Week 11 - Last Tango in Paris
After months of transatlantic static about the movie’s allegedly explicit sexual content, featuring the 48-year-old Marlon Brando (freshly rejuvenated by The Godfather) and a 20-year-old unknown named Maria Schneider, Last Tango had its patiently anticipated premiere on the closing night of the New York Film Festival in October, 1972. Bernardo Bertolucci developed the film from his sexual fantasies: "He once dreamed of seeing a beautiful nameless woman on the street and having sex with her without ever knowing who she was".
Director Bernardo Bertolucci was served with a four month suspended sentence in prison for the film, best known for the sadomasochistic ‘butter scene’ in which Marlon Brando prepares his accepting victim for anal rape. It was heavily edited for British release, banned in various countries including Italy, Portugal, and Chile for thirty years. A court in Bologna that banned the film summed up the reasons: "Obscene content offensive to public decency... presented with obsessive self-indulgence, catering to the lowest instincts of the libido, dominated by the idea of stirring unchecked appetites for sexual pleasure, permeated by scurrilous language... accompanied off screen by sounds, sighs and shrieks of climax pleasure."
But what is it really about, besides sex? As a story, Last Tango is pretty simple. A middle-aged American businessman, Paul (Marlon Brando), is in Paris, reeling from the recent suicide of his wife. He decides to rent an apartment in the city and goes to one for let, where by chance he meets Jeanne (Maria Schneider). He coaxes her into having a sexual relationship with him that is entirely physical and anonymous–they don’t even exchange names. Meeting exclusively at the apartment, they have wild sex in various ways. Eventually Paul breaks off the relationship for no reason, but by chance meets Jeanne again on the street and begins sharing personal information about himself. Now suddenly he does want to know her name, but she doesn’t want him anymore. The lack of anonymity has ruined what they had. He won’t take no for an answer, and stalks her. Eventually she ends up shooting him. That’s pretty much it.
Week 10 - Hisory of Condoms
In ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome pregnancy prevention was generally seen as a woman’s responsibility and the only well documented pregnancy contraception methods were female controlled devices. In Asia before the 15th century, some use of glans condoms (devices covering on the head of the penis) is recorded. Condoms seem to have been used for contraception, and to have been known only by members of the upper class. In China, glans condoms may have been made of oiled silk paper, or of lamp intestines. In Japan, they were made of tortoise shell or animal horn.
In 16th century Italy anatomist and physician Gabriele Falloppio wrote a treatise on syphilis. The earliest documented strain of syphilis, which first appeared in Europe during the 1490s. The outbreak, causes severe symptoms and often death within a few months of contracting the disease. Falloppio’s treatise is the earliest uncontested description of condom use, it describes linen sheaths soaked in a chemical solution and allowed to dry before use. The cloths he described were sized to cover the glans of the penis, and were held on with a ribbon. Falloppio claimed that an experimental trail of the linen sheath demonstrated protection against syphilis.
In addition to linen, condoms during the Renaissance were made out of intestines and bladder. In the late 16th century, Dutch traders introduced condoms made from “fine leather” to Japan. Unlike the glans condoms these leather condoms covered the entire penis. From at least the 18th century, condom use was opposed in some legal, religious, and medical circles for essentially the same reasons that are given today: condoms reduce the likelihood of pregnancy, which some thought immoral or undesirable for the nation; they do not provide full protection against sexually transmitted infections, while belief in their protective powers was thought to encourage sexual promiscuity; and, they are not used consistently due to inconvenience, expense, or loss of sensation.
Despite some opposition, the condom market grew rapidly. In the 18th century, condoms were available in a variety of qualities and sizes, made from either linen treated with chemicals. They were sold at pubs, barbershops, chemist shops, open-air markets, and at the theater throughout Europe and Russia. They later Spread to America, although in every place there were generally used only by the middle and upper classes, due to both expense and lack of sex education.
Week 9 - History of Sunglasses
Sunglasses are a form of protective eyewear designed primarily to prevent bright sunlight and high-energy visible light from damaging or discomforting the eyes. They can sometimes also function as a visual aid, as variously termed spectacles or glasses exist, featuring lenses that are colored polarized or darkened. In the early 20th century they were also known as sun cheaters (an American slang term). Sunglasses are recommended by the American Optometric Association in order to protect the eyes from ultraviolet radiation and blue light, which can cause several serious eye problems.
In the early 1920s, the use of sunglasses started to become more widespread, especially among stars of movies. It is commonly believed that this was to avoid recognition by fans, but an alternative reason sometimes given is that they often had red eyes from the powerful arc lamps that were needed due to the extremely slow speed film stocks used. The stereotype persisted long after improvements in film quality and the introduction of ultraviolet filters had eliminated this problem.
Inexpensive mass-produced sunglasses made from celluloid were first produced by Sam Foster in 1929. Foster found a ready market on the beaches of Atlantic City, New Jersey, where he began selling sunglasses under the name Foster Grant from a Woolworth on the Boardwalk. glasses, looking through narrow slits to block harmful reflected rays of the sun. By 1938 Life magazine wrote of how sunglasses were a "new fad for wear on city streets ... a favorite affectation of thousands of women all over the U.S." It stated that 20 million sunglasses were sold in the United States in 1937, but estimated that only about 25% of American wearers needed them to protect their eyes.
Week 8 - How Vinyl Records are Made
The process of making vinyl records has its roots in Thomas Edison’s phonograph.
First, a master recording is made, usually in a studio where engineers perfect the recorded sound. Then an objects called a lacquer is placed on a record-cutting machine, and as it rotates, electric signals from the master recording travel to a cutting head, which holds a stylus, or needle. The needle etches a groove in the lacquer that spirals to the center of the circular disc. The imprinted lacquer is then sent to a production company. There, the lacquer is coated in a metal, such as silver or nickel, to produce a metal master. When the metal master is separated from the lacquer, the resulting disc has ridges instead of grooves. The metal master is then used to create a metal record, also called the mother which is then used to form the stamper. Stampers are just negative versions of the original recording that will be used to make the actual vinyl records. Next, the stamper is placed into a hydraulic press, and vinyl is sandwiched in between. Steam from the press softens the plastic as the stampers push an impression of the master recording onto it. Finally, the disc is stiffened using cool water. Once the record is ready to be played, it will need a proper machine to bring its sound to life
Week 7 - Brand New Vinyl (Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me)
The Devil and God are Raging Inside Me is the thrid studio album by the American alternative rock band Brand New. The album was relased on Novermeber 20, 2006 through Interscope Records, making it their first major label debut.
The title of the album came from a conversation that the lead singer Jesse Lacey had with a friend regarding Daniel Johnston. Who is an American singer-songwriter who was diagonsed with schizophernia and bipolar disorder. There is a docutmentary film about Johnston called The Devil and Daniel Johnston, depicting his childhood up to the present time and emphasizes on his experiences with bipolar and how it manifested itsself in demonic self-obsession.
“ I don’t think the title was meant specigically for one idea, but more that it touched on the band and also certain things that were evident when you listen to it. It really came up from a conversation I was having with a friend about a musician who got an illness which has a certain level of paranoia and schizophernia, and it leans towards a spirtual thing, a battle between good and evil which is intriguing… I realized how much it represents quite and loud, the good and evil, but it also has a lot to do with faith and some spirtual aspects” – Jesse Lacey Discussing the album’s title
The album cover is a photograph titled “Untilted #44” by Nicholas Prior in his Age of Man collection, which the band saw at an art show in New York. The collection of work that this photograph is apart of is influenced by Sigmond Freud’s writings on The Uncanny, and the idea that an adult cannot look back on childhood as a child, which implies a mysterious and impenetrable chasm between adults and children. Pioir delves into the complexities of childhood and depicts scenes that are tranquil in feeling yet psychologically charged. The events Pior observes operate according to the very private protocol of childhood. The young subjects are not performing for adults or for the camera, and in both public settings and domestic situations they appear commited to their own interioir psychological spaces. The images offer adult viewers an invitation to linger at the edges of a world most of us have lost sight of, one familiar yet not fully accessible, in the end leacing one to search for evocative echoes of sgnificant events from one’s own childhood in these seeminly benign activites.
Week 6 - Censorship of War Photography Gulf War
On February 28th 1991, Photographer Kenneth Jarecke stood in front a Iraqi solider being burned to death and photographed the charred man. The photographer took the picture just before a ceasefire officially ended Operation Desert Storm. The image and its anonymous subject has become a symbol of the Gulf War. Jarecke pushed for the image to become published within the United States but the media just refused to have it published. Even though during the Vietnam war the public was treated to various images displaying the gruesome environment and chaos that surrounded the soldiers and civilians which made up a notable catalog of chilling and iconic war photography. Not every gruesome photo reveals an important truth about conflict and combat but sometimes, omitting an image means shielding the public from the messy consequences of war making the media coverage incomplete and deceptive. In the case of the charred Iraqi Soldier, the hypnotizing and awful photograph that Time Magazine and the Associated Press denied the public the opportunity to confront this unknown enemy and consider his excruciating moments. After the American media refused to published the image the media in France and the United Kingdom decided to release the image in their countries. After many months later the image did appear in the U.S in a magazine called American Photo, where is did cause some controversy but came too late to have any significant impact on the media or public. The reaction to image surprised the photography who assumed the media would be more than happy to challenge and critique the popular narrative of a clean, uncomplicated war which the image displayed that wasn’t the case. Some have argued that showing bloodshed and trauma repeatedly and sensationally can dull emotional understanding. But never showing these images in the first place guarantees that such an understanding will never develop. The photographer said back in 1991 “If we’re big enough to fight a war, we should be big enough to look at it”.
Week 5 - Renoir's The Large Bathers
The Large Bathers is a painting by Auguste Renoir that was painted throughout three years; 1884 to 1887. The painting depicts a scene of nude women bathing. In the foreground, two women are seated beside the water, and a third is standing in the water near them. In the background two others are bathing. The female standing in the water in the foreground appears to be about to splash one of the women seated on the shore with water. That woman leans backs to avoid the expected splash. Renoir painted the figures being influenced by Michelangelo human figures giving them a sculptural quality. Which contrasts with the landscape in the background that shimmers with an impressionistic glow. Renoir’s intention was to reconcile the modern forms of painting with the painting traditions of the 17th and 18th centuries. These Renaissance influences came from Renoir’s trip to Italy where he visited various locations and saw pieces of art work curated by Italian Renaissance artists like Ingres and Raphael. These two great artists influence Renoir’s entire way of painting and drawing, as he began to paint in a more disciplined and more conventional manner giving up landscape paintings and focusing on the human nude. After completing the painting, Renoir received severe criticism because of his style, which caused Renoir to never create paintings of this caliber or spend a large amount of time planning a piece.
Week 4 - Burberry
The company was founded in 1856 by dressmaker Thomas Burberry who was 21 at the time. The headquarters are located in London and the company has boutiques in 48 countries. The company is most famous for its trench coats. Queen Elizabeth II and the Prince of Wales have granted the company Royal Warrants. Which is given to tradespeople who supply goods to the royal court. The Company first focused on selling outdoor attire. In 1914 became the outfitter for Ernest Shacklson the first man to reach the south pole and George Mallory on his failed attempt to climb Mount Everest. With the development of the swinging sixties Burberry became the luxury clothing brand from the UK. Burberry had combined its traditional English style with a high-flying modern aesthetic in order appeal to the public. Stars of the modern world began wearing Burberry such as Humphrey Bogart, Audrey Hepburn, Ronald Reagan etc. Burberry is a very special brand because of their long and rich history as well as their attention to quality and luxury. The brand became associated with football hooligan subculture between 2001 and 2005 which had a negative impact on the company. The football hooligan subculture refers to violent and destructive behavior from supporters of different soccer teams.
Week 3 - Belt Buckles
Belt buckles have been a part of cowboy culture dating back to when the pioneers where first settling in western America. The belt buckle has a practical function of keeping the belt closed but it also tells a story. The buckle is a cowboy’s resume, name tag, and can tell their family history. The belt buckle is something that they wear with pride as it is a way to show off their accomplishments. Belt Buckles also symbolizes masculinity as it is a prominent accessory in the military. They were first invented around the 1600’s used mainly for the military men and the merchants to hold their pants up when they became soaked due to the weather and out at sea. The first belt buckles dates back to the early roman times. They were more for function than a fashion statement when they first were invented.
Week 2 - Todd Hiddo
When you pick up a book you expect something from it. It has a beginning, a middle and an end. Which forces contemporary photographer Todd Hiddo to think about his images in an order and a sequence which he then complies to tell a story. He uses the art of storytelling by utilizing the sense of sight. He published a book called “Excerpts from Silver Meadows” which tells a visual story through dark landscapes, highly charged portraits and appropriated images. The “Excerpts from Silver Meadows” is inspired by Hiddo’s upbringing in suburban Ohio and also a mixture of currents events, fiction and film. He focuses on storytelling through his photography because he believes that everyone should be able to tell their story, which creates an urgency to create genuine artwork. His artwork can come off a little unsettling but only because the places that he chooses to photograph are real, nothing is fabricated or made up. He utilizes the positive and negative space in his landscapes to create a feeling of isolation in a world larger than the human form. He purposely uses aspects of subordination to balance out his photographs and emphasize the focal points so that the viewer is drawn to specific points of the image. Throughout his book, he uses his knowledge of rectilinear photography to capture the world how the human eye interprets it, he also takes advantage of using leading lines to create tension within his compositions which ultimately sets this dark atmospheric vibe throughout his imagery. Hiddo when creating the layout for his pictures when creating the book, used various image sizes and placed his pictures off center which adds a strong sense of figure ground. He is very formal with his photography, he shoots only using film and develops everything on his own. He has this documentary approach with his photography but when printing his images in the darkroom he colorizes them with a painter’s vision. He blends aspects of nonfiction and fiction to create a surrealistic perspective on reality. As a contemporary photographer, he uses the natural world to tell various stories that questions various aspects of human nature. He is not a photographer that spends hours thinking of ideas and concepts but he goes out and takes pictures of his surroundings, he takes advantage of his sparks of inspiration and after the high is gone he sorts out his images, and creates a narrative aspect to them. He allows the viewers to conjure up their own stories or meaning behind his work, he believes that story resides within the individual because someone will always see something differently or interpret it in a way that could contrast with the original intent.
Week 1 - Dream Catcher
The dream catcher has been part of the Native American Tradition for centuries. They’ve always had many meanings towards the state of dreaming. They would hang these objects (dreamcatchers) around their homes in which they believed that the dream catcher would be able to filter out the bad dreams as the good dreams knew they would have to go through the holes. It is traditional for there to be a feather in the center of the dream catcher as that symbolizes breath, or air. The dream catcher is an art form as it takes great patience and skill in order to create them. The craft of making dream catchers is something that is passed down through generations of various native American tribes. Depending on the location of the Tribe the style of the dream catcher could vary slightly but the meaning is still the same. The circle ring of the dream catcher imitates the shape of the Earth and mirrors the orbital path of the planets around the sun. It represents the circle of life – a circle of which all living things are a part. With no beginning or end, it is a metaphor of the belief that life also has no beginning and no end. Death, as Native American’s believe is a part of life, even after a body turns to dust the spirit continues to thrive.