This post was originally 6 different posts but for the sake of de-cluttering my blog I have merged them into one post.
Do I Have A Practice? – Media Arts Wk1
I’m currently undertaking a Bachelor of Communication and Media studies, with a major in Digital Media and communication. Over the past few years I have greatly enjoyed almost all the things I’ve done at university, and am grateful for all of the skills I have developed and experiences I have had. Having said that I don’t really know where to go from here.
The idea of having a practice kind of scares me, as for many people their practice is so closely tied to their identity. What is my practice? Am I a writer, a photographer, a graphic designer? I have done and enjoyed all of these things but none of them seem like my one field. The only consistency in my practice seems to be the internet. Much of my degree is based around using and understanding the internet. So instead of choosing a practice, I think I’ll just focus on more of a concept. During this semester, I want to see how practices on the internet translate to the physical word. By this I mean taking photography practices, editing practices, formatting and styles specific to digital media and try to translate it to physical media.
From research, the project I’m embarking on would probably fall under the category of new media art. Most new media art use technology to create art or uses it in new and unexpected ways within the art. What I am mostly interested in is the way there are certain artistic conventions online, and how they could potentially translate (or not) to a physical display.
An example of the sort of concept I’m hoping to achieve would be Liza Nelson’s project Emoji IRL.LOL., a project that involved the artist recreating hyper realistic images of emoji’s. The project focused on the same themes that I would; The way there are certain conventions online and how that translates to the physical or real. I think Nelson perfectly captures the strange divide between online and real life. “Emojis mean everything and they mean nothing at the same time,” Nelson wrote on the site. “They’re completely personal and completely universal.”
Both these artists a great example of the type of projects I wish to embark on; one that will utilise my digital skills and experience but also force me to work in new mediums. Overall this concept is something that I’m excited about and even if I don’t fully reach my goal with it will still be an interesting learning experience.
Research – Media Arts Wk2
While last week I was focused on finding a practice, this week was all about research. And the number one thing I learnt, is that I know next to nothing about new media art.
New media arts is definitely a broad field. It encompasses anything from light art, to hypertext poetry, to digital art. The only uniting factor seems to be the way the art is either a reaction to, or works in relation to, new and developing technology.
The best way for me to research such a broad field was to look at the concepts and inspirations behind some of the artists that exemplified what it is I hope to explore. As well as the two artists I mentioned last week, I found other artists exploring ideas around the way we use the internet to communicate, and how this is effected by context. An artist I found really interesting is An Xiao, and in particular, her project ‘Morse Code Tweets’. The project converted tweets into morse code, in order to explore the ways that instantaneous communication technology has changed, and the way that effects how we use it. The artist herself explains the concept really well in the video below:
This type of approach is typical of new media artists, as it focuses more on the concept and context of a particular piece, with the final result being a reflection of that. This type of thinking became more popular in the 1960s, with the emergence of a movement towards more conceptual art.
While new media arts often follows developments in technology, it is also heavily concerned with what came before. Artists often use new technology to explore old technology (like An Xiao) or use their art to investigate technologies that were never popular.
In terms of my own art, going forward I think I need to do more research into the history of online methods of communication. I have done some research into this already, as well as research into internet linguistics, but in order to understand where my own project sits I need to better understand what came before.
My Hero(s) – Media Arts Wk3
When thinking of a creative hero, for me it’s hard to go past the creators of one of my favourite shows; Bryan Konietzko and Mike Dante DiMartino (often referred to by fans as Bryke). While not strictly in ‘my field’, I very much look up to Bryan Konietzko and Mike Dante DiMartino and would love to be able to emulate their work ethic (and subsequent success).
Both Konietzko and DiMartino went to university for animation and started work at Film Roman, on projects like Family Guy and King of the Hill. Both had a steady animation job but moved to Cartoon Network because they wanted to make more original exciting content. This lead to the development of Avatar: The Last Airbender and it’s subsequent series The Legend of Korra. As writers, animators, producers and directors, over 13 years Bryke developed the world of Avatar from the initial concept all the way to two large scale production television shows.
While having clear ideas about where they want their shows to go, they both use the process of creation in order to gain new ideas as they work. This is especially relevant as an episode of Avatar took 9-10 months to make and an episode of Korra took a year to a year-and-a-half. At one point production was taking place on up to 30 episodes at the same time.
Bryke are not only dedicated to making the best show possible, they are also dedicated to surrounding themselves with a team of equally passionate people. On their shows they work closely and collaboratively many people, particularly Joaquim Dos Santos (Co-Executive Producer) and Lauren Montgomery (Producer).
Towards the end of the production of Legend of Korra, the show encountered many problems, with budget cuts and then the show not being aired on television and only online. It was important to Bryke to retain staff despite budget cuts, so they developed a whole episode that reused old footage instead of letting staff go.
Not only do I admire their work ethic, but also their creative passion and commitment to what they feel is genuine storytelling. Bryke pushed the boundaries of children’s television, dealing with serious themes in an honest way, and never speaking done to their audience. They never allowed fans to influence the show and always told the story on their own terms.
Overall, I greatly admire and am inspired by Bryan Konietzko and Mike Dante DiMartino. I hope to be even just a fraction as genuine and hardworking, and hopefully one day I can create something that I am as passionate about as they are about their projects.
Getting A Job!? – Media Arts Wk4
This week I am supposed to talk about opportunities available in my field. I expect this to be difficult because back in my first post I never really chose a practice.
I guess the best place to start is by reviewing the type of field I think I’ll go into. As a Digital Media and Communications major I expect it will rely on the internet. I have a passion for writing, and I enjoy photography, and when it comes down to it I can see myself doing almost anything as a career. There are obviously some jobs I’m not going to end up in, like I’m not suddenly going to be a doctor or a lawyer, but for the most part I’m pretty open.
The timing of having to write this post is slightly fortuitous, as I recently went to see a career consultant. Going to the consultant was extremely helpful, because although I still don’t have a clear idea of what I want to do, I am more aware of opportunities. In the consultation, I spoke about liking the structure of university, and I was made aware of the multitude of graduate programs available. As I am graduating this year, graduate programs seem like an excellent idea because they will allow me to try out many different roles within a company without being tied to one thing. I now have two books profiling the top 100 graduate programs in Australia, which have been a great way to get an overview of the kinds of things that are available.
Another important thing is gaining experience before I graduate, which is what internships are great for. The university itself offers a career ready subject, which gives students information and skills, as well as helping them get an internship. I am enrolling in this subject for the next semester so hopefully this will help me gain experience. There are also websites dedicated to jobs in the media and arts, such as the loop and artshub, which list full-time and part-time jobs, as well as internships.
Overall , I still don’t really know what I’m doing but by doing this research and talking to a career consultant I now at least have a starting point.
The Concept – Media Arts Wk5
It is week 5, and only now do I feel like I actually understand where my own project is going. In my first week focusing on research I think I made the mistake of over complicating things. I found artists that were doing very similar things to what I wanted to do but never really took the time to think about what it was they were doing, and why I liked it. In order to replicate ideas conveyed by other artist I first need to pinpoint what those ideas are.
When simplified, I think the aim of my project comes down to this; I am interested in forms of communication, and how they are affected by context, or more so how they are affected when context is changed. This is what is at the heart of almost all of the art that I have been Investigating; Liza Nelson’s Emoji IRL.LOL., An Xiao’s Morse Code Tweets, Mathieu Tremblin and Emma Cozzani’s French Lovers, all investigate communication in changed context.
I think recontextualising communication is really interesting, as it forces us to analyse the underlying messages within these different forms. This plays heavily into Marshall McLuhan’s idea of “the medium is the message”. Put simply this concept is that he way in which we convey a message actually says more that the content of the message. An Xiao’s Morse Code Tweets, which I mentioned earlier, explores this really well by asking question about the importance we place on different forms of communication. Back when morse code was invented it was one of the first forms of instantaneous communication, and was usually used for messages of high importance. These days we have hundreds of way to instantaneously communicate, which changes the types of messages we send. Xiao particularly explores the differences between twitter and morse code by combining the two, to see how it changes the messages that are being conveyed. This is not only a great example of medium affecting message but it also incorporates a historical context. Later, Xiao also undertook a similar project where she sent tweets as postcards, again investigating the different cultural values of forms of communication.
These project took place in 2009, and there are now more forms of communication than ever. While I haven’t exactly pinpointed what methods of communication I would like to explore, I am excited to investigate this topic through art, and to more complexly explore something many of us use everyday without even thinking about it.
The Pitch – Media Arts Wk6
In my last post, I explored the concepts behind my project, and in this post I hope to pitch in practical terms what it is I will be doing.
To put it very simply, the idea behind my project is that I want to recontextualise an everyday form of communication, in order to explore the importance context has, and if a different context changes the message.
A brainstorming season in class today made me really realize the two main elements I want my project to have. I want it to be a dialogue between the historical and the contemporary, and I want to be be a dialogue between the digital and the material. This is especially relevant, as in class recently we have been talking a lot about “materialising the digital”, and how the actually making of something can be just as important as the planning.
With all of this in mind, I have thought of a couple of different projects that would explore these concepts;
- Using emojis to recreate official documents
Emojis have fast become a prominent form of communication. Although at a glance these small images may seem silly, to many people they are capable of expressing extremely complex feelings and emotions, some of which people may actually find easier to communicate through emojis rather than words. This is juxtaposed by many official documents such as birth certificates, arrest warrants, even wedding invitations. Official documents often use language that can be almost indecipherable to many people. Official documents also have a much higher cultural importance than messages sent online, especially those messages that use emojis. It would be interesting to combine the two, in order to investigate if one would would legitimise or de-legitimise the other.
- Hand writing a twitter feed in the form of letters to pen pal
Twitter is often seen as a place for frivolous thoughts, as tweets can be posted from anywhere, at anytime, with no planning. Handwritten letters on the other hand are seen as having a higher cultural value because they take more time to produce and deliver. The two forms are also different in their reach, in that a letter is usually for only one person, whereas public tweet feeds can be read by anyone. This project would investigate how differently we use these two forms of communication, and if the same message is changed when presented in a different way.
Overall, I am excited to start on this project because I think the things I find out along the way will help the project change and develop as I go. I’m also interested to see if I will start thinking differently about the ways I communicate and the importance I place on different forms.