Week 13-15: The Final Work: “UNITY”

 

I was absent during week 13, but the boys used the time to work out some of the technical sides of the work. They managed to get the sound working through the laptop, and get all the footage of the hands aligned together and working properly.

We met up in week 14 on Thursday, so that we could set up the last of the project, look over the artists statement and discuss our presentation.

I must admit that the final work did resonate with me and I was happy with where we got – especially given the difficulties we had throughout the semester of settling on a concept and the technical issues that followed.

While setting up the TO Glen advised us to use a second laptop with a splitter so that we could have 3 larger projectors and do away with the crappy Qumis entirely (yay!). A bit of tinkering with the set up and some re-alignment later, and the work looked fantastic. We added some decent speakers so that we could actually hear the sound playing.

 

Unfortunately we did have some sound syncing issues which were the result of using two separate laptops without the ability to start all 4 sets of footage at the same time – if we were to change one thing about the work, it would be to figure out a way that this wouldn’t be an issue and that the sound was more effective.

I personally felt that the work stood as a metaphor for our own journey of creation – that we had our differences, so we started again with a blank canvas and worked together to create something fun and interactive by stripping the layers back and working with our skills and what we learned from experimenting. This fuelled our narrative, which I then turned into an artist’s statement.

When discussing, we thought about how our work represented the following:

“We decided to include a variety of symbols to act as the basis of our work. Using hands as a symbol of being able to recognise a person (2nd to a person’s face); the black background acts as a simple and even playground for all the hands; the different forms of tapping representing the diversity of people, each with a different beat and rhythm, but ultimately all playing as one; and the large hand in the middle in the shape of a fist acting as the heart of the entire group constantly beating with everyone around it. The purpose of the blocking of different hands is to show that people come and go, whether it be someone known for a long time, or someone new entering.”

I then went and deduced the main points from our discussion:

  • Black background a ‘playground’ blank canvas to build upon from the imagination
  • Hands work together to create something together
  • Unity through diversity – differentiality creates something unique and wholesome
  • Large hand in centre is the ‘heart’; keeps time and direction, the common ground that pulls everything together
  • You can block the hands but they are still heard – you cannot stop the noise and you cannot hide all the hands at once by yourself – the hands are not oppressed by your presence or by you trying to silence them

 

Which we then turned into our final artists statement below. Overall I’m glad I stepped back and gave the group work another chance, while my vision for a final project was vastly different to what we ended up producing, I was still very happy with the final result.

UNITY

Media Projection

Will, Mackenzie, Robert, Chloe

The world is a connected place, now more than ever; across continents we have the ability to collaborate and create.

We start with a black canvas – a playground where we can build from our imaginations. We can use this canvas to tell stories, to design, to make art. We start from nothing – we put our hands together and produce something tangible to be seen and heard.

UNITY Explores the result of many hands coming together to construct from the bare. It is a story of uniting our own experiences, our skills and our imaginations to forge something new and unique: using our diversity to form something wholesome, and to illustrate this story to a rhythm. It proclaims that creativity cannot be silenced with intervention if we come together.

The centre is the heart – the starting point on our canvas, the guiding structure that keeps time and gives us direction – the motivation. It composes the overall beat – with the surrounding hands cooperating to build multiple layers.

You can try to block the hands but the others are still present – they are still heard; you cannot stop the noise, and they are not oppressed by your presence. You cannot silence them.

People may come and go – but with a blank canvas, diversity, and creativity, you can collaboratively build something unique and different each time you come together.

UNITY uses multiple projections timed to a solid beat to create an immersive and interactive story-telling experience with the audience. The audience member may try to place themselves in the scene, to obstruct or to support in the collaboration.

[Week 11] Online Persona and Stuff that Tweets

Boy did I open a can of worms for my final blog post. This weeks topic was a guest lecture by Dr Christopher Moore, who I have for my DIGC335 class. We were to examine celebrity practice on Twitter, the micro-celebrity as a concept, as well as analyse the impact and activities of non-human Twitter users, such as bots and AIs.

I enlisted the help of two of my friends and my partner (respectively) – Stephen, Janessa, and Orien. Together we took part in a 40 minute podcast (way longer than the 5 minutes I was hoping for) with a series of questions. It was a two parter, firstly looking at our own use of Twitter, and secondly, the use of celebrities and the non-human, and looking at the impact this may have for the future. Feel free to click below to listen if you’d like 40 minutes of background noise.

For your convenience, I will unpack the conversation that we had and summarise some of the main points that followed the questions that were asked.

Analyising your own Online Persona:

What does twitter mean to you?

There seem to be a few reasons twitter is used – as a glorified news outlet, to analyse trends, as a microblogging platform, to communicate and socialise – and of course, to shitpost.

Barak Obama’s brother apparently enjoys shitposting on Twitter.

Your own twitter activity:

We found that none of us actually have any decent interactions on Twitter – Orien doesn’t even have an account. We concluded that none of us have really taken the platform seriously. Looking at our ‘impressions’ we noticed that none of us were really being noticed.

We also discovered what an impression actually was.

“In Union Metrics Twitter reporting, we define reach as the total number of estimated unique Twitter users that tweets about the search term were delivered to. Exposure is the total number of times tweets about the search term were delivered to Twitter streams, or the number of overall potential impressions generated.
When we say “impression”, we mean that a tweet has been delivered to the Twitter stream of a particular account. Not everyone who receives a tweet will read it, so you should consider this a measure of potential impressions. Both reach and impressions should be treated as directional metrics to give you an idea of the overall exposure the tracked term received. Use these metrics to get a sense of the size of your potential audience, and use engagement metrics like retweets, clicks and replies to gain a more complete understanding of your impact.”

Union Metrics Support

reach_vs_exposure
https://unionmetrics.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/201201636-What-do-you-mean-by-Twitter-reach-exposure-and-impressions-

We also talked about what we could change in our own Twitter activity, hypothetically. Popularity was a common preference – to do so, we’d need to tweet more regularly, use appropriate hashtags, or hit the jackpot by befriending a celebrity and having them sack their legions of fans upon us for follows.

Valuing Twitter celebrities, as well as celebrities on Twitter:

When discussing what makes a celebrity popular on Twitter, we reached a rather unanimous conclusion – that the value of a celebrity on Twitter lies within humanising these people who’s lifestyles seem so foreign to our own. We’ve been given a platform to communicate with them, to reach out to them, and perhaps even be noticed by them as well. On the flip side – it’s also easier to evaluate a celebrities worth by observing their true colours; we can quickly discern whether or not a celebrity is genuine – or genuinely a twat.

Damaging or helpful effects of mini celebrities:

We quickly discovered that Twitter can be a direct influence on making or breaking a person’s career, or even life – whether they were famous or not. Without these platforms, no one would know that Jaden Smith was a nutcase, for example.

s00ep8d

However there have been instances of celebrities destroying their careers from things they’ve said on Twitter. Here is a whole list of them. There are also examples of celebrities weighing in on a debate with another person or celebrity, and either accidentally or intentionally sending their fans to rabidly attack the other party, as well as their supporters – which we could even put down to cult-like behaviour of people worshipping their ‘Twitter God’.

It could be argued that this isn’t necessarily a bad outcome, however – with Orien saying that it’s good that we have a way of discovering who these people really are, and taking away their fame as a platform for their controversial and potentially harmful or malicious opinions.

d5b

However, praise was also allocated to the platform for its potential for good: it can be a source for unbiased facts or alternative views, or for setting hashtags to go viral for the greater good, and to promote some generally wholesome content.

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Looking at the non-human:

Unfortunately, we didn’t have many non-human instances of twitter accounts to name off the top of our heads. I made mention of a few bot accounts that I have following me, which actively search for #stream #streaming and #twitch hashtags in my tweets, to re-tweet to people following those accounts, in order to give my stream exposure a boost.

Innocently, there are other bot accounts that monitor RSS feeds to deliver news or weather updates.

The other account that could now be considered synonymous with Twitter AIs is Microsoft’s Tay – for those not in the know, this will catch you up quite quickly.

In looking at the general maliciousness that we discovered in humans interacting with Tay, we quickly came to the conclusion that humans are generally shitty, and would not hesitate to use AI in other malicious forms – such as bullying or online harassment. For example, setting up a series of Twitter bots to target someone online and spam them with horrible images and links. Bots and AIs are a tool – and it is up to the person to decide what they do with it.

A hypothetical that was considered was the use of AI and bots for the future, particularly on Twitter. We mused at the concept of a completely unbiased source of news from bots that only analyse the facts, with no journalistic spin. Unfortunately, that seems to be way off in the future.

 

Week 11: On Jamming/ Push and Pull

Our task for this week was to disagree.

Considering we’d already been doing that all semester, I feel like we’d sort of already come to an impasse, and then we had finally begun to understand each other and not really feel like it was necessary to disagree any longer. Instead we retreated to the classroom, away from the studio, and decided to work on expanding our concept.

In order to fulfill our task we decided to split up into pairs and work on two different concepts, and then debate our concepts at the end. We needed to keep in mind a narrative for our concepts so that our art told a story.

I’d just been out a few nights prior shooting the night sky and my mind was sort of still wrapped up in the stars – literally. I decided to work with this and the feeling I got when looking at the stars by combining it with the work we’d been doing in the weeks prior and work with our shadows.

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The image I took that I decided to separate into layers and have us ‘flying through space’ with.

My concept was to have us sort of flying through space, layering the stars so that as we walked amongst the different projectors, we would be placing ourselves in space itself. It would add another dimensional layer and maintain interactivity.

This was challenging to say the least, and did take a lot of the workshop time to figure out how to divide effectively. I ended up having to make each layer move slower for the ‘further’ away it was supposed to be, and making each layer become bigger to give the zooming effect. You can see the two stars layers in these videos:

 

These were layered over the background, which was projected from the roof so you couldn’t walk in front of it:

 

I added some effects to the stars to make them look twinkling and then to the background layer so that it looked like the galaxy cloud was blooming.

Unfortunately when we put all 3 together it didn’t look very effective as the Qumi projectors just weren’t powerful enough to handle the images, so the background was overpowering while the stars were very faint.

We did like this concept, and the other half of the group saw narrative potential within the work. Not only was flying through space appealing, but there was also the unintentional story of light pollution that we told with the piece. By standing in front of the lights and interfering with our bodies, it was a sort of metaphor for the way that human obstruction was ruining the night sky – the more you obstructed it, the less stars you could see – which with light pollution, the more human interference with lights, the less stars were visible as they had to compete for brightness.

By the end of the workshop time though, we decided that it wasn’t a strong enough concept for us to continue going with it so we agreed to form a group chat online so that we could work together over the next week and come up with something new.

[Week 10] Trajectories of convergence III: hardware platforms, permissions, and ideologies

This will be another short post. Next week’s will be longer, I promise. I’m going to briefly look at two points from this week’s topic.

We are in the medium.

giphy (1)
I blame a late-night caffeine binge for this craziness in this week’s giphy gif. I’m so, so sorry.

 

The above gif, if you don’t know, is set to The Beatle’s I am the Walrus, and sort of begins to make sense when you think of the way that technology has evolved to be constantly connected, constantly working and constantly producing. There are now more mobile devices than people in the world today. So it only makes sense to assume that because of how connected we are to a device that has become an extension of ourselves, our personas, and our lifestyles, that we are also trapped in our own cage of the Medium being the Message. One could argue that with our dependence on mobile technologies, humans have essentially become cyborgs.

However with being constantly connected there are some points to consider – for example, the degree of freedom that comes with our connection, and what we are able to do with our devices, and our mediums. To put it simply, I will use the example of the Apple iOS devices comparatively with Android devices.

The Price of Being a Cyborg.

It’s no secret that the two share a common goal: to connect the world. At their very core, the iPhones and the Android phones perform the same basic tasks. That said, one would argue that the degree of freedom given by Android phones would be greater than that of the iPhones; Android services and PCs largely support open-source software, and anyone is free to look at the source code of Android services in order to improve the service or to create products that cater to it. Apple, however, has a tendency to be very closed and secretive about their products. They are not fond of other people repairing their products and deliberately make it hard for them to do so, they do not release their software or iOS code for developers freely, and often relentlessly pursue anyone who chooses to ignore their terms of service to do the above.

The below 10-minute video pretty much sums up the above.

This to me is rather important to consider – because it is about control. For some people, the allure of simplicity comes at the price of your autonomy. Our digital world is constantly threatened by our freedoms being taken away – for example, net neutrality being the flavour of the month (or year, rather) in order to control the way we consume our media. This is becoming increasingly worrisome.

Personally, I love open source materials, mostly because you have an ability to make it as simple as you want to. You are not governed by a multi-million dollar company to use the product in only the way that they deem legal. While my operating system of choice is Windows, I would rather use linux that iOS. I own an android and a windows phone, and have never owned an iPhone, simply because of the principle of it: I am independent and I would like to keep my degree of freedom to browse and to consume and to create as open as possible.