About Andrew Battista

Andrew Battista is Librarian for Geospatial Information Systems at New York University

Parting Shots

National Parks Class:  Let met echo what Kelly said in her previous post.  It’s been a great course and a good semester, and I’ve enjoyed learning with you and from you all about landscape art, 19th-century American Imperialism, and more.  Further, it’s been a joy to see how each of you have applied these ideas, which in reality are about much more than just the national parks, to your own art and meditations on humans and nature.

Inness, The Lackawanna Valley, 1855

I’ll also echo what Kelly said about grades.  We sat down and tabulated these together, and for the most part, those who got below a B in the class did so because they did not write all of the blog posts.  Again, blogging, forming ideas, and having extended meditations on cultural artifacts and actual works of art was a big part of the course.  There were no exams, no researched essays, and no traditional projects like annotated bibliographies.  That’s why blogging comprised so much of the final grade.

I hope you all thought that the skill of blogging was a valuable one to learn. Each of you has developed the ability to participate in public discussions.  One shout out goes to Jack Vest, whose “Where the Wild Things Are” was the most popular post all semester. So far, it’s scored over 900 hits!

We also evaluated your final projects, and many of them were excellent.  Kelly and I have extensive notes on your presentations and projects, and if you are in fact curious about how we evaluated your final project, you are welcome to e mail us and we’ll be happy to share.

Best to everyone this holiday season, and I hope to see you all around the Carmichael Library!

National Parks Recognize National Indian Heritage Month

My found article or artifact is a recent tweet I saw by the U.S. National Park Service that reminds us November is National Indian Heritage Month.  For the record, it’s also National Adoption Awareness Month, Prematurity Awareness Month, and National Family Caregivers Awareness Month, but still.

What strikes me about the fact that the National Parks Services has recognized National Indian Heritage Month is that their web page, which is full of information, doesn’t fully make the connection that the legacy of America’s National Parks is intertwined the U.S. Continue reading

Ticket to Ride: You Bring the Readings to Class & Revised Schedule

We have one more conventional week of class readings and discussion on the schedule.  That final week, however, is different.  Rather than Kelly and I assigning a specific text, each of us in the class will bring something to the table as part of the class readings.

I’ll explain more about this in a second, but first, be advised of new changes to the schedule of the final weeks of this class.  They are as follows:

1.  We will be meeting this coming Monday, Nov. 12 to discuss readings and artifacts that we each come up with.

2.  We will not meet the following Monday, Nov. 19th.  We’ll cancel this class in exchange for going to the art museum at the end of the week after Thanksgiving.  That’s right. Class is cancelled the Monday before Thanksgiving.

3.  However, the final checkpoint for blog free-form articles and art interpretations will still be on Nov. 19th.

4. We will meet on Monday, Nov. 26, and the first half of the class will present your final projects in class. More to follow shortly on who will present, when, and what presenting entails.

5.  During the time between Nov. 27-Nov. 30, we will likely visit the Birmingham Art Museum.

See the revised syllabus for all of this information. Also, don’t forget to fill in your final project information on the Google Document! I haven’t seen anyone do this yet. Now, on to what we will do for this week’s class. Continue reading

Google Doc Table of Final Projects

For the sake of ease, and perhaps in advance of future organization, I started a Google Docs spreadsheet that organizes everyone’s final project. I’ll say more about this in class tonight, but for now, please log in and add to this table.  I’m especially interested in seeing each person come up with a new or refined title and a “thesis” for the project.  By thesis, I mean at least one statement or observation that you plan to make in conjunction with your project.  That is, what do you hope to prove or what claim will you make via your project?

Access the document here!

Berger and the Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction

Because photographs have been such a vital medium for developing the mythology of the National Parks in America, we are going to take one week to think about some of the implications of the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction.  What does it mean when a work of art can be reproduced in mass quantities?  Does our experience with the art (or the place itself) change?  Invariably, yes, but how, and to what effect?  If we think about the national parks as artworks, then reproductions of them could further distance us from the actual physical presence of nature that we seek to recall by having photographs or paintings in the first place.

Ansel Adams, Monolith, Face of Half Dome, Yosemite (1927)

These are not new ideas.  Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” suggests that we have, in theory, always been able to reproduce a work of art.   Continue reading