Monday, November 8, 2010

Sarah Drury & Craig Kapp

 Last week we had the privilege of getting to hear guest speakers Sarah Drury and Craig Kapp. Both artists lectured on the various mediums they use in order to creative interactive media. Sarah Drury displayed some of the work she has done with interactive performances. There were two pieces I enjoyed particularly, first the piece where Sarah had a dancer perform onstage with sensors connected to her body. The sensors were used for a robot that was also performing onstage. The intention behind this work was to create a machine which could actually replicate a persons movement and behavior. With this in mind Sarah's thoughts were to try and create a machine that was in a way connected to a human life. One question that comes to mind when thinking about Sarah's piece is exactly what was the thought process that inspired such an idea. I found this concept to be intriguing because it is highly futuristic and to my own amazement, technology is becoming so advanced that human behavior within a robot is becoming possible. To follow her thought pattern as to how she arrived to such a concept would be very interesting as an artist.
     Also, I enjoyed the other piece Sarah showed which was another interactive piece. The difference between this piece and the first piece was that the performer in this piece could be anyone. Sarah set up a video where she took video in one room and in another she had a booth where anyone could go and create sounds which would be recorded and mixed in with the video. The intentions behind this piece was to create interactive media which could mix a person's audio with video. It is my understanding that Sarah had set up a system so that the video would go along with the sound of the person's voice. I thought this was highly groundbreaking in the sense that a person's voice is almost like their fingerprint. Each person had their own unique voice. The sound bank which she set up for the piece also contained over a thousand voices which would be mixed in with the video so that just about every time a person views the work they would be viewing something different from the last performance. As an artist who appreciates interaction between audience and media I thought this piece was amazing and highly inspiring.
     Next was Craig Kapp, who spoke on a new wave of technology called augmented reality. Craig spoke about his theory of cycle in technology which showed many of the technological trends which have formed over the past few generations. One fact that I found to be very interesting was that augmented reality has been googled more over the past 2 years than it had in 2008 or 2007. This was really interesting because it shows that people are becoming more aware of this new technological breakthrough and they are becoming more immersed in it as well. Craig defined virtual reality as a complete immersion within a synthetic reality whereas an augmented reality is a predominantly real space where virtual elements can be inserted in real time. In other words augmented reality picks the aspects of virtual reality that it wants to use and creates them within our world through the use of a webcam or a camera. One example that many people are familiar with is the first down mark on NFL television broadcasts. Augmented reality has been around for a long time however it has been protected by patents by it's creators. Only recently has AR been "do-able" on a consumer grade device. The popularity of A.R. has been driven by fast, cheap, computers. Craig breaks down augmented reality into 2 methods. First is the mirror method in which a person sees reflection with augmented reality and the second is through a lense which shows augmented reality as you look through it.
     I enjoyed looking at some of these examples in effect as Craig showed us a number of projects he has worked on in the past. One example I liked was the star chasing game which was used to help rehabilitate children and adults who have suffered from accidents and are looking to learn how to use their arms or legs again. This game seemed to be very helpful in getting these people to learn how to heal themselves. It is especially successful for children as these games are targeted to market them in particular. I also enjoyed the zoobook project because it was a great idea to market which also has a lot of interaction with the consumer so that they can even put themselves inside the game as well. Overall I thought both speakers were great and the material presented was amazing. After this lecture I thought a lot about how I would like to incorporate these ideas into my work. I believe an interactive piece makes the work personal to not just one person but each and every person who has the privilege of experiencing it. The beautiful thing about work like this is that it doesn't get old, each and every time it is used is new and exciting to the audience.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Margaret Morse: "Video Installation Art"

     Morse's article "Video Installation Art" discusses the basic aspects behind creating an installation piece. She mentions that most Installation art requires a space which is hollowed out before setting up the actual work. She also compares video installation to other types of media within the visual art realm such as a drawing or a painting. One mentionable difference between these types of media is that installation video is defined by its space and this space is supposed to give meaning to the work or add meaning to the work within the piece. Paintings, on the other hand, can be moved from gallery to gallery, or even museum to museum, in other words, paintings and drawings are easier to sell as a commodity because they can become mobile. Video Installations also become harder to archive. Granted there are many ways to record a video installation through other mediums such as drawings, word of mouth, written description, or even a video that documents the installation. However, Morse is arguing that the actual, physical, tangible space that the installation occupies becomes just as much a part of the art, if not more than the rest of the piece. 
     Installation art is special because the frame of the work becomes the actual walls of the place it is projected in. The viewer also becomes the artist and in some way, part of the work because they are watching a performance they are in some way a performer within the piece.  This also separates the video installation from other types of media. Because installations are often not commodifable, artists will need to get a commercial sponsor to supply the location for the work. Often these sponsors are a corporation or even a museum that has a large enough area to provide space for the installation. Having a work of art that is not commodifable is not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing but it is often more difficult to sell than a painting or a drawing.
     Morse also makes the statement that installations are often similar to a film or a movie you would see in a theater in the fact that they immobilize the viewer and create an environment where a screen is so big that they can make the viewer feel as if they are in the actual environment projected on the screen. The benefit to this is that it draws the viewer into the artist's projection allowing them to project a particular feeling and narrative on to the viewer without the dangers of actually being in that place. For example the artist can present horror or adventure to their audience through this projection and the immobilized audience can safely experience the intended narrative through a particular space which can be far far away from what is captured on screen. This is important because it makes it possible for video to be commodified on a mainstream scale as well as capture the emotions and experiences the artist intended to project to the world.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Krzysztof Wodiczko's "Critical Vehicles."

     Krysztof Wodiczko's "Critical Vehicles" is an article which discusses the over-saturation of past cultures bleeding into future cultures which make up the melting pot of today's society. Wodiczko's article states that the aftershock of past history, such as the Cold War is still being felt in contemporary society. The United Nations have referred to the last quarter century as the "Migration Era" because so many immigrants are looking to join this country, that the number of people looking to enter this country has reached statistics which are comparable to the nineteenth century immigration wave. There is however one difference between the immigrants who came here during the nineteenth century and those which are moving here now. The difference between these two groups is the immigrants who come here now are already walking into communities which are already established whether it be a community which is inhabited by other foreigners or a community of American citizens. So what role do these new immigrants play in contemporary American communities? Their role is actually to unbuild this community and help rebuild a new, different one which will take their past traditions and cultures and together with others, transform them into a more diverse community. Now, some might argue that by doing this, you are destroying the memory of the old country and culture that was left behind. In my opinion, losing a portion of past traditions is inevitable when joining or building a new community, however this is also the great thing about starting a community because you are able to take the memories and some traditions from the past and infuse them with the new ones which will be inherited by this new group.
     Wodiczko believes that within every immigrant is a vision of a new city to come which is even greater than that from the past and better than that which is there in front of them (present). One issue that often happens however is immigrants will have to flee their country because of a war or an unfortunate event which causes them to leave their country to protect their own lives or even more important their families lives. When something like this happens immigrants will have a "wounded" outlook on their new way of living, which will cause them to have a biased outlook on others around them who do not share this same experience. Wodiczko talks about how the Victors deprived the Nomads of their  history and once completely taken over, took their history away from them so that Nomads were later only looked at as geographic subjects, who in theory "did nothing". He than makes the comparison that just as Nomads have went down in the history books as people who "did nothing", society has presumed that migrants and immigrants have nothing to contribute to the great public debate. In other words the past is meaningless unless there are people who can keep tell the history of their culture. Therefore, at first encounter many cultures tend to be skeptical of others who are different from them because they can be a potential threat to the history which made them who they are. He states that: "the most questionable question, 'Where are you from?,' should never replace 'In what way can your past and present experiences contribute to everybody's well-being today and tomorrow?". Unfortunately, people often still ask a person where they are from and based on their answer, make assumptions and cast judgments on others.
      Krysztof also believes that history tends to repeat itself but people can use past mistakes in history to prevent them from repeating themselves.In order to do this however, each day history needs to be rewritten in order to correct the injustices of the past. What he means by this is that we as human-beings need to first honor the past by remembering it, than pass the knowledge of it on to others so that it will live on and lastly, use the errors of the past in order to change the present and the future. The worst thing that we can do is be like the Nomads who lost their history by not defending it. It is essential for growth that we our first human-beings before we our citizens of a country or members of a community. While being members of a community or culture help us define our pasts and our own identities as well, we also need to realize that migrants or immigrants also have their own identities that they bring to the table. We all belong to many different groups or cultures which help make us who we are and this is very important, but we also need to take a step back and realize that as humans we all share at least one common group or community together and it is important to carry on past traditions which help each of us establish ourselves as individuals.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Am I an Artist?

     Do I consider myself an artist? I guess in order to answer that question we would have to first ask ourselves what an artist is. In my opinion an artist is anyone who produces art. Which of course leads to the question what is art? Which of course is a highly controversial question because it is so subjective, the definition of art varies from person to person. In my eyes, art is anything that a person can create. This creation does not need to be tangible either it can simply be an idea, however there is one exception: art isn't art without an audience. It is almost similar to the debate on whether a sound is a sound if nobody is there to hear it. Art is not art without eyes to see or ears to hear.
     Keeping this in mind, I think everyone is an artist. In fact many things are created by people, entirely by chance or accidental, which is still art as John Cage taught us. What separates an "artist" from the average Joe? The idea and belief that the person is an artist. When a child makes a finger painting and they take it home for their proud parents to look at doesn't the child have their audience? Since art is so subjective, any piece of art has the potential to be considered a success in somebody's eyes. Now this doesn't mean that everyone is considered a professional artist. The difference is that a professional artist makes a living off of producing art regardless of the mediums used. So to answer the question in layman's terms I am an artist, and anybody else with a creative mind is too.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Site Specifics and Locative Media Artists in the Contested-Aware City

    The Article "Site-Specifics" focuses reader's attention toward the debate on site-specific art. Exactly how much of an impact does the specificity of a site have on artists' work and the connection it has with it's audience? It is arguable to say that it has absolutely no impact on some work but a dramatic impact on others. Fact of the matter is there is no right or wrong answer to this debate. One example that comes to mind when I contemplate the subject is Robert Smithson's "Spiral Jetty". Spiral Jetty was said to be Smithson's most known work of art. This piece of art is actually an earthwork which was constructed in Utah in the 1970's located right near the Great Salt Lake. As you may have guessed the land was constructed into a spiral shape which extends just out into the lake. The reason I used this work of art as an example was because the location of the work is crucial to the piece and had this piece been made in another location it would be an entirely different piece.
   The Modernist art critic, Michael Fried discussed the impression specific-site location has on art pertaining to minimalist art. He states: "In forcing an incursion of the time and space of viewing into the experience of the work, Fried argues, minimalism enters into a realm which 'lies between the arts' where 'art degenerates as it approaches the condition of the theatre". In other words, in Minimalist art, one of the main focuses of the piece isn't the art but the actual space between the art. Minimalist art is a great example of this because its a form of art which isn't concerned with place as much as it is with space. What Fried is trying to say is that location is essential to this particular movement of art because much of what is focused on is the space between and around the object.
    The second article, "Locative Media Artists in the Contested-Aware City" is about how cell phones have reached the largest audience of consumers in the world. In doing so, it has made it so that practically every person in the world (majority) has some type of computer on them at all times, making it possible to pinpoint the whereabouts of most people in the world. This creates a large controversy throughout the art world and many artists have used technology to comment on both the positives and the negatives of being able to be tracked at any given time. Most people already overlook the fact that they are being filmed in public places without their consent or even their knowledge. Obviously there are positives to having video recording enabled in public places, for instance if a crime is committed, a car accident occurs, or if a person has gone missing. For these reasons, video surveillance is needed and very useful, however where is the line drawn?
    In the art world, location in regards to site-specific art can make or break a piece. In fact, location is so crucial to a piece of art that it can change the meaning of the art entirely. Examples such as Spiral Jetty show that sculpture art can be made with earth as the actual medium and the locations of these works are considered carefully so that the work can be made to its fullest potential. This is also evident within modern-day technology. The cell phone movement has targeted such a widespread market that just about anybody can be tracked down with computers. With tracking devices becoming such a widespread commodity, one questions whether the privacy of the common people has been compromised and if it has, should anything be done about it?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Video III: Blog # 2

    I found the article "A Brief History of Wayfinding", to be very informative as well as interesting being that many people often overlook the process which allows them to understand where they are and be able to move from one destination to another and back again.Many people are so busy being distracted with their daily routines that they do not realize they are constantly on the move. After working on the psychogeographic drifting project I felt that this article was a great follow-up to that assignment. In fact when the article started to discuss how honey-bees and ants use Geocentric and egocentric navigation to find their way back to their nest I could visually see parts of many of the videos in our class where myself as well as my classmates took moving video of the ground they had walked by on Easton Ave. Overall I found this article to be highly relevant to drifting assignment and a great follow up.
    The second article "Signal to Noise", was about the anti-music artist of the Fluxus movement, John Cage. John Cage is known for his groundbreaking work within the sound world. Perhaps his most famous piece, "4'33'' is a piece composed of four minutes and thirty three seconds of silence. In all honesty, not the most exciting art you will ever see or hear, but the theory behind it is what makes his work revolutionary. The whole concept behind Cage's work is the idea that things can be made by chance. Whether it be cutting up many clips and throwing them all back together randomly or composing a piece made entirely of silence Cage's work expressed the idea of making art through chance. In theory, by making everything by chance, the experience is different every time.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Video III: Readings and colective points

     I found Yi-Fu Tuan's article "Space and Place" to be very interesting because it presented some very valuable points about the relationship between space and place. First I enjoyed that the writer broke down each definition of space and place in order to avoid any confusion later on. Tuan writes that "The ideas 'space' and 'place' require each other for definition". In other words, the two seem to work as antonyms for each other. While place is normally associated with security and shelter, space is associated with freedom and openness. Tuan further elaborates on his definition by making the comparison that if space allows movement than place serves as a pause for this movement. This makes more sense when you think about space and place from a visual aspect, space is white and place is anything in between the white.
      What sparked my interest in this article even more was that Tuan pointed out the fact that no single person has the same experience in a place. Granted it is quite possible that two people could share a similar experience in the same place at the same time, or even share the same emotions in the same place at the same time, however, even when this happens these two people still do not have an identical experience. With this thought process, it is physically impossible for two people to share the exact same experience within a place. I know I may be digging into a very detailed argument here but this part of the article really sparked my interest and I found this to be a fascinating point. My question is how exactly how much of an impact does this have on an experience one shares with another? Does it have any at all? If two people are in a particular place staring at one another and having a conversation where they both feel the same emotions at the same time does ones pinpoint location within a space change his/her experience from the other?
    The second article "Body Movement" by Robert J. Yudell further complicates this idea of relationship between one's location and the places and spaces around it by stating that places are a stimulus for movement. One example Yudell uses is a child playing a game where he or she is jumping over every crack they find in the ground. By playing this game the child is not dictating the movement but the place and location that child is at is dictating this.  What's fascinating about this is that most of these places were man-made while others were created by nature. Although it is understood that we are in control of our own actions it is true that sometimes we may be unaware of the fact that a place is dictating these actions for us. One aspect of this subject that I feel was not addressed is the fact that for every action there is a reaction. What I mean by this is that we have all ran into a wall at one time or another, therefore we all know that once we hit the wall we will feel pain. In response to this, I feel that maybe Yudell is giving space more credit than is really due. If anything consequence should receive at least partial credit for the movements which people create based on the places they are in.
     The third article "A Brief History of Wayfinding", is an article on exactly that. The writer discusses the natural process of how one uses way-finding to navigate from their first destination to the next and in the process find the fastest route to getting there. The article gets very in depth with this process discussing not only humanistic tendencies for finding one's way, but also other animals and the various abilities they use in order to get from point A to point B and back. For some living things, this task is easier than it is for others. One example used in the article how ants can seem to wander far from their nest but use different landmarks as signs in order to find their way back home. This article was interesting because it starts to navigate away from the humanistic aspect of things. To make matters even more complicated, we have already read in Tuan's article that no two people can occupy the exact same place at the exact same time. I think this last article expands on the topic nicely taking thing past what we as humans know and bringing the topic into an entirely different realm which forces us to think outside of our natural habitats as well as bodies.