Thursday Thoughts: Rebuilding after Modernity

Modernity was a fascinating time because so many artists were shattering every convention and who doesn’t love watching a good demolition? However, they were building through their destruction and manifested the beautiful paradox of moving forward into the future by looking backwards and in some ways seeming to “regress.” The progression of art history from Realism through Minimalism reads like a systematic destruction of every traditional ideal while simultaneously opening new doors to many exciting possibilities. Today, however, we are faced with a challenge. Should we continue barreling forward with this mindset of destruction? The artists of modernity were reshaping art in the aftermath of the profound cultural upheavals of two world wars and the rapid changes in technology and philosophy. It seems many of today’s artists are still making every effort to pulverize any shard left by modernity. Is that really what we need now? Is there anything left to break?

It is time to take advantage of the rubble of shattered conventions and to reconstruct new systems. Perhaps not new systems that try to achieve a universal, one-size-fits-all, set of rules, but systems that seek the unique, the applied, the specific to place, community, and time. Let’s stop trying to break things and start employing the freedom bought by modernity to rebuild.

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Tuatara: A Graphic Poem (Revised)

Drawing and Di

This is a visual adaptation of a poem I wrote. It fuses images from Ecclesiastes with a fictional narrative of a near extinct creature found in New Zealand. I used Adobe Illustrator to digitally color hand-drawn images.

sample

Here’s a sample page

I used what I learned making the digital illuminations for Eliot’s “Preludes” to update this project with some texture and variety. You can download the complete PDF for free here.

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Digital Illumination: T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes”

Digital Collage by Jacob Rowan

Digital Collage by Jacob Rowan

I am moved by fancies that are curled
Around these images, and cling:
The notion of some infinitely gentle
Infinitely suffering thing.

Wipe your hand across your mouth, and laugh;
The worlds revolve like ancient women
Gathering fuel in vacant lots.

This is the sixth and final digital collage created to illuminate Eliot’s “Preludes.” You can see the others here. The overall design differs from the previous five and I reused elements from the preceding images to create the suggestion of revolutions and vacancy. This is new territory for me and I would welcome honest critique.

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Salvador Dalí as Illuminator

Thanks to Maria Popova at Brain Pickings I recently discovered a whole series of Salvador Dalí’s illustrations for classic works of literature. Click on the caption to see the full complement of images.

Also as a bonus check out Dalí’s twelve signs of the zodiac.

 

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Digital Illumination: T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes”

Digital Collage by Jacob Rowan

Digital Collage by Jacob Rowan

IV
His soul stretched tight across the skies
That fade behind a city block,
Or trampled by insistent feet
At four and five and six o’clock
And short square fingers stuffing pipes,
And evening newspapers, and eyes
Assured of certain certainties,
The conscience of a blackened street
Impatient to assume the world.

This is the fifth digital collage created to illuminate Eliot’s “Preludes.” You can see the others here. This is new territory for me and I would welcome honest critique.

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Digital Illumination: T.S. Eliot’s “Preludes”

Digital Collage by Jacob Rowan

Digital Collage by Jacob Rowan

And when all the world came back
And the light crept up between the shutters,
And you heard the sparrows in the gutters,
You had such a vision of the street
As the street hardly understands;
Sitting along the bed’s edge, where
You curled the papers from your hair,
Or clasped the yellow soles of feet
In the palms of both soiled hands.

This is the fourth digital collage created to illuminate Eliot’s “Preludes.” You can see the others here. This is new territory for me and I would welcome honest critique.

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Thursday Thoughts: Why is there so much bad art?

There is a lot of bad art out there and the internet just proliferates those images creating the impression that we’re in a time when no one is making good art. It would be easy to assume that our “standards” for good art have declined since the golden days of classical art. There are many who blame modern art, and particularly movements like abstract expressionism, for this decline in contemporary arts’ quality. The real culprit for the perceived lack of standards is the internet. Art has not gotten worse, it has changed and the areas of quality are often found in subtle less obvious ways than virtuosic representation. The real reason we see so much bad art is simply because we’re exposed to more art. There has been bad art in every generation. The art that has stood the test of time represents the pinnacle of artistic achievement in each epoch. Every age has had it’s own hacks and hobbyists looking for a quick buck, we can just see more of ours because everyone has a self publishing platform through the internet.

Also, because of our obsession with entertainment, our media consumption is geared towards the exciting, the shocking, and the flashy. All the blame for shock-value art does not rest solely with the artists creating such work. It also rests with us. We are part of a world with so many clamoring voices that if one wants to be heard, if even for second, they must shout. Not only that, volume isn’t enough any more. Our shouts must be shocking, offensive, or confrontational to get even the most passive of responses from the numb consumer. Artists have something they want to say and today’s world only seems to respond to the controversial. They didn’t create that system, they’re adapting to it.

What are your thoughts?

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