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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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.

****

~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 ^.^)

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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.

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!

****

~Till next time~

Hammering Out the Details~

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

JASON NELSON GOT BACK TO ME!!!!

skwisgar yeah

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Designing the Degenerates Gallery

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

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

Mirror Screen Edit

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

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

Mirror Screen Edit_LI

This came out better than expected, tbh~

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

Layered Mirror and Face

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

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

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

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

tumblr_inline_nyx6kv49bi1tshs8w_1280

I mean, this is Dada gold

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

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

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

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

****

~Till next time~

hannibalwinkingsexilygif

Degenerates Gallery~

Disclaimer

So….. this week I was tasked with reaching out to some digital content creators that inspired me. Through discussion with them, I hoped to glean more about their creative process as well as get some guidance on how to approach a larger digital project. Being that I only have a background in studio art, this advice would be helpful in providing me with some direction for broaching not just my own project, but the concept behind it.

At the time of writing this post, I have yet to hear back from those I emailed. (Fingers crossed, though~)

Regardless, I have spent this week thinking more deeply about the kind of project I would like to make for my thesis. Specifically, I’ve been reflecting on the work and projects I’ve made thus far as well as on the projects I want to work on. This reflection led me to create 2 lists: A list of 8 things I’ve made that I love and a list of 4 things I would like to make.

8 Things I’ve Made That I Love

  1. Sweet Screams…. I made this nightmare catcher about a year ago. I was heavily inspired by some bones I received from a friend. It got me thinking about how to display them. Also, I had been wanting to work on a larger metals project for a while. I made this work during a time of great inspiration. I remember feeling the power of my own concept as I worked on this piece. I love the idea of corrupting faerie tales/faerie tale objects. There’s something about challenging traditionalism that really motivates me.
  2. Bone Girl… I wrote this story a little over a year ago as well. It was inspired by a random twitter bot prompt but really became something unique unto itself. I have created several other works that are heavily influenced by this piece. I’ve also narrated the story myself (with sound effects) as well as created a slide-show display of sorts for the piece (complete with images). It’s a dark twist of a tale, about a mother and daughter and the rituals they share.
  3. Ungentle Into the Night is a story that started off as another story inspired by a bot prompt on my blog titled Living Dead GirlIt became a series consisting of 4 installments (II, III, IV). I continued writing the story for a class on writing fiction for young adults and it became a 30 page work. It’s a story about a necromancer, Thana, and a reaper, Hayden, working together to set an underworld out of whack back into whack. It was the first longer, creative work I had written in a long time. I hope to finish writing it one day.
  4.  Iscariagor… Is a piece of piece of jewelry I made about a year ago as well. It’s a necklace that I cut out, shaped, and enameled to look like blood splatter. I came up with the name for the piece by combining the words Iscariot, ichor, and gore. I envisioned this necklace was commissioned by a queen who demanded a piece of jewelry be made from the blood of traitors. Charming, yeah?
  5. Supply… This is the title of a collection of poetry I wrote last semester. It was inspired by a relationship with someone I really loved and who I really miss now. I wanted to immortalize us and the loved we shared, however short, in the most meaningful way I could: through writing. It’s some of the most personal writing I’ve done in a long time. Here’s one of the poems from the collection I really love:
  6. Two-Faced…. img_6491img_6492Inspired by my poetry collection, Supply, I also made a work in metals. This piece is made from two pieces of acrylic, one black and one red, both cut in the shape of my head in profile. On each is a poem I chased into a piece of metal and then cut out and riveted on to it corresponding acrylic piece. On the black and blue side is a more sad poem while on the bright red and orange side is a passionate poem.
  7. Recently, my mom and I have been attending free arts & crafts classes at our public library. In those classes, we have had a chance to do pysanky (Ukrainian egg decorating) and rock painting. I’m really happy with both works I made in these workshops.
  8. Silence Screams Weren’t Always…. This is the Elit piece I made a few years back in my first ever class about Eliterature. I made the work in PowerPoint and I was very proud of the final product. It was meant to be this immersive experience that allowed readers to explore the often decontextualized and cyclical nature of trauma. I wish I could share it with you but it, unfortunately, only exists as a download.

Honorable Mentions

  • Nox Siog… This is the first bot I ever made! It tweets out little disturbing/poetic messages throughout the day. I love how the aesthetic and text of this bot work together. I wonder if it’s inspired anybody else to write….
  • Moonie Girl…. More like Mooning Girl This is the first bot I made using the Markov text generator option on Dr. Zach Whalen’s spreadsheet that I use to create my bots. This bot tweets out messages pieced together from my poetry collection, Supply.

4 Things I Want To Make

  1. Banshee Wind Chime…. A wind chime made from rib bones, silent until it announces your death only to your ears~
  2. You should see me in a crown…. This is a crown/headdress/kokoshnik largely inspired by the song You should see me in a crown by Billie Eilish as well as by my own desire to be a queen. Since you decided not to treat me like a princess, I decided to make myself a queen. I’m currently working on making it a reality in metals this semester~
  3. Treachery… This is an old story I wrote a while back about a dark faerie world. I want to edit it and continue working on it. I want this to be a series of work eventually, consisting of many different tales of the lives of many different characters that got me through some of the toughest times of my life~
  4. Degenerates Gallery…. This is the digital work I would like to try and make for my thesis. It is inspired by the Degenerate Art exhibition held by the Nazis during the war to disparage and diminish Dada art as well as by the idea of the Rogues Gallery. Essentially, it would be a work that would allow readers to explore the nature of self-representation in online spaces as well as explore the influence of Dada ideology on contemporary forms of aesthetic and self-representation. I imagine the work to be a kind of Elit piece.

Imagining the Gallery

In my head, I imagine the first sight users would see when they enter the Degenerates Gallery is a shattered mirror-like screen. (I kind of imagine the word WANTED flashing in the black background as well????) Shards would be littered across the screen but still spaced close enough apart that the user could see the shape of the mirror that once as. Across the shards, faces would flash in and out. Different faces (I hope I can gather from asking for volunteers on social media sites). In between these faces, there would be static, making the mirror both a mirror and a screen.

Clicking on a shard would take the user to a different page. Each page would allow the reader to explore some different facet of how we construct ourselves in online spaces/of how Dada has reemerged and how a Dada lens can help us navigate these new kinds of self-representation. I imagine one shard would take users to an archive of sorts, kind of like the one in Illya Szilack’s Reconstructing Mayakovsky. This archive would provide users with a collection of reference points which may assist them in further navigating the work. I would like another shard to take users to a dark screen, where a twitter post, maybe, about “screaming into the void” pops up before fading into black as a loud scream begins to sound. This would be a kind of reference to Hugo Ball’s… interesting approach to Dada performance art. (You can see why an archive of sorts may be necessary.)

I’d like to open the work up to submissions, as well. I imagine putting up flyers around campus and tweeting out about how I am “Now Accepting Submissions to the Degenerate Art 2.0 Exhibition!” I think it might be fun to contrast submissions to famous works of Dada art. This would be another shard.

Essentially, I want an exploration of each shard to eventually reveal a new whole. I want the seeming brokenness to yield to a new, compelling whole.

Again, I’m no one with a background in creating digital art. So, I’m not sure how much of what I’ve just described is possible. But, I think even creating something close to what I’ve described would allow for an enriching experience and exploration of how we navigate and understand ourselves and how we create and express ourselves in online spaces.

I hope I’ll hear back from some of the artists I wrote soon! So, I can move this piece off of the the want to list to the made list!

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~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!

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~Till next time~

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