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Everything posted by jfutral

  1. In light of today's political environment and contemporary ideas, I found this an interesting article. Still not sure what to think. I mean, I know what I think, but I don't know how to keep obvious work of an artist within a specific context of appreciating art, but not really appreciating the content. I wouldn't hang it in my house, but from an art history perspective I think it has its place. Does it have a place in a museum? https://medium.com/@yewtree2/balthus-sexualized-children-7af1feeed76b Joe
  2. jfutral

    Pornography & Culture

    And then there's this: http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2016/11/court-says-secretly-filming-nude-young-girls-in-bathroom-isnt-child-porn/ "I know porn when I see it". Well, apparently not always. [ETA] An actual quote from the article (not my associative quote above) "The court added that the video producer's 'subjective intent or purpose of sexual arousal or gratification' is immaterial." Joe
  3. jfutral

    The US Evangelical Vote

    As much as I try to avoid reductionism, I think it is as simple as more people hate Hillary than hate Trump. Additionally, more people hate Hillary more, than the people who hate Trump, and I think that includes others who normally vote Democrat. I don't think it had anything to do with candidate positions or policy or political correctness or other intellectualizations. How do you lose against Trump? How do you win if you are Hillary? I got nothin' to much say about the evangelical vote for Trump. Makes no sense to me. Either people are lying to us or lying to themselves. Either way, people are lying about something, and not just the candidates. Joe
  4. jfutral

    August Wilson dies

    Living in Atlanta and working with companies like Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre and also Jomandi in the old days, I've lit a number of his plays and worked a number of the August Wilson Monologue competitions. His works have always enthralled me. They are tough plays to direct well, much less act convincingly. I never met him, but I have worked with a couple of his protege's and others who knew him quite well. I don't know his thoughts on segregated theatre, but since I work with some of those "segregated" theatres my take is that they are important in the same way that "black lives matter" is more relevant than simply "all lives matter". There is a perspective and experience that, while universal in the underlying theme, is also uniquely black and wants to be addressed directly. I don't think it is possible to point to one heir apparent considering Wilson's far reaching influence. But Flight is an amazing work. Joe
  5. jfutral

    Christians and swearing on stage

    You mean adult themes, nudity, and sex like in the bible? What I have found to be true more often than not is that your work as an actor will exist within the context of your life. How you live your life beyond the role you play will be the anchor of your witness. Your life is what will lead non-believers to think of you as a hypocrite or not, not the words you say in a play. The only people I have found that would consider that you talk the talk but don't walk the walk are other Christians. If that is the witness you are concerned about, sure, okay, let your bio speak for you. Personally, with the few exceptions of those who understand what I do for a living, I don't much care what other Christians think. Joe
  6. Don't get me wrong. I don't actually think the influence is, in and of itself, bad or wrong. It is just largely unrecognized or denied, whether it is a Benthamite view of art (music in particular) or even just a poor understanding of art and culture overall. The problems of art in the Church are pretty much the same problems outside the Church. And, ironically, a lot of the problems the Church has outside the Church are the same problems of art, or at lest philosophically. Joe
  7. Not to drift off topic, or at least not too far, I was drawn to, at one time, and am sympathetic to Mako's Culture Care movement. But even with this I find a certain exclusiveness in the approach. The voices seem to have to be particular voices with a particular bent, almost click-ish. I can't put my finger on it. With regard to arts advocacy and culture, and maybe to the point of this discussion, I don't think the Church realizes how much we are influenced by culture at large, no matter how much we try to espouse "in the world, but not of it". Maybe both the Church and the non-Church are tired of the debates. I tried to read Nancy Pearcy's book, _Saving Leonardo_. So many presuppositions in a book denouncing contemporary presuppositions. Never once asked, much less answered, _why_ the shift from Christian presuppositions or even whether those presuppositions _should_ have been abandoned. Joe
  8. This certainly drove me from church. Joe
  9. I think you are conflating a couple of issues. First is time frames. How Lewis may be regarded, within Christian circles and without, now is not the same as in his lifetime. And truly may address the OP and the quoted writer's issues, as far as I'm concerned (complete with today's broadly accepted or contested presuppositions compared to Lewis's time). And writing overtly about Christian themes in just about any 20th century setting will always have political and career implications. But that doesn't mean he didn't speak to a broad audience, and that he wasn't heard and engaged, certainly on an intellectual basis, by his peers. His peers may not have agreed with him, may even have held his Christianity against him (particularly if they were atheists _with_ him), but he spoke and was heard by many, certainly more than just about any Christian intellectual today. So the question remains. Where are the Christian intellectuals of today and, if they exist why aren't they more broadly heard? I think Justin hit on a few key points.I think. Also, both broadly and probably especially within intellectual circles, with probably few exceptions (and I feel I am being generous here since I can't really think of any exceptions), Christians have lost integrity and the trust of those we may want to speak more directly to outside the Church. After all the 20th century intellectualism we may have tried to establish, we were constantly countered by how Christianity was exemplified, such that no matter how well we could logically and intellectually argue for Christianity, our actions regularly undermined our words. Why _should_ any one take us seriously? Why should we be heard by everybody? Joe
  10. I think Justin pretty much nailed it. I think you and likely Jacobs are trying to parse out differences that ultimately still all collide. How does one speak to everyone when everyone either isn't listening or just plain doesn't care? Which leaves only two possible points, why is everyone not listening and/or how exactly is one speaking to everyone that everyone should listen? I think both points exist in tension. On the one hand there really is a much broader group of speakers which in itself will create some sort of fragmentation. People can't listen to everyone, so they become selective regarding who gets their attention. Then as the speaker/writer, if you actually want to be heard you have to also listen to what people are listening to and decide are they hearing what you are actually saying, or, if not, how do you bring them around to what you are saying. how many Christian intellectuals have there been at any given time that everyone (or at least many people) listened to? Are we really that short of speakers now? Then, also, as the Christian Intellectual, why should anyone listen to you? Never mind if Christians can even be taken seriously any more when what we say does not equal what we do. Everyone could and would listen to Lewis because he earned the ability to be listened to. He wasn't insular, sure, but he had the chops to function in non-religious environments as well as religious. He paid his dues. He earned the respect of the non-religious intellectuals even when they disagreed with his Christianity. How many Christian intellectuals today can say this? I don't know or have those answers, just asking them to find out. Joe
  11. I interviewed one of my favourite artists around today a couple years ago, Suzy Schultz. Just thought I'd share it with you guys. Not sure why it never occurred to me until now. But there you go. She is a figurative painter at a time when abstract is pretty much the only thing selling. As much a fan of abstract that I am, I find her work extremely compelling. Hearing her words were equally so. She is talented and articulate. If you want to skip the interview, here is her site. Joe
  12. jfutral

    Pornography & Culture

    Another article to ponder. http://www.cnn.com/2016/07/15/health/porn-public-health-crisis/index.html Joe
  13. jfutral

    Pornography & Culture

    I'll start with my conclusion. What NBooth said. Of course I know what else Lewis said in the essay. I brought it up, not to support a position, but as another voice and perspective on what I think are the questions we choose to face, our choices in framing the discussion, when discussing pornography. Also, I think Lewis undermines his conclusions precisely on his process. He is both right and wrong. You don't have to see pornography when viewing pornography, no matter how difficult the laden intent in the work might make such an examination. Propaganda is not intrinsically bad art by nature of being first and foremost propaganda. (In a lot of ways the question of pornography gets caught up in much the same inadequate presuppositions as "why is Modern art so bad?" or the "Beauty is in crisis" fear mongers.) I am not saying the answer is that art or pornography is in the eye of the beholder so much as most answers, whether judicial, academic, or moral are actually based on "the eye of the beholder" when deconstructed, no matter how dressed up in intellectual reasoning. Lewis is proposing the same thing he decries as insufficient. And it is insufficient and incomplete. We keep asking the wrong questions. To me, after years of examining this question (and probably many more years yet to come), is how do we get past "eye of the beholder", either as justification or accusation? Lewis just shows to me greater minds than mine haven't come up with an adequate answer to that question. I appreciate you looking for the questions we may have missed. I do think about this quite a bit. Mostly because typical discussions seem more about power than sincere examinations about how we can better serve each other. Rather than "how do we control this evil?", the real question, imho, is "how do we love one another?" Isn't love the only real way to extinguish, prevent, or otherwise answer evil? Does pornography love God or my neighbour... or my spouse? Joe
  14. jfutral

    Is it ever too late?

    Well, it only took me 30 years, but I finally made it into an issue of Live Design (formerly Lighting Dimensions and Theatre Crafts and now only electronically published). The article isn't strictly about me. It covered several productions of the play _Red_, including the one I lit with scenic designer Lee Maples (also interviewed for the article) and director David Hendrick De Vries at Atlanta's Theatrical Outfit. The article is only available in the app (both iOS and Android) currently, but it is a free download and the article is currently available for free, too, but I don't know how long that will last. Supposedly it will be available on the website in a week. http://livedesignonline.com/business-people-news/eurovisionaries-take-over-live-design-june-issue The writer didn't get my comments exactly correct, even after correcting them, but close enough and who cares? Joe
  15. Not to throw more gas on the fire, but this happened here in Atlanta. Apparently, Satan made gays and transgender: http://www.cbs46.com/story/32263022/church-sign-reading-satan-made-gays-and-transgender-vandalized Joe
  16. jfutral

    Christians and swearing on stage

    Few things are as sad as watching a production of Avenue Q neutered because of actor inhibitions. Joe
  17. jfutral

    Christians and swearing on stage

    Sure. And that's all conceptually true enough. But the saying in theatre is "the play's the thing". If you as an actor have trouble saying the words the playwright has written, to me, that's a problem, even if everyone is willing to accommodate the actor for their discomfort. The problem is the (usually) young actor hasn't worked out the issue yet. If the actor has a problem saying something because they don't think the character would really say those words or as directed, that's a different discussion (if either the director or playwright is interested in the discussion). But if I am called to play a character that expresses profanity and I, personally, have a problem using profanity, saying "Oh, but its the character, not me, really" is not really working out the problem. This is not an out of body experience, those words will be coming out of my mouth, character or not. If that causes an actor problems they need to work it out. They have to be believable, authentic. One can undermine the role, if not the play, if the actor can't believably deliver the line. My point is actually not whether the actor or the character is "saying" the words. My point is, if saying those words causes issues, and as the actor you will be saying those words, work out the issues before taking on such a role. Or maybe as the process for working on the role, but work it out, and not at anyone else's expense except your own (and a good mentor or two). As the lighting designer who sat behind the tech table for 10/12 rehearsals only the have the rehearsal come to a screeching halt because of an actor in such a situation, it is not only disrespectful, it costs money. Joe
  18. jfutral

    Pornography & Culture

    Does the author actually think most or even some fraction of those people weren't really looking for pornographic media? Doesn't that mean people actually do recognize pornography? Or were they just reading the articles? Joe
  19. jfutral

    Pornography & Culture

    Yeah, I was trying to figure out how it fits into the discussion of pornography as well. Is all sex then pornography? The whole "social pressure" charge actually raises more questions than it answers. And I am hardly a student on DeSade, but from what little I know those are fairly reductionist representations of DeSade's ideas. I could be wrong, but I don't think so. Joe
  20. jfutral

    Christians and swearing on stage

    As someone who works in the performing arts, if you have a problem saying things the play's writer has written for a character you have no business playing that character. Even if the director/playwright/producer is willing to accommodate your issues, you should work those issues out and decide for yourself if you are comfortable saying those things. A character is not saying those words, you are. If you can't be authentic in the role, you disrespect the role, the play, and the audience. Work it out, preferably not at the performance's expense. But work it out all the same. Being an artist of any kind including a performer, is about bringing you to the table, even when performing a character. Joe
  21. jfutral

    Pornography & Culture

    Just as any endeavor that seeks out an audience, there are two human parts, right? The work's maker and the viewer. Both bring intent to the table, through the work. IMHO, to a very efficacious extent, the viewer is most important. In his essay "An Experiment on Criticism", C. S. Lewis writes "To one such spectator Tintoretto’s Three Graces may be merely an assistance in prurient imagination; he has used it as pornography. To another, it may be the starting-point for a meditation on Greek myth which, in its own right, is of value. It might conceivably, in its own different way, lead to something as good as the picture itself." On the maker's side (I just can't bring myself to call them "creators") pornography is a lot like propaganda, it is already laden with meaning and intent, and that, usually singular. But that intent can be undermined by the participant, although the participant is usually already given to the maker's intent. Either Egon Schiele or Gustav Klimt (or heck, maybe each) was often referred to as "The Pornographer of Vienna". (I originally heard it as referring to Klimt, but research shows more references to Schiele.) NBooth: While I usually find little with which to disagree in your comments, I do disagree with your ubiquity assessment. Unless your meaning is the _desire_ for pornographic stimulation is as ubiquitous today than in the past, there is a huge amount of material that is free of charge and more anonymously available than ever before, via the internet, which itself is more ubiquitous in terms of both availability and accessibility. I would take issue if someone tried to justify pornography because of ubiquity. And while I am in agreement with your position on people's private lives, at what point when something has a societal effect does it become more than private lives? I don't think pornography itself is quite so difficult to define, or at the very least to understand. I don't think the people who make porn have any doubts or gray areas about what they are making or what the viewer is looking for. What is hard is when to apply the definition societally, as what should communally be considered pornographic. That has been on a spectrum for as long as the cavemen scribbled a penis on the cave walls, I would imagine. So how is the work to ultimately be judged? By the maker's intent or the viewer's? I don't have an answer. Joe
  22. jfutral

    Christians and swearing on stage

    Hey! Welcome and hope you hang around! Glad you stumbled across us in this little corner. Ultimately, whether or not _you_ can or should accept this role is up to you. I mean, if this is something you and your family can handle personally and spiritually, we can't answer that for you. Philosophically and artistically, the kind of questions I ask are things like, what is the context, what is the narrative that it fits within? Does the sensuality make sense, does it further the story (either literally or emotionally), even if it is a more abstract work? Is it situational, a point of contrast, or more something to further define the character? Why does this sexuality exist in this play? Does it go too far? Not far enough? How well has the _director_ (not just the playwright) thought it through? How well will you think it through, as an actor as well as a mother and wife? One of the questions I always bring to a show I light, as I read the script, i always ask myself, why does this play exist? What is the justification to bring it to the stage? Why did the playwright write the work? Usually (the Modern reductionist I often find myself and minimalist I want to be) I can find one line or paragraph or scene in the play that puts the whole play into perspective for me. Maybe that thought process will help you come to your own conclusions about your potential role. The thing about pornography is it is already laden with intent and meaning. It is not part of larger idea, it is only what it is, nothing more. It may be redeemable, but that would take greater super powers than I have. Sexuality does not have to mean or equate to pornography, much less be a bad thing to portray. Just some thoughts, Joe
  23. An article that, to me, says not only is "Why is Modern Art so Bad" a bad question, it is the wrong question. As quoted by IAM: "Christians can recognize even the most seemingly profane of contemporary art as a kind of prayer, a venture on the possibility that someone, and Someone, will visit, observe, and respond with grace. But to hear this prayer, Christians need to recognize their own vulnerability and fragility rather than expecting art to affirm our piety and power." My quote: "I knew my students were tempted to retreat into abstractions like the Good, the True, and the Beautiful when we talked about art. But even apart from the temptation to turn artworks into illustrations of philosophical abstractions, why go all the way to MoMA—or any contemporary gallery? Much easier to use television shows and movies, easily accessible and far more popular. What could we learn, if anything, from these strange artifacts? My career as a scholar, educator, and curator of modern and contemporary art has been animated by the belief that “all things” are made in and through Christ, as the apostle Paul says in Colossians. Is it possible that “all things” includes not only Renaissance altarpieces but also plaster sinks?" Joe
  24. jfutral

    Matisse Introduction

    Went to MOMA yesterday to see this. I had no idea he designed stained glass windows. And I had no idea he worked in such large scale with his cutouts. One was easily 20'w x 10 or 12' h. Just stunning. If you don't want to buy any books (just in case), might I suggest a bit of old school library browsing? Hard to beat. Joe