This photo is in black and white, which adds seriousness to the image, giving it a somewhat somber tone. When you look at the coloring of the photograph it doesn't look warm and comforting, it seems somewhat cold and uninviting. The artist also seems to use a lot of contrast between the black and the white, to grab your attention. The use of the lighter wall and white T-shirt on the child compared to the black figure makes it stand out much more. Also the curb on the bottom of the picture; painted white on the sides, and dark in the middle, draws the observer's attention to the middle of the photograph.
The use of the graffiti in the background helps give the observer an idea of the setting the picture was taken in. The aged wall with paint chipping and graffiti all over it implies that it is in an older, more run down neighborhood. Maybe implying that it is a part of town most people are scared to be in? The fact that the child is in fast motion also adds an element of fear, like he is running from something.
The large black figure also adds quite a bit of fear to the photo. With pointed ears like a bat, and the way the figure is positioned, as if hovering over the child. The black figure is superimposed on to the photo, giving it more significance; if the artist purposely put it in there, then it must have important meaning.
I believe the artist is trying to make a statement regarding the pressures and fears of today's youth. The dark figure with drugs and alcohol that the child is running away from, but can't because it is his own shadow.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
This photo brought a lot of ideas to my mind. At my initial glance, it made me think about the rising fears we are having about our children. It seems as though children aren't safe anywhere any more. Every time we turn on the news we hear about kidnappings, drive by shootings, molestations, and more. I mean, some of my friends are scared to let their kids play in the yard of their own house. We have all of these fears that the "boogie man" is going to come and hurt our children.
When I looked at the picture in further detail, a started to think about all the different pressures children are exposed to today. Besides normal pressures to do good in school, and to be a good person; now children have pressures in their own neighborhoods to join a gang, or drink and do drugs. It made me realize that there are a lot more negative pressures on children these days, even compared to when I was younger, which wasn't that long ago.
This realization started me on a deeper reflection of the photograph. With the dark figure seeming like the child's shadow, does this represent the child's future? With all of the negative pressures on children, it is likely that some may turn out to be the menacing figure in the photo. In thinking back on my initial reaction, does the fear that children get about their environment force them to join a gang to feel safer, or make them want to numb themselves with drugs and alcohol so they don't have to think about the fears.
The photo I chose from the Foley Gallery was done by Alexandre Orion. It is a black and white photo of a child running down a sidewalk. The child has on a white T-shirt and darker toned shorts. The child is also wearing white socks and black tennis shoes. You can tell the child is running fast because the child is slightly blurred in the photo.
The sidewalk the child is running on is grey. At the bottom of the photo you can see a curb, that is painted white on the right and left sides of the photo. In the background is a large wall that is light at the top and fades to dark as you move down the picture. The wall is tagged with graffiti that is of a few different colors. There are parts of the wall where the paint is chipping, making the wall look very old.
There is a large, black figure behind the child. It is an image that has been superimposed on the photograph. It has pointed ears and a gaping mouth. The figure has a wide body, and appears to be leaning over and yelling at the child. The figure has two arms; in one there appears to be an alcohol bottle, and in the other possibly a cigarette or joint. The child seems to be running from the figure, but on further inspection you can see that the figure is attached to the child. The legs of the figure travel down the wall, on to the sidewalk, and to the child's feet; as if it were the child's shadow.
Sunday, March 18, 2007
About 5 weeks ago I was sitting in my friend Elaine's living room, petting he pregnant dog, and waiting for her to get out of the shower. About 72 days earlier her black German Sheppard, Cloe, had gone into heat and mated with her Sable Sheppard, Bernard. Now she was huge, swollen with puppies, and going into labor. She was panting heavily, and couldn't seem to get comfortable. We got her into the whelping bed: it was a plastic kiddy pool with blankets and towels for padding.
Once Cloe got comfortable in the bed she started panting even harder, although it seemed to be a more controlled panting. Her tail started to lift up, and she stretched out her whole body, to help position the puppies for delivery. You could see her back and haunches start to contract. A milky gray sack emerged form her vagina. In three contractions a little puppy wrapped in the sack came out. Elaine first let Cloe break the embryonic sack around the puppy, and then picked him up, it's a boy, and suctioned out his mouth so he could start breathing. When Elaine put the puppy back in the bed, Cloe started cleaning him immediately. Despite the fact that he couldn't see or hear, and the fact that mom was licking him all over, he squirmed his way to her nipple and started feeding like crazy.
It was a long process; it took four hours for the first three pups to come out, then another two and a half hours for another two. Cloe seemed finished with labor, happy and feeding her new babies, so I went home. A few hours later I got a call from Elaine, about a half an hour after I left Cloe had another puppy that Elaine couldn't get breathing, even with mouth to mouth. She took Cloe to the vet, and she had another stillborn on the way. But the vet said that everything was fine, this was normal. With some animals, having stillborns is normal, that's way they produce so many young in one gestational period. That night I just laid in bed, not able to sleep. The event that I witnessed that day just kept playing over and over in my head. You may think I'm crazy, after all it's just puppies, but in seeing the puppies being born it brought a lot of thoughts to my mind.
To actually witness a live birth is an amazing reality check. Before all of this I was depressed due to money, stress, and other issues. When I watched the first puppy come out it reminded me of just how lucky I am to be alive and healthy. In this day in age material wealth is emphasized as such an important thing, that we lose track of just how lucky we are just to be able to breath. Life itself is one of the biggest miracles in the world. Every being on this earth started out as a single cell. From that one cell we grow into organisms that contain over 100 trillion cells. We create separate organs and organ systems to carry out the various functions of our bodies. We even grow our own brains, which are capable of things we don't even know about at this time. No matter what kind of animal it is, when you are in the presence of life it is awe inspiring.
In these times we are very technologically advanced. We have done things that were never thought possible. I believe some of these things are wonderful, and have helped millions of people keep their lives. But, with all of this new technology, we tend to forget how amazing and important certain things are. Not so long ago delivering a baby was a life or death situation. With how large a baby's head is, it was not uncommon for the child to get stuck, and both the baby and the mother died during delivery. Now with medical advances, the chances of the mother or the child dying have dropped dramatically. We can now monitor the child and mother, and if called for, induce labor and perform caesarian sections.
In applying all of these advances, we are producing more life, and we are sustaining life longer. Just a few decades ago the average life expectancy was only in the late 40's to early 50's. Now we have people living to be 114 years old. We are able to cut cancer out of our bodies, and give people new hearts. We have added an extra fifty years on to our lives, so now it seems as if that is expected. When Elaine told me that the death of the last two puppies was normal, it made me think of how we, as humans, would react. Because of all of our advances we expect life to be a given, it's not "normal" for a human to lose a baby in delivery anymore. I can't help but have conflict on whether this is good or bad. I mean it is great that not as many babies and mothers are dying, but are we losing the significance of the whole thing in doing so. Now that so many babies are able to survive, and the fact that people, in general, live longer, our world is becoming overpopulated. We don't even have the food to feed everyone on the planet anymore. More people on the planet means that more land is being developed, and less land can be used to grow and raise the food that all of us need to live. We are creating an imbalance in the world that sustains us, but it seems that the majority of people don't think about it in this way. We just keep going without thinking of what this means to the life of all things, including mankind. Do we have the respect of life that we should? I don't know if all of us do anymore.
I feel grateful to have been able to watch this miracle, not just in what I saw, but for what it awoke in me. I had lost something, and in watching those puppies emerge into the world, I got it back. We all can lose sight of the big picture, depending on the stresses we are having at the time, and that is why we get reminders. For me, new life can be joyous, and death can be heartbreaking, but I need them both to remind me of just how precious life is.
Sunday, March 4, 2007
Yesterday I took my friend to the Fish Den to get some new fish for her 55-gallon tank. One of the fish she got is one of the coolest fish I've seen. It is a rope fish, erpetoichthys calabaricus, a fresh water fish from Africa. It looks like a cross between an eel and a snake. My friend got a small one, it is probably a little under a foot. When she put him in the tank it was so cool to see him slither around everything. The way he curves his body is so fluid, it seems like he just goes where the current takes him.
When I got home I had to learn more about them, so of course, I went online. I went to Petfish and found out that these fish can get very big. Adults can reach 3 feet in length, and the minimum tank size is 55 gallons. Also they are carnivorous, you feed the blood worms, beef heart, or feeder fish. But they can also eat smaller fish in the tank, and snails and frogs. So you have to be careful what you put in with them.
I read that they are nocturnal, and liked to hide a lot, but when my friend put him in the tank, he went in and out of everything, and didn't seem to stay in one place for too long. My friend told me that's why she got him, out of all the types of eels and things in the store, this fish seemed to hide the least. In doing some research about rope fish, I found a comment site that states that they are very personable, and will swim in and out of your fingers when you put your hand in the tank to feed them.
I am determined to get one of these fish some day. I think they are so graceful in the water, I could watch them all day. it is a commitment though, the larger the tank the harder it is to clean and keep regulated. But if you like fish like I do, it is worth it.