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The belief that the 1st of something is the 'best'.

Why is it a general assumption that the first of any form of literature/art/media is inherently ‘better’ than proceeding works of art by the same artist? Does ingenuity supersede the product itself? Examples include: the first Star Wars film compared to the others, Guns N Roses’ first album, etc.

  • I think a good point to make is that the '1st' of things usually become called 'classic.' Take for example the movies Red and Red 2. Both movies in their own right are very well done: good plots, good score, good acting. However, because Red was first it had more time to be considered a favorite/classic. – chikkabooo 4 years ago
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  • I feel like a lot of the times, the mistake made is the comparison doesn't really end up being between 'good' or 'better', it's more of 'the first one' versus 'the new one'. By which I mean to say, that instead of trying to see if a remake/sequel is GOOD or not, we end up trying to see if it's similar to the previous work or not (this holds especially true if the first work has been a success). Naturally, unless the creator is in the habit of repeating themself, one doesn't find too many similarities to point out, effectively pronouncing that the new work of art is 'not as good', even though all we actually figured out is that the new work of art is 'not like the last one'. – JayBird 4 years ago
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  • Everyone knows the second Star Wars was the best... – Sboother 4 years ago
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  • Things to discuss would be interrelated issues of authenticity, originality and historical primacy.Herbert Read argued that a desire for novelty, originality and primacy is one of the strongest biological impulses in the average human – due to the evolutionary need to adapt to unusual circumstances and the desire to propagate – and used this biological analogy to explain the innate “goodness” attached works considered the “first” or “original”.Edward Young proposed that what we consider ‘originals’ are mostly ‘accidental’, out-surviving or overshadowing the works that they actually imitated or were heavily influenced by. If, for instance, the Mona Lisa and all of the information about the original painting was destroyed, an art historian might see an early copy as the ‘original’. Perhaps the feeling that “nothing is original” is due to the fact that no information or artefacts is lost or destroyed by the modern digitisation and democratisation of information.There is a distinction to be made, perhaps, between something that is imitative, such as a forgery or copy, and something that is a development, like a sequel. When presented with an original painting and a good forgery or imitation we have a reason for not considering them of equal value. Although the aesthetic value of such a copy could be the same as that of the original painting, it would completely lack the art-historical value, with the former work inspiring others and developing art in general. Clearly, one does not want to give the same credit to someone who mechanistically copied a work in which an artist invested ingenuity and original thinking. This is reflected in how the legal language concerning the originality standard in copyright law has generally converged around the “sweat-of-the-brow” of the creator as well as the “skill, judgement or labour” invested in the object. In other words, it has proven difficult for courts to separate the effort and industriousness of reproduction without incorporating terms such as creativity or personality. An additional idea here is that the original object was a more “authentic” expression of an artist’s “self” or “intentions” not mediated or infringed upon by interlopers. – Christopher Pottecary 4 years ago
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Does the Smash Sucess of "Hamilton" Herald a New Age for the Stage?

The unprecedented success of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s "Hamilton" has brought the musical live action play into the spotlight. Its innovative use of rap to quickly deliver information on complex topics (such as the first cabinet debate over Hamilton’s financial plan) is fantastic. It also brought new faces to the roles of famous American heroes, bringing a new diversity to the stage. As the title says, does "Hamilton" represent a point that all plays after it will be heavily influenced by its style.

  • Not only a new age for the stage, I think, but for American history and politics, as well. It is showing an entirely new generation that history and politics can be fun and learning doesn't have to be dry or by rote. As a political scientist, that is refreshing to me. Great topic! – Lee Williams 4 years ago
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  • The integration of hip-hop in particular will be interesting – Darcy Griffin 4 years ago
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  • If anything, I hope that other musicals take the cast as inspiration. Lin-Manuel Miranda has said that the majority POC cast was a deliberate move to better reflect the diversity of today's America, and include POC in 'mainstream' history. – chrischan 4 years ago
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  • My friend is a very big fan of the new stage show Hamilton. I think it will start a new trend to musical style. Hamilton's music is very much a blend of rap, pop, and more classical theatre styles, so I think new musicals will incorporate more styles of music. – birdienumnum17 4 years ago
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Race and Film

Analysis of films as they relate centrally to race as a primary lens.

  • Examples? – Darcy Griffin 4 years ago
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  • Hmmm...what comes to mind is actually Disney's recent film, Zootopia. Totally hilarious, classic Disney fare. But also a pretty clear race allegory, as many reviewers have noticed. Gets to the heart of racialized discourse: are people of certain races (or in Zootopia's case, bunnies) inherently passive, while others (see wolves in the film) are aggressive and still others (see foxes) sneaky and conniving? Of course not, but these are the assumptions we inherit and perpetuate, even on the subtlest levels. Ruminating on these topics in animated form is, I think, rather ingenious. – alissac 4 years ago
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  • There are a ton of different ways this could go. Some specification is probably needed: films from a certain era? Country or region? About certain race(s)? Different genres? There are a lot of different factors that will affect the role race plays in a movie. – chrischan 4 years ago
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  • Qu'Allah bénisse la France (2014) a French film, shot in black & white that takes a look at the racism, France's well-known unemployment issue as well as heavy drug use and how these factors affect the youngsters in a devastating manner. The film is based on a true story. – oksly 4 years ago
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The Graphic Novel Method

Over the last few years, I’ve been thinking about graphic novels and comics beyond a "medium." Last year, /Critical Inquiry/ released and issue dedicated to comics and media that include a variety of articles from academics and industry icons (e.g., Chris Ware) that are looking to push the boundaries of the art and aesthetics of the genre. For example, Ware has been pushing (and practicing) a view of graphic novels that plays with the idea of the physical object of a book containing the narrative–this, he notes, is something he’s been thinking about as digital comics have become more popular. One of the more interesting projects I’ve seen recently is by Özge Samanci: GPS Comics ((link) She’s also written an article for the International Digital Media and Arts Association exploring how to move graphic novels from discussions of medium to genre: (link) While I dig the idea of comics as a genre, I wonder if there would be a way that we might talk about graphic novels and comics as a aesthetic method rather than as a medium or genre. Thoughts?

  • I was about to say, "Hey, I took a class on this!" But then I realized. Hmm, for thoughts on how to approach this, maybe the post could start out talking about the concept of comics as a medium (there's also that article where the author examined comics as a language), and then go into why the aesthetic method may be more fitting. There's the GPS comics you mentioned above, as well as the "Building Stories" box of narratives we looked at in class. I'd be fascinated to see someone take this on. Also, there's Topffer's original goal of comics as an accessible education method to consider. – emilydeibler 5 years ago
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  • Thanks, Emily. I taught that class. :) – revfigueiredo 5 years ago
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