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?

****

~Till next time~

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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.)

****

~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~

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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~

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Finding My Jam~

“we can’t all be poets but we have literary value…” ~ Alex Saum, The Democratic Value of Art Making from Fake Art Histories & The Inscription of the Digital Self

Welcome to my thesis blog~ Don’t mind the nonsense or the anxiety–it’s part of the process ^.^

My Jam 

So, my jam is searching for traces neo-neo-Dadaism is new digital media. For the folks at home, that means I’m looking for traces of an older art movement’s ideals–like absurdism, nihilism, anarchism, amoralism, automatism, de-contextualization–in new, emergent forms of digital creation like memes, and gifs, and Elit–Eliterature–not ebooks (check it). Specifically, I’m interested in making connections between new digital media and art so as to, maybe, better understand the implications and the purposes behind some of these emergent forms. Art and what it represents is a way to understand deeper and more profound truths about ourselves and our society. Ultimately, I hope my work can be applied to our understanding of emerging, digital genres and the users behind them as well as expanded by others to help contextualize future, digital works.

While my research and findings on this subject could certainly be represented through traditional means of presenting theses, it is my desire, as not just a researcher but an artist too, to incorporate some kind of installation or exhibit to accompany my work. In order to get a better grasp of some of the avenues I could take to accomplish this feat, I researched some contemporary digital artists and elit-authors/creators and their projects and wow. There is a lot of cool stuff going on in the field! Experimental and kind of confusing but, oh so inspiring and insightful and creative. I’m so excited to share some of the exciting work going on out there in the digital humanities and arts fields ^.^ I hope you find some of their work exciting too!

Poetic License

Maybe it’s my background in and my lifelong love (so far) for poetry, but I found myself heavily drawn towards some of the more poetic works of digital art and creation. More, I think I just love the idea of incorporating text–something so traditional–with the digital. SO many projects right now are dealing with de-contextualization, as well, and a new kind of digital automatism–which are both fascinating concepts in the analog sense but are given new life by new technology.

Alex Saum‘s #SelfiePoetry project is one such work that sticks out. The series, composed of two volumes–Fake Art Histories & The Inscription of the Digital Self, explore, “the intertwining of two ideas: the untruth behind artistic or literary histories, and our (il) legitimacy to intervene them to create narratives that make teleological [def. relating to or involving the explanation of phenomena in terms of the purpose they serve] sense”. The collection consists of 8 poems that challenge the notion of “the self” against “a somewhat vague, and rather unorthodox, selection of literary movements in Spanish and English”. Essentially, the human is contrasted against the literary, truth notwithstanding.

The poems exists as videos in which Alex Saum recites her poetry over a collage of selfies and other compelling/contrasting images. The first volume exists as a playlist here.

This is my fave from the collection:

I think this poem, in particular, embodies the aesthetic and the tone I am looking to embody in my own work.

Another digital poet who’s work captures that aesthetic and tone I appreciate is Ian Hatcher. I was a little hesitant when I first looked him up since it seemed like audio and sound were his jam (fyi for new readers, sound and audio are not my jam; in fact, they intimidate me quite a lot). Still, I decided to look into his work (due to a stellar recommendation) and I am so glad I did. His poetic style and voice are absolutely captivating and compelling.

Here’s one of my fave works:

It is so cool and I can imagine an audio file like this accompanying an installation work. Hatcher’s poetry reminds me of, again, the de-contexualized valued my many Dada (and Futurist, tbh) artists and writers.

In addition to Hatcher’s audio works, I also found his poetry app , Abra, to be quite interesting.

It seems to be another study in de-contextualization but also in absurdism and trying to make meaning from seeming nonsense. If not an installation proper, I think creating an app of some sort to accompany my thesis work may also be an idea worth exploring. An app would put my work in the hands of and before the eyes of a wide ranging audience, perhaps enhancing the impact of my work. The affordances of an app also bring into question the exact nature of the message I want to promote. What is the role of the viewer in interacting with new forms of digital media? And, how can I make neo-Dadaism in new digital media mean something to my audience?

*Highly recommend you check out the app and play around with it for yourself!

Jason Nelson is another elit artist and poet I admire and whose work truly inspires me to think about the possibilities of my own work. In fact, I would say Nelson’s This is how you will die inspired this thesis! It first made me aware of the possibility of there being Dadaism in new forms of digital creation.

While searching through his website, I came across a poetic work of Elit titled Evidence of Everything ExplodingI didn’t read/play through the whole piece but its initial set-up and aesthetic appeals to me.

Evidence of Everything Exploding

I also like the idea of combining poetry with an underlying, possibly historical, plot. Elit certainly allows for such seemingly dichotomies to exist and be meaningful. It might be fun to explore incorporating some poetry, perhaps from myself or classic Dada artists, over classic memes or gifs or something?? Perhaps with audio of me reading another poem over-top?? That might be over-the-top but it could be compelling.

I see Nelson’s work being seminal to my own research; I just keep coming back to it and finding something new in it every time to appreciate and engage with, emotionally and intellectually. The way Nelson articulates absurdity and nonsense but also deep meaning is both impressive and inspiring (sorry if I’m fangirling but god non-denominational do I love his work).

Re-conceptualizing the Self

Another theme I found myself drawn towards in my research of digital artists was that of the self and of self-representation in the digital age. What does it mean to be yourself in the digital world? What does it matter?

Emilio Vavarella‘s Digital Skin Series is one of the first digital art projects that really drew me in when I began my research. I was absolutely, morbidly fascinated by the project and a little bit disturbed? It’s great. I mean, look at it:

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It’s so f*cking cool

On Vavarella’s website, he says of this project:

The Digital Skin Series is composed of self-portraits in which I pose “under the digital skin” of strangers I’ve crossed paths with in the past. To create this series, I first used a 3D scanner to obtain an accurate tridimensional model of my face. Then I used a camera-prototype to acquire HD portraits of strangers. Finally, I applied their portraits to my digital skull as if they were simply an additional layer. The result is a series of photographs where bidimensionality and tridimensionality collide in an intimate and unpredictable way.

In the past, myths about skin were common across cultures and related to radical biological metamorphoses. For example, in the Navajo tradition – which considered the skin a mask – if you were to lock your eyes with those of the skinwalkers, they could project themselves into your body and transform into you. In today’s network society, bodies have left that organic condition and are characterized by transient statuses: individuals have become di-viduals, data aggregates, samples, signals. The last boundary between us and the world, our skin, has become a transient membrane that changes along with the trans- and meta- human forms under it. The space that was occupied by the skinwalkers of the past has been taken over by infinite reconfigurations and mediations. What remains the same is that to be human still means to constantly shift through generative metamorphosis, corruptions, and de-generations that escape any clear categorization.

It’s such a fascinating idea and I think it’s realization conveys its conceptual underpinning very well. Also, I like the introduction an remixing of the mythological in this project. I think that background adds a whole other layer of understanding and meaning to the work. It would be cool if I could incorporate a sense like that in my project, a recognition and re-realization of the old in the new.

Another artist (and epoet) who explores the idea of self-realization in this new media landscape is María Mencía. In her digital project Transient Self-Portait, an interactive work based on two important Spanish sonnets–one which references the passage of time and the other which invokes the idea of the unavoidable death, “the transient nature of the digital/data self” is explored. As the two sonnets appear and disintegrate across the screen, a self-portrait is constructed from the text. The two works become an illustration of the sonnets.

“the project is a response to some of the concepts that emerge from these sonnets: ephemerality of life, transient entities, fragility, which are also relevant to our age and the electronic world we inhabit. It questions the experience of reading; the use of digital grammars (interacting and engaging with the work); while exploring the concepts evoked in the sonnets.”

Participants are invited into the work, encouraged to use their own voices to control the direction of the piece and create a self-portrait from the text. User input is integral to the work. So, as you read the work and run your mouse over the text, you create in a very visceral way. “The creative process is that of producing, reflecting, programming and testing the medium to explore these notions in an electronic media society of dialogues with self-images, engaging the participant in a reading experience of ‘in’ and ‘out’ of language, via webcams and interactive aesthetics and poetics.”

I appreciate how, like Vavarella’s work, Mencia’s work realizes its conceptual under-layer. It articulates a point about the flesh and blood self through creative, digital interfacing. Also, it’s a recipricol exchange. I would love it if my own project could incorporate a level of reciprocity. I want my readers to feel not just like they got something from my work but that they also gave something back to it.

The New in the Old

In addition to looking at the work of digital artists and elit-creators, I also looked fro inspiration from work still being made more traditionally or in conjunction with traditional means. Amaranth Borsuk’s Moon Signs project, made in conjunction with artist Carrie Bodle, in once such combination work I found to be compelling and interesting. Borsuk’s project was inspired by Bodle’s wavesigns project (which is a sound and video installation where “a six-channel video installation layers five dimensions of oceanographic data on large semi-transparent textile screens, while a five-channel sonification engages viewers/listeners with references to underlying systems of data” which is really f*cking cool too) and consisted of two, participatory sound poetry events in which participants were invited to use “a lunar calendar as a poetic compass to navigate the night sky and build a word ladder to the orb that exerts such force over our lives and our language”.  Borsuk describes the project as thus:

“we designed a volvelle [a wheel chart] whose apertures reveal a word ladder composed of 31 words. The gradually changing poem waxes and wanes along with the lunar phases, shown on the opposing side of the dial. In the center of the volvelle, apertures reveal constellations of words from a cento printed below. This patchwork poem culls lines from dozens of poems that feature the moon: reflecting a range of time periods, styles, identities and themes. They range from poems responding directly to the lunar landing to poems in which the moon acts as lover or muse for the projective poetic imagination.”

This work, again, seems to reference the de-contextualization of text as a way for creating new meaning and story. I like that participants are invited to create and construct lexia in a collaborative way, too. Even if the work generated in seeming nonsense, there can be meaning in the act of participation itself.

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Borsuk’s volvelle

Lisa Park‘s installations are also incredibly compelling and inspirational. Though differently from Elit, her art makes use of new digital technology to create new meaning and to explore the complexity of living in this day and age. One installation of hers I found particularly interesting was Rhythm. The project “is an interactive installation that translates the user’s heart beats into abstract visualization in real-time. A participatory work of time-based art, it allows participants to make rhythmic gestures of their heart beats. The detected heart beats modulate the thickness of each brush marks, which creates a recreation of one’s physical and emotional states.” Park states that the brush’s movements are inspired by Pollock and many of the color palettes are inspired by those of other famous works of trad art like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Totally my jam. I love that integration of the new and the old. More, I really love art that references itself.

Park states, “The aim of this work is to create an enjoyable and playful experience for the visitors to create their own unique piece that captures their personality, emotion, and moments”. I like the idea of giving participants something that is uniquely their own, as well. Again, this kind if work, to me, makes use of reciprocity. You get what you give the work.

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One of my faves~

You can foll @project_rhythm on Twitter to see some more cool works~

One last artist whose work I really enjoyed and that resonated with me was Judy Malloy and her work its name was Penelope. The installation is an interesting mix of elit and analog technology. Essentially, the work consists of a large, hypertextual painting and a computer, running Malloy’s book version of the text. Again, it’s another interesting juxtaposition of the old and the new, of what it means to create something by hand.  If I could, I would love to create a work that makes a, perhaps, hidden juxtaposition more accessible.

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its name was Penelope

Wrap Up

So…. I have a lot of ideas. A lot of inspiration. Not so much direction. I know I would like to create an installation that captures some of that neo-Dada I see in new digital media and that communicates what that means to participants or that invites participants to engage in their own kind of meaning-making. More, I would like to create a space for meaning-making to occur.

In my head, I’m envisioning this kind of immersive installation that surrounds the participants and their senses. But, maybe that’s not the best way to convey my purpose? Or, introduce my audience to my topic? I think I need to do more research on installation work but also on digital/elit artists and how they set-up their exhibitions. More, I think I need to get an idea of what would be possible to do with the resources I have at my disposal at my university.

So….yeah, I’m not really sure where that leaves me but I’m sure we can discuss it more at length on Thursday though~

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*If you haven’t had enough of me already, you can check me out on the Twitter ^.^ Sometimes I’m witty???? #debatable?????

~Till next time~

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