Back on Track~

Heads up! This is going to be another brief post because your girl got back from a late shift a work and she’s tired >.<

Hey~

Welcome back ^.^

Getting Back in the Game

So, this week I made some progress! And, after a week of stagnation, it feels good. I was definitely fixating too much on the Metalworks section. It wasn’t until I polished the section a little more this weekend that I was finally able to move onto to my piece de resistance: Memes.

2436rk

actually me

Now, the Metalworks section stressed me out. I believe this is because I felt like I had less information and research to draw from in comparison to other sections (which is true). I practice metalworks myself and I am comfortable in the studio but when it comes to theory and to ideas around best practices, I feel out of my element. Basically, I feel my practical skills are far more developed and nuanced than my theoretical know-how–which makes me self-conscious. I felt like I was out of my depth.

When it comes to memes though, I feel more in my element. This is a subject I have been raving talking about for years now. Specifically, I have been interested in whether or not memes, gifs, and shitposting constitute as a resurgence of traditional Dada ideals of non-sense and nihilism. (My thesis adviser is very patient with me lol) So, while I was a little unsure of exactly how to start discussing memes, I knew that I could. I could go on and on. Actually, I referred back to all my sources I discovered and wrote about in my independent study last semester. Reading through these sources and my annotated bibliography (that I really fleshed out last semester) helped refresh my memory and provided me with some direction. Also, it reading through this content reminded me how important it is to define my terms. Just because I’m very familiar with my subject matter, doesn’t mean anyone else would be.

So, to that end, I’ve referenced Dawkins (1976), Knobel & Lankshear (2007), Shifman (2013), Miltner (2014), Cannizzaro (2016), and a butt-ton of others to start off the party. I think I want to provide a brief history of the medium and what other researchers have said of the medium’s purpose/use before I delve into my own thoughts on how the medium can be this tool that can subvert traditional power structures as well as a way for us to communicate our life experiences as well as re-establish a sense of self in an otherwise nonsensical world. Some of the collected research touches upon these ideas I have but no formal research has really delved into it (maybe that’s because this is such a subjective topic??). I’m planning to use the “less formal” articles I have also collected that compare emergent meme culture to a kind of revitalization of Dada as well. I’ll probably add those more towards the middle/end of this section. I can see this section in my head; I just need to write it all down.

So, my meme section is about halfway done. I’m planning to continue working on it this weekend. I’m not sure exactly where yet I’m going to end it and transition into the Degenerate Art section of my work. I’m thinking I want to introduce the degenerate art section with Hugo Ball’s “this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” sentiment (cause I find it so powerful and provocative). This means I need to end my meme section discussing the nature of resistance inherent in these new forms of digital content creation like memes. At least, that’s what I think I should do. Like I said, I can kind of envision these sections on the paper in my mind and it’s helping guide my hand in a lot of ways. I don’t want to get too caught up in what I think my thesis should look like though so please feel free to give me your own insights!!

Your girl is moving right along ^.^

~Till next time~

 

Short & Sweet (and #Suffering)

(Another brief update sorry)

So, this week, I have continued to read through the research surrounding my thesis topic. I’m still working on creating a developed and well-rounded annotated bibliography. To be honest, I think I need to focus more on the research aspect of my project. I have done a lot of research so far for my independent study (which is thesis adjacent) but, I definitely feel like I need to put more work into reading through sources for my thesis proper. I am finding that a lot of the sources in the Electronic Book Review are often specific to one work of Eliterature or to one rather specific, niche topic which is making culling research from the site slow-going. I am planning to look through Google Scholar and the library’s databases to see if I can find more articles that provide an overview of Eliterature and important, broader aspects of this emergent genre. (I have come across a lot of sources critiquing the genre, which ten to lead to other sources analyzing key aspects of it–which has been helpful. I still feel like I’m not finding the best sources though.)

As for the design and concept aspect of my thesis project, that’s going great. I was really nervous about developing a kind of prototype of my Elit piece. But, this week, I came across some programs that I think can help me assemble a decent prototype of my vision. Two of the programs I am really liking right now are PicMonkey and Thinglink. The former has proven to be a useful and very easy-to-use photo-editing tool while the latter shows promise for assisting me in creating a kind of hyperlink work. (Actually, I came across Thinglink while working on a training module just last week for my one of my jobs ^.^) Neither offers me the exact kind of functionality I want out of my final work but I think they provide me with a good starting point and a great place to “springboard” from. Like, I feel like I’m making some good progress with these programs. Last week, I wasn’t sure how any of the pieces I’ve been working on were going to come together. This week, I can see the pieces falling into place.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

*Here’s a sneak peek of what I’ve been working on~*

Anyway, I think I’m going to shift gears and focus more on the research specifically for my thesis. I’m hoping to complete my annotated bibliography before Thanksgiving so that I can work on writing a rough draft of my proposal over that extended break time. During break, I’m also planning to wrap up the prototype for my Elit piece.

Wish me luck~

~Till next time~

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.

tumblr_inline_nyx6kv49bi1tshs8w_1280

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.

****

~Till next time~

hannibalwinkingsexilygif

Getting Artsy????

Dilemmas

Am I an artist?

To be honest, this was the question of the week for me. Ever since I wrote down in my notes last class, “As an artist, what do I want to create?” I’ve been struggling. Mainly with that first artist part. It’s a strong word. Kind of heavy. Like a promise–a promise that I’m doing things and not just any things but insightful things, meaningful things.

I am artiste

art is my passion

…kind of like that.

Anyway, that question has been at the back of my mind all week as I try to figure out exactly what I want to work on for my thesis project. Not just what to make, but what makes an artist?

Before I dive too deep into that downward spiral, I do want to share what I discovered in regards to bot-making! In last week’s meeting, I was very interested in the possibility of creating an installation that revolved around an interface between bots, responding to each other and beyond. Primarily, I was interested in figuring out a way to get the bots to respond to Dada-related material posted to Twitter. For instance, if an edgelord someone posted a tweet about “wanting to die lmao”, I could have @Ya_Boi_DuCHAMP respond with “same” followed by some lines from an interview on Dada or lines from a Dada manifesto.  Maybe I’d have an account @totally_NOT_Ya_Boi_DuCHAMP tweet out pics of urinals~

Essentially the stream–ha ha–would be its own kind of collaborative, netprov/ performance anti-art.

At least, that was an idea I had. After reaching out to some excellent bot-creators and professionals in the fields of digital studies and culture, Dr. Leonardo Flores (@Leonardo_UPRM) & Dr. Zach Whalen (@zachwhalen), I’m not sure if it’s still the direction I want to go in due to some limitations imposed on the medium. Recent regulation crackdowns with Twitter’s policies have made it rather difficult to create bots that would have the exact kind of functionality I’m looking for.

Both Dr. Flores and Dr. Whalen did recommend I check out Cheap Bots Done Quick. According to them, I can create bots through this site that would allow them to interact with and respond to other users. There isn’t a reply option, though (which I’m not sure I’d need). Also, the site relies on Tracery to select for the kinds of “tags” I’m looking for. So, I’d have to experiment with that to see what kind of functionality I’d have there.

Dr. Whalen also presented another option–Glitch. Bots created through this platform can be as “nuanced as I program them to be” but there’s a catch–I need to supply my own App credentials and Twitter is no longer giving those out. So, I’d have to re-purpose old bot credentials or have none.

So….I have options???

Options

But, I really need to explore these different suggestions more thoroughly and see if either could be viable. I’m hoping to be able to that as part of my research for next week!

Back to that Question…

Now, as for whether or not I still think I want to make a bot installation, that’s indeterminable at this time.

headdesk

Sorry.

I’m just not sure yet if a bot installation would be the best way to present the research I want to do.

As mentioned in my previous post, I’m interested in a possible connection between new digital forms of media and a kind of Neo-Dadaism/resurgence of Dada idealism. I find the possibility of that, and its implications, to be exciting. (It doesn’t hurt that it combines two of my fave subject areas either–art history and the digital humanities.)

But, after last week’s discussion, I think my purview of interest spreads further than that. Especially after looking at work by digital artists such as Maria Mencia and Emilio Vavarella–who reached out to me on Twitter to thank me for my interest in his work and to encourage me to continue my own!!!!!— I think I need to adjust the scope of my own research.

I’m not just interested in bits and blips of representation here and there across the digital data-sphere. No, I’m interested in self-representation in the digital age on a larger scale. I’m interested in how seemingly disparate forms of expression can combine to create new wholes. I’m interested in what that new whole is and in what it represents about you, me, and us.

Who are the creators behind emerging or re-emerging forms of expressions online?

Who are the artists?

I find this subject matter to be very compelling. Identity is such an integral yet experimental constant of life. Especially now, though, it has become challenged and re-imagined and remixed in new ways. I think it would be interesting to explore how identity is navigated and self-represented in the rich and ever-evolving digital landscape that is shaping more and more of our society and culture everyday.

A digital work that also inspired me to think more deeply about self-representation, identity, and technology this week is Reconstructing Mayakovsky by Illya Szilak. It is a work of Elit that I researched (and wrote about here) for another class. I don’t want to delve too deeply into my own thoughts on the work’s conceptual underpinnings but I do want to speak a little about its interface.

Essentially, there is a main narrative aspect of the work but there is also all of this rich historical, textual, and aesthetic content that, when paired with the narrative aspect, creates this whole new world for exploring literature, art, and ideology of the past. That I find interesting in the context of my own conceptual interests. I think it might be worth exploring how I could construct a work of ELit like Reconstructing Mayakovsky that would allow explorers of it to engage with and experience Neo-Dada and the complex relationship of the self and art to the digital in a new and compelling way. Could be artistic, yeah? Sounds artsy-ish, at least. Artist-material??? Call me Duchamp Idk.

And, that’s where I am now.

***Edit: ORSP got back to me and told me, essentially, I could have an installation work as part of Research Days. I would need to supply more information about the actual parameters of the installation before I could get approval or discuss exactly what to expect in terms of space and whatnot. They seemed game to help me, though–which is good!

****

~Till next time~

hannibalwinkingsexilygif