If a Dog Dies in a Gallery Is It Art?

•April 13, 2010 • Leave a Comment


In 2007, Costa Rican artist Guillermo “Habacuc” Vargas tied up a sick stray dog in an exhibition gallery in Managua, Nicaragua. He then had people come in to view the exhibition while the stray starved.

After a few days the poor dog died of starvation.

Above the dog was written, “You are what you read,” in Spanish.

Vargas’ public response was, “I won’t say the dog died. The importance to me is the hypocracy of the people where an animal is the focus of attention where people come to see art but not when it’sin the street starving to death.” “The same thing happened with poor Natividad Canda. The people sympathized with him only after he was dead.”

A few Costa Rica Animal rights agencies tried prosecuted him but had little luck due to traditional latin lack of interest in animal welfare.

The essay that I see taking shape is one that argues at what makes something art with specific focus on this incident. Is art in the execution or the explanation? It doesn’t take a talented artist to starve a dog. It doesn’t even take a creative individual to think of starving an animal to make a point. The point is, this is not art. Although I have always been a believer in art as expression, I don’t believe Vargas’ expression was art.

My personal definition for art is the product of creativity.

The starvation of an animal is not a creative product. I find that this sort of resembles Peta’s shock tactic advertisement campaigns that we spent time researching earlier this semester. It seems that this “exhibition” was for shock value, although I need to research the artists response and explanation more critically to examine his motives.

But at what point did it become ok to intentionally kill a living thing for someones personal “art.”

I don’t think because a dog died in a gallery that that makes it art.

[[more research to come..we’ll get to the root of this]]


What Art Is.

•April 6, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Art is a creative product. Whether the product be through mediums of visual art like painting and photography or through performance, like dancing. Art traditionally can be judged by aesthetics or talent; however, something need not be beautiful to be art. Since it is a product of  creative expression art can be as varied as the spectrum of human imagination.

Art can be a jumbled canvas of paint splotches like a piece by Pollock or masterpiece by a Renaissance sculptor.

It could be an arrangement of french fries on a diner plate.


Art can even be a plastic crucifix submergered in urine!

This is the case in Serrano’s photo “Piss Christ”, which as one can infer from the title, is a picture of a plastic crucifix in a jar of piss. At first site the photo looks like a picture of Jesus on the cross  with a golden hazy filter, but after hearing the work’s title a connection is made.

While the world seeks to draw a billion conclusions on the interpretation of this piece, whether a sacrilegious effort or a spiritual metaphor, that doesn’t distract from the point that this piece IS indeed art.

Just because a person takes offense from this piece does not make it any less of a creative expression. An offensive commercial is no less of a commercial than a non offensive one.  A flavor of ice cream that you like the taste of is no more “ice creamier” than a flavor you don’t enjoy.

I could continue to give more examples, but i think the point is made. Art is creativity including both offensive and non offensive expressions.

Rough Draft

•March 18, 2010 • 2 Comments

Everyday, people in America access the internet for social networking, for communication through email, and to find out basic things. We get our information through our phones or computers and then go on about the day, but not everyone in the world is so lucky to have the power of the internet completely at their disposal. The great firewall of China is the nickname of the massive internet censoring and monitoring project by the Chinese government. Internet users can be imprisoned for challenging or disrupting the “harmonious society”. The restrictions and consequences of regular internet use in China is a threat to human rights. Corporations like Yahoo have already folded to China’s demand by turning in information that has lead to the arrest of Chinese internet users. Google continues to cause a stir as it flip flops its position amid public pressure; the US government has taken preliminary action to legally challenge China in the interest of Google and other American companies. However, the people of China are hindered from and must be conscious of their internet usage for their own safety.

China actively employs over 30,000 people to monitor internet use, but it goes beyond that. The government holds internet portals  partially responsible with the Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the China Internet Industry. Over 130 Web portals have signed this pledge including Yahoo. Even internet cafe owners employ people who walk around monitoring the screens of the customers.(BBC) There is no free speech for people under the firewall. Wang Xiaoning and other activists were sentenced to ten years for their anonymous posts to a Yahoo email list. Later, the same people sued Yahoo for turning in the information to the Chinese government that lead to their arrest (Cohn). The government allows no room for its citizens to freely use the internet.

Numerous sites are blocked, including many You-tube videos and Wikipedia articles.  Articles on Religion, alternate forms of government, and even pornagraphy sites are blocked (This could be potentially dangerous  seeing as how the gender imbalance will leave MILLIONS of men without a partner, currently, prostitution rings and kidnappings are beginning to become problems for China). All information about Tibet or Tienanmen Square or any other mishaps by the government are blocked. The people of China have a right to know about their own country. They have a right to access information freely and without worry of being arrested for pro-western/unharmonious opinions that they post. These people are victims of a government desperate to keep in power by controlling what people know, what they have access to, and what they are allowed to say.

Internet censorship is an issue of human rights. It goes beyond the government blocking sites about democracy. It is about the plight of people like Liu Shaokun, a teacher who posted pictures of a collapsed school,  his critical views and unhealthy portrayal of China got him sentenced with a year of hard labor(Reuters). China wold sacrifice their own citizens for the “Harmonious Society”. They even pit people against each other having volunteers monitor internet use. These injustices are suffered daily by the Chinese people, and will continue until something is done.

To whom it may concern: 1.3 Million

•March 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dear Reader,

Well to start, the topic of  internet censorship is very easily researched. That being said, I have learned quite a bit about Chinese internet policy. A team of 35,000 people work to read emails, blogs, and internet postings searching for users who break the rules on what are permissible topics to speak about. Not  only is it an issue of free speech for the people of China; it is also a denial of knowledge in all areas that the government sees fit. China is rapidly becoming the country with the most internet users; it recently surpassed the US. However, the internet that the people are using is an abbreviated version of the real thing. Sites like Youtube and Wikipedia have many topics and videos that are blocked because they have been deemed “unhealthy.”

Now for the two sources that I found most helpful so far..

First, the Time’s “A Brief History of: Chinese Internet Censorship” which gives insight on many of China’s big brother tendencies involving the internet. From censorship, to monitoring, to imprisoned journalists. All of these, and some quotes directly from the government. This article is from Time magazine so i think that it is a credible source( for whatever reason, wordpress will not let me type normally anymore, I’ve tried getting rid of these italics for 10 minutes now and they keep automatically coming back on).

Another article, is US Weighing China Censorship Case posted by Yahoo news. This is a very interesting article on how the us is attempting to legally challenge Chinese internet restrictions that hurt Google and other companies with US interests. Recently, after Google agreed to build a separate engine to auto-censor the internet for China, they received a lot of heat from the public. Now, Google has stated that they may not continue this auto censoring for China, and in turn the country has threatened to take whatever actions are necessary.

The most exciting part about this controversy, is that its story is ongoing. New stories break rather often, and it will be interesting to see how this situation evolves.

Best regards,


Ps. The Italics are here to stay I guess, they refuse to leave, stubborn things. Next time, I’ll use the underline button for magazine names..

Digital Big Brother

•March 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Sadly, the world does not all share the same privileges when it comes to accessing digital information. I was trying to think of topics and controversies to write about, and I was getting no where. Then my mind started to think about all the topics that lay scribbled out on the paper in front of me. I started to think about history, the printing press, and how print media revolutionized the world.  I thought about the dark ages of print media like book burnings and banned book lists, and this led me to think about the heir to print media, which is digital media.  Do you think that historically, people will look back at Chinese internet censorship and regulations as part of the dark ages of digital media?  Do you think that all the regulations of politically charged information and screening of search engines will bode well in the future for this country?

Well, that is the point of this entry as introduction to internet censorship. This is my preliminary thoughts on the subject, raw and without extensive research. I think that by researching this I will gain a bit of global knowledge and share in another person’s burden. The whole thing seems strange and 1984ish, but I’m sure I don’t completely understand the issue yet. The plan for this second major project is to probe the world’s most populated nation’s policies for insight and arguments. The topic could be really extensive, and full of big government workings and human rights failures. The way in which I will address this controversy is still undecided. The best angle to tackle has not been revealed yet, but there is potential on many fronts. Digital media is beyond crucial to us. Think of how government tampering could hold major drawbacks for the people of China. Is there such thing as the freedom to know? Is there a  new mantra being cried out by the people of China: the right, to life liberty, and the pursuit of knowledge? We’ll find out after a bit of research.

Rough Draft for Peta Essay

•February 9, 2010 • 3 Comments

Peta’s hardest obstacle to overtake is itself. There is a stigma attached to animal rights activism and it is thanks to the wild shock tactics of Peta. What the ad campaign managers fail to see is that while they are garnering attention for their outlandish tactics such as giving buckets of fake blood to children or throwing paint on fur coats it is alienating them from the rest of society. The Cia released a statement that summarizes public opinion by declaring animal rights activist the biggest suspected threat for domestic terrorism.  Peta needs a more conventional campaign, one that doesn’t put them in the light of crazed activist but rather as an organization with an ethical message to deliver. All too many times Peta’s campaigns have turned people off instead of sparking their interests. Even though it is difficult to be drowned out in this day of media overload, Peta’s extreme tactics are not justifiable as they do not advance the cause of animal rights. Most people are aware of Peta and already have an opinion of them, but if Peta could educate the public then they may have a better chance of gaining support. Another necessity is to get people to understand and emotionally relate to their cause as ethical.

Think of the Aspca campaign and how emotionally overdone it is. A middle ground needs to be found in the search for the correct approach to advertising the cause of animal rights. People don’t want to feel bad, they want to feel good. So, the approach needed will be one that shows animals being saved or rescued from death. I believe this along with educational campaigns on the (actual) pros of vegetarianism will get Peta more support. The campaign needs to be tested in front of people who are not members of Peta so that the impressions can be gauged and changes made accordingly. A campaign that challenges people to be the savior of animals rather than charging them with the guilt of their suffering will be more effective. Also, people who are more educated on the causes of Peta are more likely to understand their point of view than people who are just demographics of a shock tactic. Peta needs to make themselves seem like a cause that everyone can support instead of a small select group.

You are supposedly supposed to be able to catch more flies with honey than vinegar which is a good summary for why shock tactics are ineffective. No one will be apt to listen to Peta’s message as long as the “domestic terrorism” and crazed activist stigmas are present. Peta needs to shake these off with a sound campaign actually about animal rights, and not women licking vegetables in a superbowl commercial. Peta needs to gain our trust after campaigns like “You’re Mommy Kills Animals” and an educational and straightforward message is the way to do it.

Domestic Terrorism!

•February 2, 2010 • 1 Comment

The above is a 2002 Peta ad aimed for children. The comic entitled Your Mommy Kills Animals encouraged children to ask mommy why she hurts animals for fur.

Before I write my opinion on this, here is some information on Peta’s record with children focused animal rights tactics:

  • This past Christmas, PETA camped outside holiday performances of The Nutcracker and other shows to force its graphically violent comic book (titled “Your mommy kills animals”) into the hands of unsuspecting children. Denver’s Rocky Mountain News classified PETA’s attempt “to manipulate adults by traumatizing their children” as “despicable.” Dr. Jeffrey Dolgan, chief of psychology at Children’s Hospital, warned in the Denver Post: “Some vulnerable kids will not do well with this. It is potentially very anxiety-arousing. Someone has made a mistake.”
  • Earlier this year, PETA announced its plan to distribute “Buckets of Blood” to children outside middle schools, high schools, and KFC restaurants. According to the Associated Press, these grotesque toys are filled with “fake blood and bones, a bloodied plastic chicken and a cardboard caricature of a blood-spattered Colonel Sanders holding a butcher knife toward a terrified-looking chicken.”
  • In January, PETA sent a costumed activist into primary schools in England and Ireland to frighten kids into adopting vegetarian diets. According to media accounts, PETA’s representative distributed “graphic leaflets detailing animal killings” to young children. The Sentinel newspaper (Staffordshire, England) reported: “PETA has been condemned by the government over the tactics it uses to convince youngsters to give up dairy products and meat.”
  • PETA continues to lie in wait outside schools, distributing misleading anti-dairy trading cards to children as they walk home. The cards depict children suffering debilitating illnesses and embarrassing conditions, supposedly as a result of drinking milk. PETA’s campaign is “based on sensationalism” and “a real tragedy,” according to registered dietitian Deanna Rose. “It targets teenagers who really are calcium deficient and need to drink their milk.”
  • As recently as last year, PETA’s payroll included a convicted Animal Liberation Front felon who served as the group’s full-time “humane education lecturer.” This activist, who has openly advocated murder and arson, extolled the virtues of meatless eating to groups of children as young as 12 years old.

In 2002, PETA co-founder Ingrid Newkirk told CNN: “Everything we do is based at adults.” Yet PETA bragged last year that it reached over 2.3 million kids and teachers with its animal-rights propaganda:

Source: http://www.consumerfreedom.com/news_detail.cfm/h/2537-peta-denies-traumatizing-kids

Peta’s new campaign manager told the Associated Press “We would never use shock tactics with children; it wouldn’t be right.”


Peta seems to  have already fallen off the deep end. Where do they get the audacity to pull such things? Seriously, the use of propaganda on children in such an overt and even possible traumatizing way has completely made me rethink of the way I see this company. They are ruthless. I thought they were just passionate about animal rights but this is a step too far. The FBI considers animal rights activists as #1 for domestic terrorism and it’s no wonder what with the way Peta carries on.

How does scaring children advance the cause of animal rights?

Peta ‘s shock value tactics seem to be desparate. I can’t imagine anything they wouldn’t say to get publicity. It seems like Peta has become somewhat of a spotlight whore, and will do ANYTHING for attention, like creating an ad on how your trusted mother hurts your furry friends.

Peta is just ridiculous.