Pop Art – A Quick Guide to the Basics

Some of the most well-known artists of the Pop Art phenomenon, such as Roy Lichtenstein and Robert Rauschenberg, were born in the 1920′s which was a boom time in the USA with money to spare and jazz music starting to make it’s mark. But in 1929 the stock market crashed and the US entered a depression that lasted until the mid-1930′s. Perhaps the most famous of all pop artists, Andy Warhol, was born at the beginning of that depression.

So these artists grew up in a fast changing world that went from boom to bust to World War II in little over 10 years. By the time the war ended, they were still young and during the 1950s people again started to have some extra money available to spend on the endless stream of new products that were starting to appear.

And it was the design and advertising of these new products that the artists were commenting on, and influenced by, in a way that no previous generation of artists had been. They tried to use ordinary consumer items in their work to encourage people to view them differently. They also positioned common items in unusual ways to make people take notice of them.

Other common themes in Pop Art were comic books and the famous people of that era such as Elvis Presley and Marilyn Monroe, who will be forever associated with Warhol’s work. Warhol used screen printing techniques for his work and usually made several copies of the same image.

But what the artists sought to highlight was the way famous people were treated as objects in the same way as products were in advertising with all sense of their individuality removed. Although many pop artists were unwilling to give meaning to their work, and even those who posed questions with their art, left those same questions unanswered. Jasper Johns, famous for his series of paintings showing the American flag, famously questioned whether his own work was art or just a flag.

So what are the characteristics of Pop Art?

Just as the world in which we live is endlessly varied, so Pop Art used a variety of techniques but the common characteristics that define works as Pop Art are as follows:

Graphic Style: Clearly defined shapes and colours with hard edges such as the Lichtenstein comic book styles and David Hockney’s works.

Funny and Lighthearted: Rejecting the rather serious approach of earlier artists.

Everyday Products and Brands: including foodstuffs, cars and images from advertising and films.

Collage: and also different techniques within one work.

No Perspective: Flat two-dimensional works are very common.

Mechanical Techniques: silk-screen printing was used to create different versions of the same image.

Music – An Important Source of Entertainment

Music has been one of the key features of the entertainment industry. People have become so addicted to music that they can’t imagine their lives without it. Listening to music reduces the stress level and helps to calm an individual. It also rejuvenates and soothes one’s mind. Truly, music refreshes an individual and acts as a stress buster for the people whose lives have become monotonous due to the hectic schedule.

These days, music systems come with a variety of features and enhancements and are well equipped with proper bass, vibe and treble. They have a better sonic resolution. One can arrange their music tracks in their order of preference while listening. One can also take it as a disc jockey when arranging for a party. The karaoke is another important feature introduced in these systems. This feature shows a listener, lyrics of the song being played which increases the interest of a listener even more. Moreover, a listener can sing the song along with the same beats and rhythm.

Music industry is aware of the demands of listeners and so keeps on updating the music systems with new software. Sonos is the foremost digital music system that enables an individual to play music in all the rooms of the house.

Internet is another medium that makes music accessible to the people around the world. No matter if it is an old song that one wants to hear or a latest track all can be downloaded from the Internet. Computers are equipped with memory, software, sound card, processors, record and play features that can play the same track infinitely. One such software is named file-sharing program. This enables the internet user to browse a site and download the music in a digital format. Moreover, all the songs can be downloaded free of cost with best quality voice.

DVD players are another source of music. These players make use of digital video discs to store data and movies. Though priced quite reasonably, they have features that are parallel to high-valued models. They are portable and also have a video screen. It can be used for listening all different types of music like jazz, rock, soft and many others.

Thus, music is an important source of entertainment and can be listened anywhere through various sources available. The means of music systems vary and are distinctive in range, whether it is music system, Internet music or DVD players.

History of Ear Gauging in Tribal Civilizations

A study of the history of ear gauging indicates the practice to be as old as recorded human history. For males, this form of ear piercing has been a symbol of status, while for women, in addition to being used as means of bodily decoration, it has also been employed to signify the attainment of womanhood.

Ear gauging, which is also referred to as ear stretching, is the stretching of ear lobe piercings to larger diameters than that of the original piercing. It is a form of body enhancement or beautification that many young western people adopt to look ‘different’ from the usual crowd. However, this is not a modern form of body piercing, since it has been around for as long as archaeological records exist.

In many cases, ear gauging has been used historically to indicate the standing of members of a specific tribe, and in many respects this is still the situation today. Stretched piercings have been, and still are, a reflection on the individual’s sexual capability and also their superiority over other males in the tribe. The larger the stretching, the more important the individual.

Otzi the Iceman is a prime example of mummies known to have stretched ears. This is the earliest known example of ear gauging, Otzi having 7-11 mm ear piercings during 3300 BC. It has been suggested that the stretching of the ears noted in depictions of Siddhartha Gautama, better known as Buddha, may have been caused by the weight of the gold jewelry he wore, but this is mere supposition.

It is supported, however, by the fact that the Masai tribe of Kenya and the Lahu and Karen-Paduang people of Thailand use this ‘gravity’ technique to stretch their piercings. Let us have a look at the ear gauging practices used today by various cultures.

A. Mursi Tribal Women

The Mursi is an Ethiopian tribe where the women are obliged to wear plates in their gauged ears and on their bottom lip. About a year prior to her marriage, or at about 15 years of age, a Mursi girl’s lip will be pierced by her mother and a wooden peg pushed through the incision.

Once healed, the peg is changed for a larger diameter one. Eventually, the peg is replaced by a plate of clay or wood, and this plate is successively changed for larger diameter ones until the required diameter is attained – from around 8 – 22 cm in diameter (3 – 9 inches). Once these plates have been secured, she receives a higher degree of respect than those without them, and is known as a ‘Bhansanai’.

These lip and ear plates need not be worn permanently, but are an expected adornment during special occasions such as during weddings and other celebrations, and when they serve food to men. Today, young women can generally make their own decision as to whether or not they follow this tradition.

B. The Masai People of Kenya

The practice of ear gauging has been common among Masai men and women for thousands of years. In recent years, however, most young men have not been following this custom, although you will still find many Masai women wearing ear decorations made from stones, cross-cut elephant tusks, wood and animal bones.

The original piercing is carried out using a thorn, sharpened twig or a sharp knife point. Once healed, ear gauging is then carried out by wearing increasingly heavy jewellery that pulls the lobe down and stretches the piercing. This is the traditional way of gauging ears in the more primitive cultures, although many Masai today will use proper ear gauging techniques, such as their own versions of insertion tapers or taper spikes. Beads are a common form of ornamentation, although plugs made from bone, tusks and wood are also used.

C. The African Fulani Tribe

Fulani women from Nigeria and Central Africa tend to use smaller diameter ear gauges, and decorate them using large gold domes or hoops carrying earrings. A Fulani child will have her ears pierced at around 3 years old, although they may not be stretched until she is older. The gauges used by Fulani women are relatively small compared to the Masai and Mursi, although the jewellery can be larger.

D. Asian Hill Tribes

Of the various hill tribes, the only two known to practice ear gauging are the Lahu from Thailand, and the Karen-Padaung (Longnecks) from Myanmar (Burma) and also the Phrae province in Thailand. That latter tribe are best known for their neck rings, offering the appearance of long necks, but both cultures believe the ear to be sacred and the more jewellery they can wear on the better. By gauging their ears, they are able to wear the maximum amount of jewellery they believe possible.

E. Mexican and Central American Civilizations

In Mayan and Aztec society, ear gauging was regarded as desirable for males. There are many Mayan representations of men with flares and ear plugs (ear spools) in gauged ears, and the material used was indicative of the social standing of the wearer. Jade ear plugs were worn by the higher classes, while the rest would use bone, stone, wood and other materials. In central Mexico, the craftsmanship of the Aztecs is evident in the ear gauging plugs and ornaments of gold and silver, though the lower classes would adorn their stretches earlobes with shells, copper and wood among many other imaginative materials.

Ear gauging has been carried out worldwide, and among other notable areas involved in this practice are Japan, where the Ainu used ear jewellery made from shells, bone and a ball and ring known as Ninkari. There are many other cultures worldwide where ear gauging was a part of their life, and even today many people regard ear stretching as a fashion statement and a way of expressing their own personality and individuality.

The Origin, Characteristics and Uses of Roman Lettering

The Roman lettering style was developed from an old inscription found at the foot of a column built by Emperor Trojan in Rome in 113 B.C. A Frenchman called Nicholas Jenson first created the Roman lettering style in the fifteenth century precisely in 1470. It is also referred to as ‘Classical Roman lettering’ or ‘Quadrata’. The Roman alphabet took at least seven centuries to develop and did not contain the letters, J, U, and W.

Roman letters have ornamental or finishing strokes called serifs at both the top and bottom parts of the letters. These serifs give the vertical strokes of the letters stability and also make the letters graceful. The serif may be angular, thin, rounded or rectangular in their representations. This accounts for the varieties of serifs such as beaked serif, hairline serif, bracketed serif, sheared serif and slab serif.

There are other features that distinct this style of lettering from other forms of lettering. The letters have varying strokes of thick and thin. The vertical strokes are generally thick while the horizontal strokes are usually thin. Also, the letters have different proportions or sizes due to the transcending of thick and thin strokes. They are extremely beautiful and attractive because of the diversity in their stroke formation. Variety, which is a feature that breaks monotony or one format, is highly acclaimed with elegance by many people.

In addition, the letters stand erect or upright. This formal outlook of this lettering style makes it very appropriate to be used for official documents. This explains why mot documents for such purposes are usually restricted to be created in this lettering style.

Furthermore, the letters are carefully drawn or constructed. Due to the close attention paid to proportion and space, measuring devices are used by amateur designers who create these letters manually. Measuring tools on design software help in creating accurate representations of letters on personal computers.

This lettering is widely used for various purposes. It is used in writing the reading materials in books, newspapers, and magazines due to its excellent trait of readability. Also, they are used in designing packages for products and greeting cards for wishing people success in examinations, speedy recovery in ill health situations and many others. Again, they are used in writing the text on posters, banners, and other visual communication tools. Moreover, messages on citations are written in Roman lettering style. Names of participants in workshops, seminars, and other educational programmes are written in roman lettering styles on certificates.

It is one of the elegant lettering styles that ensure the designing of products in visual communication. Its rudiments must be carefully mastered and utilised by artists to achieve the maximum benefits.