Thursday, April 30, 2009

Why I Am Not an Artist - 2nd Evidence

I can remember clearly what got into me when I created this picture: Desperation! Truthfully, I had no idea what objects to put, let alone to understand the meaning of expressionism (this is an assignment about expressionism painting - don't ask me). 

While I painfully, restlessly and desperately writhed on my seat, I saw the person sitting next to me browsing through several skyscraper pictures. Well, I didn't have to look very far for an inspiration. Being left with no option, I  decided to "borrow" his skyscraper concept and used it in my picture. 

The rest of the objects (globe and background landscape) were totally random. If I were to be asked what's the meaning of this picture (and I'm super relieved that the teacher didn't), my jaw would drop. There was absolutely no meaning. Even if you ask the great Michaelangelo to concoct a meaning out of this picture, I doubt he can pull that off. Because who in the world could give meanings to such picture? Or let me rephrase the question: Who the heck would put a globe, skyscraper, and forest in one picture? Well, a knowledgeable artist will not, but a desperate and novice college student, apparently, will.


Briefly, this is a classic before-after retouching attempt. Every time I look at this picture, I can't stand to ridicule myself "Dude, this was supposed to be a retouching picture - to make her looks better - not an opportunity to create an extraterrestrial creature." Oh my, look at her "white" teeth. Her neck. Her skin. Did I mention her teeth?  Oh, what have I done???

Monday, April 27, 2009

Why I Am Not an Artist - 1st Evidence

I always feel that I have an undiscovered talent in art, and covertly believe that I am a prodigal artist yet to be found. After a lifetime full of curiosity, this quarter I decide to give that theory a try. Thus, here I am, taking ArtEdu252 class - an art class that uses Adobe Photoshop to produce imagery - for the purpose of learning Photoshop and confirming my presumption. However, after three weeks of pain and agony, I come to understand that my theory was based on reckless and irrational judgment. Here is why.

Modulating Meaning Assignment: I was supposed to, at least, convey some meanings through all of these images. My grand idea was to compare and contrast human nature: the good and the bad, and incorporated them in the context of environment. Humans have control over the environment, and the environment will react in response to humans treatment. Good human nature will result in nature revealing its utmost beauty while bad human nature usually entails destruction and disaster.

The problem is not about formulating the idea, but visualizing it in the form of pictures. And this is the best piece that I can come up with. My own critiques:

1. I don't know why, but Hitler looks so disproportionately modified. lol. I think I played with him too much.

2. I tried to make Hitler's background a little darker - to elicit a sinister feeling. Apparently, it didn't work.

3. Don't worry if the "monkey and tiger" picture, hanging over a mountain top, happens to bother you. Me too. I just didn't know what to do with it. I spent so much time cutting that picture and I want to make sure it was up there so everybody could appreciate and recognize my painstaking effort.

4. What's with the baby in the beach? No specific reason. I believe the baby, smiling innocently like that, evokes a positive feeling. So, I hope that the image will enhance people's liking or reduce people's annoyance, and hopefully lessen their probability to question the man behind the piece.

5. There were really no sophisticated techniques used in this piece. I just simply dumped all the pictures, moved them to and fro, played with opacity, hue, saturation and rotation. This is not an issue of complacency, but ineptitude.

6. I genuinely like the "evil" face in the polluted water. I think it is so creative of me. =) Not to mention the combination of butterfly with a forest background. Oh, and also the concept of rainbow with prominent figures representing each side. Beautiful? Yes, I think so too.

(to be continued, with more thought-provoking and mind-boggling pictures)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Five Reasons Why I Love Twitter

Hmmm, do we need any more reasons to use twitter? Since the Ashton vs CNN battle on twitter and the enormous coverage that it received, twitter's users have increased at an accelerating rate. And among these relentless influx of followers are celebrities like Oprah and Larry King. It's maybe a little bit too late to declare this, but twitter is the next big thing and now I'm telling you my reasons why I tweet. 

1. It satisfies my curiosity.
I always want to be in the loop, and twitter gives me access to my friends' daily activities - directly from them and (even better) without me having to beg.  It's like reading People magazine, only in real time. 

2. It gives me a glimpse of stardom.
I have 48 followers!! Hei, that counts for something, at least there are 48 "fans" who think that my tweets carry some weights. Well, maybe not to that extent, but at least it leads me to think that there are 48 people out there who care about what I am eating for dinner. And frankly, it feels good. 

3. It is a way to spread good news
Remember the last time you are so happy that you want the whole world to know? Well, you don't have to look very far now. Twitter allows you to have countless followers (Ashton, at this point, has 1.4millions followers) whom you can share your good news with. Get a raise? Tweet please!

4. It also allows my trivial annoyances / useless rambling to be heard.
Pretending to be smart can takes a toll on me, and often times, my foolish nature comes to materialize in nonsensical rubbishes.  I concede that I need them sometimes, and twitter provides platform to aimlessly tweet anything that comes to mind - and no one would condemn me for saying stupid comments. It's just a tweet anyway, what so big deal?

5. It is the only place where I can "pick n choose" who I wanna follow. 
What an idea! It's no-brainer, why should I? In couple of occasions, some people whom I have no connection with, decided to follow me - and I let them to. But why in the world should I follow them? Twitter (unlike Facebook) is not based on reciprocal connection. Thus, you can follow me even though I refuse to follow you, and I'm not a jerk for doing that. 

I know I only wrote five reasons in the title, but I have an addition of one fundamental reason. Lastly, Twitter helps me to identify my deepest feelings and express them. For a person who is devoid of emotions like me, twitter gives me reasons to rummage through my cabinets of emotions and identify the one that is sitting on the driver's seat. It also helps me to challenge my espoused culture which discourages deluge of feelings. It took me a while to learn that expressing happiness, fear or care is okay, and that letting the world know about them is not unusual. Twitter, in all its simplicities, understands these. 

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

A Dollar a Day Keeps Happiness Away

I am who I am, not simply because of serendipity, but because of several significant experiences that shaped my belief, attitude and value. This life-changing experience that I am about to describe has helped me to realize that the pursuit of wealth and achievements does not, and never, translate into a deep sense of satisfaction.

During my senior high school (back in 2005), I went for a "live-in" program: a three nights stay in a secluded undeveloped village. The main purpose of the program is to hone our leadership skills by letting our big-city lifestyle rubs with the villagers' frugal lifestyle. There, I discovered this insight:

For sure, those people are less fortunate than most of us in so many ways; fewer money and possession, smaller chances and opportunities to earn big bucks, and lesser abilities and skills to be successful. Ironically, they have one thing that is missing in most of us: happiness.

Isn't that what matter the most? People climb the corporate ladder in hope of finding happiness at the top. People work around the clock to make sure their good performances will earn them a raise. Students work their head off to get into that billions dollar company. People do all such of things in the name of happiness.

Research has shown that the otherwise is correct and my experience confirmed it. Villagers are happier, firstly because they don't have to do things which actually make them unhappy. Isn't it an irony? In the process of pursuing happiness, we sacrifice happiness: family, friends, and health. I've heard many examples revolving around one similar pattern: loving husband putting countless hours to earn more income for his family. Halfway down the road, tension rises, house becomes cold, smiles become artificial, and relationship becomes sour.

Secondly, money never equals to happiness. Even if you manage to get rich without having to work your way up, true happiness is still out of reach. Villagers are happier living in a small house, working in a farm, and eating a meager meal.


Because they found the key to unlock the door to happiness: deep and meaningful relationships. Family sat together on the asphalt floor to enjoy their dinner. Father and son exchanged stories, mother and daughter laughed cheerfully. The conversation was seasoned with love. The atmosphere was so warm, so close, and so human. Neighbors came over for a late-night conversation over a cup of tea. Thousand stars joined in the conversation silently, and the gentle breeze spread the happiness around. A faint voice whispering inside me, "These uneducated and inconspicuous people have found it!!"

Simply stated, having less actually draws people closer. They are happier because they have less things to focus on: No worry about job security or stock market, no grudge when the discount ends, no temptation to buy new gadget etc. They simply focus on what they have: friends.

It appeals to humans' most basic nature, the need for others. Unfortunately, the pursuit of wealth often times deprives and desensitizes us from that most primal nature. Thus, it is good to strip our materialistic attributes off, and see our humanity in its naked form. Tell me if you see a pathetic and unhappy human. I saw it, thanks to the villagers.