Author Archives: Moyna Ghosh

Systems Aesthetics: Corporate Bliss

George Washington - Mike Brondbjerg

George Washington – Mike Brondbjerg

 
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Thomas Jefferson – Mike Brondbjerg

Part 1 of the sketch

Part 1 of the sketch

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

Bliss with a quote by Robert McChesney

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

The struggle of logos maximizing profit from the media and the Internet.

Proposal: My Systems Aesthetic’s conference project has truly evolved. It began with some inspiration from Mike Brondbjerg, who created a project called Dead Presidents (http://www.kultur.design/portfolio/dead-presidents/) . He worked with portraits of old presidents and beautifully “distorted” their faces. In the beginning I didn’t really have an idea with what I wanted to do. Did I want to re-create Brondbjerg’s work? Upon our first conference project, Angela and I decided that I would need to convert original images into SVG images and then learn PShape. I created my first sketch with an SVG image of Homer Simpson and Friedrich Hayek. The Homer image was easy but the Hayek image was an actual portrait I wanted to use. I was inspired by Tim Wu’s book, The Attention Merchants. Tim Wu famously coined the term “net neutrality” which advocates free access of content to all Internet users. Within the depths and depths of content found on the Internet, such a stance is necessary. Tim Wu examines how private lives have been permeated by capitalism. The lack of space to breath from advertisements has encouraged people to stay less informed politically and diminished democratic participation. The evolution of the media of mass communications is primarily driven by technological innovation.Wu suggests that one of the first stages of grabbing attention came from newspapers, with the advertisements of Jules Chéret. Advertising brought me to my final project: company logos. I was also inspired by the television show Silicon Valley’s title sequence of Uber and Lyft struggling against each other.   Digital technology has allowed humans to advance their freedom; however, capitalism limits this freedom. Robert McChesney, author of Digital Disconnect: How Capitalism Is Turning The Internet Against Democracy, compliments Wu’s book by examining how companies control the Internet. Through lobbying, the government has allowed a few companies to control and regulate the Internet for profit. Advertising traffic is monitored and sold in order to commercialize the Internet. For example, Facebook likes are monetized for advertisers. A quote from McChesney’s book prompted me to choose these specific companies: Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft, and Google. However, 4 logos were not enough to take up a sketch. I looked up other corporate and media influencers and found: Twitter, Walmart, Snapchat, BP, and HP. These companies all have the power to influence public opinion.   After the election, I was extremely angry at the media – because I spend the night at the Javits Center expecting Hillary Clinton to win. As she was losing the monitors were showing some political talk show. A political elite, either Rachel Maddow or Nicholas Kristof, stated that average Americans would blame the media for Clinton’s loss. While there are many factors behind Trump’s election, that statement angered me greatly. Between the end of November and February I stopped checking my social media accounts and by association the news. I was completely unaware of Donald Trump’s antics, the latest memes, and shopping trends. It was a blissful time but inconvenient. I had no idea about the Russia scandal. I had little to no knowledge of the officials Trump was picking. People need to know what goes on and that means sacrificing attention to advertisements. The blending of factual content and advertising in the media makes it difficult to escape. The Internet is becoming a less regulated place, in which large companies can control traffic and dictate who can see what. It is best to be aware of it.   This project serves to show the world I think companies have the potential to take over our general day-to-day activities.   Post-Mortem:   I learned a new concept in Processing for this project: Bounce. I also learned how to upload images and logos into an array. The system behind my project is the rules behind allowing the logos to bounce off the sides of the sketch. I also played with frame count, which I had used a lot in Pre-Frontal. I added a quote by Robert McChesney because I thought it would mean something against Microsoft’s Bliss background. All of these companies are competing against one another to see who can influence people more, and then in turn gain profit. Furthermore, the beginning of the sketch contains the drag of the logos because I felt that it created a sort of a maze. Internet users are stuck between Facebook and Google and the conflict between who can grab your attention more.   Next semester, I do hope to learn how to take high definition screen shots of my sketches so that the movies made in MPEG Streamclip aren’t blurry. I am proud of this project because I feel that it conveys how I feel about corporations and the media. The title of this piece is “Corporate Mess”, which I think captures the struggle of companies to maximize profit from users of the Internet. 

Blackspace: Astrophobia

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Me & my edited Blackspace Project

Kelsey at Projector Night

Kelsey at Blackspace

Sage walking by!

Sage walking by!

Projector Night audience

Blackspace Audience

Viewers

Viewers

Blackspace was modeled after our darkness theme, which prompted me to change my project. It was more or less the same – polygons bouncing off the sides of the sketch along to track by Fort Romeau. However, in one of our open studio classes, Angela suggested that our original Blackspace project was only the prototype. The final project should be completely different. In my original sketch, I was unhappy with the way the polygons bunched up at the top of the sketch. That was why I had created two separate films and put them together (one going forward and one in reversal). I found out why the polygons were bunching up at the top – it was the result of me expanding the radius to emerge off of the screen if the radius was over 50. While that was one of my favorite parts of the original sketch, I didn’t add to the final project. Rather than conveying the same anxiety of polygons expanding off the screen, I played around with the radius. The end result were sketches that looked like brushstrokes. I also borrowed a concept from my System 2: the color wheel. I created more sketches, slightly different from the other. There was one with blue and orange. One with purple and yellow. One with red and blue. I created more variations of colors but only included a couple in the final video. I like the idea of putting my sketch under the stairs but I don’t think it was dark enough to be considered a Blackspace project during our performance. I should have tried to find a switch that would turn off the hallway lights. I kind of wish that I had chosen an enclosed space to present my project rather than the hallway. However, even the Blackspace installation was not my final project. It is no longer Astrophobia but Anamnesis. I love the idea of having audio but not the idea of using someone else’s audio. It’s hard finding rhythms and lyrics that I want to go with my piece. However, over winter break, my mother and uncle found old tapes of my grandmother singing classical Rabindrasangeet. She died last year in a car accident and since then I’ve always felt time is too short. There are still moments I want to have with her. Bobby made me start thinking of trying to emulate her in some of my sketches. During our Blackspace rehearsal and while Bobby was presenting, I was asked “Did anyone you know die recently?”. It was a question that really hit me. Since I was playing with time in Astrophobia by reversing and speeding up some of the videos, I decided to change the audio and use the brighter polygons. Here is a link to the final project: https://vimeo.com/214226762    

Systems Aesthetics: Pre-Frontal + Systems 1, 2, & 3

System 1
Folded and outlined paper

Folded and outlined paper

Natural 3-D shape from folds

Natural 3-D shape from folds

I am not particularly proud of system 1 and I felt that it did an injustice to Ron Resch’s amazing project. I simply folded a piece of paper a couple of times and hoped for the best. How could someone devote so much time to folding paper? I just noted how the folds were making the paper raised and 3D. Nonetheless, I am proud of System 2 and System 3 and consider it a much better development from System 1. After class, I was inspired to take it further by coloring the shapes in. I had big ideas with keeping the paper in it’s natural raised shape (like in image 2). I wanted to paint them in coordinated colors. System 2
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Color Wheel 1

 
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All of the 6 color wheels on folded paper

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color wheel 2

System 2 was the origination of my color wheel theme, which I used for my final blackspace and projection night sketch. I was inspired by Grace’s System 1 project that focused on folded paper and color. It made me think about which colors complement each other and how colors can be a system. I felt that my system 1 did not go as far as Ron Resch’s did. I did not have as much time to sit and figure out different rules for my paper folding. I wish that I did because the different variations would have been really interesting. Rather than folding the paper further I decided to go off of my end result from system 1. The folds I had created resulted in triangular shapes, which reminded me of color wheel cones. So, I grabbed a box of colored pencils and began coloring each triangle fold. The triangular outlines along the edges were primary colors. The next row of outlines were the mixes of the primary colors. The next row were the mixes of the secondary, creating the tertiary colors. I did this for about 6 sheets of paper. This resulted in different variations.   I thought it would be easier to color each triangular outline. However, I found myself forgetting my own rules or not having the correct colored pencils. The next time I do this I would also not use colored pencils since they did not show as brightly as I wanted them to. Time was also a constraint. I set my project up about 4 hours before I had to leave my apartment. I thought that this would be an ample amount of time to finish up even more than 6 pieces of paper. However, I noticed that time was running out and I rushed the coloring process – which made the colors look too light. The chance of my error was high since I was working quickly towards the end. I wasn’t able to find certain colors and became frazzled. I think of myself as a processing sketch. I wrote the code for myself in the beginning (the rules of coloring and folding) but I was still subject to errors because of my state of mind and environment.   System 3
Elon Musk

Elon Musk

Kim Kardashian Crying Meme

Kim Kardashian Crying Meme

(i googled iridescent since it's a current social media trend)

(i googled iridescent since it’s a current social media trend)

  Here are some images showing the progression of images I used for system 3. My initial goal was to take our in-class glitch code further and turn it into a system. I wanted to also incorporate parts of my conference project along the lines of digital influencers and corporate capitalism. I had recently read some articles about Elon Musk and the future of Tesla which prompted my to try and distort his face. I wasn’t too happy with the way it looked with Musk, mostly because I could not grasp how to utilize the glitch code with his face. I decided to use the original image during our in-class glitch code. The Kim Kardashian crying face is one of my favorite memes/cultural icons. Kim Kardashian is someone who is famous for being a businesswoman. Despite not being an actress or musician, she is incredibly famous and takes space in much of the media. The media that Kim Kardashian dominates gives me a sort of escapism from our capitalist culture. The thought of working 9 to 5 and sometimes even later, regardless of whether it’s a field I love or not, is almost soulless and tiring. It’s no wonder that people (including myself) find solace in the media and other trivial things that do not produce intellectual thought. Adorno labeled the media we use as a distraction as the culture industry, which was my system 3’s original name. I had fun playing around with glitch code. Especially, with adding polygons and watching their actions around the glitch art. However, after showing it in class I wondered if using Kim Kardashian’s face was trivial. So, I coded Pre-Frontal. Pre-Frontal has an iridescent background with a larger glitch bar going vertically down the sketch. I chose to keep the polygons and thought it was interesting as the polygons collided with the glitch bar and created a rainbow effect. Furthermore, I added a frame count to create different rules for the ways polygons come into the sketch. I titled this “Pre-Frontal” because it is a part of the brain that moderates social behavior. Social behavior is oftentimes dominated by the media and political elites.

Blackspace Post-Mortem

 
Blackspace Ideas 3

Blackspace Ideas 1Blackspace Ideas 2 (Image 1 is from the Frist in Nashville, while Images 2 and 3 are from the Art Institute in Chicago).

For blackspace I decided to play around with our polygon sketch from class. In class we had worked on adding more rules to the sketch as well as making the sketch self-evolving. In the beginning, I had no plan to even create a digital piece. It was announced that our blackspace presentations were the Wednesday after spring break and I figured I’d have time to find an analog system. I was in Atlanta over break and tried to immerse myself in spaces with systems. I visited museums in Nashville and Chicago, went aboard the MARTA in Atlanta, and walked around parking meters trying to find ideas. Above are some images from Nashville’s Frist Center for the Visual Arts and Chicago’s Art Institute. While the works of art I saw were incredibly inspiring, I realized I wanted to create my blackspace project in Processing to convey myself in a dark space. I started playing with the last in-class sketch. We’d left off with polygons colliding and bouncing around the sketch. I was inspired to take this further by changing the side count (to make it more circular). A number of polygons in the sketch mimicked anxiety. They were bouncing off the sides of the sketch and shaking. To induce this disquiet I changed the background from white to black. Despite the unrest from the polygons, I didn’t want them to be too jarring to the eye which prompted me to use my color wheel scheme from system 2. This led me to use a greenish/blue hue opposite a randomized orange hue. The make the system self-evolving I created a colorMode and if statement:  if (location.y > width/2){radius = radius * 2;}, which enlarged some of the polygons off of the sketch. I was most excited about adding music, especially a track that wouldn’t set any particular kind of mood. However, music inherently sets a mood. In a systematic way, I went through songs in my iTunes account looking for a track without vocals and one that was over 4 minutes long. The song I ended up choosing was “Insides” by Fort Romeau, a DJ from the UK. I had no idea who the artist was or the song. It was some download from NPR in their SXSW Top 50 songs playlist. Nonetheless, along with the colors, it sedated the anxiety from the polygons. After saving screens and exporting the video, I decided to play around with iMovie. In iMovie, I decided to restart and reverse some of the screens. Doing this, I realized that I wanted to portray different angles or scenes of the polygons. I didn’t want it all to be a continuous film of videos in reverse and videos moving forward. This prompted me to create a “break” titled “phase”. Kind of like phases of the moon, this screen served to divide the films and pause. I wanted viewers to have a second to breathe. The film began to remind me of space – even before I added the “phase” screens. To me, it captured the stress of the unknown, progress, and technology. With different polygons struggling to get out of the screen, flashing different colors, and finding themselves idle on the borders it captured my own anxiety. The music is a cover up of the anxiety since it’s much more smooth than the sketch. As I was told during the performance, it makes viewers want to dance and reminds them of a club. I was disappointed with the number of idle polygons – the ones that seemed to just want to relax at the borders of the sketch. Some just disappeared beyond the sketch despite my code to contain them. I was also disappointed by the video quality which is something I have to play around with more on YouTube and MPEG Streamclip. I was surprised when the audience said that it reminded them of a dance club – which, despite the music, was not really my intention. I’d be really happy if this was played at some dance club. However, my intention was to convey anxiety and distress over the future and otherworldly spaces. With the darkness, now knowing that it reminded viewers of a dance club, perhaps I would have people move during the piece. Maybe dance can be a variable of response towards the film – onlookers examining my anxiety towards the unknown. It would be a reminder that despite my anxiety towards space people will move on or dance on. Next time, I would see how many more rules I can add to make the system more self-evolving. Next time, I’d either take away the music or encourage people to move or dance during the performance. Ultimately, the music did set the mood. The mood it induced was not exactly the mood I expected people would have. Here are some images from the performance: Blackspace 1Blackspace 3Blackspace 2    

Conference Project Post-Mortem: First Impressions

screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-10-01-02-pm My project is based on the works of Lothar Quinte, whose most known work is featured on First Impressions of Earth by the Strokes. I decided to animate and apply what we’ve learned in class to his images. Throughout the project I kept updating the images with what we’ve learned in class. Quinte’s works are simple and vivid. The goal of my project was to alter this fundamental theme of his artwork. The most common concepts I incorporated were noise and dimension. In Kreisformation in Rot auf Violettem Grund (Circular Formation in Red on Violet Ground,1965), I added noise to the circle so that the size would change. In order to make it look like the circle is moving in and out of itself I incremented x2 and y2 by y. At first it was just something I had tried out in another sketch; however the result of a circle struggling to maintain a size was something that I wanted to include. I added dimension to the background to create a sort of texture. I wanted the end image to look like a record button since my project is based on an album. This is the sketch a featured at the top of this post. In Untitled (1965), the artwork featured on First Impressions of Earth, I played around with incrementing the diagonal lines into a swinging motion and reset the framecount. I added dimension to this image as well to create a textured background. The one part I found difficult was to fix was how slow the lines swing. I wanted it to be more of gradual pace but once I added dimension it moved much slower than the original sketch. screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-7-36-50-pm   In Quinte’s Untitled (1969) and played around with incrementing again – the end result created a textured background when two of the triangles swing down.   screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-9-45-36-pm
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(before)

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(after)

In Ohne Titel (also “Untitled”), I used alpha and noise to exchange the singular diagonal lines in the original for multiple lines extended to the corners of the canvas. Furthermore, to add a subtlety, I included an animated ellipse at the background of the image. In the original image there is lighter red spot on the right side of the image. To reflect this in my sketch I used alpha and animated the ellipse to move back and forth throughout the canvas. Finally, in Blue Fields, III I tried to maintain Quinte’s simplicity in it’s entirety other than moving around the boxes and adding a repeat count. screen-shot-2016-12-04-at-11-14-56-pmscreen-shot-2016-12-04-at-11-14-43-pm   It was a lot of fun adding the things we learned in class to this sketches. I was particularly surprised by how easy it was to add dimension into a sketch. I really love the way it adds a texture – especially one that is almost feathery and light. It was challenging to figure out how to adapt Quinte’s paintings and retain his style. As a new coder that is still learning about Processing, I was interested in chaotic, complicated sketches that contain a lot of detail. With Quinte’s work I had to try to be more subtle about it because I didn’t want to estrange myself from his simplicity. I don’t think that I’ll ever be truly done with this project – just like Quinte was never finished with his series of untitled images.
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concept ideas

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concept ideas

Conference Project Proposal: First Impressions

  first-impressions-of-earth My project focuses on the works of Lothar Quinte, a German painter. One of his well known pieces is found on an album (First Impressions of Earth) by The Strokes, which is also one of my favorite albums. First Impressions is the third album of The Strokes – it’s much angrier and angstier that their other albums. The album serves as a stepping stone from their post punk sound to synthier rhythms. When I was younger the album art reminded me of guitar strings. I chose Quinte’s artwork (and First Impressions of Earth) because of his different variations of the same paintings. Most of Quinte’s paintings are also untitled. Despite this, they all feature bright yellows, reds, blues, and black in one variation or another. I was also inspired to choose art inspired by lines and geometric shapes due to our artist presentations on Vera Molnar and Bridget Riley. Even though their pieces seem simple, their use of lines and shapes is captivating and complex. blue-fields-iiilothar-quinte-ohne-titel I selected five of Quinte’s paintings: Blue Fields, III (1963), Ohne Titel (1965), Untitled (1965), Ohne Titel (1969), and Ohne Titel (1973). Each of them are, in one way or another, variations of each other. When I first perused Quinte’s work I noticed the simplicity of vibrant colors. The pieces did not seem incredibly complex. However, if I looked closely there is more going on in the background – especially in Ohne Titel (1965). On the foreground it is seemingly just a red canvas with two diagonal white and black lines. If you look through the red canvas you can see different lines and circles. When I recreated this work I used alpha to make sure that these lines and circles in the background were still included yet hidden. Even in Blue Fields, III it seems like there are only three blue rectangles – if you look closely there are almost 24 rectangles. At first I thought that I should apply a gradient to adaptation because of the fading color. Again, when I looked closely Quinte is careful in making sure the lighter blue stays in one rectangle and the darker blue stays in another rectangle. Even though most of his work seems simple there is a lot going on in Quinte’s pieces. To quote Philip Galanter’s classroom definition of generative art, Quinte’s work “uses a system…which is set to some degree of autonomy contributing to or resulting in a completed work of art”. Despite not programming his artwork, Quinte uses a system of preciseness so that if the viewer looks closely they will see how carefully planned each shape is. The goal of my project is to re-create and animate Quinte’s paintings using what we’ve learned in class. I used variables, loops, noise, and colors. My final project will have five 3 minute films based on Quinte’s artworks. I intend to uphold Quinte’s vibrancy but want to complicate his artwork more. I chose his work not only because of his use of lines and geometric shapes but because his artwork was featured on one of my favorite albums. I feel the same connection that I felt with First Impressions that I do with his work. I am reminded of listening to Julian Casablancas’s disconnected lyrics while waiting for the school bus to take me to a dreary, suburban middle school. This project was somewhat nostalgic and I am excited for the end result. screen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-03-59-pmscreen-shot-2016-11-28-at-10-03-19-pm