Created for the Meaning, Information, and Technology class at the University of Colorado Boulder taught by Chris Carruth.
I like to do little projects that poke fun at the way people do things, and this poke fun at our relationship with technology and each other. I remixed the Norman Rockwell painting Freedom from Want. Given the number of people we had for thanksgiving, we were not able to recreate in quite as an accurate way as desired, but hopefully the message is communicated regardless. In the original, a multigenerational family is gathered around a simple table serving a delicious looking turkey, where as in the remix, there are laptops where food should go and chargers being served as food by a matriarch couple, everyone engaged with their screens or other distractions (alcohol)… including the dog. This is commentary on our relationship with each other and technology. Luckily, this was completely posed and not another device was seen the rest of the evening. It is titled Want.
I felt that the painting remix was an appropriate way do this project, especially during the time at which is was assigned. I feel uncomfortable calling it appropriating, because the definition of appropriate is “the action of taking something for someones own use, typically without the owners permission,” and I am not taking anything, I recreated based on my own idea, using the epic memory we have of the original painting to inform he idea, but without calling it mine or manipulating the message of the original. This an example most of syncretism rather than appropriation.
This counts at an appropriate remix for this project, because while I only used one source material, I used outside material and a new method of capture. Instead of paint, I used a camera. It adds another lay to the remix because I used a camera, and I did so intentionally. Also because I cannot paint. The camera represents a new item to serve a similar, but not identical purpose as a brush and paints; to capture a moment.
The Norman Rockwell is one of the quintessential American painters who captured moments of the American life to exhibit the American spirit. Because of this, he and his work is cemented in our minds the creator and representations (respectively) of the good ol’ American life or the American dream. To be successful enough and lucky enough to be sitting around enjoying a rich meal to celebrate thankfulness with family was a marker of success in ones life. Now I would argue that many people have forgotten the sense of community and family that the foundations of the Thanksgiving holiday depicted are celebrating.
I encountered no moral issued, although the project evolved to be more edgy as we went on. My initial idea was to simply recreate the painting in as true as we were able to, but we had a few artist in the group and we pushed the idea a little further, ending up with a much more of a ‘commentary on the modern condition’ than a recreation to illustrate both positive and negative changes. I really enjoyed working with the other people, all but two of whom I did not know before Thanksgiving. Coming up with the idea was the most challenging aspect, but once it arose became the perfect thing for me to do.