Macaulay Seminar One at Brooklyn College
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The Chef and the Cook: A Juxtaposition

December 18, 2013   No Comments

Wicked Chaos and a Euphony of Movement

Chaoscope in motion

For the layperson whose only prior experience concerning ballet was that of the tale of self-discovery in Billy Elliot and the parable of inner turmoil and shattering madness in Black Swan, the reputation of ballet certainly precedes the actual experiencing of its medium in the realm of popular culture. I would say this is for good reason: the witnessing of professional ballet is absolutely transcendental.

Ironically, when the term “ballet” is mentioned in the vicinity, what immediately comes to mind for me is not the physics-defying performance of titans among mortals witnessed at the Lincoln center, but rather, the image of your average elementary-aged school girl claiming she wants to grow up to be a Disney princess, Halloween tutu and all. The permeation of ballet and dance into the cultural diaspora, from young adolescent kids to professional football players, lends commentary to the arresting, visceral quality of movement as a concept fully ingrained into the human psyche. Evolutionarily, scientists believe that music itself as an art form could have evolved from the ability of our ancestors to discern emotion from motion. From square-dancing to the robot, from the Charleston to the Harlem shake, there is no denying that sometimes, as human beings wishing to express ourselves through ways that words can’t capture, we just have to move.

What the ballet gave me was the opportunity to see, with practice, refinement, and peak physical perfection, just what we can make our bodies do. The ballet showcases an absolutely incredible feat undertaken by titanic beings walking among the earthly. The organization of each and every dancer, the synchronized movements providing a sense of order in what would otherwise be chaos.

Let’s magnify onto the idea of chaos–commentary on art often likes to concern both the artist’s ability to control and hone his/her technique, yet also the artist’s ability to express the chaos of their flowing, creative energy. For me, the best art is art that makes chaos beautiful, art that you can identify with on the most wicked, visceral level. With that in mind, I would have to say that Piano Concerto #1 definitely was the shining performance of the night. Of all the performances, Concerto was the one that stole me. From the elegance of the background set of stars and crests, to the minimalist design of the dancer’s costumes celebrating the perfection of the human figure, Concerto was the dance of the most wicked chaos, striking that perfect balance between the cacophony and euphony of movement in which the dancers just let go. I feel compelled to say that during the performance, I did too. I let go, found myself lost, and honestly I’m not quite sure if I’ve ever found the way back.

November 14, 2013   No Comments

Concerted Scribblings in a Darkened Room


Journal Entry 9/18/2013

Four men in pressed suits walk onto a concentric stage of elegant symmetry. Each line, curve and shape is sharply defined through the concentrated illumination of a darkened auditorium. The severe downwards curve of the saxophone leading into its steep rise outwards, the bassist’s instrument towering tall above him, nearly dwarfing his figure–the starched, hard lines running down the saxophonist’s trousers to his leather shoes of a beautiful light brown.

These resolute qualities of shape and line, of visual stimuli within the ability of prediction, juxtapose quite fantastically with the improvised, directionless nature of the Juilliard Jazz Quartet’s numbers. Jazz is the seemingly seamless coalescence of cacophony and euphony, sounds that make you swoon and move in tandem with the rhythm and melodies, the crescendoes, the pauses, the sounds produced with but the finest finesse, captured with an even greater sense of delicacy. Music–it’s something incredible; even more, fundamentally human.

September 24, 2013   No Comments

Night at the Museum– An Interpretation on the Art of Exhibition

Jackson Pollock: Autumn Rhythm, 1950

Visiting museums nearly always yields a contemplative and fascinating experience, and it is all the more fantastic that we are able to witness with our own eyes the great works comprising intellectual thought and cultural expression for our higher education. My group chose to spend the duration of the trip on the fifth floor exploring the Shattered Identities exhibit. It was a blast seeing the composition of competing artistic styles and their inherent juxtaposition with one another in certain cases. Take, for example, the landscape painting of the famous artist in the 19th century who is known for capturing incredible depictions of nature’s awe-inspiring majesty, placed next to a work which appears to be in the same style of a Romantic depiction of nature, only with the actual painting hidden mostly from view due to the appearance of the artist having set fire to the whole work.

Mention of this reminds me of an observation I made during a previous visit to MoMA: How does the nature and place of the exhibition alter your reception of the artwork? When you see two pieces of art side-by-side, one work is bound to alter your perception and consideration of the other work, which is perhaps an idea that was intended by whoever is responsible for the layout of the exhibition (the same can be said of the building’s internal architecture and even simple design decisions like color of the walls). I also noticed something else–the lack of music in the gallery. This is perhaps due to the very aforementioned effect, of one piece of art fundamentally altering your perception of another piece. Perhaps music would have too transcendental and powerful of an effect, imposing its own creative influences and artistic perspective on your own and on the expression of the respective art pieces. To illustrate, I can imagine that looking at a Jackson Pollock piece while listening to Beethoven in conjunction could instill the idea of a ‘grand design in the beautiful and exquisite chaos of Pollock’s imagination,’ versus looking at the same piece while listening to some derivative of Screamo-death-hardcore-heavy metal could perhaps invoke a sense of ‘chaotic savagery in what ultimately amounts to Pollack’s madness.’

These concepts have led to an even bigger question–how was a particular piece of art intended to be displayed? Do museums conform to the artist’s intentions or do they accomplish something more–a commentary of, or rather service to, society? Do we, or are we even able to, understand the artist’s original intentions? Consider a museum where each artistic instillation, each painting, each work is housed in its own blank room with neutral aesthetics. Could it be said that this is the most “pure” way to experience the art?

September 18, 2013   No Comments

Macaulay & Musings on Art

September 9, 2013   2 Comments