For my second project this semester I made an installation intended to get people moving. At first, I had thought of making an installation that a character (played by myself) would interact with. It quickly became clear that asking other people to act with the installation would be much more challenging and rewarding. At first, I was unsure what to ask of people. Then, I remembered a comment Angela had made about my work last year. She talked about how I seem to want to make art that invites people to work together to achieve a goal. That was an observation that I found enlightning and agreed wholeheartedly with. As a result, I decided to create something that brought people together. As the process went on however, my approach became more and more about the individual. I feel that the result was an installation that wasn’t necessarly asking people to work together for a common goal –though nothing was keeping viewers from doing so if they wished. The installation was code running from Processing which was displayed in a large screen. The computer was connected to a Kinect and the image projected on the screen displayed a pixilated image of the person that spun around 360 degrees. Next to the large screen, my computer showed a video of people moving in different ways – dancing, walking down the runway, exercising. The hope was that people would immediatly understand they were supposed to replicate these movements, while observing themselves on the large screen. Not everone was immediatly aware of what they were supposed to do, and in that sense, the project could use a little more work. In a possible second iteration of this, there are two main things I’d like to work on: 1) finding a way to make the intention of the piece clear to those engaging with it, 2) work on making this a piece that asks for two or more people to engage with each other to accomplish a task. All in all, I had a great time doing this project on my on. I was also very inspired by my classmates projects this semester. What a great year this has been!
My first project this semester was a collaboration with my classmate Andrew Murdock. We created an installation using mylar and bright orange neon strings. Outside, students would listen to a recording that set the tone for the experience inside. By using fancy scientific words, the hope was to create a tone and purpose for the whole piece. After listening to the recording, people would enter the space, where they were asked to take part in an “intergallactic” dance. We distributed finger lights to the participants, with the hope that they would add even more playfulness to the piece. On the far side of the room, a projector was used to project images of the people dancing on the wall. Using Processing and Isadora, Andrew was able to add two other levels to this projection: 1) the image projected was in slow motion, 2) the music would fade out, and begin again once the program noticed a loud sound. I felt that the project was succesful. It was wonderful engaging with people, and seeing them interact not only with the technology, but with the characters we created for ourselves, as well as interaction amoung viewers. Andrew and I ended the piece feeling mostly satified, thouh we both agreed that in a second reiteration of this, we might find a way to make the room darker, and possibly even project on the floor, instead of one of the mylar-covered walls. The light from the projector, as well as light from the neighboring room, made it difficult to notice the projection on the wall. I think Andrew was especially upset that the work he put into the technological aspects of the piece wasn’t able to be as appreciated as we both wanted. With that said, I think this was a succesful piece, and it was wonderful to work with Andrew.
The Space HiJack Project was both frustrating and rewarding. I initially wasn’t sure what to do for my project. I presented the idea of using trash to my classmates. I received a lot of helpful feedback and suggestions, but ultimately decided to stick to a suggestion made initially, I believe, by Casper.
The idea was to have trash laying around the building in an orderly fashion, as if to suggest a story, inviting people to stop and think about what they were seeing. That sounded both exciting and challenging. We settled on making it seem like someone had a meal and left the rest behind. I gave a lot of thought about what the meals would be. I ultimately settled on having the kind of meals I ate, using things from home. The installation was installed in three different parts of the building. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
- For the breakfast installation, I placed a bowl with Cookie Crisp cereal — my favorite morning treat. On the side, a glass of orange juice; as well as a bottle of milk. The items were placed next to an emergency exit on the bottom floor of the building.
- For the lunch installation, I placed a glass of Diet Coke and a plate of stir fry under a water fountain on the first floor of the building.
- For the dinner installation, I placed a plate with leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes next to a glass of milk. It was installed next to the front entrance of the building, under one of the path lights, as to make sure it was as visible as possible even at night. While the choice of pairing milk with meatloaf might seem odd, it is reflective of the kind of meal I have at night (provided I arrive home at a reasonable hour).
On the other hand, I ask myself questions: Who removed this? Were they aware that people were installing art in the building that would be seen by students the next day? Perhaps the most important question of all: What do they think of as art? If I saw this installation in a gallery, I would stop and think about its meaning, what the artist was trying to convey. My father, on the other hand, would walk by it, laugh a little, maybe say something like “I could do that!”. This isn’t a supposition either, I’ve seen him say things like that before.
Let me now speak about why the removal of my pieces has felt to me like an accomplishment. I’ll try to explain it as best I can, because I don’t have a full opinion formed yet. I believe my excitement comes from the fact that someone engaged with my art. They picked it up, then they threw it out! They touched it, they walked over to the trash, threw it in. The pieces of it are now in a dump somewhere. Perhaps they’re being recycled at this very moment.
I don’t know why, but this interaction (an interaction not person-to-person, but person – to object – to person) has made me feel like the observer of the piece rather than the person who created it. It feels, strangely, as if this wasn’t an installation, but a moving piece (performance art, maybe?) that started when the art was picked up and thrown out, and ended when I found out it was no longer there.
I chose to HiJack the current slogan of Brazil’s Federal Government. The slogan, “Brazil: Order and Progress” was implemented by the illegitimate government of Michel Temer after the parliamentary coup of democratically elected president Dilma Rousseff. Its positivist message is reminiscent of Brazil’s former undemocratic governments and is meant to instill the false perception that politicians are fighting Brazil’s institutionalized culture of corruption in government. A year after the coup, Timer’s government has been wrapped in corruption scandal, censorship, as well as the implementation of measures that negatively impact the working and middle classes.
Thanks to class feedback, I was able to zoom in to two aspects I wanted to address with my HiJack: (1) allowing people to freely express their reaction towards the new government online, a place right wing censorship has not been able to reach, as well as (2) associating a new image to the slogan, one that invites reflection on what it means, by allowing people to express anger and surprise at how the current government has been inept at living up to its promises of order and progress — presented clearly in the original image.
The images were edited in Powerpoint, without much alteration. Colors were changed through the use of filters. The emoticons were taken from Facebook’s new “reaction” buttons, which perhaps are worthy of a HiJack in and of themselves in the future.
When the project started, my first idea was to add an atomic bomb explosion to the globe of the original image. It quickly became clear through class feedback that that did not convey my message properly. Upon thinking more of how to get the point across — ultimately that this slogan was a propaganda piece not translated into policy by the government — I was able to find images that expressed my intention.
At first, I had a hard time finding a way to subvert my image. I underestimated the amount of reflection that must go into changing an image for a specific purpose. I also think that my strong and complex feelings towards the political situation in Brazil contributed to my difficulty finding one single message I wanted to get across. The current political situation is complex, but at the end, finding one single aspect of it to zoom into was beneficial.
I believe my Hijack promises a certain amount of replication and that people would be happy to use it in their Facebook profile picture to express their discontent with the current government. Facebook profile picture frames have been used for a couple of years now as a way to not only decorate your picture, but to get an important message across. Self-expression, and specifically political expression, are encouraged in online forums and social media: that fact is helpful in encouraging the kind of quick replication that would be much more difficult to achieve in the physical world. The virtual world can be used as a tool for greater and faster dissemination of politically subversive material.
I enjoyed this exercise very much. It was challenging, but the practical aspect of it has given me a deeper understanding of the process and reflection that must go into this kind of work. I plan to continue trying to get my Facebook frames to gather a certain amount of attention.