This post was originally 6 different posts but for the sake of de-cluttering my blog I have merged them into one post.
Experimentation – Media Arts Wk7
This week was the first of practical research and experimentation. In order to find people to collaborate with, we were asked to nominate one of five broad themes to which our individual research was most relevant. The theme I chose was ‘expressing digitality:
textuality and expression’. This theme seemed to relate strongly to my research as textuality and expression are two of the main concepts that connect everything I have done so far.
To get us started, we looked at the work of Jenny Holzer. Jenny Holzer mostly works with large scale projections in public places. Her work usually makes bold statements and has a political edge to it.
In order to recreate the work in a new way, we thought about the kinds of messages the artist usually send. She often works with bold statements that are designed to make the audience think. Messages are also often very short, which got us thinking about tweets. Jenny Holzer herself has a twitter account where she tweets many of the same messages as her projection work. I particularly found this interesting because recontextualising tweets works really well into what a lot of my research has already been about.
A hot topic at the moment has of course been Donald Trump, and particularly his twitter feed. We decide an out-of-context Trump tweet would be a good first choice in order to allow us to quickly move on to setting up the projection. The tweet we chose was “It’s freezing and snowing in New York–we need global warming!”
In the projection of the tweet, we also experimented with size and angles. Jenny Holzer’s works are usually projected extremely large scale, so we experimented with projecting the tweet extremely small. The idea of this was to engage the audience and make them feel the need to move closer. In the end we projected the tweet extremely small but “The President of the United States of America” quite large. As well as hopefully causing people to get closer, this also allowed the audience to draw conclusion before even seeing the actual text.
Angles also worked to our advantage, as the way we were projecting the text across a pole looked from a certain angle as if it said “F the United States”. This was unintended, but is something to experiment with in coming weeks.
Experimentation – Media Arts Wk8
This week we struggled to build upon last weeks work, so we decided to spend more time discussing our individual research. We couldn’t find any obvious connections between any of our research so we started to extrapolate our ideas and try to find even vague themes that could tie us all together. Still we weren’t particularly successful, so we decide to just recreate another artists work, in the hope that more ideas would form through action.
The work we chose this week was ‘In Order To Control’ by NOTA BENE.
‘In order To Control’ is an interactive instillation, that uses projection mapping to alter the nature of shadows. The work functions by using two projectors; one to project moving text on to the ground, and one to project the text behind individuals interacting with work, where their shadow should be. The text being projected is an essay discussing ideas surrounding mortality.
We immediately had issues in trying to recreate this work. our first issues being that we had a hard time working out where both projectors were positioned in relation to the work. We eventually did work out the positioning but still managed to put the projectors the wrong way around anyway.
Another major issues was that none of us had any idea about projection mapping. Projection mapping was used in the original work in order to detect the shape of individuals standing on the ground project, and then use that shape to project behind them to look like it was their shadow. Even if we had put the projectors the right way around, projection mapping wasn’t something we were going to be able to work out in just a few hours.
As with last week, we chose our content pretty much at random. This week we chose some text from copyright law.
Overall, the work didn’t really eventuate into something we could present, but it did give us a lot of ideas to move forward with. Projection mapping was something we could look into more. One of the main pieces of feedback we where given was that it could be interesting to work with projecting on different surfaces, which is something we will probably experiment with next week.
Experimentation – Media Arts Wk9
This week has probably been our least successful week so far.
We started strong with good ideas carrying over from last. We wanted to experiment with projecting text onto different surfaces, such as various boxes or maybe sheets. Because we were using text, we wanted to experiment with having the different surfaces work in a sort of conversation, or maybe even play with the audiences expectations of what text was going to come next. One inspiration for this was an example from our first week of experimentation.
First we set up the projectors to see which surfaces would work best with what we wanted to do. While this was happening another group member went about making the text to project. Once again the content was chosen somewhat at random. Without a definitive message tat we want to convey, it’s becoming harder each week to have new ideas as we’re not sure what we’re trying to express.
While one group member worked on the text, the other members continued to experiment with different surfaces with the projectors. This eventually led to a ‘mountain’ being formed out of boxes and fabric, on which was projected the letter T and then the letter X. A manikin’s head was also found and placed on the top of the ‘mountain’, and then some rubbish was thrown in there. It was an absolute mess with no planning or thought whatsoever.
At the beginning of our time we had a pretty strong idea of what we wanted to do, but as we started to work on things we could further away from that original direction. I think one of our main problems this week was that most group members were left with nothing to do, meaning the invented new things to do just to pass the time.
Going forward I think it would be better if we worked in a way that allowed us all to get involved more. I feel like the things we produce will be better if we all have a hand in the making an therefore also feel more attached to it.
Experimentation – Media Arts WK10
After the unsuccessful week we had last week, we were struggling with how to move forward. With two group members away and one group member leaving the group, we were having even less ideas than normal. Our teacher Jo suggested that we once again recreate another artists’ work in order to just have something to work on. The artist she suggested was Barbara Kruger, as thematically her work was inline with what we were hoping to convey.
Barbara Kruger is an American artist that uses mostly reconfigured advertisements to critique society and constructs of power. Her work is quite simple in practice, often just using a collage method to overlay black and white advertisements with bold text. This was advantages to us as it meant her work would theoretically be easy to recreate.
The works of hers that we decide to recreate most closely, was her more recent work surrounding the US election (as shown above). This tied in with our work from the first week.
We chose several prominent political figures and overlayed their mouths with ironic words to describe them. Despite this seeming relatively simple, the exercise took a very long time as we were only using one computer, meaning once again only one person was actually creating the content. By the time the content was finished we only just had time to hook it up to the projector before it was already the end of our time.
Overall, I think one of the main reasons that were not improving week to week, is that we’re not all engaging enough with the content. In everything we have done so far the content has practically been an after thought rather than the driving force behind our work. One of the reasons we have struggled so much with content is that our individual research is so unrelated to each other that it’s hard to even know where to start. I think from now on we need to think about what we want to say with our work first and then think about what form would best express that.
Experimentation – Media Arts WK11 & 12
This week is a double post because I was unable to attend class last week.
Whilst I was away, the group continued to make work similar to the week before, this time overlaying photos of feminist with feminist quotes of theirs. They had also experimented with projection on to large canvases that gave a sort of billboard effect.
Coming into this week I wanted to think a lot more about content. Barbra Kruger had been a really good starting point for us but I wanted to think more about the intention behind the work.
Jo, our teacher, linked us to a video discussing Kruger’s work, but what really got me thinking was a comment underneath the video.
The comment read:
Should we then not also question this particular work by Barbara Kruger? The work itself is sat within the walls of a museum, consumerism and greed are the very foundation blocks that museums and galleries, maybe even the whole art world is built on, this very act completely undermines the work which is then reduced to nothing more than a picture to look at. This work can no longer be taken seriously, in fact any work that has any political element in this environment can’t be taken seriously anymore. – iPurvis
This comment made me think about the way Barbra Kruger’s work criticizes big corporations and consumerism but itself takes part in that model. This then lead me to wonder about the nature of advertising, and the way no matter the message the end goal is always to sell a product. Recently there have been an influx of ‘feminist’ and ’empowering’ advertising campaigns, but are they really any better than campaigns that shame women into buying there product.
To explore this in our work, I suggested we combine ‘feminist’ advertising campaigns with sexist campaigns. This allowed us to investigate whether ’empowering’ advertising campaigns are really that different to ones that shame women into buying their product.
We the projected these images on to the giant canvases that the group used last week, to create the effect of a billboard, which of course ties into the theme of advertising.
Overall, I think this week we’re finally on the right track. We really thought about our content, and we also thought about the way our content and medium worked in conversation. I think we’re very close to what will be the work we present.
Experimentation – Media Arts WK13
Having had such strong ideas last week, this week it was a lot easier to expand on the content we already had.
At the beginning of the lesson we continued to discuss ideas surrounding feminism in advertising. We then discussed the history of sexism in advertising. This made me think of a work I found in my individual research. Natalie K Nelson did a series of ‘modern vices‘ in the style of old fashioned adverts. This series used old media to explore modern problems.
This series also related to our work because it was using advertising.
We decided to incorporate this sort of style into our own work. Using the older advertising mixed in with the new highlights the way advertising hasn’t really changed with time. Although advertising has gone from be blatantly sexist, to being ’empowering’, the end goal is still to make consumer – especially women – feel a certain way about themselves in order to buy a product.
We are still going to use the giant canvases to project our work, in the style of billboards. Because there are two canvases, we discussed how they could juxtapose each other, perhaps one would use an old format with a modern message and the other the opposite.
Overall, I think we’re very close to our final product now that we’re all so engaged with our content. Our only hindrance now is that many group members lack the technical skills needed to edit the work. But, with us all working together I’m sure we will get it done in time.