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February 07, 2011 - Image 7

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Monday, February 6, 2011- 7A

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Monday, February 6, 2011 - 7A

Van Gogh

Commercial interception
Why the Super Bowl's ads are simply more
awesome than the football game
By Jacob Axelrad I Daily Arts Writer

Six days ago, Google
unleashedits newest
virtual data-sharing jug-
gernaut: the infinitely alluring,
excellently designed and over-
all beautiful Art Project. It's
Seriously, if
you haven't
checked it
out yet, do
so immedi-
Art Proj-
ect offers LEAH
anyone with BURGIN
an Internet
access to select galleries and art-
works in17 of the world's most
prolific museums. Using Street
View technology (familiar to
the iber-creepers who frequent
Google Maps for not purely
direction-seeking purposes),
the Art Project allows art lov-
ers and novices alike to stroll
through such institutions as the
Uffizi Gallery in Florence, The
Museum of Modern Art and The
Metropolitan Museum of Art in
NewYork City, The State Her-
mitage Museumin St. Peters-
burg and the National Gallery
and Tate Modern in London.
But that's not all. The paint-
ings are presented in a super
gigapixel technology that
allows users to zoom into a
minute magnification and see
such fine detail as thick golden
paint blobs on Van Gogh's The
Starry Night and cracks in
Rembrandt's canvasses. It's the
kind of view that, until now,
only conservators and the actu-
al artist have been privileged
enough to see. i
Whilethere has been some
moderately controversial buzz
surrounding the ownership
implications of Google's lat-
est baby - for example, once
a piece of artwork no longer
technicallybngs to anart-
ist and is released to the public
domain, who really "owns"
it? - the main question on my
mind is, how will this awe-
inspiring innovation impact the
museum world?
From the inception of the
museum concept in the world
of the ancient Greeks to the
most contemporary institutions
like the Heidelberg Project,
museums have been dealing
with an ongoing debate: Should
they emulate a "temple" aes-
thetic, creating a space for indi-
viduals to come and stand in
awe of great works and inspir-
ingartifacts, or should they
be a more accessible "forum"
for constituents of every con-
ceivable backgroundto come
together and exchange ideas?
To date, most museums aim to
reach a compromise between
both goals. And most do a good
job with the balancing act.
Art Project definitely embod-
ies the philosophy behind the
forum sector of museology.
People can create individual art
collections - sign in with your
Google account, zoom in on
your favorite painting and save
snippet views of an artwork (or
the entire piece) into your col-
lection. According to an infor-
mational video, this part of the
project is intended to jumpstart
discussion and allow users to

share whatthey discover with
their various social networks.
This is the ultimate application
of the forum mindset: Not only
do individuals get to interact
directly with art, they also are
able to manipulate it. Art is no
longer something dissected
only bysnooty art historians we
all find insufferable (love you,
Mom). It's a layman's conversa-
tion point. And, as abudding
museologist, I believe that's
exactly as it should be.
Furthermore, I think Art
Project will inspire more
people to travel to more muse-
ums. Yes - in amuseum, you
can't see the artwork in super
hi-def ortour a building from
the comfort of a desk chair,
but there's another piece of
museumlore that works in con-
junction with the Art Project
to make increased museum
attendance a very probable
outcome. It's called the "aura of
the original."
Now we can
stalk museums.
Walter Benjamin, the intel-
lectual who devised this theory,
posited that an object's aura is
the often-intangible aspects
that are "left over" after dupli-
cation. For example, author-
ship, history and sensorial
experiences are not transferred
from original to copy. With Art
Project, I can't stand before a
canvas personally primed and
painted by Van Gogh. I can't
get Starry Night's sense of "old-
ness" through the instant and
constantly updating Internet.
The masterpiece is over 120
years old, but on a computer
screen, the paint could have
dried ten minutes ago.. An4I
can't smellithe indescribable
Van Gogh-y scent of Starry
Night. Art Project can offer me
a lot, but it can't offer every-
thing. That's where museums
come in: They provide the
originals. And the aura pro-
duced by the originals is why
these works are valued and
revered - and whythey're held
in museums in the first place.
Art Project emphasizes the
differences between original
artworks and duplications, and
makes the authentic pieces
even more special and prized
by society.
Right now, Art Project can
only expand. More museums
will hopefully get on board and
more galleries and paintings
will hopefully be added. If an
individual can't make it to a
foreign museum, I can't imag-
ine a better way to experience
art than through Google's new
project. And, consequently, I
wouldn't be surprised if Art
Project turns many people
into active museum visitors.
The museum nerd that I am, I
can't wait to see how museums
further utilize this tool in the
future. It's goingto be a great,
era of virtual opportunity.
Burgin is climbing in yo' UMMA,
snatching yo' paintings up. To stop
her, e-mail Irburgin@umich.edu.

I'll be honest. I know nothing
about football. I'm ashamed to
say it was only a snippet of pass-
ing conversation that taught me
who'd be playing in Arlington,
Tex. yesterday. Yet my inad-
equate knowledge of the sport
doesn't prevent me from looking
forward to Super Bowl Sunday
for 364 days out of the year. The
reason for this is simple: I love
the advertisements. I'm proud to
say that I'm a Super Bowl com-
mercial junkie.
It's on Super Bowl day that
advertisers are willing to pay
upwards of millions of dollars.
The most-watched television
event of the year in the U.S.,
and second worldwide only to
the European UEFA Champions
final, can garner around three
million dollars for spots lasting
in the neighborhood of 30 sec-
onds to two minutes. That's crazy
- and that's just to get the ad on
the air!
ButI suppose this aspect of the
Super Bowl is an accepted and
expected part of the zeitgeist, so
let this be more of a discussion
about what makes these commer-
cials just so entertaining.
First, there are the cameos.
Recent Super Bowl commercials
have featured Betty White as a
Snickers-chomping touch foot-
ball player, Christopher Reeve in
a spot for Nuveen Investments,
Larry Bird and Michael Jordan in

a showdown for a McDonald's Big
Mac and Carlos Mencia as a teach-
er instructing a class of English-
language learners on the many
ways to order a Bud Light. Let's
not forget the Budweiser Clydes-
dale commercials. (Those don't
have a celebrity in them per se,
but those horses give some pretty
unforgettable performances.)
The point is that it's in com-
panies' best interests to produce
commercials that grab our atten-
tion. They want something that'll
force us to see what they have
to sell, even if the actual ad has
nothing to do with the product
being sold. The "Alien" FedEx
commercial comes to mind - this
was the one with an alien (going
by the name "Jenkins") from the
1979 film of the same name who
sits behind a shipping counter,
politely suggesting that the com-
pany switch to FedEx.
The history of these ads dates
back to the early '80s, when Rid-
ley Scott directed a high-concept
commercial for the debut of the
first Macintosh computer. The ad
(which aptly aired in 1984) por-
trays a dystopian society, com-
plete with dreary, dark tunnels,
uniformed marching and a Big
Brother figure lecturing an audi-
ence of mindless drones straight
out of Orwell's novel. It concludes
with a woman running into the
auditorium and hurling a ham-
mer at the screen, disturbing the

"Stop, in the name of love."
ritual. The screen cuts to black
and the words roll: "On January
24th Apple Computer will intro-
duce Macintosh. And you'll see
why 1984 won't be like '1984.' "
While it generated a fair share
of controversy, the ad paved the
way for the Super Bowl commer-
cials we know today: expensive
advertisements that continu-
ally push the envelope in artistry,
budget and content.
Of course, there is the ques-
tion of ethics. We are, after all,
watching giant corporations
shell out millions of dollars with
the sole goal of loosening view-
ers' purse strings. Yes, I do have
qualms about this. And no, the
subject matter doesn't generally
go much further than light beer.
As far as I can tell the only coun-
terargument to this mentality is

that some of the commercials just
happen to beso damn good - the
Budweiser Frogs are pure genius
in my book.
So this brings us to 2011, Super
Bowl XLV. I understand that
Pittsburgh played Green Bay, and
I also understand that that's a big
deal. But my eyes were drawn to
the TV only during those minutes
between play, when the game
momentarily stopped for a com-
mercial break. It already appears
that we have some contenders to
take their place in history next to
the greats - Volkswagen's 2011
Beetle, Angry Birds and Volk-
swagen's Darth Vader ad, to name
a few. Super Bowl winners come
and go, but these ,commercials
make history. Well, at least they
give me a reason to look forward
to this football game every year.

Only 3-D effects keep 'Sanctum'
from sinking into predictability

For the Daily
"What could possibly go wrong
diving in caves?" posits lead
female and inexperienced diver
Victoria (Alice
Parkinson, *
"X-Men Origins:
Wolverine") at Sanctum
the beginning
of James Cam- At Quality 16
eron's latest and Rave
3-D spectacle, Universa
"Sanctum." U
A lot, appar-
Based on the true story of co-
writer Andrew Wight, "Sanctum"
follows a group of cave divers that
gets trapped in one of the world's
largest unexplored cave systems
after a freak rainstorm collapses
the entrance and begins flooding
the entire cave. With the knowl-
edge that the system does reach
the ocean at some point, the ini-
tial survivors attempt to explore
the depths against the clock.
Leading the charge is diver
and hard-ass extraordinaire
Frank (Richard Roxburgh, "Mou-
lin Rouge"). With members of
his party dying at nearly every
turn, Frank is not afraid to make
cutthroat decisions that create
unrest with the other survivors -
namely, with his son, Josh (Rhys
Wakefield, "Home and Away").
Forced to accompany his father

on expeditions for the one month
a year they're together, Josh
resents his father, not under-
standing the latter's fascination
with underground exploration,
which he chose over his family
long ago. While the film does live
up to its suspense-thriller sub-
title, it is the cliched resolution
of this misunderstood father-son
relationship in extreme circum-
stances that ends up being the
focus of the film.
That and the stunning under-
water 3-D visual experience, of
course. While Cameron received
some backlash when he told
Entertainment Weekly that
every film would be better in 3-D
("Twilight?" "Mean Girls 2?"), if
ever a movie were made to be in
3-D, it's "Sanctum."
Not only does the advanced 3-D
technology (originally developed
in 2007 for Cameron's "Avatar")
make for breathtaking underwa-
ter imagery, it also makes view-
ers really feel like they're there
in the caves. For a movie about
being trapped underwater, this is
One of the first lessons the div-
ers learn is that their worst enemy
- even worse than the water, lack
of oxygen, spear-like stalagmites
and bone-crunching boulders -
is panic. Divers become seized
by the peril of their situation and
are rendered incapable of making
the rational decisions that would

likely s
make t
our br
still S
first vi
her ox
ered u
for de
into th
than j

ave their lives. 3-D glasses Wilh"isials that seem like they
his panic infectious. While belong in "Planet Earth," "Sanc-
ains recognize that we are tum" allows its viewers to expe-
eated comfortably in the rience the geological phenomena
r, our hearts begin beating of underwater caverns firsthand.
The divers refer to the different
sectors of the cave system with
ike 'Avatar,' religious terminology (hence the
f title), and the 3-D cinematogra-
)Ut with an phy lets the auience see why.
Unfortunately,the filmstillfails
ioriginal plot at one critical component: pre-
dictability. From the start of the
. oh, wait ... film, it is clear who will live, who
will die and in what order. From
the moment Victoria decides not
to put on that wetsuit, we know
and faster as we watch the it will have grave consequences
ctim realize in horror that - just as we know that one of the
.ygen tube has been sev- survivors will turn on the others.
nderwater. This is because It's these kind of overly stated sig-
she reaches out, struggling nifiers that prevent the film from
ar life, she is reaching out becoming more than just another
e audience. thriller. The only difference is that
3-D aspect does do more we get to experience this one in
ust add to the suspense. three dimensions.

for more information call 734/615-6449
The College of Literature, Science, and the Arts
Presents the 31st Distinguished Senior Faculty Lecture

Campus Mind Works Weliness Groups
FREE drop-in education and support groups for
U-M student with Depression, Bipolar, or Anxiety
When: Tuesday, Februrary 8th from 5:00-6:30
2nd Tuesday of every month, Oct.-Apr.
Where: North Campus, Room 133, Chrysler
Visit www.campusmindworks.org for
more information.
No pre-registration is required.
University of Michigan
Dep e -so ete ; ;

Professor of

Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Rackham Amphitheater
4:10 PM



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