Back From A Short Break~

Hello from the other side of Spring break ^.^

For those wondering, I had a very relaxing break for the most part. I got to spend some quality time with my family. We went to some museums in the city and out to eat most nights. Because of work and class, I haven’t really had the time to relax and just be with my family and enjoy their company. I think being able to spend this time with my family and with my friends, too, was necessary in order for me to keep moving forward. I don’t think I realized just how stressed I have been until I was spending time away from all the places/things that stress me out.

This break allowed me to reflect on more than just my work thus far and my progress; I reflected on myself as well and on my own goals. I’ve had a lot of setbacks in my personal life that have had a huge impact on my work and how I view myself. It really wasn’t until this break where I didn’t work or go to class that I was able to feel the real gravity of everything I’ve gone through. Honestly, I’ve had a shitty year and a half and the last few months have just been the cherry on top.

Anyway, I reflected on my circumstances over break and came to the conclusion that, regardless of all that nonsense and not despite but because of all the people who didn’t want me in their lives, I’m going to complete my work and live the best life I can. I can’t change anything that’s happened. More, I have so many great opportunities at my fingertips right now. I can miss what I’ve lost but I shouldn’t linger on it. Doing that keeps me from writing, keeps me from what I love and from what loves me.

So, now that the mooshy stuff is out-of-the-way, let’s recap what work I accomplished over break. First and foremost, I completed my section on memes, shitposts, and gifs. Most of the sources I covered in this section are from my independent study I had last semester wherein I researched memes and complexity theory. The bulk of this section focuses on the trajectory of memes and on how they’ve been viewed research vs. how they act in online spaces. I cover some of the more “researchy” angles on memes in the start of this section before delving into more contemporary thought on the medium. Most of this contemporary thought comes from the articles I sourced last semester (in our first thesis course) which identify memes as art objects and connect their creation and propagation to a kind of resurgence of Dadaism in contemporary culture. Essentially, I wanted to first ground memes in theoretical research before exploring some of their, in my opinion, more profound connotations.

Additionally, I touch upon shitposting as well. To be honest, there is not as much research on shitposting as there is on memes. Much of the research focuses on the negatives of shitposting as well, particularly how it has contributed to furthering far right agendas (because it’s a popular kind of posting on sites like 4chan and Reddit). Not really what my work is about. Also, I find the definition of shitposting on Know Your Meme to be a little inaccurate. Outdated, perhaps. More than anything, I found myself kind of making a case for expanding our understanding of shitposting to include more absurdist humor sentiments. Right now, it seems to be understood as more of a nuisance than a statement. That narrow mindset keeps us from exploring possibilities. Also, it frames this new form of expression as inane and meaningless cause it’s “stupid” from the start without proper consideration of other possibilities. The definition becomes a cage. At least, that’s what I believe and what I kind of make a case for in this section of my paper before seguing into the Degenerate Art 2.0 section of my thesis.

So, here’s the part where I tell you I got horribly, disgustingly sick towards the end of spring break which, unfortunately, impeded me from completing the last section of my paper. I did start it (and I am planning to have it completed by this weekend) and I do feel like I have a good direction for it. So far, I’ve started this section off by reiterating how often new forms of digital content creation like memes, digital art, and Eliterature are cast aside, dismissed, or somehow identified as less than traditional mediums. I want to emphasize this lack of recognition and acceptance from authorities before clarifying that I don’t believe there are any specific oppressors other than the state of contemporary culture. I don’t want to compare anyone to or put anyone in the place of the Nazis, who created the term “Degenerate Art” when they first vilified Dada works. Rather, I want to focus on the Dadaist “spirit” of these works themselves and on how, in many ways, these kinds of works are acting as a way for this generation to reclaim a sense of identity–both personal and collective.

These works are our resistance to the powers that be that wish we’d shut up and stand in line. That wish we’d continue to subscribe to ways of thinking and to dreams that are no longer realistic. These often nonsensical, nihilistic, and “absurd” emergent forms of content creation are how we respond to the nonsense, uncertainty, and absurdity of current affairs. “We’re all mad here”, you know? It’s like these new mediums are ways for us to reassert and well as reinforce who we are and where we stand in these times. These mediums are in-temporal, perhaps, but they’re meant to express this moment in time for us. They’re not meant to be these lasting artifacts. Hopefully, they aren’t. Hopefully the world changes. Hopefully we change. Hopefully everything isn’t always going to be so awful and absurd.

While I firmly believe these works are representative of self and of the world we must conceive of ourselves within, I do believe they are just representations. These new forms of representation represent this time now. They represent us how we need to be represented now. But, I don’t know if we’ll always be in these objects or if we always should be. In a recent studio visit with digital artist Alex Saum, she said, “Works of art are always representations. They aren’t me.” Since I heard these words, I’ve been struck. I think I forgot that my thesis is about self-representation. It’s not just about self. Actually, it’s about how we express and convey self in the digital age. It’s about how these new digital artifacts act as conduits for conveying who we are to the world and for ourselves. These works are heavily inspired by us and our experiences but they aren’t us. Dada was a response. What’s happening now is also just that: a response. We embody Dada. We embody resistance. We are what is reclaimed.

From this little spiel, I hope it’s clear that, though I didn’t complete everything I hoped to complete over break, I am certainly reinvigorated and impassioned from break. I didn’t waste my time not thinking about thesis. In fact, I feel like I have more purpose and direction than I’ve had these past few weeks. My thesis adviser is always asking me why is this work important. Well, this work is important because it’s about us and, more, about how we are experiencing this world right now. We are this moment. We are Dada. We are in every meme and shitpost we make but we are also so much more than that and isn’t that absurd?? Isn’t it so absurd and nonsensical to be who we are in this moment? Isn’t the world such a mad place to be a person in right now? What seems to make the most sense is that nothing makes sense. So, why not make a meme?

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~Till next time~

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~

 

A Little Behind But Catching Up!

Hey~

So, in my last couple posts, I mentioned sticking to a rather strict schedule–one in which I complete a section a week of my thesis until I hit spring break (the second week of March). Then, I’m supposed to go hard into editing and revising mode so that I can have a final product to present for Research Days (which I got approved for!!!) at the end of April.

For the past couple of weeks, I have been fairly consistent with this schedule. More, I’ve been able to devote certain chunks of time to thesis work during the week. Unfortunately, in the past two weeks, this schedule has gotten a little “wonky”, to say the least. I was supposed to have the Metalworks section done last week; it was half done. I finished it this week, though. It’s definitely rough but I can finesse it in the revision stage. Right now, it’s functional enough.

Taking some extra time to work on this section allowed me to explore more artists who are incorporating CAD (Computer Assisted Design) technologies and combining some of these technologies with traditional craft techniques. I found artists like Caitlin Skelcey, Annika Pettersson, Joe Wood, and Joshua Demonte. All of these jewelry-making artists use CAD technologies in different ways to explore concepts like self and perception. Skelcey is of particular interest to me and my work. (You may remember I mentioned her in last week’s post as one of the artists who’s FIT symposium presentation I was interested in?) Skelcey’s work explores the intersection between self and advancing technology. Mainly, her works seems to focus on how a sense of healing and a restoration of self can be achieved through digital intervention. Her work is very compelling and I recommend checking out her Fabricated Bodies series.

Collar_Process2.Skelcey.Thesis

ABS plastic, stainless steel machine screws
3d printing pen, implanted screws
8”x 7 ½” x 9”
2016

Honestly, I think viewing the digital as means through which to promotes self-healing is a fascinating topic and a totally different thesis. More, though, I like the idea that digital means can restore a sense of self by providing this “piece” that makes one feel more whole. I think it’s something to explore, even in the periphery, in my own work. It seems related to Page’s idea about the “partiality” of self and how the digital is a way through which to not only emphasize this fragmentation but also a way through which to work through it. Very interesting work.

Anyway, all this is to say that I spent most of the two weeks since we last saw each other working more on one section than on two. Tbh, I’m planning on working on another section of my thesis tomorrow afternoon before class. I’m hoping I’ll have the time between tutoring students to get some of my own work done. Regardless, the section I need to work on is on meme, gifs, and sh*tposting–a topic I have a sh*t-ton of thoughts on so I’m not anticipating too many issues conceptually with the section. I have an abundance of resources to draw on from my independent study last semester as well. I feel a lot more confident about approaching the remaining sections of my work. I feel like more of myself and my own percolating ideas are going to finally get the chance to make an appearance. You all know how much I love to talk about myself.

In addition to this written work, I’ve also begun working in the studio on the installation part of my thesis (progress pictured in the Featured Image for this post). I finally got all of my materials. Last week, I flattened some wire and began to play around with how I want to structure the piece. Also, I found a website that can translate a message into binary code. So, I think I’m going to chase some numbers into the wire I flattened last week that spell out a message. I’m thinking of the message, “TAKE ME SERIOUSLY” or “TAKE ME ME SERIOUSLY”. That’s playing off of the Dada slogan, “TAKE DADA SERIOUSLY” that was scrawled haphazardly on the walls of the Degenerate Art Exhibition as a form of mockery. I’m thinking about reclaiming it. (It really bothers me the more and more I think about how it was mocked.)

Anyway, that’s where I’m at with my thesis this week. Whatever time isn’t spent at work or filling out scholarship/job applications  or working on #netnarr stuff is spent working on my thesis. I wish I had more time to devote to just my thesis but life hasn’t worked out that way. I think I’m making it work the best I can. I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

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~Till next time~

Continuing to Fill in the Spaces…

Hey~

I’m going to keep this short & sweet (’cause your girl is busy applying for so many things–scholarships, internships, jobs, etc.–and it’s time-consuming and stressful ^.^)

thesis

Me this week

Anyway….

Hammering Away

So, this week has been a slower, more thoughtful week but still a productive one. I did a lot more reading than writing this week. I’m working on the Metalworks section of my thesis which requires me to read through a lot of sources (many I got courtesy of Jen) and comb through the bodies of work of different artists as well a their statements about this work. I’m also trying to find any interviews they may have done about their work as well as any copies of lectures or discussions they’ve done recently. Unfortunately, a lot of this information is not fully accessible. For example, I came across an international symposium that FIT had lat year, “Digital Meets Handmade”. I can find the schedule of presentations but I’m still looking for the lectures themselves. I’m particularly interesting in Christine Ludeke’s “Materializing Human Beingness through Digital Transformation” and Caitlin Skelcey‘s “Fabricated Bodies: Jewelry Prosthetic and Cyborg Identities”. If I can’t find the lectures on Youtube this weekend, I think I’m going to try to email the artists to see if they would be interested in providing me with their own thoughts on the intersection of digital intervention and traditional metal/jewelry techniques. (It worked for some of my ELit creators, right?)

As for some of my other sources, I’ve mainly been reading through Metal Smith magazine for any pieces they’ve written on combining digital and traditional techniques in art-making. There are a few articles that have been useful so far. Really, I just need more time to comb through this information. This section is probably going to be a section I revisit for a lengthy amount of time during my proofreading and revising stage in March. I know a decent amount about metalworks and jewelry-making having been a student artist these past 4 years but I’m just not familiar with 1) professional artists in the field and 2) controversial subjects such as combining digital techniques with a traditionally handmade medium of art. What I am learning from my readings is that there is some controversy around this issue as well as a vast array of opinions from fully accepting to fully against. Some artists see digital tools in metalsmithing as just that–another kind of tool. Other artists, like Annika Pettersson, see this intervention as creating an additional separation between the work and self/our perception of it. I really need to focus and do more research on the topic before I feel like I can discuss it in my thesis or relate my thesis to this field.

So, my plan for this weekend is to “wrap up” this section as best I can (until I start revising and polishing next month) and to start on the next section of my thesis which will explore the role of memes, gifs, and shitposting in translating self and identity in online spaces. I’m really excited to work on that section and will definitely be drawing a lot of my content from the work I did last semester in my independent study on Memes and Complexity Theory. I gathered a lot of sources exploring memes and contemporary forms of digital content creation that I believe will be relevant to my work. In fact, I think this section is where I start to really synthesize everything else I’ve been talking about in my thesis. This is the cross-over from talking about what these new forms of content creation could mean to seeing them actually in action and in the hands of people actively constructing online identities. It’s, also, setting the stage for the finale: Degenerate Art 2.0. The end is within sight, folks. I just have to power through and not drop the ball now. Wish me luck~

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~Till next time~

Btw: Follow me on Twitter to hear me scream about my thesis in real time ^.^

(You get quality tweets like this~)

Moving Along~

Pictured in this post’s featured image were my main companions this week ^.^ (some were more helpful than others)~

Hey~

So, this week was another productive week. In my last post, I mentioned having a schedule where I work on one of the remaining five sections of my thesis a week until I hit spring break. I’m glad to say I stuck to that schedule this week and was able to basically finish my section on Dadaism.

Now, I say “basically” because I know it’s one of those sections that’s definitely going to be focus in the proofreading/revising stage. There are some more details I want to add (but that require more reading than I was able to manage in between class and work–I picked up more hours ’cause I live in a Capitalist hell bills–this week), some concepts that need polishing, and some transitions in need of smoothing. But, the overall ideas are there.

The further I get along in my thesis, the more I’ve noticed a struggle between the writer in me–who wants to create and generate–and the perfectionist in me–who wants to pause and refine. It’s a little challenging for me to just put the ideas down on the paper and not focus so much on polishing those ideas. I don’t like to leave my work rough. But, this is the time for it. I’m in the drafting stage–in a lot of different areas of my life. Making things sound intelligent and aesthetically pleasing is not a small task but, right now, it shouldn’t be my focus. It’s been hard to let some of my rough and fraying edges show but it may be the only way to move forward.

Some of the sources I’m drawing from for the Dada section of my paper, also, are inspiring me and triggering new lines of thought. For example, in one of my sources, Destruction Was My Beatrice by Jed Rasula, there is this picture:

Entartete Kunst/ Berlin

Degenerate Art Exhibit. 1937, Munich.

I hadn’t seen this picture before but it of the Degenerate Art exhibit. This exhibit was organized by the Nazi party and was used as a way to vilify and ridicule art that they believed was “an insult” and “un-German”. 650 pieces of confiscated Dada art were a part of this exhibit, many considered masterpieces. When the Nazi party began to succumb to the Ally forces, much of the art in this exhibit was either burned, buried in underground vaults still being discovered, or otherwise destroyed. The fate of too much of the work remains unknown.

In this specific photograph, you can see that the Nazis scrawled the words “Take Dada seriously” across the walls of this exhibit. This was an original Dada slogan that the Nazis, like so many other things, twisted. When I read this, I felt this sudden pang. Not that the rest of the exhibit and its existence at all doesn’t upset but it hurt me on a different level(?) to be able to see just how much derisiveness–no, hatred–there was towards this movement and towards artists who dared to challenge the leading authorities and their world view. There’s something so malicious and downright hateful about throwing these artists words back in their faces like this–literally. Apparently, some of the artist who did not flee Europe and were able to hide actually went to this exhibit and saw their work. Hannah Hoch went more than once. I can’t even begin to imagine what she or any of the artists must’ve felt walking through that exhibit.

Dada was a way to reclaim a world gone mad but what do you do when that very same world reclaims you and calls you the mad one? The degenerate one?

The “writing on the wall” here makes me think of what’s currently happening in a lot of ways. As far as my thesis is concerned, I think there’s a similar kind of vilification of memes and of Millennial culture as a whole. Memes aren’t being rounded up to display in some “Degenerate Art 2.0” gallery yet but they are certainly being slandered across every so-called “authority”‘s platform. They’re being used as examples of the degradation of society. Many emergent forms of digital content creation are being used like this. And, Millennials can’t do a damn thing without a “Millenials are ruining [insert literally any noun, verb, or phrase]” article being posted–ironically–online.

Knowing how the Nazis used strategies like this to retain power make me, too, wonder who is benefiting from the vilification of my generation? Maybe I should wonder who isn’t though….

All this is to say that I got a lot out of the work I did this week. I got more content down for my thesis but I also got to further explore some of the ideas that have been percolating. Combing through the history of Dada is fascinating and also so illuminating. I imagine, as I continue working through my sources, that more ideas will be generated and will be able to really help me connect all of these points I’m trying to make in my thesis.

Overall, this has been a thoughtful week for me. I’m learning not to worry so much about my rough edges and, also, to really pay attention to the writing on the wall. It might spark insight.

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~Till next time~

Gaining Momentum~

“Painting is self-discovery. Every good artist paints what he [she] is.” ~ Jackson Pollock

No More Just Grinding Gears

So, this has been a productive week for me.

After many weeks of stagnating on my thesis and being unable to bring myself to really write much of anything, I flew through writing almost 20 pages of content. I’ve now got several sections done and only a few more to go. That’s not to say those remaining sections will be a breeze but I’m proud of what I managed to accomplish this week. I hope this momentum continues.

This week, I focused mainly on finishing the section of my paper exploring inspirational Elit pieces for my own work and on starting and completing the digital art section. As of this morning, both can be checked off my to-do list. It’s funny. Once I re-framed what I wanted to focus on–my inspirations rather than trying to make some grand statement–the words came easily. It was like everything I had been thinking about over these past few months was finally given the go-ahead. More, I feel like I’ve got my groove back.

I feel revitalized and a bit rejuvenated. Now that some burdens are no longer weighing me down, I feel like I can finally focus on what’s important to me again. Which, right now, is my writing. It’s my project, my thesis. This subject is something I’ve been thinking about for a few years now and it’s something that genuinely interests me, makes me curious, and motivates me to what to discover and explore. It’s so frustrating that my curiosity and my motivation was tampered down for as long as it was.

wack

It’s even more frustrating that my voice at all was silenced. Like, I believe my work is important and fascinating and that it speaks to a sociocultural shift that is occurring right now and that should be documented. Even if that weren’t true, this tome is important to me. That should be enough.

I’m hoping to move forward at a steady pace from here on out. My goal is to complete the written part of my thesis by spring break, which is the second week of March. That’s about five weeks away. I have about five remaining sections to write. If I complete a section a week, I should meet my goal. I’m pretty confident that this is a goal I can meet barring any unforeseen circumstances. It would remove a lot of stress from my life as well if I did complete this part of my thesis by then. I could focus on proofreading and on the installation aspect of my thesis.

It took until now, but I’m finally feeling like I have enough content to constitute a thesis. or most of this process, I have felt like my work has been fairly inadequate. Like, I’m never doing as much as I should be. Or, I’m not finding what I should be when I should be. It’s like I’ve been experiencing a grad-school-length-lag. I’m still concerned about finding and combing through more research to support my points. Also, I’m concerned, to an extent, about my thesis being too opinionated. But, these concerns are lee pressing to me than they have been. I feel like I can see the end result and it’s enough–for me, at least. I hope that’s enough for everyone else.

This is not an easy or straightforward process and it has been very hard to get even this far. There have been so many doubts, so many that have not made it to the blog. But, I feel like I have the momentum, no, to not only see the end but get to the end. I have a plan and a schedule I feel confident I can stick to. I have a renewed sense of direction. And, I have so much support from so many amazing, wonderful people who want to see me succeed. If anything, that’s the fuel that will keep this momentum going.

bobross2

Thanks for everything always.

~Till next time~

Combing Slowly but Surely Through the Internet Archives…

I hope everyone had a nice Thanksgiving break (if you celebrate the holiday)! I celebrated by eating some turkey with the fam before getting back to work on this thesis it’s not going to write itself apparently.

research

Me over break 

Assembling my Thesis Proposal

So, since we last spoke, this girl has been hard at work on her thesis proposal! I have been digging through the EBR and New Horizons for thoughts and information on self-representation in the digital age as well as travelling the far reaches of the Internet for any and all research exploring the connection between new forms of digital content creation and Dadaism. The results of these long hours of research are a fairly developed annotated bibliography as well as a half-completed-ish proposal. I know, in my last post, I stated that I wanted to have a rough draft of my proposal completed during break. That may have been a bit overly ambitious. That said, while I acknowledge that I did not totally reach my intended goal, I believe I accomplished a lot of necessary work. Being able to focus on the research, also, helped renew my vigor.

I found many interesting articles drawing comparisons between new forms of digital content creation such as memes, shitposting, etc. and a reemergence of Dadaism in the twenty-first century. While not wholly academic articles, compelling points were made in them for viewing these new digital artifacts as representative of the Millennial sense of self and reality. Articles and posts by Megan Hoins, Charlie Scanlan, and Deirdre Olsen make a case for memes operating as a kind of lens through which the Millennial generation can view themselves as well as make sense of reality. Memes are essentially a response to the chaos and disorder that seems to have swept across the globe. If memes are nonsensical and nihilistic, it is because the world is nonsensical and nihilistic. Memes have become a new form of communication, have become the new mouthpiece of a generation that is sick of being silenced/having no say. More, they are becoming an essential part of the new self-portrait.

Further research by Shivani Gorle compares memes and shitposting to the rise of a so-called “Neo-Neo-Dadaism”. Gorle identifies these mediums as a contemporary kind of expression of Hugo Ball’s “this humiliating age has not succeeded in winning our respect” sentiment. These new digital forms of content creation are thus an emergent form of counter-art and counter-culture. Memes and shitposting, then, are how we as a generation respond to our world but are also the means through which we dismantle established logic and ideologies and so assert our own sense of self over our circumstances. It’s quite an interesting and compelling notion and one I definitely want to see represented in my own work. This kind of research is really getting at the heart of what I believe about new digital forms of content creation–that they are representative of a new kind of concept of the self. They contribute to the construction of an identity that is ideologically different than the processes of identity construction of the past, that occurred without media-intervention. Memes and shitposting and the like represent a kind of disillusionment with and fragmentation of the self that seems evolved from earlier conceptions of identity. At least, that is what I believe and hope to explore through my work.

Additional research on Elit found an interesting article on personal narrative and self-representation written by Dr. Ruth Page. In her research, Page discusses how the capabilities/affordances of Elit allow for an exploration of personal narrative that is not better than traditional literary forms but that is wholly different. Page states, “The medium-specific properties of electronic narratives aptly underscore the fragmentary nature of self representation, as the pixels on a flickering screen and the potential decay of hyperlinks give the lie to the illusion of textual permanence conferred by the printed page”. Essentially, the design of an Elit work can reinforce its themes. This is something that can be seen in works like Nelson’s This is How You Will Die, Davis’ Pieces of Herself and Ankerson and Sapnar’s CruisingAll of these works make use of interfaces that reinforce their themes or that reference some conceptual underpinning or underlying ideology. 

Overall, I think I’m making good progress with the literature. I feel like I have more of a grasp of my subject matter as well as a renewed focus, having read through research that explores similar ideas to my own. It is important, now, I think to explore some of the research counter to or different from my ideas. I will be working on incorporating that information into my draft this week as well as continue working on assembling my proposal. I have some questions about my introduction that I hope I will be able to go over in class this week. Mainly, I want to know if I’m going “in the right direction” so to speak. Since my work is a little more on the “creative” side, I’m not entirely sure what tone to take with my work. (I need to know how much of my style, let’s call it, can come through ^.^)

Speaking of style, I have also been working on the prototype of my Elit piece! Mostly, I’m working on adding textual information into the work right now as well as some hyperlinks. This weekend, I’m hoping to experiment a little more with incorporating audio into the work. I have some soundbites I would like to work into the piece. Some of these soundbites are more, shall we say, aesthetic in nature but some are more connected to the actual text or history, like Hugo Ball’s sound poems (examples 1 & 2).

Anyway, I will keep you updated on my progress! I’m hoping to have a workable thesis proposal as well as prototype of my accompanying Elit piece by the end of the semester!

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~Till next time~

Update on My Progress

This is going to be brief but I hope that’s okay ^.^

So, this week, our cozy little thesis cohort was able to confer with each other about our work. This was a nice change of pace and I know I found it helpful to see what other people were doing for their thesis. Being earlier on in my thesis, it helped me better conceptualize my process by seeing where others were in their work.

Working with Katherine, especially, I found to be helpful as we are both attempting to approach unorthodox subject matter in creative, innovative ways. I enjoyed the tone and voice of Katherine’s work as well as the incorporation of personal experience. She revealed that this was a recent change and that she found it more comfortable to write in this voice. As a reader, I appreciated being able to hear her voice and thought it brought a personal dimension to her research that was absent before but certainly necessary. I’m excited to see where Katherine’s work will go from here!

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Also, I’m excited to see where my own work will go from here. Katherine’s feedback on my little work so far was insightful and helpful. Katherine thought what I had so far in terms of a lit review was a good start. She thought the tone and subject matter matched. It was, also, easier to understand what I was discussing. That said, Katherine did mention I might want to include more information about the art perspective on digital content creation I want to use. Katherine recognized that that explanation may come further into the research, of course, but she did mention that it seemed to be something missing. This observation is, actually, similar to one I made about Katherine’s work. What she has written thus far seems to imply that she will be making a connection to mental health and art therapy but her research has yet to include that aspect. Similarly, my work mentions incorporating an art historical perspective but it has yet to explain its relevance nor any correlation to contemporary digital content creation. It’s on the list believe me.

Anyway, I think it was overall helpful to have this conversation with Katherine and the rest of our thesis cohort. Stephanie and Hope also provided me with some of their thoughts on my work. Mainly, they found it interesting but it definitely still needs some development (which, duh).

I look forward to working more closely with my fellow thesis writers! It’s helpful to have so many different perspectives to hear from!

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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~

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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