Author Archives: Jean Yves Mercredi

HW # 3. Alternative to Plague

The Black Death or the Bubonic plague occurred in Europe around the Middle Ages, it was an epidemic in the sense that it had almost wiped out the entire European continent as millions of lives had succumbed to this devastating infectious disease. The onset of the disease to humans believes to have started when infected fleas from dead rats had been in contact with the human population.

In the aftermath of this pandemic, there are still some important things to ponder about the Bubonic plague. For instance, when looking at the interactive map of the infected cities, from my perspective, the plague was first spotted in Messina, Italy which is located in the island of Sicily, and then the spread of the disease had conquered most of the continent, which concluded that it is somewhat likely that the plague had entered Europe though the Genoese trade route and sweep onward to the rest of Europe. Also, it is important to realize that the plague had traveled more quickly along shipping routes than overland since the plague originated in Asia and entered Europe by ships through trades between both continents. Also, we can deduce that the plague did not travel overland into France, since it had reached Valencia first, then Paris as there is a large body of water that borders both cities. Therefore, it would have been most likely spread by ships. Then, the path of the plague took so long to reached London when it was already nearby Paris is due to the fact that Britain is an island and it is almost isolated from the rest of Europe, plus France and England were never the best of friends, therefore relations were probably stiff and there was a low probability of people migrating there that could have contributed to the rapid spread of the disease.

As a final point, I believe the interactive map helped me better understand the transmission of the Bubonic plague, since it gave me a starting point, where the disease may have entered Europe and the cities it had wreaked havoc on in that part of the world.

Homework #2

It is not a hidden secret to me that photography has the ability to manipulate and objectify depending on the objectification, just in similar fashion; an eloquent caption can add a new frame or new dimensions to a story. For instance, the history of race relations in the US and throughout the new world was based on racism, the exploitation and the enslavement of people of color, by Europeans or those of European origin. A perfect example of that can be taken straight from the photograph of J.T. Zealy’s daguerreotypes of slaves that were commissioned by the eminent Harvard scientist Louis Agassiz to support his belief in the theory of polygenesis, with the idea that blacks were inferior to whites. Carrie Mae Weems, an artist who uses the tool of appropriation to critique the issues of race in her art, debunks the photographs of Zealy’s daguerreotypes of slaves. She adds a narrative to the photographs in order to help emphasize to the audience the new meaning behind them. The added texts, try to erase the harsh truth behind the pain and the suffering in the lives of black people during slavery or in the times of segregation. It made these series of photographs seem more like a work of art by changing and manipulating the colors which ultimately make them visually appealing to the senses. It captures their souls and their tribulations, with the transgressions committed against them. The provocative message behind Ms. Weems’ work is intended to serve as the voice of the voiceless; through her their feelings and emotions can finally be heard or felt. Moreover, it demonstrates through their hardships and calamities that their efforts and struggles were not in vain because black people have come a long way since then, and today we have many prominent, successful black people in every fields, who have contributed to the betterment of this country and to the rest of the world .

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the idea that history can be rewritten, even though this may not have been the intentions behind her work. Nonetheless, I believe that these series of photographs have made a poignant reminder to all of us that we are all human beings regardless of the color of our skins and our cultural heritage.

Welcome Home HW # 1

new welcome home

The image that I chose is “interior with a surgeon attending to a man’s wound”. I picked this particular image because of the palpable emotions display throughout the scene. I see fear and uncertainty. There is a sea of urgency coupled with a need of reassurance that everything is going to be fine. I can feel the pain and the anguish in the eyes of the victim and in those present around him. The patient in this image is hollowing with extreme pain and discomforts which literally prevent him to remain still on the chair as the surgeon is attending to his wound. Even the animal in the image seems to be disturbed by the enormity of the situation. The doctor seems to be calm and collected, as it is to be expected and so is a male nurse who seems to be assisting him.

Across the room, there is a woman sitting on a chair, who is unable to control her emotions. She looks very distressed and saddened by the situation. Further right, there are two men, standing by the door’s entrance and they have a look of concern in their eyes, and so is the man standing closer by the dog, as he remains discombobulated by the whole incident. Moreover, the background in the image is very captivating. It looks like a well maintained house, reminiscent of an old country home, or those similar in a scene of an old Western movie on TV. There is adequate lighting in the image, which can help the surgeon while he is covering the man’s wound.

A key similarity that exists in this image and those exposed in class, is the lighting and a well maintained area, plus a myriad of emotions that are easily able to discern due to the apparent circumstances.