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September 22, 2011 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily, 2011-09-22

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, September 22, 2011- 3B


The Christmas wishes
of a true gossipgirl

An example of the Japanese aesthetic shibumi, a Rothko painting hangs in Bert Cooper's office in the TV show "Mad Men."
Music of the mod 60s

Getz and Gilberto
epitomize bygone
"Less is more" goes the
maxim, and nowhere has this
concept been better understood
than in Japan. The Japanese
value an aesthetic called shibu-
mi, which has no equivalent in
English. The word refers to the
understated elegance that per-
vades in the art and architecture
of the island nation: the simple
beauty of a ceramic tea bowl,
or the quiet sophistication of a
stone lantern.
Shibumi may be the best way
to describe the 1964 Grammy-
winning masterpiece Getz/
Gilberto. The album's eight
songs, which include the iconic
"The Girl from Ipanema" and
"Corcovado," are a fusion of two
musical worlds. The legendary
collaboration between Ameri-
can jazz saxophonist Stan Getz
and Brazilian musicians Joo
Gilberto and Antonio Carlos
Jobim produced a work of sexy
simplicity that epitomizes the
From Page 1B
Last semester, LSA junior
Katie Gass collaborated with fel-
low RC creative writing student
Logan Corey to create a multi-
media exhibit combining poetry
and photography as a platform to
showcase gender and sexuality
in the modern world. The final
exhibit consisted of one 16x20
black-and-white and four 8x11
photos, three poems and sev-
eral three-dimensional objects.
Gass's experiences in the dark-
room and Michael's mentorship
have beentouchstone parts of her
growth as an artist.
"Working in the darkroom is
my escape from the real world;
whether it is the nerve-wracking
moments of developing negatives
or the rhythmic process of print-
ing photographs," Gass wrote in
an e-mail interview. "It is always
a worthwhile experience and one
that I hope others will continue
to have in the years to come."
She added, "Digital photogra-
phy may be getting more atten-
tion these days, but Photoshop is
really no substitute for the magic
of the darkroom. One moment
all you have is a negative and a
blank sheet of paper, and within
five minutes you've captured an
unforgettable moment in time."
Practicality also factors into
the decision to stick with film
- namely, the large expense of
a digital photo lab. According
to Hannum, it's actually much
cheaper to use a traditional 4x5
film view camera once one gets
into larger formats. It's still very
expensive for digital cameras
to replicate the high-resolution
quality of large-scale film prints.
While one tool is no better or
worse than another, Hannum
emphasized how film forces the
photographer to slow down and
really think about the image at
hand, instead of snapping a hun-
dred pictures and choosing the

best one.
"In a way it reminds me of the
Slow Food movement," he said.
"It slows you up a bit."
By experiencing the medium
from a different vantage point,
students only enhance their abil-

shibumi aesthetic, which hap-
pens to be making a comeback in
today's style.
Composer/pianist Jobim and
singer/guitarist Gilberto were
the pioneers of the Brazilian
bossa nova style that developed
in the late '50s and early '60s.
Portuguese for "new trend,"
bossa nova is a more subdued,
percussion-less take on the tra-
ditional Afro-Brazilian samba.
Casual and unobtrusive melo-
dies and gentle rhythm give
bossa nova its cool, relaxed feel-
ing - like a stroll down a sandy
beach in Rio.
Bossa nova struck a chord
with American listeners when it
reached the U.S. in the early'60s.
It was therefore no surprise that
when saxophonist Getz - who
had already experimented with
Brazilian music on his album
Jazz Samba - teamed up with
Gilberto and Jobim, their work
became one of jazz's best-selling
Performing Jobim's songs is
the soft-voiced Gilberto, who
also strums along on the guitar.
Getz's saxophone improvisa-
tions on Jobim's pieces reveal
the entire scope of rhythmic and
melodic possibilities contained
in the ostensibly simple melo-
ities with the methods they've
already learned and practiced.
Yet there is indeed a craft to
digital photography, Hannum
said - one just as viable as film.
The big question again comes
back to money: How does one
practice the craft and move into
large-scale prints without usinga
$50,000 digital camera?
Lending further credence to
his personal belief of all tools
being equal, Hannum explained
how he introduces students to
a "smorgasbord" of tools and
options. He leaves room for lots
of freedom and exploration, espe-
cially for students who undertake
an independent study, the next
step after Hannum's 385 course.
Upon gaining greater familiarity
with cameras, his students' inde-
pendent projects may use even
more diverse tools.
"We had someone do an inde-
pendent study with an iPhone
where she documented a party,"
he said. "There's a certain sense
of vitality one gets with an
iPhone. (The iPhone) is much
more appropriate for such an
event than a large 4x5 camera.
It's just a tool and you have to use
it in the way that's appropriate
for the job at hand."
At the end of the day, it comes
back to perspective. To be famil-
iar with the wide range of tools at
one's disposal is to know the cor-
rect time and place for each tool.
Sometimes it may be an iPhone,
and at other times it's a black-
and-white viewfinder. Both are
fine by Hannum. He just wants
people to know what else is out
Because of this philosophy,
it would be a mistake to classify
Hannum as someone clinging to
old technologies. For him, devel-
oping prints in the darkroom is
simply a good way to learn how
to choose what to use and what
to photograph. It enhances the
overall liberal arts experience.
"This is what universities do.
We teach students what's hap-

pened and what's available and
how to deal with the problems at
hand,"he said. "I think inthe past
50 years, the art community has
moved away from craft and more
toward conceptual art, which is
OK. But some people just want to

dies - the range of complexity
beneath the shibumi.
Joining the team on the
album's two hit singles was Gil-
berto's wife at the time, singer
Astrud Gilberto, who sang the
English translations of "Girl
from Ipanema" and "Corcova-
do." One line from the latter is a
perfect lyrical representation of
the unobtrusive beauty of shibu-
mi: "Quiet nights of quiet stars
/ Quiet chords from my guitar /
Floating on the silence that sur-
rounds us."
Astrud's sensuous voice with
its "exotic" Brazilian accent
typified the sophistication of
the '60s. Yet until very recently,
the stylish and classy early years
of the decade went overlooked.
Any mention of the '60s conjures
images of psychedelic drugs,
hippies, rock'n'roll and Wood-
stock. But this sort of youth
counterculture that emerged
in the late '60s had little to do
with the more adult "Mad Men"
era, as the early '60s have come
to be called. In fact, AMC's hit
TV show is largely responsible
for rekindling America's recent
interest in the more mature
modernist chic of the period.
As depicted in "Mad Men,"
See MOD, Page 4B
buckle down and learn how to do
something well."
Leaving the past in the dark
Similar to Hannum's courses,
the School of Art & Design also
pushes its students to incorpo-
rate many facets into their art.
The main difference is a heavy
multimedia approach, as opposed
to an emphasis on historical pro-
Within the School of Art &
Design, there are mandatory
classes for all freshmen and soph-
omores. The first required class
in the curriculum is TMP (Tools,
Materials, Processes), where stu-
dents learn fundamental skills in
a variety of mediums, including
photography and printmaking.
As students progress through
their four years in the program,
they have the opportunity to spe-
cialize. But according to Rebekah
Modrak, an associate professor
in the School of Art & Design,
traditional disciplines such as
photography were eliminated a
couple of years ago to mirror the
increasing fluidity in the arts.
In short, students don't major
in photography, but motivated
students can work within the
school's broad curriculum to
discover their passion and build
concentrations based on interest.
For Max Collins, an Art & Design
alum and former managingphoto
editor of The Michigan Daily, the
program not only allowed him to
do photography but also taught
him to apply it to other classes -
an idea reminiscent of Hannum's
own convictions.
"If you were to look at my
transcript, you would see very
few classes that were solely pho-
tography, but that is just how the
School of Art & Design is set up,"
Collins wrote in an e-mail inter-
view. "The classes offered often
have these very broad parame-
ters, which allows for students to
work in a variety of mediums. So
while I wasn't taking traditional

photo courses, I was able to use
photography in a majority of my
Collins's senior thesis stands as
a strong model of a project using
photography as a pivot-point for
a greater piece of media. He shot

Last year for Christmas,
there were only two
things I wanted: Reese
Witherspoon to be happy and
Jennifer Aniston to find a signifi-
cant other. I
know, it's a
little weird
to ask for the
of some of.
my favorite
as a gift, but HALEY
when you GOLDBERG
grow up read-
ing People
religiously what's a girl to do on
such a holy holiday? I'm happy to
say my Christmas wish did come
true, albeit a little late: Reese
married entertainment manager
Jim Toth this March and Jenni-
fer finally has a boyfriend! She's
been dating the very rebellious-
looking writer-actor Justin
Theroux since May.
But looking back on my
Christmas wishes, it got me
thinking: Why did I wish for
the happiness of people I don't
even know? Wouldn't it have
been more practical to wish for
the happiness of, say, my sister
as she finishes her senior year
in college? Or widespread peace
in the Middle East? Why did I
want to see Jennifer Aniston
This got me thinking about
the role celebrities play in my
world. To me, these aren't just
average people living their lives.
These are people playing out
a story for me - the highs and
lows of their lives are chronicled
in every magazine I read and
in every re-tweet I post. They
become the people I root for
(Demi Lovato's struggle with
bipolar disorder) and the villains
I despise (ugh, Charlie Sheen).
When I first heard that Kim
Kardashian was getting married,
I cheered just as loudly as if I
found out my cousin was going
to walk down the aisle. When I
portraits of people lit only by
computer screens, then manipu-
lated the images on Photoshop to
give them a zombie look.
"The general concept had to do
with how we behave with digital
technology and I chose to exem-
plify this through the glazed
expressions we have when we
work on computers," Collins
Even though the school may
not offer an abundant array of
strictly technical classes, the
School of Art & Design's fine art
basis aims to get students think-
ing about the ways in which they
might employ their craft. Accord-
ing to Collins, such a curricu-
lum is ahead of traditional trade
schools where students might
solely study photography.
"Today, everyone with a cam-
era is a photographer," Collins
wrote. "Now the battle isn't in
making the image anymore; it's
about how you can differentiate
yourself from the pack creatively."
Of course, the school needs to
prepare its students for the real
world, where they must be famil-
iar with the entire array of artis-
tic practices currently in use.
However, the essential need to
understand the past has recently
reemerged to go hand-in-hand

with its current multimedia
Modrak recently published
"Reframing Photography," a
text geared toward photogra-
phers and non-photographers
alike. The primary impetus for
the book, as she explained, was
a desire to ground today's wide
spectrum of photographic prac-
tices in history and technique.
She advocates this type of study
despite her affinity for social net-
working sites like Facebook and
Flickr. Though the use of tech-
nology is not a bad thing, it does
alter the landscape.
"In many ways, Facebook is the
end result of what we're going to
make with a photo," Modrak said.
"We think about social network-
ing and online Internet art when
making photos, so Facebook must
be in your mind all the time with
what you're going to consider."
Modrak's own work shows
a fascination with the Inter-
net - exemplified in her project

learned that Jesse James cheat- I'm a big fan of a happy ending,
ed on sweet Sandra Bullock with and all I want is for these stories
that tattooed bimbo, I wanted to end in such a way. Rooting for
to eatan entire carton of Ben & the economy to take a turn for
Jerry's for her. the better is a much more dan-
Each celebrity offers a dif- gerous game than spending my
ferent genre of a story for me to time hoping Kate Gosselin finds
follow: Angelina Jolie and Brad a man to help her look after
Pitt are the action-adventure those eight adorable kids and
story with their jet-setting put them all through college.
around the globe with an infinite Furthermore, the media's
pack of children. Taylor Swift ability to cut the distance
is the girl in a romantic comedy between celebrities and the
who just needs to find a solid general public has me relating
boyfriend who she won't make to celebrities more than ever.
me hate in her next hit song (I Would IShave known two years
will always like her ex Jake Gyl- ago that, at this exact moment,
lenhaal no matter how hard she Miley Cyrus was cooking a chow
tries!). Beyonc6 and Jay-Z are mein dinner with her "honey?"
the power couple with a baby on With the advent of Twitter and
the way who will probably rule blogs like TMZ, I can follow
the world. most celebrities at any time of
the day, any day of the week, giv-
ing me a more in-depth look at
Intenatinal their lives.
International These kinds of media outlets
conflicts don't allow me to follow celebrities in
the same social network as my
provide enough actual friends. Why do I know
Zac Efron's relationship his-
happy endings. tory just ashwell as my closest
guy friend's? Because the media
makes me feel like I know him,
and in turn I follow him just as
Everyone loves to follow closely as those I know in my
a good story. For some, the life. The media today takes the
latest political scandals or actress or actor and turns his
high-profile murder trials are or her own personal life into a
something they enjoy watching story for many throughout the
unfold in the media. For me, country to watch and enjoy. And
that's just too stressful. Those trust me, I'm right there in the
stories end with life or death front row.
situations and entire nations are You're still probably thinking
at stake. I need a story to follow my Christmas wish was stupid
in which nothing too detrimen- and materialistic, and maybe I
tal can occur as an outcome, agree. But do I regret it? Nope.
in which the worst thing that Because now, I don't have to see
could happen is Justin Bieber a sad looking Jennifer Aniston
cuts his hair a little too short on the cover of my magazine
for the fans' approval. Maybe I and another article explaining
should be following stories like why she can't find love. Reese
the economic state of despair and Jennifer are both happy, and
instead, but every week when I that's all a gossip girl can ask for.
pick up People magazine, log on __
to PerezHilton.com, or check Goldberg is planning Christmas
my Twitter feed, these are the wishes for next year. To submit
stories that draw my attention. one, e-mail hsgold@umich.edu.
"ebayaday," a photography exhibit how they choose to make their
curated by Modrak and fellow mark. But in such an individual-
A&D colleague Zack Denfeld and istic setting it can fall predomi-
University of Michigan-Dearborn nantly to students to obtain the
professor Aaron Ahuvia. The necessary technical training.
exhibit uses eBay as the basis for While a conceptual education
displaying images by more than serves as good preparation for
25 artists - images that include life after graduation, where the
works centered on real estate power to think creatively is a
and costumes. Basically, a per- very important asset, there's still
son searching eBay for real estate a lament for the old days of slow-
or costumes might accidentally er, more communal practices.
stumble upon sight-specific imag- "I'm always surprised by how
es dedicated to showing artwork many students haven't seen wet-
about real estate or costumes. process in person," said Lisa
As opposed to galleries, where Steichmann, an instructor in
people enter expecting to have the School of Art & Design. "And
an artistic experience, Modrak every year I get students com-
views the Internet as an incred- plaining about the lack of dark-
ible means to reach an audience rooms on campus."
she might not otherwise get. And As of now, the darkroom still
yet, while such a project seems to exists in the basement of East
highlight Modrak's technologi- Quad, but even Hannum is skep-
cal leanings, she, like Hannum, tical as to how long it will remain
underscored the importance of after he leaves. While digital
art history. camera work is pertinent to mul-
"My philosophy in ("Refram- timedia processes in the vein of
ing Photography") is to talk about Modrak and Collins, as Steich-
past photographers like Ansel mann pointed out, choosing one
Adams and Roy DeCarava," format over another hinders the
Modrak said. "Any of the choices range of possibilities.
you make as an artist are OK so The best results stem from an
long as you're aware that you're ability to put process and tools
making them and also why you're together. Darkroom practice may
making them." not be around forever, and the
University may one day not sup-

Synthesizing the images port one at all.Yet as evidenced by
the extensive waitlists for Han-
The school's methodology num's classes, photography stu-
instructs its students to exercise dents are increasingly intrigued
a significant degree of control in about their craft's roots.

'U' alum Max Collins used digital film for his senior thesis.

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