The Face Off: Nature and Culture

FINAL Project 3

Since the beginning of time, it would seem that nature and culture were interlocked in a neverending exchange. Their relationship to one another is one of give and take along with love and hate. Without one, the other cannot exist as culture and nature continuously shape one another. Stuck in tandem since the beginning of time, the structure of their relationship all depends on timing.

Personally, I find the relations of nature and culture to be a little bit funny; they remind me of an old married couple. They’ve been together for as long as anyone can remember and they bring out the best and worst in each other. Yet nature and culture can’t sever their bond. This diptych is a depiction and exploration of said relationship. Nature and Culture have been personified and are fully invested in one another. Nothing exists beyond them. It’s either war or peace. Anger or cheer and comfort. They are two sides of the same coin and the same could be said of the two different states of their bond. The petunias sprouting out of Nature’s head can symbolically mean either anger and resentment or the desire to be with someone because they bring comfort. The collage style of this diptych further lends to the surrealistic and irrational of qualities of the dynamic duo and their ties to one another.

 

P.S. Erika, if you’re reading this SOS!!!!!! I went back and tried to re-save the pictures (I double checked the resolution of the individual .psd files and they were both at 300 DPI) but they still get pixelated when put into the diptych 😦

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Final Thoughts

Ok first off, I’m going to post the photos that I used for my project and give credit where credit is due.

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Shout out to Lowe’s for having petunias on hand for me to photograph.

I looked like a crazy plant stalker as I stood outside of their garden section trying to get the perfect shot of these flowers but you know, it was all in the name of art so that makes it a noteworthy cause.

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Also thank goodness for these vines that were just growing over a brick wall. Found them on the walk home from class (:

Here are some artworks that I photographed at the Harn Museum, along with their ID’s of course.

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I somehow forgot to take a picture of the ID for the these tiny ceramic pots. (I’m a terrible human being, I know.)

This last photo of the Buddhist Head was what I used for my extra credit post.

Wow. I actually finished. This project literally tried my life. From conceptual difficulties to technical ones in Photoshop, I was definitely pushed to my limits. I’m always amazed by how much effort is takes to make digital art because the final image always gives off the illusion of ease and effortlessness–like I could just click 2 buttons and in 5 seconds, my vision would be realized. HA.

My biggest disappointment with this project was that I never ended up using double exposure. It kept looking out of place in my early stages of experimentation because I only wanted to use it for very specific parts of Theo’s face. It lacked the seamlessness that I wanted it to have so I ended up just scrapping the idea and using good old-fashioned masks on his face. Everything turned out fine, I’d like to think. And I also learned tons of useful little techniques and shortcuts from watching so many different double exposure tutorials. Those definitely came in handy for the project.

Conceptually, I struggled a lot with how I wanted to portray the relationship of nature and culture and even the way in which both entities should be represented. There was just so much to consider and as a result, I found myself shutting down and avoiding work because I felt so overwhelmed. This is why I’m now up at 2 AM on the day that the project is due and writing this post (lesson of the day: don’t procrastinate, kids). Strangely enough, I think waiting till the last minute actually worked out in my favor. It forced me to go with my instincts and just do because I was on a time crunch. I couldn’t afford to doubt myself. In the end, I was forced to just go for it and switch the stereotypical genders of nature and culture (because most people think of Mother nature and using man to represent mankind). And I like that. I like the fact that subconsciously, I was already challenging gender standards in the early stages of the project. Equality. WOO.

I’m a tad worried though because a key component of this project was the hue/saturation/color qualities of the photos used. I’ve recently learned the hard way from editing photos in Lightroom that things can go sssooo wrong simply because the colors on another monitor are displayed differently. Crossing my fingers that everything will look alright for critique. Wish me luck!

Helpful Tutorials

6/3/17 (Also forgot to push publish on this one too. DAMMIT.)

At this point in time, I can’t tell if I really hate or really love Photoshop. Following along with tutorials was WAY harder than I expected it to be. The main problem I keep running into is that Photoshop has updated and so certain controls and options that are in the tutorial have been relocated. Something that should take me 5 minutes to do takes like 20 instead because I’m playing hide ‘n seek within Photoshop trying to find out where the certain options are. UGH.

Double exposure has also been REALLY tricky. There are certain tutorials where I swear I’m doing everything right but my result will come out completely different. I’ve started over at least 5 times now. It makes me cry.

Luckily, as many times as I’ve failed, I’ve also succeeded once or twice. And it’s those few times that really count. So here are the tutorials that I have SUCCESSFULLY managed to keep up with:

 

Double Exposure Extra Credit (:

6/1/17

(I forgot to push the publish button on this one. Whoops!)

Here is the version that I made from following the tutorial.

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Head of a statue from the Harn Museum.
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Progress.
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Finished product of using the tutorial on my own work.

I know for certain that I want to utilize double exposure in my diptych. The hard part is figuring out which method of double exposure I want to use because there are so many different techniques out there. I decided to try this one because I thought it looked neat and the connotation of an ancient statue evaporating into thin air [ancient civilizations disappearing] is an interesting one. Ideally I’d like to do this to incorporate certain floral elements into the representation of nature. I might use a different version of this technique to seamlessly incorporate patterns and elements of artworks that I photographed at the Harn Museum into the representation of culture.

This tutorial was mainly hard because of the multiple steps and linked adjustment layers. Also, I think he had a slightly different version of Photoshop (either that or he neglected to mention some key little logistical things) so it took me way longer than just 15 minutes to complete the tutorial. I was getting a tad irritated because I had to re-watch certain parts so many times.

Progress

6/4/17

This was the progress that was made yesterday but I forgot to post it.

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Image trace in Illustrator on some petunia’s that I photographed.
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Putting the petunia’s inside Theo’s head.
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Collage of Theo as nature personified is finished. Color correcting still needs to be done.
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Now onto Hannah!
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Image trace of some pottery that I photographed at the Harn Museum.
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Hannah all nice and sliced up. Haha.
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More art from ancient civilizations placed inside Hannah.

 

6/5/17

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Nature and Culture (thoughts and research)

For the past few days, I’ve been frustrated. My original idea was to use a diptych to portray nature shaping culture. However, as I started my research things got difficult quickly. Whenever I Googled something along the lines of “nature vs. culture” I would get results that talked about human nature and culture rather than the outdoors kind of nature with plants and animals. So then I thought maybe if I specified by saying “climate change vs. culture” better results would pop up. But of course, the Internet trolled me a second time and decided to present me with articles regarding the difference between a culture and a climate of a workplace.

Google was starting to get punny with me. -_-

However, eventually I did find a useful article that was a good, informative read regarding the relationship between culture and nature…but man did it make my head hurt. It looks like I might actually end up talking about all 3 of my concepts at this rate.

In short, nature and culture are comparable to yin and yang. They are interlocked in a give and take relationship. Constantly in flux, they are both at war and peace with one another.

Culture is a convention that we humans created and therefor an illusion as it is inconsistent. It changes as we change. And because it is based on our ever changing whims, culture is a representation of freedom. Meanwhile, nature is a reality that is based on permanence, regularity, and stability (ex: the recurring seasons). Therefore it is predictable, constrained, and predetermined. But of course, these definitions are not rigid.

The reading goes on to describe more of nature and culture and can be found here: http://www.hypergeo.eu/spip.php?article354  (I’m not going to summarize any further otherwise this post will go on for like 5ever. Just read it for yourself, it’s worth it.)

So now I’m conflicted because I can’t speak in definite terms of the relationship between culture and nature–it’s too fluid. Certain aspects of the relationship are peaceful while others clash. At one point in time, humanity centered it’s religion and social practices around whatever nature threw at it. Today, nature conforms to humanity for the most part. We cut it down, we harness it, we cultivate it–all for our convenience and aesthetic wants. [Occasionally, nature will break out of its confines (ex: a large animal escaping the zoo or some kind of unwarranted natural disaster). ]

This leads to the question: “What allowed for the switch in nature and culture’s relationship?” At this point, I’m 99.999999% sure that it’s technology. Because of developments in science we came to discover new ways to conveniently complete tasks that once use to be difficult. We debunked myths and came to realize that the sun is a burning hot ball of plasma and gas and that sun gods have nothing to do with it.

As of right now, I’ve got some thoughts and ideas floating around in my head on how I want show this dynamic relationship…not quite sure I can articulate them yet. Might update again when I come up with something a little more solid.

Nature Ideas

1. Nature shapes culture.

The first thing that comes to mind are the tribal cultures that existed during colonial times. Because of their environment and their need for plants to flourish, traditions and cultures developed that placed nature at the center (ex: the Incans and Aztecs). Even today, there are still cultures that exist and differ from one another due to the different regions and varying temperatures of the planet.

2. Nature and civilization at war.

Honestly, whenever I stop to take a look at the buildings around me I feel terrible. I start thinking of the amount of trees and land that we’ve had to clear in order to create a city. I think of the animals that have been chased out of their homes for the sakes of our shopping centers and cookie cutter apartment complexes. Then I start thinking of all the species that we have driven to extinction through hunting.

3. Nature and civilization at peace.

On the same tokens though, there are still places in the world where nature and civilization coexist in peace. They are the less developed areas where people still live in villages. They don’t miss technology either. Then there are the places that are purposely designed to be eco friendly and create the least amount of damage possible for the environment while providing the human race with a place for recreation and living.

So yeah, those are my ideas for now. I think I’m most interested in number one.