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Visual Literacy
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Photography and the Brain

"After an overview of the biomechanics of vision, this program explains how proximity, similarity, and continuity affect perception; what light is and how lighting types and angles alter an image ; and how color theory operates"-- Container.
2011; 2009
Clemons (Stacks)

Media Literacy: The New Basic?

Host/facilitator John Merrow, commentators Walter Goodman, Walter Cronkhite, Hugh Downs and numerous educators who participated in a videoconference, discuss media literacy education of children as essential in forming effective citizens for our "mediated" world.
Ivy (By Request)

Shedding Light on Refraction [electronic resource]

Anyone standing in front of a mirror will instantly recognize the concept of reflection at work, but to observe the process of refraction and to develop an in-depth knowledge of it is quite a different story. This video helps students understand how light behaves when it passes through transparent materials and how refraction plays a role in nature and in human life. With engaging explanations and no-nonsense animation, the program explains the refractive index, incident ray, angle of incidence, refracted ray, angle of refraction, normal line, and what it means for light to turn "toward the normal" or "away from the normal." Helpful graphics illustrate the velocities at which light travels through a vacuum, air, water, and glass, and how these speeds are used in physics and optics ca [...]

Drawing Lesson: One in Praise of Shadows [electronic resource]

This lecture opens with an excerpt from William Kentridge's animated film Shadow Procession, which "immediately calls to mind various historical displacements, exiles, and genocides, even as it avoids pinning the work to any specific time or place," says Harvard Magazine. From that point on, Kentridge's first of six "drawing lessons" travels from Plato's allegory of the cave, to illusion in art, to philosophical tyranny to make the point that knowledge is in actuality subjective and that the proper place to live lies somewhere between Plato's passive shadow-watcher and the absolutist philosopher.

Drawing Lesson: Two a Brief History of Colonial Revolts [electronic resource]

An excerpt from William Kentridge's animated film rendition of Mozart's opera The Magic Flute sets the stage for this lecture in which he builds upon observations elucidated in Drawing Lesson One to argue that colonialism - with all its inherent brutality - is the logical culmination of 18th-century Enlightenment thought. "Every act of enlightenment - " says Kentridge, "all ambitions to save souls, all the basic impulses - is so dogged by the weight of what follows it, the shadows, the violence that has accompanied the Enlightenment. The colonial project in its own description of bringing light to darkness is a gruesome working out of Plato's cave.

Drawing Lesson: Three Vertical Thinking, a Johannesburg Biography [electronic resource]

In the first two of William Kentridge's "drawing lessons," "the South African filmmaker argued that rationality has often served as a mask for power and control, as ideas of what is 'rational' privilege one group's understanding of reality over another's," says Harvard Magazine. Kentridge carries that theme forward in this lecture - which is anchored by his short animated film Mine - as he delves down into "the legacy of his home country's multiple strata of historical violence.

Drawing Lesson: Four Practical Epistemology, Life in the Studio [electronic resource]

The idea that uncertainty and improvisation in art can help in negotiating the dangerous passage between passive acceptance and authoritarian subjugation is a theme that William Kentridge continues to expound upon in Drawing Lesson Four. He uses his short film Journey to the Moon - a tribute, in part, to George Méliès' 1902 cinematic classic La Voyage dans la Lune - as a part of a discussion praising cinema as an art form that exemplifies, as stated in Harvard Magazine, "an artistic environment saturated with experimental potential." Kentridge then draws a parallel to an artist's studio, a nonjudgmental space where one can safely and freely engage with ideas and materials without fear of repercussions or reprisals.

Drawing Lesson: Five in Praise of Mistranslation [electronic resource]

In this lecture, William Kentridge explores the concepts of self and other, transformation and deformation, and translation and mistranslation by yoking together the African funerary sculpture called an asen, a film loop of a panther pacing in its cage, Rainer Maria Rilke's poem "Der Panther," Albrecht Dürer's woodcut of a rhinoceros created from bits of second-hand description, and Pablo Picasso's bronze sculpture of a she-goat cast from an assemblage of found objects. "Every translation is a mistranslation," says Kentridge.

Drawing Lesson: Six Anti-Entropy [electronic resource]

Anti-entropy as it applies to art - think of it as a sort of explosion in reverse - results, ultimately, in the annihilation of creativity because each step toward the completion of a project rules out more and more of the random possibilities of what that project otherwise might have been. "The infinite becomes finite," says Kentridge in this lecture, as he seeks an answer to the question "Can we avoid the end of all potentiality?" A partial performance of his work The Refusal of Time offers signs of hope.

Crafts and Crafts People [electronic resource]

Adesuwa, age 10, and Akugbe, age 11, are going to have new party dresses made. They choose a tie-dyed fabric, and we learn how it is made. We also learn how the famous bronzes were cast. They are still being made in the traditional way, although the hand-pumped bellows has been replaced by an automobile battery-powered fan. Today's chief bronze caster narrates the dance drama that explains how the bronze casters became the most important craft guild in Benin.

California Clay in the Rockies [electronic resource]

In 1950s California, the art climate was in a state of flux and open to experimentation. The presence of Peter Voulkos signaled a philosophical upheaval of ceramic tradition and technique, inspiring the West Coast clay revolution. California Clay in the Rockies is an assemblage of interviews, demonstrations, and performances showcasing the seminal artists of this innovative movement. Funk Art originator Robert Arneson, raku ceramics innovator Paul Soldner, trompe l'oeil figurativist Richard Shaw, monumental sculptor Viola Frey, superrealist Marily Levine, and others applaud Voulkos for his inspiration and catalyzing encouragement.

This Space Available [electronic resource]: Outdoor Advertising and the Fight Against Visual Pollution

With billboards choking cityscapes around the world, a global grassroots movement has sprouted that is uniting concerned citizens with visionary politicians, enlightened business leaders, and outraged street artists in a fight against visual pollution. This Space Available explores efforts to reclaim commercially usurped public spaces as it takes an incisive look at the differences between the Baby Boomer generation, which spawned the excess in advertising, and today's young adults-the most marketed-to generation in history. Complex issues of economics, urban development, public space, aesthetics, and more are confronted as the documentary grapples with the question of who public space is for.

Breaking the Wall Between Earth and Sky [electronic resource]: How Art Challenges Gravity and Light in Our Habitat

The subversive power of art is playing a vital role in providing architecture with risky yet palpable visions of the future. Argentinian artist and architect Tomás Saraceno has garnered worldwide acclaim for his sophisticated and innovative installations, sculptures, and photographic work. Based in Germany, Saraceno develops utopian spaces inspired by evocative elements like soap bubbles, spiderwebs, chocolate-milk foam, astronomical constellations, dust particles, and clouds. He has established a practice of constructing habitable networks based upon complex geometries and interconnectivities that aim to transcend the sensorial effect, inviting the viewer to consider alternative forms of knowledge, feelings, and social interaction. In this Falling Walls lecture, Saraceno demonstrate [...]

Donald Judd [electronic resource]: Marfa, Texas

An artist and critic, Donald Judd was the embodiment of considerable duality - at once a man of intellectual rigor and a multidisciplinary conceptualist who deftly moved toward a new minimalism. In 1971, he relocated from New York to the prairies of Presidio County in southern Texas, 20 miles from the Mexican border. It is here, in Marfa, Texas, that Chris Felver interviews Judd, providing insights into his process, his materials - aluminum, brass, Plexiglas, and concrete - and the freedom he sought to achieve from institutions trying to define what art is. A rare visit with an exceptional talent and a compelling destination for art aficionados.

Tony Cragg [electronic resource]: In Celebration of Sculpture

One of the most versatile sculptors working today is Tony Cragg. Shaping forms in plastic, glass, stone, wood, steel, fiberglass, and found objects, he has been making magic come alive in hard materials since having emerged in the mid-'70s. His vocabulary is wide and his ideas explode across a broad creative landscape, destabilizing our normal viewing habits, while widening our perspective and attitudes. In Celebration of Sculpture is cinema verité at its most powerful. Cragg reveals himself while shown installing exhibitions of his work internationally and restlessly moving around in his Wuppertal studio. Filmed in New York, California, London, Eindhoven, and Düsseldorf, one senses the peripatetic nature of a restless creator. The sculptor's workplace is where he prefers to be.

Taken by the Romans [electronic resource]

Rarely does a city's interior come alive as in this expansive film by Chris Felver. Rhapsodic and poetic, the film highlights Rome in the context of the many painters, sculptors, and conceptual artists who have made the eternal city a backdrop for continuing the revolution of the image. Beginning with Forma Uomo, a group of artists working just after the end of World War II, and moving through three successive generations, the city speaks its mind. Together, their conversations constitute a lively and animated discussion of the varied currents that make up the creative process. Giulio Turcato, Sandro Chia, Pietro Consagra, Jannis Kounellis, Enzo Cucchi, and Fabio Mauri, Pasolini's collaborator, are among the artists featured here.

The Final Flourish [electronic resource]

Starting with the last exhibition the Impressionists organized as a group, this program examines the late years of the movement. British critic Waldemar Januszczak looks in depth at the work of Georges Seurat, taking into consideration Seurat's academic training at the Beaux-Arts School in Paris and the artists that influenced him, such as Piero della Francesca and Puvis de Chavannes. Meanwhile, Januszczak studies the fascinating intersection between optics and art and the ways in which the Impressionists used new discoveries about light and vision in their work. Van Gogh's time in Paris is also covered, especially regarding his transition from somber-hued social commentary to the dazzling palette he adopted on the cusp of his departure for the south of France. Then, coming in a sens [...]

The Great Outdoors [electronic resource]

British art critic Waldemar Januszczak continues his investigation of the Impressionists by venturing outdoors to some of their most famous painting sites. Although Impressionist pictures often look sunny and relaxed, achieving that sense of tranquility was hard work. Scrambling over coastal rocks or trudging through wind, rain, and knee-deep snow, Januszczak shows how the perceived spontaneity of Impressionism is thoroughly misleading - even as he rediscovers its beauty in the French riverside locations that Monet loved to paint and the colorful retreats where Renoir captured the bonhomie of modern life. Viewers also learn about technical developments that spurred Impressionism onward - the invention of portable easels, the use of hog's hair in paint brushes, and the establishment o [...]

Beliefs and Culture [electronic resource]

What is the meaning and scope of images today? Bombarded by thousands of images every day, what do we really see? In a constantly changing world, socially and politically engaged creators are searching for new ways to capture our attention. Filmmaker Helen Doyle has chosen the work of several artists and photographers who provoke us into looking deeper at the outside world and at ourselves.

Chasing the Light [electronic resource]: A Film by Ed George

An artistic journey down the Colorado River and the Grand Canyon. An assemblage of Grand Canyon painters and photographers embarked on a twenty-one day river trip through the canyon. The journey was documented on high-definition video and presents a unique opportunity to see these artists working, interacting and talking about the techniques and inspiration of their craft. The excitement of the rapids, the talent, camaraderie and the beauty of February light in the canyon is a binding theme of the film.