Expression and Opinion Through Art

Grunge includes elements of low, hidden, earthly, dark, material, immanent visceral (Zeiner).

Additionally, Seattle can be considered as grunge due to the noise, style, people are into rock n roll, rain, musty garages (1991)

In regards to the art in this section, there are definitely similarities between the work of Kurt Cobain and that of Cindy Sherman and Sue William.

For example, in Ms. Zeiner’s video about Kurt Cobain, I noticed that Cobain had works which showed his fascination with the female reproductive systems, illness, and disfigured human beings. Images related to this appeared in album covers, his photography album, and more of his art. Exemplified below are images from his album, In Utero

Image result for kurt cobain in utero album  Image result for kurt cobain in utero album

Similarly, Cindy Sherman used grotesque images within her art, mainly photography. Sherman is a respected photographer from the 20th century. She first began interest in painting, though she later realized her greater passion for photography. Sherman had yikesmultiple styles and depictions throughout her career as a photographer. In 1992, one of her styles was more sexual; her series of photographs at this time was titled “sex pictures,” which included photograph of dolls and prosthetic body parts usually in “highly sexual poses,” which contained “prosthetic genitalia – both male and female – often used in extreme close-up” (CindySherman.com). This was somewhat similar to Cobain’s artistic form in that there were sexual aspects of the human body; Cobain, for example, used the female reproductive system in some of his works while Sherman included male and female genitalia in her work.

Image result for sue williams art

The work of Sue Williams was also similar to that of Kurt Cobain, though in a different light. Williams is an artist from the 20th century who had works which depicted her own thoughts of “sexism and the position of women in society” (Smith, NY Times). Williams had strong feelings about this topic, which were depicted within her work. Sadly, Williams herself had been in violent, abusive relationships, and this artwork seemed like it was her way to express her built up resentments from within.

Image result for kurt cobain dragThough Cobain did not have directly the same type of artwork, there are some underlying elements which are similar. It seems that both the work of William and Cobain had principles of going against society’s gender norms. While Williams depicted her strong opinions of sexism, “Cobain dragged his performances and left masculine identity behind, showing his disdain for hegemonic masculinity” (Zeiner).

 

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Progression of Nine Inch Nails

Earlier work of the Nine Inch Nails, compared to the group’s later works, was more experimentation heavy. However, as they progressed in their music career, the works of Nine Inch Nails became more electronic music heavy. For example, from their first album released in 1989, “Pretty Hate Machine” is a song titled “The Only Time”. Then in one of their most recent albums is “Hesitation Marks” is a song titled “While I’m Still Here”. After comparing these two songs, I can definitely see that the songs contain elements of both electronic music and experimentation as Woods had explained. However, it seems that over time this industrial music group has shifted to more of a electronic music heavy style. In fact, the song mentioned in from their recent album, “While I’m Still Here,” has some elements similar to “Wall Fuck,” a song by an electronic dance music (EDM) artist, Flume.

Despite the slight shift of style for Nine Inch Nails, I think they could still be considered as industrial. As I had mentioned in a previous discussion, music genres often change over time. For example, what is now considered as pop 30 years ago is much different from what pop is considered now. This being said, this could definitely apply to industrial music; the genre could have been defined as electronic music and experimentation in the past, but could have changed over time. Thus, making Nine Inch Nails a group which is still in the scope of Industrial Music. On the other hand, because I do not listen to industrial music, I could be completely wrong. However, I still stay strong to the idea that the definition of certain music genres can be fluid and thus change over time.

Popularized Vogue

paris-is-burning-1000x500Paris is Burning is a documentary which depicts the ball culture of New York City in the 1980s, and brought up topics of race, class, gender and sexuality in America. Within these balls, people would have competitions by walking, performing, vogueing, etc. down a runway. It was considered almost like a fashion show, with its extravagant outfits, different categories, judges, and a crowd which praises those walking down the runway. Drag was also an aspect of this film which allowed people to express themselves in any they want, and included a range of people from the LGBTQ+ community, including gay men, butch queens, transgender men and women, and more.

I had actually watched this film my freshman year in the class Dance 181, so it was cool to get a refresher of the film. Overall I think it’s interesting to dive into this culture that it is not very well known in popular culture. Though, it has gained popularity, especially now that overall the U.S. has become more accepting of the LGBTQ+ community. Drag queen shows have become more prevalent across the nation, and there is even an annual drag queen show at SDSU. I went to one myself one semester and it’s super fun to watch! The crowd also gets really hyped, cheering for the people that are performing. vogue

 Though there has been this increase of awareness and popularity of vogue, along with drag queen shows and things of the sort, I would not say that this is in popular culture. I personally have not seen this type of dance popularized in the media, at least not in its original form. To further explain, this is similar to the popularized disco scene which Lawrence describes in his article. Disco was made popular from the film Saturday Night Fever, but by doing so its origins were partly stripped away to fit the mold of “the suburban market, or the Middle American Market” in the sense that disco was “reframed as the popular site for patriarchal masculinity and heterosexual courtship” (Lawrence, 241). This was very similar to how Vogue became popular and changed, because popular artists such as Madonna with her hit song “Vogue” brought more attention to the dance style, while also molding it into popular American culture.

Powerful & Controversial

A young n*gga got it bad ’cause I’m brown.

And not the other color, so police think they have the authority

To kill a minority

One scene particularly that depicts the social commentary of the movie is the scene in which the N.W.A performs the song “F*ck Tha Police” after a Detroit police officer had told them not to do so. The group proceeded to play the song, while doing so riling up everyone at the concert, getting them to sing along to the powerful lyrics. Towards the end of the song, the police officers, which were all over the concert, were furious and began to fire shots to warn them and prompt the crowd to disperse. The police then later had chased them outside, trapped them, and locked them up in jail. At the same time, the crowd turned into a riot against the police.

The song itself has been deemed as controversial as the lyrics contain profanity and violent connotations. Therefore, when it came to the time of the concert, the police had told them to not play it as it prompted violence against law enforcement. The N.W.A. nodded and agreed, yet they all looked at each other knowing that they would perform it regardless.

Additionally, the song may have been seen as controversial, though the reason that it was written in the first place is that the N.W.A had been harassed because of their race. The group was aware of the violence towards other African Americans, therefore they made this song as part of their first amendment right to free speech, depicting the unfair harassment that themselves and others have had to go through because of the police at the time.

 

Trapped – Tupac

They got me trapped, can barely walk the city street

Without a cop harassing me, searching me then asking my identity

Hands up, throw me up against the wall, didn’t do a thing at all

I’m telling you one day these suckers gotta fall

Cuffed up throw me on the concrete

Tupac is a hip hop artist who was strong, head-hard, and passionate, especially towards his opinions about racial tensions and police brutality. This is especially true in one of his songs titled Trapped, which was part of his first released album in 1991, titled 2Pacalypse Now. Below the Youtube link are part of the lyrics that depict this well.

In fact, rappers like Tupac wrote songs like this in order to bring to light within the community about issues that people can stand against together, and by doing so become more powerful. According to the article titled “Seeds and Legacies: Tapping the Potential in Hip Hop,” author Gwendolyn D. Pough describes hip hop as a “state of mind; a way of living and being that expands further then what kind of music one listens to” (Pough, 284). Pough also later describes hip-hop as having an effect on youth for social change (284).

I mostly agree with Pough’s stance on hip hop having an effect on youth for social change, though I see that more recently that some hip hop and rap songs seem to have different connotations, songs that are not about empowerment and bringing issues to light, but rather about sex, drugs, and money. For example, Bartier Cardi – Cardi B, which is a song that contains the topics aforementioned. Of course this is not always the case with all current rap, and one also has to consider that we do not have much control over what becomes “popular” rap music. That being said, there may be more songs out there that still have powerful messages, though they are just not “mainstream”.

Resources:

Pough D. Gwendolyn, “Seeds and Legacies: Tapping the Potential of Hip-Hop”

Fluidity in Music Genres

Though people can make generalizations about punk when first hearing the term, there is not necessarily a straightforward definition as it is constantly changing.

In fact, I would argue that any type of music genre is constantly changing. One example is the recently changing pop music. Pop music is ever changing, as it shaped by what is popular at the time. Currently, pop music is interestingly enough characterized to similar sounds/tones as electronic dance music. Zedd is a perfect example of this, as he has had multiple songs that are considered as pop-EDM. All this being said, all music genres seem to be continuing to develop and change. Though there are more “original” forms of music genres, new ideas are always out there to change things up a bit.

In regards to punk and my own interpretation of the term, I think of punk as having an “emo vibe” to it. I also have this perception that it is a middle ground between rock and screamo music. Rock is more mainstream and gained popularity over the decades and has beats, rhythms, and lyrics that people can dance and sing along to. On the other hand, “screamo” music is not as main stream and seems to have aggressive, darker tones to the music, making it harder for people to sing along to. 

There is however an argument that I seem to agree with from the article: punk rock is not the same as rock n’ roll as punk rock has more emotion in its music (Kvaran, 68)

One of the punk rock bands mentioned, The Dictators have songs that seem to have quite a bit of emotion and meaning. Despite the song having an upbeat rhythm to it, the lyrics have differing undertones.

I stare into the TV screen but every face reminds me of a girl. I never used to be so mean but I can’t bear to face my shattered world, you just ain’t fair to this romeo. I fell apart when I watched you go Baby, baby, baby

 

Rave Culture: Soul Searching

Without a care in the world, escaping reality, dancing with friends, screaming on the top of your lungs, staring at awe at mesmerizing light shows, feeling happy and loved: what could be better than this? Raves and the culture surrounding them, has merged into American Culture for teenagers and young adults to participate in this thrilling experience. Though the culture has changed from its first emergence in the 1980s, there are still some aspects of the culture that are still seen today in the 21st century rave scene. Rave culture, specifically within the genre of psychedelic trance genre, has a spiritual sense to it because of the physical area/venue, the music, and the euphoria people experience while on substances, specifically those with MDMA, allowing attendees to escape and look beyond present reality.

Before diving into rave culture, it is essential to know what electronic dance music (EDM) is. EDM essentially is a broad umbrella term which encompasses a wide variety of sub-genres, including disco, electro, house, trance, and much more. Additionally, this type of music generally has a electronic and upbeat vibe, and usually builds up to a drop. The aforementioned subgenres have their own unique styles, though one may not notice the distinct differences on their first listen. To demonstrate the different types, but not all, of electronic music, refer to this video.

At 2:46 in the video above, trance is introduced, which is a unique subgenre that has gained popularity over the last couple decades. Trance can be broken up again into other genres, among them being psychedelic trance, progressive trance, dream trance, vocal trance, hard trance, and more. The term “trance” itself is defined as “a half-conscious state, seemingly between sleeping and waking, in which ability to function voluntarily may be suspended” (Dictionary.com). This dictionary definition, from the perspective of a rave attendee, would say that this type of rave music allows people to be in a different state of present mind in which they are not fully in the moment. It is almost as if these people feel as they are in a spiritual state. Though the meaning of spirituality can have different meanings, especially in the twenty-first century, I see spirituality as a means of one’s inner self to connect to and make sense of the world around them.

In the flyers pictured above, there is reminisce of spirituality within them. For one, in the flyer to the left for the B-Hive Reggae Jam, in blocked colorful letters, reads “Massive Irie Beats for Ya Soul”. This implies that the music offered at this event will help people connect to their inner self, to their soul, which is essential for spirituality. Even more indicative of spirituality is the rave flyer pictured to the right. In this rave flyer, by TIP productions, the main logo of the production company is Shiva. This logo has frequently appeared in various album covers by the group, which can also be found all throughout their soundcloud. Image result for shivaThough the songs of this group do not directly have religious motives behind them, there is a sense of spirituality with the use of Shiva, one of the three gods in the Hindu triumvirate. To add on, a significant feature of this god is the somewhat covered up third eye of Shiva, which represents his wisdom and insight. Others have also believed this third eye to be associated with untamed energy. Another part of religious culture is that Shiva is known to be the “Lord of the dance” because he a “rhythm of dance,” meaning the balance in the universe which Shiva is believed to hold so masterfully (BBC). Interestingly enough, TIP productions depicts the spiritual side of psychedelic trance. In this example with the TIP productions logo, one can see that there is a correlation between the Shiva and rave culture. For example, the third eye of Shiva represents this god having untamed energy and being the “Lord of the dance”, much like the attendees of psychedelic trances have. Music-goers of this genre attend these music scenes and dance for hours and hours on end, usually until dawn.

As aforementioned, people that attend these raves generally dance all throughout the night without a hint of being tired. This long lasting energy is usually due to substances, specifically molly or ecstasy. Though not all attendees of these events partake in this, it has become highly prevalent in rave culture. The two drugs are similar in its effects, as they both contain MDMA. The substance alters a person’s state of mind by giving them an enhanced released and/or inhibition of reuptake of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, though greater amounts of serotonin and norepinephrine. The effect of this chemical change in the brain is that people initially become overly sensitive in sight and physical touch and have an elevated mood. Those who take the drug are generally “report feelings of being open to love, share, and communicate and being generous with their time and attention to others” (590). This being said, this also enhances the rave experience. The physical venue and scene itself is filled with loud music and flashing, blinding lights. This combined with the MDMA gives rave-goers a sensory overload to the point that their eyes often roll back. That’s when you know someone is having a good time.

When the rave is over and when MDMA wears off the following day, people generally have negative psychological effects, as they are immensely depleted of serotonin; though, people say it is still worth it. Despite the negative effects, which can last up to two weeks, the MDMA drug scene is still prominent in rave culture. This longing to still continue to partake in these drugs can be different among people, though a general pattern seems to take play. Ecstasy and molly allow ravers to enhance their rave experience while also gaining a sense of spirituality, whether they know it or not. Because the drug alters one’s state of mind, allowing one to feel happier than usual, there is an opening in one’s heart to explore their inner soul and interact with others in this almost alternate reality. 

Works Cited
Forsyth, Craig J., and Heith Copes. “Encyclopedia of Social Deviance.” ProQuest: Ebook
Central, SAGE Publications Inc. , 28 May 2014, us.sagepub.com/en-us/nam/encyclopedia-of-social-deviance/book238740.
“Religions – Hinduism: Shiva.” BBC, BBC, 24 Aug. 2009, http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/
hinduism/deities/shiva.shtml.
“What Is Trance Music?” Trance Republic, trancerepublic.org/what-is-trance-music/.