Essay: An I For An Eye by LivLaing Bradford

In the piece An I For An Eye by LivLaing Bradford there is asymmetrical balance, organic and biomorphic shapes, and the use of emphasis,subordination, rhythm, and repetition. This piece contains asymmetrical balance because asymmetrical balance is when “The left and right sides are not the same” (Frank 64), so with the use of a human body as the trunk of a tree the left and right side of the images do not mirror each other. Also, since the outline of a human body is the positive shape it could not be considered approximate symmetry because based off of Professor Stevenson’s lecture video The Visual Toolbox Part 1 approximate symmetry is when there is “Balance achieved with dissimilar shapes on either side but with both sides having the same amount of visual weight”, so since the human body is the dominant portion of the piece when mirrored it has more weight on the viewer’s right because of the belly of the body, so the piece would definitely be asymmetrical. The shapes in this piece are organic and biomorphic because the human body is a biomorphic shape because biomorphic shapes are “Shapes based on natural forms” (Frank 24) and the eyes and leaves in the piece are organic shapes because organic shapes are “Irregular, often curving or rounded and seem relaxed and more informal than geometric shapes” (Frank 24). So, the human body that makes up the trunk of the tree is a natural form which would make it biomorphic and the eyes and leaves in the piece are organic shapes because they are rounded relaxed shapes of an oval and a triangle combined, however the eyes by themselves can also be considered a biomorphic shape since it to is based off a natural form as well. These shapes support the piece because since organic and biomorphic shapes are so similar the piece has a form of unity within it. The emphasis of the piece is the woman’s figure that is carved out to look like the trunk of the tree because emphasis is used to “draw our attention to an area” (Frank 67). This figure draws in attention when you first look at and it does help with organizing the piece through the use of contrast because yellow and red tones are complementary colors to blue and green, so the blue and green background colors that were used in the negative space draw more attention to the red and yellow figure. After looking at the yellow and red figure the viewing audience would be drawn to the blue and green background which will led to the eyes and the leaves that make up the rest of the tree. Subordination is used to “create neutral areas of lesser interest” (Frank 67). This was done towards the bottom of the piece where the tears from the eyes are combined with the eyes that have turned into leaves creating a neutral area that does not have a lot going on. There also is a “continued introduction of the same device” known as repetition according to Professor Stevenson’s lecture video The Visual Toolbox Part 1. The eye shape is continually repeated because both the eyes and the leaves are the same shape and they slowly transition from one to the other as the piece moves from top to bottom, and with this repetition also comes rhythm. There is a rhythm between the amount of eyes and leaves on both the left and right hand side of the piece because based off Professor Stevenson’s lecture video The Visual Toolbox Part 1 rhythm is the “regulating visual units and the rate at which they are repeated”. There are three eyes on each side with one of every color and then there are two eyes disguised as leaves that are falling down from the branches on both sides as well. From a direct point of view there are not the same amount of leaves on both sides but there is an illusion of balance on both sides.
An I For An Eye was listed in the museum of bad art, but from my own take of this piece I have found it to be an interesting piece to analyze. The piece may lack the details, quality, and textures that are needed to earn the title of a masterpiece, but from an online perspective the piece does seem to cover the proper values that are looked for in a piece of art. As mentioned in the paragraph above the piece contains balance, shape, emphasis, subordination, rhythm, and repetition, but does it fulfill the three theories that are used to critique the quality of art. Through the formal theory we look for “the composition of the work and how it may have been influenced by earlier works” (Frank 208). As for this piece it does draw in the attention of the viewer through its composition because from the use of complementary colors, biomorphic shapes, and emphasis the piece came together to be visually appealing. The Contextual theory is based off of “environmental influences” (Frank 211) and in 2001 during the same time period as the piece the tragic event called 9/11 had occurred, unfortunately when looking at this piece there does not seem to be a correlation between the piece and the tragic event. Lastly, we have the expressive theory in which we look at the “personal intent, emotional state, mind-set and gender of the creator” (Frank 212) from which the piece reveals the creator to be in pain and suffering, but since there is no information on the artist it is hard to claim whether or not the expressive theory is valid. This leads the interpretation of the piece to be a woman going through pain and sorrow as she binds herself to the tree and sheds the tears of this pain searching for relief. Through the evaluation of the theories the piece does come off as a bad piece of art since the only positive feedback through this evaluation came back from the formal theory. However, I must say this piece still seems to be a wonderful piece that may speak to many because it is visually appealing and if given more thought and analysis it represents a greater story than is presented. I believe that this piece is being dragged down by the creator itself because without more information on the artist it is hard to give it an accurate critique. Overall, this piece has potential that will attract inexperienced viewers and a few more experienced viewers, but it is not a masterpiece in which it would be considered good art as a whole.

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