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for Annette's class, the following is in place of quiz 3:

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird [1]


Explanation of student presentations using Thomas McEvilly’s “13 Ways of Looking at a Blackbird”

Each student will give a 5-10 minute presentation explaining the meaning of a work of art (loosely defined – painting, sculpture, land art, internet piece, song, film, game, etc.) of your choice based on which “way” you have chosen or have been assigned. Presentations should be in the form of a power point file with no more than two slides and which includes an image or representation of the work discussed. List sources.

This should be based not only on your opinion, but on background information you find on the work.

The assignment is meant to explore how we find meaning in art. Where is the line between art and political action, what role does intention of the artist play in the making/understanding of a work of art, why is XYZ art? This assignment is useful in thinking about the various contexts within which art can be understood and experienced.

Following are McEvilley’s ways, in bold, and my sketchy notes that are intended for clarification or amplification follow.

1. Content that arises from the aspect of the artwork that is understood as representational. LIZ His point – we see nature based on how we have seen it represented in art.

2. Content arising from verbal supplements supplied by the artist. NATHAN Title, what the artist says/writes

3. Content arising from the genre or medium of the artwork. AARON

4. Content arising from the material of which the artwork is made. DAVID When, for example, a jeweler works in some other medium than gold, because gold mining is damaging to the environment and does not return profits to the miners themselves.

5. Content arising from the scale of the artwork. ANDREW Especially relevant for land art, earthworks. What about works at the nanoscale?

6. Content arising from the temporal duration of the artwork. ROXANNE Film, video, performance, music?

7. Content arising from the context of the work. EDDIE His eg – site specific work

8. Content arising from the work's relationship with art history. JENNY For eg., Hermine Freed, Art Herstory, 1974

9. Content that accrues to the work as it progressively reveals its destiny through persisting in time. ALLEN His eg. - Duchamp added content to the Mona Lisa

10. Content arising from participation in a specific iconographic tradition. KATY Certain colors or forms, or even subjects, have a particular meaning (very similar to context)

11. Content arising directly from the formal properties of the work. JASON He says: A Pollock drip painting asserts flux and indefiniteness of identity as qualities that can be found in the world

12. Content arising from attitudinal gestures (wit, irony, parody, and so on) that may appear as qualifiers of any of the categories already mentioned. WARREN criticizes that content at the same time it states it, and alters the charge of meaning. (for eg., Natural Born Killers, which tells the story of a pair of mass murderers while parodying various media forms like TV sitcoms

13. Content rooted in biological or physiological responses, or in cognitive awareness of them. ADAM Sexual arousal, disgust, visual responses like persistence of vision (when you stare at an image composed of complements and then look at a white wall and still see it, but with colors reversed) op art

You will certainly find that there are interactions/overlaps among categories, and that any work you choose may be relevant to more than one.