Gallery of texts

Instructions

Imagine that you are a curator working for a museum that is putting on an interesting exhibition of texts. The texts that you select for your exhibition should be very diverse in type and very unified in theme. Write an introduction to your exhibition, which audiences would read when they enter your exhibition. You may use this introduction to an exhibition a the MET in New York as a model on which to base your text. Write captions to go beside each text that appears in your museum. In your introduction and captions, be sure to refer to the key concepts from this course: identity, transformation, representation, culture, communication, creativity and perspective. Present your texts and introduction to your classmates in a short presentation. The point of this activity is to show your engagement with multiple texts, text types and a theme. 

Model portfolio entry

WHAT:The New Metropolis (NEMO) Museum in Amsterdam presents: 'First steps to the end of times'. This exhibition is intended to provoke thought on the history and significance of technology. Is human civilisation making ground-breaking progress? Or are we simply progressing toward our end? Do we control the machines that we create? Or will they be cause of our demise? The texts in this exhibition offer a new perspective on human creativity. The usual representation of technology, as mankind's greatest achievement, is called into question. See hundred-year-old photographs in a whole new light. Read poems from a post-industrial point-of-view. Be prepared to change the way you live with your gadgets.



Caption: 'Global warming here we come!' What would Orville and Wilbur Wright say if they could see the way we fly today? Imagine the looks on their faces, if you were to tell them that 4.1 billion people fly on a plane last year. Global warming? They probably had no idea. Today aviation contributes to 2% of greenhouse gasses.


Caption: 'Machine eats man!' In this famous silent movie, Charlie Chaplin addresses some big topics through his deceptively silly character, the 'Little Tramp'. Filmed and screened during the Great Depression, Chaplin shows the pressures put on the work force to increase output. After being eaten by a machine on an assembly line, quite literally, he is fired from his job and eventually locked up on suspicion of being a communist. In the end he is the victim of a greater 'machine'.

(MODERN MACHINERY)

We were taken from the ore-bed and the mine,   
   We were melted in the furnace and the pit—   
We were cast and wrought and hammered to design,   
   We were cut and filed and tooled and gauged to fit.   
Some water, coal, and oil is all we ask,
   And a thousandth of an inch to give us play:   
And now, if you will set us to our task,
   We will serve you four and twenty hours a day!

      We can pull and haul and push and lift and drive,   
      We can print and plough and weave and heat and light,
      We can run and race and swim and fly and dive,   
      We can see and hear and count and read and write!

Would you call a friend from half across the world?
   If you’ll let us have his name and town and state,
You shall see and hear your crackling question hurled
   Across the arch of heaven while you wait.   
Has he answered? Does he need you at his side?
   You can start this very evening if you choose,   
And take the Western Ocean in the stride
   Of seventy thousand horses and some screws!

      The boat-express is waiting your command!   
      You will find the Mauretania at the quay,
      Till her captain turns the lever ’neath his hand,   
      And the monstrous nine-decked city goes to sea.

Do you wish to make the mountains bare their head   
   And lay their new-cut forests at your feet?   
Do you want to turn a river in its bed,
   Or plant a barren wilderness with wheat?
Shall we pipe aloft and bring you water down
   From the never-failing cisterns of the snows,   
To work the mills and tramways in your town,
   And irrigate your orchards as it flows?

      It is easy! Give us dynamite and drills!
      Watch the iron-shouldered rocks lie down and quake   
      As the thirsty desert-level floods and fills,
      And the valley we have dammed becomes a lake.

But remember, please, the Law by which we live,   
   We are not built to comprehend a lie,
We can neither love nor pity nor forgive.
   If you make a slip in handling us you die!   
We are greater than the Peoples or the Kings—
   Be humble, as you crawl beneath our rods!-
Our touch can alter all created things,
   We are everything on earth—except The Gods!

      Though our smoke may hide the Heavens from your eyes,
      It will vanish and the stars will shine again,
      Because, for all our power and weight and size,   
      We are nothing more than children of your brain!

Caption: 'Take away their dynamite and drills!' In this poem written during WWII, Rudyard Kipling suggests that people have the power to control the machines that they have created. They are "nothing more than children of [our] brain[s]." But we have given the machines "dynamite and drills" and, as result, there is more gold above ground today than believed to be in the ground. When gold deposits are expected to run out in 2065, people will have no choice but to take away their dynamite and drills. 



Caption: 'Pro-life, anti-stem cell research.' When Lennart Nilsson captured the early days of human life in this full colour photograph in 1965, he could not imagine that people would attach it to placards and protest against women's rights an abortion. Today the pro-life movement has stifled embryonic stem cell research in the United States, which is needed to alleviate juvenile diabetes, Parkinson's disease, heart failure and spinal cord injuries


Caption: 'Elon Musk chooses to go to Mars!' In his famous speech is JFK talking about the space race, science for science's sake or a proxy war with the Soviet Union? Quite possibly all three! In this post-Cold War era, who challenges us to go where no man has gone before? Elon Musk! He's been labelled crazy for setting his target on Mars. But hey, why not? As he claims, humans may need an new home planet relatively soon.


Caption: 'AI doesn't like you, Dave.' Over fifty year after Kubric's depiction of HAL 9000, people are begining to wonder if machines could overrule humans. Could Kubrick be right? While Artificial Intelligence has seen amazing advancement in recent years, from driverless cars to chess victories, progress in artificial emotional intelligence has been slow. But if machines can teach themselves to respond to human behaviour, and if human behaviour is predictable, then watch out humans!

Chapter 1
A merry little surge of electricity piped by automatic alarm from the mood organ beside his bed awakened Rick Deckard. Surprised—it always surprised him to find himself awake without prior notice—he rose from the bed, stood up in his multicolored pajamas, and stretched. Now, in her bed, his wife Iran opened her gray, unmerry eyes, blinked, then groaned and shut her eyes again.
“You set your Penfield too weak,” he said to her. “I’ll reset it and you’ll be awake and—”

“Keep your hand off my settings.” Her voice held bitter sharpness. “I don’t want to be awake.”

He seated himself beside her, bent over her, and explained softly. “If you set the surge up high enough, you’ll be glad you’re awake; that’s the whole point. At setting C it overcomes the threshold barring consciousness, as it does for me.” Friendlily, because he felt well-disposed toward the world—his setting had been at D—he patted her bare, pale shoulder.

“Get your crude cop’s hand away,” Iran said.

“I’m not a cop.” He felt irritable, now, although he hadn’t dialed for it.

“You’re worse,” his wife said, her eyes still shut. “You’re a murderer hired by the cops.”

“I’ve never killed a human being in my life.” His irritability had risen now; had become outright hostility.

Iran said, “Just those poor andys.”

“I notice you’ve never had any hesitation as to spending the bounty money I bring home on whatever momentarily attracts your attention.” He rose, strode to the console of his mood organ. “Instead of saving,” he said, “so we could buy a real sheep, to replace that fake electric one upstairs. A mere electric animal, and me earning all that I’ve worked my way up to through the years.” At his console he hesitated between dialing for a thalamic suppressant (which would abolish his mood of rage) or a thalamic stimulant (which would make him irked enough to win the argument).

“If you dial,” Iran said, eyes open and watching, “for greater venom, then I’ll dial the same. I’ll dial the maximum and you’ll see a fight that makes every argument we’ve had up to now seem like nothing. Dial and see; just try me.” She rose swiftly, loped to the console of her own mood organ, stood glaring at him, waiting.

>Caption: 'There's an app for everything!' What if Philip K. Dick could hold a smartphone in his hand today? What would he say? 'Is there an app for my mood organ?' This question doesn't sound so absurd in today's context. We have apps to meditate and moniter our health. Is the newest app going to monitor our emotions? Or could it even regulate them? Waking up to an arguement with your spouse might be mediated, like so many moments in our lives.

Fate has ordained that the men who went to the moon to explore in peace will stay on the moon to rest in peace. 

These brave men, Neil Armstrong and Edwin Aldrin, know that there is no hope for their recovery. But they also know that there is hope for mankind in their sacrifice. 

These two men are laying down their lives in mankind’s most noble goal: the search for truth and understanding. 

They will be mourned by their families and friends; they will be mourned by their nation; they will be mourned by the people of the world; they will be mourned by a Mother Earth that dared send two of her sons into the unknown.

In their exploration, they stirred the people of the world to feel as one; in their sacrifice, they bind more tightly the brotherhood of man.  

In ancient days, men looked at stars and saw their heroes in the constellations. In modern times, we do much the same, but our heroes are epic men of flesh and blood. 

Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied. But these men were the first, and they will remain the foremost in our hearts. 

For every human being who looks up at the moon in the nights to come will know that there is some corner of another world that is forever mankind.

Caption: 'Martyrs of science.' Fortunately for Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong, they returned safely from the moon and Richard Nixon did not have to read this speech on TV. His eulogy, however, would have convinced audiences that their deaths had not have been in vain.


A rat done bit my sister Nell. 
(with Whitey on the moon) 
Her face and arms began to swell. 
(and Whitey's on the moon) 
I can't pay no doctor bill. 
(but Whitey's on the moon) 
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still. 
(while Whitey's on the moon) 
The man jus' upped my rent las' night. 
('cause Whitey's on the moon) 
No hot water, no toilets, no lights. 
(but Whitey's on the moon) 
I wonder why he's uppi' me? 
('cause Whitey's on the moon?) 
I was already payin' 'im fifty a week. 
(with Whitey on the moon) 
Taxes takin' my whole damn check, 
Junkies makin' me a nervous wreck, 
The price of food is goin' up, 
An' as if all that shit wasn't enough
A rat done bit my sister Nell. 
(with Whitey on the moon) 
Her face an' arm began to swell. 
(but Whitey's on the moon) 
Was all that money I made las' year 
(for Whitey on the moon?) 
How come there ain't no money here? 
(Hm! Whitey's on the moon) 
Y'know I jus' 'bout had my fill 
(of Whitey on the moon) 
I think I'll sen' these doctor bills, 
Airmail special 
(to Whitey on the moon)

Caption: 'Remember Dr. Bernard A. Harris?' Gill Scott-Heron would be happy to know that, in 1995, Dr. Bernard A. Harris was the first African American in space. You haven't heard of Dr. Bernard A. Harris? But you have heard of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, the first men on the moon, who indeed were white. In 'Whitey on the Moon' Gill Scott-Heron reminds us that social issues, such as poverty and racial equality, seem to take a back seat to scientific achievement. This raises the question: At what cost do we aim for the stars?


WHY: We started a unit on technology by looking at a series of photographs which were 'firsts', such as the first picture of earth from space, the first airplane flight, the first X-ray and the first photograph. This made me wonder about the relationship between humans and technology. Are humans like little gods that need to constantly create things? What do our inventions say about who we are? I'm thinking about doing my HL Essay on 2001: A Space Odyssey , because I'm such a big Kubrick fan. So I though this exhibition would be a perfect starting point.    

HOW: In class we worked in groups on the photographs of 'firsts'. When our teacher said we could do this month's portfolio activity in groups, we wanted to stick together as a group. We had already written the rough draft of our exhibition introduction in class anyways, so it wasn't much work to polish it up and find a few more texts to go into our exhibition. As I wrote new captions to each photograph and literary text, I found myself asking really pessimistic statements. For example, next to the photograph of the Wright Brothers' plane, I wrote: "Global warming, here we come."  

SO WHAT: I would have liked to include more texts in my exhibition, but I ran out of time. I also feel like I was overly focused the topics of space travel and the moon landing. But I may have done this because I'm already thinking ahead to the HL Essay that I want to write about Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey. I have already explored some of the themes from that movie in this portfolio activity, such as the fear of artificial intelligence and the cost of scientific achievement. I may also do my individual oral on Kipling's poem and screen shots from Modern Times  on the global issue of technology and labour.

Tips

This is a bigger assignment that requires time, patience and energy. Break it down by focusing on 2-3 texts at first. Then allow for your ideas to mature. It's useful for showing your understanding of a theme, topic, concept or global issue.

Last modified: Sunday, 18 October 2020, 3:59 PM