Through the Lens

September 20, 2007

Here are some links to photographs I have taken, using techniques I have been studying lately:

A photo of the Alvin Ailey Dance Studio using framing . . . (and, no, I don’t mean the George Lakoff type)

A shot of the Columbus Circle Fountain using the rule of thirds . . .

A picture of that funny naked statue inside the Time Warner Center, demonstrating a dark object against a light background . . .

And a macro view of the statue at the 59th Street entrance to Central Park.

With the requisite disclaimer that I am no Ansel Adams, I’d like to hear what all of you think of my attempts to capture these landmarks in my neighborhood.



September 5, 2007

Welcome to Whole Notes, the weblog of composer, performer, music theorist, and writer Ari Fox Lauren. My goal here is to comment on music, politics, film, literature, and the ways in which they interrelate.

In this overly commercialized age, in which large corporations own and control radio and television stations, we are confronted with a gullible, self-absorbed populace. There was a time, nearly two generations ago, in which art of all media had a tangible effect on politics. In a recent New Yorker article, music critic Alex Ross examined the impact of composer Aaron Copland‘s Communist sympathies, revealing the degree to which Copland was marginalized by McCarthyism. Aside from the political scandal surrounding the Red Scare, what struck me about the article was the level of engagement from the American public in the work of a concert composer. The fact that a significant number of Americans thought enough to dig into the layers of instrumental music in the concert hall, in the absence of lyrics or easy marketing slogans, leaves me almost envious of the past, strange as it may seem. To many of us today, Copland’s music seems optimistic and easily “digestible,” and would hardly cause us to even speculate on political discourse, much less raise an uproar. I certainly do not condone the tactics of McCarthyism; I merely refer to the general level of thought that existed in that time period, in which Americans actually bothered to burrow beneath the surface of music, even that of the instrumental variety.

Today, it takes a blatant extramusical act– say, the politically-charged stage banter of the Dixie Chicks in 2003— to elicit anyone’s attention. This is largely the product of a heavily controlled era, in which visual art and music have become more about business than artistic vision, and musicians and journalists serve at the behest of major corporations, whom they must carefully avoid upsetting. My aim on this blog is to seek out and analyze those rare acts of artistic defiance and other genuine expression, and to gauge the public response. Because human nature has not inherently changed, creativity will continue; I aim to find and assess it. My commentary will cover film and literature in addition to music, as non-corporate entities have greater visibility and impact in those arenas.

So, without further ado, let me conclude this overture and begin the first movement!