AOK: Art Q and A

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Perception can be one's own worst enemy

Perception can be one’s own worst enemy and most helpful guide. This is the motto of art. After all it is the “eye of the beholder” when it comes to translation.

My TOK instructor gave my class a litany of questions to which respond in a IB manner; within the list were questions that were strung together randomly, but able to be put into identifiable grouping patterns. And I did such.
I also learned more about art in TOK than I ever did in art class itself! I learned that my perception of art isn’t wrong at all, in fact it could most certainly be right in every way: I believe that when it comes to art that it is a vital form of expression and of much more than a copy of image reflected in the eyes. It’s not always translated the way the artists intend it to be, but nonetheless it is interpreted by the viewers it receives.
Sometimes art isn’t always addressed by art depending on who is giving it value: some people have a hard time realizing pottery as art because it is something that is of practical use instead of “just being pretty”; while others have a problem of not recognizing portraits as works of art because they aren’t original–in this case that’s translating to creative–and only show the visage of a person.
All in all, art is an inspired, man-made, storytelling or mind-probing work that is meant to somehow captivate the audience by any means that is allowed by the artist’s pallette. Now I shall begin with my answering of questions.
Below I have given the two questions I personally found the most interesting to research and to which answer. 
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Question #1: How does art limit knowledge?

As a form of expression and storytelling, like all things human and man-made, art contains some bias (opinion or lens) at which it uses to perceive the world: it has the artist with the tools who is creating it. The artist has an individual mind that views the world through his own personal beliefs and systematic cultures alongside his upbringing. This bias is generally stemmed from outside influences and later on introspection of the self as the artist’s career progresses and either flourishes or plummets.

Sadly, as people we cannot avoid the evidence and appearance of bias, but we can make it obvious or subtle based upon what our rationale, motivation, and desired message. Some want to be brave and make a bold, rebellion-resembling statement that could possibly end up being censored; while others would prefer to sway the audience with a more subtly intervening way into the minds of the audience. Why? Because bias brings forth opinion and choice.

On a different (yet related) note, if one thinks of the famous painting of Washington crossing the Delaware, no one thinks to question its validity or truth to what it is supposed to be. No one knows exactly how George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware back then, so the man who painted the original painting used his imagination and made an iconic image blindly accepted by the public. Art limits our public knowledge because in some cases it is all we have to connect with history and our pasts: things like photographs, posters, recordings, paintings, sculptures, cave art and these are all remnants of a time that we couldn’t experience that are now up to our interpretation.

Art is only part of the argument–at least paintings are–and there is also the thoughts of science and mathematics, philosophy, government, sports and athletics.. There is so much we can still learn and see that is more than art, because when you only see one side of a story, you’re only getting one of the faces.

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Question #2: How much can we learn from a culture by studying the art it produces?

Art is a form of expression, it tells stories and histories that were once only verbal traditions. However, it can give us insight into the common life of today, and make us question the very actions we do. That is the power of art: passion, tales, and questions.

Cultures are often different when you travel around the world: the customs change, the clothing changes, and most times the language as well. We live in a world where different societies coexist, and yet we know nearly nothing of certain cultures. Part of the art that makes a culture is language and communication patterns.

Art is also a form of communication, as I mentioned above when I was talking about bias. When we look at a piece of art, there is not only a story or plot (for literature), there is also an argument that can be examined. There is the intention of the artist versus the response of the desired (or undesired) audience. Whether it be a writer with her novels or a sculptor with his statues, all art has the desired translation and audience; sometimes these two don’t agree, but others they do.

In life, though, cultures don’t always agree. Some believe that sacrificial customs are inhumane why others believe it to be a part of the community’s cleansing process similar to the Christian’s belief of Jesus Christ taking on all sin upon death. But to some cultures this is also a form of art.

A good real life example of cultural art is the San tribe in Africa; they are also known as the Bushmen. Their old culture used to occupy the more Southern-southern regions of Africa, like Zimbabwe, and their spiritual leaders would force themselves into trances for various reasons. They experience what some psychologists call form constants, which are naturally occurring geometric formations in the brain, and eventually try to make sense of them as they grow deeper into the trance. While they try to understand what the shapes are, psychologists say that they are most influenced by the what govern the San culture. (Seeing as they are hunter-gatherers, it makes sense for it to be a large enough animal to feed the tribe and support it.)

The San shamans–the spiritual leaders of tribes–say that the altered state of conscience provides them wisdom. However, nowadays the San no longer reside in the most Southern portion of Africa and have migrated more towards the center of the continent, as well as they no longer do cave paintings. They have neither the grand rocks to paint upon nor the elder members who remember what they mean to translate. This leaves the translation up to whoever views them, which make inaccurate stories and histories that would be falsified if they were ever released into the outside public mind.

Art comes in many forms: music, painting, sculptures, graffiti, literature, poetry… There are so many possibilities with art and its relation to culture, one can only imagine the greatness. It is not only a part of culture and an orator of it, it is culture because the arts are humankind’s greatest tool of expression and communications.

Popcorn Maker (Mozilla) Assignment

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I was assigned to create a video using Mozilla Popcorn Maker about what I did over the summer, what I used to be, what I am now, and what I am aspiring to be. I had to use at least three pictures, but I am sorry about the quality: it is my first official popcorn video. Click the link below to have access.

Who I Am: The Known & the Unknown

Emotions Analysis

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Recently my instructor gave me an assignment to analyze two emotions from a set handed to my class on the class blog; with my challenge-seeking mindset I had decided to perform an unveiling task of disentanglement and comprehension of two victims of emotional misconception: devotion and desperation!

These two have a relationship that is rather confusing to the public because they are commonly used in the wrong idea of things, so I’m hoping to shed some light on the reality of them. If you would click on the words “devotion and desperation” to see my project, that would be highly appreciated, and so would feedback but it is not an obligatory task for you readers.

Thank you.

Wordless Emotion

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Is it possible to experience an emotion that cannot be expressed in words? That was a question I was asked in ToK this morning in class. In my most honest and thoughtful opinion I feel as though we could not describe an emotion without first understanding the sensation it brings, and there are some feelings which we cannot fully grasp in description the emotion in our minds, therefore bringing forth an unexplained feeling within our beings.

I refer to this as knowledge by acquaintance, because it cannot be necessarily described verbally through language or even graphically through pictures, but we understand that we feel and experience that certain emotion; it doesn’t have to be extreme, or a mixture of emotion, they can be strong enough as a combination, creating an emotion we cannot fully understand to explain.

A classmate of mine says if we experience a mixture of emotion we cannot describe the sum of the parts, the individual emotions, that create the knot of emotions we are feeling but we CAN however describe individual feelings within said mixture.

However the accuracy of conveying emotion is not entirely accurate with our limited knowledge through language and incapability of verbal description for internal and external phenomena.

My final proposal without going into too much personal relation for you readers is that emotion is a primary sensation and the aftermath of description is only secondary for our minds and experiences; that is my belief and I shall stick with it as of now.

Belief and Ethics

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Theory of Knowledge connections to the Troy Davis case in 2011.

Connection 1: The 4 ways of Knowing-Sense Perception, emotion, language, and reason-can affect the reliability of an eyewitness account through emotional clouding, language inability or insufficiency, irrational claims, and possibly the memory misfiring in what was sensed at the scene by the witness.

Connection 2: Being “beyond a reasonable doubt” means that there is hardly any reason to not agree with a choice portrayed by the evidence in any situation, internal or external. Life or death situations are usually based upon beliefs and, in my analysis, should not be the basis but a very minor factor because beliefs are variant like humans. “Beyond a reasonable doubt” could be associated in life or death situations only if there is strong, factual evidence of the defendant being worthy of the death penalty (the death penalty is a HUGE thing too).

Connection 3: ETHICS- Capital punishment and human rights, in my perspective, are polar ideas: human rights relates to the philosopher John Locke–whose ideas were borrowed for our United States Declaration of Independence and Constitution by Thomas Jefferson– who had the idea of natural law and rights to Life, Liberty, and Property (or the pursuit of Happiness). Capital punishment can be considered non-ethical due to its almost arbitrary and overwhelming power in the eyes of its citizens. 

Also, in some societies it is accepted due to either the type of government or the moral beliefs of the society ruled by the government. Governments are typically involved in cases said above (death) and I do not think that it should be acceptable unless the moral implications of the government are the same or similar to those of its people. So, how can it be argued mankind has made moral progress throughout History? Well, we as people have developed thoughtfully, or rationally, and have shown improvement in weighing implications of the consequences of the situations we are thrust upon; therefore our range of judgment, belief, ethics and morals has developed over time’s vast expanse. 

Scientists, and others who present in court, should be morally responsible for the way their evidence should not only be presented in the matter, but also as to how it is used for the judgment of the judge/jury. If they know which side of the trial, defendant or prosecution, that their evidence lies with then they should know that it should not be used in the wrong motivation of the case.

Connection 4: The case on Troy Davis I was assigned to analyze for the above stated Knowledge Connections now brings about the answering of Knowledge Issues. So, what makes this case in particular case newsworthy is because it grew into a “global riot” and captured the attention and hearts worldwide. It stirred reaction in other parts of the world because the actions of Death Penalty are not isolated solely to Georgia, (it is even used here in the United States as long as it isn’t listed as an arbitrary action of punishment.) and the public should know that the death penalty should only be used under a justified cause and the people certainly didn’t see it as justified.

The corporate and user-generated media planted such an imposing influence of knowledge people gained regarding Davis’ death because of the shared and also varying material of responses and opinions.

Issues of Evidence, Bias, Stereotyping: The reporter acknowledged that the supporters of capital punishment weren’t backing themselves up with a solid system and their flawed support causes their argument to suffer. This shows that not only the reporter is biased toward the opposing team of the supporters, but he could be bashing their tactic. And in spite of my sight on this predicament that has gone and passed, the legally authorized killing of someone as punishment for a crime is what capital punishment is defined to be

Liar Liar: What is a Lie?

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In a recent activity, my teacher Mr. Deignan assigned us to something called “Liar Liar Cheat”. It’s a game invented by this other ToK teacher and it had forty cards of varying severity of lies; we were told to arrange the cards in an order from least severe to most severe and answer the follow questions.

  1. Which cards did your group find easiest to place? Which did you find most difficult?
    Easiest: plastic surgery, artificial flavoring. Difficult: after a date you ask if they want to come to your house for a cup of coffee.
  2. How similar or different was you order from that of other groups? Any surprises?
    Everyone had lying under oath listed as the most severe lie; and as for differences, my group had artificial flavoring as least severe while the others had a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat as least severe.
  3. Were there cases where you’d need more information about the context before placing it?
    A few because we were unsure of what situation or what context some of the cards were meant to be placed in.
  4. How many of these forms of deception have you engaged in – be honest :) ?
    About 50-60% of the cards I’ve either done or thought about doing. Only about half of them have I truly attempted.
  5. How widespread do you think deception is in the population at large?
    Very widespread and highly contagious.
  6. How do you define a “lie” – which of these cards would you classify as “not a lie” and why?
    A “lie” is more so for personal advantage than protection, like plastic surgery or using global warming to rile people up into something similar of a riot; the ones I wouldn’t consider as “lies” would be the magician, artificial flavoring, Santa Claus,undercover agent looking for terrorists in a gang, wedding albums excluding unflattering photos, and probably psychology experiments.
  7. Under what circumstances, if any, is it acceptable to mislead or deceive other people? Should we tell the truth at any cost, or are other things, such as happiness, more important?
    In my personal opinion, it is acceptable to mislead a person if it is for their own protection (i.e. children in a family matter) or emotional stability, to a particular extent! If you want to protect someone’s happiness, that’s fine for a lie, but when that happiness would be due to change in the near future, you should tell the truth; also tell the truth when you know that the effects of the truth would be short term in hurt feelings.