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October 27, 2011

Host: Ted Simons

Arizona ArtBeat: Janine Antoni

  |   Video
  • She expresses herself through performance and sculpture. New York artist Janine Antoni discussed her art with Ted Simons while she was in town to deliver the Elaine Horwitch Lecture on Contemporary Art and Visual Culture at Arizona State University.
  • Janine Antoni - Artist
Category: The Arts   |   Keywords: art, ASU, live, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: Today's edition of "Arizona Artbeat" looks at an artist from New York whose work has been exhibited throughout the world. Janine Antoni expresses herself through performance and sculpture. She was at ASU this week to deliver a lecture on contemporary art and visual culture. I spoke to Antoni about her unique take on artistic expression. Thanks for joining us on "Horizon."

Janine Antoni: It's great to be here.

Ted Simons: Combine -- it looks like you're combining performance, art and sculpture. Am I reading that right?

Janine Antoni: You could say that. The art world term would be that I would make performative objects.
Ted Simons: Interesting.
Janine Antoni: So, it's about an object that makes you think of its making.

Ted Simons: Explain.

Janine Antoni: When you look at the object, you think, how did she make this? And in your mind you recreate the object.

Ted Simons: But you make some of these objects using your body. You, literally make some of these objects. Correct?

Janine Antoni: Yes. With all kinds of parts of my body.

Ted Simons: Right. You use your teeth to chisel stuff, your hair as a paintbrush, how did you come up with this idea?

Janine Antoni: Well, I started wanting to work with materials that everybody knows. Whether it be soap, or chocolate, and then I thought, I want to do some kind of everyday activity. So instead of this rarified thing of chiseling a piece of marble, everybody eats, right? But I wanted to take this everyday activity and imitate some kind of sculptural process. So one thing led to another. And I thought, hmm. Mopping the floor, painting could be similar. If I'm going to mop the floor with my hair, what would be the material to mop with?
Ted Simons: Sure.
Janine Antoni: Hair dye, things went like that.
Ted Simons: Sure. So transforming literally everyday activity into art, but in a different fashion.
Janine Antoni: Right.

Ted Simons: How did you come up with this?

Janine Antoni: How did I come up with that?

Ted Simons: Was there an ah-ha moment where you were thinking of this and you went, oh, my goodness?

Janine Antoni: I guess there was an ah-ha moment, but how that came to me, the creative process is such a mystery.

Ted Simons: I want to ask more about the creative process. This is stuff that's different; it's a different form of expression. But no one just sits there and gets zapped by completely -- you live a life, you look at things, you think about -- do these ideas come to your head, your gut? How does it happen? Let's take a look at one of your pieces here. This is the lick and lather, the soap and chocolate you were referring to earlier. What is it and how did it come to you?

Janine Antoni: Well, I got the opportunity to show in Venice, and as you know there's classical sculpture everywhere. So I wanted to do something that would somehow relate to the sight. And I was thinking about tradition, the tradition of making a self-portrait. And so I thought, how can I make a contemporary self-portrait? And I thought, why do we even make a self-portrait? And I think that's because we want to immortalize ourselves, but of course I'm working with chocolate and soap, which are -- goes against the grain of that. So then I thought, hmm, are we more ourselves eating a meal, or taking a bath? Than we are presenting ourselves like we are right now to the world? I think so.
Ted Simons: Interesting
Janine Antoni: And I thought, I want to describe myself that way.

Ted Simons: When you have a finished product, when you see the two busts, when everything is done, is that what the mind or gut thought when the idea first --

Janine Antoni: Never.

Ted Simons: That never happens?

Janine Antoni: It's always a surprise.
Ted Simons: Yeah.
Janine Antoni: And that's I think the exciting thing about being an artist. I kind of follow my nose, and listen to the material, and have a relationship with the object. And then if I'm lucky I'm surprised by what comes out of the experience.

Ted Simons: Is it -- are you ever concerned? Does it ever seem disconcerting when it comes out?

Janine Antoni: The entire time.

Ted Simons: I see. It's always a surprise in some way.

Janine Antoni: Somehow I don't even believe I made this object.

Ted Simons: Let's look at another object you made. This involves, it looks like it's a body draped by something, and I'm going to guess because it's called ‘front light leather’, it's draped in leather. Correct?
Janine Antoni: Umm hmm…
Ted Simons: Now what's behind this piece?

Janine Antoni: It's called saddle, in fact, which is made out of leather. What I did is cast myself on my hands and knees in fiberglas, and I made that in five parts. Then I got the hide from the cow sent to me straight off the cow, just with the hair removed and it came like a piece of raw meat. And I draped it over the mold of my body, and for 24 hours I could sculpt the folds. So I -- the entire thing shrinks and dries and hardens, and when it freezes in position, then I turned it over and took the figure out. So it's a really airy piece when you experience it because you feel the absence of me and the absence of the cow.

Ted Simons: And again, did this come to you by way of -- are you trying to get a message across, or are you just trying to express yourself?

Janine Antoni: Wow. Both.

Ted Simons: Both? OK.

Janine Antoni: The message is the expression.

Ted Simons: So is there always a message, though? Is it a message to me, a message to an audience?

Janine Antoni: Oh, I'm just thinking about you all the time when I making my work. So I really -- that's what generates how I make the object. Because I'm always thinking about the viewer and the fact that you have a body and you can relate to these experiences through your body. It's important to me.

Ted Simons: But you know some artists say, I don't care about the audience -- I don’t care if they get ‘em or not---

Janine Antoni: I care so much.
Ted Simons: You are different, aren’t you?
Janine Antoni: I fantasize about the viewer all the time.

Ted Simons: Let's see what you had in mind with this next piece. This is where you seem to be floating off of the ground wearing a house, it's called "inhabit." Am I correct about that?
Janine Antoni: Umm hmm…
Ted Simons: There's got to be a message in there.
Janine Antoni: Well, I'm a mother, and what's interesting about being a mother is that this unfolding of this little child in front of you is incredibly magical. And I had this idea that as a mother, I'm just the supportive structure for this incredible creation. And in fact that I -- it's probably better if I don't get too involved.
Ted Simons: Interesting
Janine Antoni: So I kind of had this image of a spider building a web between the branches of a tree. And I thought, I'm like the branches of the tree. I'm creating the secure structure for her to become the person she needs to be. So I started with the idea of, could I get a spider to build a web on my body? Of course naively I tried to pursue that by talking to spider experts and the whole thing. And I realized pretty quickly that's probably impossible. In the process of doing that, I came to the harness, because I knew I'd have to stay very still. And when I started to look into the harnesses, I found this particular harness that made me look like a spider in a web.

Ted Simons: And it worked out very well, didn’t it?

Janine Antoni: Yeah, but then I to figure out how to keep the spider on my body. And then I thought, a web within a web, I could have a house within a house.
Ted Simons: Wow.
Janine Antoni: And that's where I came out with the doll house.

Ted Simons: And I was going to ask you, do you -- how much editing do you do? It sounds like that particular piece went through a process, but is there a lot of editing involved? You go one way, nope, gotta got other way.

Janine Antoni: I wish I could take you to my studio, because it's full of carcasses of ideas that didn't quite make it. So you just follow your nose and hopefully it reveals itself to you.

Ted Simons: Are you ever concerned that the method, your method will supersede the message, or become -- I know you say everything is kind of coalesced into one, but is there ever a concern, she's the one who does this, as opposed to, she's the one that makes me think about this or feel this?

Janine Antoni: If you think about this three works we just looked at, each one is entirely different in form than the other. And I think that prevents me from being the chocolate artist, you know. The one that wears the house as a dress. Because I keep changing my form, but hopefully the content, which is about the body and identity and being a woman, those are consistent.

Ted Simons: Last question, with that in mind, what do you want people to take from your art when they see you perform, when they see your sculptures? When they see this program, what do you want people to take from this?

Janine Antoni: I want them to arrive into their bodies.

Ted Simons: Meaning?

Janine Antoni: Meaning that we go around the world dealing with objects that we have no idea what they're made out of, how they're made and who made them. And I don't know about you, but for me that's a very alienating relationship. So I want to give you an object where you have the history on its surface. And that you relate to it through your own physicality.

Ted Simons: Very good. It's good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Janine Antoni: Thank you.

Ted Simons: And that is it for now. I'm Ted Simons. Thank you so much for joining us. You have a great evening.

Impact of “Passing Moods” on Economic Decisions

  |   Video
  • A team of ASU researchers is studying how rational economic decisions are influenced by a person’s mood and embedded human impulses. ASU professor Douglas Kenrick and Jessica Li, an ASU doctoral student, talk about their research.
  • Douglas Kenrick - ASU Professor
  • Jessica Li - ASU Doctoral Student
Category: Business/Economy   |   Keywords: economy, moods, ASU, ,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: How much are financial decisions impacted by cave man instincts? A lot, according to new research by scientists at ASU. Here to talk about that research is ASU psychology professor Douglas Kenrick and psychology doctoral student Jessica Li. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.
Jessica Lee: Thank you
Ted Simons: Passing moods can influence rational economic -- talk to us about this.

Douglas Kenrick: So there's this phenomenon called loss aversion, which economists think is kind of strange, because $100 to an economist is worth $100, whether it's coming or going, whether it's in your wallet or whether it's just spent. But psychologists found out that people have a lot stronger reaction to the loss of $100 than they do of the gain of $100. You're walking down the street, you find $100, you feel good. If you look in your wallet and find you lost it, you feel twice as bad as you would have felt good. That's loss aversion. It was considered a constant in human judgment in decision making, one of the things psychologist contributed. But we thought maybe it doesn't always work that way. We studied how humans think from an evolutionary perspective, and one of the things we found in our lab is that who you pay attention to, how you remember those people, are all sort of dependent upon what we call functionally relevant significant motives.

Ted Simons: I want to get Jessica in here as well. What are we talking about? We're talking about ancestral stuff, aren't we?

Ted Simons: Yeah. So these motives are presumed to be very important for humans across all different cultures, and they would have been very relevant to our ancestors' abilities to survive and reproduce. So some of these motivations include self-protection, our ancestors had to develop a set of behaviors when they faced dangers. Such as a bear. How were they able to survive under those circumstances? Mating motivation another extremely relevant motivation if our ancestors were to successfully reproduce.

Ted Simons: As far as the research is concerned, how did you study this? What was done?

Douglas Kenrick: We brought people into the laboratory, and we put them in a mating frame of mind, or a self-protective frame of mind. Imagine you're on a tropical vacation, you meet some very attractive person, they're attracted to you, you can't stop talking to one another, you find an excuse to spend the evening together, have dinner. Looking into their eyes and it end was this romantic kiss. We have the students imagine themselves with someone they find attractive. Or other students imagine you're alone in the house at night, you hear some noises, it becomes clearer someone has broken into your house, and you reach for the phone, the phone line has been cut. And you hear the door opening. So during these two frames of mind, now they make a standard economic decision. Why don’t you tell them about the decision Lee.

Jessica Lee: So we're trying to look at loss aversion, whether loss aversion will be affected by what state of mind these people are in.

Ted Simons: That $100.

Jessica Lee: Exactly. So we're trying to look at the psychological impact of gaining or losing certain amounts of money, like $100. Right after people read these scenarios, imagining themselves with a person who is attractive, or being scared alone in the house at night, we then have -- then asked them how happy or unhappy they would be if they gained certain amounts of money or if they lost money.

Ted Simons: So what did you find?

Jessica Lee: Well, what we found was exactly what we predicted. For both men and women, when they were worried about protecting themselves from physical danger is when they were in the self-protection mode, they become more loss risk than usual. They were really afraid of what they might lose. It could mean life or limb. Extremely detrimental to our ability to survive. On the other hand, a mating motivation led men, but not women, to not be loss aversion, it was a -- this didn't happen for women. And this is because of some one pulling biological theories such as parental investment.

Ted Simons: Real quickly, didn't happen with women, but how did the women respond to the men who responded differently?

Douglas Kenrick: That's a slightly different question. What we typically find is that women are attracted to men who have resources. Men tend not to care. There's a study that was done where they showed students, a picture of a very attractive person wearing a Burger King outfit or wearing a nice suit of clothing. It turns out for the men, they didn't care what she was wearing, was she beautiful or not? The women paid a lot of attention, the unattractive guy wearing a nice suit was more desirable than the poorer good looking guy. So a lot of research shows that women are attracted to men's status and wealth. From an evolutionary perspective this makes sense, because women's -- women contribute their bodies to the offspring, we're mammals so the women bear the children, they pay an immense cost for the children, you know they have to nurse them afterwards. And men, if they contribute anything, most mammalian men don't contribute anything, it's all like Los Angeles in 1973.
Douglas Kenrick: Very short-term mating. The male gives his genes, but human beings, the males hang around. And the best ones have resources. So females want -- before a female is willing to mate with a guy, she wants to see, what have you got
Ted Simons: Yeah
Douglas Kenrick: You know, in terms of resources.

Ted Simons: Last question, as far as all this idea of rational economic decisions and everything from comparing this and doing that, not a big deal anymore? We just basically work on impulses we don't even recognize?

Jessica Lee: No, I mean our belief is that every area, every discipline has something to contribute to our understanding of human behavior. Of course rational economics, we can learn a lot from that, a lot from the models they produce about how people ideally under ideal circumstances should behave. But we also believe that these motivations are very powerful. And to get the full understanding of why people make the decisions, the financial decisions that they do, we really have to look at our behavior from a lot of different perspectives.

Ted Simons: All right. And we'll stop it right there. Fascinating stuff. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Jessica Lee: Thank you.

Media and Missing Persons

  |   Video
  • Some missing person cases are all over the national media while others are completely neglected. ASU Broadcast Journalism Professor Craig Allen discusses how the National Media chooses which missing person cases to cover.
  • Craig Allen - ASU Professor, Broadcast Journalism
Category: Community   |   Keywords: media, missing, people, children,

View Transcript
Ted Simons: It's been more than two weeks since 5-year-old Jahessye Shockley of Glendale disappeared. The local coverage started immediately, but the national media didn't pick up the story until the girl's grandmother complained that it was being ignored because Jahessye is African-American. But is that a factor in how the national media decides which missing person cases to cover? For analysis we go to Craig Allen, a broadcast journalism professor at Arizona State University. Good to have you here. Thanks for joining us.

Craig Allen: Thank you, Ted.

Ted Simons: How does the media in general, we're generalizing here, but how does the media decide which missing person -- child, adults, how do you decide?

Craig Allen: Well, I think an important distinction here is local versus national media. As you pointed out, the local media have extensively covered this. I think that is largely from the perspective that getting the word out might help return the child. When you elevate this to the national level, many additional factors come into play. Because there are so vast and larger number of cases. To reach the agenda of the national level, many different things go into it. Just essentially, in brief, they have to do with communication that's gone on between the captors, whether ransom, that ransom has been promoted, that's a huge factor, especially whether the police have made an appeal to the media. Another factor I must say is the appeal of the victim, of the person that's unfortunately been captured. A cute little kid will largely make it in the news.

Ted Simons: The story it seems to me again, on a national level, they seem to either take a life of their own and move almost with speed no one can control, or they just don't get traction. Again, is there a rhyme or reason why -- this is a cute little girl, a missing girl, but I thought something you mentioned was interesting, no one seems to have a clue? No one seems to have much of a hint except for unfortunately some problems in the family past. Is that a factor?

Craig Allen: Umm… I think that could be a factor. But in terms of getting these cases before the American public, even the world, the world public, many additional things have to fall into place. A lot of it has to do with what immediately happens after the case. Such as the JonBenét Ramsey case, the case of Madeleine McCann a few years ago where there was an eye witness to what occurred. All those things have to -- can come into play to cause the snowball to roll, and the story feeds on itself and suddenly it's a cause celeb.

Ted Simons: Is the family background a factor? Do you think in terms of, again, general national media coverage.

Craig Allen: It's a hard question to answer, because there have been so many recent cases where that has come into play, notably the Ramsey case. But I don't think the media is looking for a family background factor as a hook on the news story. I think initially they're looking, can they help bring the child back, and then the first 24 hours, if the police have gone to the media, if there's been a communication with the captors that will start it on its way.

Ted Simons: Its interesting you mention the police, how the police respond to an incident, really do make a difference in terms of how the media responds, doesn’t it?

Craig Allen: Absolutely. And these cases are very sensitive, and the reporters, the people in the news media aren't insensitive idiots. When police give directions on how this case could go good or bad, media will respond to that.

Ted Simons: Is the grandmother in this case, she says race is a factor. Could that be a factor? Is that possible, on the national level again?

Craig Allen: I would say this -- I think we're all sympathetic to the concern. It would be great if this could get in the national media, get on BBC, get on Al Jazeera, the whole world knows this child is missing. We love that. Because that help the recovery prospects. And there might be some semblance of an argument because of the fact most of the very few cases have to do with blonde haired Caucasian sweet little kids. Those have been the ones that have been singled out. The facts of the case reveal that there are far too many cases that don't get covered to generalize. Just for example, just before I came in I went on the website center for missing -- center for missing children, and there were 13 cases they have on -- showcased today. The Glendale case being one of them. 13 total cases that -- seven are white, three are black, two are Hispanic, and one classified as American Indian. And none of them have gotten publicity.

Ted Simons: And that brings us back full circle. Why? Why JonBenét Ramsey, why the Casey Anthony-- when you have murder involved or attempted murder, obviously the dynamic changes, but you just wonder why? And again, is the national media reflecting our interests? If we're not interested, they're not interested.
Craig Allen: Well, I think, again, there's a distinction between local and network. I think the media here; the English and Spanish news providers in Phoenix get into these cases and -- in part because they need news material, but also because of the possibility that blowing the story out will help recover the child. So I think that do -- I think there's that level of concern here. But to get this into the national agenda, you've got to have a bigger -- something bigger, something more interesting than that. And I look -- again, just briefly in looking at this before coming in here tonight, I've gone back over the last 15, 20 years, there have really only been about five or six hugely profiled cases that I think are impression of this topic is generated by six or seven cases like that. When if you look at the statistics, according to what I've seen, there's 797 missing children cases each year, so how would you -- how would you generalize?

Ted Simons: Real quickly, ratings? Impact, national, network, cable?

Craig Allen: That's what I'm saying. You need the ratings, the really high appealing stories. And unfortunately, not everyone, every case is going to do it.

Ted Simons: All right. Good stuff. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
Craig Allen: Thanks Ted.