely original it is entirely possible these wonderful humanized animals would never have been brought into this world.
And now, as the time approaches the point at which the 4th period bell will toll, the 2-week long existential crisis fades, and I return to my regular programming, observing the passing of life like a mediocre sitcom with no deeper meaning.
My life prior to this project did not have an adequate amount of ink drawings. Needless to say, I have fixed this problem.
When I told people that I was planning to make ink drawings, some of them were under the impression that I was going to make drawings out of ink. No, no, no. There is not a drop of ink in any of these drawings because they are made out of charcoal. And I have, over the course of this project, developed a lot with charcoal; I first befriended the medium in the first drawing I made (the one in the middle that looks vaguely like an upside down brain). We bonded over the 2nd and 3rd drawings (The two leftmost ones), getting along very well, telling jokes, laughing, singing shanties, mutually helping each other hide bodies, preforming Juju rituals, and all the things friends usually do.
By the end of the 4th picture (bottom left) we were getting somewhat bored of each other. The charcoal became very passive aggressive, irritable, and in one particular argument about what the plural of mongoose was, even violent. It began to try its best to foil my attempts to draw ink.
"Good heavens," I would exclaim, reaching for the pencil sharpener. "Your bluntness is simply disadvantageous!"
"Who are you calling blunt ?" it would respond, spitefully and repeatedly crumbling upon contact with the sharpener.
Our friendship was finally broken by the end of the fifth drawing (the top right, totally-covered-in-charcoal one), when I saw the charcoal chanting in ancient tongues at my art.
"Ka mmụọ nke nkà ike ike na manụ agba mgbanwe gị ngota!" it said.
I burst through the door. "Is this betrayal in my midst?" I say. "A juju ritual summoned against me?"
The charcoal laughed. "You fool," it cackled. "you are too late, the ritual has just completed!"
"Why would you do this?"
The charcoal looked away. "I could not tolerate the tyranny of your pluralization of platypi."
I had an idea. The ritual it was performing could not be sustained without the caster; I grabbed the charcoal and threw it into a small, plastic prison. I gave it one final look and shut the box.
"I think you meant platypuses."
And that is the tragic tale of how my skills in charcoal so dramatically improved, while my friendship with it so dramatically declined.