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    Earth Island Journal - Chris Jordan, Running the Numbers. Also, Edward Burtynsky - Manufactured Landscapes

    The Spring 2011 edition of Earth Island Journal features the artwork of Chris Jordan.  Here's a description of his project, Running the Numbers II: Portraits of Global Mass Culture, in his own words:

    This new series looks at mass phenomena that occur on a global scale. Similarly to the first Running the Numbers series, each image portrays a specific quantity of something: the number of tuna fished from the world's oceans every fifteen minutes, for example. But this time the statistics are global in scale, rather than specifically American.

    Finding meaning in global mass phenomena can be difficult because the phenomena themselves are invisible, spread across the earth in millions of separate places. There is no Mount Everest of waste that we can make a pilgrimage to and behold the sobering aggregate of our discarded stuff, seeing and feeling it viscerally with our senses.

    Instead, we are stuck with trying to comprehend the gravity of these phenomena through the anaesthetizing and emotionally barren language of statistics. Sociologists tell us that the human mind cannot meaningfully grasp numbers higher than a few thousand; yet every day we read of mass phenomena characterized by numbers in the millions, billions, even trillions.

    Compounding this challenge is our sense of insignificance as individuals in a world of 6.7 billion people. And if we fully open ourselves to the horrors of our times, we also risk becoming overwhelmed, panicked, or emotionally paralyzed.

    I believe it is worth connecting with these issues and allowing them to matter to us personally, despite the complex mixtures of anger, fear, grief, and rage that this process can entail. Perhaps these uncomfortable feelings can become part of what connects us, serving as fuel for courageous individual and collective action as citizens of a new kind of global community. This hope continues to motivate my work.

                                                                                                                       ~cj, Seattle, February 2009

    What follows are three scanned pages from the Earth Island Journal piece on Jordan's series, as well as a few pieces pulled from his website. 


    The photographs of Edward Burtynsky also portray mass-scale industrialism through the medium of art.  Manufactured Landscapes is a documentary about Burtynsky's subject matter and photographic methods.  Here's the trailer:

    Here he is at TED:


    Arts in the Street - The Museum of Contemporary Art - Los Angeles 

    This summer I made the mistake of being in Los Angeles.  I killed some time by visiting the Art in the Streets exhibition ($10 admission; runs until 8/8/11) at the Museum of Contemporary Art’s extension building, the Geffen Contemporary, which is in Japantown.  What follows is a critique of the exhibit and street art from someone whose knowledge and experience of the subject is very limited (to once spray painting the walls of my high school). 


    Paying to see street art displayed inside of a renowned museum evokes irony.  Street art, almost by definition, is most always displayed in public places (though sometimes on private property), and those that see it must rarely pay to do so (though sometimes they must pay to have it removed).  Also, a piece displayed in a museum often conveys obsoleteness, which is not the case with street art.  Regardless, the MOCA has done civilization a favor by offering people the option of paying to see impressive works of street art displayed in a museum. 


    Here are a few of the pieces on display:




    Some in the street artist community are upset with current artists (such as Banksy) partaking in the MOCA exhibit, and are frustrated with the MOCA for displaying the works of bygone graffiti artists whom may have objected to their work being displayed in the MOCA galleries (Basquit ((who died from a heroin overdose; that’s my boy)), for instance, may have objected to his display). 


    After analyzing the reasoning of street artists opposed to the MOCA exhibit, I began to sympathize with their opposition.  It seems that graffiti and street art, inherently and/or by cultural evolution, is anti-establishment and represents a form of resistance against the state and the forces that run it.   The MOCA, with its yuppie donors pouring in funds from the valley, is certainly an establishment entity (if street artists were to place street art on the MOCA exterior, they’d be arrested if caught by the police).  So how are you gonna put street art inside of a museum and still call it street art?  You can’t because it isn’t.  You have to pay $10 to see erstwhile street art indoors.  But it’s worth it.   


    Despite confinement, it’s still art to be appreciated, and the Art in the Streets exhibition offers significant benefits to the community.  It’s impressive enough to inspire some people to start doing street art. (Stay away from the mom and pop stores.)  And perhaps next time the soccer mom with the big tits will sympathize with the arrested street artist. (Beware the cougar.)  Like the quality of this article, some things are both good and bad (such as Oprah narrating Life).  In conclusion, the real street artists aren’t mulling around bemoaning the politics of the MOCA, they’re out making street art.  Enjoy the rush and evade the police my friends. (And stay away from the mom and pop stores.)    


    Jean Leon Gerome

    The paintings of Jean Leon Gerome are some of the very best works of art, if not the best paintings, in the history of humanity on Earth.  I took the pictures of the first three paintings below at the MET in New York City. 

    File:Jean-Leon Gerome Pollice Verso.jpg


    File:Gerome Death of Caesar.jpg



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