Lesson: Double Album: Pick up the Right Things

  • Grade Level: High School (9-12 grade)
  • Subject Area: Art, Poetry, Philosophy, and Literature.
  • "Slumber," 2004."Slumber," 2004.
  • "Dazed and Confused," 2004."Dazed and Confused," 2004.
  • Installation view.Installation view.
  • "Poems X" 2004."Poems X" 2004.
  • "List" 2004."List" 2004.

Introduction

Written by New York artist, Lan Tuazon.
Our taste of what we listen to, read, and identify with becomes our personal view of the world. A song, image or souvenir can be like a bookmark, easily bringing us back to memories of our particular taste in time and personal anecdotes associated with it. In this exhibition we see Guzman reference superheroes, Aztec gods, punk rock, and serial killers, turning to themes of disappointment, irony, and death. Steven Shearer is a collector compiling images from the web: arrangements of items for sale on eBay, pop images of child star Leif Garrett, and heavy metal bands. Shearer creates lists and archives as raw materials and sources for new compositions.

Objectives

Students will interpret and analyze the two shows though an understanding of the theory of schizophrenia and how it affects the work and process of contemporary artists. Students will read a sample of language poetry and Tzara’s Surrealist cut-up technique.

Vocabulary

Mainstream is thought of as the most common culture that the general public is familiar with.
Sub culture is a group of people with a culture that is different from mainstream or dominant culture. If that culture is against the dominant culture, it is called counter-cultural.
Retro refers to a type of culture that references or imitates other trends; fashions from the past once seen as unfashionable.
New Language Poetry emerged in the 60’s and 70’s as a school of poetry that centralized method as a way of producing poetry.
Free Association is a technique used in psychology where people continually relate anything which comes into their minds, regardless of how superficially unimportant the memory threatens to be.
Schizophrenia is a theory of language and its interpretation. In clinical, psychological terms, schizophrenia is a language disorder where a patient is unable to express their identity because they fully experience each present moment, unable to connect each experience in a sequence of a cohesive past, present, or future. In art, schizophrenia is the breakdown of culture and cultural identity due to fact that there are so many coexisting cultures at any given time.

Materials

Paper
Pencils

Lesson Strategy

Start the lesson by having students present their list. Have the class sort these objects on the wall according to categories: music, media, and personal items. Create and identify new categories when necessary.

  • What kinds of materials do we see?
  • What sources are we using?
  • Is it mainstream, popular, or sub cultural?

Explain schizophrenia
Read quote by Frederic Jameson when describing the effect of the theory of schizophrenia.
“There is a sense in which writers and artists of the present day will no longer be able to invent new styles and worlds – they’ve already been invented; only a limited number of combinations are possible.” [3]

Open Discussion

  • What do you think about the implications of this statement?
  • Is it still possible to be original? Or are we just quoting/referencing other styles, ideas, and methods previously conceived?
  • What does this mean to you?
  • I can see how this statement may be true for some cultural productions in music, like for example there is sampling. Can anyone else think of other examples?

Read China by Bob Perelman
Here we have an example from New Language Poetry. Define New Language Poetry.

Discuss and Analyze

  • Choose a sentence that appeals to you.
  • Discuss why you chose it.
  • What kinds of images do you imagine in the poem?
  • Perelman’s process: came across a book of photographs in Chinatown, wrote sentences of the poems by looking at the photographs and using a free-association method to write captions for each image. How would you describe this process?
  • Overall, how do you interpret this poem?

Present Shearer’s and Guzmán’s cultural references.
Options: you may want to tailor this list according to themes relevant to your lesson and your students and connect it to your curriculum. Relate these references to the list that students have brought in.

Writing
Write a New Language poem using Bob Perelman’s process of free-association along with Shearer and Guzmán’s cultural references. During the presentation have students quietly look at the slideshow and write a New Language poem by writing short responses or captions to each cultural reference. Note: this is only a sample. List of images can be customized for thematic connections in all areas of study.

Slideshow with audio Dazed and Confused by Led Zeppelin.

Students will compose their poems, edit or rephrase captions, and make careful decisions on the order in which the phrases are read. Have students read their writing out loud.

Homework

Look at the list created by the class again. Point to its beginnings in Walter Benjamin’s description of collecting as a “chaos of memories.” Describe the process of cataloging/categorization as a beginning of an archive/collection. Consider our discussion in class about collections and the idea of connoisseurship. Students will create a new list of items, categorized according subject or material.

Criteria to consider

  • How do you decide what to keep and discard?
  • How do you maintain and care for your collection?
  • What value or narrative do you see developing in your collection (personal, historical, monetary)?

Assessment

Evaluate student participation in discussions and their ability to use new vocabulary. Evaluate student writing by comparing their first and final drafts.

Extending the Lesson

Discuss the historical function of collections as material evidence and how it shapes our understanding of any given event. Connect discussion to the work of Fred Wilson and REPOhistory.

Lesson Plan: Double Album: Pick up the Right Things