Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The video itself

Sorry to all those folks out there who stayed up all night in anticipation of this video upload, but your waiting has finally paid off!  The video, in the end, turned into a lighthearted look at the different ways in which we portray ourselves on the internet, and how it can leave someone feeling a little jumbled if he or she doesn't juggle identities well.  For a more in-depth discussion of this topic, see my previous post.  One of the ideas that the video tries to address is how each of our identities is sort of an identity within an identity; each one is connected to all the others, but also is central within its own world.  I guess this sort of goes back to the rhizome concept discussed earlier.  None of these identities is the 'real' or 'central' identity, they all come together to form a collective identity.  Now without further ado, here is the video!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Technology and Identity video

Hey folks, I'm here to talk at you about a project that I cannot yet show you.  Suspenseful?  Yes.  Exciting? Perhaps.  Alright, enough chit-chat.  I will upload the project once it is ready for the public eye.  It is still shy, and not ready to go out all alone.

My video project centers around the idea that technology alters our sense of self by creating an outlet in which we can create alternate identities or extensions of our self that exist in a different plane than our normal physical existence.  Humans have always had ways to reinvent themselves in different situations.  Nearly everybody acts differently in front of their family than they do in front of their closest friends.  This idea is not new, but the internet and modern technology allow people to extend their being to touch a greater number of people, bringing about it a new sense of both anonymity and the drive to establish a new and coherent identity outside of the physical plane.

Almost everyone in our culture seems to have a Facebook, but this is only the surface.  In addition to social networking sites, we establish our identities through musical tastes, favorite videos, emails, and a seemingly endless amount of additional online tools and resources.  Many times, these identities seem to be formed without our knowing.  Certain websites log our activities, and it becomes a number in a database with our names on it, and as technology continues to expand at nauseating rates, these connections and identities only become deeper and deeper set into our own sense of self.  There are some people out there who identify more with their Second Life avatar or their World of Warcraft character than they do with their physical self.

An interesting question that this all poses is which of these identities is real?  When a person's sense of self is able to transcend the physical boundaries presented by one's body, where does the self exist?  Does the self exist?  It seems to me that someone's identity is whatever they relate to.  If someone spends more of their time and energy propelling a three-dimensional model through a virtual world, who is to say that it is any less 'real' than a non-computer-user's existence.  Through technology, humans are creating new worlds that are, in many ways, just as real as the world that we conventionally consider real.

These issues challenge the very idea of reality itself.  That is not to say that technology is the first thing to do this.  Philosophers have challenged the notion of reality for as long as humans have been around, but technology allows us to see this idea in full bloom right in front of our faces.  'Other planes' become less of a theoretical concept and more of a visible reality.

So yeah, those are the issues I'm trying to address through this not-yet-complete video.  I will write a little more specifically once I have a video to go along with this all.  Until then, my dear devout readers, contemplate the nature of reality and the absurdity of the universe.

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Growth of New Media

New Media is a term that I have been running across quite frequently as of late.  This may or may not have to do with the fact that I am enrolled in a Digital Processes course, of which this blog is a fraction.  Actually, this has everything to do with it.  I don't believe I had really encountered the term before this term (these are two separate meanings of the term "term").  Anyway, the point is that this term is really quite ambiguous.

Reading Lev Manovich's article deliberating possible meanings for the word, shed some light on what the term might mean, but it also shed some light on the fact that nobody really seems to know what it means.  Regardless, we have entered into a new realm of media where sharing can be instantaneous, interactivity is increasingly becoming a given, and interconnectivity is at an all time high.  This interconnectivity is described with the word "Rhizome" in Deleuze and Guiattari's article, "From A Thousand Plateaus."  Rhizome refers to points of data that are interconnected in a non-linear fashion.  It is an array in which all points are connected to all other points, and there are no edges, only a center.

In reading this article, it almost felt as if I was reading some ancient spiritual text.  The concept of rhizome kind of reminded me of the Buddhist concept of Indra's net in which all points of existence are reflections of all other points.  The idea that everything exists as a relation to something else, rather than by virtue of its own being is a concept that I did not expect to be applied to the area of new media and technology, but when it is, it makes perfect sense.  The web of connections being created every second has no beginning and no end.  Each point reaches out to all other points in the most obscure ways.  It is all very exciting!

It was very nice for me to read these articles, as the idea of this expanding interconnectivity, or at least our expanding awareness of it, is one of the more positive things that I see modern technology bringing to the table.  As technology and communications expand, I sometimes imagine that humanity will have no choice but to acknowledge its unity in a way that it never has before.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Tino Sehgal

Tino Sehgal was an odd artist to research.  Really, it's impossible to get a good impression of his art using resources such as articles, interviews, etc.  This is because his work is built around the experience that is created.  Beyond that experience, existing in that moment, the art really doesn't exist.  It is not like a painting that can at least be reproduced in many aspects, and can be seen at any time.  In some ways, it is more like theater which must be experienced at the moment or not at all.  However, I think Sehgal would resent this comparison to theater.  He dislikes his art being seen as a performance, as much of it is spontaneous, interactive, unexpected, and engaging in ways that actors and their audience cannot be.  It breaks through the theatrical conventions of performance.

Having studied dance, Sehgal almost seems to choreograph his art pieces like a dance, but in a way that involves more than just the performers.  His dances involve the observer, or another way of saying it is that the observer is not just the observer.  The observer actually changes the piece as he or she observes it.  The fact that Sehgal attempts to prevent any sort of physical record of his work only adds to the experiential nature of it.

Tino Sehgal's lack of objects in his works forces the viewer to reconsider what art consists of.  For example, is a painting art?  Or is the experience generated by the painting the art?  Would art exist at all without the observer?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

The Medium is the Message

Marshall McLuhan seems to be an odd person with quite profound opinions on the nature of technology, and of art.  He brings up the point that what we often perceive as a message is actually just its own medium, and that each medium's message is another medium.  This forces an observer to consider the medium as a part of the message, if not as the message in and of itself.  He talks about people asking what the meaning of a painting is, and saying that it is the medium of the painting itself.  By bringing up cubism, he points out that the style of cubism is itself a message, and not necessarily a medium through which messages are conveyed.

To be perfectly honest, however, I cannot claim to have totally understood McLuhan.  Many of his analogies went over my head, and as interesting as some of his points sounded, their inner meaning eluded me.  His analogy of a supersonic jet, in which sound becomes a visible object as soon as it stops being sound (or something like that) just ended up confusing me.

As much as I didn't understand it, I am going to try and take what I did understand to help me reform my own ideas of art and technology.  It is important to acknowledge that the medium someone chooses is not simply an arbitrary medium through which they can convey a thought, but it is part of the thought itself.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

How 'bout some technology, baby?!

Hey devoted readers,

Once more I'm here to entertain, enthrall, and enlighten you all.

Today I am presenting you with some videos that may or may not portray the role of technology on society, and may or may not examine the effect it has on human behavior.  They try to do this, but it's really up to you to decide!

To watch the videos, just click HERE!

The first video I have for you today is just called "Ice Cream."  This video is just sort of meant to show the ways in which people might sometimes try to just get more done at one time than is necessary or convenient.  The emphasis that we (myself included) on 'getting stuff done,' while it can be helpful so that we don't all just sit on our asses, does not always provide an individual with a satisfying, peaceful life.  There is a lot more to be found in just 'being' as opposed to 'doing' than many people realize.  Also, on a personal level, this video is a challenge to see what I myself was capable of when it came to...well...eating really fast.

The second video, called "Let's Get It Done!" sort of goes along the same lines as the first, but in a different way.  In it, I tried to juxtapose myself going on a leisurely, aimless bike ride with the progression of human technology and civilization.  I am not trying to downplay the benefits or advantages of human advancement, but I am trying to challenge the idea that we are really getting anywhere concrete.  We're all just sort of going along, but we're not going somewhere better, and we're not going somewhere worse...it's all sort of just happening.  That's not necessarily a bad thing; my aimless bike ride was, after all, quite enjoyable.

The third video, "The Computer Transistor Brainwave Internet Robot" is what you might consider an advertisement for the future of technology.  When iPhones, computers, TVs, video games, and even interpersonal relationships and the use of your own mind, have all merged into one thing, this is maybe what you'll be seeing during a commercial break....projected directly into your MIND!  It's sort of just a commentary on how absurd some technology pieces of today seem to me.  Do we really need all of the ridiculous and inane gadgets that are thrown at us, or does throwing them at us generate the need?

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy the videos!  Until next time, I'm out!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Copyright and Remixing

Lawrence Lessig brings up an interesting take on the idea of copyright, and does a good job of highlighting why permission is largely unnecessary and illogical nowadays in the digital world.  Remixing old works allows the artist to bring in meaning that would not be present if the material was not borrowed.  I think remixing can be a wonderful way to create art, and there is simply so much stuff out there, that there is no shortage of materials for inspiration.

I think when people say that remixed material is not original or not as much the actual work of the artist, that they are missing the point of it.  It is most certainly original and creative.  Non-remixing artists take material and ideas from their lives and filter them through some medium in the form of their art.  The only difference is that remixers use the actual physical material in creating their work.  It allows the observer a unique opportunity to see something that they have likely seen before mixed up into a completely different work.  It affords them the opportunity to look at a familiar idea in a novel way, and for that reason I think it is a very effective art form.  Obviously the remixer must do some actual remixing.  One cannot simply steal art, but any time that any change is made, that is the artist taking another stroke.

It is nice that in the digital age, so much material is at our fingertips which we can take and do whatever we want with.  It allows people so much more in terms of artistic ideas, inspiration, and tools.