With the residue of our last post, it’s interesting to see how electronics have affected our habits and lifestyles. Ever since the 90’s when Nintendo introduced the Game Boy, I have had trouble staying away from electronic devices at the dinner table or even at the movies. (I’d like my $13 back!) But perhaps it isn’t the Game Boy or the Blackberry that’s keeping us away from face-to-face communication. Maybe we have been like that for a long time but only now we blame it on devices that give us tired eyes and carpal tunnel syndrome. Simiarly, James McNeill Whistler shows similar themes of distraction as dinner at my house.
Whistler illustrates three people in The Music Room closely reading a book or newspaper as they sit around the sole lit lamp in the room. He accomplished the artwork by the etching technique, in which he used a strong acid and a sharp tool to cut into the metal surface. The benefit of this method is that it creates a rougher image. You can see where Whistler really spent a good amount of time scratching into the surface to show illumination in certain areas.
This etching and others are part of the Freer Gallery: Sweet Silent Thought exhibit. These drawings were from the nineteenth century, at a time when women were associated with self-reflection. The theme of these drawings is intimate, where people are at the minimum level of interaction.
Isn’t it interesting to see how three people can be in a room together and not communicate? When will we see a modern version of The Music Room where we have our heads buried in our cell phones?
James McNeill Whistler, Reading By Lamplight, 1858, etching and drypoint on paper, Smithsonian Museum of Asian Art, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery.
Feeling inspired to leave the distractions in the other room tonight? Let us know by leaving us your comments and feedback!
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