Author Archives: Gustavo Sampaio

Space HiJack : An Untitled Trash Project

  Breakfast 4 Dinner 3 Dinner 2 Dinner 1 Breakfast 3 Breakfast 2 Lunch 1 Lunch 2

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.
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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 next day, as it turns out, two of my pieces (lunch and dinner) had been removed. It was ironic — but mostly rewarding. In part, you could consider their removal a failure. After all, whoever removed it, clearly didn’t think it was art. It was trash. In other words, the meaning that I was trying to attach to these objects — which would clearly point to this being an installation — was not conveyed as clearly as it should. The objects remained just that: objects.

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.

Cultural HiJack: Brasil Slogan HiJack

Official Government Logo of the Brazilian Federal Government.

Official Government Logo of the Brazilian Federal Government.

First HighJack Attempt HiJack 1 HiJack 2 HiJack 3 HiJack 4      

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.