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Script: Painting Anthropology

Joan Giampa


Title Pane

Painting Anthropology: The Evolution of a Painting

Definition: Painting Anthropology is the archaeological dig into the subconscious mind of a painter. “Anthropology“, pronounced /ænθrɵˈpɒlədʒi/, is from the Greek ἄνθρωπος, anthrōpos, “human”, and -λογία, -logia, “discourse” or “study”.  And this film will study the evolution of a painting.

7.5 minutes of film showing in fast motion the development of a painting.

Narration: (voice over fast moving film)

An Image has come into my head, “Snake Pit”.  The image conjures up a family situation in which all the players are engaged in a sort of snake pit.  The image came first, however and the situation, “the snake pit” followed.  What is important is that the two ideas were separate and then became one.  Now the image has context and meaning to the artist.  The spectator would never know this part of the magic.

The object has taken on a life of its own.  The objects do represent ideas or events that are going on in my own life in a symbolic sort of way.  The process in which I paint them is still evolving.  There was a time when I labored over many layers of paint.  Now it seems I can get to what I want to say with less laboring and less feel better right now.

The object has taken on a life of its own.  The objects do represent ideas or events that are going on in my own life in a symbolic sort of way.  The process in which I paint them is still evolving.  There was a time when I labored over many layers of paint.  Now it seems I can get to what I want to say with less laboring and less feel better right now.

My name is Joan Marie Giampa and I am a contemporary artist/painter.  I grew up playing in the wooded areas of Northern Virginia along a stream called Difficult Run.  Difficult Run flows through Fairfax County, Virginia to Great Falls Park, on the Virginia side of the Potomac River. Today I still live close by the stream where I find and collect the natural forms for my work called “Earth Objects”.

“Earth Objects” are small pods, acorns, and leaves etc… that I collect during walks on the W & O foot trail.

Three tulip tree twigs that are in a circular pattern in the middle of a large field of brown and white paint.  I can relate this image to an event in my life at present.  I usually will use the earth objects as players on a field of color that represent these current events in my life.  They act like actors on a stage and the stage is the ground of the painting itself.  The objects usually represent people in my life.

I will attempt to document how I process ideas during the working process.  I will attempt to show you during the process of painting precisely where my left brain steps out of the picture altogether and I enter into the right brain mode commonly know as the subconscious or nonverbal.  I like o call this mindset “the space between”.  That space I enter into which cannot be verbalized only felt and responded to.  “The space between” in not only a Dave Mathews song, but it is where I live most of the time.  It is where my spirit resides.  It is timeless and has not conscience.  It is void of worry and anxiety and it is sort of a creative cocoon.

I search for this space in my artistic process.  I call this process Image Archaeology.

This makes a great deal of sense to me.  In graduate school, I was using metaphor as a word that described my ideas because my paintings were more story-like.  And now the work focuses on one aspect of a story.  So in essence the part (the earth object i am painting) has a story of its own and can have multiple meanings.  One such object that I have been painting lately is the Yellow Poplar Tree Pod, Liriodendron tulipifera, commonly known as the American tulip tree, tulip poplar or yellow poplar, is the Western Hemisphere representative of the two-species Liriodendron genus and the tallest eastern hardwood.

Anthropology is important because it deals with the study of human, their existence, their culture and social organization. One of its branches is Archaeology which deals with the study of human material culture including artifacts and modern garbage.

I refer to myself as an “Image Archaeologist™.  And my personal iconography is based on the discovery of objects in nature in their native environment.  After finding an object, I take it home and digitize it with my camera.   I then manipulate the photo in a software program called Photoshop to uncover the objects underlying structure. The uncovering process is really a series of filters that I use in Photoshop to remove the objects “outer skin” and reveal its “skeleton”.  Once I feel I have the “skeleton”, I can then take the image to canvas.

I staple wet gessoed canvas onto my studio wall and project the image onto the canvas.  I then carve into the wet gessoed canvas with the butt of a paintbrush an imprint of the “image skeleton”.  I scrub into the surface ground with multiple layers of paint and rub paint into the grooves of the dried gesso surface.  Additional layers of paint are then brushed lightly over the beveled edges of the image to unearth the skeletal impression. More layers of paint are brushed on and wiped away as the image becomes the surface ground and the surface ground becomes the image. It is this process of digging into the canvas and discovering the object within the corporeal ground that makes it “Image Archaeology” ™.

The approach of incising, dusting, digging and other archaeological terms is still how I see that I approach the process of painting.  And then the objects on the surface of the picture plane somehow look as if they are etched and found in the surface.  I cannot explain why I do this, but it feels right.  At times it is a very physical process and that is what I like about it.  I love the physical act of painting and the way that colors can be brushed lightly over textured edges to create depth.  I sometimes feel like they are prints or imprints.  I named my process “image archaeology”, because I think of myself as an archaeologist who finds and image in the surface of a canvas and brings it into existence with all this work that resembles that of what archaeologists do.  In a sense, I am a working metaphor of an artist as archaeologist.

There is a constant searching for the middle ground–the space between the figure and the ground–through the application of paint and projected thoughts.  What remains behind or merges into existence is this exchange of energy between me and the picture plane that culminates into a work of art.

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What does space exploration mean?

Note: Sorry I completely forgot to actually post this instead of draft it. :(

I went to a conference presentation a few years ago and the topic stuck with me because Dr. John McNeill (Georgetown University) insisted on defining space exploration in the context of human exploration. Satellites and scientific missions counted as something else, not exploration, because it did not involve something like humans setting foot on the moon.

As a result, the central question that my digital story will revolve around asks:

What does exploration mean? Does exploration necessarily imply human exploration, as opposed to robotic exploration?

The answer to this question provides some context for the “so, what?” in my dissertation on several space science missions, including Voyager and the Mars rovers. Because my research will delve into the imagery and public relations efforts surrounding the missions, the digital storytelling format may prove advantageous for analyzing the importance of this question. As a result, I expect the digital story to remain somewhat abstract as a thought provoking piece. I expect the primary audience for the story to be myself, as a way to organize some of the visual material and ideas, but would appreciate any feedback or reactions to the concepts presented.

While the research questions may remain my own, the elements of the digital story will be taken from actual sources such as news releases, images, and publications. Although the publications may be under copyright, the images usually reside within the public domain and careful usage should prevent major copyright infringement.

The following paragraph in the conclusion of the essay, “Gigantic Follies? Human Exploration and the Space Age in Long-term Historical Perspective” by J. R. McNeill in Remembering the Space Age, presents an interesting scenario that may end up as a quote within the digital story:

“Space exploration may survive on one or another basis, but it still will
not loom large in terms of human history unless something really new and
interesting happens, the sort of thing people in the space business probably
dream about—finding intelligent and agreeable (or at least neutral) life out
there or colonizing new corners of the universe—or probably have nightmares
about—developing effective space-based weapons suitable for use against
earthly enemies or finding intelligent but hostile life out there. If any of these
things happen, then the first 50 years of space exploration will look like the
beginning of something of epic significance. If they don’t, it will look like
a small step for mankind that led nowhere, and did not amount to much in
the balance before being consigned to the dustbin of history. It is indeed too
soon to judge whether the whole enterprise is a gigantic folly diverting money
and talent from more urgent applications, a noble calling consonant with our
deepest nature, or something else altogether.”

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Story pitch

Digital Story Pitch, on Jihad and Terrorism

In the past few years of conducting workshops on world history and teaching about religions, specifically Islam in world history, I get a recurring question. That question is whether Terrorism = Jihad, and whether or not it is condoned by Islamic teachings, as extremists and critics of Islam claim. The objective of the story is to lay out the Islamic principles and sources according to which suicide attacks and other forms of targeting civilians cannot have legitimacy, and to lay out the principles that make it a criminal act, not a praiseworthy act. The problem of equating jihad and holy war will need to be part of that, but I don’t want it to be central, since there are more important points to make.

In terms of how the story will be told, I was reading about story mapping in the Ohler DST book, and find the model of the core story compelling for the way it moves from awareness to discovery and change. I was skeptical at first, but then the author convinced me that it is viable for narratives that are not “story-like”. I intend to map the story and then do a storyboard before attempting to write a script–also Ohler’s influence.
The pattern I want to follow–building on what is required to convey to the listener–is to make four or five arguments based on principles in Islamic teachings–very solidly grounded ones (not fuzzy interpretive things). These segments counter the facile equation “terrorism = jihad” by showing that no such equation is possible, because it violates multiple, foundational principles.

I intend to use video, text, and image, and in our first evening of brainstorming our pitches, the suggestion was made in my group to make each point using a different approach to the type of presentation, i.e. images only, a talking head, a video segment with voiceover, etc. I will have to think which type will be most appropriate for each, but of course getting the footage, images, etc. will be difficult, so I may not achieve the optimal mix. Must learn quite a few new skills with video editing.

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WWII and my grandfather

My grandfather died at the beginning of February so I want to do a story on his service as a doctor in the Navy in the Pacific (specifically Guam) during World War II. But I want to add a layer, from the perspective of my own father. When my father was a child at bedtime, his father would sit on the edge of his bed telling him stories from the war. This began my father’s interest in World War II, which he would play out in fields behind his house with his friends in a game they called “Troopers”. Since we only have 7-10 minutes, I think this will create a layer of the story of my grandfather’s Naval experience and a younger generation’s reception of that story. A sort of father-son story.

For the video, I will use photos and pictures my family have of my grandfather’s time during the war and any other pictures I can find from that era, if the Navy or other relevant agencies have made their archives public. As far as sound, ideally I would like to tape my dad and have him tell the story. If I use music, I want it to be subtle, but not sad.

Northern Virginia: Then and Now

Working under the question of “how did Northern Virginia become the region that it is today?,” I would like to take a look at the formation of current Northern Virginia.  This is a topic that I want to look at for a couple of reasons: 1) not being from the area, I think it has a distinct and interesting history, and 2) the GMU Special Collections & Archives has a wealth of interesting primary sources on the history of Northern Virginia.  I would like to be able to look at Northern Virginia from the 1960s  to today in order to show how it became the incredibly diverse and powerful region that it is today.  Since the current NoVa is such a large area, I will be focusing primarily on Arlington and Fairfax.

Utilizing oral histories and primary documents like maps, photographs, and correspondences, I hope to be able to piece together a “then and now” look at Northern Virginia. I would like to look at influential events that have taken place over the last 50 years: the  expansion of the metro, George Mason University, Dulles International Airport, the growth of information technology in the area, etc.  If feasible, I would really like to look at current long-term residents of all ages to get their perspectives on how the region has grown and changed, and would be able to foil these participants with oral histories from the Northern Virginia Oral History Project (housed in Special Collections & Archives), which is a series of oral histories done in the 1970s and 1980s.  Even though I will likely find a lack of video material to correspond with these earlier oral histories, I would be able to use photographs and pair them with more recent footage of the places talked about in their interviews.  Although there will be some agreement about major changes and developments in the region, I think that this project idea would lead to some interesting commentary on history and memory as well as hopefully draw in some interesting personal perspective.

Movie Pitch

Using storytelling as a metaphor, my digital story explains sonata form by combining AV elements with live performance. The musical selection used will be the first movement of Dittersdorf’s  double  bass concerto. I will use a computerized piano reduction and play the bass part live. Much of the presentation will be a dialogue between myself (acting as a stuffy professor) and a video character of myself (a much comedic, down-to-earth character). The audience will be encouraged to use their imagination and invent characters associated with the contrasting 1st and 2nd theme of the exposition. The development will represent some kind of drama involving the two characters and the recapitulation will be a sumation of the drama. A handout/worksheet will accompany the video presentation which will guide the audience through the program and allow them to make notes about their imaginary drama. The worksheet will help facilitate the learning process and will also provide me with some feedback about the efficacy of the performance/lesson. The video portion of the presentation will involve  still and moving images as I “interact” with my video doppelganger.

Painting Anthropology: The Evolution of a Painting

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My Pitch… In video form…

Okay, I’m having a horrible time getting video embedding to work on this site– a problem I’ve never really encountered on WordPress installs before.

So yeah– Just go to this post on my personal blog, and you’ll find the videos I created as my pitch.

Film on History, History on Film

The film and history communities have produced volumes of work on the filmic presentation of the past. The majority of this work concentrates on dramatic feature films. Though not as widely seen as Hollywood films, the evolution and development of the non-fiction or documentary film and its relationship to depiction of history is also relevant. While technological changes, like the advent of sound, and the influence of other disciplines, like theater and journalism, changed the content and form of early history non-fiction films, their authors chose to create narratives, formally and functionally, that reflected contemporary ideas about history.

I intend to show how the modes used in historical non-fiction films reflect ideas about narrative authority, storytelling conventions, temporality, causation, and counter-narrative construction. By analyzing the first historical re-creation films, omnipotent narration, expert interviewees, dramatic techniques, and the challenge of filmed archival evidence, I will argue that the struggle to depict history on film reflects the contingency of and shifting patterns within narrative, academic, and popular authority and its relationship to the past.

“Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Unleash the Power of Music Within You!”

“Thinking Body, Dancing Mind: Unleash the Power of Music Within You!”

My idea pitch is grounded in the following questions:  (1) How can music students create more fulfilling performance experiences; (2) In what ways can teachers renew students’ passion for music; and, (3) How can students reach performance states of profound creativity and total freedom.  To answer these questions, my exploration will begin with the lives of music students and whether or not they are on paths to becoming budding artists, or expert students.  A snapshot of the day-to-day lives of music students will reveal how their habits, attitudes, and methods of preparation are positively or negatively affecting their performance experiences, and ultimately their capabilities as artists.  This part of the exploration will highlight the various performance preparation strategies students are currently using and possible disconnects between preparation and the actual performance.  Live video footage of students in practice rooms, performances, master classes, lessons, and rehearsals will comprise the visual component of this part of the story.  A voice-over analysis will provide an overall impression of daily lives of music students.  Quotes from students in reference to their experiences will also be included in this portion for a more authentic feel. 

The second piece will showcase a revolutionary method for engaging students in the performance experience. Referred to as “multisensory music-making,” musicians experience music through a variety of sensory modalities, including visual imagery, aural stimuli, emotional engagement, and cognitive assessment.  Through the art of multisensory music-making, students will learn to cultivate the skills for creating fulfilling performance experiences.  Live video footage will feature student demonstrations of the multisensory approach, as well as interviews with teachers, students, and audience members discussing the effectiveness of the approach with regard to creating enriching performances and its implications for teaching and learning.    

Through this approach, students will learn how to think beyond the notes on the page to the music in their hearts.  They will cultivate the skills for performance preparation that affords them a musically fulfilling experience. 

The educational implications for this approach will urge teachers to think and rethink the ways in which they are preparing students for careers in music. Are students in training to become expert students, or budding artists?  How can multisensory music-making help students understand music at deeper levels, connect with the audience on emotional levels, and venture beyond the walls of the institution to the concert halls of life.