Everything Yet Nothing

It is easy to see that today's society is very materialistic.  We are constantly surrounded by man-made things that claim to be able to enrich our lives.  Due to this, we are more focused on building up external matters rather than our internal human needs and desires, such as personal relationships with others.  In this gallery, this idea is presented through somber yet powerful depictions of various material items that are in involved in everyday life, and society's relationship to them. The tone of these pieces call attention to the dangers to human nature of a superficial society.  Though we are surrounded by many things, they can ultimately make us feel empty.

As suggested from the title, this is a painting of a group of people waiting at a subway stop. Although, when these people are examined more closely, it is easy to see that they are not much of a group at all. Despite the individuals not being at a close enough distance for conversation and being in the bustling atmosphere of a subway station, they all do not seem to be pleased by their surroundings. Each individual is looking off into the distance, and their bodies are depicted in a dark, shadowy manner. This creates a gloomy and lonely mood, which is a contrast to the shiny, silver background that represents the subway station. While the nature of the subway station gives off a sense of liveliness, this sense is not passed on to the waiting individuals. The "fulless" of the subway station does not fill any emptiness within the individuals.
This painting depicts a group of many men that are constructing a home or building. This particular project appears to be quite a laborious task, as the men appear to be using much of their strength to lift and move materials. They show conformity not only in that they are all working but in that they are all wearing darker clothing. This implies the idea that these men are building because they have to, not because they want to. The building they are constructing is depicted in a vibrant red color that seems to demand admiration of the building. Given this, the pressures of creating external greatness can be seen through this painting.
Though the setup of this piece may look out of the ordinary, it is really a depiction of what is very common in our society. I see this piece as representing the danger in our society's obsession with social media. The large, lighted eyes surrounding the sculpture seem to represent the eagerness of our society to virtually present ourselves to others. But these eyes represent a darker side of this virtual world as well. They are a reminder to us that with social media, there is always an opportunity for others to make judgments about us. The different colors of the eyes represent the wide range of people who can easily examine what we virtually communicate about ourselves. This abundance can ultimately break a person, as we see in the orange colored individual in the sculpture. The orange color seems to be a representation of the pressures and anxieties that come with trying to build good reputations and meaningful relationships virtually. If this continues to be a great focus of society, we will become purely superficial in almost everything we do. The orange individual's floppy, weak position represents failure in intending for our lives to look perfect to others. The saddest part of this piece is the relationship that is shown between the white colored individual and the orange colored individual. It is only after one individual was broken that a meaningful relationship is created.
As seen in the title, the setting of this painting is in Brooklyn, New York. As a city, Brooklyn can generally be thought of as a busy place. The bridge and the boats represent the transportation of both people and materials. The buildings are a reminder of the many opportunities for work that are a constant concern to society as we attempt to support ourselves. The large structures give us a sense of being called to something greater than what we currently have. But the nature of this painting shows that what may be calling us in this sense is indeed nothing greater than the potential we possess internally. The blending of the buildings in the background and the darker values of colors, especially in the bridge, communicate the lack of happiness found in obsessing over economic or materialistic ambitions. This point is further illustrated through the fact that no humans are in the painting. It is in personal relationships with others that we will find happiness instead of external ambitions. Additionally, the fact that this painting was created around the time of a spike in industrialization illustrates that this focus on the external has been building up over time.
Though this painting is very simple, it illustrates the complexity of our relationships with the material. In it, we see a woman in the middle of a street with her back facing towards the viewer. She appears to be wearing no clothes, and her body darkly colored. Her head looks tilted downward and she seems to be embracing herself. All of these things suggest that she is feels empty and uncomfortable. Around her are houses that are lively pink and blue colors. These colors are known in our society to represent birth and the very first stages of life. In examining the woman and the houses that surround her, it is easy realize that these two components of the painting produce very different emotions. The houses call for feelings of joy opportunity, while the woman calls for feelings of loneliness, as can be seen from the title. Considering this, it is obvious that the "extravagance" of what surrounds the woman does not satisfy her.
Even though this painting was produced over a century ago, it still depicts the focus put on external matters in the everyday life of today's society. The setting of this painting is at a predictably busy place, Fifth Avenue in New York. Cars are seen driving on the road and people are walking on the sidewalk, which gives the painting a "no non-sense" feeling. The cloudiness of this style of painting particularly fits the busyness of the setting. When we are concerned with preparing for something or obtaining something, we often do not consider our true thoughts and intentions. The liveliness of the busy street setting only distracts us more from our true internal assessments.
This is my counterpoint piece. This may just look like another eccentric article in Times Square, but it is actually something much different. This small house-type building was placed in Times Square in November 2012. As stated by the Times Square Arts website, the building was a place for those who were in Times Square to speak to U.S. veterans. The building was constructed to conduct these meetings due to the potentiality for very deep conversations. I believe that this building, unlike many that surround it, illustrates the importance of creating personal relationships. In the busyness and extravagance of Times Square, it is easy to get caught up in external matters. In making the front of the building a yellow color with a recreational shape, and placing it abruptly in Times Square, it drew everyday people in and then challenged them to create a personal relationship. This is my counterpoint piece because there is no somber feeling to this building. Despite it being surrounded by hundreds of items that take away from building personal relationships, the building still has a joyful, hopeful spirit to it. The video further illustrates Times Square, a place where society's obsession with material matters can be bluntly communicated just within its borders.
Credits: All media
This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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