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Arts Analysis

The assignments pages for this course have the phrase “insightful, interesting” several times. What do I mean by these words? Let’s use an analogy to sports. People who are smart about a game see things when they watch it that people who aren’t smart about it don’t see. People who aren’t smart about basketball watch the ball. They don’t know or care whether the defense is playing zone or man-to-man. If the experts, the smart guys, point out that it’s a zone defense, the people who aren’t so smart don’t know what it means. They don’t “see” as much.

All intelligence begins in observation. The story of science is the story of closer and closer observations of nature. When scientists see things no one has ever seen before, things that don’t even have names, then they’re making progress. You could say that the whole process of being educated is the process of making finer and finer distinctions between things, that is, seeing more.

That’s why I say the hardest part of this course is listening and watching. What do you hear? What do you see? The more insightful person sees more and hears more.

Evelyn Glennie

Evelyn Glennie

Evelyn Glennie teaches the world to listen.

Esref Armagan is a blind visual artist. If you can explain how the blind guy on the left below can paint the painting on the right without ever having seen Clinton or a picture of him, I might think that your explanation was interesting and insightful and I would probably think you were pretty intelligent for knowing how to explain that.

This version of the traditional Thousand Hands Dance is being performed by deaf people. How do they do that if they can’t hear the beats? Do they listen to the person next to them like these starlings’ murmuration?

Bill Clinton by Esref Armagan

Bill Clinton by Esref Armagan

Esref Armagan

Esref Armagan

Education is not passive. It is not something that I do, or fail to do, to you. Rather, like most other things in life, it is an opportunity that you may or may not take.

Observing is the first step. Next is knowing what to call what you see so that you can talk about it, for example, zone and man-to-man.

After you know what to call it, how do you organize your ideas so that you can communicate to someone? Remember those rhetorical modes in your writing classes?

  • You can talk about what it is, its characteristics and its parts — see the table below. Describe it.
  • You can compare it to something else or rank order several related things. The key here is the “something else”. How are they connected?
  • You can put it in a process and talk about that process. The process could be artistic, technical, physical, social, political, criminal, economic, psychological, etc. — that is, all the other courses you’re taking. It could be the process Esref Armagan uses to paint something he can’t see.
  • You can talk about what caused it or what it effect it had on something else. Why it’s important. What it means.

The sub-pages on the menu are intended to give you the vocabulary you need to be able to talk about the arts during your Skype conversations, in your reflections at the Blu Jaz Cafe, and in your final essay.