I have to hand in a visual analysis essay on Tuesday on this painting: X I've met with the writing advisor now I'd like to hear what other students think. I wrote this in 4 hours? Not much time.. but I'm going to spend the rest of this weekend on it, hopefully.. so long as I can get some ideas/feedback. Thanks ~ Spoiler: Walton Ford, The Orientalist, 1999 Painting Orientalism, which is the study of the far-east, appears to be the topic of debate here. There is always humour in a subject. And on the topic that usually portrays people or markets, this painting by Walton Ford shows neither but a monkey and its device. In The Orientalist, there is the humour in discovery and colonisation. ?In the 18th Century, travel began to change the picture.? (Shearer 676) It was the change in cultural differences that fascinated western civilization and prompted explorers and artists to want to learn more and more of the east. In The Orientalist, Ford uses a monkey and it?s device to show the unveiling of the east by the west. The monkey being displayed is holding onto the tree branch or rope. The outline of the monkey looks as though it is parallel to the device which our eyes are drawn to. The device is shown as in the process of tracing a skull. It?s interesting how the lines area used here because it gives a continuing effect. As mentioned, the monkey is parallel to the device, which implies that it has much relation to the use and meaning of the skull, which is connected to the tracing device. Especially since it is within proximity of the device. Aside from the line use, the colours are presented exceptionally as well. There is a contrast here: the sky is white and everything else is dark. Low keyed, which sets a mood that says, ?I?m here.? Giving that sand and desert feel. The colours are not very strong or bold but they work well enough with the piece so it balances out. If the colour scheme were high keys and tints, then that?d be a different story. Given that it is supposed to have relation to Orientalism, the colours work well. The colours used to depict the meaning work due to the fact that the values of the colours are low. There?s not much colour, very minimal to brown, grey, white, and a bit of orange. The low-key colours give it a very blunt message that is portrayed. Simple, but even more complex, the more you try to understand the painting, more unveils itself. Therefore the emphasis is placed on the form of the monkey and the device. The focal point is the face of the monkey and how it is gazing at the audience. Because emphasis is placed on the monkey and the skull, our eyes are diverted from everything else in the painting. ?Europeans are visually absent but psychologically present because they constitute the all-seeing, all-powerful gaze.? (Mackenzie 46). Notice how the monkey is gazing at the audience. The title of the piece can be read as ?the other?. We see those we don?t know as the other or outsider. This could mean that foreigners often gaze at westerners just as how western societies were gazing back at the east. Because the past its been white, male, rich, the painting now reverses that and puts the monkey into the Orientals place and making the skull the object of study. Previously mentioned, the monkey is placed within proximity of the device. If it were to be moved up more, the balance of the form and structure of the painting would be shifted drastically because Ford places the monkeys arms and legs just parallel to the device so the audience would take notice of both at the same time. The depiction of the skull can be interpreted as a study. Which may imply that while the west is studying the east, the orientals are doing exactly the same. ?The moral superiority of the West, able to preserve while the East destroyed, justified such plunder. ?(Mackenzie 53) Why a skull and not a real head? Is it signifying destruction of the east or west? That would make sense because the west discovered the east and slowly brought upon destruction of the eastern nature and exploitation of the culture. When the west discovered the east, it was the beginning of the end. The west would acquire more knowledge thereore it was ?just? for the east to be discovered. Thus, the irony in this piece is that the far east is studying the far west. Why the sun is setting instead of rising can be viewed as, the East no longer being preserved. Tracing or construction of the skull can be seen as the construction of the far east by the west. Ford reverses that and it is the monkey or the oriental, doing the constructing here. ?Orientalist images imply timelessness, the absence of historical dynamic of progress that represents western superiority. Thus the East is, symbolically constructed in order to be dominated, devised to be ruled.? (Mackenzie 46) What?s going on here is, Ford is displaying the deconstruction of the east by using the orientalist as the constructor. Ford does an excellent job with critiquing western society. It was rough due to the fact that only one side was hurt culturally while the other watched in amazement at the discoveries. As in archaeology, when something is discovered, there are questions to be asked and answers to seek. The colours that were low and dark instead of bright suggests the topic at hand, although was somewhat of an achievement, was in reality darker than most think on some scale. The form of the monkey, as well as the fact that he chooses an ape rather than a dog, contributes to the meaning of this piece and the message presented. How Ford depicted a creature using a man made device, which gives the impression that it?s ?impossible? that something other than ?us? can know how to use such things, and to our surprise, like how we gaze at others, they could just as well be gazing at us, isn?t it fascinating what you don?t know another person can do?