The impact of images, in terms of portrying pain, is rather significant in our society. The importance of displays is the conotative meaning they carry. They offer the opportunity for the viewer to interpret the pain and the message being conveyed.
One artist that really made an impact on me was Tracey Emin. Overall her work was really exquisite. Her blanket type tapestries were very detailed and percise. Most importantly, beyond the construction of her works, was the message she was sending. I loved her work because she said what women were afraid to say. Through her work she exposed her feelings for the world to see and created something which will leave a piece of her behind forever.
"Mad Tracey" touched upon many women's issues revolving around women's sexuality. After being raped at the age of 13, Tracey has every right to call herself "Mad Tracey". I like her persective of sex as an adventure and an escape. Power to her for playing the game and turning her sexual life into works which make her rich both socially and economically.
Similarly, Sue Williams touched upon women's issues through her doodles. I feel that these convey more of the pain she must have experianced in her life. Where Emin seems to be pleased with her sexuality and seems to desire sex, Williams seems hesitant and upset based on her experiances.
I found it very amazing to know that the photographer who shot the famous "Napalm Girl" took the subjects in the photo to a hospital after the photo. It takes alot for a photographer to cross the boundary of his lens, a world apart from reality.
One thing which cannot go unmentioned is the artists which chose to inflict pain on themselves as a form of display and call it art. If they say it is art and they have an audience, then surely it must be art.
This brings me to the ultimate question within this whole discussion: WHAT IS ART? I believe there is a clear line between art and display, although both gather audiences. How authentic artists' work is will remain something unknown to the viewer.
I encourage the pushing of limits. Pain is a source for artists to investigate and challenge. All of this may prove the power of people. However I have to wonder if witnessing the artistic act of getting shot in the arm desensitizes us more than the real images on TV? There was a person in the same room as the viewer, who voluntarily took a shot in the arm or cut their body. More importantly, there were people in the room who voluntarily watched this event. What does that say about our society? Perhaps we are all masochists.
Dr. Highberg posed the question of which was the most beautiful image we witnessed within the lecture. My personal favorite area was Larry Clark's work with crystal meth. "Once the needle goes in, it never comes out", he said. I think the most powerful image was the pregnant woman shooting meth. Was it beautiful? Well that is just another level of dementia. We cannot call this beautiful. This is supposed to be art, but in front of the camera lens is a real subject shooting meth while carrying a life.
Pictures documenting actual painful events can never be beautiful for the sole fact that the viewer has no right to look at the event, stripped of its raw power. We see a still image of a pregnant woman with a needle of her arm. We do not see the ugly, disturbing, and raw events which follow. We see the baby in its coffin which is another grim, yet dressed up, portrayl of what took place between the last photograph and the outcome.
The worst part about the picture of the pregnant woman shooting meth is the fact that the fetus inside her never got a chance because her desire and addiction took that away from it. This photograph's purpose is not beauty, but recording. This is an event recorded in history. It has the power to make us feel, like any image of pain. This is an image portraying the hidden pain, dispair, and lost chances - it has more than done its job.