Critics / Thinkers

Class 11: Presence

“You cannot not communicate.” — Paul Watzlawik

Discussion: Presence

How can something digital, something distant, something that is generated by zeroes and ones be present?  What might that mean?

Facebook Infographic from Jean-Jacques Parys on Vimeo.

Trillions from MAYAnMAYA on Vimeo.

 

Quite simply, Michael Moschen has revolutionized juggling, refining it into an art and a bit of a science. With a few flying balls and well-chosen props he will completely re-wire your notions of the physically possible.

Watch

Tell me, what genre of tool, or game, or thing, is this?

  1. Please post an entry in your blog: critique someone else’s project from a previous week.
  2. Design: Make a design which utilizes isotope.  It doesn’t need to be functional.
  3. Isotope - make an isotope gallery of your work.  Or other people’s work.
  4. Please note: prepare all your projects for grading, it will be happening sooner than you think – make sure everything is available online.
  5. REMEMBER: No CLASS NEXT WEEK… BUT, you WILL have POSTED HOMEWORK, TUTORIALS and other misery.

The Inner History of Devices

Sherry Turkle – “We love with the objects we think with, we think with the objects we love.”

“Technology in every form raises the question of human purposes and asks what those purposes are, but this only occurs if we come to technology with prepared minds and open hearts.” – Sherry Turkle
http://mitworld.mit.edu/video/634
(start at the 3 minute mark)

Turkle reads snippets from her three books, which, as an ensemble, tell the story of the intellectual and emotional links between objects and ourselves. Technology, she says, serves as a Rorschach for personal, political and social concerns, carrying ideas, expressing individual differences in style. It also “acts as a foil we use to figure out what it means to be human,” crystallizing memory and identity and provoking new thought. For instance, kids have at least seven radically different styles of using Legos, she says, which allow us “to see who the child is.” “For too long we have stressed … that technology has affordances that constrain its use. I take it from the other side: how do different personalities, cognitive styles and desires take a technology and turn it into what that person wants to know and express.”

Class 8: Kitsch

Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.George Smith Patton

 

 

We will be working on this tutorial in class tonight:

 

 

 

Discussion: Kitsch

I consider confronting low brow sentimentality to be one of the more serious artistic challenges of the age, and also, notcoincidentally, a prime argument for a deep knowledge of art history. What are some of the characteristics of kitsch, and how should it be confronted, supported, embraced, identified, avoided or consumed? Discuss sequential art, pop art and their historic connection with kitsch, is the medium the message?

“In the French version of Hermann Broch’s celebrated essay, the word ‘kitsch’ is translated as ‘junk art’ (art de pacotille). A misinterpretation, for Broch demonstrates that kitsch is something other than simply a work in poor taste. There is a kitsch attitude. Kitsch behavior. The kitsch-man’s (Kitschmensc) need for kitsch: it is the need to gaze into the mirror of the beautifying lie and to be moved to tears of gratification at one’s own reflection. For Broch, kitsch is historically bound to the sentimental romanticism of the nineteenth century. Because in Germany and Central Europe the nineteenth century was far more romantic (and far less realistic) than elsewhere, it was there that kitsch flowered to excess, it was there that the word ‘kitsch’ was born, there that it is still in common use. In Prague, we saw kitsch as art’s prime enemy. Not in France. For the French, the opposite of real art is entertainment. The opposite of serious art is light, minor art. But for my part, I never minded Agatha Christie’s detective novels. Whereas Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Horowitz at the piano, the big Hollywood films like Kramer vs. Kramer, Doctor Zhivago (poor Pasternak!)—those I detest, deeply, sincerely. And I am more and more irritated by the kitsch spirit in certain works whose form pretends to modernism. (I add: Nietzsche’s hatred for Victor Hugo’s ‘pretty words’ and ‘ceremonial dress’ was a disgust for kitsch avant la lettre” (135-36).” – Milan Kundera

What are some of the characteristics of sentimental art, or kitsch and how should it be confronted, embraced, avoided or consumed?

Possible solutions:
Narrative, typography, shock, micromacro, Content based, Formal, Ironic, Poetic, Activist/ agenda driven.

  1. Spend some time playing with gamesalad and seeing if you can’t build something fun with it.
  2. Download a TON of gamesalad templates.
  3. Download a few really good templates.
  4. Make a game.  Make it DISTINCTIVELY YOU.

Any survey of how electronic art has affected our culture must confront some of the questions Walter Benjamin put forth.

Below are two simplistic and I think not wholly inadequate summaries of Walter Benjamin’s work and life. The second is done by students your age, so it may be put in a way you can engage. Following these videos is the two paragraphs I would like you to read. If it makes your head explode just clean up the mess and we will chat about it in class.

“Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses toward art. The reactionary attitude toward a Picasso painting changes into the progressive reaction toward a Chaplin movie. The progressive reaction is characterized by the direct, intimate fusion of visual and emotional enjoyment with the orientation of the expert. Such fusion is of great social significance. The greater the decrease in the social significance of an art form, the sharper the distinction between criticism and enjoyment by the public. The conventional is uncritically enjoyed, and the truly new is criticized with aversion. With regard to the screen, the critical and the receptive attitudes of the public coincide. The decisive reason for this is that individual reactions are predetermined by the mass audience response they are about to produce, and this is nowhere more pronounced than in the film. The moment these responses become manifest they control each other. Again, the comparison with painting is fruitful. A painting has always had an excellent chance to be viewed by one person or by a few. The simultaneous contemplation of paintings by a large public, such as developed in the nineteenth century, is an early symptom of the crisis of painting, a crisis which was by no means occasioned exclusively by photography but rather in a relatively independent manner by the appeal of art works to the masses.

Painting simply is in no position to present an object for simultaneous collective experience, as it was possible for architecture at all times, for the epic poem in the past, and for the movie today. Although this circumstance in itself should not lead one to conclusions about the social role of painting, it does constitute a serious threat as soon as painting, under special conditions and, as it were, against its nature, is confronted directly by the masses. In the churches and monasteries of the Middle Ages and at the princely courts up to the end of the eighteenth century, a collective reception of paintings did not occur simultaneously, but by graduated and hierarchized mediation. The change that has come about is an expression of the particular conflict in which painting was implicated by the mechanical reproducibility of paintings. Although paintings began to be publicly exhibited in galleries and salons, there was no way for the masses to organize and control themselves in their reception. Thus the same public which responds in a progressive manner toward a grotesque film is bound to respond in a reactionary manner to surrealism.”

Read the rest: http://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

Paula Scher: done in a second, after many years

Class 3: Unfinalizability

 

“…that strange new zone between medium and message. That zone we call the interface.” —Steven Johnson, 1997

Goals/Discussion: Unfinalizability
“There is neither a first word nor a last word and there is no limits to the dialogic context” – Bakhtin

Core issues in the emergence of modern and post modern art has been concerns of transience, theater, the degenerate and the environment.  The definition of art has shattered the confines of museums and asked questions about the archetypal inviolate, permanent piece of art which can be priced, commodified and placed eternally upon a wall by a collector.  Digital art additionally asks what if the artwork were interactive, cooperative, physically insubstantial, non-analog.  Digital brings many things to the fore, but chief among them in my experience is mutability, the ease, urge, willingness and encouragement to change.

The marshmallow test

Oh, The Temptation from Steve V on Vimeo.


Play one of the games below.  Tell me, what are your thoughts about these games, are they successful or not?  What about them captivates you, if anything.  Try to differentiate between the gameplay and the look and the feel.

Artistic or Critical Concept: Hypertext
Lets read a portion of Vanevar Bush’s “As we may think” -
http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/194507/bush

HOMEWORK

  1. Please post an entry in your blog about the Reading below.  Can you imagine being an artist with 1000 true fans?  How would you contact them?
  2. HOMEWORK: Design a GORGEOUS homepage for a real hotel in washington DC, make sure to include a booking mask, a specials/packages promotion and a clear call to action.

1000 True Fans
This post by Kevin Kelly became an almost overnight sensation because it illustrated, clearly, what the real practical benefit of a “niche” audience might be. The consequences this may have on your art is tremendous.

“Find 1,000 True Fans. While some artists have discovered this path without calling it that, I think it is worth trying to formalize. The gist of 1,000 True Fans can be stated simply: A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living. A True Fan is defined as someone who will purchase anything and everything you produce. They will drive 200 miles to see you sing. They will buy the super deluxe re-issued hi-res box set of your stuff even though they have the low-res version. They have a Google Alert set for your name. They bookmark the eBay page where your out-of-print editions show up. They come to your openings. They have you sign their copies. They buy the t-shirt, and the mug, and the hat. They can’t wait till you issue your next work. They are true fans.”

” Young artists starting out in this digitally mediated world have another path other than stardom, a path made possible by the very technology that creates the long tail. Instead of trying to reach the narrow and unlikely peaks of platinum hits, bestseller blockbusters, and celebrity status, they can aim for direct connection with 1,000 True Fans.

It’s a much saner destination to hope for.

You make a living instead of a fortune. You are surrounded not by fad and fashionable infatuation, but by True Fans. And you are much more likely to actually arrive there.

A few caveats.
This formula – one thousand direct True Fans –  is crafted for one person, the solo artist. What happens in a duet, or quartet, or movie crew? Obviously, you’ll need more fans. But the additional fans you’ll need are in direct geometric proportion to the increase of your creative group.  In other words, if you increase your group size by 33%, you need add only 33% more fans. This linear growth is in contrast to the exponential growth by which many things in the digital domain inflate. I would not be surprise to find that the value of your True Fans network follows the standard network effects rule, and increases as the square of the number of Fans. As your True Fans connect with each other, they will more readily increase their average spending on your works. So while increasing the numbers of artists involved in creation increases the number of True Fans needed, the increase does not explode, but rises gently and in proportion.

A more important caution: Not every artist is cut out, or willing, to be a nurturer of fans.  Many musicians just want to play music, or photographers just want to shoot, or painters paint, and they temperamentally don’t want to deal with fans, especially True Fans. For these creatives, they need a mediator, a manager, a handler, an agent, a galleryist — someone to manage their fans.  Nonetheless, they can still aim for the same middle destination of 1,000 True Fans. They are just working in a duet.

Third distinction. Direct fans are best. The number of True Fans needed to make a living indirectly inflates fast, but not infinitely. Take blogging as an example. Because fan support for a blogger routes through advertising clicks (except in the occasional tip-jar), more fans are needed for a blogger to make a living. But while this moves the destination towards the left on the long tail curve, it is still far short of blockbuster territory. Same is true in book publishing. When you have corporations involved in taking the majority of the revenue for your work, then it takes many times more True Fans to support you. To the degree an author cultivates direct contact with his/her fans, the smaller the number needed. Lastly, the actual number may vary depending on the media. Maybe it is 500 True Fans for a painter and 5,000 True Fans for a videomaker. The numbers must surely vary around the world. But in fact the actual number is not critical, because it cannot be determined except by attempting it. Once you are in that mode, the actual number will become evident. That will be the True Fan number that works for you. My formula may be off by an order of magnitude, but even so, its far less than a million.”

http://www.kk.org/thetechnium/archives/2008/03/1000_true_fans.php

 

By |September 22nd, 2013|art363, Classes, Game, Kelly, Photoshop|0 Comments|

blog #?? Walter Benjamin response

I never even looked at the situation in that light. I have my artwork set up in a gallery style of my apartment, and i also have images of my work on social websites. However, when people come over they LOVE my work, or even though they may have seen it online, they react completely different when they see it in real life. So i really do agree with the whole idea that the impact that art creates changes when the art work can be produced endlessly. It takes away the meaning. I can also relate that to the Mona Lisa. We have all seen reproductions of the mona lisa a billion times, however, i know that seeing it in person would have a much deeper meaning to it. Even with going to the museum. Its a hassle of actually going to the museum. but once you get there, works of art have an aura. You can see the brush strokes, you can see the dedication to the piece, you can feel the effort, you can see how big the piece actually is. With print-out of the images ALL of that is lost.
I personally was having trouble making my paintings look “finished” and for a while i did not understand why my paintings were not looking “finished” and it was because the paintings i were looking at were not actual paintings. They were printed on canvas and stretched. The images were so flat, because of mechanical reproduction. If i stayed looking towards that standard, i would never feel as if i created anything “worth selling” because i was creating it by hand, and most society who “think” they appreciate art, and are used to only seeing printed handouts of paintings, believe that is what art is, and it really is not. It is just a representation of something greater.

Assignment 6 Blog Post

I found this reading very interesting. The author presents a good point in his discovery of values that can be attached to moniker of ‘free’ This reading is especially pertinent in an age where so much is available to us in return for so little. Case in point, the biggest thing holding me back from unlimited and constant music downloads is the space available on my hard drive. So why, or how, would or should I pay for music? The answers are embedded in Kelly’s essay. Although I had never attached a name to it, I’ve found that much of his nomenclature holds true in my daily life. Buying records, going to concerts, paying for live recordings– all of these phenomena can be chalked up to terms as defined by Kevin Kelly.