The past three weeks have been very significant in terms of my new life at University. Lectures, tutorial groups and even visiting the City Gallery have all been firsts for me and have since changed the way I see not only pieces of art but the world in general.
Thinking back on my first lecture I remember the song ‘Space Oddity’ by David Bowie playing on the projector. At the time I didn’t find this important at all. However, reflecting on that lecture I now know why the lecturers decided to play that song. ‘Space Oddity’ follows the journey of Major Tom on his voyage from earth into outer space. His last words are “Here am I floating ’round my tin can, far above the moon. The earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” (Bowie, 1969) I feel as though these words connect with the ideas of the ‘Blue Marble’ which is discussed in Nicholas Mirzoeff’s ‘How to see the world’.
‘Blue Marble’ is an image captured by NASA astronaut Jack Shmitt in 1972, from the Apollo 17 spacecraft. Like Major Tom, he was floating around in his “tin can” looking down on earth. Before 1972 the public had no clue what the earth looked like, therefore ‘Blue Marble’ is an example of an image that has entirely shaped the way we look and think about the world we live in.
For me the most eye opening experience was visiting the City Gallery and view ing the Cindy Sherman exhibition. Cindy is a famous photographer known for exploring different emotions and identities through her artistic portraits. At first I wasn’t exactly sure of what I was supposed to be thinking about or looking for. I was expecting to have this instant connection with her work, but that didn’t necessarily happen. This made me think harder about the meaning behind certain images and made me feel as though I wasn’t spending enough time looking at them. However, Isaac Kaplan says “No one decides how fast you walk through a museum but you. You could spend up to 10 minutes on one painting, or you could gaze at it for over an hour” (Kaplan). After viewing the exhibition as a whole, it was finally coming together. I noticed that Mirzoeff’s ideas of “The Planet is changing before our eyes” (Mirzoeff, 6) relates to Sherman and her work. The world is constantly changing and I feel as though Sherman has been documenting that change throughout her career. The visual world has communicated with me through her work, it has made me think deeper and to look at things as a whole. Due to her images my view on people within this world has changed. I find myself thinking about their stories and backgrounds and want to know more. I believe that we all have a place in this world and have different views and opinions. The visual world communicates with us in an entirely different way, shaping the way we see the world.
Bowie, David. Space Oddity. Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Warner/Chappell Music, Inc, 1972
Kaplan, Isaac. “How long do you need to look at a piece of art to get it?”. Artsy, Artsy Editorial,
26th January 2017, https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-long-work-art-it
Mirzoeff, Nicholas. “Introduction”. How To See The World, Pelican, 2015, pp. 1-27