Sunday, December 13, 2009

TV vs. Uniboobs and Cherubim

A lot of people look down on watching TV. They say it's low-brow, anti-intellectual and a waste of time. Researchers have even found that brain activity is lower when watching TV than it is on drugs. Yes, it can be a waste of time. But in risk of sounding like I possess all of the above qualities, I’ve got to say: I love TV!

Despite its faults, I think TV has its place. Sometimes people suggest other activities you could be doing instead of watching TV. While there are good alternatives, why not make them something to do in addition to TV? Someone might suggest jogging for an hour instead. Yes, exercise is good for you. Or, you could go out to coffee and catch up with a friend. Yes, relationships should be more important than people on TV. Although productive activities enrich one's life, people can't be productive every second of the day. Sometimes we need to live vicariously through a character with a fabulous wardrobe and apartment. I’m serious. Sometimes it’s good to recharge, relax and escape into another reality.

When I was studying abroad at Parsons Paris, many students would spend their nights going out to clubs, and one group of friends even went to Euro Disney three times during the semester! “Really? You can’t go to Disney World at home?” I thought. Granted, they’d also Eurail to different countries in Europe. Their parents sent them train tickets each weekend, but they would complain that they were tired. One time someone went to Belgium and didn’t leave the hotel! (They did say they felt guilty about it though.) Back then I couldn’t believe this. “I’ll go!” I said. “I’ll take pictures, and we can photoshop you in to show your parents.” “Mmm, I think they would know.”

To take things a step further—instead of traveling to a new country every weekend on top of going to school full time—just imagine if every moment was spent "to the max!" We would be exhausted. It's like a painting—you need some resting space; or in graphic design white space. This white space allows your eye to rest and then return to the intricate part of the picture with full attention.

When I lived in Paris I went to the Louvre every Wednesday night for two to three hours. My friend Jessica and I set a goal to see the entire museum. We brought our maps and crossed off the rooms as we went. Three months later, I got sick of it. Everything started to look the same. We referred to a lot of the paintings as “uniboob paintings” because there was painting after painting of women draped in toga-like clothing that covered only one breast. We wondered what was up with that? Was it the style or was it an excuse to see naked women? Cherubim could be spotted in half of the paintings too. Yep, uniboobs and cherubim. We knew it sounded uneducated and ungrateful, but after countless hours at the Louvre (in addition to all the other shows we attended) we were tired. I thought being disciplined to see and study all these paintings would be good for me as an artist. I told myself I needed this knowledge of art history. Somehow it would imprint on my brain and help me create good compositions and be aware of the references to art history. Of course I could take a break and read about art history later, but when would I be able to see all these masterworks in person again?

I also understood that I was lucky to have this opportunity. With a mom working on her Ph.D. full time and also paying for my study abroad experience, I felt like the clock was ticking. Mom knew French and all the authors, artists and museums. I felt I needed to prove to myself that I was worthy of this trip. Before I went I felt sheepish because I didn’t know what “the things to see” were. What if someone asked me what I wanted to see and I didn’t mention one of the major attractions? Towards the end I just wanted to rest and do something mindless. Even God rested on the seventh day.

Just like I didn’t want to waste time when I could be doing things others could only dream of, perhaps the anti-TV people worry that if they watch too much TV they won’t be worthy of life. That’s a little melodramatic. Of course I don’t condone being a couch potato! But sometimes you just need a break. Sometimes you need to take a trip to Euro Disney.

Friday, November 20, 2009

MTV/Buddy Lee

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In late 2004, I starred as Kid #3 in the third and final episode of "Buddy Lee Guidance Counselor" on MTV2's show "Control Freak." I played a band geek seeking career advice from a plastic Buddy Lee doll. It aired every weekday for two weeks during prime time. There are four videos that I'm in total—the episode plus three taped endings. Normally "Control Freak" viewers were given the choice of three music videos throughout the hour and would vote online—the video that received the most votes was played. When they aired the three episodes of "Buddy Lee" viewers of the show voted online for the ending they wanted to see. For the record, on the first night they played a music video by Jimmy Eat World to give viewers a chance to vote and "Stunt Doll" was the ending that was played. The whole third episode and alternate endings runs about six minutes. (Note: unfortunately the media player only works on a PC.)

If you have a Mac, you can visit http://www.jonathannowak.tv/Home/Television_BuddyLee_Episodes_files/BuddyLee_GuidanceCounselor_E3.mov.

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Also check out an article in the New York Times written about the commercials: "MTV2 Episodes Don't Have Commercials but Do Pitch Lee Jeans" By Stuart Elliott in the Business section. Published: October 29, 2004.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Translucent Green in Paris

I always thought the trash in Paris was so pretty.
Color photographs, 2002


EconomyBeat.org references Peanutbutter photo

EconomyBeat.org wrote an article about Anne Percoco's blog "Repaired Things." The article references my photograph "Peanutbutter."
Check it out.


Friday, November 6, 2009

Spice World--A Review

One of my friends suggested that I watch the movie Spice World. I had always been meaning to see it, but every time I went to rent a movie with friends, no one wanted to rent it! They’d always say that was the last movie they’d ever want to see or that they understood I wanted to watch it as a joke, but that a full feature film would just make them annoyed. A music video was enough of a joke for them. I had only known five people who had seen it. Five guy friends from my high school each dressed up like a different Spice Girl and saw it in the theatre! (No, it’s not just the Lord-of-the-Rings people).

So, I decided to watch it by myself (My roommate wouldn’t even watch it with me and in fact went out of her way to avoid watching it!). And, I thought it was a great movie! It had all the elements. It was this fantasy boys’ club, except with girls instead of course. It’s funny that it’s the Spice Girls, because when you watch movies you automatically compare it to other movies in the genre; in this case I compared it to the Beatles’ movies like A Hard Days Night. These aren’t exactly the kind of groups you would lump together, but on second thought they are alarmingly similar. In both movies the musicians claim to be a group of friends that are in a band and act “carefree.” As the viewer you automatically put yourself into the protagonist’s position. And in these instances it is everything that we seem to aspire to: wealth and being able to act carefree. I rather doubt that the Spice Girls didn’t want to listen to their manager and instead act like teenagers in high school rebelling against the authority figure. I’m sure they were doing everything they could to make their shows successful and were worried about how they presented themselves and how things would go over. After all, there were a lot of people in their stadium audiences. And I’m sure there are also many would kill for the chance to be in their position and would take any chance to watch them slip up and then swoop in to replace them.

It’s funny… one thing I’ve noticed when I peruse a magazine are all the ads. The ads seem to always portray a protagonist that we want to identify with because they are on their way to something glamorous. And these ads usually don’t take place at a glamorous event. It’s always in route to. I’ve often heard people make the comment, “I just don’t understand why some girls—they just spend two hours on their clothes and make-up and then go get trashed and look awful. All those hours and then in no time they’ve spilled alcohol all over themselves and their mascara’s running.” But, it makes sense to me. You spend hours preparing to pretend that you don’t care. Why? Nonchalance is cool and if you mess up you can save face. Plus, looking good really does take time and effort but trying too hard doesn’t offer the same fantasy: Thinking that one day you could wake up and it would be your turn to be thin, famous and talented and you didn’t have to do anything. Discipline isn’t sexy. But come on! The Spice Girls’ routine isn’t fooling anyone; it’s just a myth that we want to buy. After all, it’s a nice fantasy to have for an hour and a half—that your only problem is which Gucci dress to wear and no matter which one you pick, it’s going to be the right decision and everyone will love you.


(originally written on September 28, 2005)

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Printer Reset

A printout from my mom's computer printer showing the ink levels/running a nozzle test. I think it's beautiful.

Friday, September 25, 2009

The House of Pride Forecloses

The current financial crisis using allusions to Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene."





















Redcrosse
, 4 x 6 in., Digital Print, 2009















Redcrosse and Una, 4 x 6 in., Digital Print, 2009

Eiffel Tower Project Drawings (151-191/200)

2 x 2 in. drawings by people in response to the question, "What's your favorite place you've ever been?"

Friday, September 4, 2009

The House of Pride Forecloses (processes)

This is work in progress for a print I'm making about the current financial crisis using allusions to Edmund Spenser's "The Faerie Queene."

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

The most beautiful dress ever






















... is made by my favorite designer: Chloé. I saw it in the NYC Chloé storefront window and went in and asked how much it was. If it was $300 I didn't care – I was going to buy it. While knowing it would be expensive, I didn't expect it to be $3,000. I almost wanted to thank the man and woman at the store for taking my question seriously and not giving each other a sarcastic look like, "More than you can afford." Maybe I did thank them, but I can't remember.

Sex and the City, The Book

Today I finished reading Candace Bushnell's book, Sex and the City. I loved the HBO series, so I wanted to check out the novel. The book was published in 1996, so when I read it I tried to remember what was going on and what the general atmosphere was at the time.

A couple years ago my Shakespeare professor told a story about a young, untenured professor. He was at a conference and was asked to give a short summary of his presentation for the next day so that others at the conference could decide which talks they wanted to attend. Since he was nervous, he misspoke and reversed the order saying his talk would be on how a contemporary writer (I forget which one) influenced Shakespeare. Other professors whose work he admired repeated back, "How interesting. I wouldn't have thought about things affecting each other in non-chronological order. But modern contemporary writers do shape how we read Shakespeare today." Now the young professor had to scramble to figure out how he was going to change his talk and what he was going to say!

Anyway, even though SATC wasn't influenced by other literature that has since been published, it was interesting to me how it was influenced by recent events. In the mid-nineties the stock market was rising and would hit 10,000, a few years later. Financial growth from the dotcoms and Clinton balancing the budget with a surplus. And now we have the greatest financial disaster since the Great Depression. Bankers in England are told to go to work in jeans so they don't look like bankers and—subsequently—get killed. The point is that as much as I love SATC, it was a strange feeling reading the book because every other character was described as an attractive thirty or fortysomething investment banker. Seriously, half of the characters were investment bankers! I wish I had read the book in 1996 so I could see what would have jumped out at me; perhaps the social rituals or the glamour of NYC would have been at the top of the list. Perhaps I would have wanted to live vicariously through the characters, pretending I too was wearing a pair of Manolo Blahniks. Even so, I'm sure I would have found the materialism egregious back then; but I think the unselfconscious references to jobs in finance have made the book into an artifact of a time before the recession. I suppose I could re-read it in another thirteen years and see what I think.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Senator Ted Kennedy

I've always loved the Kennedy's. And I'm not saying this because Ted Kennedy died last week and so I'm thinking about it now and have recently decided that I'm obsessed with them. I've admired the Kennedy's for a very long time. As a kid I saw them as wealthy liberals who had no reason to take up the causes they did and I respected them for it. I also appreciated how genuine they were--they weren't liberal just to be trendy. Now, to correct myself, this past week I learned that they were discriminated against as Irish immigrants and never forgot what it was like to be discriminated against even after they came to power. OK, so discrimination could have been the catalyst, but they still never forgot where they came from and they still took up many issues not directly related to themselves. When someone asked Ted Kennedy why he took up the cause of the poor since it wasn't an issue that had ever affected him directly, he couldn't believe the question; because, wasn't it obvious? ("Whatsoever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me" Matthew 25:40)

Yesterday I watched the funeral on TV with my mom. One story I thought was pretty amazing was that he had written all 177 family members of 9/11 victims in Massachsetts every year and even invited and took some on his boat! And then there was a 13-year-old girl who had been paired with him in 2nd grade to be his reading partner when he volunteered to read with children once a week--without notifying any of the press, so no one knew he did this until now. Anyway, my mom said she wasn't so surprised:

When she was a U.S.2 at Central Michigan University after she graduated from there, a student had said she was frustrated because she was trying to write a paper on health care and couldn't find much information. My mom suggested writing or calling Ted Kennedy and said that the secretary or his office staff would probably be able to send her a packet of information (because this was before the internet). So, the student called and said she was a college student writing a research paper and the secretary said, "OK, I'll connect you through to the Senator." So, he talked to her and sent her a packet of information about health care and proposed health care reform. She was shocked: "He's a Senator! They're busy and so I only expected to talk to his staff. I mean, I'm just a college student... and I'm not even in his voting district!"

This is just an anecdote that only a handful of people would have heard. I wonder how many more stories there are like this that 99% of us have no idea.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Birthday Cards!


I love getting nice Birthday cards from companies I do business with. No joke.

White Out on White













This is whiteout on tracing paper.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Eiffel Tower Project in the Gallery

Eiffel in the Creative 360 Gallery









































Elizabeth Walsh, Office Manager, Creative 360 (above)

Me (below)

 

Eiffel Tower Project Drawings (101-150)


2 x 2 in. drawings by people in response to the question, "What's your favorite place you've ever been?"