By Alexandra Mahon
Ross Honig
Celeste Borras
Lena Mentyka


Graphic Ad Critique

The graphic ad that I chose to use was found on; a website dedicated to interesting and new uses of advertising. The ad is a graphic ad for symantec, an American based computer security software firm. At first glance it may be hard to tell exactly what the ad is trying to get across but after a second look you can see that it is an extremely clever advertisement.
The first thing we see in this picture is the subject. The subject is a little girl sitting in what we are led to believe is her room. We can infer this because of the social cues, or connotation used in the ad. The walls and bed are pink, usually associated with youth and innocence, and various stuffed animals are arranged in the background which, societally, we associate with childhood. The audience should also notice that the little girl is on a computer. The illustrator of the picture depicts the computer as large, almost oversized, and very dark in contrast with the light pink in the rest of the room. These elements make the laptop look almost menacing, like the elephant in the room that could crush her if she did something wrong.
Then your (the audience’s) eyes move back to the adults in the window in the background. These people are immediately out of place. They are all dressed in ways that typical Americans do not associate with children or innocence. The man all the way to the left is wearing all black complete with black hair and a moustache, again, a typically menacing color. The other two people are scantily dressed and look provocative and are under the influence of what looks like alcohol, specifically beer. Then your eyes might drift to the tagline in the bottom right corner of the advertisement that reads “Best to keep some windows closed” accompanied by the logo for symantec.
The over-arching message of why you should buy the security software becomes very clear, that your children could be in danger of being corrupted by people like the ones in the window. This ad plays on the audience’s emotions and also their societal values.
I think this advertisement is very well constructed and I think the way that they use humor and emotion pulls in the audience and does a great job getting exposure for their product which is the sole purpose of the advertisement when all is said and done. They also target a very current topic and their target audience very well with the issue facing many parents regarding their children and new technology.

I had the good fortune to visit the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and actually stumbled upon the “Nature’s Best” exhibit by mistake.  This photo exhibit features the 2011 winners of the Windland Smith Rice International Awards.  The exhibit features many different photographers from different regions of the world all with pictures from different specific categories relating to the over-arching theme of nature.  Since these images are based in nature every picture shows a different detail or design of the beautiful world that we inhabit.

While I was studying some of these incredible photographs what stood out to me most was the color and texture that these photos exhibited.  No matter what the image was specifically of, whether it be animals, foliage, or elements the colors were so rich and the texture so sharp that you could imagine exactly how it would feel in person.  The colors were so radiant and really exhibited the diverse colors that all of nature has to offer. The most impressive thing to me was the use of movement in many of the photos of actual plants.  You could so easily tell and feel the water dripping off of leaves even in a completely still photograph just by the way the light hit the drop of water and the trail already behind the droplet.  In all photos of animals in the exhibit (save for one or two) their face or body was almost directly in the center of the shot creating an immense sense of equilibrium from the photographs.  You easily saw the entire photograph and weren’t distracted by background commotion; the subjects were prominent and clear.  I didn’t have a specific favorite photo but I did like the pictures of the animals the best.  I think it is incredibly impressive how much emotion the pictures of animals can represent without a model than can actually be directed.

The theme of the exhibit is obvious, it is depicted in its name.  When I decided to go to the exhibit I thought I knew exactly was kind of pictures I would see.  However, I walked away stunned at how skillfully these nature photographs were taken and how much time and effort was put into each shot.  I was especially moved by reading some of the captions that put a piece of the artist into the shot and told you a little about what they felt about the photograph.

These photographers utilized many of Kodak’s Top Ten Tips.  I noticed specifically the one that was used most often was to use a plain, simple background.  Especially in the animal photos, using a plain background really made the subject stand out.  Or placing a flower in front of a sea of green leaves that created almost a green backdrop helped you to hone in on what exactly the photographer wanted you to see. The images were all so outstanding and all so different even though they were in the same category that I was left truly inspired when I left.  The ways in which a single leaf can be photographed to look completely different is awesome.  For these photographers their mission was to capture the best nature image they could and I think, without a doubt, each and every one of them did just that.

Genre Critique: Pursuit of Happyness (Drama)

This is a film based on a true story about a man named Christopher Gardner. Gardner has invested almost all of his money in “bone density scanners” that are becoming obsolete due to the increase of newer, better, cheaper technology. While Gardner is trying to sell these machines, his wife leaves him; he loses his home, his bank accounts and all remaining money. Gardner is forced to live on the streets with his son while he desperately searches for a steady job. It turns out that he is extremely bright and talented with numbers and decides to take on the near impossible job as a stockbroker, but before he can receive pay he must complete 6 months of training and beat out the other competitors applying for the same position. The scene I have chosen to analyze is the scene in which Chris realizes, with his son, that he has no place to sleep for the night and must sleep in a public subway bathroom.
In this scene the two characters (Chris Gardner and his son) are laying on the Subway bathroom floor showing their utter desperation for shelter as we usually associate bathrooms (especially public ones) with dirty places where you wouldn’t particularly want to spend much time. Chris’s disgust and disappointment with the place he is in and what he is subjecting his son to also suggests that he expects more from himself. In this scene there is also luggage in the bathroom with the characters. Obviously, this luggage is their general belongings that they have to carry with them since they have been evicted from their home, however, it also serves as metaphorical “baggage” carrying their mistakes, problems and secrets with no hope of escaping them and nowhere to leave them behind. The scene also expresses the way in which the father and son are so desperate that they are willing to make anywhere their home. The way that his son is laying in his arms shows his weakness and how the father must nurture him and care for him as well as his own well being. There is a small amount of bright color around the child’s suitcase which could represent that there is hope and happiness in their near future; this could be why that particular suitcase is positioned in front of them rather than behind like the other dark, dull luggage which is behind them, or in the past.
A drama is meant to capture its audience’s emotions and make the movie or scene itself feel real. This scene is extremely emotional. It shows a father’s desperation, his love for his son, his loss of hope, and more existentially, his feeling of defeat, like the world has given up on him. Some, if not all of these are emotions and feelings that almost every human being in our society can relate to on some level. By using emotions in the scene that are relatable, even if the circumstances are not, the audience can imagine and feel the emotions that the characters are experiencing.
I, personally, think this scene is extremely effective at not only capturing it’s audience’s attention with rich color and interesting scenery but also pulling in their emotions to make them feel like they are there in the scene and to truly make it believable. The drama itself in this scene is intense and, for lack of a better word, dramatic. Accompanied by the incredible acting, it is hard not to identify with the characters and to truly feel the emotions they are experiencing.

Lumiere Manifesto

All Nighters

I am currently taking class called, Islamic Societies.  It has truly opened my eyes to a new world that I never really new was around me and new cultures that I never even knew existed.  I chose Islamic art because it refers to a large variety of artistic traditions that have become prominent and are extremely beautiful in ways that we may not always recognize.  I went to the Freer Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art to collect my photographs on the Elements and Principles of Design.  The pieces come from a vast geographical area but all remain similar in style due to their Islamic heritage.


Stone-paste painted under glaze


Kashan, Iran




In this piece, line is used as the fundamental mark to draw one’s eye inward and upward making the sculpture itself seem higher and more narrow.  The lines painted onto this vase seem to define the edges of space, drawing your attention away from the negative space in between them.



Earthenware painted under glaze

Iran or Afghanistan


Point is the most basic shape in any visual design.  In this design the piece uses negative, unpainted space as a central point.  All of the designs around the outside converge in one single point in the middle of the dish. 


Stone paste painted under clear glaze

Sultanabad, Iran


This tile particularly illustrates form well because of its detailed shape and raised carvings.  Form is used in this piece to create not only the piece itself, but the image on the piece.  This design uses geometric form to create the shape around the outside but uses more freehand organic form to create the design on the surface.


Dish under glaze



In this piece the artist creates movement without actually creating any movement at all.  The shape and direction of the design on the outside creates an illusion of circular movement around the stagnant design in the middle of the dish.  The sense of movement in this piece is unmistakable at first glance, and is extremely impressive.  Creating movement without movement is like creating noise without noise; not impossible but not an easy feat.



Stone paste under turquoise glaze


Raqqa, Syria




The highly saturated hues of blue create an intense color creation to be seen in this piece.  In using three different hues of an already intense blue the artist allows you to see the contrast between the colors without have to use opposite colors to accentuate it.  The artists uses this color to create a dynamic between the blue hues without having to use contrasting colors like black and white.


Paper mache book cover



In this piece the artist uses three separate patterns to draw your eye inward toward the center of the image.  The artist uses both geometric and natural shapes to create an entirely organic design that is overall symmetrical.  Pattern plays a role in where you are forced to look and how the viewer is meant to look at the image, it is hard to see the image as a whole without seeing it in three separate parts with three separate patterns.


Stone Paste



In this piece the artist used molding and carving to create the texture in the tile.  The image itself is hard to interpret or depict especially if the viewer can not read arabic, however the writings themselves are incomplete, making it hard for even the most avid arabic speaker to interpret what the tile itself is saying.  The intricately carved parts of this piece are what makes it intriguing even if it cant be immediately understood.


Stone-paste paint bottle



Each area of this composition is given equal weight.  Although it may not be exact, there is a symmetry that makes the sides of the bottle related to one another but not exactly twins creating a balance in this piece.  By using simple, pastel colors there is no emphasis on a single part, rather the emphasis lies in the entire piece itself.





If you were to use an average candlestick as the scale, the artist has clearly played with acceptable proportions in this piece.  The piece gets larger as it goes down creating the feeling that you are almost looking up at it when you are looking at it straight on.  The point of this is to create importance, symbolizing that the bottom, or foundation, is the most important part of the piece holding it up.


Wall hanging

Central Asia


The lines and repetition on the panels of the panels create the rhythm in this piece of art.  instead of directly visible lines drawn into the piece, the lines are implicit, expected to be seen.  The effect creates a type of regularity often associated with work illustrating rhythm.



Basra Iraq


Emphasis in composition usually occurs at the place where the viewer’s eye is drawn to.  In this piece that spot is directly in the middle of the dish.  All of the lines, both organic and geometric, and patterns in the dish all lead from the outside inward toward the center stop in the middle of the bowl.


Table Stand

Raqqa, Syria


This piece, a table stand, may not be seen as illustrating unity at first glance.  However, if you look closely there is a symmetry in the carvings on each side of the piece.  The sides work together, along with the abstract or organic paintings to create one entire piece that is hard to disect without seeing the entire thing, a sense of overall unity.  Not only do the aspects of design in this piece represent unity but the piece itself.  This piece is a table stand, used to hold something up.  Its legs all work together to distribute the weight and are unified by the job they were built to do.