Why do we travel? Where do we go and how do we get there? How do we document and remember the places we’ve been?
“Travel dislodges thoughts” argues the photographer Sharon Harper. Indeed when gazing at the images from her series Flight/Flug, a traveler is reminded of the vertiginous view from the window of a high speed train, the landscape blurred by velocity. The train’s movement is projected onto the rolling landscape in a reproduction of the sensation of movement, like staring out a window and letting one’s mind drift. Writing and representing travel and mobility are crucial mechanisms by which we situate ourselves within the world and are as old as the history of the written word. Furthermore narrating movement is tightly bound not only with public models of collective expression, such as nationality and class, but also with more private conceptions of identity and family. This course will reference a wide range of forms—the essay, the journal, the sketchbook, the map, the photograph, the human voice—through which an author represents the thoughts and sensations of mobility. We will also explore many different authorial subject positions such as: cartographer, pilgrim, explorer, fugitive, and tourist. In our study of these forms we will focus on two primary impulses: observation and creation. We will trace how traveling subjects observed and recorded the world as expressions of artistic representation, scientific discovery and comparative sociocultural analysis AND we will focus on the strategies and techniques, in particular the interchange between word and image, employed by authors and artists as we translate these familiar approaches into new digital Page 1 of 8 forms. Italy, and in particular Florence, will serve as the most immediate conceptual and physical context for investigation. We will thus be able to link the textual and visual material studied in the classroom with the world beyond the boundaries of the La Pietra campus.
A series of multimedia assignments will be proposed over the course of the semester, each of which explores a different approach to the Digital Sketchbook (audio recording, collage, descriptive writing, etc.).
Trip to Naples
Field trip to Franciscan Monastery of La Verna
Naples was one of the most prominent trips of my time here in Italy.
Naples is a city filled with life, art, and vibrant, and it felt incredible to be in the mix of it all.
Since arriving in Italy I noticed the differences in trash management and environmental action. Italy requires trash to be sorted and this strongly differs for the United States of America, where the president claims climate change is a hoax made up by the Chinese. Italians drink their coffee at the bar, saving paper and plastic on cliché New York City-style to-go cups, which are usually an additional fee.
Italy even charges for plastic grocery bags. With this cultural shift, I was inspired to begin reducing my waste, reusing what might seem like trash, and always recycling and sorting my trash properly, also because there’s an incredible fine if you do not. After being asked if I needed a bag, I either brought my own tote or began releasing I could just carry my purchase.
In fall I went to the Venice Biennale which is and I saw many artists using trash like objects.
Each exhibition has the same message ‘Humanism’…
“Humanism is neither focused on an artistic ideal to follow nor is it characterized by the celebration of mankind as beings who can dominate their surroundings. If anything, this humanism, through art, celebrates mankind’s ability to avoid being dominated by the powers governing world affairs. These powers, if left to their own devices, can greatly affect the human dimension, in a detrimental sense. In this type of humanism, the artistic act is contemporaneously an act of resistance, of liberation and of generosity.”
- Christine Macel.
This became significant in trying to understand what the artists were trying to evoke with each piece since contemporary is is heavy based on symbolism. My first impression was honestly slightly shocked about this, following the notion art is supposed to be something beautiful, however, the trash was able to tell stories and direct the viewer through a narrative. I was inspired specifically by a piece that is composed of trash hanging from the ceiling and surrounding a canopy type structure. My initial reaction to this was this piece of art was just trash. With further analysis, I began to understand each piece was trash the art had collected and there was a story being told from the pieces that composed the arch.
With this piece I became interested in trash as a way to document memories As a traveler, I started to notice much of the trash I was producing had memories of travels. Ticket stubs, maps of new cities, mint wrappers from cute waiters who after dinner took me and my friend out for drinks, so many memories concealed in these little objects we’d typically just throw out. I began storing these objects on pages on my notebooks. I would tape them in and continue my regular journaling, notes, or doodles. These trash pieces serviced as symbols which only I understood, a nod to the author if you will. This became a very symbolic ritual until the amount of trash inevitably became greater or larger than that I could tape in a notebook.
Once in Naples, a new world, I noticed the new trash culture. Naples has a dynamic where the city is completely covered in trash, also covered in memories and stories. Naples has a specific “spatial dramaturgy”. This is a term attributed to scenic designer Jason Ardizzone-West. He defines spatial dramaturgy as “Moments of storytelling in a particular space – the history of what happened in that space, who spent/spends time there, who built it, what damaged it, when it was made, why it was made, etc.”. With this idea, Naples was covered with the history of the space and who was there, with glimpses of portals to their lives, and activities based on what trash they left on the ground. This is why Naples is such an important symbol is the piece I have composed because it functions as a world in which the memory of trash is apparent. This world is then dramatized and becomes a scenic view of a city made out of trash. I choose Piazza del Plebiscito, due to its uniqueness, allowing it to be extremely recognizable. As I created this project I began to have nostalgic feelings about garbage which is an extremely strange notion. But each plane ticket, museum brochure, receipts, etc. was able to take me back to memories of the travels I have been able to have and the experiences. This piece serves as a symbol journal of my experiences and travels these past few months.
Another message this piece attempts to convey is how much trash we actually collect. This is composed of maybe half the trash I had saved after my travels. From February to May, saved these pieces in a box until I pulled them out to compile this piece. After dumping the container on the floor there was an eye-opening experience and realization of how much trash, myself as one individual actually produces when I was under the impression I was very cautious about the amount of waste I produced. With this piece, I wish to raise the question of how much waste as travelers are we actually producing, and with that challenge travelers to explore how they can reduce the amount of waste they actually prod
Course I took in Italy.