Art Techniques – A Glimpse

Today’s prompt reminded me of an assignment I had submitted while pursuing an art  course at the Pennsylvania State University. While I prefer keeping this blog light-hearted and avoid technical posts, I thought of sharing this one creation. We had different submissions every week which were peer reviewed. Students were provided a theme and purpose, for which we had to create an art work along with the artist’s statement and a brief description. This was one of our weekly assignments and my submission for the same.

Theme: Stories Through The Lens

Purpose: Create a collage medium of a black & white photograph from small pieces of newsprint.

Artist statement:
“Puppy Love”

This is a picture of my dog, Razor. Razor was the youngest of my three dogs, and the baby of the family. This picture was taken when she was seven years old, and clearly shows her love for her (and our) food. She would look at us eating as if food was the most important thing in the world that she was being deprived of.

The photograph has a curtain on one side of Razor’s head, and the wall and floor on the other. The collage was created from black and white newspaper shreds. The curtain and wall have lighter values, compared to the floor. The curtain is printed, so pieces of alternating values have been overlapped. Razor’s fur is darker on her muzzle and ears, compared to the top of her head. The fur on the body is even lighter. So I’ve used bits of newspaper accordingly. The features have been highlighted with darker shades of paper.

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We had to submit the original photograph along with the art work created. This was what I had come up with. 🙂

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When Your Mouth Isn’t Doing The Talking…

Danny Danziger and Mark McCrum came out with a book in 2009 titled “The Whatchamacallit” – a fun and witty compilation of “everyday objects you just can’t name, and things you think you know about but don’t. ”  According to the author duo, the beginning of wisdom is to call things by their right names. In continuation with our effort to add to one’s ever expanding vocabulary in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, MNL from Cactus Haiku has prompted us with borborygmus as the word for the day.

Borborygmus can be described as a stomach rumble or peristaltic sound, also referred to as ‘bubble gut‘ due to the rumbling, growling or gurgling noises produced by the movement of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract as they are propelled through the small intestine by a series of muscle contractions known as ‘peristalsis‘. The rumbles and grumbles are produced in the stomach as fluid and gas move forward in the intestines. The scientific name ‘borborygmus‘ is derived from the 16th century French word ‘borborygme‘, which in turn was related to the ancient Greek  βορβορυγμός (borborygmós – which the Greeks coined onomatopoetically).

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Incomplete digestion of food can lead to excess gas in the intestine. Hunger can also trigger peristalsis through the ‘migrating motor complex‘. After the stomach has emptied, it signals the brain to restart peristalsis via the digestive muscles. The rumblings can also be caused when air is swallowed if one is sipping beverages through a straw, or constantly talking while eating.

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As a marathon runner, borborygmus is something we often deal with. The medical terminology makes it sound a lot more threatening than it actually is, but something as innocuous as sipping an energy drink through the straw of a tetrapack while in the middle of a run can trigger fluid and gas movement, creating rumbles. If one’s meals and races or training sessions are not timed properly, it can cause discomfort while running. An athlete is often advised to not try anything new on race day – whether the pre-race meals, energy aids during the race, or nutrient replacements post the event, one should consume foods the digestive system is accustomed to. Any sort of experimentation can be left for training days.

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A variation of the word has been found in literature, used to describe noise in general. ‘Borborygmic’ featured in Vladimir Nabokov’s “Ada” where noisy plumbing was referred to as “waterpipes seized with borborygmic convulsions”. In “A Long way Down” Elizabeth Fenwick described a room as being “very quiet, except for it’s borborygmic old radiator”. Graham Greene’s “Alas, Poor Maling” was a short story featuring a character who found “irritating noises taking the shape of borborygmus”.

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Have you ever wondered what your body is trying to communicate with you? Maybe you will pay closer attention to all those creaks and groans from now on. Aside of the noises inside, do you think you could identify some borborygmic sounds in the vicinity? Now you know the word for them!

Footsteps To Follow

Guru Purnima is celebrated today. An eastern spiritual tradition dedicated to teachers (or gurus) – considered as enlightened human beings who share their knowledge and wisdom with others. The occasion is often considered a festival, traditionally observed to revere an individual’s chosen mentors and to express one’s gratitude.

Guru Purnima is observed on a full moon day (purnima) in the month of Ashadha (June-July) as per the Hindu calendar – the day on which Maharshi Sri Veda Vyasa was born. Hence, the day is also known as “Vyasa Purnima“. Vyasa was the one who completed the codification of the four vedas and wrote the eighteen puranas. The day marks the peak of the lunar cycle after the end of the solar cycle. Hence, the specific date varies every year. The Guru Purnima of 2018 is special due to the occurrence of the total lunar eclipse or the blood moon. Hindus refrain from performing any puja or ceremony on the day of the lunar eclipse, since no auspicious practices are undertaken during the period of the eclipse. For this reason, my dance class has scheduled the Guru Purnima ceremony for tomorrow, and my drumming school will be celebrating the occasion on Monday.

I don’t follow the rituals much since I don’t consider myself a religious person, but I try and participate in the activities. My dance form is the Indian classical style of Odissi. On Guru Purnima, our ghunghroos or ankle bells are blessed by the teacher, an offertory of fruits and flowers is made to the gods (Lord Jagannath in the case of Odissi), and the guru ties a cord on the wrist of every student, symbolic of his/her blessings. The student in turn delivers Guru Dakshina – the tradition of repaying a teacher for everything one has learnt in the course of the year. This could be monetary or non-monetary – in a dance class, students can even offer a dance performance as guru dakshina. In my drumming school, students play various percussion instruments as guru dakshina, and homage is paid to the founder of the institute. I play the doumbek, but students can select from an array of instruments – from the djembe to the tabla, the timpani, bongo or the drum kit. Thus, the ceremonies vary depending on what the teacher deems fit for his/her school and students.

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All set for tomorrow.

Wander Where The WiFi Is Weak

Years ago, while I was studying French at L’Alliance Française, our instructor would give us sheets of lyrics for singing along to music she would play in class. This activity began just as soon as the course did, so in the early days of learning we obviously had no idea what we were singing. We would enthusiastically join in for the chorus, and mumble something for the verses. Gradually as our vocabulary improved, we had some inkling of the meaning of the songs. Students would receive a new song sheet every other day, and our teacher also gave out the CD containing the songs to be circulated among the class. Some of the songs we learnt in the lessons, but there were many others in the CD that she asked us to listen to at home – in an attempt to pick out words without looking at lyrics.

Music is a great accompaniment to learning a new language. In the early stages of learning, one tends to think in their native tongue, translate mentally, and then produce the new language – resulting in a staccato effect while speaking. Singing songs early on lends fluidity to speech later – helping the brain to string all those words. And listening to songs assists in picking up words and understanding verses – again helping the brain to perceive what is being said when one does engage in conversation.

I still remember many of the songs we sang all those years ago. One which particularly stands out is ‘Voyage Voyage’ by Desireless – a beautiful number about travelling the world. Literally translated to ‘Travel Travel‘, the lyrics encourage eternal travel to beautiful, wonderful, breathtaking places and sacred destinations around the world. Written by Dominique Albert Dubois and Jean-Michel Rivat, and recorded by Claudie Fritsch-Mentrop who went by the stage name ‘Desireless’ and released it in 1986 as the first single from her album ‘François‘, the song became a huge hit all over the globe. Despite being sung entirely in French, it broke through language barriers on music charts and featured in the top slots internationally between 1986 and 1988. (Ironically it missed the number one spot in France, peaking at second position for four weeks, behind Elsa Lunghini’s ‘T’en Vas Pas‘.) The music video was directed by Bettima Rheims, and premiered in France in December 1986.

Mexican band ‘Magneto’ created a Spanish version in 1991 titled ‘Vuela Vuela‘, and Belgian singer Kate Ryan released a cover version in her 2008 album ‘Free’. Here are the lyrics to the original French song. Sing (and maybe dance) along! And get inspired to plan out your next trip. (I’m unable to get the video to play on this page. Click the link below for a video of the song.)

A translation for non-French speakers:
Above the ancient volcanoes
Slide your wings under the carpet of the wind
Travel, travel – eternally
Of clouds in swamps
Of wind in Spain in the rain from Ecuador
Travel, travel,  – fly to the highest heights
Above the capitals, fatal ideas
Look at the ocean
~Chorus~
Travel, travel – further than the night and the day
Travel – in spaces unheard of by love
Travel, travel – on the sacred waters of an Indian river
Travel – and never return
On the Ganges or the Amazon
At the houses of people of all races (the Blacks, the Sikhs, the Yellows)
Travel, travel – throughout the land
On the dunes of the Sahara
From the island of Fiji to Fujiyama
Travel, travel – do not stop
Above barbed wires, with hearts bombarded
Look at the ocean
~Chorus~
Above the capitals, the fatal ideas
Look at the ocean
~Chorus~
From popular destinations to nondescript places, travel to connect with others or to connect with yourself. Go with all your heart and teeter into the unknown.
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