Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Final Paper

The works of digital media artists are always on the rise, with technology becoming more so prominent in our culture today.  A digital artist, rather than create art with his hands, creates his artwork with computer technology.  To really dive headfirst into the digital world of modern art, I chose two modern day working digital artists and researched their works, installations, and performances.  The two artists I chose are Don Ritter, who mostly does his work on the interactive spectrum of digital art, and Nicolas Anatol Baginsky, who likes to create a lot of performance art.  The two are still currently working as artists in their respective fields, and have created many works since the dawn of technology.
I will start with Don Ritter, a Canadian born artist and writer, who is now living in Berlin, Germany.  He is an interactive artist, and has created a lot of digital works since the 1980s.  His artist website is http://aesthetic-machinery.com/ , where he has his own biography, and links to his several projects that will provide you with a description of the project and a short video of what the project is all about.  Some of his more notable projects include Fit, which is an interactive exercise video in which the aerobics instructor on screen will copy movements that someone makes in front of the screen.
Another work is called O Telephone, which is made up of a room full of telephones that will all ring at the same time.  When one answers the telephone, a humming sound will be heard, and different tonalities of the hum sound will change with different phones the person picks up.
The work of his that I found most intriguing is called Vox Populi.  With this interactive work, a person must first approach a podium, on which a teleprompter sits on top.  The teleprompter has the words of a speech scrolling through it, much like a karaoke machine.  The participant must read a speech shown on the teleprompter to a simulated crowd.  The virtual crowd is made up of either one large television screen, or a few screens put together that has video of a group of people acting as an audience.  Before the speaker starts to speak, the crowd will try to encourage him to give a speech.  Once the participant starts speaking, the crowd will react to the speech giver voice.  The simulated crowd will either react by encouraging the speaker to go on, or they will yell profane things at the speaker.
As I see it, this experience could either be terrifying or uplifting for the person giving the speech.  If the simulated audience is encouraging the speaker and cheering the speaker on, the speaker will feel a sense of power from the virtual crowd.  However, if the virtual crowd does not like the speaker and yells discouraging things at the speaker, the speaker could in turn feel very uncomfortable and horrified in the situation.  This installation shows the power and of a great orator, and also shows the control any kind of crowd may have over a speaker.  In this particular experience, however, the speaker can also control the crowd by changing their tonality or the way they are speaking to the crowd, which is almost never true in a real life speech setting.
My second artist is Nicolas Anatol Baginsky.  Baginsky was born in in Gräfelfing, Germany in 1961. He is now living and working in Hamburg, Germany where he makes a living as an interior designer, theatrical set designer, and performance artist.  He has performed in many different places across Europe including Great Britain, Holland, Germany, and Switzerland.  His artist website is http://www.baginsky.de/ where you can find many projects he has created, including both interactive and performance pieces.
One of his most well known interactive pieces is called Narcissism Enterprise, which mimics man’s own narcissistic love for his own self-image.  The face of a viewer at the installation is being recorded by a small video camera that is attached to a mechanical arm, which follows along with the movements of the person’s head.
There’s also a small microphone at the exhibit that picks up the sounds that the viewer of the exhibit makes.  The sounds are then mixed with an audio mixer, which turns the audio into a song-like compilation that doesn’t just sound like everyday babble.  The images of the person’s face and the sounds they make are then compiled by a computer that produces a sound and image sequence that is projected and replayed to the viewer.
Narcissism Enterprise is an artificial intelligence system, meaning that it works through the means of computer technology.  The project of Baginsky’s I decided to focus on for the comparison also works through the help of an artificial intelligence system.  This project is called The Three Sirens.  The Three Sirens is a self-learning robot band conceptualized and built by Nicolas Baginsky.  The band consists of a guitar player known as Aglaopheme, a bass player known as Peisinoe, and a drummer known as Thelxiepeia, though other robotic instruments such as Aciilyzer, a vocalist, have been added to the group over the past few years.

These artificially intelligence robots are self learning in the way that they compile their own musical assemblages.  No set of music is the same each time the robots play, and because of this, Baginsky says, “the authorship for their music does not belong to any living being, all musical material is generated by self organizing learning processes in an improvising manner.”

The robots are interacting with themselves just as much as with the audience.  Each instrument is producing a variety of notes or beats, that essentially go along with whatever notes or beats every other instrument is playing.  For this to work, Baginsky must have put in some parameters to the artificial intelligence system, so as not to make the robots purely sound like a jumble of noise.  The robots produce their own music, but with the same kind of tonality to make the robot band actually sound like a band, rather than flat, sharp, off-key, or off-beat.
The Three Sirens brings in audiences and performs shows much like any other band would.  The machines work off of artificial neural networks that control every movement the robots make through an artificial intelligence system.  Free mp3 of The Three Sirens can be found and downloaded from Baginsky’s own website at http://www.the-three-sirens.info/songs.html.  Their most recent shows were in September and October of 2008 in Germany.
Both of these works by Ritter and Baginsky share a common goal of trying to engage an audience into an interactive or performance type setting.  Vox Populi is definitely the more interactive of the two, with the observer actually being the main focus of the artwork.  The Three Sirens is interactive within itself, with the robots playing off one another to create different songs.  The Three Sirens experience gives the audience the feeling of actually being at a live show or concert, the only difference is that humans aren’t the ones who are playing the instruments.  Both these installations do well to catch the audience’s attention in a unique way that is different from traditional art forms.
These works also have very distinct differences.  They are different in the aspect of operator of the piece.  The operator of Vox Populi is the participant, who is physically standing before a screen to be a part of the installation.  Without the participant, Vox Populi wouldn’t work effectively.  The installation cannot stand alone without an audience or observer to operate it.  On the contrary, The Three Sirens operates entirely independent of audience, and even human, input.  Since the machine is creating music on its own accord, a human’s essential reason to be there would be to push a start button.  The Three Sirens works whether or not an audience is there to cheer the robot band on, and can therefore stand on its own in being recognized as a performance piece.
I found both Vox Populi and The Three Sirens to be very interesting pieces, for the reason that they are so different from other works of art that are not classifies as digital media.  I think there is a certain aspect of Ritter’s and Baginsky’s work, as well as all other digital art, that makes it more enjoyable on a separate level than traditional art forms.  From tradition art, you are left with a thought to ponder, yet with the new rise of digital media, you are more times left with an experience rather than an initial reflection.  What I took from both Ritter’s and Baginsky’s works was that they actually did provide this kind of experience, which I believe can’t be encountered in traditional art galleries.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Artist Lecture #1 - Mark Tribe

Mark Tribe is a digital media artist who has had many exhibitions over the years.  He talked about a theory that while human beings are Homo sapiens, they are also Homo performans.  His idea is that people are self performing animals, and that we as a species perform in everyday life (such as an audience staying quiet and applauding at the right moment.)  He said that in this way, we will reveal ourselves to ourselves.  The first one of his projects that he talked about was called Carpark.  This was a performance art as well as a sort of social experiment. He and two other artists collaborated to create this performance, in which he organized all the cars in a university parking lot to park in different sections based on their color.  The performance was a media spectacle, and it showed the power of a performance as art.
Tribe also talked about protest as a public performance of politics.  he had a project called the Dystopia Files, which was a compilation of footage from protests and the police actions against the protestors.  The video was projected from inside a room onto a frosted glass door.  The video could only partly be seen, and the footage was backwards.  Once the door was opened, a motion sensor was activated and the lights would go on as the projector turned off.  Inside the rooms, there were cabinets with the names of different protest groups written on the outside of each drawer.  All of these drawers were locked.
There were a few other projects that Tribe talked about, and each had their own uniqueness about them.  I enjoyed each of his projects because they were so innovative, and were unlike traditional art forms.  His works were very creative and inspiring, and I enjoyed encountering them.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Artist Lecture #2 - Mary Flanagan

I watched an artist lecture given my Mary Flanagan on Youtube. Unfortunately I could not attend one of the other lectures because I have a Thursday night class.  The lecture was introduced by Mark Tribe, who I had a chance to see when he was at UNR.  Flanagan started out talking about the works that she likes and that inspire her, and that make digital media the art form that it is. 
She talked about how digital art is an everyday art.  Digital art is in the world everywhere and many things that we see every day we don’t specifically pinpoint it as digital art, or any art in general.
One project she talked about was an installation called “Giver of Names”, which was essentially a room with a computer pedestal, and you put any object on the pedestal and the computer would give the object a name.  This work was created by David Workby, and Flanagan used this work and other works she described to build up to create an understanding to the audience of what digital media actually consists of.
Flanagan used to work in the software industry, but she wanted to get out of all the high tech industry part of technology and see what regular everyday people were doing with this new technology.  One of her early works was with her grandmother, who was in the hospital.  She wanted to portray an older woman through her work because she hadn’t seen much artwork with the subject as an old, powerful woman.
She talked about one project called “Rootings” which is a series of several different arcade games.  It is shown live on her website 24 hours a day.  Basically what it is are sets of games that show personal memories of time and memories.  One of them is stories about “nightmare at night”.  You would just shoot the narrative out as you’re playing at different asteroids.  If you shoot the narratives too fast, you miss the whole story or the ‘nightmares.’  Another one of the arcade games is about a letter from her grandmother that talked about how there was nothing left that she could do but shop.  In the game you have to collect different pieces until you can piece together her grandmother’s whole letter.  This interactive project brings together elements of storytelling and game play.
She also discussed a hardware mapping project called “Virtual PC” in which the system would open up window upon window of anything the particular person has ever done on their own personal computer.  This work would bring about a personal response because it is everything that the individual has done on their computer, and it is unique to each person.  She was talking about one friend of hers that tried it out and immediately closed his computer because a nostalgic snippet of an e-mail popped up on his computer screen.
Mary Flanagan is an interactive digital artist whose work shows a personal view of herself and of the participant interacting with her projects.  Her interactive works are meant to be fun and/or interesting, and shows the audience or participant into her personal life and into their own personal life.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Exhibition Critique - Second Life Gallery

For my first exhibition critique, I decided to venture into Second Life and search through the many galleries that are exhibited through an art class at California State University.  The first few minutes were a little tough, trying to maneuver my avatar around the space and figuring out how to effectively use my avatar to see the virtual world.  Eventually I got situated and was able to successfully walk my character around the space and explore the virtual world around me.
I walked my avatar through many of the different galleries in the virtual CSULB, which was a very different experience from a typical art gallery.  As I walked, the music changed from place to place, and some galleries you could only access through a portal door while others you could walk your avatar to from a starting point.  My favorite gallery that I came across was an underwater exhibit that was created by Ali Smith.  She is a painter, and decided to display her paintings through the virtual medium of Second Life.  Her paintings were displayed in transparent bubble-like spheres underwater, and most of her work was abstract.  Some of her work was completely chaotic, while other paintings were caricatures of dogs.  Toward the back of her exhibit were photographs of her with her dogs and of her actually creating the paintings. When you clicked on one of these photographs, you could get a short bio about Ali and her artwork.
This experience was like nothing I had ever seen before, because I had never been a part of immersing myself into a virtual world.  From my tour through Second Life, I found so many different interesting things that I found myself losing track of time and completely finding myself attentive to only the Second Life world.  I think the coolest aspect of this was that there are endless possibilities to what one can to with a gallery in Second Life.  For instance, Ali’s showcase was underwater in giant domes, and you had to really search it out before you could find it.
Of the many galleries I stumbled upon, I chose Ali’s because it seemed the most interesting to me.  However, it wasn’t so much her artwork that appealed to me, but the setting that her artwork was displayed in.  She used the virtual space well to portray her paintings, and any exhibit-goers would definitely feel a sense of connection to her pieces and to the exhibit itself as well.

FInal Project

Part 1: Iraqi Memorial

(click picture to follow web link)

For the first part of our final projects, I decided to submit a proposal to http://www.iraqimemorial.org/. The website is made up of artist's proposals for different types of ways to commemorate the fallen soldiers and/or civillians of the Iraq war. My proposal was to create a virtual memorial site in Second Life. I came up with this concept as I was exploring the many different locations within the virtial world, Second Life.  I think the idea is a great addition to the already numerous proposals submitted by artists all over the world.

Part 2: Learning to Love You More

On the Learning to Love You More website, there are several different assignments listed for one to complete. The idea is to do the assignment and document it to go up on their website. http://learningtoloveyoumore.com/

Assignment #10 - Make a flier of your day

In this assignment, we were to create a flyer about our day, print out a bunch of the fliers, then post the fliers around our neighborhood.

Assignment # 11 - Photograph a scar and write about it

The matching scars on my shins are a product of a less-than-intelligent snowboarding accident.  It had been a pretty nice day in Reno, being that it was early January.  My friend Alex and I decided to head up to Boreal to do a few runs, since night boarding was about to start.  We both liked Boreal a lot because it was cheap, and the runs, while very short, were also a lot of fun.  We got there and decided to try to hit a few of the baby jumps, just to see if we could do it.  Neither of us were really too experienced, but we had a lot of fun attempting, and then crashing.  The one trick we always wanted to try was the box.  It was a very small box, and we’d seen many people going across it, but for some reason it seemed very intimidating.  We decided to take a shot and just go for it.  Alex went first, made it all the way across the box, and landed flawlessly at the other end.  It didn’t seem too impressive, there really wasn’t much too it.  Next, it was my turn.  I approached the box at a medium speed, and then hopped up onto it.  That’s when things started to go wrong.  I lost my balance and started falling forward.  My board came off the box and my legs cut into the edge, still scaling the box from the momentum of my speed.  I reached the end, and fell face first into a pile of snow.  I reached for my shins, clutching the bloody mess that was the gaping holes in my legs.  I have never tried to master another box.

Assignment # 55 - Photograph a significant outfit

“The outfit I wore the first time I was kicked out of a casino for gambling. I already had $250 of winnings in my pockets”
Part 3: Collected Visions
For this project, we had to create photo essays either using photos provided on the Collected Visions website, or photos of our own. http://www.cvisions.cat.nyu.edu/mantle/
Some people are simply born well mannered. They will do what their mother tells them, listen to their teachers, and always say please and thank you. These, we call the good-eggs. What kind of egg will you be?

Youtube Remix

(click picture to watch project)

For this project, we collected any videos we wanted on Youtube to play in a sequence all together. For my project, I knew I wanted the sound to somehow go together, and I wanted a centerpiece to be the main focus of the video. I think the dogs looking around at all the noise going on around them was a contrast to the noise-maiking heads that surrounded them. Since I enjoy Youtube, I enjoying taking part in this project, it was a lot of fun.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Chindogu - The Anti Blah-Blah-Blah

The Chindogu is described as an ingenious invention that actually has no practical use what-so-ever. Our invention is the Anti-Blah-Blah, which is an apparatus that allows no sound to be heard when attached to a child (or noisy adult.) The advertisment and the invention were both created for our art 245 project, the Anti-Blah-Blah-Blah is not for sale.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Tryptic Animation

Our 3rd assignment was to create an animation out of one of the tryptics we did from the previous assignment.  This was the first time I worked with animation, and I did all the animating in a Photoshop document. I wanted to experiment with different types of movement rather than your basic flying object, and the fact that my original tryptic was facing the wrong way created a challenege for me to work with. The hardest part about the animation was figuring out how I could move each layer within the sequence.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Photoshop Tryptic

(click pictures to enlarge)

I can only describe my work as a collection of random chaos. The images I have collected really don't go with one another, but I think that is part of the appeal to my piece. I never started with a clear viewpoint of where I wanted to go with the images, but I kept getting newer and better ideas as I worked with each picture. I had a good laugh creating each montage, and I am very happy with the end result.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thrift Store Montage

Class of '53

(click to enlarge)

As soon as I saw the old class photograph, I knew it was the image I wanted to work with. I loved the idea of turning something that is looked to be so common into a wilder version of itself. As soon as I got the class picture, I tore through magazines trying to find the best pictures to go into my montage. I'd say the only thing I would've changed would be to pay more attention to the composition of the piece, because I think the randomness may take away from the image as a whole. Overall, I am proud of my end product, and I really enjoy each aspect of it.