Certainly, the lens and the frame are useful as metaphors, but as used, they are also quite limited. As an experiment, the next time you see one used, replace “frame” or “lens” with “context,” adjust the necessary conjunctions, and see if any meaning is lost. If in a given piece of writing, “seen through a queer lens” could just as easily be “seen in a queer context,” then the optical device isn’t living up to its potential as metaphor.
The chief ways in which optical metaphors can be improved in our writing are through diversity and specificity. These go hand-in-hand: the more diverse our optical metaphors become, the more specific they are able to be. Lenses, for example, can be convex-convex (the usual “lenticular” shape, which incidentally I suspect of being where lentils got their name, though I’ve done no research on this), but they can also be flat or concave on one or both sides. So, some lenses are plano-convex, others are convex-concave. These lenses behave differently and have different applications, and so could be employed in a diverse range of metaphorical applications.
“Lens” and “frame” get used a lot in theory writing. A recent post on Bad-at-Sports i getting cranky about this:
“The difference between a lens of any type and a frame is that we are directly aware of the ways in which lenses alter the image we are seeing. A biconvex lens held at the right distance from the eye will magnify the image. (At this distance, the image is not inverted; held out further, the image inverts, but the reason why is beyond my ability to explain from memory, so go Google a diagram.) This is the classic magnifying glass. Other types of lenses, such as eyeglasses, subtly alter the focal distance of our eyes (or rather, adjust the image to account for a flawed focal distance). Multiple-lens apparatuses like binoculars and microscopes magnify and can be focused. The point is that we are immediately aware of this alteration of the image we are seeing, because it is inherent to the function of the lens-based device. Continue reading “Those boring lenses and frames”
The cost of an education at an art school or in a college art department has gotten too expensive for merely learning how to express oneself in the likes of painting, sculpture, and printmaking. But as Peter Plagens writes in the Chronicle of Higher Ed,
“Who wants to go tens of thousands of dollars into debt just to become another starving artist? Today’s art students now look to the commercial specialties—graphic design, fashion, comic strips and graphic novels, industrial design, textiles, video, filmmaking—to provide them with postgraduate employment and, in the bargain, status as hip young determiners of society’s style.
“This is why the Savannah College of Art and Design awards degrees in more than 40 majors. The school—founded by the hard-driving Paula Wallace in 1979 with just a handful of students—offers courses as varied as figure drawing and marine-vehicle design, with several 3D printers available for student use. The college has about 11,000 students, in Savannah (where it owns more than 60 buildings, including a first-rate contemporary-art museum in a beautifully renovated train station) and at new branches in Atlanta and Hong Kong. Wallace, as president and CEO, reportedly earns about $2-million a year. Continue reading “Does artistic talent matter?”
“Otherwise: Queer Scholarship Into Song” took place Friday at new York’s Dixon Place, presenting a musical review/book party featuring the unconventional transformation of recently released queer scholarly works into original songs. Notably, a review of the evening appeared in today’s New York Times. The writer seems a bit mystified:
“Queer theory, with its impenetrable jargon and radical utopian politics, may seem to have little in common with musical theater beyond an overlapping fan base. But at Thursday’s event, a dozen scholars and the performers invited to interpret their recently published books proved that even if it lacks a beat, you can still dance to it.
“It’s a really queer version of a book launch,” Kay Turner, the organizer and M.C., said at the start of the show. “Tonight we’re going to eat each other’s words and put them into song.”
“The musician David Driver, whose credits include both Dunkin’ Donuts commercials and experimental opera, captured the evening’s spirit of fond mockery when he asked: “Is anyone else thinking what I’m thinking? Total SiriusXM show — all academics, all the time!” Continue reading “Dancing to queer theory”
Of course the “media violence” debate will be revisited in coming weeks and months.
Below we see the introduction of “Game Theory” in the New York Times, a series primarily devoted to what games its reviewers like for their entertainment value. But the first “edition” of Game Theory ventures into the emotion-laden topic of game violence. Notable in the article, as in almost all of the discourse on media violence, is the absence of any empirical evidence to support alarmist arguments that young imitate in real-life what they play on their computers.
“Welcome to the first edition of Game Theory, a conversation about the year in video games. Some introductions for the uninitiated: Stephen Totilo is the editor in chief of the gaming news site Kotaku.com, and he also writes about video games for The New York Times; Kirk Hamilton is the features editor at Kotaku; and I’m the deputy editor of Yahoo News, and a writer of video game reviews for The Times. The three of us will be bickering — I mean, coming to a friendly consensus — about the year’s best games, the year’s worst games and about what 2012 indicated about the state and future of this creative medium. Continue reading “Game Theory?”