Fragonard painted with his buttocks, Renoir with his maleness

Last week during the Museum Volunteer training session each of us were given a copy of “The Annotated Mona Lisa“. It a comprehensive, compact, easy-to-read book (no academic arty farty terminologies) – which I’ve been reading day in – day out. I really think I need to catch up on my art, especially in this training period, as I’ve abandoned almost any (visual) art related activity and readings the moment I stepped into Engineering School. Then I got distracted by the textbooks and gathering enough ECA points and all the other things that preoccupies a Singapore university student. Luckily we got heaps of art books at home that I flipped through diligently when I was back in Jakarta, but I can’t remember most of the stuff I read, although some did stick in my head and all the artists’ names sounds just so familiar. I would say this Museum Volunteer thing is a really good opportunity to revisit my interest in art (it was never gone in the first place, but it did diminish) and also I’ll be surrounded by people who are also genuinely interested in art (environment). It’s like being married to a woman, then moving out to live with the girlfriend, and then after a few years rekindling the romance with the wife. You can feel the joy of reminiscing memories and the novelty of another newfound romance.

Anyway, back to the Mona Lisa book – I’ve been reading it day in and day out, on my way to the office, during my solitary lunch hours, on my way back from work, as a bed time reading. And this morning I was waken up by names of random Italian artists swimming around in my head. And I tried to fall back to sleep but all I could think about was who these people were and what they painted! This is becoming an obsession. And I still have a binder of excerpts to read. And I need to do a writeup on Jacques Lipchitz, the cubist sculptor. Went to the central library to look up books on him, but apparently most books on Cubism explore paintings almost exclusively. Found a few books written about his work, too. But I need some explanations on a specific, preferrably representative, artwork. Guess I’ll have to spend some time this weekend squatting in the library. *hooray for studying!* I so miss my studying days.

I chatted with a visiting professor during lunch yesterday. He teaches Music Technology in Australia and he’s into experimental music. He’s also created an interesting performance that uses Bluetooth enabled phones (16 of them, swung around the head of students) as instruments. So he mentioned that he got his degree in Music, and reality struck him – he couldn’t make money out of music! At least not decent enough money. So he became an engineer instead. The new occupation had better capability of paying the bills. But it got interesting that now he’s exploring technology (engineering) to create music. So I asked him if people ever wondered what the point of swinging phones was, after a performance. He told me he’d simply reply, “Why are you still here, then?”. But to avoid people who grumble about “what’s the point?” he’d prepared a slide that lists the reasons:

  • It’s easier than swinging those huge loud speakers around
  • *something I can’t quite recall*
  • It gives a spatial sense of sound without the need of fancy DSP
  • It’s fun!
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