Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Project: Final

For me, the main goal of this final project was to really hone the process of creating low-polygon images from photographs; a method I attempted to teach myself through another assignment this term, but the result was far from perfect. Aside from simply learning and improving this new technique, my final project also drew inspiration from several different segments of the readings assigned over the course of the semester.

The final project, presented below, is a digital image in the fashion of a one hundred dollar bill made from thousands of individual triangles. I am really infatuated with the style and aesthetic of geometric art, so I am quite pleased with the end result and found it was a successful progression from my original attempt at making polygonal graphics from a photo.

The image was created in Photoshop CS6 using the polygon tool. I recorded an action that, after creating a precise triangle on a grid, filled the selection with an average color from the original photograph. The polygon was then moved to its own layer, which was a necessary step used to edit the triangles later and delete any major errors. Admittedly, the process was tedious and lengthy: the final product used over 2,300 layers of triangles to produce a geometric image of currency, which caused the program to run exceptionally slow—a true test of patience. However, the effort paid off and the total process was completely necessary to transform the detailed photograph into a minimalist and multifaceted graphic. With a fewer number of layers or triangles, the end result would look way too simple and even blurry.

Originally, I intended to print and hang my image in the hallway, but in the end, chose to display it on a computer monitor. This route was much more successful than printing, as the colors were more accurately reflected and no clarity was lost through the printing process; something I have learned can be mostly trial-and-error when using the on-campus printing services at the @One computer lab.

One struggle I encountered, besides working with very sluggish software, was how the end result didn’t necessarily reflect the dedication and accomplishment felt from creating such a plain image. However, I truly improved upon my own technical skills and therefore, didn’t feel it would be necessary to factor in a more visual representation of the labor required to complete this project. If hung in a gallery, a proper title and artist’s statement would help dovetail the complex process with the modest digital image.

This particular medium also makes it pretty difficult to have any inherent meaning deeper than simple geometry and form, which is why I chose a one hundred dollar bill as my inspiration. There are a range of connotations attached to currency, but many are connected to wealth and capitalism. It’s no coincidence that Benjamin Franklin, the most recognizable figure in my image, was a proponent of this economic theory and that the Situationists denounce the “unbearable demands” (Debord) associated with capitalism and modern society. While a fairly loose connection, that tension and drastically different perspective regarding currency was my motivation for choosing to alter the one hundred dollar bill into a different shape.

My graphic also draws a significant amount of inspiration from Hito Steyerl’s perspective in the article “In Defense of the Poor Image”. I chose a very high quality photograph with a recognizable design and then transformed it to a near laughable level of simplicity; however, the most basic or original form of a product or image shouldn’t detract from its overall value—an idea that led me to edit the original hundred dollar bill, rather than its updated counterpart that now includes new designs and modern anti-fraud technology. It’s also notable that physical currency is of a much different and “poorer” quality (especially after it’s been in circulation and exchanged hands a countless number of times) compared to the intangible, pristine transactions now available with modern technology, online banking, and credit cards. Printed money is quickly approaching irrelevancy, but the tangible element of currency should continue to be revered for its ability to be shared tenfold amongst people and as a recognizable symbol across cultures on a global scale.

Another reading that inspired the actual process of making my geometric art was Moyra Davey’s “Notes on Photography & Accident” where she speaks on the chance or accidental nature of things, such as writing and photography. This sort of randomness definitely occurs while creating polygons because the image is zoomed in so far that you can’t place the dotted lines or pixels as part of a recognizable photograph; it’s by chance that the image comes together as a whole once all the triangles are created. In order to emphasize this accidental image and stay true to Davey’s ideal, I didn’t color correct any of the triangles. There were quite a few instances where some blended into the background or would have benefit from more contrast, but I kept each layer as it occurred naturally. While the process doesn’t have much conceptual depth, it truly follows her “something from nothing” experience.

My final project is a piece that can be valued for its aesthetic appeal, as well as a solid measure of my progress, patience, and dedication to the process. When combined with the concepts we have learned from the artists this semester, ranging from perspectives on poor imagery to pure chance, my final geometric image is something I am proud to present. Creating low-polygon art is something I will continue to do in the future, no matter how superficial of a medium it appears to be. The process behind this image proves that it takes an enormous amount of work, practice, and proficiency to create something that looks so simple or easy, whether it is a triangle, photograph, performance piece, painting, sculpture, musical score, or graphic design. While this particular piece of art may not touch upon substantial social topics or inspire people to participate in a progressive art movement, I appreciate the multifaceted hundred dollar bill for what it is: a truly cumulative effort of skill and knowledge of digital media.

Project: Curating

I submitted a books arts piece to our exhibit titled "good morning". The pages contained basic watercolor forms that, as one progresses through the book, change colors to emulate a sunrise. I also offered to chop the pages up to better represent our theme, but to no avail.

While curating was the goal of this assignment, I don't think we necessarily accomplished any true form of that process. I have helped organize and install art shows for previous digital media classes, but the whole curatorial process was new to me. Unfortunately, "curating" and choosing the content seemed to draw way more focus than the actual quality of student artwork submitted (ironically, no pieces were even rejected). In order to gain more content we added a last minute +1 requirement, which basically destroyed any semblance of theme in the pieces; my +1 was submitted but not shown, as there was a lack of space for even more individual, digital content.

There wasn't much direction or quality communication during the installation process, so the original attempts at hanging the pieces were just a huge waste of time. If this same amount of care was put into actually creating art, then the lengthy and frustrating installation process would have been worth something. There was quite a bit of misplaced pride in simply being capable of hosting a fun student show with snacks, but I wouldn't have called it successful by any means.

Project: Light Box

The image I created for our class light box was inspired by a style of very low-polygon graphics I've seen floating around the internet and I really wanted to learn the process for creating these geometric images. I also thought that the colors and various tones would translate really well when back-lit.

I used Photoshop to create the triangles over an old picture I took of a heart-shaped waffle; I love breakfast and it has been a reoccurring theme in my artwork over the last few terms. I would have been interested in making a dark colored background to see if that made the shapes more vibrant--the color didn't translate very well once printed.

The actual construction and painting of the light boxes went fairly well and I'm really glad that our class naturally divided into those two categories. Overall, this was a fun/diverse assignment and I wish we allotted more time to produce our graphics, print, and install them ourselves.

Clusterfuck Aesthetic

The artwork and images showcased in the "Clusterfuck Esthetic" by Jerry Saltz were extremely appealing to me, even though the author insists that its roots are "grandiose and testosterone driven". He summarizes this Clusterfuck ideal as art on a massive, chaotic, and sculptural scale that breaks the boundaries of a traditional gallery in a way that is almost unbearable. Most of the artwork he cites is some form of mixed media with colorful projections, sculptures, or massive stacks of video screens; the effect of this aesthetic is truly impressive and visually overwhelming.

Although Saltz mentions several times that this category is overtly masculine, it seems to be more of a pratice that is dominated by male artists rather than an entire genre that is inherently un-feminine. Saltz's article is actually a pretty solid reflection of the frenetic clusterfuck aesthetic and presents itself without a tidy conclusion or even ending thought.

Jason Rhoades' work was my favorite of the bunch:

Monday, December 15, 2014

Guy-Ernest Debord

Perspectives for Conscious Alterations in Everyday Life

Deboard writes on the necessity to denounce and destroy capitalism, which he refers to as "modern slavery" that restricts all forms of creative expression. As a member of the Situationists, Debord says that revolutionary action and avant-garde ideas wouldn't produce proper results and that true change must occur at the individual level and in everyday life. Technology and the overwhelming force of capitalism create a world or image that should be questioned; the Yes Men are a modern example of Situationists or individuals that work to challenge big business. This duo in particular maintains a sense of individuality in their approach and critically sincere support of humanity in their performances, but continue to challenge those with gross power and wealth.

A critique of classism is present in several of the readings, where the lower class (or poor image) is assigned meaning that isn't necessarily earned or ever questioned. Capitalism only breeds a stronger class divide and Debord insists that actively questioning everyday life and the individual's role is of the utmost importance if new and successful methods of revolution are to occur.

Artist Lecture - Scott Tsuchitani

"Of Guerilla Geisha and Samurai Subversion: Undoing the Other Through Anti-Anti-asian Art"

Scott Tsuchitani favors unique visual parody and intellectual activism through his accessible artwork; a combination that is pretty unique when combined with his skills in printmaking and Asian culture and studies. The lecture (and much of his work) was very funny, but in a way that played off his own ethnicity's ideals (for example, the Christmas cards with his face Photoshopped onto each family member, the result of which was plenty of concered phone calls) in an attempt to subvert the stereotypes of Asian culture.

Tsuchitani became interested in guerilla art (a method that is outwardly "more effective than violent revolutions"), which sounds terrifying, but he was equally nervous to place his modified pseudo-flyers that criticized a popular museum for fetishizing the geisha and samurai right in their vicinity. His museum flyers utilized the perfect balance of both subtlety and shock, which made his perspective and critique of their practice very effective.

Scott is an educated artist whose attempts at engaging the community have been successful and have gained quite a bit of attention in the media, as well as censorship. He was an enthusiastic speaker and I really enjoyed learning about his fairly simple processes that have garnered significant social results.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Moyra Davey

Notes on Photography and Accident

Moyra Davey presents essentially a stream of consciousness regarding her thoughts on photography and efforts to stay interested in the art form. Davey resorts to writing in an attempt to become more inspired by the practice and discusses how there is always an element of chance required in photography; it's a piece that feels very personal and familiar as an art student constantly looking for inspiration and to be honest, not always finding it.

While very well researched and documented with multiple citations and a lengthy bibliography, there is an intentional lack of editing in her short, long, insightful, and/or rambling entries; because of this style, her main perspective becomes a bit diluted for me while reading. Even though the piece lacks true organization, Davey's pure love of photography and vast knowledge surrounding the subject is quite clear through her notes and extremely pleasant and sincere tone. The author is mainly trying to express through words and the actual, physical process of writing itself, that no matter the medium, all forms of art, photos, and even text are essentially accidental.