Category Archives: Video

Julia Chun: Art of the Dance

 

Photography and Text by Julia Chun, Copyright 2018

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Art of the Dance

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April 9th, 2016 is the day that transformed me for good. I was part of the After School Arts Program as a violin mentor –  a violinist for thirteen years and counting – and our student show had just ended. While I was cleaning up the stage, I saw dancers come into the venue for a different event. One of my friends let me in and I took my first dance class ever taught by a member of the world famous Kinjaz.

I’ve always been fascinated by dancers, admired their stage presence and techniques, and would choose to watch dance videos for hours over any other movie. I also believed that I inherently didn’t have what it took to become a dancer, lacking the groove and the skills. I did not qualify to be one. That day was the beginning of a new journey of discovering myself. Getting the moves wrong and looking flimsy in front of other dancers is very embarrassing, but I never feel so alive and present as I do when I take a dance class surrounded by people exuding energy. In that very moment, whatever fear that made be shield myself from being judged or criticized is suppressed by the sheer pleasure of doing what I do. Dancing introduced me a passion I have never felt while pursuing any other thing.

So when the assignment was released, I had no doubt in what I wanted to photograph. After all, dancing was what first drew me to videography and eventually led me to take me this photography class. When I was photographing dancers, I wanted to capture their presence, one of the qualities I value the most in a dancer. Can the dancer fill the space not just with movements but with his or her presence? I also always pictured dancers dancing in the streets, blending in casually with what we see in our everyday lives, and I finally had a chance to capture what I have been imagining.

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About The Author: Julia Chun is a computer science major enrolled in the School of Engineering & Applied Science, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Julia Chun, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/julia-chun-art-activism/

 

 

Also posted in Art, Documentary, Music, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, Travel, UPenn, Women

Matt Garber: A Picture is Worth 140 Characters

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Cut the Middleman

Photography, Text and Video by Matt Garber, Copyright 2018

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A Picture is Worth 140 Characters 

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Among the most important political developments of the last two decades is social media. With the proliferation of these tools, politicians and public figures are able to reach their audiences directly. This has caused a massive shift in political communication.

Instead of relying on print, radio, and television media to distribute messaging, public figures may use their own voices without any of the critical analysis provided by the media. This shift in communication has led to a shift in the communicators too. Former President Barack Obama has almost 90 million followers and Twitter, and President Donald Trump is widely known for his use of Twitter, not just for gaffes, but also as an effective tool.

With the recent accidental deletion of the President’s Twitter account, it makes sense to take a new retrospective look at the ways Twitter, and Donald Trump’s use of it in particular, has come to reshape American politics.

Prior to Twitter’s ubiquity, news was consumed either in person or through journalists. Even online, journalists would post stories on their websites. This afforded the populace a critical lens through which to view the events of the day. Even though media can be slanted to the left, right, or middle, its consumption through the filter of journalism provided people an accountable source for information.

Today, users of Twitter like the president can cut out the middle man. Donald Trump makes a point of undermining traditional news sources like his so called “FAILING New York Times.” Even if news media’s business is performing better, the way the public is receiving political communication is lacking the broad lens of journalists. Donald Trump has no need to appeal to his detractors because he can reach his supporters directly.

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No Filter

Twitter also has an immediacy. No longer is it necessary that all serious thoughts be developed into considered remarks to be given in an interview, speech, or press release. The bully pulpit has transitioned from a careful podium to an edgy smartphone. Few are better known that Trump for taking this to task in haphazard Twitter rants that invigorate his supporters and alienate most everyone else.

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Make Covfefe America Again

Perhaps he does carefully consider each character. Or perhaps not. It is impossible to analyze Donald Trump and Twitter without mentioning his May “covfefe” gaffe. When the president made a silly, Scrabble-word type typo, it sparked national news because of Twitter’s speed, permanence, and social vitality. However, providing insight to his character, Trump failed to simply laugh off the incident for what it was. Instead, he defended it and attempted to appear intentional. He failed to allow himself to be a normal Twitter user who could correct the Tweet and move on.

Perhaps he does carefully consider each character. Or perhaps not. It is impossible to analyze Donald Trump and Twitter without mentioning his May “covfefe” gaffe. When the president made a silly, Scrabble-word type typo, it sparked national news because of Twitter’s speed, permanence, and social vitality. However, providing insight to his character, Trump failed to simply laugh off the incident for what it was. Instead, he defended it and attempted to appear intentional. He failed to allow himself to be a normal Twitter user who could correct the Tweet and move on.

Short and Fat

Again, demonstrating his imperfection, Trump unleashed a classic Twitter insult earlier this month. “Why would Kim Jong-Un insult me by calling me old when I would never call him short and fat?” While hardly presidential, this tweet revealed again the childishness that Twitter allows us to see. Its immediacy again provides direct access to the character of the user, and this is magnified when that user is the leader of the free world.

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Flip Flop

The major difference between the casual Twitter user and the public figure is the consequential nature of their positions. If the average joe announces a change of mind through tweet (and a change back and then forth again), we likely move on.

However, social media once again magnifies the thoughts of the president. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is no stranger to contradiction, but it can be particularly amusing when it marks an overt flip flop. Again, without the reigning in by aides and writers afforded by formal policy announcements, Twitter can reveal the worst of an individual.

The major difference between the casual Twitter user and the public figure is the consequential nature of their positions. If the average joe announces a change of mind through tweet (and a change back and then forth again), we likely move on. However, social media once again magnifies the thoughts of the president. Donald Trump’s Twitter feed is no stranger to contradiction, but it can be particularly amusing when it marks an overt flip flop. Again, without the reigning in by aides and writers afforded by formal policy announcements, Twitter can reveal the worst of an individual.

Policy in 140 Characters

Finally, we see a striking ability of social media to influence the policy of the nation. This is the real crux of the issue. The president can judge opinion by likes rather than polls. He can decide merit by retweets rather than analysis. The jury consists primarily of the people with whom Trump interacts online. This translates into actual policies affecting actual people. It is a broken system and one magnified by the personality of this president. If we do nothing to address it, it could mean that what is popular online is what counts on the books.

While amplified by the bombastic nature of our current President, this analysis by no means ends with Trump’s term. These ideas are welcomed and fostered by Twitter’s environment. The polarization it creates among our citizenry transcends one administration. Obama was the first Twitter President. Trump will likely be the president most remembered for his Twitter. But social media is not going away, and its effects in politics will live on.

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Regarding the photographs…

Each photograph in this article is an abstract illustration of the ideas at play. Social media is an abstract, simplifying process, so in representing it photographically, the challenge became, “How abstract and simple can this be made?” If a picture is worth a thousand words, but a tweet is merely 140 (or now 280) characters, then they are awfully dissimilar. So how far can we go to bridge that gap? That is the philosophy behind the photos.

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About The Author: Matt Garber is a Freshman enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2020.  To access additional articles by Matt Garber, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/matt-garber-doll/

 

Also posted in Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography

Karen Liao: A Privilege or Right

 

Photography, Text and Video by Karen Liao, Copyright 2018

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A Privilege or Right?

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In Trump’s America, access to healthcare is a privilege, not a right. This blunt statement is the baseline belief that underlies all of President Trump’s actions pertaining to healthcare. His attempts to pass the American Health Care Act for replacement of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and recently signed executive order on October 12, 2017 are attacks on people’s right to healthcare. His efforts have huge impact on both access and quality of healthcare US residents may receive. With currently proposed plans, insurance companies may no longer need to offer the ACA’s ten essential benefits, which include maternity/newborn care, mental/behavioral health treatment, preventive care (screenings), prescriptions drugs, etc. Companies will also be able to charge those with pre-existing conditions higher premiums, tipping the balance of risk pools and essentially creating unaffordable insurances to be offered on the health insurance exchange. There will also be cuts in Medicaid spending starting in 2020 and reduction of ACA tax credits that provide healthcare cost subsidies for the low-income population. The CBO estimates that this will prevent around 22 million people from receiving health insurance. These cuts will also increase costs across the board, because it prevents at-risk populations from receiving preventive care and treatment for chronic diseases before progression to acute conditions requiring highly critical, expensive care. The proposed plans also allow insurance companies to charge seniors, who are at higher risk for chronic diseases and multiple morbidities, five times as much as younger Americans (it was limited to three times with the ACA). Finally, Planned Parenthood will be defunded, stripping Medicaid recipients that depend on the agency for routine checkups, family planning, and contraceptives.

Who are those that will be most negatively affected by Trump’s health policies? It will be the sickest and weakest populations in our society. As mentioned previously, these health policies will increase costs and decrease access to healthcare for those with chronic diseases, the elderly, and the low-income receiving subsidies or Medicaid expansion. The voices of these vulnerable populations deserve to be heard as decisions are being made on a political systems level. These patients, my patients, all have their own stories to share, and they want to be considered as more than numbers that Washington can casually toss around. My patients are those with chronic diseases, the elderly, and the low-income patients that all deserve their right to access to quality healthcare. Their lives in the hospital and outside of the hospital are vastly different from the rest of the world’s, and this should be shared so that everyone can better grasp what these patients need to face every day. With Trump’s policies, they would not be able to afford their current care. It’s easy to think about the newly proposed health policies in terms of tax cuts. But here are the reminders of the humanity and their experiences behind the numbers. With these stories and people in mind, we must remember—healthcare is a right, not a privilege.

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About The Author: Karen Liao is a Junior enrolled in the School of Nursing, University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Karen Liao, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/karen-liao-homage-textures/

 

Also posted in Blog, Documentary, History, News, Photography, Politics, Popular Culture, Science, Student Life, UPenn Photography, Women

Julia Chun: Art as Activism

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Photography, Text and Video by Julia Chun, Copyright 2018

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Art as Activism

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Sometimes, a protest and going on a strike for a few weeks will do the job. Your city government hears you out and resolves your issues. 

Sometimes, a series of protests or making to the news headlines throughout the year will pass that bill that you’ve been fighting for.

Often times, issues are left unresolved. Some years, the society and the political scene seem to be fighting in your favor and in others, they turn their backs to you.

In this project, I wanted to capture the artwork and the people who use art as a means of activism to perpetuate political and cultural issues that need attention of the society. Some targeted topics that are more directly influenced by politics such as LGBTQ, reconstruction of a rundown town in Philly, black women oppression, and Islamophobia. Others created performances to enhance the sense of resonance, which is crucial in every minority communities or communities formed by people of the same race but with vastly different social status. One Indian American might be the CEO of Google while many others are still subject to deportation with DACA’s end. The commonality among all the artworks and people I captured is that they all fight for their long-lasting causes in a peaceful way through film, performance, music, and poetry.

I photographed three different events for this project. First series was themed “Resonance”, organized by the Asian Pacific American Heritage Week (APAHW), which featured different shows put together by cultural groups. The second series was also put together by APAHW, but it featured guests from outside of Penn to showcase their work and talk about the various issues they fight for – Islamophobia, LGBT rights, urban renovation, etc. The last series was called “SPEECH/ACT”, an exhibit taking place at the Institute of Contemporary Art. The artists used black poetry as a way to discuss black rights and used commercials to show black oppression in America.

After seeing so many protests, often violent, take place since the election last year, it was very mind opening to realize that there were so many other issues to fight for besides taxation or those that are starkly political. It was also inspiring to discover artists who are so persistently and actively trying to make a statement through their artwork shaped by their personal experiences, although they may never make it to the front page of a news paper.

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About The Author: Julia Chun is a computer science major enrolled in the School of Engineering & Applied Science. University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Julia Chun, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/julia-chun-aesthetic-non-aesthetic/

 

 

Also posted in Art, Current Events, Documentary, Music, Photography, Popular Culture, Student Life, UPenn, UPenn Photography, UPenn: Photography Students, Women

Jesse Halpern: Walled In

 

 

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Photography, Text and Video by Jesse Halpern, Copyright 2017

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WALLED IN

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Since the early 70’s presidents have been preaching about a war on crime. From Nixon through Bush, the victor in the election was the law and order candidate. This war being waged has had no effect on the violent crime rate in America yet our incarceration rates now towers above all other countries. Americans make up 5% of the people on earth, yet the United States houses 25% of the planet prisoners.

The transformation to the system we have today is really rooted in the complex I have photographed, Eastern State Penitentiary. It transformed punishment for crimes. We move away from corporal punishment, to a serving hard time. This was the model of the American Prison, a cruel system. If you were sent to Eastern State the only thing you ever saw was your cell, lit but a thin ceiling slit, and a small exercise quarter.

Racism in the courts and policing was rampant right from the start due to a clause in the 13th amendment which gave slaves freedom except if they were imprisoned.

Race was at the center of the push for the war on crime in the 70’s in retaliation to the Civil Rights Movement. The war on drugs in particular the war on Crack Cocaine was a war on African Americans. A sentence for 1 gram of Crack was the same as the sentence for 100 grams of cocaine.

Economics continues to be at the forefront in prison policy making with a boom in the private prison industry as well as contracts for public prisons being extremely lucrative. Corporations with these contracts and the corporations that own the correctional facilities benefit from incarceration, and lobby strongly to get laws enacted on their behalf.

With Obama we saw what looked like the end to the rhetoric of being tough on crime, and to the long line of Law and Order Presidents. Presidents who enacted due mandatory minimum sentences, sextupled the budget for the DEA, and militarized our police. But in the most recent election, Hilary Clinton, running as the candidate for criminal justice reform, and to end mandatory minimum loose to Trump, a self-proclaimed Law and Order candidate.

Over 5.8 million Americans cannot vote because they have been convicted of felonies. Over 2 million Americans are currently in Jail. The system, these jail structures, do little to curb the rate of violent crimes in America.

Reforms need to be made to this broken system. The Percentage of Americans incarcerated for violent crimes in 1970 is essentially what it is today, but the percentage of Americans behind bars for nonviolent crimes has increased by about 600%.

The dilapidated walls and cells of Eastern State represent the broken state of the American Prison Industrial complex.

The series was photographed in three segments. First, in direct light in the outdoor part of the complex. Second, with indirect natural light for the interior of the building. Third, with fill flash for the cells. Heavy noise was introduced in editing to give the whole series an archival feeling, an aged feeling. I wanted to capture something sturdy yet slowly unraveling which is what I believe to be the current state of the prison industrial complex. The final image is a reflection of the first photo of the prison walls. It is meant to inspire reflection about the cruelty of our criminal justice system, and of the architectural structures that house the largest population of incarcerated people in the world.

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About The Author: Jesse Halpern is a Sophomore enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Jesse Halpern, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/jesse-halpern-segmented-porches-display/

 

 

Also posted in Architecture, Blog, Documentary, Environment, History, News, Photography, Politics, UPenn Photography