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~

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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 ^.^)

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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~)

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.

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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~

Trudging Through… #Suffering

Putting in the Work 

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

stressed to heck

Me this past week >.<

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

Sam stressed

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

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

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

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

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

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~Till next time~

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!

thumbs up kid

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~

….A Bit Unproductive

So….

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

computer throw

Work this week~

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

Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled program!

The Lowdown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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~Till next week~

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