Wk 11 – Art Experience – Turning Pages

This week I had an interesting and very unique art experience. This week’s experience asked us to think about documentation and utilization of space. Since Turning Pages was somewhat of a performance piece, in which we interacted with various places and objects throughout campus, it was ephemeral in nature. Ephemeral experiences can be documented in a variety of ways. We can write about them, we can take photographs of them, we can tell stories about them, and we can create art that reflects them, among other methods. I feel that words and pictures are highly effective in capturing the essence of moments. The quality and personal-ness of words and pictures are major variants in determining how effective they are at reflecting experiences. I think that we can use words and pictures in beautiful ways that allow other people to understand experiences, as if they were, or are, there themselves. I also think the style of words and pictures greatly matters in capturing an experience. Different photography techniques, or even different techniques used in the creation of hand-crafted pictures, can intensify pictures’ abilities to capture experiences. Blurriness can beautifully capture motion, lighting can alter the mood or feel we get from viewing an experience, and angle can affect the way we perceive it. Techniques used in drawings and paintings have similar purposes. Colors evoke emotion and help dictate how we should feel, texture gives images a realistic look, and detail can make a huge difference in how immersed we become in an image. These techniques, among others, help make the experience more real and allow us to see or feel things we may not have from looking at a basic photograph. Variations in writing are also effective in capturing experiences. Poems often capture feelings of experiences, and descriptions allow us to envision things as they were. Both styles of writing are equally effective in elucidating the specifics of an experience. Other ways to share experiences with people who were absent from them include sharing stories about them, writing music that reflects how they made us feel, and re-enacting them. These methods can be equally as effective as formal documentation, and may serve as the preferred methods of documentation for many. Although some people feel that trying to document an experience as it happens creates an experiential distance between themselves and the event, I feel that in-the-moment documentation is most often a means of connection between oneself and an experience. Although I can understand how viewing an event as it happens from behind a camera can seem contradictory to the nature of experiencing something in-person, I feel that the payoff of being able to see your own photographic evidence is very much worth being behind a camera for a few moments during the event. When I experience an event in-person, I am definitely mindful of being present and not straying behind my camera too often. However, I make sure that I take a good amount of photographic documentation, such as videos and photographs. This allows me to re-visit and re-experience the moments that are so dear to me later on. In my opinion, this is so important. Being able to view videos and photographs that I took myself allows me to re-live such moments and causes me great happiness. It is rare that we are able to re-live our most precious memories in life. Thus, I feel that when we are provided the opportunity to document them, we should definitely take it.

I feel that my experiences of not taking photos in the library, and taking photos in the bookstore were not very different. Although they were obviously different in that I did not formally document one experience and I took photographs of the other, I did not feel as though my ability to be present was very much affected. I would say that I felt equally present at both the library and the bookstore. My ultimate feeling about this activity is that it was very interesting. At first I did not really understand the point of the activity, even after reading the instructions a few times. I felt somewhat awkward and disruptive reading books in the library’s computer lab, and I felt as though I were wandering aimlessly through the bookstore, unsure of what to do. However, I can now see that the point was to think about documentation and the ever-changing nature of society as it is reflected in the utilization of space. I can clearly understand Marta’s point about how our utilization of the library and the bookstore very much reflect technological advances and cultural changes within our society. The library’s integration of a Starbucks and computers showcase our dependence on technology and caffeine, especially somewhat fancy coffee drinks. The bookstore’s showcasing of CSULB merchandise and technology convey similar dependencies, as well as students’ desires to celebrate their attendance of their university with themed merchandise. The somewhat hidden, cast aside nature of books in both places that are supposedly founded on books demonstrates many students’ straying from books in favor of technology and consumerism.

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