Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I finished finals yesterday. My Grammar exam was about what I expected, and I think I did pretty well. My German Cinema exam was a little more challenging than I anticipated, but I think I did okay, if not as well as I would have liked. Now that Fall term is over I can focus my full attention on freaking out about what I should be doing for the next 6 terms.

I'm still debating a double major/minor. I registered for a third year German class, thinking that I wanted to do a minor in German. This would require 6 more courses including the one I am registered for, and would not postpone my graduation date as long as I don't take off a term from my Journalism major to study abroad. However, the language immersion program in Tuebingen is awfully tempting. It's something that I would really like to do and think would be a valuable experience, but I think it would be wiser to finish my bachelor's degree as quickly as possible and go on with foreign language some time in the future. I also fear 3rd year German grammar would have a detrimental effect on my GPA.

I think I am going to declare an Art minor because I already have a ton of art credits, and I think I would only need to take three more studio classes, which I think I could do pretty easily over the summer. I plan to look into how much more I would need for a major. If it won't interfere with my graduation plan I will probably do it.

I am also looking into the Film Certificate offered by the English department. I think that my Electronic Media and Art courses would fulfill most of the requirements, and I would only need two additional courses, but I need to check with an adviser.

I'm feeling a little overwhelmed by all the possibilities. I have so many options and am not sure how to predict what will be most beneficial to me in the future. What I am feeling is well-expressed in a recent episode of WNYC's Radiolab entitled Choice.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Walter Benjamin, Marshall McLuhan, and Technology

I am at the library (open 24 hours, much to my liking) finishing up a paper on montage in German Expressionist film and Walter Benjamin's essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction for my German Cinema class.

In the piece Benjamin argues that technology redefined art:

"The nineteenth-century dispute as to the artistic value of painting versus photography today seems devious and confused. This does not diminish its importance, however; if anything, it underlines it. The dispute was in fact the symptom of a historical transformation the universal impact of which was not realized by either of the rivals. When the age of mechanical reproduction separated art from its basis in cult, the semblance of its autonomy disappeared forever. The resulting change in the function of art transcended the perspective of the century; for a long time it even escaped that of the twentieth century, which experienced the development of the film.

Earlier much futile thought had been devoted to the question of whether photography is an art. The primary question—whether the very invention of photography had not transformed the entire nature of art—was not raised. Soon the film theoreticians asked the same ill-considered question with regard to the film. But the difficulties which photography caused traditional aesthetics were mere child’s play as compared to those raised by the film."

Discussing this section in my paper, I couldn't help thinking of a Marshall McLuhan quote that Rick Seifert, one of my Journalism teachers at PCC, often repeated: "the medium is the message."