Trudging Through… #Suffering

Putting in the Work 

This week, I was tasked with starting my actual thesis proposal. A daunting task, let me tell you. Not because I’ve never written a research/thesis proposal but because I did not realize how much content I would have to comb through in order to assemble this monstrosity.

stressed to heck

Me this past week >.<

Currently, I am in the process of developing my annotated bibliography. Thus far, I’ve reviewed work by Scott Rettburg, Katherine Hayles, Illya Szilak, among others. I have so much more reading to do, though. I still need to include information on inspiring Elit pieces and digital art. Hopefully, by the time of our next class meeting, I will have that information incorporated into my annotated bibliography. When paired with everything that has been going on in my personal life as of recently, this project and its scope is just a bit overwhelming. I’m used to being “on top” of tasks and being able to keep to a strict schedule but, lately, I just have not been able to keep that usual standard–which is incredibly frustrating to me.

Sam stressed

I am trying to focus on moving at my own pace, though. I’m trying to appreciate what work I can get done–even if it is not necessarily the amount of work I had hoped to get done. The research I am finding on the Electronic Book Review site is, at least, relevant and interesting. In fact, I am finding quite a few articles exploring the artistic implications of Elit and new forms of digital content creation. Much of the research on this site, though, is concerned with the functions of Elit and the future of the genre. I’m trying to comb through information as best I can and in as timely a manner as I can. I may need until Thanksgiving break to develop a completed draft of my proposal. After then, I would like to focus on revision.

I feel slightly lucky that I have a fairly extensive annotated bibliography on new forms of digital content creation, like memes, that I have been developing in my additional independent study course. The information in that document may prove to be useful to my research when it comes to discussing self-representation and communication of the self in online spaces. Much of the research surrounding mimetics deals with the evolution of communication as well as with how online and digital spaces provide new affordances for expression of the self. I feel like this information is relevant to my own inquiries. Specifically, I think research by Shifman, Davison, Cannizzaro, Rintel, French, and many others may be applicable to my research.

Also, having a fairly fleshed-out concept for the Elit design and installation aspect of my work makes me feel slightly better about being behind in my reading. Writing my latest post on my other blog really encouraged me to keep going with my own research. I feel so…. honored(?) to be able to explore this line of inquiries. Because I am so invested in and inspired by my own topic, I feel blessed, in a way. I’m more encouraged to continue working on a project that I am looking forward to seeing realized.

*Finally pulled out the ol’ charcoal and sketch pad and got to drawing my design for my Elit work out~

Anyway, that’s this week’s progress update–I am bogged down in the research, trudging slowly but surely through it. I am planning to have a completed research proposal by the end of the month, if not sooner. Additionally, I should have a prototype for the Elit aspect of my work completed by the end of the semester. I’m not sure if I’m on the right path, time-wise, but I’m definitely moving and I feel like I’m making progress.

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~Till next time~

Digging Deeper~

So….

This week has been productive in a few different ways. Mainly, I started digging into the literature surrounding aspects of Elit and digital art and content creation I’m interested in. I found an interesting article discussing the canonization of article by Scott Rettberg as well a fascinating article by Katherine Hayles about viewing Elit works as these kinds of cognitive assemblages. I’m still just delving into the literature and assembling a kind of annotated bibliography of sources, though. If anyone has any recommendations for good sources discussing Eliterature and its functions and literary value, please hmu! Also, I’m looking for any recs for informative sources about digital art or theories behind it!

In addition to delving more into the literature, I also dove deeper into my concept. As regular readers of my posts may know, I’ve been struggling with my concept. I have a lot of ideas surrounding what I would like to create but not such a clear idea of exactly what I want to make. There’s just all these pieces but no cohesive whole.

Last week, I dabbled with the idea of the “drag-n-drop” interface. The design and concept of Juliet Davis’ Pieces of Herself had a very large impact on me, especially in the way it depicted ideas of self-representation and social inscription. Revisiting Porpentine’s With Those We Love Alive this past week also had a huge influence with me. Reading my own posts on the work reminded me of how deeply this work and its themes resonated with me. In one of my prior posts, I even mentioned wanting to create a work similar to it. Specifically, I found myself re-inspired by the language and poetic voice of the piece. I really want to be able to express my own poetic voice through any work of Elit I create.

My new vision for my work combines traditional Dada photomontage and assemblage aestheticism the concept of the Rogues Gallery with contemporary Millennial humor (as represented by memes and tweets, etc.) and the ideology behind Degenerate Art. I imagine this work will open with a silhouette that is covered in an amalgamation of different artifacts such as the first page of a Dada manifesto and an @dril tweet, a flyer for a Degenerate Art show and an Inappropriate Audition Songs meme.

In a kind of reverse of Davis’ work, readers would have to remove pieces from the silhouette in order to uncover/discover what they mean. Readers would move the artifacts to the blank space surrounding the silhouette. So, in the process of removing the pieces of photomontage from the silhouette, readers would be creating a new photomontage of the background. I would like for a string of lexia to pop up and explain the significance of the artifact once it has been placed outside of the silhouette. This lexia would contain information about the history of the artifact or about the origin of the content. I hope to include links to outside sources for readers to get more information.

As readers remove the artifacts from the silhouette, I want them to uncover a poem beneath. This is a poem I either want to write myself or I want to put through an algorithm like a bot to generate. Ultimately, I want it to reveal something about the mutability and evolution of self-representation and how aesthetic presentation connects to ideas of self-representation. How we are all made of pieces. How we are all collage. All assemblage, photomontage, bricollage, mosaic.

I would like the work to come to a “kind of end” by having all of the removed pieces return to the silhouette in a new pattern, reinforcing the idea that we are these kinds of collage, perhaps degenerate but still ultimately of so much value (as revealed by the information each artifact embodies). Because of this, this work would still be titled Degenerate’s Gallery.

As I imagine presenting this work during my university’s research days, I have also imagined an installation component to this piece. I would like a technological setup that allows readers to work through the piece. In addition to that, though, I would like to create a wire/metal bust of a head and shoulders and invite people to stick different kinds of artifacts to this bust, to participate in the creation of a work of degenerate art.

Ultimately, it is my hope that this work will allow participants to view themselves and acts of self-representation and aesthetic presentation through a new lens. Also, I would like my work to be a kind of meditation on Dada absurdism and nihilism and what it means that these ideologies and ideals are re-emerging through the ways we represent ourselves in online spaces.

Anyway, that’s what I’ve been thinking about this week. I would love any input from my fellow creators and researchers in the field. All of your guidance and suggestions have been very helpful. (I recently downloaded Krita and so far I am very impressed with the program. I want to lay around with the tools and watch a few more tutorials before I share some of my work.)

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~Till next time~

….A Bit Unproductive

So….

This week I didn’t accomplish as many things as I had hoped. Largely, this was due to a sudden increase in my workload at my job.

computer throw

Work this week~

Sigh. Life happens. It’s no excuse but I just wanted to explain upfront why this week’s post may be lacking some its usual zeal~

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program!

The Lowdown

So, this week, I spent a lot of time thinking about the design of my piece. I’m rather concerned about creating the work. Though I appreciate a lot of the sources Jason Nelson shared with me, they still come across as very daunting at first. Maybe I need to spend more time perusing them? This week, I was unfortunately unable to do more than skim the coding site Dr. Nelson shared with me. I’m interested in coding but I’m also interested in exploring maybe other avenues of creating a work with the kind of functionality I want. On Twitter, Stevan Živadinovic mentioned checking out Twine to see if I could make a prototype of what I’m looking for. I have some experience with Twine so I may want to experiment more with its functionality. Zivadinovic also mentioned that I might just have to “bite the bullet” and dive into Unity. As Dr. Nelson also recommended Unity, I’m thinking I may have to really bite that bullet.

That said, I’ve reached out to some of my friends in the digital arts about what programs they recommend. I want to incorporate some of my own drawings and, maybe, even metalworks into this project. I’m waiting to hear back from these friends about what they recommend. Honestly, I want to see how much I can make in a program like Photoshop or Krita or, for audio, Protools or Audacity, before I have to delve into other sources.

As for the structure of the work I want to create, I’ve had some thoughts. This week, in another course, I looked into Juliet Davis’ Pieces of Herself. It’s a very powerful and compelling work of Elit that impacted me greatly. Both the work’s design and content really struck me. I love the superimposition of elements in the piece and how that technique can be used to convey meaningful messages. It inspired me to think more deeply about the design components of my own work as well as the kind of message I want to convey about self-representation and aesthetic presentation in our current digital age.

While I like my initial concept of the shattered mirror, I wonder if it might be more apt for my work to be centered around a silhouette of a face, neck, and shoulders with a collage/photo-montage of different elements slathered across its face. Each of these elements would be clickable and would take the user to another screen. Some of the elements may be tweets or memes or a Dada manifesto or a snippet of poetry. Maybe, I want to make this work ore about the self-representation aspect? I was very moved by Davis’ work and I find myself very moved by works that revolve around the construction, negotiation, and navigation of identity and self. I find art to be an offshoot of self-presentation, so maybe that’s how that subject would tie into the work. Maybe I could have a screen of silhouettes, formatted like a rogues gallery or a board of wanted posters or something too??? I really think I want to delve into how involved digital content has become in the construction of the self. But, I don’t necessarily want to convey that that’s a bad thing. It’s just a change, a difference.

I love all of the research I’ve done so far into Dadaism and into new ways of identity construction through digital media but, maybe, I should make this work more personal? Perhaps use a silhouette of my face and mix in digital content with other creative works. Kind of use an individual example of the evolution of navigating the self to apply to a larger whole, to make a larger statement. Maybe I should focus on just conveying the ambivalence of navigating and negotiating self-representation??? I don’t know.

As you can see, I’ve had a hell of a week caught up in my thoughts. I could definitely use some guidance and, really, someone to bound ideas off of. Hopefully, this week, I can get a more solid grasp of what I want to create and begin researching ways to create it.

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~Till next week~

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Hammering Out the Details~

So….. before we get down to the nitty gritty, I want to announce an update to last week’s post:

JASON NELSON GOT BACK TO ME!!!!

skwisgar yeah

I received a response to my inquiry I sent last week to Dr. Nelson wherein I asked him about his design and artistic processes. Also, I asked if he had any recommendations for how someone who doesn’t have a background in graphics or digital art (like me) could go about creating a work of Elit.

Side note: He was very excited that I wanted to get into Elit. Like, there were exclamation points and everything going on!!!! Heck yeah!!!

Anyway, Dr. Nelson provided me with an abundance of information about his creative process and how he approaches a new project. Also, he went into more detail about the differences between designing a work for the screen and designing an installation work. Largely, most of the difference revolves around audience and reach. Designing a work for an online space affords more access as it allows for a larger audience to interact with the work. An Elit piece for the screen can reach a global audience very quickly. Creating an installation work, though, can allow for a more intimate experience between the participant and the content. Not that an online work cannot be intimate–far from it. But, the intimacy is different. The experience is different. Neither one is better or worse. Neither experience should be diminished in comparison to the other. It’s just important to be aware of the differences in affordances each provides.

So, the kind of Elit work I want to create may be depend on the audience I am hoping to reach.

The question of audience is a difficult one in many ways. Because I want to explore self-representation and navigation self-representation in digital spaces, I think an Elit work that allows for more personal, one-on-one interaction would be most demonstrative of my points. But, because I believe aesthetic presentation intersects with this topic and provides interesting dimension to it, a work that presents itself almost as a kind of art exhibition/installation may be more illustrative of that aspect.

In many ways, I think I want to create a work that can be experienced through multiple modes. Like, it can be experienced on a screen or it can be experienced as an installation. I’m not yet sure how to make a work like that. More discussion with other artists and content creators may be necessary. I like the idea of creating a work that has additional components to it, though, based upon whether it is accessed via screen or installation.

In regards to creating this work, Dr. Nelson also provided me with some coding resources. There are many sites one can access in order to teach themselves how to code. Dr. Nelson shared this site with me in particular. Though not necessary, Dr. Nelson expressed that learning how to code can provide a digital artist with more creative freedom over their work and can provide more space to explore.

Also recommended to me were some game making programs such as Gamesalad, Construct2, Gamemaker, and, the hardest of the bunch, Unity. All of these are kinds of visual programming software. These programs can be used to make games or be used to create creatures with more interactive functionality. The first 3 programs cost money, though, and Unity, though free, can be challenging to learn how to use. I believe I have to explore some of these programs before I can really discuss more about their affordances. Dr. Nelson recommended I research some YouTube tutorials on the programs. For many of these programs, luckily, there exists an abundance of online tutorials. This is reassuring and makes tackling any one of these programs seem a little less intimidating/ daunting.

All in all, Dr. Nelson gave me a lot of good advice about how to approach a digital project as well as provided me with a lot of resources (I did not know about before) to consider. I Again, though, I think I need to do more tinkering with these programs to decide which one would work best for my project. I look forward to continuing my correspondence with Dr. Nelson and learning whatever he has to teach me about Elit and about creating digital art and content.

Designing the Degenerates Gallery

This week, I continued to work on my concept and design for my Degenerates Gallery. As mentioned before, I want my work to invite readers to explore the mutability and trans formative nature of self-representation and aesthetic presentation in the digital age. In many ways, I want this work to be art. To be poetry. I don’t want it to be a lesson. I don’t want it to be a warning. I think self-representation and aesthetic presentation have definitely changed with the onset of online intervention. In many ways, both have become more complicated to navigate. But, I don’t think either have been diminished. Again, I believe there is meaning in exploring differences as differences rather than as diminshments.

Anyway, as discussed in my last post, I imagine this work to be one that is entered through a kind of shattered mirror/screen. I would like for selfies or other portrait-type pictures to flash across the mirror/screen. In between flashes of faces, I imagine a kind of television static or “glitch” type of graphic (if possible). Here is the mirror I drew (it’s from an old drawing):

Mirror Screen Edit

I put a filter on it to cool down the tone of the drawing. This mirror has some personal significance to me as it is the mirror I use to put on my face every morning. I like that added level of complexity, though I’m not sure if it will come into play at any point in the actual work.

In order to “shatter” this mirror/screen, so to speak, I used my laptop to just drawn some jagged lines across the picture. I imagine each piece of the mirror will be more separated and, possibly, the piece will be floating across the space of the screen. I’m not sure yet if I want to do that or if it would be just as meaning to have the mirror shattered but still holding its shape as pictured below:

Mirror Screen Edit_LI

This came out better than expected, tbh~

Again, across the mirror/screen, I would like to have selfies or self-portraits flashing. I think I need more advanced tools, even just basic Photoshop, to illustrate my vision but I did try to create a sample of what I am envisioning (don’t laugh):

Layered Mirror and Face

It’s just a sample of what I’m hoping to create. I want to fit the selfies more to the size of the mirror/screen. Also, I think it might be worthwhile to put the selfies through a kind of filtering program like Lunapic Pixelate Effect or the ACSII Art camera. (Both are sources I was introduced to through @cogdog Prof Alan Levine’s Daily Digital Alchemy exercises ^.^ Thanks Alan!) Putting the pictures through a filter beforehand may eliminate the need to code some kind of glitch/static affect. It’s something to consider, at least.

I really like Stevan Živadinovic’s approach to incorporating art into an Elit piece as well. For Hobo Lobo of Hamelin, he drew out the images and characters on paper before editing them online and incorporating them into the work. With my background in studio art, I think an approach like this might work best for me. Again, I think I need to invest in an image-editing program like Photoshop, in order to make this work. The end result might be really compelling.

As for how this work would operate/how users would navigate it, I want each shard of the shattered mirror/screen to take readers to another window. Each window should illustrate some different facet of self-representation or aesthetic presentation in the digital age. I imagine one shard would lead to an archive of reference sources–such as links to other artists or their work, links to memes or meme formats, links to tweets, links to manifestos, etc. This part of the work I imagine to operate somewhat like the archive section from Illya Szilak’s Reconstructing Mayakovsky. Another shard, I imagine to take users to an infinitely black screen. Once the screen has loaded, the screaming will start. This is meant to be a play off the popular internet meme/slang of “screaming into the void”. In many ways, this meme would operate in my work as a form of contemporary performative Dadaism. This part of my work is inspired heavily by Hugo Ball and the shows he would put on. He was all about sound poetry and decontextualizing sound.

Another shard, I want to lead readers to a screen that will display a kind of infinite stream of text, similar to Taroko Gorge and its many remixes. I want the text to be a mixture of Dada manifestos and tweets from popular, nonsensical/nihilistic accounts like @dril.

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I mean, this is Dada gold

I still need to think about where some of the other shards should go. I want there to be an interactive component to this work. I’m just not sure what it would be. Somehow, I want readers to be able to construct a representation of themselves from the work. I’m not sure how best to go about that yet.

Also, I want to incorporate my own voice into this piece. I want the language of the work to be poetic and, perhaps, a bit sardonic or parodic (like Jason Nelson’s voice in works like This is how you will die and Game, game, game, and again game.)

Ultimately, I hope to make this work one that reveals how seemingly nonsensical forms of self-expression are still meaningful if for no other reason than they create who you are. They tell a story of how you navigate the self and the world. More, I think this trend towards absurdity and nihilism in contemporary representations of the self reveal something deeper about the human condition, about how we are currently coping with the state of our societies and culture. Particularly in the western world, I think these trends reveal some deep truths about how we are not coping–with anything. In a world that is so deeply flawed, how can our expressions of self not be? How can we not all be rogues? Not all be degenerates?

Though I definitely still have a lot of work ahead of me, I think the work I’ve done thus far has provided me with some good direction. I feel more grounded in my ideas. Dr. Nelson’s support, too, also gives me some confidence. Creating this work feels a little less daunting with support.

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~Till next time~

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